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Wallachian and Moldavian uniforms 1750-1815?

Morar Andrei

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Reading about the history of the Romanian Principalities at the beginning of the 19th century (Wallachia and Moldova), I realised that they weren't under complete ottoman occupation, but just paying the yearly tribute. Thinking so, they would had had own armies, even if very small, and the uniforms of their soldiers would be a mix betwen russian, slavic, austrian and ottoman uniforms. But still, is there any image related to my question? This is what I found yet,nit sure about all, but hope to get more suggestions...







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This is not an area in which I have any expertise at all but my understanding of the Ottoman armies is that they included units and/or recruits from various 'subject' states.  Part of the 'taxation' system, at one level - 'You owe us X hundred young men per year.' I'm not sure how long this practice lasted.

The Janissaries were officially abolished in 1826 apparently, but I would think that Wallachians and Moldavians might still have been recruited, perhaps as auxilliary troops, into the Ottoman army, as it would seem odd not to use the manpower resources. 

My two cents worth!

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Thank you! Now, the question would be about the uniforms of the units that served inside their own "countries". I only know that after Alexandru Ioan Cuza's reforms of 1862-1864, the permanent units of Wallachia and Moldavia, now united, would increase from 4000 soldiers to aproximatly 16000. That concludes the two principalities already had their own armies, even if very small, before the unification from 1859. How did these soldiers' uniforms look like?

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Interesting question indeed!  The plate you shared - I suspect from an Osprey book - pictures a 'Chieftan', a 'Boyar' and two others who I assume are of high rank, leading irreegular troops, so my guess would be that there may not have been actual uniforms as such.  You should, however, be able to put together a 'look\ based on traditional ethnic dress plus whatever weapons would have been commonest in the area.  Not much help, I know!:(

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I found something, but it's 2-3 decades ahead from what I'm looking for. But still, this is what I found:

- Commander-in-Chief of the Wallachian army 1852

- Prince's adjutant Moldavia 1834

- Infantry second-lieutenant Moldavia 1830

- Artillery private, parade uniform Moldavia 1848

- Infantry soldier, summer uniform Moldavia 1853

- 3rd Wallachian Infantry Regiment (left) meeting the Moldavian Chasseurs Regiment (right) at Socola, near Iași, on April 14/26 1859


As a note, the "pandurs" (very common in the Balkans), as a Wallachian unit, have been used by Tudor Vladimirescu during the 1821 revolt against the ottomans as militia units. They were very similar to the Croatian ones, but I was looking for the regular army of the principalities. There are many refferences about their uniforms until the 2nd half of the 17th century and after 1859, but less about the period betwen. Plus, the "boyars" were the equivalent of the western nobles, since the Medieval times, huge land owners (the other large owners being the "voievod" and the Orthodox Church) and close members to the ruler. Thank you anyway!







Edited by Morar Andrei
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On ‎2017‎-‎11‎-‎02 at 20:30, Morar Andrei said:

But still, is there any image related to my question?

Andrei, you should go on a visit to the National Military Museum. They have a very nice collection of uniforms, including from the period you are interested in. Please take a look the the thread describing a tour through the Romanian Military Museum.

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Thank you! I visited the museum back in 2013, but I forgot about some of these uniforms; they match to what I'm looking for. Also, the uniform images from my previous comment are from a set of cards bought from the museum when I visited it. Hope to get there again!

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  • 2 months later...

I found something older. It's from a museum in Oradea, close to the Hungarian border. It is probably a Wallachian uniform, somewhere between 1830 and 1848. The unifoem from the left might be a bit older, but the ones from the right I've seen them in most of the movies placed on that period. At least, one of them. The other one is wearing a Martini-Henry rifle, so it might be after 1879, when these rifles have been introduced to the Romanian Army. So the ones from left and center can be the most siuted to the age I was looking for.


Edited by Morar Andrei
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  • 2 years later...

I may have found out the reason for the lack of images from the Napileonic era regarding military units of Wallachia and Moldavia at the beginning of the 19th century. The armies of the two principalities were recreated only in 1830.

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  • 7 months later...

The armies were not recreated in 1830, what happened in 1830, specifically 1831-1832 was a modernisation of the two principalities through the "Organic Regulation" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulamentul_Organic . Both Wallachia and Moldavia had armies even during the phanariote era, the 18th and early 19th century. The armies were mostly made up of mercenaries and were very colourful, with a number of 27 different troops being mentioned throughout the century, check here: https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/general/articol/armatele-uitate-trupele-tarilor-romane-in-lungul-secol-fanariot . As you can see from the article the armies were mostly made up of cavalry with various units like, between others, Hussars(or rather equivalent of), Uhlans, Dragoons, and even some kind of Cuirassiers (probably those existed only in first half of the 18th century). However we have very few illustration of these troops, in fact there's next to none. There's this one of a Wallachian tolpatch(on the left), dated to around the 1740's so mid 18th century


there's this one of "A Wallachian" from an 1805 album, but probably copied after a much earlier illustration 


The earliest 19th century illustration of a soldier from Wallachia might be this one 


Titled "A soldier from Bucharest" it was made in 1869, however the soldier appears to be wearing a Russian medal which means he participated in one of the two Russo-Turkish wars that took place then, though it's probably the war of 1828-1829 because he should've looked much older if he was in the war of 1806-1812.

The uniforms you mentioned are from the Wallachian Grenz infantry of the Austrian Empire.

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  • 1 month later...

Oh, so the two principalities did have permanent armies even before the Organic Regulations of 1830. I always had the impression that was the beginning, especially since many history books on the topic start with 1830, as well as that seems to be the year when the armies of Moldavia and Wallachia received standardised uniforms for each kind of unit. 


Were standardised uniforms a thing before that year too, or the troops were looking more like irregulars, perhaps on the model of the Panduri? Especially after the mass introduction of muskets/firearms (when did the two principalities start using predominantly musketeer units instead of the pike and shot tactics?) and the 18th century

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On 11/02/2018 at 16:28, Morar Andrei said:

This is the oldest one I found: Wallachian Border Guards, 1808 uniform.


Dear Andrei, these two Frontier Guards wear Austro Hungarian uniform

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 13/01/2021 at 23:18, Morar Andrei said:

Oh, so the two principalities did have permanent armies even before the Organic Regulations of 1830. I always had the impression that was the beginning, especially since many history books on the topic start with 1830, as well as that seems to be the year when the armies of Moldavia and Wallachia received standardised uniforms for each kind of unit. 


Were standardised uniforms a thing before that year too, or the troops were looking more like irregulars, perhaps on the model of the Panduri? Especially after the mass introduction of muskets/firearms (when did the two principalities start using predominantly musketeer units instead of the pike and shot tactics?) and the 18th century

There were some standardised uniforms but not like in the west. As far as I know and as the article from Historia says the armies were mostly made up of mercenaries so this means they provided their own equipment, probably the state gave them weapons and ammunition but not sure about uniforms (again for most troops). However there were some rather standardised uniforms (maybe some were provided by the state, but probably still bought by individual soldiers), for example the Rosii who were regular light cavalry (they were exempt from taxes and had to provide military service) and wore red uniforms, don't have an image of them in the 18th century but here's a reconstruction of such cavalryman during Michael the Brave's reign so they probably still wore similar clothes: 


As for other uniforms, I searched for more pictures and managed to find this: e3eec4710b5a4c180133af640362f56f.jpg


These troops appear to be some kind of princely guards, the first image is Nicolae Mavrogheni (ruled between 1786-1790) dressed in "war uniform" very similar to that of (again what I think are) his guards. 

Other uniforms I could find were these


The "uniforms" of the Potecasi (frontier guards, light cavalry), they wore pretty much peasant clothing.


And the uniform of their commander.

Another example is this


These horsemen are probably Wallachian or Moldavian (because they don't look like Austrian or Russian cavalrymen), who fought together with the Austrians and the Russians at Focsani in 1789.

I also managed to find this image of a parade during the phanariote rule, but couldn't find a better quality version yet. But here are multiple troops being shown, the original image probably also had a description of each one.


Alright so about the transition from pike and shot to musketeer units. Unlike in the west pike and shot tactics weren't really as popular in the east, from what images there are of warfare over here pikes weren't used as much, that isn't to say pikes weren't used at all, but with a lot more fire arms in formations so the transition between pike and shot must've happened pretty quickly. To give an example of what unit formations were used in the east, here's an illustration of what I think is a Hungarian unit in the 17th century (from what description I could find)


Another example could be seen in the Stockholm Roll where the Polish don't actually carry any pikes during the shown parade. I believe the reason for this is that cavalry was used a lot more than infantry so they would be the ones to engage enemy cavalry instead of infantry having to defend themselves from cavalry attacks. For example from the account of Paul Strassburg, Secret Counsellor of the King of Sweden, when he visited Wallachia during the reign of Leon Tomsa, the Wallachian army had 10 000 horsemen and 2 000 infantrymen according to what the voivode told him.

Edited by Alin_Alexandru
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

So as promised if I find more information I'll post it. I got the Historia magazine that had the article about the Phanariote armies and there's some more information there as well as some interesting images. Before I start, all information will be from what's in the magazine as I don't know what sources were used exactly.


The troops of both Moldavia and Wallachia were very similar to each other (since most pahariote voivodes ruled some time over one then were moved to the other) with minor differences in terms of clothing and colors (at least from the 19th century Wallachia used blue and yellow for their troops and Moldavia used blue and red). First let me talk about the armament, the uniforms and other general information. About the armament, all the troops whether they were infantry or cavalry always carried a bladed weapon (either a saber, a yatagan or a knife) as the troops liked to get into close combat, not liking to use guns that much (at least towards the start of the 18th century). The main weapon used by cavalry was the lance but they also carried pistols or carbines in some cases, interestingly in Moldavia bows were still used until the mid-18th century, could've been the same in Wallachia, these were mentioned by Dimitrie Cantemir as some soldiers were still using them and are also mentioned in the Russo-Turkish War of 1735-1739 used against the Austrian cavalry to great effect, this seems to be the last time bows were used in a war by the Phanariote armies.


About the uniforms, it seems that there were indeed standardized uniforms though don't know how many were provided and how many were either made or bought by the individual soldier, still they had rules to follow in terms of appearance, especially since many were mercenaries. Steel helmets were used by some of the cavalry, though most wore hats, so did the infantry; it's unclear whether or not there were cavalrymen who also used cuirasses (though I do believe this was the case for a type of cavalry as you'll see in an image further down). In terms of colors, most troops used green, blue or yellow with red being reserved for the nobility (this is only for the beginning of the century, and even before red was used by some kinds of troops like the Roşii as mentioned before); peasant troops, those tasked with guarding the borders used what colors they could in their clothes and wore peasant clothing as well. The troops also received a regular payment from the army 'budget' as detailed in a 1776 document, they were also exempt from certain taxes and obligations. So as you can see the armies did have their standards but as pointed out previously I don't think these could compare to the western armies. Now moving to the types of troops presented in the drawings:


-First the Tălpaşi also called Talpoşi, these were an infantry unit created by Şerban Cantacuzino, this seems to be the earliest of the illustrations, from the 18th century (not exactly from the magazine since I found a better quality version elsewhere)



-the Plaieşi, they were border troops guarding the mountain passes. The drawing represents a Moldavian Plaieş. 



The next drawings all seem to have been made by G. Asaki (Gheorghe Asachi) in the early 19th century (before 1812). The originals are apparently kept at BCU Cluj but sadly they aren't digitized, I've checked their site, so I only have info from the magazine. These are all probably from Moldavia, as said before blue and red were used by Moldavian troops, Wallachia most likely had the same troops but with blue and yellow uniforms and maybe with some other differences here and there.


-First, a Lăncier (Lancer) of Soroca. Similar to the Uhlans, using the lance as a primary weapon, also carrying 2 pistols and a carbine. Note the red and blue colors of the uniform and the lance pennon. 



-Next 2 border troops, infantry and cavalry also from the start of the 19th century. Very interesting uniforms.



-A Ciohodar of the guard. They were a guard corps that also acted as servants of the Princely Court. 


The drawing shows a Moldavian Ciohodar. Here's one showing the Wallachian ones during Alexander Mourouzis' reign. Similar clothing with differences in the type of hat.



-Next an Idicliu or Edicliu of the mounted guard. They were low ranking nobles serving the Princely Court.



-A "Copil de casă" ("Child of the house"). They were the sons of boyars, they accompanied the voivode in his activities at the Princely Court. Possibly also helping in commanding various units during war.



-And finnaly an Arnăut (on the left). They were Albanian mercenaries, though by the 19th century there were also Serbs, Greeks and even some Romanians in their ranks.

And a Panţâr (on the right). The term Panţâr was derived from "panzer" meaning armor, probably through a Slavic term like the Polish pancerny. They seem to have appeared from as early as the 16th century and are similar to the Cuirassiers, what's interesting is that looking at the shape of his chest from the drawings, he seems to be indeed wearing a cuirass underneath his clothing (could be that it's just his belly but it looks a bit too domed like a 19th century cuirass for this to be the case :P)



And these are the troops presented in the drawings. The article from the magazine goes over all types of troops mentioned in the 18th century (like the article on their site) but these are the only drawings.


Now, how effective were these troops? Not so much, as noted by various travelers, the troops were good at performing peacetime activities like maintaining law and order, catching criminals, guarding the borders and the courts, escorting officials, but were not good during war. Part because the boyars leading them were not well prepared, they did read various military publications and knew some tactics and how to train their troops, and with this they could put up good parades and shows, but they had no proper Academy training so in war they weren't able to do a lot; to add to it the morale of the troops was low considering they had to fight on the side of the Ottomans which they didn't like. Nevertheless they did have some succes in the various wars, sometimes fighting against the attacking Russian and Austrian empires or sometimes fighting along them against the Ottomans.

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