Saturday, May 16, 2009

For Russ and the little voice inside all of us that secretly wants to smash something with a mace...

Pictures from the Armaments Museum in Lviv (or Lvov if you are a Yankee). This part of Europe has been fought over for a LONG time. Lviv itself is over 800 years old and while the old city is cool as all get out, a great portion of that time has been fighting. Mongols, Cossacks, Turks, Tarters, Poles, Hungarians, Rumanians, Russians, and Germans have all marched through here and many marches were not nice. I have made comments about Russians not being very popular (and they are not in this part of Ukraine), but how about Poles? To some even less than Russians. I thought that was weird at first, but once you figure out some of the history it makes sense. This area is truely where Europe ends and where Russia (as in big, endless, steppe and snow Russia) begins. Like Poland, this area doesn't have a place where you can draw a line and go "here is where x ends and y begins". Germany and France have the Rhine, Italy has the Alps, UK is an island. Once you come down out of the mountains it is a big open area where control goes back and forth over time.

And alas, this leads to lots of warfare. But now for the pictures.

Mail coat and sword. Found in the river that flows through the city center. Found along with the original owner about 10 years ago. The Lviv soldier fell in the river during a siege and drowned.

Crossbow. Not exactly fast loading, but you are not getting up anytime soon if hit.

Stupidity should hurt...

Polearms. Lots of them. A rather big collection in this museum for some reason, couldn't find out exactly why. Something to do with the original collector's taste.

Me and my patron saint. Well, that would be St. Barbara. This is St. Michael, warrior saint. Also Lviv's city saint if I understand correctly. They also had a big church dedicated to him in Lviv. The most common church names were for St. Michael and St. George (the saint of knights and heros) in Ukraine.

Here is more my speed. Lviv was a major cannon maker for the area. It was this coupled with other gunpowder weapons that finally stopped the nomad invasions of Eastern Europe. I screwed up and didn't get a full picture of the tapestry you can see in the background which depicted the Battle of Halych that saw the Ukraine/Orthodox Church defeat invaders in the 1200s (urm, we think as Tamara doesn't remember exact dates). Who were the invaders? The Tutonic Knights (aka the Germans) and the Catholic Church. This battle is considered one that saved the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine and stopped the eastward expansion of the Tutonic Order. Ukraine became recognized as a distinct area/country after this.

This is a cannon in the shape of a fish and my wife in the shape of a tourist. The church commissioned this piece to fight the Ottomans.

Cavalry/Hussar armor (this and the following picture were taken for Russ Mitchell).

Not a bad museum if you are really into the old school stuff. I thought the cannons were interesting, you could definately see these were city guns and not really the mobile pieces. I did notice that this area was much more into swords and lighter weapons for a much longer period than Western Europe. Which makes sense given the terrain. Mobility here meant horses, horses meant less emphasis on gunpowder weapons until they became small enough and reliable enough to use. Cannons were great for city defense, so plenty of them. Matchlocks and later flintlocks not so much. Most gunpowder stuff I saw here was from Central Europe (Hungary, German states, Poland) until we get into the mid 1700s. I hate to say it, but since this wasn't my area of expertise I probably missed some great photos of great stuff just for simple lack of knowledge.


  1. Awesome. I love that flail. Stupidity should indeed hurt.

  2. Very cool! My grandparents are from Lvov - or Lemberg, as it was called when they lived there.

  3. Yes, it was a great collection. Like I said, I am pretty sure I missed some great stuff that you would have flipped over. Hey, I know I asked but can't remember when I was there, but one of those sets of armor were polish and the other local, could you tell them apart?

  4. I would say the picture of the hussar's armor is the Polish one. The gentry in Galicia (the name of the provence of which Lviv/Lvov/Lemberg was the capital) was Polish and that sort of armor with the hard-to see feathered banner on the back was typical of the armor worn by Polish cavalry in the 15th and 16th centuries.

    Here's a picture: