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The first Hussars raised were meant to be anti-cavalry units following light cavalry traditions similar to light cavalry units deployed by the Turks in eastern Europe, and even used the same drills as their Muslim foes. Contrary to popular belief, the first Hussar units did not emerge in Poland, but in Hungary — these were originally light cavalrymen trained to defeat the heavy Turkic sipahis which were making their unwelcome presence felt in battles. The word "hussar" itself is thought to be a transliteration of the word huszar, which in turn is suggested to be of Serbian origin.

The first Hussars raised were meant to be anti-cavalry units following light cavalry traditions. Only much later did the Poles introduce Winged Hussars (Towarczy Huszaria, or "Companion Hussars") which were in fact heavy cavalry following Hussar-style tactics. Unlike their predecessors from Serbia and and Hungary, these units were not simply emigrés recruited on an ad hoc basis, but salaried and maintained as part of a standing army. Over time, they gradually took on heavier armour (possibly to mitigate the effects of crude firearms) and evolved into the famous Winged Hussars of Early Modern Poland.

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