Czapka was originally 19th-century Polish cavalry headgear, consisting of a high, four-pointed cap with regimental insignia on the front – full name in Polish is czapka rogatywka, to which feathers or rosettes were sometimes added. The word czapka is a generic word for a cap in Polish, Belarusian and Russian.
The Czapka was developed as a square-topped variant of a shako. In its early, compact form from 1784 onwards the Czapka was introduced by Austrian Uhlans – light cavalry armed with lances.
The use of the Czapka spread from eastern Europe by the Polish Legion, fighting for the French in the Napoleonic Wars,and became popular with Napoleon’s French and allied forces as well as their enemies.
After the Polish lancers proved their effectiveness during the Napoleonic Wars, armies across Europe quickly adopted the concept of lancer regiments, complete with the Czapka as their headdresses.
The 17th Lancers wore them in the Charge of the Light Brigade on the 25th October 1854.
Other names for Czapka
- Czapka Rogatywka
- Lancer Hat
Famous wearers of the Czapka
- 17th Lancers (Charge of the Light Brigade)