Isolani's Croats

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    invisible officer

    A local shop offered the Warlord Croats at 50% so I bought two blisters to bring my existing unit to 12 miniatures. I would have done long before but the horses are ……

    I did them for regiment Isolani but apart from the flag they can be nearly every TYW Croat unit.

    Isolani was born around 1580 and claimed to be from a noble family that came from from Cyprus. He is first mentioned in 1601, fighting along his father (a Colonel) in the Hungarian war. 1602 he was wounded and became in capture of Stuhlweißenburg an Ottoman POW. Next year the Sultan Mehmed III. sent him on parole with peace offers to the Emperor. He returned to the Turks and fled, not breaking the parole.
    At the start of TYW he led a force of Croats (possibly 200 at Battle of White Montain Prague) and was among the Catholics that plundered the Pfaltz in 1622 following the defeat of the Bohemian Winter king.. (Father of Prince Rupert…) It was a typical TYW story of rape and murder. POW got treated badly.

    1625 we find him as part of Wallenstein’s army. In the fight at Dessauer bridge he fought bravely. Getting a “Gnadenbrief” from the Emperor.
    1627 he was with Pappenheim at Wolfenbüttel and 1628 with Merode in Pommerania, fighting the Danes and Swedish.
    1630 he was sent to relieve Kolberg but Isolani was defeated at Schiefelbein by Horn.
    Isolani was not affected by Wallenstein’s loss of office and served under Tilly.
    At Breitenfeld 1631 he commanded the right cavalry wing. His Croats threw the untrained Saxonian horse back. But the other Imperial got beaten by the Swedish. Horn hunted him back to Nördlingen.
    Wallenstein came back and he sent Isolani to Hungaria to recruit “8.000 Croats“.
    In June 1632 Wallenstein and Gustav Adolf stood at Nürnberg. Isolani did the recce work, he sprang a trap for the Swedish Colonel Taupadell’s dragoons. The dragoons got cut down and the well known Colonel became POW. For that action Wallenstein gave Isolanie a Spanish horse and 3.000 Taler. Wallenstein released Taupadell without payment and sent him with presents to the Swedish king in the hope of getting peace.
    In the retreat from Nürnberg Isolani was sent to cut the Swedish supply lines. He met a force under Bernhard von Sachsen-Weimar. Despite having 40 squadrons Isolani lost 10 standards.

    Nobody expected a Swedish advance to seek battle so Isolani was surprised again. At Posern (near Weißenfels) the Swedish crossed the Rippach, Isolani tried in vain to defend the river line.
    But Isolani did good recce work, giving Wallenstein the time to prepare his army for fight at Lützen.
    In the battle Isolani commanded 28 Croat and Hungarian squadrons. They attacked the Swedish lines from flank and reached the train but got thrown back by Swedish horse.
    The separated from the army post battle to plunder the dead but Bernhard’s forces hunted them away.

    He gave an address of loyalty to Wallenstein, being given some time before Zasadecz in Wallenstein’s Friedland.
    He is normally not counted among Wallensten’s murderers but there is written source that he had order to attack Wallenstein.
    “… Obrister Piccolomini, Gallas, und Isolan haben Befehl, Friedtland wo möglich entweder lebendig oder tod anhero zu pringen, wird derowegen stundlich der verlauf dieser execution erwartet…”
    Prince Ferdinand became new Generalissimus and Isolani went with him for an inspection of Bohemia.

    The Protestants took Regensburg in November 1633 and Ferdinand came to retake it. Main reason for the move was to connect his army with the Spaniards.
    In May 1634 the Emperor made him a Reichsgraf.

    In September 1634 the Catholics won at Nördlingen. In that battle Isolani fought alongside the Spaniards but his main action was post battle, catching Bernhard’s rich baggage at Neresheim.
    Worse, his Croats plundered Höchstedt, Themar and the Wetterau region merciless. In October they took Suhl, the famous production town for handheld firearms. They destroyed most production plants.
    1635 he was raised to the rank of General of all Croat forces.
    He even entered France but in 1636 he wet to far, in Burgundy his old enemy Taupadell took everything Isolani had plundered and 1.600 horses.
    The rest of the Croats helped to cover the retreat of Gallas forces to Mirabeau. Te used the old trick of burning many camp fires.

    August 1637 we find Isolani plundering around Fulda. He surprised Colonel Reinold von Rosen that came from his marriage ceremony at Straßburg. Rosen and his young bride just escaped over a small bridge but his men got beaten.

    Isolani’s men are next in every plundering action of the Imperial army. His own last action was at fortress Hohentwyl.
    He went to Vienna to fight in the paper war. At a banquette that he gave his colonel Milli Draghi offended an Italian officer of General Götz for blundering at Breisach fortress. The story ended in true Croatian – Italianblood feud fashion. Leaving the party Draghi was shot by the Italian with two pistols.
    Like all successful generals Isolani died in bed in March 1640. There exist some paintings that are said to show Isolani. We have a description from 1628 by Landgraf Wilhelm V. of Hessen-Kassel.
    “Isolano ist der Crabaten Oberst hat kein Haar an seinem ganzen Leibe, weder auf dem Kopfe noch ums Maul noch sonsten und ist ein alter Kauz; man sagt, daß es wegen der Franzosen sei“ (Isolani is the Croat’s colonel, he has not a single hair, neither on body or on head or around the moutth and is an old xxxx. It’s said to be caused by the French = Syphilis)

    The Croat horse was no ethnical homogenous force. It included men from all countries. Most dressed in that style associated with the Croats.
    They had muskets, two pistols, sabres, often a long “Panzerstecher” stabbing word and under Isolani some 20 % had for a time a pike or halberd.
    Some victims wrote that Croat units had many dogs, used to find the hiding peasants in the woods.

    invisible officer

    They fought in battles but stood hardly a chance in a frontal assault against the Harquebusiers or Cuirassiers.


    An exceptional article – very informative!

    Nice miniatures too.

    You’re making me having nostalgia of the thirty years war – I have currently stopped the era from the hobby but there is always room for reinforcements to my catholic army (or the barely started protestant force)

    Rough Rider

    Great stuff IO. A handsome unit of horse.


    Excellent history thank you for sharing! Minis look great well done.

    Charge The Guns

    Nice unit of Croats, IO. Which horses did you use in the end?

    Isolano is a fascinating character, one of the many thrown to prominence by the TYW.

    invisible officer

    Thank you.

    I used the Croat ones but choose “creative angles” in taking pics.
    From front one sees that the rider’s shoulders are broader than the horse. Even his head…..

    Charge The Guns

    Mmm. I see what you mean, IO. I do like the riders. I wouldn’t want to use the bigger plastic horses as an alternative either. I like to keep those for the heavies. We need some plastic ponies 🙂


    You making any rules for him?

    invisible officer

    Yes and no. My friends and I use a set written by wargaming German Historians that will not work with P&S.

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