Cuirassier armour

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The cuirassier was the heavy cavalryman of the first half of the seventeenth century. His armour covered him from head to knee and was known as a cuirassier armour or a three-quarter armour A full armour also covers the legs below the knees and the feet. The cuirassier wore long boots instead.

An armour is made up of lots of separate pieces joined together. The cuirassier helmet is of a type known as a close helmet, it completely covers the head and face. The shoulders and arms are protected by vambraces. The body is protected by a breastplate and a backplate. The legs are protected by long tassets. All the pieces are made up of separate plates or lames, joined together, or articulated, to give the wearer freedom of movement.

The helmets, breastplates and backplates of cuirassier armours are often proof against pistol shot.

Because of the weight cuirassier armour was not popular. One Royalist officer wrote, “it will kill a man to serve in a whole cuirass. I am resolved to use nothing but back breast and gauntlet. If I had a pot for the head that were pistol proof it may be that I would use it, if it were light, but my whole helmet will be of no use to me at all.”

Did you know?

Going off half-cocked

Many older guns have a form of safety that prevents the gun from being fired when the hammer is pulled halfway back. Sometimes a fault develops which allows the gun to fire when the hammer is in the half-cocked position, before a proper aim can be taken.