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Cuirass


The cuirass is the armor that covers the torso, and is generally considered the most important piece of armor for a soldier to have. The cuirass differs from the breastplate in the fact that the cuirass implicitly includes both the breastplate and the backplate, whereas the term breastplate only implies the front plate. However, this is largely an academic distinction and these days the term breastplate and cuirass are used interchangeably.

As long as armor has existed, so has the cuirass. They have been made out of leather, bronze, steel, and a host of other materials through the ages. The cuirass is sometimes accompanied by flexible overlapping strips of metal called faulds that cover the lower waist, hips, and upper legs. Some cuirasses could also have a volant guard or a grand guard attached to the left shoulder protecting the neck, shoulder and chest.

Even during the decline of armor in the 16th-18th centuries, the cuirass remained in use. German and French cavalry that wore the armor were called cuirassiers, and they remained in service all the way up to the widespread use of the machine gun in World War I.

Armor, General Term, History, Torso


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