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15mm France Cuirasiers Waterloo 1815

2 horsemen, hand painted in acrylic dome  . Autopgraphed by myself with date of painting or your personal message.

Figure position can vary. If you have preferences, please let me know.

Cuirassiers were mounted cavalry soldiers equipped with armour and firearms, first appearing in late 15th-century Europe. They were the successors of the medieval armoured knights. The term is derived from cuirass, the breastplate armour which they wore.

The first cuirassiers did not appear very different from the medieval knights; they wore (almost) full-body armour, and the only items of equipment which differentiated them from knights were leather riding boots and the use of wheel-lock pistols, in addition to lances and swords.

Cuirassiers wore armour long after it had become of limited value in the face of the ever-increasing use of firearms. However, the extent of the armour worn was gradually decreased so that, by the end of the 18th century, it comprised only a breastplate (the cuirass or plastron), backplate (carapace), and helmet.

The first recorded cuirassiers were formed as 100-strong regiments of Austrian kyrissers recruited from Croatia in 1484 to serve the future Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian. They fought the Swedes and their allies in 1632 in Lützen and killed the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. The French introduced their own cuirassiers in 1666. By 1705, the Holy Roman Emperor's personal forces in Austria included twenty cuirassier regiments. Imperial Russia formed its own cuirassier regiments in 1732, including a Leib Guards regiment. The Russian cuirassier units took part in the Russo-Turkish War.

Cuirassiers played a prominent role in the armies of Austria, Frederick the Great of Prussia and of Napoleon I of France. The latter increased the number of French cuirassier regiments to fourteen by the end of his reign. The actual utility of this armour is questionable. Prussian cuirassiers abandoned the cuirass before the Napoleonic Wars as did the British. The Austrian cuirassiers wore only the breastplate and helmet. Napoleon, however, thought it sufficiently useful that he had cuirassier-style armour issued to his two carabinier regiments as well after the battle of Wagram. It was perhaps the phychological effect of the armoured cavalry on the battlefield that made the cuirassier such an effective component of an army.

Cuirassiers were generally the senior branch of the mounted arm, retaining their status as heavy cavalry - "big men on big horses". While their value as a heavy striking force in Napoleon's campaigns ensured the continued use of a number of cuirassier regiments in the French and Prussian armies during the nineteenth century, the expense and inflexibility of this arm limited their existence in other countries to Guard units.