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The term Cuirassé appeared prior 1860, first as an adjective, for the construction of the first Cuirassé frigates, before being designated as a class in 1872 during the new classification.
The French Navy has known several axes of development in regards to this type of ship.
Technical innovations came to reinforce this conception: first a central artillery battery with secondary cannon around, protected in barbettes, a concept which evolved at the expense of the disperse of all artillery in barbettes on the two flancs.
During this period, France developed as well other reduced versions of ironclads for service in the overseas garrisons (such as the corvettes ironclads (French: corvettes cuirasses), for the protection of the colonies as well for floating batteries (French: batteries flottantes) in charge of coastal protection (coastal ironclads (French: garde-côtes cuirassés).
The French Navy pursued three main lines of development with these ships:
USN recognition slide. Richelieu 1943, after modernizations in U.S.