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A lancer was a type of cavalryman who fought with a lance. Lances were used in mounted warfare by the Assyrians as early as and subsequently by Greek, Persian, Gallic, Han-Chinese, nomadic and Roman horsemen. The weapon was widely used in Asia and Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by armoured cavalry before being adopted by light cavalry, particularly in Eastern Europe. The term "Lancer" was also used as President John F. Kennedy's secret service codename.

17th–19th century

The lancer (called ułan in Polish and Ulan in German) had become a common sight in almost every European, Ottoman and Indian army during this time, but with the exception of the Ottoman troops, they increasingly discarded the heavy armour to give greater freedom of movement in combat. The Polish "winged" lancers were amongst the last to abandon the armour in Europe. There was a widespread debate over the value of the lance in mounted combat during the 18th and 19th centuries and most armies had few lancer units by the beginning of the 19th century, however during the Napoleonic Wars lancers would be seen in many of the combatant nations as their qualities became clear. During the wars the Poles became a ready territory for recruitment by several armies, willingly or unwillingly, and served with distinction in most of these armies, most famously in...
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