FACTOID # 19: Cheap sloppy joes: Looking for reduced-price lunches for schoolchildren? Head for Oklahoma!
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Pike (weapon)
A modern recreation of a mid-17th century company of pikemen. By that period, pikemen would primarily defend their unit's musketeers from enemy cavalry.
A modern recreation of a mid-17th century company of pikemen. By that period, pikemen would primarily defend their unit's musketeers from enemy cavalry.

Pike (German: Spieß, French: pique, Spanish: pica, lucio, Italian: picca, Dutch : lans, piek) is the name of a two-handed pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear once used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Image File history File linksMetadata Pikeniere_kl. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Pikeniere_kl. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... For other uses of this term, see Musketeer (disambiguation). ... A pole weapon or polearm is a close combat weapon with the main fighting part of the weapon placed on the end of a long shaft, typically of wood. ... Hunting spear and knife, from Mesa Verde National Park. ... Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Infantry are soldiers who fight primarily on foot with small arms in organized military units, though they may be transported to the battlefield by horses, ships, automobiles, skis, or other means. ... Soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback in combat are commonly known as cavalry (from French cavalerie). ...


The weapon was used by European troops from the early Middle Ages until around 1700, wielded by foot soldiers deployed in close order. Although the soldiers using such spears may not have called them "pikes" per se, their tactical employment of their weapons ran along broadly similar lines and therefore falls within the subject of this article.

Contents

The Pike as a Weapon

The pike was an extremely long weapon, carried by infantry and resembling a spear usually 10 to 14 feet (3 to 4 meters) long. It had a wooden shaft with an iron or steel spearhead affixed. The shaft near the head was often reinforced with metal strips called 'cheeks' or langets. When the troops of opposing armies both carried the pike, it often grew in a sort of "arms race," getting longer in both shaft and head length to give one side's pikemen an edge in the combat; the longest pikes could exceed 22 feet (6 meters) in length. The extreme length of such weapons required a strong wood such as well-seasoned ash for the pole, which was made narrower towards the tip of the weapon to prevent the pike sagging on the ends, although this was always a problem in pike handling. Hunting spear and knife, from Mesa Verde National Park. ...


The great length of the pike allowed many spearheads to be presented to the enemy and greater reach, but also made it unwieldy in a confused close combat. This meant that pikemen had to be equipped with a shorter weapon such as a sword, mace, or dagger in order to defend themselves should the fighting degenerate into a melee. In general, however, pikemen attempted to avoid such disorganized combat, at which they were at a disadvantage. To compound their difficulties in such melee, the pikeman often did not have a shield or had only a small shield of limited use in close-quarters fighting. It has been suggested that War-sword be merged into this article or section. ... An advance on the club, a mace is a strong, heavy wooden, metal-reinforced, or metal shaft, with a head made of stone, copper, bronze, iron or steel. ... Bold text This article is about the weapon. ... For other meanings of the term, see melée (disambiguation). ...


Tactical Options

In operation on the battlefield pikes were often used in "hedgehog" formations, particularly by troops such as rebel peasants and militias who had not received a great deal of training in tactical maneuvers with the weapon. In these, the troops simply stood and held their pikes out in the direction of the enemy, sometimes standing in great circles or squares with the men facing out in all directions so that the enemy was confronted by a forest of bristling pikeheads wherever he turned, and could not attack the formation from the sides or rear.


Better-trained troops were capable of using the pike in an aggressive attack, each rank of pikemen being specially trained to hold their pikes so that they presented enemy infantry with four or five layers of spearheads bristling from the front of the formation. As long as it kept good order, such a formation could roll right over enemy infantry, but had its own weaknesses -- as the men were all moving forward, they were all facing in a single direction and could not easily turn to protect the vulnerable flanks or rear of the formation, and the huge block of men carrying such unwieldy spears could be difficult to maneuver, other than for straight-forward movement. As a result, such mobile pike formations sought to have supporting troops protect their flanks, or would maneuver to smash the enemy before they could themselves be outflanked. There was also the risk that the formation would become disordered, leading to a confused melee in which pikemen had the vulnerabilities mentioned above.


Ancient Usage

Main article: Sarissa

Although very long spears had been used since the dawn of organized warfare, the earliest recorded use of a pike-like weapon in the tactical method described above involved the Macedonian Sarissa, used by the troops of Alexander the Great's father, Philip II of Macedon, and successive Hellenistic dynasties, which dominated warfare for several centuries in many countries. The formidable wall of spearpoints gave pause even to the legionaries of Rome, but after several fierce contests the legionary style of warfare overthrew the Macedonian phalanx, and the pike faded from use in Western warfare for many centuries. The sarissa (or sarisa) was a 3 to 7 meter (13-21 feet) long double pointed pike used in the Macedonian phalanx. ... The sarissa (or sarisa) was a 3 to 7 meter (13-21 feet) long double pointed pike used in the Macedonian phalanx. ... Alexander the Great (Greek: ,[1] Megas Alexandros; July 356 BC–June 11, 323 BC), also known as Alexander III, king of Macedon (336–323 BC), was one of the most successful military commanders in history. ... Philip II of Macedon: victory medal (niketerion) struck in Tarsus, 2nd c. ... The term Hellenistic (established by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen) in the history of the ancient world is used to refer to the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, however scattered geographically, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance... A Legionary is a member of a legion. ... Nickname: The Eternal City Motto: SPQR: Senatus PopulusQue Romanus Location of the city of Rome (yellow) within the Province of Rome (red) and region of Lazio (grey) Coordinates: Region Lazio Province Province of Rome Founded 21 April 753 BC  - Mayor Walter Veltroni Area    - City 1285 km²  (580 sq mi)  - Urban... robert galusha is mad ass fucking hot Root directory at Strategy of the Roman military Roman infantry tactics refers to the theoretical and historical deployment, formation and maneuvers of the Roman infantry from the start of the Roman Republic to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. ...


Medieval Revival

Flemish militia, including pikemen, at the Battle of Courtrai. Detail from the Courtrai Chest.
Flemish militia, including pikemen, at the Battle of Courtrai. Detail from the Courtrai Chest.

In the Middle Ages, the first use of the pike was by urban militia troops such as the Flemings or the peasant array of the lowland Scots, formed in large masses to defeat the cavalry superiority of their royal foes. For example, the Scots used a spear formation called a schiltron in mostly defensive fashion to defeat English knights at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, and the Flemings used their geldon long spear to absorb the attack of French knights at the Battle of Courtrai in 1302, before other troops in the Flemish formation counterattacked the stalled knights with a different weapon, a type of polearm called the plancon. Both battles were rightly seen as stunning victories of commoners over superbly equipped, mounted, military professionals, where victory was owed to the usage of the pike and the brave resistance of the commoners who wielded them. Image File history File links Godendag. ... Image File history File links Godendag. ... The Battle of the Golden Spurs (Dutch: De Guldensporenslag, French: bataille des éperons dor) was fought on July 11, 1302, near Kortrijk in Flanders. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Flemings (Dutch: Vlamingen) are inhabitants of Flanders in the widest sense of the term, i. ... “Scot” redirects here. ... A schiltron or schiltrom is a group of men carrying pikes and polearms. ... Combatants Kingdom of Scotland Kingdom of England Commanders Robert Bruce Edward II Strength about 6,500 20,000 Casualties unknown but light about 9000 The Battle of Bannockburn (Blàr Allt a Bhonnaich in Gaelic) (June 23–June 24, 1314) was a significant Scottish victory in the Wars of Scottish... Events June 24 - Battle of Bannockburn. ... The Battle of the Golden Spurs (Dutch: De Guldensporenslag, French: bataille des éperons dor) was fought on July 11, 1302, near Kortrijk in Flanders. ... Events July 11 - Battle of the Golden Spurs (Guldensporenslag in Dutch), major victory of Flanders over the French occupier. ... Morning star at the torture museum in Freiburg im Breisgau. ...


These largely defensive formations were essentially immune to knightly attack as long as the knights obligingly threw themselves on the spear wall, but the passive nature of pike formations when used by such troops with little armour and rudimentary training made them very vulnerable to enemy archers and crossbowmen, who could shoot them down with impunity. Many defeats, such as at Roosebeke and Halidon Hill, were suffered by the militia pike armies when faced by cunning foes who employed their archers and crossbowmen to thin the ranks of the pike blocks before charging in with the knights. Combatants France Count of Flanders Flemish towns led by Ghent Commanders Charles VI of France Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy Philip Van Artevelde (killed) Strength 16,000 16,000 Casualties unknown higher than the French casualties The Battle of Roosebeke was fought in 1382 between the French and Castilians... Combatants Scotland England Commanders Sir Archibald Douglas Edward III of England Strength 13,000 9,000 Casualties exact figure unknown, but very high exact figure unknown, but very low Battle of Halidon Hill (July 19, 1333) was fought during the second War of Scottish Independence. ...


Renaissance Heyday

Swiss and Landsknecht pikemen fight at "push of pike" during the Italian Wars.
Swiss and Landsknecht pikemen fight at "push of pike" during the Italian Wars.

The Swiss solved these problems and brought a renaissance to pike warfare in the 15th century, establishing strong training regimens to ensure they were masters of handling of the Spiess (the German term for the long pike) on maneuvers and in combat, the Swiss having also introduced marching to drums for this purpose. This meant that the pike blocks could rise to the attack, making them less passive and more aggressive formations, but sufficiently well trained that they could go on the defensive when attacked by cavalry. German soldiers known as Landsknechts later adopted Swiss methods of pike handling. Image File history File links Bad-war. ... Image File history File links Bad-war. ... The Italian Wars, often referred to as the great Italian Wars or the great wars of Italy in historical works, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, all the major states of western Europe (France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, Scotland, the... (14th century - 15th century - 16th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 15th century was that century which lasted from 1401 to 1500. ... Landsknechts (German, Land land, country + Knecht servant: i. ...


Such Swiss and Landsknecht phalanxes also contained two-handed swordsmen and halberdiers for close action against both infantry and attacking cavalry. A two-handed sword, used as a general term, is any large sword that requires two hands to use, in particular: the European longsword, popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. ... Swedish halberds from the 16th century Halberdiers from a modern day reenactor troupe. ...


These formations had great successes on the battlefield, starting with the astonishing battlefield victories of the Swiss cantons against Charles the Bold of Burgundy in the Burgundian Wars, in which the Swiss participated in 1476 and 1477. In the battles of Grandson, Morat and Nancy, the Swiss not only successfully resisted the attacks of knightly foes, as the relatively passive Scottish and Flemish infantry squares had done in the earlier middle ages, but also marched to the attack with great speed and in good formation, their attack columns steamrolling the Burgundian forces, sometimes with great massacre. The twenty-six cantons of Switzerland are the states of the federal state of Switzerland. ... Charles the Bold Charles, called the Bold (French: Charles le Téméraire) (November 10, 1433 – 1477) was Duke of Burgundy from 1467 to 1477. ... région of Bourgogne, see Bourgogne. ... The Burgundy Wars were a conflict between the House of Habsburg and the Valois Dynasty, in which the Old Swiss Confederacy got involved and would play a decisive role. ... The Battle of Grandson, took place on 2 March 1476, was part of the Burgundian Wars (Burgundy Wars), and resulted in a major defeat for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. ... Combatants Duchy of Burgundy Swiss Confederation Commanders Duke Charles, René II, Duke of Lorraine, Jacques, Duke of Savoy Hans von Hallwyl, Hans Waldmann, Adrian von Bubenberg Strength c. ... Despite the disasters of 1476 Charles the Bold, [[Duke of Burgundy]], remained confident that 1477 would bring an upturn in the fortunes of his beloved Burgundy. ...


The deep pike attack column remained the primary form of effective infantry combat for the next forty years, and the Swabian War saw the first conflict in which both sides had large formations of well-trained pikemen. After that war, its combatants -- the Swiss (thereafter generally serving as mercenaries) and their Landsknecht imitators -- would often face each other again in the Italian Wars, which would become in many ways the military proving ground of the Renaissance. Finally, the rise of firearms and artillery in the sixteenth century made the big pike columns vulnerable to being shot down despite their awesome close-combat power. The decline of the combat column of pikemen was starkly displayed at the terrible Battle of Bicocca in 1522, for instance, where arquebusiers contributed to the heavy defeat of a force of Swiss pikemen. The Battle of Hard was the first major battle of the Swabian War. ... Swiss mercenaries crossing the Alps (Luzerner Schilling) Swiss mercenaries were soldiers notable for their service in foreign armies, especially the armies of the Kings of France, throughout the Early Modern period of European history, from the Later Middle Ages into the Age of the European Enlightenment. ... The Italian Wars, often referred to as the great Italian Wars or the great wars of Italy in historical works, were a series of conflicts from 1494 to 1559 that involved, at various times, all the major states of western Europe (France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, Scotland, the... A firearm is a kinetic energy weapon that fires either a single or multiple projectiles propelled at high velocity by the gases produced by action of the rapid confined burning of a propellant. ... Artillery with Gabion fortification Cannons on display at Fort Point Continental Artillery crew from the American Revolution Firing of an 18-pound gun, Louis-Philippe Crepin, (1772 – 1851) A forge-welded Iron Cannon in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. ... Combatants France Spain Commanders Odet de Lautrec Fernando de Avalos Strength 15. ...


The Pike in Support of Firearms

Mixed pike and shot formations in a seventeenth-century battle.
Mixed pike and shot formations in a seventeenth-century battle.

In the sixteenth century, the Spanish sought to develop a balance between the close-combat power of the pike and the shooting power of the firearm. They developed the Tercio formation, in which arquebusier or musketeer formations (or even longbowmen, in an English variation) fought on the flanks of the pikemen, in formations sometimes resembling a checkerboard. These formations, eventually referred to as "pike and shot," used a mixture of men, each with a different tactical role -- the shooters dealt out casualties to the enemy, while the pikemen protected the shooters from enemy cavalry and fought if the Tercio closed in hand-to-hand combat. As a result, the tercio deployed smaller numbers of pikemen than the huge Swiss and Landsknecht columns. Image File history File links Tercios. ... Image File history File links Tercios. ... A 16th century pamphlet showing a mixed pike and shot formation. ... Tercio was a term used by the Spanish army to describe a mixed infantry formation of about 3,000 pikemen and musketeers, sometimes referred to by other nations as a Spanish Square. ... Japanese arquebus of the Edo era (teppo) The arquebus (sometimes spelled harquebus, harkbus[1] or hackbut; possibly related to German Hakenbuechse or Dutch Haakbus) was a primitive firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. ... Muskets and bayonets aboard the frigate Grand Turk. ... The longbow (or English longbow, or Welsh longbow, see below) was a type of bow about 2. ... A 16th century pamphlet showing a mixed pike and shot formation. ...


The Tercio proved more flexible and eventually prevailed over the grand pike block, its mixed formation became the norm for European infantrymen, and the percentage of men who were armed with firearms in Tercio-like formations steadily increased as firearms advanced in technology. In the late sixteenth into the seventeenth century, smaller pike formations were used, invariably defending attached musketeers, often as a central block with two sub-units of shooters, called "sleeves of shot," on either side of the pikes. Muskets and bayonets aboard the frigate Grand Turk. ...


The End Period of Pike Usage

After the mid-seventeenth century, armies that adopted the flintlock musket began to abandon the pike altogether, or to greatly decrease their numbers. Instead, a bayonet could be affixed to the musket, turning it into an impromptu spear, and the musket's firepower was now so deadly that combat was often decided by shooting alone. The US Marine Corps OKC-3S Bayonet A bayonet (from French baïonnette) is a knife- or dagger-shaped weapon designed to fit on or over the muzzle of a rifle barrel or similar weapon. ... Firepower is a measure of the ability of weapons, specifically weapons which involve fire or explosion, to inflict harm, damage, or kill. ...


In such an environment, pikemen grew to intensely dislike their own weapon, as they were forced to stand inactive as the combat went on around them as the opposing musketeers duelled, feeling that they were mere targets rather than soldiers, and that they were adding nothing to the battle raging around them. There are examples of pikemen throwing their weapons down and seizing muskets from fallen comrades, a sign that the pike was on the wane as a weapon.


A common end date for the use of the pike in infantry formations is 1700, although such armies as the Prussian and Austrian had already abandoned the pike by that date, whereas others such as the Swedish and the Russian continued to use it for several decades afterward -- the Swedes of King Charles XII in particular using it to great effect until the 1720s. Charles XII is: Charles XII, or Karl XII, (1682 - 1718), King of Sweden - see Charles XII of Sweden a 19th_century racehorse _ see Charles XII (horse) a pub in the Yorkshire village of Heslington, named after the racehorse - see Heslington This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which...


Even later, the obsolete pike would still find a use in such countries as Ireland, Russia and China, generally in the hands of desperate peasant rebels because they did not have access to firearms.


Shorter versions of pikes called boarding pikes were also used on warships—typically to repel boarding parties—as late as the third quarter of the 19th century.


It is to be noted that the great Hawaiian warrior king Kamehameha I had an elite force of men armed with very long spears who seem to have fought in a manner identical to European pikemen, despite the usual conception of his people's general disposition for individualistic duelling as their method of close combat. It is not known whether Kamehameha himself introduced this tactic, or if it was a traditional Hawaiian weapons-usage. Native Hawaiians (in Hawaiian, kānaka ʻōiwi or kānaka maoli) are the Polynesian peoples of the Hawaiian Islands who trace their ancestry back to Marquesan and possibly Tahitian settlers (starting circa AD 400), before the arrival of British explorer Captain James Cook in 1778. ... Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great(c. ...


Pikes live on today only in traditional roles, being used to carry the colours of an infantry regiment. In the days when battle was conducted at close quarters, it was necessary for soldiers to be able to determine where, during the heat of battle, their regiment was. ... Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Infantry are soldiers who fight primarily on foot with small arms in organized military units, though they may be transported to the battlefield by horses, ships, automobiles, skis, or other means. ...


Notes

    References

    • Delbrück, Hans. History of the Art of War, originally published in 1920; University of Nebraska Press (reprint), 1990 (trans. J. Renfroe Walter). Volume III: Medieval Warfare.
    • Fegley, Randall. The Golden Spurs of Kortrijk -- How the Knights of France Fell to the Foot Soldiers of Flanders in 1302, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2002.
    • McPeak, William. Military Heritage, 7(1), August 2005, pp. 10,12,13.
    • Oman, Charles. A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century. London: Methuen & Co., 1937.
    • Parker, Geoffrey. The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West 1500-1800, Cambridge University Press, 1996.
    • Smith, Goldwyn. Irish History and the Irish Question, New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1905.
    • Vullaimy, C. E. Royal George: A Study of King George III, His Experiment in Monarchy, His Decline and Retirement, D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., 1937.

      Results from FactBites:
     
    Pike (weapon) (102 words)
    A pike is a pole weapon once used extensively by infantry and foot-soldiers principally as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults.
    Pikes were extremely long weapons, and could exceed six metres in length.
    Large pike formations were in use during the 17th century, but were eventually rendered obsolete by long range firearms such as rifles.
      More results at FactBites »

     
     

    COMMENTARY     


    Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
    Your name
    Your comments

    Want to know more?
    Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

     


    Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
    The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
    Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
    All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
    Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m