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Kalle Kylmänen





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Mar, 2012 3:56 pm    Post subject: Pike/poleweapon block combat mechanics         Reply with quote

Greetings,

I found no thread on this exact subject, but if it has been discussed previously, feel free to redirect me and remove this thread. My friend (also an enthusiast in medieval warfare) once wondered to me that an engagement of two pike blocks seemed like a suicidal tactic, the first ranks would probably die within seconds. All I could say to him at the time that imho form follows function, and there was a reason for the widespread use of pikes in renaissance warfare.

This recent post reminded me of the psychological effects in medieval warfare
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
But this does not mean that the heavy cavalrymen always have to actually come into contact with the infantry formation to break it. The psychological impact of a solid line of men and horses and steel hurtling towards the infantry line at high speed was often enough to break it before actual contact, and the moment of contact happened after the infantry had begun to run away.

Some chroniclers actually mentioned this mechanics in their accounts of warfare. Procopius's account of Belisarius's campaigns comes to mind.
I am interested of to what extent were battles won by morale in a situation of two opposing units of hafted weapons. The age of pikes is to me the most fascinating time in western military history. As I am however uneducated on that specific question I decided to ask those wiser than I.

I've read from some online sites that in napoleonic warfare large formations in open terrain seldom met in hand to hand combat, instead the other line retreated before contact was made
http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/infantry_tactics_2.htm (scroll a bit over halfway through to get to the bayonet section)
according to my limited understanding, in the american civil war, rougher terrain and smaller unit sizes lead into more frequent hand-to-hand engagements.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_d...IAA#t=478s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLVwz2TeDn4
This program also backs the claim that large scale bayonet charges seldom struck the enemy, through human natural reluctance to kill another member of the species

from the swiss feature article:
Quote:
Against infantry, the Swiss nearly always took the offensive; their training gave them tremendous speed—they reckoned to charge artillery between the discharges and they liked to achieve surprise where possible, while the sight of that forest of spear-points coming down at a rush was often enough for the enemy
the difference between a 19th century bayonet charge and a swiss pike charge seems to have been that perhaps the swiss were swifter in their advance, although again I'm no expert. The quoted article implies that the swiss were very much into killing their opponents, and not just routing them. Perhaps being accustomed to violence and violent looting also helped them actually drive their spears into the flesh of their enemies, and not just to get them fall back.
Quote:
The Swiss troops of this period were remarkable both because of the terror they inspired in their opponents, and for their own extraordinary qualities. First of these was sheer courage—no Swiss force of this period ever seems to have been broken or to have run or surrendered; several literally fought to the last man, and the only concession they would make to defeat was a bitter and grudging retreat in good order, defending themselves against all attacks (for example, at Marignano, 1515, where their losses were over 50 percent). Perhaps their habit of hanging the first man to panic had something to do with this!
from the same article, I see a completely different world from the 2-5% bayonet casucasualtiesthe napoleonic wars. My first idea of the impact of extreme discipline would be to routinely be able to break the formation of the enemy, but it seems that hand to hand combat could very well ensue, and the engagement would turn to something like this
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/Bad-war.jpg

Should the swiss be considered as an exception (they certainly were exceptional to some degree), or do you think that it was common for an engagement of two bodies of pikes (or other hafted weapons) to end up as a messy close combat? The environment of 15th century was also more harsh than that of 19th century, but the extent of the difference and details escape me.
I also have personal experience from fighting in a spear formation in re-enactment, but the true fear of death, and true possibility to kill is never present. Because of that, and the aforementioned cultural factors, any simulations would be critically incomplete.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Mar, 2012 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The historical warfare blog I started back when I thought I had more time on my hands contains a nice selection of primary source quotations on this subject. As far as casualties, Yuval N. Harari quotes a period memoir (Florange) to show that the landsknecht front rank at Novara experienced a death rate of about 98%. Almost no one survived. While some gunners participated, as noted in the quotation, the majority of the deaths presumably resulted from hand-to-hand combat. You're right to consider sixteenth-century clashes a different animal.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Mar, 2012 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As a general trend, the amount of close combat and accosiated losses decreased throughout the 18th century. For instance, there seems to be more close action, both by infantry and cavalry, in the Seven Years War than in the Napoleonic wars.

As far as I can see, fighting in blocks or shieldwalls is a way of eliminating the effects of combat stress.
There is a lot of talk about the "initiate reluctance to kill." However, this might as well be seen as the innitate reluctance to engage in deadly combat.

In short, drill is efficient ways to panic. By means of drill, you replace the natural reaction pattern with some other, reflexive action.
As a pikeman, this is to stand in you spot, move with the group, and thrust. A musketman does the same, but loads and fires instead.
Thus, even those that would not engage in a loose skirmish become efficient fighters by engaging as part of a group.

For unarmoured, unshielded infantry in the line, losses are horrible. Thus this style of fighting becomes efficient only when drill enables the unit to remain standing even if losses are high.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2012 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I don't think a head-on clash between two pike formations had to be very deadly at all. For one thing, the front ranks were normally the most heavily armoured in the entire formation, and thus the least likely to be hurt by any weapon to begin with. Then pikes are pretty awkward weapons--it's not easy to see where your pike-head is amidst a forest of shafts projecting ahead of you, even less so once the enemy pikes also get into the equation, so you're essentially charging blind with your pike pointed in the general direction of the enemy formation. All in all, I see more men falling down from being knocked over by the non-penetrating impact of a pikehead against armour or clotheslined by a pikeshaft than actually killed by a penetrating thrust to the face or to a gap in the armour.

That's if both formations had the balls to charge flat-out into each other. Contemporary authors complained all the time that, instead of charging in, the pikemen would slow down to a halt just inside the reach of their pikes and "fence" with the enemy at a pikeshaft's length, which is obviously not a very effective way to use the pike (what with the wobbling of the head at the end of such a long, elastic shaft) even though it gives the appearance of busy and noisy fighting.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2012 5:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, the initial thrust might not be terribly lethal - the following melee presumably accounts for the extreme death rate at Novara. Sir John Smythe wanted to soldiers to drop their pikes and immediately engage with swords and daggers against a resolute foe. He also had halberdiers to follow the first few ranks of pikemen, as both the Swiss and landsknechts practiced in the early sixteenth century. Florange's account specifically has Swiss halberdiers routing gunners and falling on the landsknecht flank. Perhaps the most incredible detail is how Florange's father rode into the press with a few other men-at-arms to pull his badly wounded son from the piles of the dead.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2012 6:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette: As I understand it, these where instances where the troops did not follow the intended tactic?

Also, where not pike tactics developed to enable lightly armoured swiss militias to defeat heavily armoured invaders?

In such a battle, having reach (by longer spears) and momentum could be used to force the heavy troops on the defensive.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Mar, 2012 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Smythe condemned pike fencing on the battlefield, but some commanders as well as soldiers favored it. Note that, contrary to popular belief, the pike functions just fine as individual weapon held at length. It could deliver a might thrust; you even have various accounts of pike penetrating armor. I suspect Smythe's method worked better but required considerable discipline and fortitude pull off successfully. Who wants to advance into a hedge of points when you can hang back, use your pike to ward, and hopefully land a telling strike?
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Kalle Kylmänen





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PostPosted: Thu 22 Mar, 2012 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thanks for the replies, I'll have to get a copy of Harari's book.

Charging to close combat seems like a faster way of defeating an enemy, and in my experience from fighting with a spear formation in re-enactement, taking initiative and trying to conclude battlefield situations as quickly as possible can win an engagement. We don't have to worry about getting killed, so the mental threshold to get into the fight is incomparable to what it really was back then. Still, I see lot's of people sluggishly pushed back by a more aggressive opponent.

As for stopping to fight at pike's length sounds safer than engaging with shorter weapons, and reasonable from the point of view of a soldier fearing for his life and probably showing some level of reluctance to kill, I'm seeing a bit of a parallel to the napoleonic bayonet "charges." A commander willing to conserve his resources would probably see the benefits of this kind of fighting, and according to my understanding Flemish pike formations were more successful when fighting defensively.

Does anyone have numbers on pike weight? My fencing instructor has got the opportunity to handle some extant pieces (i'm not sure about the dating, but within our scope of interest), and he was surprised by the lightness of the weapons and their shafts. Then again I've been told that macedonian phalanx charges got a lot of energy from the momentum of the heavy sarissa moving towards the guts of the enemy. Sarissa were generally longer than late medieval/renaissance pikes, and I'm not sure about the similarity between macedonian phalanx tactics and pike block tactics.
In the end, the difficulty of wielding a weapon is relative. If the opponent is armed similarly (with long pikes) no matter how awkward the weapons are, there's no clear advantage to either side, if both sides choose (or bog down to) "fencing" distance.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 22 Mar, 2012 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Connolly's ash sarissa reconstruction weighed about 9lbs. Given that sixteenth-century manuals from the likes of Silver and Meyer at times instruct you to thrust and ward single with the pike, I suspect the weapons of that era weighed even less. As far as awkwardness goes, Silver gave the pikes odds over anything and everything up to weapons of his perfect length of 8-9 feet. Antonio Manciolino wrote that "longer weapons are to be preferred to shorter ones" and recommended his spear (a 10+ft lance/pike) over shorter staff weapons like the spiedo and partisan.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Jaroslav Kravcak




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PostPosted: Thu 22 Mar, 2012 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Smythe condemned pike fencing on the battlefield, but some commanders as well as soldiers favored it. Note that, contrary to popular belief, the pike functions just fine as individual weapon held at length. It could deliver a might thrust; you even have various accounts of pike penetrating armor. I suspect Smythe's method worked better but required considerable discipline and fortitude pull off successfully. Who wants to advance into a hedge of points when you can hang back, use your pike to ward, and hopefully land a telling strike?


Are some accounts of men being killed by pikes through armour (I recall battle of Pavia and french gendarmes) to be taken literally? Werent they rather stories conjured after the event to add some flavour to the story?

Also speaking about infantrymen getting close and engaging in actual longer hand to hand combat and eventually getting into enemys ranks- why should any man on foot have any bigger chance to exploit or create a gap in well arranged wall of pikes that armoured man on armoured horse? Isnt this just artificial division, for games mostly maybe? (For example battle of Seminara where Swiss attacked and routed spanish rodeleros in contrast to battle of Ravenna where, if it is correct, spanish rather exploited disorder of Landsknechts than being explicitly able to easily force their way through ordered ranks. On the other hand Swiss pikemen had the way forced through them at the battles of Dreux and incidentally at the battle of Grandson as well, while french supposedly forced their way into imperial infantry at the battle of Ceresole.)

If well arrayed pikemen, several ranks deep were impervious to cavalry, but easy target for men armed with shorter weapons on foot given the same amount of armour what was the cause?

Id also like to ask if there are memoirs of Montluc and others translated into english available on the internet. I found them only in french, which I understand only to the degree. Evil Especially concerning details of battle of Marignan.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2012 8:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Who wants to advance into a hedge of points when you can hang back, use your pike to ward, and hopefully land a telling strike?


Probably somebody who has had some experience in executing an aggressive pike charge and realised that it's not really that dangerous--especially if your formation's aggressive momentum was enough to push back and disorder the opposing pike block. This probably isn't that different to experienced modern soldiers who know that taking risks and making dashes towards the enemy (albeit under friendly covering fire) is less likely to get you killed than getting pinned down in a static position where the enemy's mortars and other fire-support assets could zero in upon you (or their manoeuvre elements could sneak up against your flank--a threat that also applied to medieval and early modern soldiers!)


Jaroslav Kravcak wrote:
Are some accounts of men being killed by pikes through armour (I recall battle of Pavia and french gendarmes) to be taken literally? Werent they rather stories conjured after the event to add some flavour to the story?


Pikes punching through armour would have been an exceptional event, but there were so many pikes and so many suits of armour that it wouldn't be unreasonable that in a few cases pikes did force a way through a weak spot in armour. Or it might have been just a minor exaggeration; if a pike entered a gap in armour (say, under the bottom of a visor that had been knocked askew, or into the unprotected area in the groin of a man-at-arms who had been knocked off the ideal position on his saddle), it's perfectly possible that an observer would describe it as the pike going "through" armour in the same way that most ordinary people today would call a rapid deflagration an "explosion" (which, technically, it isn't).


Quote:
Also speaking about infantrymen getting close and engaging in actual longer hand to hand combat and eventually getting into enemys ranks- why should any man on foot have any bigger chance to exploit or create a gap in well arranged wall of pikes that armoured man on armoured horse? Isnt this just artificial division, for games mostly maybe? (snip) If well arrayed pikemen, several ranks deep were impervious to cavalry, but easy target for men armed with shorter weapons on foot given the same amount of armour what was the cause?


Yes, the "rodeleros cutting their way through Swiss pikes" thing is a myth perpetuated by people who didn't look closer. It didn't help that Machiavelli appears to have bought this misconception and popularised it to a modern audience through his Art of War; in any case, his contemporaries probably knew better and ignored his recommendation for an army largely composed of sword-and-target men.

So what did actually happen? Well, as you said, when the targeteers faced pikemen in the open at Seminara, they got steamrolled. But the Imperial generals were not stupid, and did not try the same thing again; instead, they fought battles in positions where natural or artificial obstacles broke up the Swiss pike formations (no doubt with the help of Imperial artillery and arquebusiers), and then sent the sword-and-target men to exploit the gaps. It was a 100% combined-arms endeavour; the sword-and-target men alone wouldn't have been able to make a dent in the Swiss pike formations without the cooperation of the artillery, the arquebusiers, and/or the engineers (in various combinations). The classic example of the "new" Imperial tactics is Cerignola.


Quote:
Id also like to ask if there are memoirs of Montluc and others translated into english available on the internet. I found them only in french, which I understand only to the degree. Evil Especially concerning details of battle of Marignan.


I remember a 16th-century English translation of Montluc's memoirs being available online some time ago, but I'm not sure if it's still around.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2012 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Probably somebody who has had some experience in executing an aggressive pike charge and realised that it's not really that dangerous--especially if your formation's aggressive momentum was enough to push back and disorder the opposing pike block.


We have primary-source evidence that it was that dangerous. You can't get much worse than a 98% death rate. From the point of view of survival, the front ranks on either the landsknecht or Swiss side probably would have been better off if they had immediately broke and fled. I suspect both armies there attempted something like Smythe's tactic and got bogged down in a deadly melee, made worse by gunners and concluded with halberdier attack on the landsknecht flank. Slammed into an enemy pike formation constitutes a daring gambit: if they the enemy holds firm, everyone dies. That's how close combat with edged weapons typically works, and why soldiers typically refused to endure it if they had any other options, but pike charge promises extraordinary peril. Pike in the front ranks typically had three-quarters harness of decent quality but faced two-handed weapons like the pike and halberd as well as swords and daggers. Halberd blows could kill or knock a soldiers out even through a good helmet. Pike and sword thrusts tended to target the face or legs, while daggers thrusts might come up under the tassets to strike the belly or groin. Other warriors expect to tolerate the melee - Roman legionaries, knights, etc - faced fewer or lesser threats and had superior protection in the form of a shield or more complete armor.

Quote:
Pikes punching through armour would have been an exceptional event, but there were so many pikes and so many suits of armour that it wouldn't be unreasonable that in a few cases pikes did force a way through a weak spot in armour.


This depends on the period and whom you believe. According to Jean de Waurin in the fifteenth century, Flemish pikemen could "approach and attack horsemen from the side and pierce them right through, nor is there any armour however good that they cannot break or pierce." I've also seen a quotation from I believe an early seventeenth-century captain in which he complained that hardly any of his men had a the strength to push a pike through armor. You have various individual accounts of spears piercing through plate. And, as with any discussion of armor, I should note that late-sixteenth-century Italian author Cesare D'Evoli apparently thought armor - both mail and plate - tended to fail against weapons ranging from guns to pikes to bows. A test of halberd against armor, both dating from around 1600, produced at least limited penetration of the breastplate with the halberd's point.With that said, military writers like Smythe gave no indication that pikes would pierce armor, thought they might hurl soldiers to the ground. If D'Evoli's position makes any sense, it could reflect the performance of low-quality armor of wrought iron.

Quote:
Yes, the "rodeleros cutting their way through Swiss pikes" thing is a myth perpetuated by people who didn't look closer. It didn't help that Machiavelli appears to have bought this misconception and popularised it to a modern audience through his Art of War; in any case, his contemporaries probably knew better and ignored his recommendation for an army largely composed of sword-and-target men.


I'm not sure about this. Seminara was only one battle. Various late-sixteenth-century military writers noted the advantage of the shield against pike. Matthew Sutcliffe wrote that targetiers were "mortal to pikemen" but simultaneously useless against cavalry. This framework allows us to explain why nobody successfully adopted Machiavelli's recommendations without dismissing him as simply confused. Fourquevaux and Smythe shared Machiavelli's concerns about the ability of infantry armed primarily with pikes to triumph in a melee. Machiavelli and Smythe alike advocated a large proportion of melee specialists - targetiers and halberdiers, respectively - positioned behind a few ranks of pikemen. Fourquevaux suggest equipped pikemen with shields for the press and sending targetiers with grenades ahead of them to disrupt an enemy pike block. I find their arguments convincing and suspect targetiers and halberdiers did gives odds in a fierce melee.

However, they erred in their obsession with close combat in the press and with pitched battles in general. By the time Smythe wrote, war had become a matter gunpowder, walls, and trenches. Even taking these authors at their word and granting the utility of the targetier and halberdier in an infantry melee, that would have been insufficient reason to favor such troops over pikemen and guns. Targetiers could storm breaches, fight in the press, and skirmish passably, but foundered against a cavalry charge. Pikemen performed the critical role of defending the gunners from horsemen - even in relatively small numbers - and provided decent service in the less confined breach assaults. An army heavy on targetiers would have been either vulnerable to cavalry or deficient in gunners. It's worth noting that the decline of targetiers and halberdiers came alongside a move away from the melee and pitches battles overall.

Keeping this context in mind helps explains arguments over the bow and armor as well. Even if they offered advantage in pitched battle - which armor certainly did - pitched battles weren't important enough for this to matter.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2012 10:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Probably somebody who has had some experience in executing an aggressive pike charge and realised that it's not really that dangerous--especially if your formation's aggressive momentum was enough to push back and disorder the opposing pike block.


We have primary-source evidence that it was that dangerous. You can't get much worse than a 98% death rate.


In one battle. Unless you have evidence that this high death rate generally applies across the majority of pike vs. pike interactions in Renaissance Europe, I'm afraid I can't accept the assertion that this form of fighting was any deadlier than other forms of hand-to-hand combat.


Quote:
Yes, the "rodeleros cutting their way through Swiss pikes" thing is a myth perpetuated by people who didn't look closer. It didn't help that Machiavelli appears to have bought this misconception and popularised it to a modern audience through his Art of War; in any case, his contemporaries probably knew better and ignored his recommendation for an army largely composed of sword-and-target men.


I'm not sure about this. Seminara was only one battle. Various late-sixteenth-century military writers noted the advantage of the shield against pike. Matthew Sutcliffe wrote that targetiers were "mortal to pikemen" (etc.)[/quote]

I'm not denying the fact that sword-and-target men could be useful as a supporting component in a combined-arms formation centered upon the pike (or upon field fortifications). What I'm pointing out is that there's no actual contemporary evidence for the view that sword-and-target men were the antidote to pikes; whenever they scored successes against pike formations, it was invariably done in conjunction with some other factor (friendly troops, rough terrain, fortifications, etc.) that broke up the enemy's pike formations and made them more vulnerable than usual. Does anybody here know of a single primary account of any particular battle that actually shows sword-and-target men hacking their way unsupported into an unbroken pike formation? Look as you might, I bet the answer is no.


Quote:
However, they erred in their obsession with close combat in the press and with pitched battles in general.


This emphasis might not be as unreasonable as it may seem at first. After all, when a pitched battle did happen, the decision was usually still achieved through hand-to-hand fighting or an attempt to get into hand-to-hand fighting--much in the same way that later 18th- and 19th-century armies could blaze away merrily at each other all day but seldom achieved decision until one side actually gathered the nerve to fix bayonets and charge. In fact some English Civil War infantry skirmishes were decided much in the same way as an 18th-century battle, i.e when one side's pikes charged (sometimes along with the shot) and the other side then broke before contact, rather like later bayonet charges that often achieved decision but very rarely ended in actual hand-to-hand combat.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2012 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
In one battle. Unless you have evidence that this high death rate generally applies across the majority of pike vs. pike interactions in Renaissance Europe, I'm afraid I can't accept the assertion that this form of fighting was any deadlier than other forms of hand-to-hand combat.


Based on Frunsberg, Monluc, Smythe, and various accounts from the seventeenth century, pikemen didn't always crash into each other but could instead struggle at the length of their pikes until one side broke. The sort of combat would produce fewer casualties in the fighting than Smythe/Monluc's method. In the late sixteenth century, Humphrey Barwick and others noted how gunpowder had made extended melees a thing of the past. While a bit of an exaggeration, I think these comments reflect a real trend. Later bayonet charges and the like often ended quickly. Without armor and considerable resolve, hand-to-hand combat can hardly be endured.

Quote:
What I'm pointing out is that there's no actual contemporary evidence for the view that sword-and-target men were the antidote to pikes


Perhaps if you discount Machiavelli and Sutcliffe.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2012 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
What I'm pointing out is that there's no actual contemporary evidence for the view that sword-and-target men were the antidote to pikes


Perhaps if you discount Machiavelli and Sutcliffe.


Machiavelli's account of the Spanish targeteers at Ravenna is far too brief, not to mention that he might not even have been an eyewitness (the omission of the effect of firearms and artillery fire is really striking!)--and we know that he took his conclusions too far in advocating an army largely composed of swordsmen. Sutcliffe was a chaplain, not a frontline fighting man, and I don't recall him citing any specific and reasonably detailed example to support the contention that the sword-and-target men were the anti-pike troop par excellence.
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Mar, 2012 7:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Machiavelli's account of the Spanish targeteers at Ravenna is far too brief, not to mention that he might not even have been an eyewitness (the omission of the effect of firearms and artillery fire is really striking!)--and we know that he took his conclusions too far in advocating an army largely composed of swordsmen.


As I mentioned, we can explain this through the targetier's inability to resist cavalry. The fact that no army incorporated targetiers in the numbers Machiavelli advocated doesn't mean they weren't - to use Sutcliffe's words - "mortal to pikemen." Many writers noted the utility of targetiers who operated alongside pikemen, which was what Machiavelli actually proposed anyway. We can perhaps ascribe some of this respect for the sword and target to the idealization of antiquity, but not all of it.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Jaroslav Kravcak




Location: Slovakia
Joined: 22 Apr 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 02 Apr, 2012 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But still single targeteer would have several points aimed at him at once. Was his armour so compete as to feel completely safe? Im not sure if its valid but if my understanding is right against horse pikemen would stand their ground and close ranks while against foot thed try to approach in more open formation - could this be the factor as well?

Regarding flemmish approaching horse and piercing them all the way through from the side - might I ask if this refers to any specific event or account? Was there even a battle when flemmish actually met gendarmes of ordonnance companies rather than feudal host? I know about Guinegate, but than doesnt seem to have much with cavalry being repulsed or defeated by pikemen as most french men at arms left the field in pursuit of their routed counterparts. As far as I know in heyday of flemmish pikemen and their victories (mostly early 14th century) knights horse was generally not wearing too much plate armour protection (caparisons with some mail or hardened lether augmentation augmentation and occasionally some full mail covering, or plate chamfron and crinet perhaps? Thats just my imagination)
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Mon 02 Apr, 2012 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://l-clausewitz.livejournal.com/133036.html
http://l-clausewitz.livejournal.com/156201.html
These are links to the blog of a writer that includes his very informative discussions on the subject of pikes. Especially the second link nicely explains how to fight as a pike block and what options you have.

Macedonian pikes and Renaissance pikes are two different animals. The sarissa presumably was redeveloped from large boarding pikes, Egyptian .marines - Iphikrates - Phillip is a discussed connection. We have an archeological find interpreted as a sarissa with a very large and heavy spearhead and corresponding sauroter. The pikes of Alexander were a lot shorter than the versions of his successors who fought sarissa unit versus sarissa unit. So I would count the sarissa among the long spears and in my opinion some suggestions that they could be separated during the early Hellenistic times into two parts means a sauroter end that is similar to a goedendag for use at shorter ranges or in more flexible formations (with additional javelins and the other end as a spear).
The Renaissance pike has a very small warhead in comparison to the sarissa that was unlike the pike as well suited for slashing as for stabbing (probably changing with the lengthening of the weapon). I would consider the Polynesian and Papua pikes much closer to them than the Greek versions with demands on unit cohesion increasing due to length.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Apr, 2012 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The most recent scholarship on the sarissa rejects the heavy, blade head as misidentified and employs what we know about fifteenth- and sixteenth-century pikes as a basis for understanding. The epistemological validity of this approach remains controversial.

As far as the linked posts go, I'm under the impression that Macedonian phalanxes rarely if ever matched the valor or ferocity of the Swiss. (By most accounts, no contemporary pikemen from other nations did either.) While Alexander relied on his cavalry, the Swiss won their fame almost strictly through the pike and halberd.

Also, "push" just means "thrust." I doubt pike blocks ever engaged in the bizarre manner Clausewitz describes. (Why in the world would pikemen choose to not employ their primary weapons?) And, as I've mentioned repeatedly, Florange's account of Novara shows pike combat could be exceedingly lethal. Pike thrusts hit as hard as or harder than other staff weapons; di Grassi went so far as invoke geometry to explain the pike's potency. Commanders didn't universally oppose the fencing method: some encouraged it.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Philip G.




Location: Nordrhein-Westfahlen, Germany
Joined: 04 Oct 2009

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon 02 Apr, 2012 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If we want to examine the armour piercing capabilities of the pike, it might be helpful to look at weapons who do a go job at piercing armour.
The pollaxe and halberd come to my mind there, heavy weapons distributing their force over a small point of impact. And essentially the pike fulfills both those criteria; it is rather heavy and has a small point. Thus I don't think there is reason to assume it did a worse job against plate than a halberd or pollaxe did.

Another point I would like to adress is the targeteer: Analyzing the interaction of pike armed troops and sword fighters, why not look at the Macedonian Wars? And here we see a similar pattern as in the 16th century; romans only breaking up pike formations that already are disrupted or are being attacked at the flanks...
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