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R. Kolick





Joined: 04 Feb 2012

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PostPosted: Tue 17 Apr, 2012 5:14 pm    Post subject: shortened lances         Reply with quote

ive just finished Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell and he referances shortened lances used by knights on foot and men at arms i was wondering what is the differance between a shotened lance and a spear
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Dan P




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Apr, 2012 5:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In practice, a shortened lance might refer specifically to a longer cavalry weapon that was cut down or refitted with a shorter haft specifically for fighting on foot, as opposed to a spear which would be constructed by default for infantry use.

I saw a "short pike" in a museum once that looked a lot like a spear, but with a more "pike" style head. Like, pointier, less like a blade, with minimized cutting edges. The cynic in me wants to think the museum remounted it to fit in a case better.
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Chris Godby




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Apr, 2012 6:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In Froissart's Chronicles there are several places where he mentions lances being shortened in order to be used by dismounted knights and men at arms. He often says, quite specifically, that the lances were shortened to five feet in length oddly enough. So it seems to be a relatively well documented/ widely practised tactic I believe.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Tue 17 Apr, 2012 10:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually, a better translation would be "shortened by 5 feet." 5 feet cut off from a typical cavalry lance would give you a spear of typical infantry length, maybe 2.5-3m.
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 7:32 am    Post subject: Re: shortened lances         Reply with quote

R. Kolick wrote:
ive just finished Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell and he referances shortened lances used by knights on foot and men at arms i was wondering what is the differance between a shotened lance and a spear


This really is a great book!
I've been very tempted to build one after reading it.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you're looking for a definition concerning something that's largely a degree of semantics. The knights in the book needed a spear instead of a lance, so the available lances were shortened into spears. I don't think there's a definition for a purpose built "short lance", it's merely a descriptor the author is using to evoke a mental image for the reader.

Don't over think Cornwells descriptions. His books are good reads, I'm currently reading one myself, but he's a bit off in many of his technical points. They're good historic fiction, not historic reference material.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Chris Godby




Location: Murrieta, CA
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 11:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
Actually, a better translation would be "shortened by 5 feet." 5 feet cut off from a typical cavalry lance would give you a spear of typical infantry length, maybe 2.5-3m.


What Manuscript or translation are you working from? I have only ever had access to the 1857 English translation by Thomas Johnes ESQ.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 6:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris, the quote is from Froissart's chronicles. I will see if I can dig up the original text for you.
Edit: I can't find it right this moment. Perhaps someone else could help by digging up the original quote about the shortened lances?
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Chris Godby




Location: Murrieta, CA
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott,
I realise it is from Froissart's Chronicles. I was asking from which translation/Manuscript you were working from. I was saying that I was using the 1857 translation by Johnes (the earliest translation into english that I am aware of) for my reference. I know there are several places in his Chronicles that mention doing this, so one specific reference is not necessary. I was simply interested how you come to the conclusion that a more accurate translation was shortening by five feet and not to five feet. Just curious if you were translating directly from an existing medieval reference. =)
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If some one has the original in e-format I can translate it. I can see how either would work but I always thought 5 feet sounded very short. As well Froissart uses a spears length as a length of measurement on occasion and five feet would seem a small accomplishment so I have always wondered about that.

RPM
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Chris Godby




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 8:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall,
I do not disagree that it seems a bit short, though maybe a spear length and a shortened lance were different lengths. Unfortunately, I don't have an e-format original as my Palaeography and Medieval Latin are not the best (despite the best efforts of some educators in York Eek! ).
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 9:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris, sorry I was not very clear, I was half asleep I guess. My conclusion was drawn from reading the original text. As I remember, the quote was somewhat vaguely worded, so one could probably make a good argument for either translation. This is all from my own fairly vague memory, so take it with a grain of salt. I can't remember if it was " a cinq pieds" or "de cinq pieds." In the context of 14th-15th century warfare, "by 5 feet" just makes a lot more sense to me than "to 5 feet." A 2.5-3m spear was standard armament for infantry, so why would one shorten ones lance to only 1.5m?
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2012 9:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

apologize for hijacking the thread alittle but considering were on the topic of shortening lances/ pikes,

id like to ask as someone whoes confused... whats the difference between a long spear held in 2 hands, and a pike?

or more to the point, at what point does a spear become a pike, is there a certain length that once a spear gets to we start calling it a pike (im gonna assume that onjce a pike gets longer than 12 foot its a pike.

or does pike refer purely to the way they're used in a tactical sense?
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R. Kolick





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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2012 8:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

so the differance is not so much the type of head or length but how its made
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2012 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R. Kolick wrote:
so the differance is not so much the type of head or length but how its made


could you maybe elaborate on that? i would imagine pikes and spears would be largely made in a similar fashion ,although a pike of really long length might have to be made in sections if one cannot find trees long enough.

but i imagine a pikeshaft would be similar to a spear shaft. i.e a length of wood of either rounded or ovoid or octagonal/ hexagonal cross section?
in what wayare pikes made thats different to spears? the change in thickness of the shaft
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Tue 24 Apr, 2012 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
could you maybe elaborate on that? i would imagine pikes and spears would be largely made in a similar fashion ,although a pike of really long length might have to be made in sections if one cannot find trees long enough.


I think I remember reading somewhere that Macedonian pikes were 2 piece affairs.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Apr, 2012 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Like so many other terms for weapons, it might simply be a matter of which period you are in. The word "pike" is a simple derivate of "pique", or point. The German call it speiß. Also meaning point.

I am not sure if the term "spear" is use in the renaisance; The shorter, 2,5-3m spears where simply called half-pikes.
In short, if you fought with a spear in the 16th century, you would call it a pike, and make it 4-5m long.
A hundred years earlier, the same weapon might have been called a lance, or "huge f'in spear"
Two millenia earlier, it would be a Sarissa.

"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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Kurt Scholz





Joined: 09 Dec 2008

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PostPosted: Wed 25 Apr, 2012 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Like so many other terms for weapons, it might simply be a matter of which period you are in. The word "pike" is a simple derivate of "pique", or point. The German call it speiß. Also meaning point.

I am not sure if the term "spear" is use in the renaisance; The shorter, 2,5-3m spears where simply called half-pikes.
In short, if you fought with a spear in the 16th century, you would call it a pike, and make it 4-5m long.
A hundred years earlier, the same weapon might have been called a lance, or "huge f'in spear"
Two millenia earlier, it would be a Sarissa.


It's "Spieß" in German while "Speis" is an old general word for something to eat like in "Speis und Trank".

Pike comes from a non-German source (French piquer?) and means a weapon that has a thrusting point. The earlier long spears might still have been constructed in a spear-like fashion without an as tapering shaft and more of a blade, like the winged lance and boar spear, but time and fashion surely dictated terms.

Another issue on length of spears and pikes is how you hold them. There are two archetypes, the "schweizer Stoß" (Swiss style thrust) where you grab the pike at the balance that is 2/3 of the shaft length from the pikehead and can handle it overarm and underarm.
The other use is the "deutsche Stoß" (German/Landsknecht style thrust) where you grab the weapon at the end of the shaft in a position at the hip. I think there's a claim from the French Wars of Religion that this handling was difficult and not advised for their ad hoc pikemen.
In my imagination, it could be possible to use a shorter weapon for rapid advances in the normal two handed spear fashion alias "schweizer Stoß" and switch to the "deutscher Stoß" if range is really required. So half-pikes, in my opinion, could often work very similar to pikes, but while being lighter and allowing more rapid advances and repelling cavalry, they weren't as versatile at length in a clash of pikes (one of the reasons why the Swiss often had a cutting edge over the Landsknechts with their shorter, but still long, pikes).
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