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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Nov, 2013 8:24 am    Post subject: when does a spear become a pike?         Reply with quote

i know this might sound llike a silly question, but sometimes it seems a little arbitrary, is there a roughly official designation regarding the point a spear becomes a pike?
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Nov, 2013 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Historically, "pike" meant both the very long - typically 18ft - infantry staff weapon, the soldiers carrying this weapon, and just a point. You can see the latter definition in Joseph Swetnam's statement give odds to "a Staffe with a Pike" odds over other staff weapons.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Nov, 2013 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My own arbitrary definition is that a spear can be used with one hand (or both!), but a pike can only be used 2-handed. There's still some gray area and wiggle room there, though!

Matthew
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Nov, 2013 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're handing out one, its a spear.

If you're handing out thirty, its a pike... Happy
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Dan P




Location: Massachusetts, USA
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Nov, 2013 9:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you standing in a tight formation?

Are you standing in a tight formation all the time?

Does it not matter to you that your polearm is too long to swing, bash, or cut with because you are always in a tight formation with no room to do those things anyway?

Then its a pike.
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Thu 21 Nov, 2013 10:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Correct me it I'm wrong, but it's always been my understanding that a pike formation was primarily anti-cavalry. A spear, it seems, especially a fairly short one, would be closer to a single-combat weapon. I guess a pike formation could do against unmounted troops, but a quick swat aside and they would just be wading through a bunch of long sticks. Then, the pikemen would have to throw down and arm themselves with other weapons for close range combat. That's my thinking anyway. Once again, correct me if I'm wrong. Big Grin ................McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Thu 21 Nov, 2013 10:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Forgot to add.....If I were to be one of those pikemen that had to throw down, my long-bladed hewing spear would be a fine backup. At barely six feet, it's a very maneuverable weapon....and very fast. Wink ............McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 4:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
Correct me it I'm wrong, but it's always been my understanding that a pike formation was primarily anti-cavalry. A spear, it seems, especially a fairly short one, would be closer to a single-combat weapon. I guess a pike formation could do against unmounted troops, but a quick swat aside and they would just be wading through a bunch of long sticks. Then, the pikemen would have to throw down and arm themselves with other weapons for close range combat. That's my thinking anyway. Once again, correct me if I'm wrong. Big Grin ................McM


Well, Swiss pikes prove you wrong. Swiss pikemen were best at defeating other infantry. Since not only the first rank has pikes lowered, it's not only one wall of pike heads you must pass but several before you come near the first pikeman. Hellenistic pikemen were also highly successful against most other infantries...
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Dan P




Location: Massachusetts, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
Correct me it I'm wrong, but it's always been my understanding that a pike formation was primarily anti-cavalry. A spear, it seems, especially a fairly short one, would be closer to a single-combat weapon. I guess a pike formation could do against unmounted troops, but a quick swat aside and they would just be wading through a bunch of long sticks. Then, the pikemen would have to throw down and arm themselves with other weapons for close range combat. That's my thinking anyway. Once again, correct me if I'm wrong. Big Grin ................McM

With the formation, its not about passing the guard of one point, but many. And a pike formation is many ranks deep, so it's less a thin pointy line to break through and more like an interlocking murder hedge. Individual warriors charging a line like that on foot have no chance. Disciplined groups of infantry could attempt a charge but deflecting pike points could mean they tend to hit the next man over or one rank behind, who is probably trying to pass his own points. I think historically infantry victories against pikes have been achieved by flanking, when the pikemen did not have proper support from skirmishers, or when terrain forced a pike unit to lose formation.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Nov, 2013 4:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you, gentlemen. I stand corrected and better educated! Laughing Out Loud ........McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Sat 23 Nov, 2013 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My, admittedly very rough, distinction is that a Pike is just a long spear, used in a co-ordinated manner by a block of troops. Spears are used by individual warriors - Pike's are used by formations of soldiers. The distinction lies not in the actual size, per se, but in how it's used
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Sun 24 Nov, 2013 4:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, masters taught individuals how to use a pike in single combat, so that is not the difference.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 24 Nov, 2013 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

whats the limit you can use a spear one handed in terms of length? hoplie dory could be 2.4m to almost 3.5m sometimes i heard
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

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PostPosted: Sun 24 Nov, 2013 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
whats the limit you can use a spear one handed in terms of length? hoplie dory could be 2.4m to almost 3.5m sometimes i heard

This whole dicussion seems rather arbitary but I would guess probably past 12 feet, past the limit you could control and manuever the weapon at all angle single handed with aid of tucking another portion under the arm.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 8:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ralph Grinly wrote:
My, admittedly very rough, distinction is that a Pike is just a long spear, used in a co-ordinated manner by a block of troops. Spears are used by individual warriors - Pike's are used by formations of soldiers. The distinction lies not in the actual size, per se, but in how it's used


Spears were certainly used by formations of soldiers, for thousands of years! Greek hoplites spring to mind, plus Roman legionaries and auxiliaries of various eras, other ancient-era cultures, and most of Europe in the middle ages! Just to name a few.

Some of those folks used pikes as well, or instead, depending on when you're talking about.

Matthew
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Tue 26 Nov, 2013 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
William P wrote:
whats the limit you can use a spear one handed in terms of length? hoplie dory could be 2.4m to almost 3.5m sometimes i heard

This whole dicussion seems rather arbitary but I would guess probably past 12 feet, past the limit you could control and manuever the weapon at all angle single handed with aid of tucking another portion under the arm.


Seems like a good parameter for length. The last use if the term pike would be mid 19th century (or so) with spontoons often regarded as half pikes (6'-10'). The use of the word probably still carrying on regarding some of the shorter spears.

http://metaldetectingforum.com/showthread.php?t=93315
http://www.horsesoldier.com/products/edged-weapons/5862
http://www.uncledaveys.com/pikes.htm
http://civilwarmo.org/gallery/item/CWMO-96?nojs=1
http://www.cowanauctions.com/auctions/item.aspx?ItemId=67161

Cheers

GC
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