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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Historical Soldiers that Used Both Shield and Pike Reply to topic
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Nov, 2013 2:04 pm    Post subject: Historical Soldiers that Used Both Shield and Pike         Reply with quote

I'm trying to get a feel for how widespread and practical the combination of shield and pike was. I'm interested in any units that used pikes - long infantry spears held in both hands - as well as shields. For the earliest example, historians generally present the ancient Macedonian soldier as wielding sarissa in both hands with a shield strapped to the left arm. This position appears explicitly in Roger Daniel's 1625 translation of Adam Breen's 1618 infantry manual; I've attached four relevant images below. Maurice of Nassau's pikeman carried shields according to Sir Edward Cecil, though it's not clear from his description that they used shield and pike together as in the images. More than half a century earlier, Raimond de Beccarie de Pavie, baron de Fourquevaux, wanted pikeman to carry shields on their backs to sling down to wield alongside their swords when pikes became unusable in the press. Sources on the Battle of Flodden Field 1513 indicate that the mostly pike Scottish force included shields (pavises) but it's not written how they used them. The one woodcut I know of the battle doesn't feature shields.

What other sources are out there?



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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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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Nov, 2013 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The pikemen of Charles the Bold apparently carried a small leather shield on their left arms.

I'm also curious how much protection shields offered, era Renaissance-era shields. Cecil wrote that target favored by Maurice of Nassau only weighed 6lbs. I've been looking at surviving steel targets. For example, this sixteenth-century Italian target weighs exactly 6lbs and is 21-5/8ths inches in diameter. That suggests of a thickness of approximately 1.45mm. It's listed as iron. If that means wrought iron, by Alan Williams' numbers it would only take about 50 J to pierce it with an arrow point. This strikes me as insufficient protection against pikes. On the other hand, this 23-inch-diameter parade shield is approximately 1.8mm and made from medium-carbon steel overall. It would require about 150 J to pierce. A shield owned by Sir John Smythe and possibly part of a light cavalry kit has a similar thickness. Heavier targets could get up to 4mm or more and weigh 18lbs or more at 22 inches in diameter. Fourquevaux didn't describe the target he wanted for his pikemen in any detail, but he did describe the pikemen as heavily laden and "rescued" by the halberdiers behind them in an extended melee.

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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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 26 Nov, 2013 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it's been pretty solidly insisted that byzantine oplitai used a combination of the pikeand some sorm of shield, most assume it to be you standard teardrop shield, i think they mostly used the sheild via the guigestrap, how actively they held both im not too sure
it's been suggested that macedonian phalangites did a similar thing with their shield, strapped to the arm via he porpax and the rest of the weight of the shield supported by a neckstrap
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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Mon 02 Dec, 2013 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't have too much to add but I was wondering where you found the images of those plates from? This time period interests me and trying to find more books on it.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I concur, it is assumed for sarissa phalanxes of Macedonian tradition and Early to High Medieval Byzantine troops that were rather static. You can also check the very many pictorial sources from ancient China. The Qin and Han army combined crossbows and 4m/12' long spears.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The images are from Roger Daniel's 1625 Mars His Field, or the Exercise of Arms. They're copied from Adam Breen's 1618 manual.
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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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 8:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
I concur, it is assumed for sarissa phalanxes of Macedonian tradition and Early to High Medieval Byzantine troops that were rather static.


They weren't static. Macedonian pike phalanxes regularly drove their opponents back, including Romans. They were not highly *maneuverable*, but forward momentum was their thing!

As a tentative contribution to the original question, I have an old Osprey-style booklet on the Battle of Flodden (1513) that has a reconstruction of a Scottish pikeman wearing a small wooden target strapped to his left forearm. But I don't know if that is solidly documented or just pieced together from literary scraps. Or just speculation!

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 04 Dec, 2013 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

byzantine troops on the other hand might have been a bit more static due to tactical doctrines of the day making them stand in big hollow squares (read here, oversized napoleonic infantry squares) with archers sandwiched between rows of pikemen as a sort of mobile fortress base for the striking arm of the skirmishers and cavalry. as well as a place for the medical staff, and the emperor to do their thing.

but they COULD move around, one Australian group, the NVG did some experimental drills quite a number of years back, so it WAS possible that they could act aggressively,
They did however, according to what I've heard they tended to be more defensive in the bigger battles, letting the horsemen do most of the damage and themselves fending off the enemy cavalry in turn which, now that i thunk of it, was similar to the tactics used by latin crusaders, archers keep away the horse archers who are in turn protected by rows of spearmen.
It was the horsemen, particularly the barded horsemen aka eastern cataphracts, which seemed to be the main threat on the eastern frontier. (the threat of those aforementioned heavy horse might have likely been the major driving force behind the creation of the menavlion bearers as specialist troops)
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Fri 06 Dec, 2013 5:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote


The famous Battle of Alcácer Quibir might be a good starting point.
The term Moorish pike is found in the various naval armaments of this era for a short pike and I remember reading that the Moors combined pikeman and javelinmen by adding javelins to the pikemen. It would be likely that this goes along with an adarga shield - an arms combination similar to the Iphicratean peltast/hoplite that preceded the Macedonian phalanx or to the Flemish with their leather shields.

The Battle of Flodden Field mentions several blocks of pikemen, one of them by Highlanders, only protected by their targes and suffering heavily from English arrows.

My bad for not mentioning more clearly that the only Byzantine pikemen are described as a rather static force in the texts we have.
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Dec, 2013 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i pln on getting in touch with the guys who did those byzantine test drills, I'll see what their thoughts were on the subject.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Dec, 2013 5:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Sumerian phalanx used shield and pike. So did the Macedonian phalanx.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Jul, 2014 1:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In this text William Patten described Scottish pikers in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh 1547 as holding their pikes in two hands with a "buckler" on the left arm.
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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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 4:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi guys. I was going to start a new topic to discuss why bucklers weren't carried by 17th century pikemen and musketeers. But after finding this thread, it seems that something similar was attempted, but it didn't catch on. We do know that pikemen often ditched parts of their armour in order not to have to carry around the extra weight, so it makes sense that they wouldn't like the idea adding a steel target to their kit. I'm still left wondering why 17th century infantrymen didn't carry smaller bucklers, like was done in previous centuries?
Éirinn go Brách
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
In this text William Patten described Scottish pikers in the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh 1547 as holding their pikes in two hands with a "buckler" on the left arm.


Hi Benjamin. To me the text doesn't make it clear whether a central gripped buckler, or a strapped on target is meant. Patten writes

"holding their pikes in both hands, and therewith on their left [arm] their bucklers"

As arm is in brackets, I'm assuming it wasn't part of Patten's original writing, and so he might have meant the "buckler" to be in the left hand, rather than on the arm.

Éirinn go Brách
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 6:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
Hi guys. I was going to start a new topic to discuss why bucklers weren't carried by 17th century pikemen and musketeers. But after finding this thread, it seems that something similar was attempted, but it didn't catch on. We do know that pikemen often ditched parts of their armour in order not to have to carry around the extra weight, so it makes sense that they wouldn't like the idea adding a steel target to their kit. I'm still left wondering why 17th century infantrymen didn't carry smaller bucklers, like was done in previous centuries?


Well, partly weight and nuissance, as you say. But most troops in that era are levied, and equipped at state expense (or at least not at their own expense). So if you want to issue bucklers to 5000 men, YOU have to pay for them. And then watch as they all get tossed in the ditch on the way out of town...

And partly because pikemen and musketeers were supposed to do their work with pikes and muskets. The very fact that they were reduced to using swords was often a sign of a battle lost.

By that era, sword drill for grunts didn't really include buckler use, did it? I'm thinking of what I learned at Jamestown a couple decades ago. As pikemen, we only drew our swords while "repelling cavalry", holding the pikes with our left hands (pointing fowards, braced against our feet). Close combat for musketeers generally started with "club muskets".

Doesn't really matter if a general or respected expert on warfare thinks bucklers will be useful--it the *troops* don't think so, they won't carry them. And if the people paying for the gear don't think so, they won't order them in the first place.

Matthew
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
Hi Benjamin. To me the text doesn't make it clear whether a central gripped buckler, or a strapped on target is meant. Patten writes

"holding their pikes in both hands, and therewith on their left [arm] their bucklers"

As arm is in brackets, I'm assuming it wasn't part of Patten's original writing, and so he might have meant the "buckler" to be in the left hand, rather than on the arm.


The text repeatedly describes the pikers as holding their pikes "in both hands," so a center-gripped buckler strikes me as unlikely. Can you hold a center-gripped buckler and pike in the same hand? Also, "buckler" could mean any sort of shield in sixteenth-century English.

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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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2014 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

informative reply as usual Matthew.

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Can you hold a center-gripped buckler and pike in the same hand?


Possibly. At least I think so.

Quote:
Also, "buckler" could mean any sort of shield in sixteenth-century English.


Agreed. Your probably right Benjamin. I'm just pointing out another possibility.

Éirinn go Brách
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2014 6:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
And partly because pikemen and musketeers were supposed to do their work with pikes and muskets. The very fact that they were reduced to using swords was often a sign of a battle lost.


That applied more to the pike than to the shot. Musketeers and/or arquebusiers weren't always reluctant to charge with swords; Montluc's memoirs had a couple of instances where his French/Gascon arquebusiers pressed the attack with swords when they had the advantage in a fight but friendly pikes were unavailable to exploit it.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Oct, 2014 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
And partly because pikemen and musketeers were supposed to do their work with pikes and muskets. The very fact that they were reduced to using swords was often a sign of a battle lost.


That applied more to the pike than to the shot. Musketeers and/or arquebusiers weren't always reluctant to charge with swords; Montluc's memoirs had a couple of instances where his French/Gascon arquebusiers pressed the attack with swords when they had the advantage in a fight but friendly pikes were unavailable to exploit it.


Oh, well, *Gascons* would do that, ha! And I was over-generalizing at least a bit. Certainly swords would be very useful in storming fortifications and such, for instance.

We always loved "club muskets" when doing the drill. We got these snarly grins on our faces, and our war-cry was "Parry *this*, sword-boy!"

Matthew
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 27 Jul, 2017 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Benjamin. I don't know if you're still interested in this topic, but in case you are, I thought I'd share another image of a pikeman with a shield. The image is of a Basque pikeman, and comes from the Codice de Trajes dated to 1547.

http://warfare.ihostfull.com/Renaissance/Codice_De_Trajes-11r.htm

Éirinn go Brách
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