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Adam M.M.





Joined: 02 Aug 2014

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PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2015 2:28 pm    Post subject: When did spear and shield get replaced by other polearms?         Reply with quote

I'm aware that neither spears nor shields went away completely but at some point it seems glaives, halberds, etc. became much more common than spear and shield. About what time did this start happening?
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2015 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Adam. Based on the manuscripts I've seen, I'd say that polearms start to overtake spears and shields some time in the late 12th, early 13th century.
Éirinn go Brách
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Adam M.M.





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2015 3:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting. If I'm not mistaken that's around the same time blast furnaces started being used in Europe. Is that somehow related?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2015 4:23 am    Post subject: Re: When did spear and shield get replaced by other polearms         Reply with quote

Adam M.M. wrote:
I'm aware that neither spears nor shields went away completely but at some point it seems glaives, halberds, etc. became much more common than spear and shield. About what time did this start happening?


It may be that other polearms became more common than spear and shield in tandem, but I doubt that other polearms were ever more common than spears/lances. I think we find the first substantial evidence for polearms outside of spears around the time Stephen says ("substantial" in the sense of "meaningful" rather than "plentiful"). To my knowledge, other polearms only really started to supercede spear and shield in the 15th century, with precedents perhaps in the 14th century.
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2015 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depends on where exacly I guess...

But what really replaced spear and shield was mostly large spear a.k.a. 'pike' not other polearms.
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Joel Minturn





Joined: 10 Dec 2007

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PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2015 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam M.M. wrote:
Interesting. If I'm not mistaken that's around the same time blast furnaces started being used in Europe. Is that somehow related?


More people started to wear there shield (as a breastplate) instead of having in strapped to there arm. Or something like that
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Adam M.M.





Joined: 02 Aug 2014

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PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2015 12:54 pm    Post subject: Re: When did spear and shield get replaced by other polearms         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Adam M.M. wrote:
I'm aware that neither spears nor shields went away completely but at some point it seems glaives, halberds, etc. became much more common than spear and shield. About what time did this start happening?


It may be that other polearms became more common than spear and shield in tandem, but I doubt that other polearms were ever more common than spears/lances. I think we find the first substantial evidence for polearms outside of spears around the time Stephen says ("substantial" in the sense of "meaningful" rather than "plentiful"). To my knowledge, other polearms only really started to supercede spear and shield in the 15th century, with precedents perhaps in the 14th century.


Really? From what I've seen in artwork and read, it seems that with the exception of cavalry and pikemen most polearm-armed soldiers in the Late Middle Ages used some form of cut-and-thrust polearm. I suppose pikemen could have been more numerous than other polearm infantry though.
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2015 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The main reason pikemen were common was because it doesn't take a whole lot to do. All you have to do is learn some formation marching for the most part. Fighting is mostly a matter of huddling up, pointing your big long spears at the enemy, and holding on tight. Cavalry won't go up against a wall of pikes without much training, so the main way of countering pike is to bring another pike formation up and start poking back and forth.

Plus pikes are pretty cheap. All you need is a stout spear-head (easy to make) and a long stick. Halberds, billhooks, and all that take up more metal and need a little more space to use.
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Adam M.M.





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Aug, 2015 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
The main reason pikemen were common was because it doesn't take a whole lot to do. All you have to do is learn some formation marching for the most part. Fighting is mostly a matter of huddling up, pointing your big long spears at the enemy, and holding on tight. Cavalry won't go up against a wall of pikes without much training, so the main way of countering pike is to bring another pike formation up and start poking back and forth.

Plus pikes are pretty cheap. All you need is a stout spear-head (easy to make) and a long stick. Halberds, billhooks, and all that take up more metal and need a little more space to use.


But weren't shorter polearms usually included in pike formations as well? Like the Swiss halberdiers and such.
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Thrand Godfrey




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Aug, 2015 7:00 am    Post subject: Re: When did spear and shield get replaced by other polearms         Reply with quote

Adam M.M. wrote:
I'm aware that neither spears nor shields went away completely but at some point it seems glaives, halberds, etc. became much more common than spear and shield. About what time did this start happening?


Spear and shield with proper technique can be quite devastating and pierce extremely tough armors so I would say two handed spears and polearms would have became more popular after full plate was common late 14th and 15th century.

Here is a video demonstrating a test on 15th century plate with one handed spear.
Iron Age Celtic Spear Tested on 15th Century Breast Plate! + Bronze Spear Reply to Arms and Armour
https://youtu.be/E8vFfDuG-iA

This is the same plate show with 70lbs draw bow and bodkin with totally different results so spears do have extreme piercing power even one handed with proper technique.
15th Century Breast Plate Vs. 70 Pound Draw Bow with Bodkin Point! Viewer Reply!
https://youtu.be/GzcffUxLiUU

Here is some test with polearms and techniques.
Celtic Iron age Spear & Partisan Polearms Tested Against Steel Car Hood!
https://youtu.be/O55CoCbK-PA

Middle Bronze Age Spear Vs Auto Hood!
https://youtu.be/8jP3TLZ3RyE

A neat thing about the spear in overhand grip reply to Skallagrim and Skeptics
https://youtu.be/z-twT4G0qJo

Hope this puts a bit of perspective to the two weapons and use. I believe two handed polearms become more common when armour progress is up to certain standard where one handed weapons are not quite as effective and shields not as important. Pike formations have always been useful on cavalry and against other footmen with shorter weapons but getting flanked and ranged weapons such as long bows was always a problem hence the circular formations of schiltron the Scottish employed on cavalry but did little for archers.

I am a arms and armour tester and experimental archeologist trying to rediscover ancient and medieval combat methods and tactics.
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Vasilly T





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PostPosted: Tue 18 Aug, 2015 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If two-handed polearms replaced spear and shield because of better armour, then how come halberd was the most common polearm in 14-15th centuries? It doesn't look like a great armour piercer, like ahlspiess for example, cutting armour is not very efficient with it(and in general) since the edge would be glancing off a rounded plate too often, plus cutting steel with steel is never a good idea, and as a concussive weapon it's not very good as well because of the previous reason.
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Aug, 2015 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vasilly T wrote:
If two-handed polearms replaced spear and shield because of better armour, then how come halberd was the most common polearm in 14-15th centuries? It doesn't look like a great armour piercer, like ahlspiess for example, cutting armour is not very efficient with it(and in general) since the edge would be glancing off a rounded plate too often, plus cutting steel with steel is never a good idea, and as a concussive weapon it's not very good as well because of the previous reason.

Because the starting of the replacement of spear and shield started much earlier than the 14th to 15th centuries. Look at the Morgan Bilbe, you see tons of infranty with various polearms along infranty using weapon and shield. I believe the real impetous that started the shift from sear and shield being the standard for infranty to pikes and pole weapons was the widespread development of couched lance warfare. The infranty need something that either outreach a lance and stop the force of the horse or rip knights of their mounts (what halberds, bills and other short polearms can do). A spear short enought with a shield would just get you bulldozed by a knight either by a horse or his lance becuase you can't outreach him and you don't have the leverage necessary to flank and rip him off his mount.
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Vasilly T





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PostPosted: Tue 18 Aug, 2015 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Vasilly T wrote:
If two-handed polearms replaced spear and shield because of better armour, then how come halberd was the most common polearm in 14-15th centuries? It doesn't look like a great armour piercer, like ahlspiess for example, cutting armour is not very efficient with it(and in general) since the edge would be glancing off a rounded plate too often, plus cutting steel with steel is never a good idea, and as a concussive weapon it's not very good as well because of the previous reason.

Because the starting of the replacement of spear and shield started much earlier than the 14th to 15th centuries. Look at the Morgan Bilbe, you see tons of infranty with various polearms along infranty using weapon and shield. I believe the real impetous that started the shift from sear and shield being the standard for infranty to pikes and pole weapons was the widespread development of couched lance warfare. The infranty need something that either outreach a lance and stop the force of the horse or rip knights of their mounts (what halberds, bills and other short polearms can do). A spear short enought with a shield would just get you bulldozed by a knight either by a horse or his lance becuase you can't outreach him and you don't have the leverage necessary to flank and rip him off his mount.

But we don't really see the widespread use of pikes until the late15th century.
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Aug, 2015 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vasilly T wrote:
Philip Dyer wrote:
Vasilly T wrote:
If two-handed polearms replaced spear and shield because of better armour, then how come halberd was the most common polearm in 14-15th centuries? It doesn't look like a great armour piercer, like ahlspiess for example, cutting armour is not very efficient with it(and in general) since the edge would be glancing off a rounded plate too often, plus cutting steel with steel is never a good idea, and as a concussive weapon it's not very good as well because of the previous reason.

Because the starting of the replacement of spear and shield started much earlier than the 14th to 15th centuries. Look at the Morgan Bilbe, you see tons of infranty with various polearms along infranty using weapon and shield. I believe the real impetous that started the shift from sear and shield being the standard for infranty to pikes and pole weapons was the widespread development of couched lance warfare. The infranty need something that either outreach a lance and stop the force of the horse or rip knights of their mounts (what halberds, bills and other short polearms can do). A spear short enough with a shield would just get you bulldozed by a knight either by a horse or his lance becuase you can't outreach him and you don't have the leverage necessary to flank and rip him off his mount.

But we don't really see the widespread use of pikes until the late15th century.

But pike and polearm warfare started long before that, as early as the 13th century, just look at the Scottish independence wars and glaives, halberds, flails, billhooks, bardiches, the like had origins long before the late 15th century.
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