Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > The Pike in Single Combat: Was It Awful? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page Previous  1, 2 
Author Message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 869

PostPosted: Fri 18 Nov, 2022 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Craig,

Craig Peters wrote:
Implied in my discussions is the idea that the broadly-defined 16th century approach to fencing is more risky than those earlier approaches that rely on binding. Where there more instances where two opposing fencers were both wounded in the 16th century as opposed to the 15th and 14th? I am sure we will never know. There are so many questions about the actual performance of technique that we cannot say. At best, we can comment upon and evaluate the different approaches that have been recorded in manuscripts and remain extant today. From what I can see, approaches that tend to focus on binding and leaving the bind only in specific contexts are much safer than those approaches which blend binds with plenty of voiding, using distance, timing, feinting and the like.


So, in the first place, bind-heavy traditions persisted long after the 15th century. La Verdadera Destreza is a prime example of it. It definitely can work, but if it was that much better it would have spread further. It's not that other traditions don't understand binding and don't control the sword either; just, they'd limit contact to the very latest moment, so it will look a lot more fleeting despite basically using the same principles. I strongly doubt masters of the 16th century onwards were so dumb as to intentionally focus on the least safe methods - there is a continuous line of instruction here, so they'd have to purposefully abandon the safe way for another one at some point.

What you're giving here is a modern opinion, which is cool but of course highly debatable. My own personal modern opinion is that the safety found in the bind is a bit overrated, because the control it affords over the sword is not at all certain and by necessity it brings you in closer range, where hits can be very quick. A sword bind is not at all like a wrestling grip; if a good judo player establishes grips on you he truly controls your motions in all directions. A sword bind doesn't work like that: the sword is free to go up or down the blade, to leave contact, etc. The thing is, it becomes strong control when both people vie for the bind, because in a sense they then cooperate to make it last.

There is no safe way to sword fight is the bottom line here Happy

Now, that there is limited value in the 16th century authors to interpret the 15th, I agree of course. The source you study should always take precedence. Simply, that precedence is not indicative of superiority in approach.

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Ryan S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 263

PostPosted: Mon 21 Nov, 2022 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My understanding is that spears gradually got longer, almost as if there was a sort of arms race for the longest spear/pike. This supposedly happened in the ancient world and then again in the early modern period. Why? So what is the advantage of a longer pike? At what length does a spear start to be at a disadvantage in single combat?
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 795

PostPosted: Tue 22 Nov, 2022 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ryan S. wrote:
My understanding is that spears gradually got longer, almost as if there was a sort of arms race for the longest spear/pike. This supposedly happened in the ancient world and then again in the early modern period. Why? So what is the advantage of a longer pike? At what length does a spear start to be at a disadvantage in single combat?

In a battle between dense lines of infantry, the side with the longer spears hits first, and there is no safe way to get past the points because as you get past one rank's spears the next rank is stabbing you. And a long spear is more impressive, in warrior cultures having a big spear said "I can afford a fancy weapon and go to trouble carrying it so I must be rich and tough." On the other hand, the longer spears are heavier and get caught by wind, trees, and buildings more. Nick Sekunda found one 16th century writer who says that pikes should have ferrules so the troops won't cut a bit off the bottom to save their shoulders. And there seemed to be broad agreement that infantry with spears much over 10' long need to intensely practice moving as a group, whereas most infantry could get by with little or no drill. (This especially came up in English debates about giving up their bills for pikes, because if you want your troops to spend a month square-bashing someone has to pay for it).

Most early modern European authorities seemed to think that thrusting polearms between your height and 50% longer were best for general purposes on foot.

www.bookandsword.com
View user's profile Send private message
Ryan S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 263

PostPosted: Fri 25 Nov, 2022 7:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Ryan S. wrote:
My understanding is that spears gradually got longer, almost as if there was a sort of arms race for the longest spear/pike. This supposedly happened in the ancient world and then again in the early modern period. Why? So what is the advantage of a longer pike? At what length does a spear start to be at a disadvantage in single combat?

In a battle between dense lines of infantry, the side with the longer spears hits first, and there is no safe way to get past the points because as you get past one rank's spears the next rank is stabbing you. And a long spear is more impressive, in warrior cultures having a big spear said "I can afford a fancy weapon and go to trouble carrying it so I must be rich and tough." On the other hand, the longer spears are heavier and get caught by wind, trees, and buildings more. Nick Sekunda found one 16th century writer who says that pikes should have ferrules so the troops won't cut a bit off the bottom to save their shoulders. And there seemed to be broad agreement that infantry with spears much over 10' long need to intensely practice moving as a group, whereas most infantry could get by with little or no drill. (This especially came up in English debates about giving up their bills for pikes, because if you want your troops to spend a month square-bashing someone has to pay for it).

Most early modern European authorities seemed to think that thrusting polearms between your height and 50% longer were best for general purposes on foot.


So, would it be fair to say, that a longer pike has an advantage against a significantly shorter pike/spear, but when fighting against a swordsman, the difference between a ten-foot pike and an eighteen-foot pike isn’t going to help you.
View user's profile Send private message
Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 269

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2022 3:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ryan S. wrote:

So, would it be fair to say, that a longer pike has an advantage against a significantly shorter pike/spear, but when fighting against a swordsman, the difference between a ten-foot pike and an eighteen-foot pike isn’t going to help you.


The advantages of longer pikes are seen most in group combat. The longer the pikes, the further the unit's reach and also the more pikes protrude from the front of the formation. The more pike heads in the way, the harder the job of the horseman or infantryman with a short weapon to get within striking range.

Anthony Clipsom
View user's profile Send private message
Ryan S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 263

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2022 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Ryan S. wrote:

So, would it be fair to say, that a longer pike has an advantage against a significantly shorter pike/spear, but when fighting against a swordsman, the difference between a ten-foot pike and an eighteen-foot pike isn’t going to help you.


The advantages of longer pikes are seen most in group combat. The longer the pikes, the further the unit's reach and also the more pikes protrude from the front of the formation. The more pike heads in the way, the harder the job of the horseman or infantryman with a short weapon to get within striking range.


Yes, in general spears are better in groups, but the question is what is the advantage of extra length, and specifically in one on one combat. A swordsman is always going to have to use basically the same tactics against a pike, no longer how long it is. However, when someone with a pike fights against a lancer, the lancer has to fight differently than he would against a swordsman or another lancer.

I actually don’t think a rider has much chance of getting past a spear with a sword. Horses are good for charging, but I don’t see how well one could fence from a top one.
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 795

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2022 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ryan S. wrote:
So, would it be fair to say, that a longer pike has an advantage against a significantly shorter pike/spear, but when fighting against a swordsman, the difference between a ten-foot pike and an eighteen-foot pike isn’t going to help you.

I don't know that anyone who tried fighting with a long pike against a spear of moderate length left a description. I don't know anyone today who has tried that pair of weapons. Why not learn some spear-fighting and try it out?

Realistically, often the deciding factor will be "its a thick wood, their pike gets tangled and they drop it and draw their sword" or "they are riding the platform of an elephant, you can't reach them with your short weapon."

www.bookandsword.com
View user's profile Send private message
Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 269

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2022 12:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes, in general spears are better in groups, but the question is what is the advantage of extra length, and specifically in one on one combat.


The advantages of extra length are given in my previous answer. The advantages are not connected to one-to-one combat, but group combat. If anything, a longer pike is even more cumbersome than a shorter one, so would be even more of a disadvantage in a one-to-one fight.

Anthony Clipsom
View user's profile Send private message
Graham Shearlaw





Joined: 24 Oct 2011
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2022 12:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Ryan S. wrote:

So, would it be fair to say, that a longer pike has an advantage against a significantly shorter pike/spear, but when fighting against a swordsman, the difference between a ten-foot pike and an eighteen-foot pike isn’t going to help you.


The advantages of longer pikes are seen most in group combat. The longer the pikes, the further the unit's reach and also the more pikes protrude from the front of the formation. The more pike heads in the way, the harder the job of the horseman or infantryman with a short weapon to get within striking range.


Yet as horsemen drop spears an lances in favour of pistols and melee troops like rodeleros fade out in the late 16 an 17th century there's still a demand for full size pikes.
Now a longer pike does not threaten a wider area and there is no great advantage to another 2 foot of pike against any other weapon then another pike.
Was the contest a bit like the 1900's bayonet reach controversy? a theoretical issue ignoring the reality of battle?

I think so, not because the length does not matter but that charges have shown repeatedly to break resolve before the sides come to blows.

Second Pike are not stand alone weapon but part of a system with shot and originally a shorter weapon detachment of Halbards, Rodeleros, Doppelsöldners or something.
That the troops most able to engage in melee are first disbanded and more shot added in there place tells us that more battles where being decided that way.

Third the declining coverage of armour worn by pike men, it makes them less able to survive a melee as more and more areas are exposed.


Last edited by Graham Shearlaw on Sun 27 Nov, 2022 8:14 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Ryan S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 263

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2022 6:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Ryan S. wrote:
So, would it be fair to say, that a longer pike has an advantage against a significantly shorter pike/spear, but when fighting against a swordsman, the difference between a ten-foot pike and an eighteen-foot pike isn’t going to help you.

I don't know that anyone who tried fighting with a long pike against a spear of moderate length left a description. I don't know anyone today who has tried that pair of weapons. Why not learn some spear-fighting and try it out?

Realistically, often the deciding factor will be "its a thick wood, their pike gets tangled and they drop it and draw their sword" or "they are riding the platform of an elephant, you can't reach them with your short weapon."


I would really like to try it out. Unfortunately, the local HEMA club closed right before I tried to join, and I have been trying to find someone to study with for some time now. It is a good idea, though. Benvenuto Cellini´s fight against the lance-wielder seems to be the only historical account of the situation, and we don’t know how long the weapons are.

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
[
The advantages of extra length are given in my previous answer. The advantages are not connected to one-to-one combat, but group combat. If anything, a longer pike is even more cumbersome than a shorter one, so would be even more of a disadvantage in a one-to-one fight.


Okay, then we agree.

Graham Shearlaw wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:


The advantages of longer pikes are seen most in group combat. The longer the pikes, the further the unit's reach and also the more pikes protrude from the front of the formation. The more pike heads in the way, the harder the job of the horseman or infantryman with a short weapon to get within striking range.


Yet as horsemen drop spears an lances in favour of pistols and melee troops like rodeleros fade out in the late 16 an 17th century there's still a demand for full size pikes.
Now a longer pike does not threaten a wider area and there no great advantage to another 2 foot of pike against any other weapon then another pike.
Was the contest a bit like the 1900's bayonet reach controversy? a theoretical issue ignoring the reality of battle?

I think so, not because the length does not matter but that charges have shown repeatedly to break resolve before the sides come to blows.

Second Pike are not stand alone weapon but part of a system with shot and originally a shorter weapon detachment of Halbards, Rodeleros, Doppelsöldners or something.
That the troops most able to engage in melee are first disbanded and more shot added in there place tells us that more battles where being decided that way.

Third the declining coverage of armour worn by pike men, it makes them less able to survive a melee as more and more areas are exposed.


That part in bold was my main point, although I wasn’t sure about it. The bayonet reach controversy sounds interesting, where can I learn more about it? As a side note, Doppelsöldner is more of a pay grade than a type of fighter, so pikemen can also be a type of Doppelsöldner.
View user's profile Send private message
Graham Shearlaw





Joined: 24 Oct 2011
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 145

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2022 8:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ryan S. wrote:

That part in bold was my main point, although I wasn’t sure about it. The bayonet reach controversy sounds interesting, where can I learn more about it? As a side note, Doppelsöldner is more of a pay grade than a type of fighter, so pikemen can also be a type of Doppelsöldner.


Wikipedia does have a good covering of the bayonet reach controversy.

In short the idea is that two men armed with modern high power rifles and new long range Spitzer bullets will some how get so close to each other as to cross bayonets and then stand there an fence with them.
And then a few inches of reach or a trick single arm thrust will win the day.


I got Doppelsöldner mixed up with the two handed sword, Doppelhänder that they often used, its the ones with the swords are the ones i was talking about.
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 795

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2022 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Graham Shearlaw wrote:
In short the idea is that two men armed with modern high power rifles and new long range Spitzer bullets will some how get so close to each other as to cross bayonets and then stand there an fence with them.

There was a lot of hand to hand combat in the Great War, and my understanding is that in fall 1914 there were cases where infantry confronted each other with bayonets in the open (later on, in trench fighting, the rifle and bayonet was often too long and too prone to get stuck). The "thrown thrust" gripping the weapon at the butt is a good technique, people have been teaching it in writing since the 15th century (although it would be much harder with 5 kg of rifle than 1 kg of spear). But we are getting very far from the original topic which was pikes in single combat, skirmishing, and similar scenarios!

www.bookandsword.com
View user's profile Send private message
Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 335

PostPosted: Thu 15 Dec, 2022 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At Longpoint a number of years ago I had the opportunity to do some pike vs montante with James Clark mostly using techniques from Meyer's 1560. That experience and others have convinced me that the pike can keep up in a 1v1 scenario against a competent opponent provided the pikeman is comfortable with the weapon and it definitely was done historically so there's that. Strikes can be effective but I've had a lot of success resting the point on the ground and using the length of the weapon's shaft as a barrier, the mid section and butt can be used for wrestling if the swordsman tries to close in or alternatively you can use them to close with the swordsman once you have found his weapon. As always in fencing there is a counter to everything, including other counters.

Easton is high a quality source of information and opinion, even though I am comfy with a pike in a 1v1 fight I can see why he'd rate it so low for such an encounter. Fighting on a dueling ground or in a tournament ring where you have plenty of room to work is one thing but it would be a poor choice for self defense while walking around town. In that kind of a scenario it would be more practical to carry a conventional weapon like a sword, dagger or even a shorter stick. Happy
View user's profile Send private message
Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 269

PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2022 4:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Santa brought me a copy of Massimo Predonzani and Simon Miller's book on the Battle of Ceresole. They record an instance of a pike duel in the field. French captain De La Mole faced off against landsknecht leader Madruzzo. Both men struck their opponent in the face, De la Mole being struck above the eye and killed while Madruzzo was badly wounded by a deep cut in the cheek.
Anthony Clipsom
View user's profile Send private message
Parker D.




Location: US
Joined: 27 Jan 2020

Posts: 28

PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan, 2023 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I mean its sort of a weird question in my opinion, historically, its sort of loaded too. I mean im sure many like the english would use a pike as an anti-calvary measure alone against a horse (man at arms versus say knight on a horse), but like one on one? I mean you could.. but its like I said its a weird question. That like saying a English war bow is bad in one on one combat, bad is really the wrong word.
Not to mention Im not really a fan of spotlighting certain people as everyone is the same to a degree more cred in certain areas IF they have the backing too it like David Rawlings to a longsword, I guess, anyways. The point Im making is the reality is the truth, and the truth can only be possibly conveyed in a historical or contextual source. So to say a pike is awful in one on one combat is sort of like saying "I know it is because I was their in xyz" (unless Matt Easton has fought several Deeds of Arms with Pikes (which I don't think he has)(that was a joke). And even if someone trains with a pike it isn't real combat in a real fight people act totally differently, the mentality is totally different, and the stakes are totally different. Ask any combat veteran that. You could fight one on one with a pike, but in what context? Against what foe? A pike is something more for a battlefield in my experience, (could be wrong, Im sure theirs instances but) but it could be used "one on one". Every culture had some form of a spear, the greeks had their dory, the japanese had their yari, of course every European country had some form of spear, all of these were shorter than a pike, but thats like saying a greatsword is bad in one on one combat versus a longsword. I have a greek dory on my wall right now, or just say a weighted spear, if I went into a field right now to say fight some random knight (assuming im also a knight) in a judicial duel otherwise known as a trial by combat, and he also has a weighted spear does that mean greatswords or longswords, or even a bow of any type is "bad"? Its all context. If it was say a 14ft pike in a 30 x 30 square ring and we fought thats really still opinion, I can close the gap if I am good enough, but he can also lance me in the heart. A longsword is going to better in my hands than a spear against say a clone of my self because Iv trained more with a longsword. You seem what I am saying?
Thats not really accurate in my opinion.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > The Pike in Single Combat: Was It Awful?
Page 2 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page Previous  1, 2 All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2023 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum