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Tom King




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PostPosted: Thu 29 Dec, 2011 11:34 pm    Post subject: Pike heads         Reply with quote

Would a Renaissance era pike commonly have a 3 or 4 edged thrusting pattern or a more traditional spear head style? It seems most antique pikes have the former yet many period accounts talk about pikes heads being made of sword blades. I'm not sure if this is just a hiccup in translation over northern European glaives or if long bladed "hewing" spears heads were still used during this period.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2011 12:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From what I've seen, most antiques have "spear" heads. I can only remember triangular section heads on lances (and also square-section heads, and "spear" heads too).

The only square-section long needle head that I can find easily belongs to a "breach pike", apparently an ahlspiess without the rondel.

The replica pike heads that I've seen (meant to be 16th & 17th century) are all "spear".

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2011 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've researched pikes for years, and what I found is that they come in both varieties, at all times, and all places. Trifoils are definitely more rare, but they are out there.

Certain Instruction Of Orders Militarie, Sir John Smythe, 1594
"...have verie good and foure square heads of good temper..."

Directions For Musters Wherein is shewed the order of drilling for the Musket and Pike, 1638
"...the head to be well steeled, 8 inches long, broad, strong, and sword-pointed..."


From the Landeszeughaus Graz (Austrian/Styrian 16th Century)
(FYI, the dimensions were derived from comparing known dimensions to unspecified dimensions)


From the Luzern Zeughaus (Swiss 15th-16th century)
...or more correctly, from a guy selling them who bought them from the Zueghaus)





Dutch 16th Century


German 16th and 17th Century


Irish 18th Century


Last edited by Matthew Kelty on Tue 03 Jan, 2012 12:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2011 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One more for you to really show the different shapes out there.

All are from the Landeszeughaus Graz, published in "Schwert Und Speiss", page 57:



Of course, the center one isn't a pike... Happy
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2011 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

wow, the middle one of the last picture really shows how history trumps fantasy! Thanks guys. Now i just need to make the hard decision between a KOA small spear head or the hanwei 1868 lance pattern for my reenactment kit (a short 10 ft pike for usability most like. all those tree limbs and such...)
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...Spear+Head
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...Lance+Head
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2011 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A bit off topic but;
Are there any manuals or instructions out there on how to fight with a pike? The only one in English I'm aware of is Swetnam.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Dec, 2011 9:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
A bit off topic but;
Are there any manuals or instructions out there on how to fight with a pike? The only one in English I'm aware of is Swetnam.


As far as I know, Swetnam only briefly mentioned the full pike. Meyer, di Grassi, Silver, and a few other gave instructions on single combat with the pike (Meyer touches on battlefield use as well). For the battlefield, the blog I'm starting has a number of quotations on how to wield a pike in the field. Smythe, in particular, provided considerable detail.

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.

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Jon Pellett




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Dec, 2011 1:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
A bit off topic but;
Are there any manuals or instructions out there on how to fight with a pike? The only one in English I'm aware of is Swetnam.


There's some in Manciolino and Marozzo. Italian, but there are translations online
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Dec, 2011 1:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Kelty wrote:
I've researched pikes for years, and what I found is that they come in both varieties, at all times, and all places. Trifoils are definitely more rare, but they are out there.


Tom King wrote:

Now i just need to make the hard decision between a KOA small spear head or the hanwei 1868 lance pattern for my reenactment kit


Matthew, any accessible pics of triangular section pike heads? I'm interested in seeing how these differ from triangular-section lance heads (if at all).

I'd avoid the Hanwei lance head, even if such heads can be found on pikes, since it's pretty recognisable as a British lance head. OTOH, if you like to answer the same question over and over, and educate a sequence of askers about the variety of lance heads, it might be a good option.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Sat 31 Dec, 2011 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Matthew, any accessible pics of triangular section pike heads? I'm interested in seeing how these differ from triangular-section lance heads (if at all).

I'd avoid the Hanwei lance head, even if such heads can be found on pikes, since it's pretty recognisable as a British lance head. OTOH, if you like to answer the same question over and over, and educate a sequence of askers about the variety of lance heads, it might be a good option.


Timo, the bottom pic of my first post is a trefoil Pike head from Limerick, dated to 1780.

As far as the Lance head, I think the ability of a person to spot a trefoil from a quatrefoil at more than a dozen paces is far and few, and the number that would care even slimmer. It fits the bill, only you'd definitely want langets added to it. Those would definitely be a major difference between lance and pike. That hanwei head, is however, a lot narrower than a pike, with a 3/4" socket.

The funny thing is the Kult of Athena Greek spear butt spike is the perfect quatrefoil Pike, sans langets, only if it were in steel instead of brass. Perfect size and profile, though... Happy

Timo, I do have some images of lance heads archived somewhere, but am having a heck of a time putting my hands on them. I'll see if I can dig them up, but if I recall, most were from the Armeria del Palacio Real de Madrid
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Eric Hejdström




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Jan, 2012 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's another common pike head...

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Josh S




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Jan, 2012 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Kelty wrote:


Of course, the center one isn't a pike... Happy

Maybe not, but what IS, is drool-inducing. That thing just looks awesome.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Jan, 2012 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Hejdström wrote:
Here's another common pike head...



Good one, did you catch it? Happy
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Sun 01 Jan, 2012 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Hejdström wrote:
Here's another common pike head...


Put it on a stick and you'll have something that looks like it came from the Labyrinth Laughing Out Loud

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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Sun 01 Jan, 2012 5:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Hejdström wrote:
Here's another common pike head...



Funny I was thinking the same thing and a very good joke. Wink Laughing Out Loud Cool

Now I'm waiting to see some period art of a pike square using this model of pike and give a whole new meaning to cutting of pike heads with a huge two handed sword. Razz Big Grin

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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan, 2012 4:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Eric Hejdström wrote:
Here's another common pike head...



Funny I was thinking the same thing and a very good joke. Wink Laughing Out Loud Cool

Now I'm waiting to see some period art of a pike square using this model of pike and give a whole new meaning to cutting of pike heads with a huge two handed sword. Razz Big Grin

this looks to be something thats gonna get very silly very fast
and it sounds like the kind of thing youd see in a men in tights like film
"here come the pikemen'
(you see a line of men holding a variety of fish) :P
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Eric Hejdström




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan, 2012 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry couldn't resist this one...
There are actually some 16th century illustrations showing both pikes and shafts, however its regarding fishing so I don't think it counts... And no, not my fish. Don't have any headshots of any of the ones I cought.

But regarding the real pikes. The b/w picture of the ones from Landeszeughaus are what I expect a pike to look like. However the small ones on the other from the same place have quite a lot in common with some small spearheads from the viking age that's been found here on Gotland. And those are considered to be javelins...
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Matthew Kelty




PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan, 2012 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Hejdström wrote:
The b/w picture of the ones from Landeszeughaus are what I expect a pike to look like. However the small ones on the other from the same place have quite a lot in common with some small spearheads from the viking age that's been found here on Gotland. And those are considered to be javelins...


Eric, I'm not quite sure which ones you mean, but I've editied my initial post to include more pics and give more details. Which one's look like Viking era javelin designs?

As far as spear vs javelin vs pike, my guess is that all of the various shapes of head are effective tools across a broad variety of poles, and it's simply a matter of length/girth/balance, i.e. you can't throw a 16 foot pole, but the same head may be useful in a thrown as well as handheld manner.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2012 2:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
A bit off topic but;
Are there any manuals or instructions out there on how to fight with a pike? The only one in English I'm aware of is Swetnam.


There are many such manuals, but I think the number that has been electronically transcribed can be counted on the fingers of one hand. For example, there's Hendrik van Buren's manual (in Dutch) and a translation of its pike chapter from the Dragon Preservation Society: http://www.truefork.org/DragonPreservationSociety/index.htm
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Eric Hejdström




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Jan, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Kelty wrote:


Of course, the center one isn't a pike... Happy



Both the two right ones here. But the shape of the one furtherest to the right is quite similar to migration and vendel points. And those are quite common, at least in southerns Sweden, don't know what it looks like in the rest och Scandinavia. I've also seen heads like this but with tang instead of socket and those I belive are javelins or throwing arrows (like the atl atl ones) or very light spears.
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