The pike is an ancient weapon, descending from the sarissa used by the phalanxes of the Macedonian armies of Alexander the Great. It was used throughout the middle ages, and reached its pinnacle of use in central Europe during the renaissance, when Swiss pikemen, and the German landsknechts developed the use of the pike in large attack columns. This formation was important throughout the Italian wars of the 15th century, but declined when effective hand-held firearms “muskets and arquebus” were developed. In the 16th century mixed infantry tercios comprising both pike and musket became the standard throughout Europe. The muskets provided the firepower. And were protected from attack by both cavalry and other infantry units by the pike. The pike would engage other infantry in hand-to-hand combat, and this we still do. By the end of the English Civil War, the ratio of musket to pike changed from 50:50 to 60:30, but the pike did not disappear until the end of the 17th century when the bayonet was developed.
The pikeman was equipped with a 16ft (5m) long ash pike, tipped with a foot (300mm)-long steel point. For protection, he wore steel helmet and back and breast plates.
An officer’s view.
Tyldesley’s pike division aspires to portray an armoured unit of the 1640s. Each pike soldier (not exclusively male) is supplied with a pike, and we have a large stock of regimental armour. We are one of the best pike divisions in either army, and pride ourselves on being the best in the King’s Army the unit that our Roundhead opposition want to beat. The pike officers, all seasoned warriors who have worked their way up from the ranks, seek to maintain that reputation, while giving the block as much fun as possible. Pike fighting is both re-enactment and contact sport. It requires discipline, practice and drill to be successful. The exhilaration of winning a hard fought pike push cannot be described it has to be experienced. Experiences on the field are told and re-told in the beer tent and around the camp fire in our hard-earned leisure time.
If you are interested in trailing a pike in the service of the King and Sir Thomas Tyldesley, please contact us. We’ll see you on the field!