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Resource Centre Home > The Civil Wars > Infantry > Pike  
A company of 17th century soldiers in line of march: the division of pike being led their ensign, fife and drum
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Pikemen, one with full armour the other with just a helmet
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Fully equipped pikemen at the beginning of the war might be expected to have worn body armour. However many troops, especially on the royalist side, were not so well supplied. As the war progressed the armour was largely abandoned as too expensive and also too cumbersome on a long march, just the helmet being retained.

The pikemen were armed with both a sword and a pike, which had a tapering wooden shaft about 16ft long with a steel point at the tip. When lowered all together it faced the enemy with a daunting barrier of steel points at chest height. If the enemy broke past the tips of the pikes then the pikemen would draw a short broadsword for close quarter fighting. In action against cavalry the butt of the pike would be put to the ground and secured by one foot and held at a slant to place the barrier of points close to the head height of the horses. Musketeers would retreat to the body of pike and fire at the advancing horse from beneath their protection.


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