A member of the Kings Army, part of the English Civil War Society
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The Pike Block
THE PIKE BLOCK
The English Pike is made of Ash and was between sixteen and eighteen feet long. The Ash shaft is tapered and balanced from where the pikeman held it to the end. A metal blade with a sharp point and edges is fixed at the tapered end, and long metal strips are placed down each side for about two to three feet. They are the 'Cheeks' or 'Languet's' designed to stop the end being chopped off by cavalry.
In the early C17th the pike was considered as the Queen of weapons. Pikemen would be used to defend vulnerable musketeers and caliver men from attack by cavalry. Until the invention of the bayonet, the pike was an invaluable weapon. Once the bayonet was introduced the musketeers were then able to defend themselves from attack.
The decline actually began at the end of the C16th. Up to that time a body of Foote soldiers had pikes, polearms and longbows, muskets or calivers (small, early muskets). In 1590 Queen Elizabeth declared that 'All her archers were to be retrained as musketeers or caliver men'. There was no mention of the pike. The Polearm had become merely a bade of rank by the C17th. By the 1640s it was considered than an ideal proportion would be two shotte to one pike. The only thing that prevented this was the cost and time taken to produce the number of muskets required. By 1650 some regiments had up to six muskets to one pike.