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Pike (weapon)

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This article is about the weapon, the fish with the same name is at pike
Depiction of a Macedonian phalanx with pikes. The Scottish schiltron or "Hedgehog" formation looked exactly the same. The Scots were trained to stand defensively and also to attack.

A pike is a pole weapon. It is a very long heavy thrusting spear formerly used by infantry. A pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare starting in the early Middle Ages.[1] Until around 1700 pikes were used by foot soldiers in close order formations.

The pike was a long weapon that got longer over time. It could be as long as 20 feet.[2] It had a wooden shaft with an iron or steel spearhead. It had metal along the sides for three feet behind the tip to keep it from being cut off by a sword or axe.[2]

When a number of pikes are used together it allowed a great concentration of spearheads an enemy could not get through. The length also kept the soldier at a greater distance. But the length also made pikes difficult to use in close combat. Pikemen were usually arranged in a very close tight formation of several lines deep. The earliest of these were called a phalanx formation. It was used by the Macedonians under Philip II of Macedon.[3] It was used by the armies of the Pharoahs in ancient Egypt. It was later used by the Swiss pike columns but this formation was probably based on the Scottish Schildrons.[3] The armies of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce used it to great success against the heavy cavalry of kings Edward I of England and his son Edward II of England.[3]


  1. J.F. Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare in the Western Europe during the Middle Ages, trans. S. Willard; RW Southern (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1997 ), p. 151
  2. 2.0 2.1 Trevor Nevitt Dupuy, The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare (New York: Da Capo Press, 1990). p. 85
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 R. Ewart Oakeshott, European Weapons and Armour : from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution (Woodbridge; Rochester, NY: Boydell, 2012), p. 44

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