Photograph: John Beardsworth

The Pike

The pike is a 16-foot (4.9-metre) ash staff topped with a metal point (rubber points during in reenactments). It was, and is, used defensively against cavalry, but also offensively against other units of infantry as a shock assault weapon. To use a pike correctly demands strength, but also dexterity. In the early 17th century, the infantry captain was recommended:

to make choice of the taller, and abler men for his pikes, and of the shorter, stronger, and well set, with good legges, for his muskettiers …

Henry Hexham, The Principles of the Art Militarie, 1637

The pike was considered by contemporaries to be the more honourable arm on the battlefield:

… it is so in respect of its antiquity, for there hath been the use of the Pike and the Spear, many hundred years before there was any knowledge of the Musket, as in many Histories you shall finde.

Richard Elton, The Compleat Body of the Art Military, 1659

It was customary for gentlemen volunteers of the period to fight in the pike divisions and pikemen were generally referred to as Gentlemen of the Pike.

Photo: John Beardsworth

Basic Equipment

After you have acquired your basic linen shirt, regimental doublet, breeches, hose, and shoes, there are other items required to fulfil your role as a pikeman:

  • Leather Gloves or Gauntlets: To protect your hands and ease handling of the pike
  • Morion: A steel helmet

The gauntlets and morion can be purchased at events or by mail order; the regiment can lend equipment until you purchase your own. The cost of the morion will vary depending on maker and style and a second hand morion may be available at a reduced price from members of the regiment. There is a a lot of unsuitable equipment for sale and it is best to ask for advice from someone in the regiment before purchasing your equipment.