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DarkMortar

Difference between spearman and pikeman?

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Its be really bothering me, is there a difference? I mean can a pikeman have a sheild also like a spearman as i know it. I usually think of pikeman without a sheild. I need to know if there is a difference since they use similar weapons. And one of them can "throw" spears or these pikes....

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Essentially, they're similar weapons, but pikes are frickin huge. A spear might be a few feet long. It can be used in close quarters or thrown. A pike can be over twenty feet long, and isn't well suited outside of the front line or calvary. The only thing that's going to happen when you try to throw your pike is you're going to trip your horse. :)

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I guess I'll throw in my ill-informed opinion before I look it up and try to be helpful. I always thought pikes were just really long sharp sticks, used by infantry to counter cavalry charges, whereas spears are smaller, more agile, often metal-tipped weapons that are used as a primary implement for hand-to-hand combat between infantry units.

I'll edit this when I'm less ignorant.

Edit: Here we go.

The pike is almost what I thought it was. IT actually had a metal point, but it was mostly used against cavalry, and ranged in length from 3 to 4 meters, apparently. It remained popular after firearms were introduced, although the tactics shifted somewhat. Pikemen in medieval times were arrayed in passive defensive "hedgehog" formations to stymie cavalry charges, and in later times were supported by more active anti-infantry units like halberdiers. They were generally vulnerable to bowmen and crossbowmen.

Spears are among the oldest tools we've got, so there's a lot of material there. The specific object to which the word refers is dependent on culture and time period. I can't help you there.

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Pikes were good against cavalry -- present a mass of sharp points that no horseman would want to charge into (or horses for that matter) -- but they could also be used reasonably effectively against other infantry that had much shorter reach weapons (like spears).

Pikes are the longest pole-arms, at around 16ft (nearly 5m) long.

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Because of the enormous size of pikes it's darn near impossible to use a shield in conjunction to it. This means that pikemen have to have decent armour or face utter obliteration by enemy archers. Spearmen, on the other hand, can wield large shields which they can employ in a testudo formation (classical Roman formation, the famous turtle) to make themselves nearly immune to arrows.
When facing cavalry, however, the short spears are vastly inferior to the long pikes. There's also the fact that you can use pikes in a deeper formation which makes it much harder for the enemy to breach your lines.
All in all, pike is a bit more specialized as it's mainly used on the deffensive (this depends on the time period and region, though) while spear is the general all-around weapon that most men in an army use because it's the cheapest true weapon (ie not a farming tool).

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Taken from the tabletop wargame rulebook for "DBA" (De Bellis Antiquitatis) are the following bits of info:

"Spears - representing all close formation infantry fighting with spears in a rigid shield wall, such as hoplites, Punic African foot, Byznatine skutatoi or Saxon fyrd. The mutual protection provided by their big shields, tight formation and row of spear points gave them great resisting power, so that two opposed bodies of spears might fence and shove for some time before one broke. An advantage could be gained against some opponents by increasing formation depth, provided the reduced frontage did not cause them to be overlapped. Steady spears could usually hold off horseman, but psiloi or light skirmishing horse could force them to halt and present shields, and might surround and destroy an outflanked body."

"Pikes - including all close formation infantry who fought collectively with pikes or long spears wielded in both hands, such as Macedonians, Scots, Flemings or Swiss. Their longer weapons made them even better than spears at holding off charging mounted troops, while in deep formations they could roll over most foot, but the long shafts also made formation keeping more difficult, so that gaps resulting from movement or the stress of combat could be exploited by blades* or warband*. Less effective shields made them more vulnerable than spears to bows and psiloi."


* - blades / warband are other troop types in the game with blades usually representative of your typical Roman legionary or dismounted medieval knight and warband representative of Germanic barbarians, or other impetuous infantry.

To sum up:

spears - good against mounted, okay against other foot, slow to force a result, poor against skirmishers

pikes - better than spears against mounted, usually much better against other foot when in deep formations, much poorer against bows and foot skirmishers.

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Spears were popular in the Roman times, especially those made of bronze, and even before that in the days of Troy and the Greeks.

When facing infantry on a field, a spear could be thrown to possibly injure an opponent making them useless in a fight, it wasn't much but it was worth trying the attempt, and the reason brzone spears were used is that when they hit something, like a shield, a person or the ground, they would twist, bend and lose their point and become useless to throw back. Of course romans used to carry bronze swords as well so that they could fight after they had thrown their spear. Much of the armour, weapons and shields in this time was bronze.

Later however, when cavalry became popular, spears got longer, started being made of wood and tipped with iron, all to try and even the balance between infantry and cavalry. A 20foot pike could be carried by a footman, then when receiving a charge the end would be set in the ground and the cavalry would be faced with having to ride into a row of razor sharp steel points, lessening their effectiveness. This forced combat tactics such as archers to try and break the line by firing into foot soldiers, foot soldiers wearing scale, and chainmail to protect them from arrows, and mounted infantry, tough soldiers who could fight even after losing their horse.

A halbard was designed for mounted infantry, being a long shafted weapon with a pike like point and a long blade for use in close-ish combat.

But as for historically, the weapons were not used at the same time as the effectiveness of the spear almost completely diminished, due to the rise of cavalry, archers and the use of iron and steel.

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Pikemen were usually used in defense, usually to defend archers against cavalry attacks, which they were vulnerable to. A pike is basically a *big* (12' or more) long pointy stick that makes cavalry die if they run into it (they're basically the medieval equivalent of barbed wire). It's heavy, so you have to hold it in both hands (and be f**kin' strong). Pikes are only useful in formation, and turning the formation was difficult, so they were very vulnerable to attacks from the sides and behind.

Spears are a hunting weapon used by practically every human tribe since pre-historic times. They're 3' to 6', and held in one hand - and you can stab animals with them. Since they work with humans too, they were sometimes used in warfare.

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a 'pike' IS a spear, the same as a lance is a spear, however not all spears are lances or pikes.

It is like comparing a modern M16 to 'firearm', where 'firearm' is to M16 as spear is to pike. Spears can come in so many forms, those used for throwing are commonly called Javelins, however Romans used 'Philum' rather than javelings.

Now, pikes used in war are usually much longer, nearly always used with two hands. They didn't always have armour, but the famous ones (Swiss for example) basically became famous BECAUSE they had armour for their pikemen.

Remember, weapon classes are not cut and dried in history, there were no standard rulebooks that everyone had to follow. People changed and morphed things as time went on. When going off to war, someone sees something that works well (often in the hands of the other guy's hands) and run home and have someone make something that looks and works similar.

A few errors here (I don't have time to cite sources however, sorry). Roman Pilum were a wood shaft, with an IRON point. (if you have a good source for bronze, please post it. Cheap websites or wikipedia aren't good sources, neither are books you pick up for less than $80)
Later the shaft became narrower, this is fairly likely to allow easier penitration of shields, with the added bonus that it bends after hitting something. The main goal was to kill someone, but if you can wound them or atleast make their shield useless, they become much easier to kill.

Other things to remember. Mail means chain/web/net, not armour. Suggested spelling it maille (frech) for better text searching. most swords are under 4 pounds, largest I'm aware of is 12 something, and it wasn't a weapon. If at any time you have someone saying their sword is too heavy, just kill them right then and put them out of their sad life.

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Quote:
Original post by Parthon
the reason brzone spears were used is that when they hit something, like a shield, a person or the ground, they would twist, bend and lose their point and become useless to throw back. Of course romans used to carry bronze swords as well so that they could fight after they had thrown their spear. Much of the armour, weapons and shields in this time was bronze.


So they used bronze spears because the tip bent... Not because almost all of their metal weapons were made out of bronze? Spears were not just used as a thrown weapon. They were often used in melee combat as well. Why would they design it so that the tip bent and couldn't be used after they were thrown? The first time they thrust their spear into an opponents shield the weapon becomes useless?

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