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Re: French pikemen

Steve Pickstock
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Soldiers often lost their swords or broke them using them to cut firewood, it is quite possible that they did use daggers and knives in fights like this - after they got past the pike points and musketeers.

Sorry for the long answer, hope that helps.
Many years ago I attended a seminar at the National Army Museum in London, UK, which was on the subject of English Civil War weapons. A demonstration on use of the pike was given, including the 'charge your pike' position. The speaker, who was from the Royal Armouries, explained that drawing the sword in this position was against the eventuality in action of the pike shaft breaking - or the pike head being cut off ie: the sword was the immediate back-up weapon. I accepted this at the time but have also sometimes wondered since then why the sword needed to be drawn when two hands on the pike-shaft would have been steadier. Maybe this is one lost in the mists of time....or the smoke of past battles?

Re: French pikemen

[...explained that drawing the sword in this position was against the eventuality in action of the pike shaft breaking - or the pike head being cut off ie: the sword was the immediate back-up weapon. I accepted this at the time but have also sometimes wondered since then why the sword needed to be drawn when two hands on the pike-shaft would have been steadier. Maybe this is one lost in the mists of time....or the smoke of past battles?}

Perhaps indeed!

By the 17thC the pike was reaching its ultimate evolution. It was seen to be THE weapon, the puissant pike, 'queen of battles'. Where possible the biggest and strongest men were chosen to be pikemen, but it was still just a long stick with a point on the end, the pointed ferrule on the butt of the pike was gone, the idea of dragoon pikemen had gone, and to most military thinkers the musket was deemed to be the future.

Looked at from the outside many people assume that a pike is an unwieldy object, needing bags of room to manouevre, but that would not have been very useful and if it had been the pike as a weapon would have died out quickly.

Pike movements were designed to enable it to be used effectively and in large numbers without too much trouble. When drilling with a pike you use the balance and weight of the pike. Moving about in close order is done at the Order - the pike is upright, the butt is held in the right hand, the shaft is locked in between the arm and the body and it's really no big deal to move around like this. If you're marching you open the space between the ranks and shoulder the pike - 45 degree angle resting on the shoulder. If you change shoulders every so often you can go all day like that. You can even take the pike by the head, and trail it along the floor behind you - just don't try any sharp turms.
Each part of a pike posture is done to a drumbeat and that avoids the pike division looking like a pile of spilled matchsticks, because all of the pikes are going in the same direction at the same time.
Manouevering a pike body calls for thought, and timing but if it's done right - the end result looks magnificent. For an example of what I mean look at Gerard Depardieu's film Cyrano de Bergerac and the advance of the Spanish tercio during the battle at the mill.

To illustrate what I mean about balance - in the charge posture - the pikeman holds the pike at shoulder level, turns his body sideways and can advance or stand with the pike point levelled with his opponent's face. The left arm is bent up and the left hand holding the pike just below the pikeman's chin. The right arm exends back down the pike with the right hand holding the butt. This balances the pike at the point of the left hand. The right hand can then move the point about and actually fence with the pike. If the pikeman is receiving an attack, by shifting his weight onto his left foot, and extending his right foot slightly he can balance himself in almost a judo like stance, he is pretty much set, able to cope with an impact at the end of the pike.

So with the charge for horse posture it's all about balance - the pike's and the pikeman's. In one of the versions of the charge posture, the pikeman leans forwards, left knee bent and right leg lying along the pike - putting his weight onto the pike, which is anchored by his right foot. This is a tireing position to be in, you'd probably only do it if you had to for a short time. But there's no need to use two hands because the pike is balanced and braced, you can if you need to but because of leverage you probably wouldn't need to.

Pikes were generally made with langets, steel straps that extended 18 inches down the shaft from the head, to stop it being lopped off, but probably a lot didn't have them. The mistake, I think, is to think of a pikeman working in isolation. Pikes are designed to be in a body, it's not just lopping off one pike head and running down the the man behind it, you've got to deal him and all of his mates, and the musketeers in front of him.

Re: French pikemen

Very helpful insight, Mr Pickstock. This is clearly one of your special subjects!! I sense that pikemen would need to be pretty fit, and would 'earn their beer' at the end of a long day....as is no doubt still the case. I'll observe the pike divisions extra-closely next time the ECW Society 'do' Newbury I or II, looking for that 'poetry in motion' that you describe :relaxed: .

Re: French pikemen

Minuteman
Very helpful insight, Mr Pickstock. This is clearly one of your special subjects!! I sense that pikemen would need to be pretty fit, and would 'earn their beer' at the end of a long day....as is no doubt still the case. I'll observe the pike divisions extra-closely next time the ECW Society 'do' Newbury I or II, looking for that 'poetry in motion' that you describe :relaxed: .
Thank you, but if you really want to get the best effect, may I suggest you catch a Sealed Knot event when you have the opportunity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the ECWS - they are a fine bunch of fellows - but as far as I am aware the SK have bigger numbers.

I was a pikeman for eleven years in the 80s/early 90s, since then I moved over to Shot, and eventually Dragoons.

Re: French pikemen

Thank you, noted! Maybe it will be Cheriton then...I first witnessed a Cheriton re-enactment as a teenager and in those days The (late and great) Brigadier Peter Young was in charge..and from the spectator sidelines I remember him being very much in charge as well!

All good wishes to pikemen everywhere, be they Sealed Knot, EWCS, or even the The 1st Tennessee Regiment of Pike which Paintdog may still be wishing to raise (circa 1862).

Re: French pikemen

Personally, I am not convinced of the use of pikes during the Spanish War of Succession. Earlier, during the long reign of Louis XIV, pikes were used. But towards the end of this reign I doubt it. I'd buy but for another conflict. If the subject seems doubtful to me for the conflict, I still want to congratulate the engraver and his level of work. Excellent.

Re: French pikemen

Zouave72
Personally, I am not convinced of the use of pikes during the Spanish War of Succession. Earlier, during the long reign of Louis XIV, pikes were used. But towards the end of this reign I doubt it. I'd buy but for another conflict. If the subject seems doubtful to me for the conflict, I still want to congratulate the engraver and his level of work. Excellent.
Dear Herve,

You may find this post from Philip Ball back in October 2019 of interest:

http://pub33.bravenet.com/forum/static/show.php?usernum=2833323740&frmid=6&msgid=1068438&cmd=show

At the time it was lost in a flood of opinion and abuse.

James

Re: French pikemen

"However shortage of flintlocks prevented the full elimination of pikes until 1708."

I'm always prepared to learn, so please inform me about the contemporary source from which Noseworthy gained his insights. Thank you.

Anyway, I hope everybody agrees that, in the French army of the WSS, pikes would have been ephemeral, to say the least. And whether or not pikemen (if there were any) would still have been armoured with cuirasses is questionable as well, isn't it? (in the Swedish army of the GNW they were not, BTW: http://www.hhogman.se/uniforms-army-sweden-1600s.htm)

Re: French pikemen

these are superb sculpts , very impressed, endless possibilities for their use, with a little conversion skills could be used for many nations and as mentioned for 1680s to 1690s, there are a couple of prints by Lucien Roulessout showing the pikemen, great one on Regiment Picardie 1690 showing a large central pike block, think sculptor got the idea from these,
again Strelets are to be commended for bringing out these marvelous sets, again my total appreciation for them

keep on bringing out more of these for WSS

cheers Old John

To Mr .Kunz

Hallo Mr.Kunz

We all know your meaning about this set,but can you please tell me / us what we can use this figures for,if they are cant be used for anything !!.I was thinking of cutting their hats of ,and give them the hats from Mars French infantry around 1680 !!!!!!!!!! or use them for swedish pikemen in great northern war !!!!!!

Have a nice day everyone

Tommy

Re: French pikemen

These are lovely figures, again with some nice command figures. Definitely also a novel subject.

Unfortunately however, I am unable to use these for either WoSS or the Great Northern War, although I fully accept that they might be ideal for League of Augsburg armies (1690s). All of the sources that I have come across indicate that the French (and other) major armies involved in the WoSS had abandoned the pike as a battlefield weapon by, at the latest, 1703. Even before this date pikemen would be a dwindling proportion of any infantry unit.

Were pikes still a significant part of any first line unit in battle in the early part of the WoSS, surely one or more of the first hand accounts of action at The Schellenberg, Blenheim and Ramillies would mention them?? I have not so far come across any such account.

For the Great Northern War, this set is unfortunately unsuitable because of the breastplates, not worn by either Swedes or Russians. The figures also do not look 'right' for Swedes to my mind. I do accept however that a little judicious trimming with a sharp knife and a suitable paint job might make them quite good as Russian pikemen....without body armour.

Now...if only this set had been modelled as the first of a new/additional range of GNW figures from Strelets, modelled as Swedish infantry without body armour and with half the figures wearing karpus caps...and with poses modified slightly to take account of the informed knowledge of the likes of Mr Pickstock…….if only.

I may not be offering to buy this set, but will be interested to see how it turns out, not least the way the pikes are moulded. If these are well executed then perhaps the same technology will allow Strelets to mould longer poles for colours/standards on their infantry command figures?

Apologies for one pedantic point also, but I am simply reflecting comments made in PSR on previous French sets in this excellent series... the spontoons of the officers are too short, despite the length of the pikes held by the troops they are commanding.

Re: French pikemen

Dear Mark,

I am thinking Russians for sure to compliment those few that you get in the Guard of Peter the Great set. The cuffs and coats will work well. Cuirasses are an easy in or out at the stroke of a brush (as is done with that hugely flexible and useful Reitars set which I am using for Swedes, Poles, Danes).

Perhaps Strelets are going to go backwards from the War of Spanish Succession? I know that Donald would prefer that they went forwards. Why not both directions Strelets, give us the "Strelets touch" of marvellous figures and an amazing rate of production?!

Cheers,

James

Re: French pikemen

James Fisher
Dear Mark,

I am thinking Russians for sure to compliment those few that you get in the Guard of Peter the Great set. The cuffs and coats will work well. Cuirasses are an easy in or out at the stroke of a brush (as is done with that hugely flexible and useful Reitars set which I am using for Swedes, Poles, Danes).

Perhaps Strelets are going to go backwards from the War of Spanish Succession? I know that Donald would prefer that they went forwards. Why not both directions Strelets, give us the "Strelets touch" of marvellous figures and an amazing rate of production?!

Cheers,

James
Hi James,

Yes, I think these new figures would work well for the GNW as Russians, and indeed perhaps as standard bearers (with a sash added as well as trimming/paintjob on the breastplate?) as well as pikemen.

And yes also to your idea of 'going back' from a central period. The year 1700 plus or minus 20 years each way sees a bit of a 'military revolution' in terms of tactics and weaponry. This makes it interesting for us as collectors/wargamers, and tricky for the likes of Strelets to model. But yes, 1680s and 90s, definitely a good period, especially if you are a 'fan' of French military dominance in Europe!

Re: French pikemen

No date or period on the box, so that should keep everyone happy, except those that don`t read what is written on the box. Nice figures and these will be great fun to paint and may tempt me, just for the joy of painting a few of them.

Re: French pikemen

A few isolated opinions on the topic:

Falkner 2014 Marlborough's War Machine, 1702-1711: "By the time William III had come to the throne in London, the ratio of pikemen to musketeers in his army had dropped to 1 in 5, and over the next few years they faded away almost entirely, the last pikes in English use reportedly going into store in June 1702, although some soldiers continued to regret their passing." Naturally this is for the English forces, but thought it was worth passing along.

Tincey 2004 Blenheim 1704: "By the beginning of 1704, the third year of the War of Spanish Succession, all infantrymen served as musketeers [in the British and French armies]." Osprey is always hit or miss in terms of accuracy, but Tincey implies via his sources that from 1701-1703 there were a few remaining pikemen. Lynn 1999's The Wars of Louis XIV 1667-1714 suggests that in the French army the ratio was down to 4.5 musketeers for one pointy boy by the preceding Nine Years War, and it may have been even lower than that for the WoSS.

You guys might also be interested in this discussion as well: http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=189234 I am currently looking for the 1721 "Histoire de la milice francaise" book by Gabriel Daniel that apparently refers to an Ordinance from King Louis himself that ordered the removal of all pikes in the French army as of 1703, which would be primary source proof. This is not really in my area of expertise though (ancient/medieval/Seven Years' War/AWI), so my library is not very well calibrated toward it.

Re: French pikemen

Cannot find the original French book, but Parlby 1827 The British Indian Military Repository Vol. V (last place I would expect to see Louis XIV info!) pg. 88-89 speaks of the 1703 French Ordinance, which he states that "the final abolition of the pike received the sanction of the authority, in compliance with the strong representations of Marshal Vauban, and much against the wish of Monsieur D'Artagan… who was very clamorous for their preservation."

Re: French pikemen

Thanks for all the historical references by several Forumers in this debate. I am as certain as can be that front line (ie: regiments in the field) units in the War of the Spanish Succession in Western Europe (and almost certainly in Italy and Spain as well) did not use the pike. I am basing this simply on the lack of any battlefield reference in my reading of any account of pikes in use.

Accounts of Marlborough's army on the march to the Danube in the summer of 1704 and prior to Blenheim would surely have mentioned the encumbrance of pikes - but do not (because they were not part of the armoury). And so far as the French were concerned, a King as powerful as Louis XIV would be obeyed the moment he issued a directive. So if he said "no more pikes by 1703" that would be an order put into practice.

I completely agree that the master figures might look nice, be worth buying to paint up with their great uniforms and gleaming breastplates, be good for modest conversion to perfectly acceptable GNW Russians etc...but I'm afraid that my WoSS French army will have no pikemen !:relaxed:

Re: French pikemen

During the Spanish War of Succession, the army of Louis XIV, is the most powerful in Europe. The coalition formed against the Sun King will achieve important victories. These victories will undermine the French army and finances. I think a few pikemen will take their places in this French army. But this is not representative. The same goes for musketeers. At the end of the war, there will be some reformations of units of pikemen and musketeers, but this is not the bulk of the army. As far as the English army is concerned, I think that pikemen and musketeers disappeared from the armies long before that time. Some pikes are still relevant in poorer countries such as Sweden, Russia, etc. In any case, I did not find any mention of the units of pike, during the descriptions of battles of that time. And again without this kind of armour. I'd buy this box, but mainly to get the drum and the officers back.

I still think that there is an imbalance of representation between a backward, under-equipped French army and the representation of the normally equipped English army. Of the four boxes representing the French army, three represent obsolete weapons (pikes and muskets). I look forward to seeing the French cavalry.

I'm still admiring about the engraving even if the options of the subjects are questionable.

best regards

Hervé

Re: French pikemen

Zouave72


I still think that there is an imbalance of representation between a backward, under-equipped French army and the representation of the normally equipped English army. Of the four boxes representing the French army, three represent obsolete weapons (pikes and muskets). I look forward to seeing the French cavalry.

I'm still admiring about the engraving even if the options of the subjects are questionable.

best regards

Hervé
Yes, I agree with this, Herve. I think that Strelets do need to release two extra French infantry sets. One of these would be 'French Fusiliers on the march' (actually with all the figures in marching, not advancing poses) equipped with long fusils with bayonets fixed; these would be different poses from the two marching poses in the Fusiliers set already released. The other set would be a 'French Guard Infantry' set (preferably with the figures mainly in 'advancing' poses) to represent the many Gardes Francais and Gardes Suisses units which served valiantly in the WoSS.

As I have requested before, there is a very definite need for a set of French Line (Not Guard) cavalry for the WoSS as well.

Hopefully Strelets will provide these sets.

Re: French pikemen

Strelets determinedly doing its own thing again.

Beautiful figures, so I will buy a box, and, after carefully extracting the drummer for the sake of my WOSS French infantry, convert the remainder to Ankh-Morpork City Watchmen.

Re: French pikemen

I am thinking of buying a box just so I can have a scene where King Louis XIV angrily confronts D'Artagan and says "WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE!?!??!" :smile:

Re: French pikemen

TheBabylonian109
I am thinking of buying a box just so I can have a scene where King Louis XIV angrily confronts D'Artagan and says "WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE!?!??!" :smile:
It is a different saying, but it is also what I think. We can find in this or that text a quotation that describes the pikemen in action. Of course, but it is not representative of the time. I will buy, but only the drummer and the officers interest me.

I like when Louis XIV speaks to d'Artagnan, especially when he asks the truth about the necklace and jewels of the Queen in the year 1708 watching the action of musketeers and pikemen against fusillers.

Don't be cruel to me, it's a joke, a clumsy touch of humor, which doesn't have much place here, but still a just little . . . :wink:

Re: French pikemen

Zouave72
TheBabylonian109
I am thinking of buying a box just so I can have a scene where King Louis XIV angrily confronts D\'Artagan and says \"WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE!?!??!\" :smile:
It is a different saying, but it is also what I think. We can find in this or that text a quotation that describes the pikemen in action. Of course, but it is not representative of the time. I will buy, but only the drummer and the officers interest me.

I like when Louis XIV speaks to d'Artagnan, especially when he asks the truth about the necklace and jewels of the Queen in the year 1708 watching the action of musketeers and pikemen against fusillers.

Don't be cruel to me, it's a joke, a clumsy touch of humor, which doesn't have much place here, but still a just little . . . :wink:
Sorry Zouave, but it wasn´t Louis XIV who was the king and husband of queen Anna.

The musketeers and d´Artagnan are figures under the reign of Louis XIII (1601-43).

Re: French pikemen

Désolé Sansovino, mais D'artagnan et ses trois camarades mousquetaires ne vécurent leurs aventures à l'époque de Louis XIII... qu'uniquement dans le roman d'Alexandre Dumas ! En réalité, le D'artagnan historique fit la quasi totalité de sa carrière sous Louis XIV et mourut le 25 juin 1673 au siège de Maastricht, pendant la guerre de Hollande.

Sorry Sansovino, but the true D'Artagnan (not Alexandre Dumas' character) spent all his career after Louis XIII's death and under the Sun King's reign. He died during the War of Holland, at the siege of Maastricht, on the 25th june 1673

Re: French pikemen

Georges de Beaulieu
Désolé Sansovino, mais D'artagnan et ses trois camarades mousquetaires ne vécurent leurs aventures à l'époque de Louis XIII... qu'uniquement dans le roman d'Alexandre Dumas ! En réalité, le D'artagnan historique fit la quasi totalité de sa carrière sous Louis XIV et mourut le 25 juin 1673 au siège de Maastricht, pendant la guerre de Hollande.

Sorry Sansovino, but the true D'Artagnan (not Alexandre Dumas' character) spent all his career after Louis XIII's death and under the Sun King's reign. He died during the War of Holland, at the siege of Maastricht, on the 25th june 1673
Sorry Georges, but the true d´Artagnan hadn´t surely nothing to do with the necklace of the queen?
The d`Artagnan which was mentioned with this story was certainly the Dumas figure, but thanks for your remark of the historical and not fictional d´Artagnan.

Re: French pikemen

Sansovino

Zouave72 probably speaks about this d'Artagnan ...

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_de_Montesquiou_d%27Artagnan

... who in fact championed the preservation of pikemen while Vauban strongly argued in favour of abolishing them. As we all know, it was Vauban who bore the palm.

But, perhaps, Zouave wants to comment himself on what exactly he meant ...

:relaxed: