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Pike at Flodden Field 1513

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 9:31 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Hi folks

I wonder if anyone can help me with some information please?

I am wanting to get a pike made up as would have been used by the Scots at Flodden Field in 1513. I have a few questions which I hope some of you knowledgeable people out there might be able to answer for me:

What was the typical length of the pike in this battle - 18 feet or shorter?

If 18 feet long was possible was the pike then constructed of two halves which would be coupled together with an iron collar (like the ancient Macedonian sarissa)? or was it possible to find a piece of Ash that long and carve it in a single piece? Ideally I would like to have it made of a single piece, but probably very hard to get hold of the wood these days in that length;

Were the Scots pike hafts decorated in any fashion? Read somewhere that velvet was sometimes applied to the haft to aid grip in polearms of this period - as used by the Swiss;

What style of pike head was typically in use? leaf-shaped, or diamond, or awl needle point? How long were the heads? Anybody got any pics of tudor pike heads please? or anyone know who makes them?

Were languets attached to the pike head to protect the fighting end of the pike from cavalry sword and infantry Bills?

Was an iron butt spike or collar fitted to the bottom of the pike to protect the wood from the elements?

Any information or pics most gratefully appreciated - thanks :)

Stuart

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:10 am
by Nigel
Hi folks

What was the typical length of the pike in this battle - 18 feet or shorter?

Stuart somewhere I have the English inteligence reports from Europe prior to Flodden which describes the pikes as german style and they seem to ahve been shipped over complete 18 feet seesm to be the minimum length at this time 20-24 is mentioned.

If 18 feet long was possible was the pike then constructed of two halves which would be coupled together with an iron collar (like the ancient Macedonian sarissa)? or was it possible to find a piece of Ash that long and carve it in a single piece?

No pikes would not have been joined pikes were one piece items I know my ECW regiment have just purchased some hexagonal ash pikes BUT from the images I have seen earluer ones appear to have all be round.

Ideally I would like to have it made of a single piece, but probably very hard to get hold of the wood these days in that length; see above not impossiblae but given your location tricky

Were the Scots pike hafts decorated in any fashion? Read somewhere that velvet was sometimes applied to the haft to aid grip in polearms of this period - as used by the Swiss;

Possibly for halbards etc BUT from from 20+ expereince of using big sticks this would not help at all its actually makes it ahrder to manage

What style of pike head was typically in use? leaf-shaped, or diamond, or awl needle point?

All sorts if you look at the 17th century where better documentation exists the scotts fro example blame losing a batle in irleand because their pike heads were the wrong shape and we know the New Model rejected broad heads for a needle point.
In my ECWS regiment we have broad headed combat blunts and needle pointed sharps sharps we got from the 2 J's and very good theya re too

How long were the heads? Anybody got any pics of tudor pike heads please? or anyone know who makes them? Have a looka t holbiens drawings bad war for ideas on this not long at all 4-5 inches

Were languets attached to the pike head to protect the fighting end of the pike from cavalry sword and infantry Bills?

Again sometimes

Vague answers I know but hope it helpds

Pikes.

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 12:12 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Hi Nigel

Thanks muchly for some great answers. Geez! 18 feet haft as the minimum length :shock:

That is interesting about the haft covering, right, will leave them uncovered.

Ideally I would like to have the haft carved in one piece, will see what wood is available locally.

The pike heads your group uses sound wonderful, would it be cheeky of me to ask for the twoJ's contact details please?

BIG thanks again & best wishes for 2008
Stuart

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 1:54 pm
by Mad Monk of Mitcham
It might also be worth checking the length of a "foot" from the period.

The Scottish "foot" was slightly longer than an English "foot", (minor difference) and some of the variation in described lengths could be due to local variations in length units.

Taken from wikipedia:
The foot varied between 23.51 cm in Wesel and 40.83 cm in Trier.

Pikes.

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 2:23 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Many thanks MMofM, very interesting.

OK, we have a German foot measuring anywhere between 9.25 inches to 16 inches! and just to add to the uncertainty ref. the length of haft Wikipedia's entry re. Flodden have the pike length at 16 feet long.

Will do some more research.

Cheers :)

Pikes

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:38 pm
by Dathi
Stuart

As Nigel points out the pikes were imported in one piece from Germany, so I'd suggest at having a look at what the Germans were using. Thro a very old and possibly dodgy source from 1806 suggests that the Scots were using pikes that were 18' 6" long. Having read every decent book I can find one this period James IV was franticly modernising the Scots "army" and nearly imported the pike wholesale.

Pikes.

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 4:37 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Many thanks Dathi

OK, I think I need to have a look at what the German mercenary Landsknechts were using as a 'typical' pike. Any Landsknechts out there please? :)

I think it is going to be hard to find a piece of Ash 18 feet long on the island, a woodcraftsman friend is currently having a look around for me. I might have to have it made of two halves with a hidden joint.

Still hopeful of having a pike head made, anybody got the contact details for the TwoJ's please?

Cheers
Stuart

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 8:53 pm
by Nigel
www.twojs.me.uk

the ones you want are the moorish ones

As Dave says James was impoerting pikes by the hundred hi Dave hows Helmand btw ?

There's a paraphrased document which reads I don'r want to worry you but the following ships left antwerp each with x hundred german pikes on board

Given the instructors lent to James were germans who tried and failed to get the scotss to fight in the german manner this kind of makes sense

Pikes.

Posted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:12 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Superb stuff Nigel and many thanks for the contact details of the twoJ's.

Had a quick peek at their site and their products look fantastic! Just what I need.

Cheers

Pike

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:41 pm
by Dathi
Stuart

It's very possible that pine was being used to make pike shafts. The Baltic was a primary source of a heck of a lot of wood from Northern Europe, the Baltic States, Sweden and Norway, which would include a mass of pine and ash.

Nigel, Lastminute.com. They've shagged things up good and proper so I'm stuck at home looking at having to wait till May!!!! Don't know what or how they've done it but it's pretty amusing right now!

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 2:10 am
by Lindsay
Hi!

According to the 1471 Parliament, the shaft was to be six ells long (the ell in Scotland was 37 inches = 18 1/2 ft). The 1481 Parliament forbade any shafts less than 5 1/2 ells to be imported. However, according to Ian Heath, the Pikes or "Colin Clouts" imported from France in 1513 were only 15 feet.

Pikes.

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:01 am
by Stuart Quayle
Superb info, many thanks Lindsay :D

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:13 pm
by Gockee
...and just to confuse the matter still further, Machiavelli, Art of Warre, 1560, gives Swiss pikes as being "Nine arm lengths long"

However, he fails to say whose arm!

Pikes.

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 10:00 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Cheers for this Gockee, geez! approx 27 feet long :shock:

Talking of Machiavelli's treatise the 'Art of War' is this a good read in general?

I am currently reading James Raymond's - Henry VIII's Military Revolution and read that Machiavelli's treatise simply reproduces the ancient works of Vegetius verbatim, along with extensive passages taken from Frontinus and Polybius.

Bit of a rediscovery of ancient warfare strategy, which I guess (to some degree) is what Renaissance warfare tactics link into.

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:35 pm
by Gockee
Machavelli uses ancient texts to show how the classical armies were used and compares 'modern' warefare to Greek and especially Roman methods. It seems to me that he is searching to improve on both methods, however, Machiavelli clearly has novel ideas of his own.

He uses the format of a master discussing with pupils. He explains his ideas and the pupil asks questions so that his master can explain those ideas.

but hey, read it for yourself :) Below is a link to the 1560 edition translated by Peter Whitehorne who also wrote and translated other works.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15772
and download your favourite format, but be aware, you have to get about a sixth of the way in before you get to the actual text, and its not easy reading

good luck

Machiavelli

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 6:15 pm
by Stuart Quayle
Gockee, brilliant stuff!

thanks muchly :D