83. Of the Pike

As among all other weapons, which are worn by the side, the single sword is the most honorable, as being such a one which is left capable of deceit of any other: So among the weapons of the Staff, the Pike is the most plain, most honorable, and most noble weapon of all the rest.

Therefore among renowned knights and great Lords this weapon is highly esteemed, because it is as well void of deceit, as also, for that in well handling thereof, there is required great strength of body, accompanied with great value and deep judgment: for there is required in the use thereof a most subtle delicate knowledge and consideration of times, and motions, and a ready resolution to strike. These qualities may not happen or be resident in any persons, but in such as are strong of arms and courageous of stomach. Neither may they procure to get any other advantage in the handling thereof, then to be more quick and resolute both in judgment and hand than their enemy is. Therefore seeing every man may hereby know what is necessary for him so to handle it, as he may obtain victory thereby: let him resolve himself either to give it over quite, or else to handle it as he ought, and is required.

83.1. The Manner How to Handle the Pike

This renowned weapon has been of diverse diversely handled, in single combat: (for in the manner of using it in the wars, makes not at this present for my purpose.) Therefore it shall not be amiss, if (speaking of the manner of his use in these our days) I declare also mine opinion concerning the same. There have been some (who greatly regarding ease and little pain) would have the Pike to be borne in the middle. other some, more strong of arm, but weaker of heart, (to the end they might be the farther off, from hurt) accustomed to bear it at the beginning near the heel or blunt end thereof: which two ways in my judgment are to be refused, the one being too dangerous (I mean, the bearing of it in the middle) the other too difficult (I mean, the bearing it at the blunt end,) because a man is not able to stand long at his ward, neither to defend himself strongly, not offend safely, considering, much of his force is taken away, by sustaining and bearing it at the said end. So that, when a forcible blow comes he has not sufficient power to beat it off. And forasmuch as the Pike is a long straight line, which has his motion in the head or beginning thereof, which motion be it never so small, near the hand, is yet very great at the point, it is requisite, if he would strike just and straight, (when he so holds it at the end) that he be greatly practiced, and have great strength whereby he may be both skillful and able to bear it so just and even, that the point thereof strike or hit there where the hand and eye would have it. This is very hardly accomplished, aswell because it is a thing impossible to strike by the straight line, as also for that the arms being weakened with the place of the Pike, do shake and deliver it unsteadfastly. Therefore, for the avoiding of these two inconveniences, the Pike must be born within an arms length of the said heel or blunt end, in which place, it is sufficiently distant from hurt, and it is not borne with much difficulty if the hands be placed an arms length one from another of the which the hinder hand must be steadfast, I mean, hold the Pike hard, and the forehand somewhat loose: So that the Pike may shift thorough it to and fro.

guard with pike

83.2. For the Cause the Pike Makes Greater Passage with the Point than any Other Shorter Weapon

It is most manifest, that the Pike makes greater passage with his point than any other weapon: and the two hand sword, more then the ordinary sword: and the sword more then the dagger. And among all weapons, this is generally true, that the longer the weapon is, the greater the passage it makes with the point, and the greater blow with the edge. Neither does this so chance, because the weapon is more heavy, neither because there is applied more force unto it in action, as most men suppose, but rather through a natural cause which is as follows. If there be two circles, the one greater then the other, and are moved by one manner of motion, the greater shall be more swift then the less: for being greater in circumference and turning round, in the same time that the less turns it must needs be, that it goes more swiftly. So it comes to pass, that one self same hand may deliver a greater blow with the two hand sword then with a single sword, and with a long sword, then one that is shorter, and with that, then with the dagger: And with a Bill, a greater blow, then with two hand sword, and so likewise in all other weapons. Wherefore it is most clear, that of edgeblows that makes the greater stroke, which is delivered with the longer weapon. It remains now to be considered, how this falls out in the blows of the point. I say therefore, the blows of the point are also circular, so that the Pike being very long, makes the greater circle, and by consequence the greater blow of the point or the greater thrust. That the blows of the point are circular, may be showed by this reason. The arm (being as a straight line, and fixed fast in one part, as for example in the shoulder, and movable in the other, as in the hand, standing I say, fixed as a straight line, and the one end moving from the other) shall always move circularly: So that the arm cannot otherwise move, except when it is bowed, and would then make itself straight again, the which motion is also doubtful, whether it be straight yea or no. Therefore imagining that on the movable part of this arm, or straight line, there be also another thwart line, to wit, a Pike, a sword, or any other weapon, then the arm moving, carries also, circularly with it, the said thwart line, by how much, the longer it is, by so much the greater circle, as may be seen in this figure.

circular movement of pike

Whereby, it is manifest, that the Pike, the longer it is, it frames the greater circle, and consequently, is more swift, and therefore makes the greater passage. The like is to be understood of all other weapons, which the longer they are being moved by the arm, cause the greater edgeblow, and greater passage with the point.

83.3. Of the wards of the Pike

In mine opinion, if a man would either strike, or defend with the Pike, he may not otherwise use it then by the framing of two presently retire himself in the manner aforesaid.

83.4. Of the Manner How to Strike in the said Wards

When the enemy is in the low ward, a man ought always tostand either at the high or straight ward. And contrarily, in the low or straight ward, when the enemy is in the high ward. And must endeavor as forcibly and as nimble as he may, first of all, to beat off the enemy’s Pike, whether it be within or without, but yet in such sort, that he depart not much from the straight line, and thereby be constrained, to spend much time in returning thither again, And as soon as he has beaten off the enemy’s weapon, to thrust, bearing his body contrary to his arms, to the end, he may be the more covered from the thrusts, and deliver his own thrusts with the more force, always regarding in the high ward, to thrust downwards, and in the low ward, upwards, & in the straight ward, in the middle: for in this manner of thrusting, is very commodious, and consumes little time.

83.5. Of the Defense of the Wards

The hurts of these wards, are defended in the self same manner, as those of the Javelin are, to which Chapter, (having there reasoned sufficiently) I refer you, to the intent I may not repeat one thing often.And it is to be considered, that there is greater regard to be had of the times in managing this weapon then in any other, because it is not furnished with any forks, or other defenses which may help a man, but all hope of victory consists in the judgment of the times, and in dexterity of delivery.

I will not therefore at this present stand to declare any more of the true knowledge of the weapon, then that, which only appertains to be spoken in this work, but will hereafter at my more leisure, handle it more at large, at what time, it shall be known, that men (giving over all other false & vain kind of skirmishing) ought to settle themselves in this, by means whereof, their judgments are perfected, and they more insured under their weapons, and so by consequence are made more bold and hardy. And forasmuch as all this ought to be verified in deeds, and not in words, it shall be every mans part, that will exercise himself in this Art, first diligently to learn the principles, & afterwards by exercise of the weapon to attain to the most subtle and delicate knowledge & consideration of the times, without which (as I have said elsewhere) is not possible to profit therein.  For although there be happily some, who (being strong of arm, and nimble in delivering falses, either right, reversed, or straight) have been in our time accompted for tall men, yet for all that, those who are skillful in this true Art, ought not to give credit unto it, because they know assuredly that not right or reversed edge blows, get the mastery, but rather the thrusts of the point, neither the bestowing of them every way, but with advantage and in due time. Neither ought a man to strike, thereby to be stroked again, (which is the part and point, rather of a brute beast, then of a reasonable man) but to strike and remain without danger. And all which things by this true Art are easily learned.