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A Monteriggionesi pikeman impaling a Fiorentini

A pike is a type of polearm that is an extremely long thrusting spear. Historically, it was primarily employed by infantry known as a pikemen as a highly effective counter to cavalry.

Description

In essence an exceedingly long spear, the pike is a cumbersome weapon on account of its size and not suited for personal combat. Instead, its usage is designed for field battles, where the formation of pikemen historically acted as a barrier against cavalry charges. These formations ensured that oncoming horsemen would be skewered by colliding into long lines of pikes.[1]

While pikes could be created from a variety of different woods and metal alloys, during the Italian Renaissance, it was common for the staff to be carved from holm oak and the spearpoint from iron.[1]

History

By the 15th century, pikemen were a staple of European armies where they were most often deployed at the front lines as a first line of defense. They were crucial to protecting other infantry units, such as crossbowmen and swordsmen, against cavalry charges. Swiss mercenaries were particularly renowned for their expertise with pikes. In 1454, while Mario Auditore, Mentor to the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins, worked to improve the defenses of Monteriggioni, he and his men studied the pikes of the Swiss to find ways to improve their own. Not long afterwards, when the Fiorentini under the command of Federico da Montefeltro laid siege to the town, both sides deployed pikemen and demonstrated their efficacy against cavalry.[1] At the Battle of Agnadello in 1509, the Assassin condotierro Bartolomeo d'Alviano fought against pikemen while desperately defending the village in the hopes of preventing the Shroud of Eden from falling into enemy hands.[1]

In the late 18th century, a polearm known as the Pike Hammer was forged which sought to fuse a warhammer, pike, and a battle-axe into a single weapon. Though the weapon was not as unwieldy or as long as a pike and in that respect, was more akin to a spear, the thick spearpoint boasted the thrusting power of a pike.[2]

Trivia

  • In Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy, pikes could be crafted in sets of three from 1 set of holk oak logs and 1 set of iron bars.
  • In Project Legacy, the icon for the Pike is actually that of a halberd. Similarly, the icon for Pikemen shows at least some among the group to be halberdiers instead.
  • Training one group of pikemen involved 2 Monteriggioni mercenaries, 2 suits of chainmail armor, and 2 pikes.

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