Gentleman of the Pike
Trailing the Pike
‘Even so’ is the reply from the disguised Henry V as he is asked ‘Trail’st thou the Puissant Pike?’ by curious Sentries the night before the Battle of Agincourt. To William Shakespeare at least, there was only one weapon that was fit for a King to wield were he to fight in the ranks…
Welcome to the Pike Division – one of the finest bodies of men (and women) in The English Civil War Society. There are many excellent reasons to become a Pikeman, to wear armour, and to learn to wield ‘the puissant pike’. The Pikemen are the Hand-to-Hand specialists in the Army, armed with 16 ft long spears tipped with steel spear-points
The Pike Division was seen as the senior arm of Foote regiments due to the great prestige and antiquity of the weapon – there were Pikemen during the battles of Alexander the Great. Only the tallest and strongest of soldiers were recruited as Pikemen because great strength was needed to use the 16 ft long weapons effectively. And it was due to the honour and prestige of the Pike that many officers and even Generals would agree with Shakespeare by picking up a Pike if they were needed to fight amongst the Rank and File.
During the Civil War, a Charge of the Pikemen could decide the result of a battle – such as at Stratton, Lansdowne, and Adwalton Moor. Only the Pike Division are armed and sufficiently skilled to protect the other foot-soldiers from rampaging Cavalry. And when all else has failed, the heroics of the Pikemen can protect the retreat of a defeated army – as happened to Newcastle’s Whitecoats at Marston Moor and to Prince Rupert’s bluecoats in the final stages of the Battle of Naseby.
Fortunately, as Re-enactors we do not have to lay down our lives for real. But the Rawdon’s Pike Division fights hard on the (Re-enacted) Battlefield and experiences a lot of fun and excitement as it does so.