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"The rise of pikemen in Europe" Topic

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Warspite124 Jan 2021 3:23 p.m. PST

New this week and very interesting in content…

YouTube link

Mentions Stoke Field and Flodden among others and makes a good point about the effect of a two-handed thrust against plate armour.


Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jan 2021 9:42 a.m. PST

Overall one of its weaker videos. It does not follow the "rise" of the pike, which is mainly a Swiss affair and where the defeat at Arbedo played a crucial role, and its international prominence which was a result of the three victories vs. Charles the Bold (some of them caused more by Charles then by the Swiss) and the subsequent success at Guinegate by the application of this Swiss tactic. In the years to come Maximilian, Louis and the Spanish hired Swiss not as mercenaries but to train their army in the Swiss style, and while this petered out for a while in Spain, the old bands of France (the current 1st regiment of the French army still traces back its tradition to this founding of 1479) and especially the widely available ecosystem of Landsknechts spread it usage throughout the rest of Europe.

Well, enough wisecracking for today. My apologies…

dapeters25 Jan 2021 9:45 a.m. PST

The author/youtuber mentions other things happening in the Swiss/Burgundian wars but seems to me in at least one battle the Swiss just threw themselves at Charles and I am not convince that the Swiss were in any sort of formation at least when they first hit the Burgundians.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2021 11:18 a.m. PST

Very interesting.

Warspite125 Jan 2021 5:03 p.m. PST

I would like to have seen a longer timeline going back to the Swiss (Helvetii) use of long spear against Caesar, which Caesar mentions in his Gallic Wars memoir, the Pictii long spear tradition in Scotland, and the Low Countries use of pike against the French. Courtrai, etc in the early 1300s.

See: link

With regard to the Swiss 'strength' and the Burgundian 'weakness' I have always seen the two as polar opposites in a way which directly echoes the Vietnam War.
The Swiss (NVA and 'Cong) were a motivated people-based force speaking one language (German) and united in a defensive goal, using old weapons over familiar terrain to very good effect.
The Burgundians (USA) were technologically advanced but relied too much on that technology and not enough on motivation. The Burgundians also had no common language and little inter-unit trust. Imagine an army where the commands are given in French, English, Flemish, German, Italian and possibly a bit of Spanish. Plus the English were troublesome in camp and on double pay – which cannot have endeared them to the other nationalities.
The Burgundian camp – with the English p*ssed – would have been like a late night in 1967 Saigon on pay-day! No wonder Charles hanged several English longbowmen.

I felt it was a useful introduction – but only an introduction level piece.


Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Jan 2021 2:13 a.m. PST

@Barry nice comparison, with one minor difference. Most of the fights where not fought on Swiss but on Savoyan and Burgundian territory. Swiss foreign policy was pretty aggressive at the time not by all, but by some league members, which often gave the young men a good excuse to go warring. The ultimate motivation of the VC and the Swiss was vastly different. That said, the Swiss were motivated and confident of their abilities, while Charles certainly had a good hand in neglecting morale and motivations, both on his side and on that of his opponents. Both his punishment of citizens and the execution of the Swiss garrison worked so diametrally against his further efforts (at Neuss and Grandson) that he must have been blind, probably unaware, of that issue. Bold, he was. Wise, not so. That said, pikes were part of his army.

Warspite126 Jan 2021 4:07 a.m. PST

And the VC were in Laos!
(I was generalising a bit)
Remember that earlier Swiss history against all-comers but particularly the Austrians/Holy Romans was defensive.



Yes, Charles the Bold's "heart and minds" policy was not so hot, especially after he hanged a few Swiss garrisons.


dapeters26 Jan 2021 1:30 p.m. PST

I think the their are some other things to consider the Burgundian army was a a Medieval army, Charles had recruited them based on his notions of ethic military prowess. He also had contempt for the Swiss. He had a strategy for dealing with that the video showed (he never got it to work.) The Swiss had some men who had experience as lowly foot mercenaries. Theses few men who returned to their cantons would have some influence on what worked, with out the interference of some nobility interfering. On the otherhand Swiss had their own discord and had had battles between themselves.

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Jan 2021 2:56 a.m. PST

Well, that decides the issue which army our club will do next. We made a group effort to bring a Burgundian army on the table (Perry plastic based), to have an opponent for two private projects for a French ordonnance and a Reichsbann (~1470 – which are not every advanced). I was contemplating Italians or Swiss. Will go for the Swiss now. Three massive Haufen, some skirmishers and two units of cavalry (allied Knights and medium Swiss) should do it.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Jan 2021 3:12 a.m. PST

Swiss are very more-ish! I'm now 2/3 of the way though my Swiss army build. The Perry plastics (and metals) are very nice to work with.

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