At least I've given evidence, and several besides the one woodcut at that. Until you give evidence of your own rather than offering martially unsound criticisms, you have no right to complain. At least two people agree with my main point, and Sea Skimmer seems mostly on board (given his statement about halberds being used by men outnumbered in the strict sense you are fixated on)Zinegata wrote:Indeed, most of your arguments are a classic example of someone who is emblematic of those who apply extremely scant historical evidence (a handful of engravings made years after the actual battles) while ignoring actual physical realities and focusing on one-off examples.
That has nothing to do with the argument, and you know it. Cavalry were useful against pikes because they could flank, but generally no, only heavy cavalry specifically charged headfirst into forward facing pikes and later bayonets. Any other way would be suicidal, because a horse is a big ass target. You expect to lose a lot of horses in a frontal charge. It can't be helped.By your measure we should consider pikemen to be useless against cavalry because we have cases of them breaking before a cavalry charge due to a failure of nerve by the men in the formation.
Read Sea Skimmer's posts. In later centuries, formations with as few as five ranks became more normal, because it takes time for old ideas of warfare to lose primacy even after they have gone obsolete. Having more men in formation than could see, let alone touch the enemy had been the normal mode of infantry deployment for centuries. It made sense because you expected to lose some men to ranged weapons like bows and, before that, javelins. Having a surplus of men was a good thing, because as the front ranks start dying those in the rear can reinforce them without leaving an opening in the front that the enemy could break through. Fewer ranks are easier to penetrate, and once penetrated those men can be surrounded and slaughtered fairly easily. But with the advancement of cannons you have a situation where a single cannonball can rip through the formation and kill an entire column of people at once. This fact is critical to the evolution of infantry formations and deployment right through to the Napoleonic era. We find breastplates from Pike and Shot times that have big, cannonball sized holes going through both sides of the armor. There is no doubt how the wearer died-- nor how any of his friends standing behind him went out either. But in the early part of the pike and shot era, there were fewer cannons on the battlefield, and the muskets weren't so strong they could reliably penetrate a good breastplate. This is when the term "bulletproof" was coined, after all. It referred to the dent left during ballistic tests done by blacksmiths who shot their own armor, to prove (hence the term) to their customers that it would save their lives from gunfire.So why would pikemen arrange themselves several ranks deep especially on the attack - most famously in the case of Swiss pikemen? If you say only those who can actually see the enemy would use their weapons then the vast majority of the column was actually useless. Why persist with such an insipid way of putting men in formation where the majority exist only to twiddle their thumbs and be butchered?
So the front ranks are there to be human shields for anyone behind them (both other pikemen, and more importantly as stated the ranged weapons), and the back ranks are there to reinforce the front ranks should they start to fall during push of pike. My understanding is that over time, this practice lost its utility because of increasingly common cannons on the battlefield, and ever more powerful gunpowder in the muskets. At which point, the pike really had lost its usefulness altogether. But it still took a while for people to realize this fact, just as it took a couple hundred years before anyone realized you could stick a blade on the end of a musket and replace the pikes entirely with muskets.
Also, whatever the Swiss did wasn't universal. Different nations deployed pikemen in different ways. There was no universally agreed upon "best practice" for deployment of pikemen at the time, in Europe or anywhere else where similar tactics had taken root. It was often a matter of preference by a particular nation or military leader. You seem intent on ignoring this basic point despite it being mentioned many times in the thread.
Really? You really think that's what I am arguing? This is a pure strawman. I am quite certain that you only understand that the pike is a formation weapon, but don't actually understand how formations fight.Because the answer, of course, is that your vision of how pikemen fight - or at least those who took full advantage of massed pike blocks - is wrong. The pike is not the weapon of an individual. It is the weapon of a formation.
No matter what era we talk about, no matter what kind of weapons that fit into that style of formation, the first rule is you don't get in other people's way if they are in formation with you. If the formation is based on polearms, the worst thing you can do is lower your pike from a rank too far behind the front. A pike is twenty feet of wooden inconvenience for everyone in front of you, so you keep it in parade formation unless you are either in the front lines, get moved to the front lines, or the front lines die. Its as obviously important to formation fighting as learning to march in lock-step.
This is as much an application of common sense as it is knowledge of period artwork, literature, and modern reconstruction of that period's fighting methods. If you can't see an enemy to aim your weapon at, you don't aim it at all, except in training.
Do you not understand the concept of front lines and rear lines? Or are you just so committed to being an idiot you refuse to see a difference between melee combat and modern fire based tactics? Stand in a crowd sometime and ask yourself how many people in the crowd could actually reach out and touch you. Not many, right? It does not matter how many people are in the crowd, this is geometrically true. Its the same thing in melee combat, only there are weapons in between you and the crowd of people. Fortunately, one of those weapons belongs to you, and is either a big sword, a long axe, or a pike if you are a man in formation.Lol, so your one guy with a sword can take on five to ten pikes attacking at the same time? Note that we have sources based on mercenary pay and number to know the swordsmen were only a fraction of any formation with pikemen - so unlike illustrations we do know for a fact they would be outnumbered by this amount.
Was being a swordsman or halberier a tricky job? Yes. Absolutely. Did people sign up for it? Yes, because they were paid extra for their talents. Did they have to fight ten men at a time? Fuck no. If the pikes were that densely placed (somehow) they would have no room to maneuver around and avoid strikes, making the job of halberdiers and swordsmen easier if anything.
Consistent results isn't the point, rather, plausibility and historicity is. The question is, why did they use halberds and greatswords at all? Note that they didn't use them during the entire Pike and Shot era, they used them while they could and then they went obsolete too. Besides, we have already established that the pike is a defensive unit to protect the guns from, among other things, cavalry attacks and other guns. Swords don't do that nearly as well. These men were meat shields, and they knew it. That's why they were so happy to adopt bayonets the instant someone thought of the idea. Well, at least as soon as someone thought of the socket bayonet, anyway. Good ideas need time in development.Moreover if they could consistently take on superior numbers like this then why the hell bother with pikemen? You could just replace every pikemen with a swordman and they would be both able to defend the army's guns and smash enemy pike's formations!
Real battles did not exist in three dimensions until the invention of the airplane. You are just trying to make your argument sound smarter than it really is. Again, your fixation on the Swiss example is blinding you to the larger picture of pike and shot warfare. They are one example of how to do it within a context that evolved over several centuries, throughout all of Europe and beyond. During the same time that the Swiss were fighting this way, the British were making great use of field artillery, which would eventually lead to tactics that made the Swiss method obsolete. Remember, the pike is half of equation. The other half is right there in the name of the fighting style. Shot. As in muskets and cannons. And, well, also cavalry, but for whatever reason their contribution is left out of the era's name. Point is, the artwork at HROARR? Most of it isn't Swiss.That your HROARR illustration puts swordsmen in this area denial space, frankly, is a demonstration of how artists removed from actual events and working on a 2 dimensional medium (drawings) tend to completely ignore that a real battle exists in three dimensions.
For that reason, I don't see any point in debunking the rest of your post, even though there is plenty of stupid to debunk like the degree of training swordsmen get compared to rank and file pikemen or the futility of pointing a pike (or any other weapon besides a powerful enough musket) at a breastplate. You are just wanking to how awesome the Swiss were in your mind without putting them into context next to the Italians, Spanish, Germans, Portugese, British, Japanese, French, Russians, etc.