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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Warfare Through the Ages > Age of Pike and Shot

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Age of Pike and Shot 30 Years War, War of Spanish Succession, English Civil War, etc.

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  #46  
Old 19 Jul 07, 16:27
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Thumbs up The fierce bloodbath at Marignano, 1515!

The Battle of Marignano, fought in Northern Italy in 1515---(when over 37,000 soldiers of various nationalities who were serving the French engaged roughly 20,000 highly trained militiamen that came pouring out of the Swiss cantons in this savage two day battle!),---was also one of my favorite moments during the Age of Pike and Shot---(though of course I'm more fond of Gaelic warfare from that period, because as everyone by now knows the Irish and Scottish Highlanders occupy this very special place in my heart! As do the Swiss, Germans, Scottish Lowlanders, the British Commonwealth troops of Celtic origin, the Native Americans, Gurkhas and the Samurai!!!).

Marignano has also gone down as one of thee most ferocious, fiercest and bloodiest battles ever fought in the entire history of Christiandom, and both sides suffered this extremely high rate of casualties. Furthermore, although they eventually retreated (in very good order, I might add!), the Swiss, as they always did, gave this spectacular account of themselves, fighting with this commendable elan', furious tenacity and great skill. The Swiss have never let me down!

Moreover, during that Battle those 9000 to 10,000 German/Dutch Landsknechtes who were fighting for the French as mercenaries also gave this outstanding, very impressive account of themselves in much the same manner as their hated, equally formidable Swiss counterparts, whom the Landsknechtes engaged in this very brutal, do-or-die crashing and smashing of pikes (though of course in my opinion the Swiss---for the most part, and when it came time for "push of pike", and in terms of ferocity, courage and toughness of fiber---were the superior of the two. Though to each his own, because both groups made great, World-class soldiers.).

It was actually, I believe, during the opening phase of that Battle that the Swiss and their Landsknechte adversaries---whom they despised with all their heart in this vituperative manner that was equally reciprocated by the pike wielding German Lanzi---came crashing together into this thunderous, earthshattering, extremely merciless collision of pikes and bodies that shook the very ground and immediately dissolved into this ultra ferocious maelstrom of whirling blades, jabbing pikes, hacking halberds, still more jabbing and stabbing pikes being thrust with this professional skill and fury, and much screaming and cursing and thrashing and smashing as men became impaled by the dozens on pikes!!! There must have been rivers of blood flowing beneath the fallen bodies and pikes.

So for the opening act any spectators present got to witness that awesome, awe-inspiring and viscerally motivated spectacle of these two similarly equipped and trained groups of soldiers formed into their familiar pike squares, or pike and halberd blocks (though I know that the Lanzi preferred using their two handed, six foot swords over halberds), going at it with all of their strength, energy, rage, insanity and determination in this exceedingly vicious, super gritty contest featuring the finest and most professional soldiers on the European mainland---(actually the Swiss and the Lanzi were the best soldiers in the World in terms of conducting conventional warfare at the time!)---whose primary objective was to beat down through "push of pike" and exterminate every member of their rival pike force or die trying in the process. Yes, it was this very bloody and intensely emotional affair indeed, and both sides, the Lanzi and the Swiss, gave it their all.

Initially, right after the first crashing and smashing of pikes, halberds and 6 foot doppelsoldier swords (from what I can remember of the details) the Swiss---because of their over two-to-one numerical advantage---gained the upper hand over the Lanzi and began to slowly push them back. Yet the German/Dutch Lanzi soon found their strength and courage, dug into the ground with their heels, formed this unbreakable wall of pikes which forced the attacking Swiss to a halt, switched their gears by putting their backs into their pikes in order to generate much forward motion that would engender this furious momentum, and began to reverse the process as they surged forward through the non-stop rigors of "push of pike". Thus did the Lanzi beat the Swiss back, step by bloody step, as they gave one incredible, collective push that nearly routed the Swiss and won the field. Yet the ever indomitable Swiss struck back!

And strike back they did!!! Though no sooner did the Swiss win back much ground that they had previously lost than the Lanzi once again repeated the prior process by again switching gears and pushing forward with all their might and visceral rage. So the pike battle itself became this see-saw, back-and-forth contest where each side would alternately lose ground only to gain it back in a matter of minutes. As you could envision the fury, blood and energy that was expended over those several minutes was more than enough to leave the atmosphere supercharged with much emotion and hate and unbridled intensity. Furthermore, when it came to this type of fighting---and if one exempts the Spanish Tercio, Scottish Lowlanders and the Turkish Jannersaries---the Swiss and Lanzi were the most redoubtable and fearsome professional soldiers on Earth (though of course when it came to close-quarter fighting with blade weapons the Irish, Scottish Highlanders, Native Americans and the Samurai were the deadliest, most dexterous and most ferocious!!!).

So the battle went back-and-forth for several supercharged hours, yet because of much help from their allies in the form of light cavalry and these well aimed crossbow showers, the German/Dutch Lanzi eventually got the upper hand, only to lose it once more as the Swiss gave one final, ferocious push before both armies decided to slowly ease their fighting, cease their combat exertions/operations because of this mutual weariness, then back away from each other and lay down for the night until sunrise the next day. As you can imagine every soldier was exhausted beyond compare and unable to lift their weapons.

Because their numbers were brutally decimated from the previous day's activities the German/Dutch Lanzi made only this minor contribution on the 2nd day, yet they did factor into the final assault that was launched into the Swiss ranks as the French unleashed the rest of their light cavalry (who were these mercenaries that hailed from the Balkans!) which fiercely and fearlessly charged into the flanks of the embattled, terribly besieged and soon to be defeated Swiss. With sweet revenge enlivening their eyes all the Lanzi remnants that were still alive (barely!), and who had fought so hard and so furiously the day before, joined the fresh waves of light cavalry that formed the final assault into the greatly decimated Swiss ranks, thus forcing them back and inflicting even worse casualties upon them. Though if one considers the actual disparity in numbers the Swiss put up this exceptional struggle against terrible, very formidable odds, and in the process of retreating from the field of battle they still maintained excellent order and discipline in the ranks, holding together their pike formations and fighting off these repeated, well-coordinated cavalry attacks. Of the 20,000 Swiss soldiers that entered the Battle of Marignano, only 8000 left alive, and most of them were in some way wounded, many of them severely. Yet such is the price one pays for embracing and putting into practice this extremely stubborn code of battlefield conduct and honor that basically precluded surrender of any kind.

So although the Swiss ultimately lost, they fought like demons, as did their even better disciplined rivals, the German/Dutch Landsknechte, who, much like their Swiss foes, displayed this amazing combat prowess, skill and ferocity on the field of battle, and gave it their all in what the awe-struck and shocked Italian spectators would eventually come to call "Bad War!" because of the undiluted savagery and lack of mercy that each side, the Swiss and the Lanzi, would grant the other as they both sought to wipe each other out!!! For in the midst of those ultra ferocious pike encounters quarter was rarely asked for and scarcely ever given! And the Civil Wars fought up in Scotland and over in Ireland during the 1640's would prove to be even more merciless, ruthless, blood-curdling, explosive and fearsome than anything that either the Swiss or the German/Dutch Lanzi ever engaged or fought in. That makes me shudder!!! Yet their various exploits in battle, numerous instances of demonstrating this commendable elan', their superb cohesion in the ranks, and the many blood contests that featured these astonishing feats of arms that were constantly displayed by both groups---as that which was on display at Marignano in 1515---should make for fascinating reading for anyone who has any interest in military history and innovative battle tactics. The Swiss and the Lanzis rocked!!!
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  #47  
Old 27 Nov 07, 18:48
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These, as they shed some light on the 19th and 20th century wars where we germans somehow always had the role of the bad ones:

The Thirty Years’ War left large parts of Germany devastated. During that war, which was mostly a Catholic-vs-Protestant conflict, the Catholic French troops sided with the Protestants against the Austrian-led Catholic Imperial forces. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 gave France limited control over Alsace and Lorraine, marking its start as a contested territory between France and Germany (French–German enmity). France consolidated her hold with the 1679 Treaties of Nijmegen, which brought the towns under her control. In 1681, France occupied Strasbourg in an unprovoked action.

French King Louis XIV did not take part in the Great Turkish War in which Christian forces, led by Austrian Habsburgs, fought the Ottoman Empire. When the Turks in 1683 laid siege to Vienna prior to the Battle of Vienna, instead of supporting the Christian coalition and the Holy League (1684), France took advantage of the situation by attacking southwestern Germany and expanding its territories, for example by annexing Alsace and Strasbourg. In 1688, in the War of the Palatinian Succession (also called the Nine Years War), the order to Brűlez le Palatinat! (Burn the Palatinate!) was executed by Mélac, devastating many cities and large parts of Germany. In the centuries to come, the Germans always remembered these events, while Mélac was forgotten in France
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  #48  
Old 27 Nov 07, 19:38
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The Polish-Muscovite War (1605–1618) took place in the early-seventeenth century (between 1605 and 1618) as a row of military conflicts and eastward invasions carried by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, or the private armies and mercenaries lead by the magnates (the Commonwealth aristorcracy), when the Russian Tsardom was torn into a series of civil wars, the time most commonly referred in the Russian history as Time of Troubles, sparked by the Russian dynastic crisis and overall internal chaos. The sides and their goals changed several times during this conflict: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was not formally at war with Russia until 1609, and various Russian factions fought among themselves, allied with the Commonwealth and other countries or fighting against them. Sweden also participated in the conflict during the course of the Ingrian War (1610–1617), sometimes allying itself with Russia, and other times fighting against it. The aims of the various factions changed frequently as well as the scale of the party's goals which ranged from minor border adjustment to imposing the Polish Kings or the impostors backed by Poland to the Russian throne and even the creating a new state by forming a union between the Commonwealth and Russia.

The war can be divided into four stages. In the first stage certain Commonwealth szlachta (nobility) encouraged by some Russian boyars (Russian aristocracy) — but without the official consent of the Polish king Sigismund III Vasa — attempted to exploit weakness of Russia and intervene in its civil war by supporting the impostors for the Tsardom False Dmitriy I and later False Dmitriy II against the crowned Tsars, Boris Godunov and Vasili Shuiski. The first wave of the Polish intervention began in 1605 and ended in 1606 with the death of False Dmitri I. The second wave started in 1607 and lasted until 1609, when Tsar Vasili made a military alliance with Sweden. In response to this alliance, the Polish King Sigismund III decided to intervene officially and to declare war upon Russia, aiming to weaken Sweden's ally and to gain territorial concessions.

After early Commonwealth victories (Battle of Klushino), which culminated in Polish forces entering Moscow in 1610, Sigismund's son, Prince Wladislaus, was briefly elected Tsar. However, soon afterwards, Sigismund decided to seize the Russian throne for himself. This alienated the pro-Polish supporters among the boyars, who could accept the moderate Wladislaus, but not the pro-Catholic and anti-Orthodox Sigismund. Subsequently, the pro-Polish Russian faction disappeared, and the war resumed in 1611, with the Poles being ousted from Moscow but capturing the important city of Smolensk (see Siege of Smolensk (1609–11)). However, due to internal troubles in both the Commonwealth and Russia, little military action occurred between 1612 and 1617, when Sigismund made one final and failed attempt to conquer Russia. The war finally ended in 1618 with the Truce of Deulino, which granted the Commonwealth certain territorial concessions, but not control over Russia which thus emerged from the war with its independence unscathed.

"Shuyski Tsar at the Sejm in Warsaw" by Jan Matejko, oil on canvas.
source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-P...281605-1618%29
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  #49  
Old 04 Dec 07, 10:56
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I'm a fan of the Wars of the Roses into the Tudor period. I always loved the crazy intrigue of Richard III and on into Henry VIII. The tragic story of Lady Jane Grey was somthing I could identify along with the infighting between Mary, Elizabeth, and Mary Queen of Scots.
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Old 04 Dec 07, 11:45
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I've been interested in the Jacobites ever since I started listening to that kind of music. I know most of its romantic notions conjured up in the 19th century-but hey, it's still pretty cool. Not to mention the music is some of the best ever-Bonnie Dundee, Killikrankie, the Sherrifmuir fight, Parcel of Rogues in a Nation, Ye Jacobites by Name, Will Ye No Come Back Again...it's all good.
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Old 04 Dec 07, 16:08
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As a part Scot, I love Scottish history. Cool deal.
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Old 04 Dec 07, 23:50
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Yeah, I've got 1715, the Great Jacobite Rising on my reading list next; really looking forward too it. It opens with "
1.
Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory!
Fareweel ev'n to the Scottish name.
Sae famed in martial story!
Now Sark rins over Salway sands,
An' Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England's province stands --
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
2.
What force or guile could not subdue
Thro' many warlike ages
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitor's wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But English gold has been our bane --
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!
3.
O, would, or I had seen the day
That Treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay
Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour
I'll mak this declaration :-
'We're bought and sold for English gold'--
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!"

And the book outline is written sort of explaining what its referring too. Good song if you haven't heard it by the way;Youtube video of the Corries
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Old 05 Dec 07, 03:36
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That was awesome. I've heard the Corries and always loved O Flower of Scotland.
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Old 06 Dec 07, 10:57
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It's a good one. I like the Corries, but their CDs are really tough to come by. First CD I got that had any of their music on it was one called "The King has Landed, Songs of the Jacobite Risings" on that album the did Killiecrankie and the the Sherramuir Fight, but Lord knows I don't understand that one.

"O cam' ye here the fight tae shun, or herd the sheep wi' me, man
Or were ye at the Sherra-moor, or did the battle see, man
I saw the battle sair and teuch, and reekin' red ran many a sheugh
My heart for fear gae'd sough for sough
Tae hear the thuds and see the cluds
O' Clans frae woods in tartan duds
Wha glaum'd at kingdoms three man

The red-coat lads wi' black cockauds to meet them werenae slow, man
They rush'd and push'd and blood outgush'd, and many a bouk did fa', man
The great Argyle led on his files, I wat they glanc'd for twenty miles
They hough'd the Clans like nine-pin kyles
They hack'd and hash'd while braid swords clash'd
And thro' they dash'd and hew'd and smash'd
Till fey men died awa', man

Had ye seen the philibegs wi' skyrin tartan trews, man
When in the teeth they dar'd our Whigs and covenant Trueblues, man
Lines extended lang and large, bayonets o'erpower'd the targe
Thousands hasten'd to the charge
Wi' Highland wrath they frae the sheath
Drew blades o' death till out o' breath
They fled like frighted dows, man

They've lost some gallant gentlemen amang the Hieland clans, man
I fear my Lord Panmuir is slain or in his en'mies' hands, man
Now wad ye sing this double flight, some cried for wrang and some for right
And many bade the warld gudenight
Sae pell, sae mell, wi' muskets knell
Tories fell and Whigs to hell
Flew off in frighted bands, man"

Pretty sure its about the 1715 Rising, but I think the battle ends in a tactical draw but Jacobites go home and so the rebellion is finished.

I know at Killiekrankie the Jacobites are outnumbered and Bonnie Dundee is killed in the battle, but the highland charge works and the Lowlanders were unable to fix the pre-socket bayonets (you had to stuff it down the barrel of the musket and it prevented it from firing) so so got routed, but not much else.
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Old 06 Dec 07, 11:10
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Here's my translation (to the best of my ability)

"Oh come you here to fight the shun or herd the sheep with me man?
Or were you at the Sherramuir and did the battle see, man?
I saw the battle sair and teuch and reeking red ran many a sheugh(Not sure, but assuming this means men or people in the context of it)
My heart for fear gave sough for sough
To hear the thuds and see the cluds
Of Clans from woods in tartan duds(clothes)
What glaum'd(?) at kindoms three man


The red-coat lads with black cockades to meet them were not slow, man
They rushed and pushed and blood out-gushed, and many a bouk(Maybe bloke?) did fall, man
The great Argyle led on his files, I what they glanced for twenty miles (That's what it looks like but it doesn't make sense)
They houghed the Clans like nine-pin kyles
They hacked and hashed while broad swords clashed
And througthey dashed and hewed and smashed
Till foe men died away, man

Had you seen the philibegs wi' skyrin tartan trews, man
When in the teeth they dared our Whigs and covenant True-blues, man
Lines extended long and large, bayonets overrpowered the targe
Thousands hastened to the charge
With Highland wrath they from the sheath
Drew blades of death till out out breath
They fled like frighted dows, man

They've lost some gallant gentlemen amoung the Highland clans, man
I fear my Lord Panmuir is slain or in his enemies' hands, man
Now would you sing this double flight, some cried for wrong and some for right
And many bade the world goodnight
Sae pell, sae mell, with muskets knell
Tories fell and Whigs to hell
Flew off in frighted bands, man

It's even more difficult to understand their singing
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And it's over the mountain and over the Main,
Through Gibralter, to France and Spain.
Pit a feather tae your bonnet, and a kilt aboon your knee,
Enlist my bonnie laddie and come awa with me.

Last edited by Tankboy; 06 Dec 07 at 11:14..
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Old 18 Feb 08, 12:09
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The siege of Turin 1706

Probably the most glorious moment in military history of the Savoy dinasty. The united armies of the Prinz Eugen (from Austria) and the piedmontese Vittorio Amedeo II (inside Turin) defeated a more numerous french army. By then start the conquer of Italy by Savoia (realizing in 1861).
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Old 25 Sep 08, 09:03
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My favorite moments in the Age of Pike&Shot is Khmelnytsky Uprising. =)
The Hetmanate was a Cossack state in the central and north-eastern regions of Ukraine during 1649–1775. It came into existence as a result of the Khmelnytsky Uprising and the alliance of the registered Cossacks with the Cossacks of the Zaporozhian Sich and other segments of the Ukrainian populace. The Hetmanate's first hetman, or leader, was Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who ruled from 1648–57.

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Old 10 Oct 08, 14:13
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Poltava

Poltava, 1709. It tilted the balance of power in central Europe from the north (Sweden) to the east (Russia). It allowed Peter the Great to cement his regime, and it opened the way for Russia to interact with western Europe, foreshadowing the relationship Russia would have with the west until 1917. The Great Northern War, which Poltava decided, also had a profound impact on Russian society, as Peter mobilized the nation and rapidly improved its industrial and military capabilities over the old Muscovite days.

Next June will mark the tricentennial of the battle.
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Old 11 Oct 08, 08:33
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Battle over the Bottom of the Sea




One of the battles which triggers my fantasy and admiration most is actually a feat of arms performed by the Spanish while fighting the Dutch.
In 1575 the Dutch revolt against their Spanish king is in full swing. On the many islands of the province of Zeeland, the Dutch are winning because of their command of the water. They are better sailors and far more familiar with the tides and the waters surrounding Zeeland than the Spanish landlubbers are. The Spanish tercio however often has the upper hand against the rebels in landlocked battles.



In order to recapture some rebel Dutch cities in Zeeland, Spanish colonel Mondragon decides to even out the odds in a surprise move by ordering his soldiers to wade at ebb tide and at night from the mainland to one of the islands. On the night of 28 September 1575 the Spanish set off. In order to set an example through the cold flowing sea water Colonel Mondragon then 61 years old!! (some sources say 71 yo) leads his troops from the front ranks through the water that rises from knee to crotch (from own similar experience in the Dutch army I know this is the critical point) to shoulder.



Tide is tugging at the Spanish and the mud of the bottom of the sea makes progress slow. Some soldiers see comrades go under and not re-emerge. On top of that the alerted Dutch defenders set off in flat bottomed boats to hamper the crossing and send musketeers to the dyke on the other side to receive the troops wading ashore. In spite of all these odds, the Spanish make it to the far end and wet, cold and miserable but furious for having survived this ordeal, engage the Dutch. They drive the defenders off and march towards the city of Zierikzee, which they actually manage to capture.
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Old 11 Oct 08, 09:10
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Granatiere Granatiere is offline
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Great Post Captain! I like to learn about unknown (to me) battle...
Well, the Tercio was so tactically flexible?
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