I'll put the disclaimer first: I'm not a historian; these ramblings are based
on hearsay and various readings, fictional, non-fictional, and in between.
Feel free to contradict.
The pike is, indeed, a staff-like weapon. My understanding is that it differs
from the stick by virtue of having a nice, sharp piece of metal on the end.
Unfortunately, I don't recall whether the end was more blade-like or more
spear-like. My understanding is that these were very long (at least 5-6
feet?); the point being (excuse the pun) that you arm an entire fighting unit
with them and stand in a square so that the opposing side can't even get close
There has been a ton of research on the topic of "how to kill a knight." The
tactic of "get him off his horse" is probably a good start, since a man in a
metal bodysuit can't move very quickly. Kenneth Brannagh's film of _Henry V_
does provide a good depiction of the brutality of war in that time, and
indeed, more than a few soldiers do seem to drown in the mud of Agincourt. (I
assume this is what the previous author meant to refer to.) The important
weapon of Agincourt, however (at least in the film), is not the pike but the
longbow, which greatly extended the attack range of the British, and which
gave the archers the ability to pierce armor.
As already covered, the shillelagh is basically a club. It's not to be
confused with the blackthorn stick, which is the "typical" Irish (-American)
walking stick. (Of course, a blackthorn stick is a sturdy piece of wood and
could also be used as a blunt instrument of violence. :-) I'm not really sure
what a shillelagh looked like. "Irish stores" in the States claim to carry
them, but I'm not convinced that these little things would really be much use
in a fight. They're basically for mantlepiece decoration; about 3 or 4 inches
in diameter and 4 or 5 maybe in length, with a small twig for a handle. I
doubt they'd stand up in a respectable bar brawl, let alone an organized
Anyway, there's a response. Anybody want to fine tune it?
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