Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

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Blucher
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Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by Blucher » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:01 pm

I have an interesting 'question' to put to members of this forum -

.......Pike 'rot' ....fact or fiction?........

The reason for raising this query is that my brother is currently on an expedition as part of his University Degree. He is currently spending the next 4 months based in Rovaniemi (Finland) and carrying out research into 'forestry'. He is a keen 'wargamer' like myself and was intrigued to have come across various 'theories' about certain woods that were specifically used by mainly European Pikemen of the 17th centuary onwards.
I have only had time to have a brief discussion with him on the matter to date - but the crux of this theory is that a type of Pike ''rot'' may have been quite prevalent in this time. This ''rot'' seemed to render the pike to be susceptible to brittleness resulting in 'infected' sections ''hacked off''.

I will be meeting up with my brother to discuss further with him in a couple of weeks time, but in the meantime I would be interested if there are any thoughts on this subject out there?
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by obriendavid » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:16 pm

This was discussed at our weekend game and there seemed to be splintered views as to the point of the subject matter but it was a lengthy conversation.
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by barr7430 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:25 pm

I remain to be convinced about this. I know someone said they had either read, or read about some paper that had been written on the subject and that there were references to it in contemporary accounts from both the ECW and TYW. I have a problem with that. Why were there no earlier references? Pikes were around for a long time. Was nobody writing about that kind of stuff in the 1500's when pikes were probably at their most numerous? Did it only affect the Swedes? Was their wood all coming form the same sources? I thought I heard someone say that was one of the reasons why certain units cut the length of their pikes down. Infectious? :shock:
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by toggy » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:26 pm

Not sure if I'm barking up the wrong tree,but I'm sure that there was an article published in the "Arquebusier" stating that some pikes were rendered useless because they shattered on impact, I think it was the Swedes that were involved.I think the article was written by an American Professor Redwood,I still have some of the old mags so I'll see if I can root them out.

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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by obriendavid » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:33 pm

barr7430 wrote:I remain to be convinced about this. I thought I heard someone say that was one of the reasons why certain units cut the length of their pikes down. Infectious? :shock:
The long and the short of it is that nobody knows for definite about the subject matter.
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by barr7430 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:46 pm

Well, clearly WE don't know about it but there may be others out there who have some knowledge......
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by Churchill » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:07 pm

Ray.
Last edited by Churchill on Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by flick40 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:53 pm

I bought some furniture from IKEA, doh there I go again sorry about the hi-jack... :)
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by obriendavid » Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:10 pm

flick40 wrote:I bought some furniture from IKEA, doh there I go again sorry about the hi-jack... :)
Did you make a pike out of the furniture?
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by General Schnapps » Fri Aug 26, 2011 7:46 pm

Adrian,
Pretty sure I read somewhere that Pike rot is a very nasty fungal infection that affects their gills.
Also read somewhere ( possibly in one of Angus' Ospreys ) that the Irish troops fighting in Scotland under Montrose had a habit of loping off a couple of feet from the pointy end of their pikes to reduce the weight.
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by billwargames » Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:29 pm

I had done some searches under HARDWOOD ROT BALTIC,and had found a few useful links
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_timber_trade

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rust_(fungus)

also I had seen but unfortunatelty lost the link about some statements that overuse of certain hardwoods had meant that softer hardwoods(sorry if that is an oximoron)had been imported as substitute and this may have been the source of the problem also to try and combat this pikes had been painted and in some cases leather had been bound at the head of the pike /halberd where the metal had been joined to the wood to prevent further chemical reaction causing additional deterioration.
I will try to find this link again and post it.

Bill............
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by CoffinDodger » Sat Aug 27, 2011 7:05 am

billwargames wrote: ...leather had been bound at the head of the pike /halberd...
Don't you mean Pike/Halibutt?

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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by bibio » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:29 am

On a slightly related subject,how did they make pike shafts, where did they get twenty foot straight branches?They would need a hell of a workforce to turn them on a lathe given there were no power tools .
The life expectancy of a pike in battle would'nt be too long so armies must have carried a lot of spare shafts it being a fairly simple task in replacing the head.

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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by quindia » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:37 am

First time I've ever heard of this - I thought this was some sort of renaissance pox! Like the General, I'd read veteran units in the ECW often cut off a couple of feet from their pikes to make them lighter and more agile. It does seem like if this was a common problem there would be more documentation of the fact with quartermaster reports and the like...
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Re: Pike 'rot' - fact or fiction?

Post by flick40 » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:13 pm

The life expectancy of a pike in battle would'nt be too long so armies must have carried a lot of spare shafts it being a fairly simple task in replacing the head
Hahaha He said shafts and head. Rennaissance romance novels to read "He would have impailed the fair maiden with his "pike" if it had not been for the "rot". :shock:
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