The lance is a pole weapon based on the pattern of
the spear but adapted for mounted combat. The lance is perhaps most known
as one of the foremost weapons used by european knights, but the use of
lances were spread throughout the old world wherever mounts were available.
In Europe, lances for jousting were much different from the weapons used
in war. In jousting lances, the tips would be blunt and the center of
the lance could be designed to be hollow, in order for it to break on
impact. In war, lances were much more like ordinary spears, long and balanced
for one handed use.
A pike is a pole weapon once used extensively by
infantry and foot-soldiers principally as a counter-measure against cavalry
Pikes were extremely long weapons, and could exceed six metres in length.
The steel tip was fairly long compared to the shaft, making the weapon
most unwieldy in close combat.
This meant that pikemen were often equipped with a sword for close encounters.
In operation on the battlefield, pikes were often used in large square
"hedgehog" formations, defending attached musketeers.
Large pike formations were in use during the 17th century, but were eventually
rendered obsolete by long range firearms such as rifles.
The landsknechts were pikemen of renown during the 15th to the 17th centuries,
mercenaries of the European Renaissance. They were most skillful in their
handling of the long pike.
The Middle Ages
The Black Plague