Pikeman, 1660

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I Infantry Uniforms of the British Army 1660-1790

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Description

This order of dress is worn today by the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in the City of London – the oldest regiment in the army chartered by Henry VIII in 1537. This shows the dress of a pikeman of an infantry regiment at the Restoration (of the monarchy) in 1660. Before 1660 an infantry battalion consisted of pikemen and musketeers in equal numbers, but after the Restoration the pikemen were cut by a third, and soon disappeared altogether as fighting soldiers. After 1660 we hear of no case where the pike was used on active service. The sixteen-foot pike was carried on ceremonial parades for many years after it disappeared as a fighting weapon. The dress shown here was soon modified. The tassets – the pieces of armour covering the thighs – were soon discarded, but the breastplate and pot helmet retained. These are depicted in various prints for some time afterwards. A picture of 1680 shows the Coldstream Guards on parade with pikemen dressed similarly to the musketeers, with no armour at all. The sash, which this pikeman is wearing, was a characteristic feature of his dress. Sources: Contemporary prints, existing armour in the Tower of London.

Additional information

Dimensions24 × 37.5 cm