A history of Ireland in 100 objects: Pike, 1798
No Irish event of such consequence is more powerfully symbolised by a single object than the 1798 insurrection and the pike. Pikes had been a standard weapon of medieval and early modern armies, but by the 18th century they were much more strongly associated with revolutionary violence. Every village had a blacksmith, and pikes were cheap to make. So symbolic of popular insurrection has the weapon become that it is generally forgotten that crown forces in Ireland in 1798 used pikes as well.
The first seizure of hidden pikes was in Dublin in 1793. Four years later the directory of the United Irishmen ordered all members who could not afford firearms to equip themselves with pikes. They were made in vast numbers: more than 70,000 were found in government searches in Leinster and Ulster in 1797 alone. When fighting finally began, charges by massed ranks of pike-wielding men were the main rebel tactic. The rebel leader Joseph Holt claimed that “the pike, in a charge, was much superior to any other weapon”. Jonah Barrington, an independent observer, noted “the extreme expertise with which the Irish handled the pike”. But even this expertise was seldom sufficient for very long against trained troops....
comments powered by Disqus
- New Hampshire professors at odds with library over discarded books
- Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension
- Independent Scotland's last gasp forgotten in Panama jungle
- LBJ was the ‘most-threatened president in American history’
- New exhibit at the World War I Museum ... Over by Christmas: August-December 1914
- Ken Burns on Colbert to promote his new documentary, "The Address"
- UC Santa Barbara History Department featuring a series on the Great Society at 50
- Historians are trying to recover censored texts from World War I poets
- Diane Ravitch blasts the NYT for failing to understand the controversy over Common Core
- Mormon history professors debate atheists in bid to foster greater understanding