PIKEMAN’S SUIT ENGLISH, EARLY XVII CENTURY
The illustration shows a typical English pikeman’s corselet of the early seventeenth century, at a period when every infantry regiment consisted of musketeers and pikemen in varying proportions. At a later date the discovery of the bayonet enabled the soldier to fulfill both duties. This finely-made suit is complete with its “combe-cap” or “pott,” which has a plume holder at the back of the skull, and, like the other parts of the suit, is decorated with a sunk chevron-pattern.
The gorget, formed in two pieces, falls in a graceful point over the breast. The large tassets, expanding to accommodate the broad bombasted breeches of the period, are decorated with rows and circles of brass-headed rivets in addition to the lines and chevrons which appear on the breastplate and backpiece.
The total weight, including the headpiece, is twenty-one pounds. Although the term “corselet” has usually implied breast and backpiece only, in the case of the pikeman the term included all his defensive arms, and even pikemen themselves were referred to as “Corselets.”
In 1626, Gérvase Markham, describing the correct harness for a pikeman of that period, wrote: “All pikemen should have good combe-caps well lined with quilted caps; cuirasses for their bodies, being high pike-proof, gorgets for their necks, tassets for their thighs; but without pauldrons or vambraces, because they are but cumbersome.”
It is interesting to note how precisely this corselet tallies with his description.
Source: Bulletin of the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology by Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology. Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology 1926-07.