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SPEAR (O. Eng. spere, O. H. Ger. sper...

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 616 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SPEAR (O. Eng. spere, O. H. Ger. sper, mod. Ger. speer, &c., cf.
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Lat. sparrs; probably related to " spar, " a beam)
  , a weapon of offence .
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Developed from a sharp-headed stake, the spear may be reckoned, with the club, as among the most ancient of weapons . All the prehistoric races handled the spear; all savage folk thrust with it or hurl it; civilized man still keeps it as the
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lance and the boar-spear; indeed, the
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bayonet is a spear-head with the
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rifle for a shaft . The
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English before the Norman
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conquest were a spear-bearing
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race . The freeman's six-
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foot ashen spear was always near his hand; and its head is found beside the bones of every
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warrior . The casting
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javelin was commoner than the bow . Norman horsemen made the long lance, a dozen feet long, its pennon fluttering below the point, the knightly weapon . Throwing spears became rare, the Black Prince's English knights wondering at the
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Spanish fashion of casting darts . In the 14th century the vamplate came into use as a guard for the lance hand above the grip . At this time also the coronel head was devised for the better safeguard of the jousters, many of whom, how-ever, preferred the blunted or " rebated " point . The next step in development gave the shaft a swell towards the hand on both sides of the grip, a swell exaggerated in the jousting lance of the 16th century, which, fluted and hollowed, is found weighing twenty pounds, with a girth of as much as 271 in. at its broadest
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part . Leather " burres " were added below the grip and, before the'end of the 14th century, the
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weight of the jousting lance called for the use of the lance-rest, a hook or catch screwed to the right breast of the harness .

The Scots, always weaker than the English in

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archery, favoured the long spear as the chief weapon of the
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infantry, and from
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Falkirk onwards held their own in their " schiltron " formaf
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ion against all cavalry, until riddled and disarrayed by the arrow-flights . Their English enemy, when harquebusiers began to oust the archers, exchanged the old bills for those 18 and 20 ft. pikes which bristled from the squares protecting the " shot." At the same time, the English horsemen began to leave the lance for sword,
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pistol and musketoon . During the
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civil
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wars in the 17th century every man on foot was either pikeman or musketeer . After 1675 the long pike gave way to the bayonet in its first shape of a
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dagger whose hilt could be struck into the muzzle of the musket, and, some four-teen years later, the bayonet with a ring-catch gave the infantry-man the last form of his pike . Sergeants, however, carried through the 18th century a " halbert " (q.v.) which, in its degenerate form, became a short pike, and infantry
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officers were sometimes armed with the spontoon . In 1816 certain dragoon regiments were given the lance which had been seen at
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work in the hands of Poles and Cossacks; and the weapon is still part of the service equipment although controversy is still hot over its value in
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action, its supporters urging the demoralizing effect of the lance against broken troops . Queen Victoria's
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navy gave up, in favour of the
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cutlass bayonet, the pikes which were once served out to repel attacks of boarders . At the
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present day the High
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Sheriff's party of javelin-men are the only Englishmen who march on foot with the ancient weapon .

End of Article: SPEAR (O. Eng. spere, O. H. Ger. sper, mod. Ger. speer, &c., cf. Lat. sparrs; probably related to " spar, " a beam)
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