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French Imperial Guard Kneeling Defending, No.2
Before the flintlock musket and socket bayonet, the infantry was composed of matchlock musketeers and pikemen. The pike was the main infantry weapon of the middle ages, but by 17th century it found a new role providing defense for musketeers. While unreliable and slow to load, the matchlock musket was more effective than the pike as an offensive weapon, defensively it was little more than a glorified club. Later musketeers were equipped with plug bayonets (which fitted into the end of the musket muzzle) so now they could both to fire and defend themselves though not simultaneously. At the end of the century the invention of the socket bayonet enabled musketeers to fire and defend themselves en masse eliminating the need for pikemen altogether.