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The intensification of warfare in the Middle Ages eventually led the total war approach of the Early Modern Period - in which any resource available, whether tangible or otherwise, would be utilised as a defensive asset, eventually outstripping the ability of feudal society and urban communalism in providing crack military talent.

Given the need to maintain a perpetual standing army as a deterrent, pikemen were no longer raised as levies to deal with security contingencies, but were now raised as picked bodies of men to be perpetually drilled in the arts of professional soldiery and properly equipped by a modern nation-state eager on centralising its military and economic power. The means by which pikemen were deployed also changed as well, reflecting an emphasis away from using pikemen solely as a defensive unit in support of knightly units to one geared towards greater versatility. For instance, the Swiss perfected the use of the pike as an offensive weapon, using discipline and speed to spit enemy cavalry and break apart enemy infantry formations. This method was so effective that it also inspired the German states to raise their own professional pike formations, notably the Landsknecht mercenaries. Thereafter, the use of the pike as an offensive weapon was also not lost on other European nations, but was also taken up and expanded upon, particularly by the Spanish and Portuguese who introduced tercio or terços units - integrated groups of gunners and pikemen intended to work in concert with one another.

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