Targe

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The targe (sometimes target) is a round, flat shield that is strapped to one's off arm. It may be studded with a decorative pattern of rivets and may have a central spike protruding from the face of the shield although these appear late in the history of the targe.

The targe was gripped in a similar way to the medieval heater shield, that is, with a grip-and-strap arrangement, or simply with straps (leaving the off-hand free to wield a dirk) instead of with a centre boss like early-period round shields. Typically used by Scottish and Irish troops in the from at least the 13th century and appears to have been an adaptation of the earlier cavalry shield. It remained in military use until around 1800.

Targe in Battle

During the 17th century Irish troops used it to good effect when they found against the Parliamentarian forces during the First English Civil Wars. Irish troops at this time carried fewer pikes than the contemporary English forces and frequently carried a targe in addition to a basket hilted backsword and an arquebus or musket. Having distinguished themselves in the 30 Years War, they would not fire their muskets until they were just out of pike range and then fall upon the disrupted ranks with sword and targe or muskets held by the barrel.

Highlander troops would sometimes hold a dirk in their off hand (the same one to have the targe strapped to it) and carry a basket hilted claymore in their other hand.