Medieval Dagger – The Knight’s Secret Weapon
Posted: Sep 16, 2016
The dagger has been around since ages. There are records of them being discovered dating back to the third millennium B.C., in Greece and Egypt. However, it was in the Medieval Ages that they truly gained popularity. The dagger, a short knife with a pointed blade with single or double-edged sides, became useful as a secondary defense weapon which was particularly handy in close combat. Medieval daggers became a vital component of the knight’s armory despite the weapon’s simplicity and the minimum training required to wield it.
Today, the dagger is seen as an iconic weapon, due to its unique shape and historic usage. While there were several types of daggers and their multiple adaptations in the Middle Ages, the following are some of the more popular ones in fashion during that period.
The cross-hilt or quillon dagger (also commonly known as the "knightly dagger") is among the earliest forms of dagger. Possibly originating in the early 12th century, the cross-hilt later became a common tool for civilian use. Some of these medieval weapons were like mini swords, with pommels and guards that looked just like the swords of that period. Others were shaped differently with pommel caps, star-shaped pommels, etc.
The baselard dagger was a more evolved version of the knightly dagger. A 14th-century dagger possessing an I-shaped handle, the baselard characteristically had a longish blade, resembling that of a sword. It originated in Basel, Switzerland, therefore the name "baselard." These knives were most likely favored by wealthy merchants and served a two-fold purpose: protection and style.
These medieval daggers get their name from the disc-shaped pommel and guard, called rondels. Like most daggers of that period, the rondel dagger was popular among the knights. It was probably worn on the right side and used as a back-up weapon for close-quarter fighting or when the fighter had lost his sword. These medieval weapons were typically single- or double-edged and of varying lengths, although by the end of the medieval period the rondel daggers had triangular blades with sides that did not have cutting edges.
The ballock dagger was popular during the Tudor Period (1485-1603). Its shape must have piqued the interest of the tough men of that period – the dagger had two oval swellings at the guard which resembled kidneys or male testicles! The ballock dagger in its simplest forms were easy to manufacture, which perhaps explains its widespread use. Traditionally, the knife was worn towards the front than the standard hip.
The ear dagger is a relatively rare form of dagger that was popular in the late medieval period. It was so named due to the shape of the pommel which resembled the human ear. These daggers usually have a single sharpened edge with an acute point. It is believed to have been brought to Western Europe from Spain, where it probably originated from the Moors. The pommel of this dagger was split in two, allowing for the thumb to be hooked over it. Despite its somewhat peculiar appearance, the ear dagger was a favorite among royalty and a preferred knife of assassins in Italy during the 15th century.
A misericorde was a long, narrow knife, which had a unique purpose in battle – it was used to deliver the death stroke to a knight fatally wounded in battle. (The name was derived from the Latin misericordia or "act of mercy.") Of course, this knife was not limited to this noble purpose; it was handy for killing an enemy especially when wrestling on the ground. Due to its shape, the knife could be pushed through the visor or holes in the armor.
Yamini is a versatile Indian writer. She currently writes columns and articles for Matrix Cellular (http://www.matrix.in/), Atlanta Cutlery(http://www.atlantacutlery.com/) and Museum Replicas (http://www.museumreplicas.com/)