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Kally L




Location: Australia
Joined: 19 Jan 2008

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat 19 Jan, 2008 1:31 am    Post subject: Ownership of more than one dagger in medieval times?         Reply with quote

I've been looking on the internet for the last couple of week unsuccessfully as to whether in medieval times a noble might own more than one dagger. I guess I've got a couple of sub-questions here.

1) Would a dagger be passed down through a family, so only the eldest son inherited the family dagger and other sons had to have a dagger made for them?

2) Would daggers be made for special occasions - ie. as a birthday gift - or even other weapons be given as gifts? And I guess, I'm also wondering whether this would be a very expensive thing to own, or really commonplace. Or would it depend on how fancy the dagger was - so then they might have a plain one and a ceremonial one?

3) Were daggers or even other weapons made for special occasions, in the sense of the noble being on some kind of war campaign - might a new dagger, or a new weapon - sword perhaps be made for such an occasion? (So that even when the noble already had another such weapon, they'd order a new one for this specific event)?

Any help would be much appreciated.

Kally
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 19 Jan, 2008 2:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Ownership of more than one dagger in medieval times?         Reply with quote

Kally L wrote:
I've been looking on the internet for the last couple of week unsuccessfully as to whether in medieval times a noble might own more than one dagger. I guess I've got a couple of sub-questions here.


There's no reason to suggest that they would not have owned more than one dagger at a time. Most nobles would have more than enough money to be able to afford a second dagger with concerns over their finances. The only question here is whether or not they would have felt it necessary to own more than one dagger, but given that there is some ambiguity between knives and daggers in the medieval period it does not seem unreasonble to suggest that more than one would be owned, even if one was used more frequently as a tool than a weapon.

Quote:
1) Would a dagger be passed down through a family, so only the eldest son inherited the family dagger and other sons had to have a dagger made for them?


Doubtful. While there might have been a precedent for giving a dagger to the eldest son for military reasons, there were undoubtedly many cases where daggers were passed on to other sons. Remember that the idea that the eldest son gets everything is a generalization made about the Middle Ages, and not a hard and fast rule. This is especially true given that daggers are far more minor gift than estates, a title, or even a sword, lance, or mail.

Quote:
2) Would daggers be made for special occasions - ie. as a birthday gift - or even other weapons be given as gifts? And I guess, I'm also wondering whether this would be a very expensive thing to own, or really commonplace. Or would it depend on how fancy the dagger was - so then they might have a plain one and a ceremonial one?


I'm sure they were made as gifts, just as other weapons were given as gifts. As for how commonplace they were, that's a bit difficult to say. We don't have a whole lot of evidence about daggers prior to the 13th century, although we know with certainty that they existed at least as early as the mid-11th century: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11375&start=0. But given the relative dearth of artifacts and information about daggers at this time, it's tough to say how common they were amongst the nobility.

At some point in the 13th century, (though possibly earlier) we know that some commoners could afford a sword and buckler, "Aylward refers to how in London during the late 1200s the city was pestered by bands of young fellows parading the streets after dark clashing their swords against their bucklers and harassing peaceable citizens to do combat." By this point, then, daggers were probably relatively affordable, given that some commoners could afford swords.

Ceremonial weapons, for the most part, are quite rare in the Middle Ages, so if ceremonial daggers were given, I imagine that they would be far more common in the Renaissance or early modern period.

Quote:
3) Were daggers or even other weapons made for special occasions, in the sense of the noble being on some kind of war campaign - might a new dagger, or a new weapon - sword perhaps be made for such an occasion? (So that even when the noble already had another such weapon, they'd order a new one for this specific event)?


I suspect that a sword would be a more common gift, since they have a ubiquitous symbolism with knighthood, and appear to have been very commonly carried by knights. We certainly know of instances where a weapon or armour was commissioned for an event, although to my knowledge, this was something again more common in the early modern period. But it certainly is possible for the Medieval period.

Sorry that my responses were fairly generalized and non-specific. One of the difficulties with the questions you've asked is that there isn't much evidence to enable us to make decisive conclusions. Some of my responses are based upon what seems probable, given what I know about the Middle Ages, rather than being based upon specific examples of period evidence. But, then again, maybe I just haven't read enough relevant literature on the subject. Hopefully someone else with a more thorough knowledge of this topic can provide their imput too.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/SwordandBucklerP2.htm
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Kally L




Location: Australia
Joined: 19 Jan 2008

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat 19 Jan, 2008 2:35 pm    Post subject: Thanks for that! Any more information welcome.         Reply with quote

Thanks for the answers, Craig! That's a lot further than I managed to get on my own.

If anyone else has more specific knowledge about this area, please post a reply.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 19 Jan, 2008 9:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Ownership of more than one dagger in medieval times?         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
One of the difficulties with the questions you've asked is that there isn't much evidence to enable us to make decisive conclusions. Some of my responses are based upon what seems probable, given what I know about the Middle Ages, rather than being based upon specific examples of period evidence. But, then again, maybe I just haven't read enough relevant literature on the subject. Hopefully someone else with a more thorough knowledge of this topic can provide their imput too.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/SwordandBucklerP2.htm


Craig did a great job summarizing the main points as well as the fact that this is the sort of question were finding a period source is going to be difficult as I doubt anyone would have bothered writing in period about stuff so everyday common that even the idea of writing something down about wouldn't have crossed their minds.

But human nature being the same one can guess a few things: Someone poor with one or two sets of clothes, or only one pair of shoes would only have as many of anything that was essential. For knives, having one would have been a necessity and having more than one would have to be for an important reason like I would imagine that some types of work or trade would need a variety of specialized knives ? But I think your question is more for " everyday carry knives " used for everything from eating, working and fighting.

A soldier might have THAT everyday knife and a dedicated too fighting knife or dagger unless they were very poor I'm, guessing again.

Oh, some knives had a by-knife and pricker as tools associated with a larger knife:
http://www.arms-n-armor.com/dagg199.html In a case like this one could look at it as having one knife or multiple knives !?

Medieval all purpose knife: http://www.arms-n-armor.com/dagg160.html

By-knife: http://www.arms-n-armor.com/dagg148.html

As to having / owning many knives ? For the rich or at least NOT poor I think that might just be a choice: If one just sees knives as tools ONLY, one would only have a small number and only one per each specialized need as well as that everyday knife. But, as today, I think that the impulse to collect and like knives or other weapons would mean that some would have many knives because they liked knives. Wink

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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