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Christopher VaughnStrever




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2011 12:25 pm    Post subject: Knights carrying two daggers?         Reply with quote

So after quite a few inquiries comming from students of mine and co-wmaers that I have worked with... after learning alot of dagger plays the question keeps comming up, would knights carry two daggers.

I have repeatedly told people that depictions I have seen only show a single dagger on a knights hips, would this be accurate? or would knights or even men at arms carry wo daggers?

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Dec, 2011 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why would they even need to carry two? Medieval society was probably more violent than ours, but it doesn't appear to be genuinely hyper-violent, and a knight with a dagger probably already has an emergency backup in the form of his eating knife anyway.
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Christopher VaughnStrever




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 4:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had totally forgotten about people carrying their own eating knives><

But the original question from my students and peers, as it seems to them; With the dagger techniques there are alot of disarming techniques, but yes, Your eating knife would make a great back-back up dagger lol

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Dan P




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher VaughnStrever wrote:
With the dagger techniques there are alot of disarming techniques, but yes, Your eating knife would make a great back-back up dagger lol

OK, I'll take a stab at this (pun intended). Maybe from more of a modern viewpoint than the knight stuff. There's two reasons to carry two daggers. One is to fight with two daggers. The other is in case you get disarmed while fighting with one, you can draw the second.

Neither of these are particularly compelling reasons. In my experience practicing techniques and sparring, an empty offhand is far more useful for grappling, disarming, and countering these things when your opponent does them. I've never done armored combat but I'd imagine its a lot more necessary to get a hold of someone when the only available dagger target is narrow gaps between plates.

Second, if you are in close and lose your knife, that generally implies the other guy is right in your face. With his own dagger. So you're gonna want both hands to maybe try not getting grabbed and stabbed yourself, which means there wont be any time at all to fumble for a backup.

I prefer to carry two knives, a little folder for delicate everyday stuff and a larger, sturdier blade which might be useful for other things. I don't ever think I'm going to need two knives in a fight, because I try really hard to never need one.
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Patrick De Block




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 10:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very down to earth reply. If one dagger isn't enough, a second one won't help you.

Little story: if you want to kill someone, you first cut off his head and then you punch him in the belly. If you didn't succeed in cutting off his head, the punch will surely help. (little yellow circle, depending on your mood; fill in the expression)
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've done some Asian style 2 knife fighting sparring (blade aligned with the "punching" knuckles). If it's a close combat fight, it's almost impossible to beat with one knife or if unarmed, even a bad scenario for the 2 knife guy results in a good wound on the person with one knife or no knife.

On the other hand though, a 36" or better sword puts you at the disadvantage for certain, so I really can't see in most circumstances where someone would try to fight someone with a longer weapon with a knife or even 2.

Seems like the most common use for a middle ages knife/dagger was a backup, or when the fight got t o a prappling situation, so I don't think trying to use 2 knives at once would make any sense.
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Doug Lester




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that Lafayette hit on it when he noted the eating knife as a backup. That leads me to another question, though. Would the "eating" knife be more of a utilitarian knife that could also be used to slice a chunk off the roast or would it be separate from a more utilitarian blade that was shorter than the fighting knife but maybe a little more robust than something used to eat with? Sort of like a shorter single edged triangular dagger with the eating knife carried as a by-knife. Or were people back then just not that fussy about what they used as an eating utensil? Or might it boil down to what one could afford?
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug Lester wrote:
I think that Lafayette hit on it when he noted the eating knife as a backup. That leads me to another question, though. Would the "eating" knife be more of a utilitarian knife that could also be used to slice a chunk off the roast or would it be separate from a more utilitarian blade that was shorter than the fighting knife but maybe a little more robust than something used to eat with? Sort of like a shorter single edged triangular dagger with the eating knife carried as a by-knife. Or were people back then just not that fussy about what they used as an eating utensil? Or might it boil down to what one could afford?


The eating knife was a small, simple knife, rarely more than ten inches long, constructed in various ways. It'd have been quite sharp but fairly small. Occasionally an awl-like 'pricker' came with it; the purpose of this is debated, some people favor the idea that it was a sharpening steel; and sometimes a spoon would be in the same package as well. Generally they'd cut their meat with the knife and either bring it up to their mouth with the knife or on their fingers. Pretty much everybody had one as well as a more utilitarian knife used for everyday tasks. Daggers proper were less common as, IIRC, ownership of weapons in general was fairly restricted for the most part; however, you would often have seen them being carried about by soldiers, middle and upper class as a sort of status symbol. That's my understanding of the situation, anyway.

Also, don't forget that the medieval folk were rather supersitious in their way; they wouldn't have wanted to eat with a knife used to kill someone. That's why they made the distinction between eating-knife, work knife and dagger in the first place.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not based on any historical evidence but just what I would carry in period and mostly because in period with the same personnality I would like weapons as much as I do now, but could carry them with fewer " restrictions " ( I assume enough power and social rank to ignore rules meant for the peasants .... Wink Laughing Out Loud ).

Anyway, using daggers I have for the sake of illustrating my dagger combination preferences if I was carrying two daggers or a dagger and a single edge knife of fighting quality.

Combinations:

A) Civilian armed heavy: Cinquedea 15" blades as a dagger/short sword + a 9" bladed dagger. ( Michael Pikula made Cinquedea and Tod's Stuff Basilard for example ).

B) In armour my A&A 15" Rondel dagger as the most useful in armour and if the fight turns into a wrestling/dagger fight.
( In this case an extra Dagger I can only see as a hide out blade and should I need to cut something as the Rondel is fairly useless as a cutting knife )

C) Civilian armed light: Tod's Stuff Eared Dagger + John Gage Ballock Dagger both with 12" blades but the Ballock dagger has a single edge blade that could double as well for eating/utility & fighting.

In all case a small light Bi-Knife for eating and utility.


Why would I be carrying two blades: Mostly to have one " bling " and big showy/impressive knife and the second being a well hidden backup but more general purpose versatile than the main blade choice.

The specific knive or dagger chosen could be a different one than the ones I mentioned in my collection but generally filling the same use niches of large short sword dagger with lots of reach, medium long and stout anty armour blade, and the shorter versatile type of single or double edged blades.

In period customs might be very different and one would rarely need the second blade and even more rarely use botth at the same time but I would certainly expect that a well off Knight or Nobleman might own a variety of daggers and chose one for the day like one would choose which tie to use with one's suit.

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


Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Wed 07 Dec, 2011 7:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Dec, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:

Occasionally an awl-like 'pricker' came with it; the purpose of this is debated, some people favor the idea that it was a sharpening steel; and sometimes a spoon would be in the same package as well. Generally they'd cut their meat with the knife and either bring it up to their mouth with the knife or on their fingers. Pretty much everybody had one as well as a more utilitarian knife used for everyday tasks.


One other use for the pricker might be to loosen knots in rope maybe a bit like a marlin spike ? Anyway, another possible and additional use to consider. Wink Question

Maybe even untie pointing on armour .....just speculation here depending on the type of knots or bows used in tying the pointing: One might not need the pricker unless the tie became hard to untie for some reason ?

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Josh S





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 12:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, maybe this seems like an amateur question, but the previous replies keep bringing it back to mind. Was it normal for a man-at-arms to take his set of eating utensils, strapped on his body, into battle? This seems like it would provide little advantage (the rather unlikely scenario of being both disarmed of one's dagger AND having enough time to pull out the backup eating knife or pricker before getting gutted) while providing at least two distinct disadvantages: extra weight (not much, but every bit counts, as any modern soldier can tell you) and either a loss of space that could be used to attach something more useful, or simply an extra presence of buckles and straps to potentially get hooked, tangled, etc.
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would think of it like this: Why don't you see modern military types carrying around two pistols? (Yes, I am aware that throughout history some have done it and some still do, but unless I'm mistaken, they are not in the majority.)

I think the if-you-lose-it-do-you-really-have-time-to-pull-another-one and one-more-thing-in-the-way arguments are probably the reasons for the lack of two pistol carrying, so that probably also holds true for daggers back in the day, both on and off the battlefield.


Josh S wrote:
Was it normal for a man-at-arms to take his set of eating utensils, strapped on his body, into battle?


Well, unless it is some modern reenactment oddity, some messer scabbards literally had sheaths for the eating knives and prickers built into them, so the answer is yes... for those guys anyway. I have no idea how common this was or if it was ever done for other weapons.





Edit: Oh, and Gary (Teuscher), based on your description I would think that this knife fighting was likely unarmoured and probably didn't originate in a region where armour was common.

This raises another point that I don't think anyone has really addressed: We don't have any examples of medieval European martial arts involving two knives or daggers. If people did run around with two daggers often then you would think out of all the manuals depicting dagger combat someone would have shown a few dual hand techniques.

I would also suspect that the overall European view of Keep It Simple Stupid would play a part here. If you're not very well trained you're liable to cut yourself trying to handle two blades at once, so developing a style that requires a lot of training may not have appealed to medieval martial artists who often found themselves teaching a untrained commoner to fight for a judical duel.

For that matter, Gary, did this art involve grappling? The European martial arts were very big on grappling and off the top of my head I can't think of any two-hand style knife fighting that involves grappling. If this is a common theme throughout the world, then perhaps two handed dagger fighting was frowned on because if an skilled grappler grabbed you he then had his choice of two daggers to take away and use on you. (Stripping an opponent's dagger is fairly common in the manuals, no?)

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Josh S





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 1:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

D'oh! The grossemesser scabbards had slipped my mind. That eliminates the "extra parts" problem if not the rather minor weight issue - but then again, as you said, it's an example rather specific to messers. Where I start questioning the idea is the situation in which an eating set is carried in its own pouch/sheath/whatnot. From what I understand, getting ready for battle took time, particularly once full plate harnesses came into play. So, exempting emergency responses, there would have to be some point while suiting up at which a warrior would say to himself "wait, let me put on my fork & spoon purse" in order for the eating-knife-as-backup-weapon to even come into play. Going by reason alone, it seems silly - but of course this means little. We're discussing human behavior after all Happy and plenty of other seemingly goofy habits prevailed at the time(and now!). If anybody has come across evidence that it was at least common to carry such utensils into actual combat(messer scabbards excepted), that would be great... otherwise, I'm doubtful...
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D. S. Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 2:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:
I would think of it like this: Why don't you see modern military types carrying around two pistols? (Yes, I am aware that throughout history some have done it and some still do, but unless I'm mistaken, they are not in the majority.)



I agree with you for military types. In terms of your general infantryman, I understand the "long gun" (be it a carbine, sniper rifle, or SAW) is your primary weapon, the pistol is a back-up.

In my occupation, the pistol is my primary weapon, so I carry two; one duty gun and one "BUG" (back up gun). My long gun (in my case an MP5), is for those more uncommon situations calling for more firepower. So I'd point out that in cases where the pistol is primary, it is not uncommon at all to see (or usually not see because it's hidden Laughing Out Loud ) a second pistol. In cases where the rifle is primary, it is probably uncommon to see two pistols. To put it back in a historical perspective, I immagine the same might hold true of daggers/ knives and swords.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Josh S wrote:
From what I understand, getting ready for battle took time, particularly once full plate harnesses came into play. So, exempting emergency responses, there would have to be some point while suiting up at which a warrior would say to himself "wait, let me put on my fork & spoon purse" in order for the eating-knife-as-backup-weapon to even come into play. Going by reason alone, it seems silly - but of course this means little. We're discussing human behavior after all Happy and plenty of other seemingly goofy habits prevailed at the time(and now!). If anybody has come across evidence that it was at least common to carry such utensils into actual combat(messer scabbards excepted), that would be great... otherwise, I'm doubtful...


If restricted to getting armed ( Wearing armour ) for a formal battle I would guess the eating utensils would be left with the baggage and even a small By-Knife would probably not be carried.

I would think that normally one ( A Knight or Man-at-Arms ) would have a primary weapon, Lance on horseback, some sort of polearm on foot , the sword would actually be " the backup weapon " and a dagger a secondary backup weapon.

( Note on horseback, depending on culture/time period/cavalry type, one could see extra weapons carried like an axe or mace or a cased bow as extra weapons ..... but sort of beyond the current Topic )

Any extra dagger would just clutter things up I think and not useful enough to bother with.

Now, for a chevauché or patrol or raid in partial armour carrying at least a By-knife to cut up some food while taking an eating break would be useful and a very small knife worn somewhere out of the way. ( A small extra dagger slipped into a boot top maybe, but maybe mostly inspired by too many Holliwood films or historical fiction or my personal inclinations. Wink Laughing Out Loud )

When in civilian dress I already speculated on how for personal reasons it's not impossible that a few would carry more than one blade, but that this was common or related to a fighting style seems not supported by historical sources as far as I know.

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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
For that matter, Gary, did this art involve grappling? The European martial arts were very big on grappling and off the top of my head I can't think of any two-hand style knife fighting that involves grappling. If this is a common theme throughout the world, then perhaps two handed dagger fighting was frowned on because if an skilled grappler grabbed you he then had his choice of two daggers to take away and use on you. (Stripping an opponent's dagger is fairly common in the manuals, no?)


Well, first of all this was against an 8th degree black belt in one form, he had honorary black belt levels in almost all other forms, and taught hand to hand combat/slef defense for police departments, so he was pretty good. His Dojo was filled with his face on the covers of various martial arts magazines, and tons of competition trophies.

In traditional types of sparring, I could rarely get telling blow in, while he could rain blows almost at will upon me. Of the two times I got a good strike in, one was because I think he wanted me two as he was setting up a counter. It was rather embarrasing, because I am moderately skilled myself, he attributed a lot of it two footwork (we were roughly the same size and strength and both of us were athletic).

With one knife, at times I could get a good blow in, but really it was maybe at best 50/50 if I scored a good blow before he took me down.

With two knives it was totally different. It is very difficult to disarm someone when using a knife in this fashion, a simple twist of your wrist will have a good slash along the wrist of whomever is grasping your own wrist.

But with 2 knives, you can either do the wrist slash or better and smarter, strike with your other knife. It's virtiually impossible to grapple both knives at once.

His attacks, when sucessful, were usually not a traditonal martial art move but more of a tackle, going after the weapon hand while shielding a vulnerable part of the body at the same time like the neck (the grappling arm would also guard the body part until the last second).

But I was better than 50/50 in this situation, and even when he did "win" I usually had also gotten in a possible fatal strike as well, at least a rather dehabilitating one.

It's funny though, I was on the defensive even having two knives, probably due to the respect I had for his abilities.

Of course, disarming a 2 knive user by lopping of one of their hands/arms is not incredibly difficult if armed with a good sword of decent length Big Grin
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Doug Lester




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Dec, 2011 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as what a man-at-arms or other fighter might carry into battle with him would depend on it he had anyone to keep his personal items for him. If he was wealthy enough to bring squires, pages, or other servants with him to battle then they could keep things for him. If he had to look out after his own kit he might have to carry his purse and personal implements with him. Not likely that such mundane matters would have been dealt with in contemporary art much.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Feb, 2014 10:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Writing near the close of the sixteenth century, Sir John Smythe wrote that arquebusiers shouldn't wear daggers because they hardly ever needed them and thus the dagger was simply a burden. Thus indicates that at least during that period folks didn't want to wear a dagger if they weren't likely to have to use it. The same logic might apply for other soldiers carrying a second dagger: it wasn't worth the trouble.

On the other hand, some modern soldiers carry five or more knives just in case, so it strikes me as plausible that at least a few historical warriors would have had a backup dagger.

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 11 Feb, 2014 11:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my study of historical artwork, I have not seen knights wearing two daggers, so my guess is that it was rare. I won't go so far as to say it wasn't done, but I don't think it should be done by modern people on the grounds of "historical plausibility".
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