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P. Schontzler




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Casual medieval daggers vs Ballock?         Reply with quote

I am familiar with the usage of a seax as an all purpose dagger/weapon/tool, but later in the high/late middle ages, what type of side arm was common for casual use?

For example the Ballock dagger was an essential sidearm on the battlefield, but was it the typical side arm around town, manor, court, etc?
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Dan P




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 5:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found this short history of daggers from Tod's Stuff to be an interesting read. What I take from it is that in the late middle ages, so many different kinds of weapons were being made and shipped across Europe that it was basically a function of how much money one had and how fashion abled a man was.

IMO the ballock dagger wasn't really a military sidearm as much as the rondel or sword hilted dagger but kind of a more civilian maybe lower class item. My personal preference is for a large sword hilted dagger and a small utility knife.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 5:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan P wrote:
IMO the ballock dagger wasn't really a military sidearm as much as the rondel or sword hilted dagger but kind of a more civilian maybe lower class item. My personal preference is for a large sword hilted dagger and a small utility knife.


You can find ballock daggers and baselards in civilian contexts. Knives of all sizes were always popular as well.

I disagree about the ballock dagger "wasn't really a military sidearm." There are ballock daggers that whose specs (blade shape, etc.) would have made them fairly useless in every day carry but would have made them great on the battlefield.

And there are plenty of decorated examples that indicate higher status. So while there were plenty of more plain ballock daggers and some that might seem to suit civilian use, there are others that don't fit that bill.

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Mackenzie Cosens




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 6:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

1358 maybe Peter de Grandis all most ballock daggers or baselards


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1358 maybe Sir Peter de Grandis.jpg

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Apr, 2013 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In per-modern times just about everybody carried a utility knife. It was deemed so basic that even a norse thrall could not be denied one.

For these reasons, a figthing knife would either be uncalled for (you can kill unarmoured people just as well with you utility knife) or would need to be fairly large in order to impress.

As for utility value, I have found my simple figthing knife to be a great tool for coarse woodworking. But this could in large part be due to the fact that it has a utility knife grip.
Casual wear of weapons also depends on period, and in areas/periods where it was not fashionable, we see fewer of them. For instance, figthing knifes are relatively rare in viking age norway, but abundant in Britain and the baltic in the same time period.

After a lull in the early middle ages, casual dagger wear seems to have become fashionable again in the late middle ages, with the ballock dagger being the most common choice when out of armour.
Not only is it (potentialy) cheaper, but also more convenient to carry as the hilts of roundells and quillon daggers are bulky and make them top heavy.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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P. Schontzler




Location: WA, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Apr, 2013 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I made the mistake of assuming "Ballock" was a more general term for Rondel daggers, but now I see the two distinct articles in the "Features" section. My mistake!

What it sounds like is a Ballock is the common everyday knife of the high middle ages (though still useful on the battlefield), and the Rondel specifically suited for battle.

I thought that sword-hilted (quillon) daggers fell out of use after Rondels became common because of their ability to find holes (or sometimes create holes) in armor. Or were all kinds used? You can definitely pair a very pointed blade/spike with a quillon hilt.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Apr, 2013 9:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Schontzler wrote:
I made the mistake of assuming "Ballock" was a more general term for Rondel daggers, but now I see the two distinct articles in the "Features" section. My mistake!


Yes, they are quite different. The hilt shapes are nothing alike.

Quote:
What it sounds like is a Ballock is the common everyday knife of the high middle ages (though still useful on the battlefield), and the Rondel specifically suited for battle.


That's too broad a generalization. The "common every day knife of the high middle ages" was just that: a simple knife. Most were fixed bladed, like many of today's belt knives, while there were some folders as well. Many men would have owned a knife and they came in vary sizes, configurations, and levels of decoration. But, some civilian men would have worn ballock daggers (double or single-edged) and we know baselards were used by civilians as well, since we have art that shows that.

A ballock dagger could be built more for everyday use, perhaps with a robust single-edged blade. Another ballock dagger might have been built solely for battlefield use with an extremely pointy blade, perhaps so thick that it wouldn't even have sharpened edges. These can vary so much that it's tough to paint in such broad stokes. The same applies to rondel daggers.

Quote:
I thought that sword-hilted (quillon) daggers fell out of use after Rondels became common because of their ability to find holes (or sometimes create holes) in armor. Or were all kinds used? You can definitely pair a very pointed blade/spike with a quillon hilt.


It's more about the blade than the hilt. You can find all kinds of blades across the various hilt forms. Some ballock daggers and rondel daggers were very much like hilted spikes and not useful around the camp, house, or workshop. Some had blades much more suited to cutting. But daggers are, by their nature and the history of the word dagger, pointy. In many cases, the more heavily they favor the thrust the less useful they are otherwise.

Quillon daggers seem to have become less popular later in the 14th century and into the 15th than they had been before, but I'm not sure they ever died out. And they certainly came back later.

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P. Schontzler




Location: WA, USA
Joined: 15 Apr 2013

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PostPosted: Tue 30 Apr, 2013 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great reply Chad! I should know better than to make generalizations, I'm trying to fill in the gaps of my understanding.

This question came to mind because in the early middle ages / migration it seemed that everyone just had saxs and that was that, but it wasn't clear what was carried later on.
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