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Adam M.M.





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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 7:48 am    Post subject: Knives distinguished from daggers         Reply with quote

Were knives distinguished from daggers during the Middle Ages? Would a person be carrying both an eating knife and a dagger or one or the other?

I'm sorry if this question is too general, but I can't really figure this out. I initially assumed knives were tools and daggers weapons, but then Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, I know) claims rondel daggers were used as utility tools. And in the Statute of Winchester "Knife" is listed as a weapon.
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James Moore





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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 8:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Going by AVB Norman's books, daggers are considered such by having symmetrical hilts, while knives are asymmetric. Which is of course, not to say that a knive cannot be used in the context of combat, and plenty of bollock daggers, basilards, and rondels have asymmetry in the blades (ie, single-edged designs.)

That said, eating knives - or more accurately, civillian knives (since eating is just once use they'd be put to) I've seen are invariably smaller (most are a 10-12cm blade length, vs a dagger of 20-30cm), and almost all have thinner blades (2-3mm, vs 4+ for daggers.).

Wikipedia is completely wrong with regards to rondels being utility tools.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eating knives are single edged but often had a partially sharpened false edge too and were of course generally used for eating though could be turned to other tasks.

Single edged knives such as the majority of bollock daggers and bauernwehr could be used easily for general tasks as having a blunt back edge is a great help and so poorer daggers usually have single edged blades as then they can double up for general tasks too.

Purely fighting daggers and higher status pieces usually have double edged blades or even triple and these cannot readily be used for anything other than fighting and posing.

The two items were different for different purposes so people would generally carry both. Eating with a dagger was a social no-no.

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T. Kew




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're carrying a stout ballock dagger, with perhaps 10" of single-edged blade, that's not a very convenient utility tool for many fine jobs. A 10" single-edged blade is the size of many people's largest kitchen knife - try whittling a toothpick with one, or doing some other fine job. Heck, try eating a meal using it as your knife.

Where a single-edged blade like that could be very handy is quite solid tasks - if you want to chop up wood it's not bad, for example. But for a lot of fine work it's just far too large.

And that's before considering hilts. A small utility knife tends to have a very plain hilt, allowing many grips that give very fine control of the point. A rondel dagger prevents almost all of those grips, which compounds the issue of having a much longer blade than is ideal for small work (you can get these options back by gripping the blade instead of the handle, but that has some obvious downsides...).

A small eating/utility type knife (think a 3-4" paring knife, practically), is very useful for a wide range of small jobs, where a long dagger is just too large. A large sax would be just as impractical for those as well, of course. The small knife is also lightweight and incredibly easy to carry, and doesn't make you look like you're about to stab someone up when actually you just want to pry the stuck top off your dice box, or whatever.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 4:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I can tell a dagger was originally a tiny sword - a double-edged knife with a hilt and pommel. If it didn't have these features then it wasn't a dagger.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Luke Adams




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Jan, 2015 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, for the Chinese (and probably most East Asian people), the character 刀 means knife, or a single edged blade, while the character 剣 means sword, or a double edged blade.

I might be oversimplifying this, but I'd say:
Short single edged = Knife
Short double edged = Dagger
Long-ish single edged = Saber
Long-ish double edged = Sword

Of course, you can argue that sabers are swords or that, historically, roundel daggers could be single or double edged, but I think this terminology works best so as not to confuse the average Joe.

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David Cooper




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 1:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They must eat large lunches in the Khyber Pass Big Grin 21 inch blade on this Khyber Knife. I think it illustrates that we will call anything single edged , asymmetrically mounted a knife... until it become a sword.


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John Hardy




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Cooper wrote:
They must eat large lunches in the Khyber Pass Big Grin 21 inch blade on this Khyber Knife. I think it illustrates that we will call anything single edged , asymmetrically mounted a knife... until it become a sword.


Very very tough goats there. You need a big knife both to take them down in the first place and then to cut the meat into stew-sized pieces... Razz
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Mike Ruhala




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It ain't the hardware... Nessmuk just didn't have big knife skills. Razz

Where I'm from machetes are used for just about everything and it works the same way with messers which once occupied essentially the same niche. Occasionally it is helpful to have a smaller blade, in a modern context I use an Alox handled Swiss Army Knife but a by-knife is also good.

As far as distinguishing daggers from knives go, you can do fighting or utility tasks with either to varying degrees of success depending on how the weapon/tool is specifically configured and what the job is but as a general rule knives are more cut and daggers are more thrust. We have fechtbucher that differentiate between various kinds of knives and daggers, it's not a night and day thing but they were aware of differences.
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Jens Nordlunde





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Cooper,
What would you call an adya katti, being 54 cm long all in all, and the name indicates that it is a war knife?,



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Adam M.M.





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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 12:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for clearing this up for me.

A somewhat off-topic question, did the English laws that forbade commoners from carrying swords within towns/cities apply to daggers as well?

Mike Ruhala wrote:
We have fechtbucher that differentiate between various kinds of knives and daggers, it's not a night and day thing but they were aware of differences.


That's interesting, all the ones I've seen just deal with rondel dagger, which ones are they?
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The etymology for dagger seems anything but clear.

Quote:
Word Origin and History for dag-ger
Expand
n.

late 14c., apparently from Old French dague "dagger," from Old Provençal dague or Italian daga, of uncertain origin; perhaps Celtic, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *daca "Dacian knife," from the Roman province in modern Romania. The ending is possibly the faintly pejorative -ard suffix. Attested earlier (1279) as a surname ( Dagard, presumably "one who carried a dagger"). Middle Dutch dagge, Danish daggert, German Degen also are from French.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper


Not so unlike trying to justify the use of the word glaive Wink

A dirk may be a dagger, as a tuck might be an estoc.

Somehow I see the term of dagger more specific than either knife or sword.

Cheers

GC
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Mike Ruhala




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PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam M.M. wrote:

That's interesting, all the ones I've seen just deal with rondel dagger, which ones are they?


Hutter, Wittenwiler and the Cluny come to mind. There's a lot of funny stuff going on with the dagger treatises, the stucke seem to have been written to help a hopeful pass the master exam but they don't give a very clear picture of what the whole system actually looked like. There's also a few little hints that suggest some of the material may be quite ancient in origin such as the odd way the dagger section is prefaced in 3227.a. Right now I'm trying to unknot and extract the system from the stucke, when I'm done with that it'll be interesting to compare the results to artwork from classical antiquity.
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David Cooper




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2015 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jens Nordlunde wrote:
David Cooper,
What would you call an adya katti, being 54 cm long all in all, and the name indicates that it is a war knife?,


A very pretty axe? Big Grin

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