Two weapon fightin? (dual wielding)

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1) As I say- most serious students of Norse literature took it as possible as early as 1980- however references to wolf-skins granting supernatural powers and weapons hewing limbs clean off made much of the actual narrative untrustworthy for most sagas. Fact.
2) Actually- no. A case of any weapons means multiple weapons will be AVAILABLE. As a degree-level historian one has to differentiate between biased extrapolation and historically proven fact. It could be that they will be used together. It could be that single falchions will represent two closely matched weapons of identical handling- and a variety will be available for a second duel, varying in size, etc. etc. That's the original meaning of the term 'case of'. Granted, by the later period this came to mean 'dual wielded'- especially in the case of rapiers, but it simply meant mutiple blades would be made available to both combatants- to select a single one, or two. It's also still post-medieval exhibition fighting... which is not admissable evidence for battlefield combat in the era of military swordplay.
3) And it's still not dual-wielding. I granted passive use. That's still not the same, and I still conceeded the point. If you wish to delcare this your victory, then okay- but passive use is -not- the same as using a primary in your offhand.
4) Anyone can get an invite to the larger events- and your use of dual-weapons already throws the authenticity of the group into sharp and non-complimentary relief. Bias research methods will allow things like dual-wielding, whereas serious study of all the sources to extrapolate evidence would lead immediately away from it for anything pre-renasiance. Constant projection of things up and down the timeline means you could equally have allowed forms of plate, metal-covered shields, etc. etc. ''Used real weapons''... unlike other societies, who use...?
5)... in the 17th century... and again... evidence it was implemented? Yes- we have one man suggesting it. We have a good source showing Machiavelli urging Rennaisance princes to equip armies in the Roman style with large shields and short swords. We also know his one such-armed militia was crushed and the form was abandoned in favour of the pike again. Before you can prove anything beyond a historical glitch- you need supporting evidence. So far you've a handful of possible references, all post-15th century- one an extrapolated possible source referring to demonstrative duels... and one suggestion of sword and main gauche in mass pike blocks... which was never to my knowledge introduced.
6)And... no. I was pointing out that a lack of mentioning a shield doesn't mean ''DUAL WIELDING!" should be your first logical conclusion. In fact, due to it's absence in period manuals such as MI.33 and any depiction of military forces, one should assume the opposite. And again- why is it hard to accept? Because you've no evidence to suggest they -did-. They are two tools for very different jobs; and sword-and-dagger fencing is yet to make an appearance for nearly 200 years.
7)No... the Anglo-Saxon Heroic literature (Battle of Maldon, etc. etc.) provides a biased but wonderfully detailed account of fighting in the shield-wall... and never mentions dual-wielding. Nor do most sources of the time. Only Scandinavian sources actually written down so long after they can be dismissed as primary sources. Again- historical practice.
8 ) No- ''He does this, so I do that'' is not the same as ''He moves in this way, I react thus." The first is 'to me, to you' style, the second a dynamic mid-combat flow. For someone with this laudible combat experience within a UK society, you don't understand much of the subtleties of combat.

Seeing as there's an obvious way to settle this- and the clearly logical way- here it is.
I'm also in the UK. I run cell-groups of reenactment society UK wide. If you want to pit your theory against mine, I suggest an exhibition bout. You dual-wielding; me not. I will use a polearm, a sword and shield, a dagger and shield- a range of combinations that make more effective sense within this contextual time period. I invite you to use any dual-combination throughout all of time. After 20 such bouts, we will have come to a conclusion about our most practical form. Even a skill mis-match can be accounted for by having a series of vanilla bouts, and then checking their ratio against the proposed bout ratio. I'm happy to agree any rules- any armour. I'll even supply the equipment. As this seems the only way such a theory-based debate with no real historical evidence (beyond one explicit theory, one inferred exhibition bout, and 14th-century recounted saga) can be settled, I'll be glad to do it, and it can end this back-and-forth debate, where you don't want to accept serious degree-level historical critique of a flawed argument.



FrisianDude said:
Urlik said:
and I have already pointed out that not everyone had a shield
It seems likely that more people had shields than they had daggers.
Why it's not as simple to assume that they were carrying bucklers (which apparently offer no advantage in a melee according to a previous post) or that they used the swords two-handed, or single-handed and used their second hand to grapple, is still unclear... other than 'because I will it so'.

Oh- and I've checked the source- the case of Falchions would mean two... because it's from 1878- and therefore has no bearing on a discussion of medieval fighting technique. Were a man to pick up a Gladius and Falcatta now, and demonstrate he can use them against a similarly armed opponent, it doesn't demonstrate that Romans dual-wielded. It demonstrates someone post-event could, when it was a sport without risk of death. If we're taking Victorian martial arts as evidence of medieval form... then oh God the world just imploded.


Sergeant Knight
1.) 1980 is relatively recent and the Vinland Sagas have only been accepted as accurate for a few decades against the centuries where they were dismissed as fantasy.
yes, wearing an animal skin and turning into that animal is fantasy, which of the Icelandic Sagas is it from?
but using a weapon in the offhand isn't impossible or fantasy yet you insist on treating it as such while saying that other Sagas are true

I, George Gray [snip] do invite James Harris to meet and exercise at the following weapons: back-sword, sword and dagger, sword and buckler, single falchion, and case of falchions.
which part of that implies that a selection of falchions is to be presented to the combatants to choose from?
do all degree level historians fail at reading in context as much as you?

3.) ok so it is passive use. the figure on the right of the illustration ran onto the dagger and impaled himself. the chap in the middle just held it there for him.

4.) whatever

5.) combat in M&B isn't always massed battles (in fact most battles would be better described as skirmishes) and so whether the use of an offhand weapon was ever used on a medieval battlefield is irrelevant.
there are the ambushes in villages and towns where it would be acceptable for a lone person to use sword and dagger to defend himself against multiple opponents

6.) are you saying that because I.33 doesn't show shields we should assume that everyone had one?
I.33 is all about sword and buckler (and Talhoffer's sword and buckler style is almost identical).

7.) and I accept that spear and shield is a very good and extremely effective weapon combination for massed ranks, especially if they can hold the ground and let the enemy come to them.
that doesn't change the fact that the Icelandic Sagas (and the King's Sagas iirc) mention the use of 2 weapons.

8.) semantics. "He moves in this way, I react thus" = "He does this, so I do that " = "[third person singular] [verb] [demonstrative pronoun], [first person singular] [verb] [demonstrative pronoun]"
the tense is the same in both and either both are part of a dynamic system or neither are.

ok, but you will have to give me a bit of time to get fit again as I am supremely unfit right now.


1) Yes. It does just mean you're out of touch with the way it's been translated and analysed- you asked if my lecturer had to re-think. As he was a well-thought of academic... no. He'd researched. You not knowing that popular thought had long changed is your problem, not mine.
2) And no- ''case of'' previously meant a selection- as I stated- which later I agreed came to mean mean dual-wielding. I assumed the source was earlier at a glance, as a mid-to-late 19th century source would be meaningless. I clearly underestimated you. A late-19th century source... again this source proves NOTHING of medieval warfare. This isn't even during the age of swords as primary weapons.
3) Passive use doesn't mean you don't jab with it- it means it's not in constant use. It is suddenly employed, whent the main use of that hand is something else (holding a spear-shaft, shield, buckler, etc. etc.) Read my above post. A man using a medieval weapon in some way they did not does not prove they did it- especially some five-hundred years AFTER THE FACT...
4) ...
5) No- it isn't- but it is amongst soldiers and proffessional bandits. Both of whom would be well-equipped militarily- either with shields or polearms. I did concede that sword-and-dagger would only have any use in bandit suprise attacks... but even here is still baseless evidence-wise and assumed anachronistic.
6) No- I'm saying because Mi.33 doesn't ever show dagger and sword in a CIVILIAN self-defence manual, the concept of THIS CIVILIAN FORM EXISTING is almost null. Bucklers are also a form of shield- albeit the most curtailed example- your seperating them for the terms of this argument is meaningless- we know 13th-14th century archers carried bucklers- we have hosts of rolls of arms, written sources and pictorial sources. NONE show dual-wielding. Your assumption is based on assumption, mine fact.
7) Yes- along with one-footed man-beasts, were-wolves, etc. etc. Selecting 'this bit' because it proves your point and ignoring the overall text because that damages your argument is known as 'selective sourcing'. The Icelandic sagas are also far from contemporary. The more contemporary sources mention -nothing- of dual-wielding. We also lack pictorial or other corroborative evidence.
8 ) Not quite- but if you want to debate this out of all the flaws in the argument then very well. ''I do this, he does that'' is a style in which one waits until the enemy blow is checked, and then reacts. ''He does this- I REACT thus'' denotes you are moving IN RESPONSE DURING HIS MOVEMENT. It's a short-hand used by a lot of historical fencers who are pulling apart blow-by-blow reenactment fights where each man strikes a blow Holmgang style and the other recieves before reacting.

Take all the time you want. I'd even accept you fighting one of my yearling students to demonstrate the point. The plain fact is that dual-wielding is neither a practical battlefield form, civilian defence when any other option is available, nor a proven medieval form despite us having almost endless supplies of evidence of many others. So far in this debate I've been 'gloves on'- but look for a second at your sources-

a) Post-Medieval 19th century demonstration fight.
b) Icelandic saga evidence that also sites werewolves, one-footed beasts that hop along coastlines, and some even relay the battle of Stamford bridge being a slow grinding fight of Norse infantry against Saxon cavalry- who drew them out through feigned retreat.
c) The assumption that Gladiators used two-weapons when employed in the military- despite it being rare for them to be offered two weapons in exhibition fights!
d) A manual of arms from the late 16th/Early 17th century that seems never to have been implemented, suggesting a civilan sword-and-offhand dagger form be introduced for pikemen.
e) Creative interpretation of sources that don't say archers had bucklers- thus you concluding they dual-wielded, because they had both a dagger and sword.
f) A single Talhoffer plate of passive dagger- which the Scots would continue to do with Dirk and Targe; the closest Europe has ever known to military dual-wielding.

None of this even approaches a shred of evidence that 11th-15th century Europe even so much as -knew- of dual-wielding, let alone used it. You have instead scoured the time-line for instances of it, regardless of the nature of the sources, the required evidence to make each one valid (corroboration), and slammed it together as a dossier of 'dual wielding'. Equally I could claim that, in singular study of the Assize of Arms, no peasant possessed a shield (it isn't cited as a peice of equipment they needed beyond a gambeson, 'lance' and iron-cap) nor knights swords. I could also claim Eastern Europe should be filled with flame-throwers in the medieval era as we have evidence of their limited use before and after the period in question. No serious historian would countenance it; and with good reason.

A handful of sources scattered across more than seven centuries does not prove anything. The sheer weight of pictoral and written evidence that SHOWS NOTHING OF THIS FORM outweighs all of them put together.

If you want to continue to post endless refutions- fine, but know that you do so in the face of every qualified medieval historian and medieval militarist of the last three decades. Clearly you know better.



Sergeant Knight
538 pages.
5358 Replies.
Started on May 23, 2005. 6 years ago.
I'll ask again.


If (note, not when) The Great Dual-Wield Practicality Combat is preformed, I demand a series of well filmed, multi-angle videos, accompanied by a list of witnesses and their contact information.

Also, advertise and charge 1$ admission.


FrisianDude said:
Urlik said:
and I have already pointed out that not everyone had a shield
It seems likely that more people had shields than they had daggers.
That's not very likely.  Daggers are ubiquitous, even more so that the history spanning spear.  Even modern western-style soldiers carry them and in a circumstance of significant desperation could resort to it's use.

The only real argument against the implementation that I've seen in this thread is the potential complexity of the mechanics and control.  And the fact that the developers have more or less ceased development on this game and are progressing on other projects.

Personally, I'll be disappointed if they don't try and expand the idea of the off-hand weapon to more than a purely defensive interpretation of the shield.

@Blackthorn (and others who press for the combat to represent only one arena):
Why should the game focus purely on those methods used commonly on the battlefield when we can and do engage in fighting in both tournaments and street-fighting within the game as it currently stands?

This argument is repeatedly raised and I can't for the life of me see why it's relevant: especially considering how much potential the game (or a sequel) has for other types of combat encounter.


Sergeant Knight
saying that I.33 doesn't show sword and dagger when it is a civilian manuscript means nothing in the context of the military.
Talhoffer is late Medieval and so his depiction of a dagger in the offhand is valid for showing that it was known about at that time (not hundreds of years later, or are you limiting the middle ages to the 10th and 11th centuries?)
Di Grassi wrote about a 2 weapon system known as a CASE OF RAPIERS (although this is a mistranslation and it should be known as a case of swords as in the original they are referred to as spada ) in the 16th century so "case" was known to refer to dual wielding 300 years earlier than your statement that it is a 19th century expression (even though the date of that challenge is in my quote and it is early 18th century).

you keep going on about mythical beasts in the Sagas. name the Icelandic Sagas that contain these fantasy elements.
there are no werewolves in Njal's Saga.
the Icelandic Sagas are a record of the history and blood feuds among the settlers in Iceland unlike the Legendary Sagas which do have fantasy elements.

it's getting late and I can't be bothered to reply to any more of your points, seeing as I have stated this case over and over again.
but I would rather have a bout against you rather than one of your novices as I am out of practice (comes with being unfit) and it would be much safer for both parties
GaGrin said:
This argument is repeatedly raised and I can't for the life of me see why it's relevant: especially considering how much potential the game (or a sequel) has for other types of combat encounter.

Because that is what the game is. If and when the devs decide that combat in a civilian context should be in an expansion or sequel, I'll throw my wholehearted support behind the inclusion of such styles. Considering the state of the 'civilian' portions of the game though, it's not likely to add much. :???:


GaGrin said:
That's not very likely.  Daggers are ubiquitous, even more so that the history spanning spear.  Even modern western-style soldiers carry them and in a circumstance of significant desperation could resort to it's use.
Nah, knives are ubiquitous, but daggers less so, no? And using your eating knife in combat 's s a bit silly if you can at all avoid it.


Sufficiently Suffonsified
FrisianDude said:
Nah, knives are ubiquitous, but daggers less so, no? And using your eating knife in combat 's s a bit silly if you can at all avoid it.

You know what's silly? You're thinking about how on earth you're going to cut you next slice of Mommy's sausage pie when you should be thinking about ****ing jamming your knife up the nose of the man across from you.


Ehm, yeah. That would be the case if the knife was the only weapon and in the main hand. Not if it's as a substitute for a shield. Seeing as this is the TWO weapon thread I assumed that you also had a primary weapon. I was thinking a spear. Ram THAT in the bastard's nose and then you can keep the knife for eating.


They're the ones who don't eat boogers afterwards. :???: I think your chances are a bit limited by the time you have to resort to stabbing boogers.


No- your SOURCE is 19th century, reporting events from the early 18th. Note the distinction. Therefore the language and terminology will be 19th century- unless lifted directly with no adjustment- unlikely in any Victorian text- which I conceeded. Try reading and understanding before responding.

"saying that I.33 doesn't show sword and dagger when it is a civilian manuscript means nothing in the context of the military."
-Precisely. And sword-and-offhand is a civilian form. Glad we agree. No evidence points to it being military- and the little we have here presented is civilian/fencing/self defence.
"Talhoffer is late Medieval and so his depiction of a dagger in the offhand is valid for showing that it was known about at that time (not hundreds of years later, or are you limiting the middle ages to the 10th and 11th centuries?)"
-No, we're limiting the case to dual-wielding before the Rennaisance... which this isn't. The accepted 'end' of the Medieval era changes country-to-country, but the Universal is the fall of Constantinople...1453. The fecthbuch in question was produced in 1467. The only definition that leaves it 'medieval' is the Anglo-Centric ''1485=Death of Richard III= End of Medieval Era, which ignores the social/political/technological influx of the fall of the Byzantine Empire).
If our combatant wasn't holding a buckler as his left-hand primary then it would be. As it is it's behind the buckler to be deployed when the situation fits- and therefore it's passive-dagger (which I've proven- and conceeded as the closest thing to it)- the first instance we really have, and it's early Rennaisance. Admittedly EARLY Rennaisance- but still Rennaisance- and the work of a fencing master who outlines judicial duels, self-defence, and very little military form- hence the lack of armour in most plates. You've already declared the seperation as important.

And the -13th CENTURY source for 11th century matters- (and therefore considered largely anachronistic in detail but correct in the broad swathe of events) includes two major instances of reported dual-wielding -of a polearm and sword- "and then he takes his bill and sword and fights with both hands"- and in the second ''took up a spear and a sword in either hand''. So unless you're an advocate of spear and offhand sword (which could be passive seax, as seaxes are referred to as 'short swords' in translation, though it is doubtful, and far more likely a fanciful account), or better still sword and BILL, then by all means go ahead. This is reported two-hundred years after the event... and contains a blow-by-blow recounting of a fight. You obviously assume such detail is accurate- I instinctively do not. Oral tradition involves exaggeration and making semi-unbelievable claims of the protaganists. Concepts that men 'gave no thought to their safety and instead took up two weapons' is not a good claim that other men did it- instead they are TRYING to make their heroes perform super-human or incredibly inadvisable tasks. Most Icelandic combat that's mentioned involves shields, or spears with swords at the belt- and even a couple of instances of cloaks wound around the left arm- oh- should we have offhand cloaks? We also have evidence of THOSE early Rennaisance! The main point here is in feud-combat we have a man claiming two-hundred years after the event that in a scrimmage someone used a sword in their left with a spear/bill in the right. It's not convincing- given the context- and even if it were it doesn't support the military line.
As for Icelandic Sagas- you referred to them as a genre rather than Njal's saga- so the criticism will be of the body of works as a whole, rather than specific examples- especially as you honed in on the Vinlander's Saga (the discovery of America discussion, etc) which details monopeds who were sited with Scraeling.

The offhand dagger is perfect for parrying later-period blades, but does not hold up well against heavier earlier swords. I'm not claiming 12th-14th century swords were massive unwieldy choppers- but they carry far more momentum behind them than their later manifestations. The daggers USED in offhand feature wide, flaring crossguards and for preference, a knuckle-guard to prevent the hand being injured; 12th-14th century daggers are rarely pictured with adequate hand protection; hence the  buckler covering the hand in passive dagger.
The open hand however can grapple- axes, maces, spears and bills all have hafts to grab. In the case of a shield and sword if you bind the sword with your own and you can then contest control of the shield, or the control of the sword, etc. etc. (as Talhoffer shows in multiple cases). It is only really in later styles wherein grappling dropped in priority, swords become lighter, and daggers more expansive, that the offhand weapon emerges. But obviously these are points that need to be illustrated with arms.

And I now suggest we leave this matter rest until we have the chance to duel in person. If you desperately need a rebuttal, feel free, but unless there would be anything ground-breaking I doubt it would have any meaning until we've been able to discuss this matter in a more practical arena.
If you check the dates on my website ( you have the dates I won't be available- I'll be doing most of those shows. Anything aside that is welcome to me. I propose you try any form that you suggested from this thread- including the Icelandic sword and spear/bill and sword, which would effectively end a discussion on whether the account is far-fetched (corroboration), as well as sword and offhand dagger against various polearms (which is what the Archer and Pikemen would face) versus having the left hand free to grip the enemy polearm shaft and grapple.
Before combat we obviously need to agree to weapon rules, degree of armour/lack thereof, and form and target area. I'm essentially amenable to anything, having fought with nearly every form at some time or another. If you would like the dates I'll be in Guildford for an annual visit to that cell, I can provide them, a training area, an armoury and filming facilities to serve as evidence of findings.
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