Dagger and War Hammer vs. Maille Armor

In today's video we continue our quest to learn how various weapons interact with different historical armors.  Today, Nathan uses a Rondel Dagger and a War Hammer against a piece of riveted maille over cloth armor.  Last week's test of a Norseman Spear against the same armor produced a result that was somewhat surprising to many folks, the very sharp and pointy spear did not penetrate the armor or break any links.  

Arms and Armor Rondel dagger

The Arms and Armor Rondel Dagger

For today's test we set a heavy boxing bag on a table laying down with the fabric armor and maille on top of it so it could be struck very securely and with maximum force.  Rondel daggers are a sidearm that was very common in the medieval period.  Check out this previous blog post about these weapons.  These were frequently used by armored combatants when such combat turned to close in fighting and wrestling, as it often did.  The long stout blades of these daggers were perfect for slipping between armor plates or through the eye slits, either killing an opponent or forcing them to yield.  

arms and armor war hammer

Arms and Armor War Hammer

The War Hammer used in this video is our standard model, which is a replica of a historic piece in the Wallace Collection dating to the mid 15th century - a period when plate armor had largely replaced maille as a full-body defense.  However, the hammer is functionally similar to earlier weapons from the period of maille armor such as maces.  

Bayeux maces

Knights clad in maille carrying maces in the Bayeux Tapestry ~1070 AD

Morgan Bible Illustration of Dagger used in combat against mailed opponents

The use of the dagger in combat as depicted in The Morgan Bible.

Morgan Bible illustration of Daggers effectiveness in open areas
Depiction of effectiveness of dagger where maille is not present.

Morgan Bible depiction of Dagger going through mail armor

The dagger showing a stab through maille.

Check out the video to see what happened and to hear our conclusions on the test.


divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985

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