The Coustel

Over the last couple of decades we have seen several reproductions titled Coustels come on the market and be popular items. The exact nature of what this term referred to in the early middle ages is difficult to define. The name appears in several texts and inventories and none give a very detailed description.
This is one of the reasons it became popular as a title applied by makers as it gives one a wide berth to create an item as they want. This lack detail to a certain form of blade has also lead to much speculation by reenactors and amateur historians about what exactly is a Coustel. A popular topic over beers in the tent at events and everyone has an opinion.
 In today's video we take a look at one we have just finished up for a customer who provided some good direction on creating a piece as close as we can come to one of these "long knives" and with their specifications and a couple of inspiration elements we crafted a very serious weapon that feels great in the hand.
Some of the quotes that describe these blades are intersting as they highlight a point we have made in some of our other videos and blog posts. The descriptions they wrote for items are based on intended use rather than physical descriptions. Here are a couple of them.

William king of Scotland 1165-1214

Habeat, equum, habergeon, capitum e ferro, et Cultellum qui dicitur dagger

Let him have a horse, a habergeon, a helm of iron, and a knife called a dagger.

Count of Toulouse in 1152

Si quis aliqem hominem malum, quem Cultellarium dicimus, cum cultellis euntem nocte cause furandi occiderit, nullum damnum patiatur propter hoc.

If any one kills any bad man, whom we call a Cutler, going with knives for the purpose of stealing at night, he shall suffer no loss for this.

and probably the best as far as detailing what these pieces looked like.

Rigord’s descript of troops at the battle of Bouvines 1213

Habebant cultellos langos

They had long knives

Graciles, triacumines quolibet acumine indifferentur secantes a cuspide usque and manbrium, quibus utebantur pro gladius.

Slender, triacumines (a sharp three sided herb leaf)* were indifferently cut by any point from the tip to the hilt, which they used as swords.

*best translation I could gather from some serious Latin folk

So with these extensive detailed descriptions we can say they had long triangular blade that were sharp from tip to guard. 

The pieces we crafted for our customer certainly is that and more. It would be an excellent weapon in a fight and one that I think makes a exceptional blade wether one calls it a dagger or a sword.

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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