The Milanese Parrying Dagger

Today we take a close look at this elegant left-hand dagger based on original pieces from late 16th century Italy.  The piece features a geometric pattern of chiseled lines, a protective knuckle ring, and acanthus decorative motifs at the quillion block.  The blade in this example is sharp, but can also be ordered as a blunt training piece, either rigid or flexible.  The grip is wrapped with wire in a pattern of two wires twisted toward each other and another two untwisted wires spiraling between.

Milanese parrying dagger
Milanese Parrying Dagger

 A parrying dagger is used when fighting with a rapier in the right hand.  When used by a competent combatant the pairing of a rapier with a parrying dagger allows for a sophisticated balance of offensive and defensive capabilities.  

milanese rapier
Arms and Armor Milanese Rapier


The below image is from Achille Marozzo's 1536 Opera Nova.  In fighting with the rapier and dagger he gives the following advice "First you will be settled with the left foot forward and your dagger in your left hand in the porta di ferro stretta. In your right hand hold your sword in the coda lunga e alta. Keep your arms extended and tight. Note that whenever possible, I want you to be the first to attack. But do not let him be the first to attack you. I want you to take this order: that is throw a rising falso at his sword hand or to the dagger, yet remain with your left foot forward...In this manner you will be strong against an attack to the head or leg. If he attacks to the leg you will put the right edge of your dagger to the attack. That is turn the point of the dagger towards the ground and parry the mandritto of the enemy. In a single time pass with the right leg (into a gran passo) opposite his left side and give a mandritto to his leg going into a porta di ferro larga with your dagger in the guardia di testa. Then if your enemy throws a mandritto or a roverso at the head, or even a stoccata, I want you to make a rising strike with the false edge of your sword against his sword and follow it with a mandritto to the leg." (qouted from the translation at Wiktenauer).  



Check out the video below.



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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