The rondel dagger was one of the most popular weapons of the late Middle Ages. A long, thick-spined, and wickedly pointed fighting knife, the rondel was optimized for penetrating thick clothing, forcing open chain mail links, or being thrust through the joints in plate armor. The word "rondel" refers to the round or disc-like guard and pommel that were prevalent on this style of knife. Below you can see the detail on the standard Arms & Armor rondel dagger, in which we have reproduced a slightly less common, and racier, though still completely historical, hexagonal disc-form with a writhen hardwood grip. This is a beautiful and functional weapon, and a true piece of craftsmanship. Please check out this review of our Rondel Dagger at myarmory.com.
In addition to the distinctive form of these daggers, Rondels were also exceptionally long in comparison to contemporary fighting knives. Rondel blades were often in the twelve to sixteen inch range and appear to have often been used in an "ice pick" style overhand grip. The additional length also allowed them to work as levers against your opponents limbs in hand to hand combat. They were usually worn at the belt on the right hand side and hands-on experimentation suggests that the disc-style guard and pommel helped to facilitate a rapid draw of the knife under conditions of combat pressure. We make plain sheaths, upgraded custom sheaths and hanging systems (this sword system is just an example) that can be customized to help you learn these fighting techniques.
Custom decorated scabbard for Rondel
You can see this form of combat in the illustration below from one of Hans Talhoffer's fifteenth century fighting manuals.
These were both knightly and civilian weapons, for noble and merchant classes. Not to imply that no peasant ever had such a weapon, but the rondel is a dedicated fighting knife with reduced utility for less lethal tasks when compared to other period knives that could easily serve both purposes. Owning such a dedicated and aesthetic weapon with little domestic usefulness implies a degree of disposable income and fashionability most often associated with the upper classes. This association is reflected in the following illustrations from Lucas Cranach the Elder and Albrecht Dürer, respectively, and their portrayals of rondel daggers in elite usage.
The Suicide of Lucretia, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1529
Freydal defeats another knight named Jörg von Weisspriach by Albrecht Durer
Finally, we have made a wide variety of custom rondels in the past according to the needs and preferences of various customers. You can check out some examples below.
Custom rondel with large rear disc.
High status Rondel with hand carved grip and components in dark walnut with brass detail and a reinforced tip on blade.
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.