What do you call the sword/dagger variety of fencing?

I’m sure it’s not fencing, but it’s the one that’s seen in several movies and Shakespearean plays: two characters duel, each with a sword (not a rapier but a bigger meaner creature) in one hand and a long knife or short sword in the other. Is there any term for this form of two weaponed swordplay?

Still called fencing or Sword Play.

I’ve often seen that described as an Italian or Florentine style. I suspect Maeglin would be able to correctly identify it from a historical perspective.

I’ve seen “rapier and dagger” or “smallsword and dagger” fencing described as Italian style as well.

ONe particularly common style of side dagger is called the Main Gauche, and IIRC it was use exclusively for such fighting.

Hubby informs me the style was also sometimes called Main-Gauche, after the left handed dagger that **smiling bandit ** mentions.

I was going to say that in the SCA, they call it “case”, but after a quick search I now know that’s that they call fighting with matched rapiers (i.e., two weapons the same length). As stated above, we seem to call what you’re wondering about “sword and dagger.”

From The Glossary of Fencing Terms:

The “Florentine Style” is not a historically accurate term.

It appears to be entirely modern, probably first used by the SCA to describe their ‘fighters’ using two ‘swords’ (You’ll please note my use of quotations, they are there for a reason).

As for using two swords, this was never popular in Europe. Probably because it is not in any way more effective than using a sword and shield, or (once armor improved) one large two-handed sword or weapon such as the longsword.

There are exceptions: The rapier was sometimes paired with a parrying dagger or Main Gauche, this was specially fashionable in italy (I believe). More rarely you might even see what was called a “Case of Rapiers” where the swordsman would use two rapiers at the same time. Again, not very popular.

We have no evidence to sugegst that medieval swordsman used two swords at once. I’m sure it happenned, but it certainly must have been rare, since you’d do just as well (or better) with a sword and shield, or sword and buckler, or even with a longsword.

The whole warrior with two large swords is mostly hollywood.

And since it appeared in Hollywood before the 1960’s, I would be willing to bet that it’s not something that “fencers” can blame on the SCA. You can ding them on a lot, but that’s just taking cheap potshots.

Out of curiosity, do you have have some examples of pre 1960’s two sword warriors on film?

Also, I’m giving credit to the SCA for the TERM Florentine Style, not for the concept of a warrior with two swords.

Where in the definition I quoted does it say specifically 2 “swords”? I thought it said a secondary “weapon” which could be a dagger, main guache, club, railroad spike, short sword, long sword, whatever.
Kinthalis, setting aside your disdain for the SCA for a moment, are you saying that fencers did not fight with a secondary weapon in the off hand?

Do you have a citation that says the SCA calls this style of fighting “Florentine”?

When you say:

You sound like you’re just repeating the OP’s question in the form of a statement.

From the OP:

Now, he asked what that form of fencing is called, I cited an online fencing glossary. If you disagree you’ll need something more convincing than your opinion. Notwithstanding your disdain and inexperience of someone else’s sport.

I give you the 1955 epic Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijôji no kettô Starring Toshiro Mifune, English Title: **Duel at Ichijoji Temple ** if you look at the IMDB [Link](Duel at Ichijoji Temple ) you can even see a photo of him holding 2 swords.

Err… didn’t he already answer your question?

Probably not applicable. :smiley:

There was the Musashi school of swordsmanship in Japan, which allowed for the use of two swords. It was not usually a clearly superior style, however, and dropped out of modern usage AFAIK.

But he only asked for an examples of a pre-1960’s film with a 2-sword warrior.


My mistake. However, that does not invalidate my position: that “Florentine Style” is not a historically accurate term, it also not a term used by students of historical weapons or historical martial arts. Was it coined by the SCA? I’m not 100% sure, but it is the only place I’ve heard it being used, so I’ll go ahead and credit them with the term. Nothing wrong with inventing a term that is descriptive and helpful within your social group, btw. I was simply pointing out it is not historical, or accurate or even used within historical martial arts/hoplology students.

I do not hold any disdain for the SCA and what they do. What I don’t like is SCA terms and misconceptions being passed as accurate historical information. That’s what this board is all about: fighting ignorance.

That is not to say that all SCA people are ignorant of the martial disciplines of the medieval and Renaissance periods, but unfortunately, many of them are.


are you saying that fencers did not fight with a secondary weapon in the off hand?


It wasn’t common, is what I said, and clearly pointed out two examples of when this method was used. I also commented on using two weapons of the same size, this was likely not done or very rarely done for the reasons I stated above.

Not off-hand ( :wink: ) no. All I can go buy is what I’ve heard from SCA people. I wish I had alink handy, but I don’t really frequent their online hangouts. I could be wrong on this, the term might very well have come from somewhere else.

Shouldn’t you be the one backing up your claim? Can you point to a historical treatise, or any historical use of the Term? I can’t. I CAN tell you, however, that the term is not used by scholars of Historical European Martial Arts. You’d think they’d use it if it were historical.

I wasn’t trying to prove you wrong or antyhign on this, I was genuinely curious, and now I’ll see if I can find the movie in ym local rent joint so I can watch it :wink:

It has occured to me that I still haven’t clearly answered the OP.

The correct historical term for renaissance fighting with rapier (or cut and thrust sword) and dagger is: “Fighting with sword and dagger” :wink: or if you would prefer in Italian, “Spada e Pugnale”, just as fighting with sword and cloak would be termed, “Spada e Capa”.

“Florentine”, the term is used in the SCA…rarely. The prefered term (IMHO) is “Case” which is short for Case of Rapier.

Case of Rapier was not a popular style, not so much becuase it was any more or less effective than any other style, but rather than it was inconvenient to carry two rapiers. Some hilts were specially made to ‘match’ and be kept in one scabbard, but htis was probably rare. If you want a (fairly accurate) example of this, the 1974 Richard Lester version of “The Three Musketeers” has an assasin/duellist going against Porthos in a tavern using two swords. (the assasin played by the fight director).

Rapier and Dagger, to the best of my knowledge was simply called “Rapier and Dagger”. Shakespeare makes a direct reference to this term in Hamlet, and may have done so in other works.

Thank you, Kinthalis. As usual, you know what you are talking about.

Those who call the dagger “main gauche” play too much D&D and have read too few fencing texts. This term does not appear in the literature.

The term “Case” does come up in DiGrassi. I don’t like the term myself, but I do not argue against its authenticity. Outside of DiGrassi, I do not know where else it is found.

Florentine is a barbarism and should be avoided. Achille Marozzo was certainly a Florentine; fighting with two rapiers is not.

Gentlemen call sword and dagger play “sword and dagger.”

That would be a fair assessment of me. But I have seen the turn pop up in a number of odd places, so I had no idea where it actually came from. I doubt that Gygax et. all created it whole-cloth, however.

Got me there. :smiley:

My guess is that it comes from nineteenth century swashbuckling novels whose authors eschewed the burgeoning literary realist movement. It was considered very gauche [sub]he he he[/sub] to use technical fencing terminology in works of fiction, so authors referred to the dagger by metonymy as the “left hand.”