Baselard

Baselard

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The baselard is a historical type of dagger
Dagger
A dagger is a fighting knife with a sharp point designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. The design dates to human prehistory, and daggers have been used throughout human experience to the modern day in close combat confrontations...

 or short sword of the Late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

.

In modern use by antiquarians, the term baselard is mostly reserved for a type of 14th century weapon with an H-shaped handle which evolved out of the 13th-century knightly dagger. Contemporary usage was less consequent, and the term in Middle French
Middle French
Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

 and Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 could probably be applied to a wider class of large dagger.
The term (in many spelling variants) first appears in the first half of the 14th century. There is evidence that the term baselard is in origin a Middle French
Middle French
Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from 1340 to 1611. It is a period of transition during which:...

 or Middle Latin corruption of the German basler [messer] "Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 knife".

Both the term baselard and the large dagger with H-shaped hilt or "baselard proper" appear by the mid 14th century. Several 14th-century attestations from france gloss the term as coutel "knife".
Depictions of mid 14th century examples are preserved as part of tomb effigies (figuring as part of the full military dress of the deceased knight). By the mid-14th century, the baselard is a popular sidearm carried by the more violence-prone section of civilian society, and it retains an association with hooliganism
Hooliganism
Hooliganism refers to unruly, destructive, aggressive and bullying behaviour. Such behaviour is commonly associated with sports fans. The term can also apply to general rowdy behaviour and vandalism, often under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs....

.
One early attestations of the German form pasler altogether (1341) is from a court document of Nuremburg recording a case against a man who had injured a woman by striking her on the head with this weapon.
Several German law codes of the 14th to 15th centuries outlaw the carrying of a basler inside a city.
By the late 14th century, it becomes fashionble in much of Western Europe, including France, Italy, Germany
Medieval Germany
Medieval Germany:*Carolingian Empire *East Francia *Kingdom of Germany *German Late Middle Ages...

 and England. Sloane MS 2593 (ca. 1400) records a song satirizing the use of oversized baselard knives as fashion accessoires.
Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman or Visio Willelmi de Petro Plowman is the title of a Middle English allegorical narrative poem by William Langland. It is written in unrhymed alliterative verse divided into sections called "passus"...

also associates the weapon with vain gaudiness: in this case, two priests, Sir John and Sir Geoffrey are reported to have been sporting a girdle of silver, a baselard or a ballok knyf with buttons overgilt.

Wat Tyler
Wat Tyler
Walter "Wat" Tyler was a leader of the English Peasants' Revolt of 1381.-Early life:Knowledge of Tyler's early life is very limited, and derives mostly through the records of his enemies. Historians believe he was born in Essex, but are not sure why he crossed the Thames Estuary to Kent...

 was slain with a baselard by the mayor of London, William Walworth
William Walworth
Sir William Walworth , was twice Lord Mayor of London . He is best known for killing Wat Tyler.His family came from Durham...

, in 1381, and the original weapon was "still preserved with peculiar veneration by the Company of Fishmongers" in the 19th century.

In the Old Swiss Confederacy
Old Swiss Confederacy
The Old Swiss Confederacy was the precursor of modern-day Switzerland....

, the term basler seems to have referred to the 14th to 15th century weapons with the characteristic
crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

-shaped pommel and crossguard
Crossguard
On a sword or some knives, the crossguard , also known as quillons, is a bar of metal at right angles to the blade, placed between the blade and the hilt. The crossguard stops the wielder from punching shields while swinging the weapon, thereby protecting the user's hand...

, which occurred with widely variant blade length, and which by the early 16th century had split into the two discrete classes of the short Swiss dagger
Swiss dagger
The Swiss dagger is a distinctive type of dagger used in Switzerland and by Swiss mercenaries during the 16th century.It develops from similar dagger types known as basler which were in use during the 14th and 15th centuries...

 (Schweizerdolch) and the long Swiss degen
Swiss degen
The Swiss degen was a short sword, an elongated version of the Swiss dagger, with the same double-crescent shape of the guard.It was used as a type of side arm in the Old Swiss Confederacy and especially by Swiss mercenaries, from the first half of the 15th century until the mid 16th century.The...

 (Schweizerdegen), indicating a semantic split between the formerly synonymous terms Dolch and Degen.
The baselard proper falls out of use by the early 16th century.
The term baselard and its variations persist for some time, but lose their connection with a specific type of knife. French baudelaire could now refer to a curved, single-edged hewing knife. Basilarda is the name of a sword in Orlando Furioso
Orlando Furioso
Orlando Furioso is an Italian epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto which has exerted a wide influence on later culture. The earliest version appeared in 1516, although the poem was not published in its complete form until 1532...

.
Also in English, the term could now refer to a Turkish weapon like the Yatagan
Yatagan
The yatagan or yataghan is a type of Ottomanknife or short sabre used from the mid-16th to late 19th centuries....

.
A very late occurrence of the term is found in 1602, in the context of a duel fought in Scotland, in Canonbie
Canonbie
Canonbie is a small village in Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland, six miles south of Langholm and two miles north of the Anglo-Scottish border. It is on the A7 road from Carlisle to Edinburgh, and the River Esk flows through it...

. The document recording the agreement on the weapons used in the duel mentions two baslaerd swords with blades a yard and half quarter long.
After this, use of the term is restricted to antiquarian contexts.