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Thread: Early history of the cloak as a weapon

  1. #1

    Early history of the cloak as a weapon

    Its well known that European manuals from the 16th and 17th centuries teach the use of a cloak wrapped about the arm as a defensive weapon. I know of examples of this from the Iron Age: carved gems from the 5th century BCE show Persian hunters facing boar with a cloak and spear, and the Satyricon of Petronius (written around 60 CE) has a character wrap a cloak about his arm and draw his sword when he gets into an argument with a sword-waving friend. But is there any evidence of people using a cloak as a defensive weapon during the middle ages? It seems likely, especially since we have evidence before and after this period, but I don't know of any evidence.
    Last edited by Sean Manning; 08-15-2009 at 12:02 PM.

  2. #2
    Hi Sean

    It is mentioned by Saxo Grammaticus "The Dane" in his work from around 1200 that King Valdemar (danish king 1146-1182) used his cloak to protect himself in a fight:

    Roughly translated:

    Valdemar quickly jumped up from his seat, wrapped his cloak around his hand and with this he defended himself not only against blows to his head but also gave Ditlev (his attacker) a great blow to the chest that made him fall over.


    He did however end up with a leg wound later in the fight, but the cloak saved his life......................... and was used succedfully as a defensive weapon.

    Best wishes

    Claus Sørensen
    Last edited by Claus Frederik Sørensen; 08-16-2009 at 03:48 AM. Reason: added text
    Laurentiusgildet Århus -Denmark
    Hemac member

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    From the “Saga of Harald Hardrade” :
    "The Varings had no shields, but wrapped their cloaks round their left arms."

    From “The Story of the Ere-Dwellers” ("Eyrbyggja Saga"):
    "Now the goodwife Aud calls out on her women to part them, and they cast clothes over the weapons."


  4. #4
    Of tangential interest, Maori warriors fighting with mere (short, sharp-edged spatulate clubs) frequently wound a puapua (flax "cloak") around the free hand and forearm as a defensive implement.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Pioneer Valley, MA
    In 1478, Lorenzo de' Medici did the same during the Pazzi attempt to assassinate him in the Duomo.


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