March 15, 44 BC. er conspirator-senators were stabbed by Gaius Julius Caesar. The attackers struck 23 commanders with a sword. According to Suetonius, Caesar defended himself with a “slate” or “stylus” - a sharp metal stick for writing on wax - with them he pierced the hand of one of the conspirators. After 15 centuries, a stylet will appear in Italy - a weapon that, ironically, will be considered to be more of an ideal tool for professional murderers, rather than a means of self-defense. Author diletant.media Yuri Kukin tells the story of one of the most beautiful and deadly daggers.
Communication writing tools and cold weapons can be traced only in its name: the word "stylet" comes from the Italian stiletto, which in turn goes back to the Latin stilus - the very "wand for writing." Stylus as a tool for writing was common in Europe until the late Middle Ages: in the middle of the XIV century, paper production became cheaper, so the need for wax tablets and stylus disappears.
Roman stylus on wax plate
At the same time in Europe, following the development of armor, weapons conversion follows. Fighting only with a broad sword through chopping blows is no longer enough, since the warrior is protected from head to foot with heavy armor. In the XIV century spread plate armor. In order to penetrate the powerful armor and armor, there are narrow blades with which you can apply piercing, penetrating blows, for example, in the grip of armor. Therefore, it is believed that the predecessor of the stylet was the so-called "dagger of mercy" - "misericord", and in Japan, such a weapon was known as "eroi dosi" - the crusher of armor. Since the 12th century, these daggers have been used for the quick and painless killing of the enemy and for finishing.
"Dagger of Mercy"
Stiletto was considered more of a weapon of the townspeople. In the XV century in the north of Italy, the townspeople could not carry cold weapons. Therefore, there was a need for a small compact blade, which could always carry with them. Unlike large daggers, which were in vogue among nobles and which they wore as an indicator of status, the stylet with an average blade size of 200 mm could be hidden in a boot or in clothing: the blade was narrow and often, being a trihedral or rhombic form, had no cutting edge.
The wound, which remained after the stroke of the stylet, was very small, did not lead to heavy bleeding and healed for a very long time. Therefore, rather quickly, the stylet tasted like professional killers and consolidated the glory of insidious weapons (the stylet blade was also often smeared with poison). However, for its small size and thin blade, the stylet was also called the “ladies dagger”, I must say, it is fully justified.
However, from the second half of the 17th century, only gunners had the right to wear stilettos. The blades of artillery daggers, which were called fouzettos, were made with a special scale - Cattaneo. The scale was from 1 to 120 with notches between them. It is believed that it could be used either to accurately measure portions of gunpowder, or to measure the angle of guidance of guns, as well as to determine the caliber of artillery guns. The fouzetto tip could be used to clean the pilot hole or pierce the charging cap, and if there was a risk of the enemy seizing the gun, then the end of the blade simply broke off inside the hole so that the gun could not shoot.
Nevertheless, despite the prohibition on carrying weapons, stilettos retained their popularity right up to the first half of the 20th century: they could be worn secretly, sometimes even disguised as a tool (for example, compasses). Stiletto was used both in the First and in the Second World Wars: the “dagger in the sleeve” was loved by the employees of the British and American special services.