In the setting of a royal court in a stereotypical 'medieval' low-fantasy world, the royal princess must obviously be guarded. Assuming this society sees it as 'unbecoming' for a woman to be armed, any offical guard assigned to her would be male. However, it is equally unbecoming for a male, guard or otherwise, to accompany a woman into certain 'female only' areas. (Bath, bedroom, etc.) Unfortunately, those sneaky assassins have no concept of honor or common decency and will happily barge into these areas to perform their distasteful task.

Enter the covert bodyguard. She is a woman trained in typical servant skills, but she additionally receives rigorous combat training. She is expectd to stay hidden, seeming to the world nothing but an unassuming domestic servant, perhaps a little more 'attached to the hip' to the lady she serves than most servants. Only when her charge is threatened does she spring into action. This means her weapon of choice must be easily concealable, she will not be wearing more than the lightest of (concealed) armor, and she must make up in visciousness the advantage that an assailant has in preparation.

In combat, this bodyguard's first priority is to get her charge to safety. She will prefer running away over engaging, and only when there is an enemy between her and the nearest exit will she draw her weapons. When she does draw steel however, it means that there is an obstacle that must be removed, and this obstacle must be removed as quickly and effectively as possibly to minimize the time they have to bring their greater physical strenght and better weaponry to bear.

In this situation, the advantages I see for dual daggers are the following:

  • They can be (more) easily hidden
  • They are relatively easy to wield
  • They can be used to target weak spots in heavy armor
  • There is a certain psychological effect to being charged by a screaming woman, slashing at you with knives in both hands
  • Using both hands allows more flexibility in attacking, especially if the wielder also happens to be ambidextrous.

There are of course also disadvantages:

  • They are only light weapons, less effective against heavy armor. This is mitigated by the average assassin being a sneaky killer in light, perhaps medium armor, rather than a soldier in full plate.
  • They do not allow for using a shield. However, a shield is not easy to conceal and as such not an available option anyway.
  • They require extra training to use compared to a single dagger. This is perhaps the greatest disadvantage, but I imagine the psychological factor in combination with being able to use either hand to strike gives much greater flexibility in those precious initial seconds she has against a surprised opponent.

Would this be a valid weapon choice for a concealed bodyguard?

TLDR: For a bodyguard that is expected to remain hidden unless necessary, with the express purpose of getting out of a sticky situation as fast as possible rather than standing and fighting, would dual daggers be a viable choice?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jul 9 '19 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ Now I see that this is the true reason why women go to the bathroom in pairs. $\endgroup$ – Muuski Jul 10 '19 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ Realistically, daggers are only usable against unsuspecting or unarmed targets and dual wielding just isn't a thing. It's pop culture that seems to be the thing that you're basing your ideas on (which isn't bad, but does change what a "reality check" entails). $\endgroup$ – Jasper Jul 12 '19 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with the close votes. This seems like a valid reality check question and has attracted quality answers $\endgroup$ – Trevor Jul 12 '19 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Companion_weapon Using two of the same weapon isn't a great strategy, but using two different weapons was done. $\endgroup$ – Charles Bamford Jul 12 '19 at 16:29

15 Answers 15


Daggers work, but history is the best teacher here, and history says the simplest weapons are the most effective. In this case, a spear.

Specifically, a cane or walking staff with a removable wooden head that reveals a metal tipped spear.

Such a weapon would keep an opponent away from their target, hopefully long enough for a real guard to intervene. A spear is effective against both armored and unarmored opponents. Add a little fantasy into this and you have an extending spear, a spear that extends to full size as needed but can be hidden inside the folds of a dress when not in use. It could even be strapped to their leg, never visible.

Alternatively, it could be a cleverly disguised walking stick. The timeline described would be about the same time where every injury was serious. A broken leg as a child could give you a permanent limp as an adult, giving credit to why this maid always has a walking stick near by. This has the additional advantage that the weapon is always ready to be used, compared to a hidden dagger that must be unsheathed in the seconds before the assassin strikes.

A spear is light weight, can be handled by anyone, and is extremely deadly with even only a little bit of skill.

Even unrevealed, it's function as a staff to parry a close range attack is a huge asset. And it can be a non lethal clumsy defense as well. A child can run to the princess, slipping through the guards, and this body guard could weakly swing her stick haphazardly "in defense of her princess" to stop the child without killing it and without causing any real suspicion.

There is a problem with this body guard plan though, it only works if the assassin is an idiot. If they have 2 brain cells to rub together, they will wait until their target is alone (The privy would be my choice), or dispatch the unguarded maid first. And they will probably bring a cross bow, because why kill close up when you can kill with one shot at range?

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    $\begingroup$ Nothing saying the collapsed version isn't strapped to their leg. And canes and staffs were a sign of nobility. It could be the princesses staff that the maid is carrying. Also, it wasn't unusual for commoners to use walking sticks. Every injury was serious back then. A broken leg in childhood could cripple you your entire life. So a young person with an apparent limp is fairly believable. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Jul 9 '19 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ Good, but spear is not the best weapon to fight in close quarters. A dagger/knife is a "must have" for a bodyguard, imho. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 9 '19 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander probably but if the assassin is already in knife range, they have probably already attacked and killed you. I suppose there is an edge case where you see the assassin coming, but it takes just long enough to unhide your weapon and use it. But a spear is still a staff, it's still an effective defense to a charging opponent. We can't cover every contingency. It's certainly possible this body guard would also have a knife somewhere for that last ditch effort attack. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Jul 9 '19 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander She wouldn't have the dagger ready though, it's a secret. The assassin has a long time to kill her multiple times while shes lifting her skirt and unclasping a hidden dagger. But if she has her stick, a simple smack is all that is needed to create some distance for a proper attack or defense. Honestly a real guard would be the one that goes in first :) $\endgroup$ – Trevor Jul 9 '19 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Trevor D in my scenario, she is supposedly alone in the room, so no point to keep the dagger hidden. But in general assassination scenario you are correct - a weapon that is always at ready is better than a weapon that takes time to unsheath. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 9 '19 at 17:51

I'd like to submit a contrary view to the other answers.

Daggers are bad and wrong (for defence)

The main threat of a knife is thrusting, as it lacks sufficient force in strikes, or length in a slash, to do any real damage. Thrusts are very deadly, historically, but really terrible as a defensive technique. A thrust will kill the opponent, but it will often take several days for them to die, as the organ you have pierced festers. In the moment, however, it does not cause all that much pain. Compared to a hard blow to the arms, neck or head; a body thrust is not debilitating. (*)

Note that this is the exact opposite of movies, where any number of blows can be sustained, but a thrust is usually instantly fatal, leaving only enough time for a dramatic final line.

Since you are looking for a bodyguard, she does not care whether the opponent lives or dies, in fact alive but incapacitated is probably better. That way your would-be assassin can spend a while in the torturer's chambers, telling you everything you want to know. Knives, therefore are the opposite of what you want. They are deadly, but inneffective. You want:

A Quarterstaff

A 6-foot pole of hard wood (oak, ash, etc) held by one end and one quarter, strikes a blow which will easily break bones. It causes immense pain, but has a low chance of killing, thus giving you the best odds of disabling the assailant quickly. It also has a distinct advantage when it comes to disguise. Historically speaking, the staff was the weapon most often learned by women. As you say in your question, it is not considered seemly for a woman to wear a sword, but a walking stick? Even better, once you know the techniques of quarterstaff fighting, you can use this very effectively with a variety of household tools.

Garden hoe, laundry pole, rake, mop, etc are all very effective. The best, to my mind, is the broom. A birch besom is a staff with a thick bundle if stiff birch twigs on the end. As you sweep, the points are gradually filed into fine points. This forms a cloud of needle points, about the size off a face, which can be turned extremely quickly, since it is being held five feet back in two hands, and when thrust will gouge at the eyes and cheeks to great effect.

Since you say that your bodyguard spends her time disguised as a servant, she has ample reason to always have at least one staff weapon to hand at all times.

(*) For support for this fact we can look at two things, historical combat manuals and diatribes from the renaissance period, particularly around the introduction of the rapier, and also the modern epidemic of knife crime (particularly in the UK) where it has been shown repeatedly that carrying a knife actively increases the danger you face from knife carrying assailants, even if you kill them.

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    $\begingroup$ Great points re: the quarterstaff...not only is it the basic foundation for all the other man-sized polearms AIUI (spear, halberd, glaive, billhook, lucerne-hammer). Also, getting taken out by a lady with a mop would be a) humiliating as all-get-out(!) and b) gives new meaning to "mopping the floor with someone" ;) $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Jul 10 '19 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ +1 but I want to add something about knives: The biggest effect of the knife in a scenario ( both in attack and defense ) is intimidation, simply dexterously drawing 2 knives can scare away most hooligans looking for a quick buck (and an uncut throat). However, if the assailant is in fact a killer with blood in mind, the daggers will be a disservice for the reasons aforementioned. $\endgroup$ – lucasgcb Jul 11 '19 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ In the modern world, the evidence does not bear that out. It tends to turn a mugging (Scary, but unlikely to kill you) into a fight (Dangerous and messy). In a historical situation, everyone should have a baseline proficiency with weapons, so the ability to draw some knives well will mean nothing to the assailant, who will be aware that knives are not an effective weapon. Meanwhile, swishing a 6 foot pole through the air at high speed is very intimidating. $\endgroup$ – Rowan Ingram Jul 11 '19 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ Great point about the lack of pain knife damage causes. I both read and heard personally about cases when victim was unaware of being stabbed at all for a moment. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato - Reinstate Monica Jul 11 '19 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ @corsiKa but killing the assassin is not important. Stopping the assassin is important - and knives are not good at stopping people. $\endgroup$ – Falco Jul 12 '19 at 7:36

Is really offense the best defense?

As you stated in your question, your dual wielder is an emergency bodyguard, supposed to protect your princess in immediate emergency situations, with other bodyguards next door ready to intervene. So if this specialized female bodyguard have to act, it is for an action of seconds, maybe one minute if the male bodyguards are hesitating a bit to cross the door when the princess is screaming in her bathroom.

In my mind, what you want in this position, is to stall the fight before reinforcement arrive, and protect the princess. Daggers are a close combat, offensive weapons, with not much of a stopping power, and are designed to kill. if anything is thrown at your princess, what will you stop it with? if the terrorist/assassin just run for the kill without a care for his own integrity, will your dagger stop his course?

I wouldn't bet on it.

What seems to be better suited in this context?

This is only my opinion and interpretation of the situation, so It is just if you need it, but why wouldn't you use some classic feminine attributes?

an umbrella can be reinforced to stop some projectiles from getting to your princess if deployed quickly enough. it can be rather natural for some servant to carry an umbrella in case of rain, or to get some shade for the princess.

you can also hide a blade in this same umbrella. in the blink of an eye, you get a decent sparring weapon and a makeshift shield, without the inconvenience of going through you pockets to get your daggers.

But if an umbrella isn't part of your universe, why not carry fans? you can even have different set of fans to maintain the illusion that you are only a follower of the princess, giving her some fresh air if she ever need it, but one of them is hardwood reinforced to protect her from projectile, and another one is sharpened enough to severe an arm if one comes too close. Moreover, they can also hide a short dagger, so your dual dagger wielding female bodyguard is still an option, while offering some shielding to the one she is supposed to protect.

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    $\begingroup$ I really like fans, especially as I remember a few movies where the fan was hidden in a sleeve, ready to be used. Also, it was very much a thing. $\endgroup$ – Matthieu M. Jul 10 '19 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ To merge this with another answer: A fan can be mounted on a pole. (Cite: Just about every pre-1980 movie set in the Roman Empire.) The feather fan might conceal a spear blade. $\endgroup$ – Codes with Hammer Jul 12 '19 at 13:06

Dual Wielding takes a ton of coordination and training. But it's possible. Your biggest drawback in this scenario is that your lady Badass in waiting is supposed to be a body guard. She is not defending only herself but the princess. Two daggers is doable for one lady to defend herself, but a bodyguard has more to worry about. All you need to do is shift things a touch.

Since the bodyguard is in disguise as a lady in waiting, and given the time frame you have a ton of options. Her first priority is to get the princess to safety. This means she will be shielding the princess with her body, probably leaving her back exposed. I base this on watching the behavior of modern bodyguards and secret service men. they always cover as much of the person they are guarding as they can, and this is best done by facing the target, not the threat. They do this until either someone else deals with the threat or the target gets to safety.

In your case get at least some sort of thin armor concealed in the garments primarily on the back. Other areas that could conceal armor might be along the forearms and backs of the thigh. If your setting allows for those ridiculous ruffs and wimples, you could even stash a thin helm under the pointy hat and a steel collar under the goofy frills. The armor will have to be fairly lightweight for concealment and to prevent clinks and clangs. Hopefully it will slow down the bulk of assassin weapons long enough, or if it doesn't stop the weapon, it should bind it up. The body guard will call for help, cover the princess and hustle her off to a panic room or hidden passage or whatever you have. That is the core strategy. Don't engage the assassin until the princess is safe. Once the latch on the panic room catches, it's game on.

Fans are possibly the most versatile. Keep a sharpened steel blade concealed in the slats. Even without the blade the fan can be used to defend. It's not built to stop the thrust of a blade, but more to redirect the point of aim. To deflect, rather than block. And unlike a dagger, a fan can be carried openly. Remember, most royals frown upon people carrying edged weapons too close. A dagger can be concealed, but it has to removed from concealment before use. A fan can be at the ready at all times.

A Parasol or umbrella could also be carried openly. It is a stick, it can hide blades, and when open can obscure the target from threats. Again, it won't really stop things, but can be used as defense by deflecting. It can also be used as a short spear. wrap the small blade in rice paper to obscure it at the end of the umbrella. Then just poke. Or hide a small rapier inside the umbrella as a whole. Or, yes, a dagger.

So get the princess to safety and turn on your assassin with the heavy dagger from the umbrella in one hand and the fan with concealed blade in the other. Her forearms will act as shields, her throat is guarded, and she can also seriously head butt with the helm inside the stupid pointy hat. For bonus points, give the princess herself a pair of slender daggers and teach her how to use them herself.

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    $\begingroup$ The point about shielding the princess with her body is good. Perhaps a pair of secret bodyguards is in order? One to cover the princess, the other to engage with the assassin. $\endgroup$ – MJ713 Jul 9 '19 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ @MJ713 That's even better, teamwork for security is always the best way to do it. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI -Monica come Home Jul 10 '19 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is the best answer: Protect the VIP before dealing with the attacker. $\endgroup$ – Codes with Hammer Jul 12 '19 at 13:07

It's a good start

To quote Robert Heinlein

Specialization is for insects

Are daggers a good weapon? Honestly, they aren't a bad one, they've got all the advantages you've described, but make sure you're using the right daggers. If you're looking to stab gaps in armor, you want a stiletto. On the flip side, an assassin that's attacking the princess when she's taking a bath is sneaking around, so probably doesn't have heavy armor. You'd want a dagger with more substance, maybe something similar to a combat knife, or even something cleaver-like for psychological effect.

But take some more. The main disadvantage is range, obviously. A brace of throwing knives will offset that, good for mid-range fighting up to twenty feet at minimum and capable of killing people outright with good enough aim. A cloth belt is simple, but a braided one can be turned into a whip, possibly even tipped with a metal spike. Hair decoration can conceal lockpicks or darts. If the setting is right, they might have access to crude smoke bombs, which can be conceal in a canister. Poison is great too - a powerful paralytic turns a gash from a wound to the end of a fight, while keeping the assassin alive for interrogation.

As for armor - take a look of Gambeson, a heavy cloth armor. Medieval ladies wore quite a lot of bulky clothes, and while armor is noticeable, just cloth layers aren't.

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    $\begingroup$ I feel that quote is overused; it did come from an immortal who had enough time to learn how to do everything well enough ;-) An easily portable and concealable weapon that you are well trained, well practised and intimately familiar with would be far more useful than a brace of fancy toys than you're less well practised with. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 9 '19 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ "throwing knives... capable of killing people outright with good enough aim." Actually - no. Throwing knives are the domain of Hollywood movies and circus performances. Instant kills in combat (quick enough to stop the attacker in their tracks immediately) are relatively rare even with firearms and are/were even less common in melee combat with blades. (If you have any non-fiction instances of people being killed in combat with a throwing knife then happy to be corrected.) $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Jul 11 '19 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 - through the eye to the brain or spinal cord on the back of the neck. Slower deaths are impaling the trachea or severing the jugular $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Jul 11 '19 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed those are certainly types of wounds that could kill people. However, do you have any documented instances of throwing knives ever inflicting such wounds in combat situations (as opposed to rehearsals for circus acts, idiots doing stunts for YouTube fame etc)? Knives have been carried on the battlefield for thousands of years, yet somehow there is a complete lack of documented occasions where throwing them has achieved instant kills. $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Jul 13 '19 at 15:04

Yes. However, I wouldn't go with them or only with them.

First, dual wielding is extremely hard. Having an off-hand weapon is different from dual-wielding. The later requires extreme coordination, skill and awareness or you may get in your own way. It doesn't give that much advantage unless you are borned to it (or trained from infancy).

Second, it is hard and unwise to try to parry with daggers, especially against stronger opponents. The force will still transmit and damage your hands. It is better to dodge. Your bodyguard will want to avoid any extended close combat. A single strike to neutralize or kill the enemy, otherwise she IS screwed. Or the princess is.

Third, limiting themselves to well understood and well known weapons are foolish. Their whole fighting style and strenght lay in their concealed nature. The best example I can think of are the Bene Gesserit from Dune. What I mean: they had the Gom Jabbar, a concealed poison needle. They had special movement, body-language style to lower the enemy wariness against them. They used their Voice to their advantage, ...

Protecting is waaay harder than killing.

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    $\begingroup$ Eh, the difficulty of dual wielding is overrated. People who can't do it, just forget their offhand and may as well just be single-wielding. What it does do is stop you grabbing an opponent, or throwing a piece of scenery at them, or leading your charge away. It doesn't really seem to offer anything other than looking ad sounding fancy here. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 9 '19 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime I never tried, so no comment on that. We can easily agree it is more limiting than rewarding. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jul 9 '19 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ In this context, certainly. In general though, the vast majority of combatants in history held an offensive object in their offhand. Shields are big and hard, and not just dumb bits of armour. (As with dual wielding, D&D has a lot to answer for here, too) $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 9 '19 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Shields are more like ofd-arm weapons, strapped on the lower arm. It can take more punishment that way than held in your hand with the weak wrist supporting it. Also holding it for opportunate attack is not dual wielding. To me, you need to use it with the same precision and skill than your main hand to be called dual-wielding. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jul 9 '19 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ According to the top answer, "history is the best teacher here". No one has ever dual-wielded anything. [citation to the contrary, anyone?] +1 $\endgroup$ – Mazura Jul 10 '19 at 15:58

The bodyguard in question would not be a servant, but a lady in waiting. The duties of a lady in waiting can include helping the royalty get dressed and bathe and so on. It would therefore not be unusual for them to be in attendance at those times. (This is a rather prominent position. Think more executive assistant than maid.)

In medieval times, it was customary for everyone to carry a knife at all times. This is used for both eating, and general knife-based tasks. This is not a weapon. A lady in waiting carries things the princess might need. This could include her knife. This is also not a weapon. If those knives happen to be of an design that's useful for stabbing people, they're still not a weapon.

If both those knives happen to end up embedded in a would-be assassin, the design of the knives in question is the least interesting part of that event.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you happen to have any sources on "it was customary for everyone to carry a knife at all times" even women at court? I don't see dresses combined with a sheath at the hip in many paintings ? $\endgroup$ – Falco Jul 12 '19 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ high noblewomen didn't, as they have servants, but almost everyone else. It's a necessary tool for getting by in a world where things aren't pre-made and packaged ready for use. Also, in the vast majority of houses, even noble ones, guests were expected to bring their own knife and spoon to dinner, so there's another reason. atlasobscura.com/articles/medieval-knives $\endgroup$ – Rowan Ingram Jul 12 '19 at 11:22

Hidden Weapons

The Japanese had the Tessen

Tessen were folding fans with outer spokes made of heavy plates of iron which were designed to look like normal, harmless folding fans or solid clubs shaped to look like a closed fan. Samurai could take these to places where swords or other overt weapons were not allowed, and some swordsmanship schools included training in the use of the tessen as a weapon. The tessen was also used for fending off knives and darts, as a throwing weapon

They also had hair pins which also doubled as a stiletto or throwing knives.

An umbrella can contain a cane sword and could also contain a hidden shield. enter image description here


Armored Glove and a small riposte blade

The biggest downside of wielding two daggers is having no hand free to grapple, push, open doors, flip tables in the way of your attacker. The primary duties of your emergency bodyguard are threefold:

  1. Recognize and stop the attack out of nowhere. - There is no time to draw any weapons or tools, if the assassin is good the bodyguard has mere moments to act and grab the princess or the assassin to make the attack miss.

  2. Stall for time until other guards arrive or the princess escapes to safety. - It is not really necessary nor advisable to kill the assassin quickly. The bodyguard needs to prevent him from harming the princess and should also survive himself (since good bodyguards are hard to find) So grabbing, stalling, defending and incapacitating the assassin are good moves.

  3. If the assassin attacks from afar or there are multiple assassins - help the princess escape to safety. This means opening doors, pushing bystanders aside closing doors behind them. For this to work the bodyguard needs at least one hand free and no big weapon, which could be a hindrance in tight spaces or while running.

If you want something traditional just go with a simple short defensive fencing weapon like a riposte blade. I would also add an armored glove/gauntlet (maybe leather with metal inlays) if the hand maiden can always hide one hand under her overcoat or sleeves - maybe pretending to be crippled on this hand or something like this. An armored Hand would combine the versatility of a free hand with the option to grab most blades by the edge, which would be ideal to stop an attack. The other hand could then wield a small blade for counter attacks, or a small riposte blade to defend against a skilled dual-wielder or fencer.

  • $\begingroup$ Optional: If your story is set in a slight fantasy universe the glove could be made out of something like mithril - very light, versatile but resistant against attacks. $\endgroup$ – Falco Jul 10 '19 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Would you have any visual example for these sort of gauntlets? $\endgroup$ – lucasgcb Jul 11 '19 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ @lucasgcb Maybe something like this: warussepat.fi/highslide/images/large/hanskat_mts.jpg $\endgroup$ – Falco Jul 11 '19 at 14:25

Daggers would be the weapon of choice for an assassin, an attacker. For a defender, not so much. To use it effectively means closing the range, when what you'd ideally want is to keep the opponent at as much of a distance as possible, delaying them until the protectee makes her escape or help arrives. Remember, the job of a bodyguard isn't to disable or kill the attacker, it's to protect their charge, and those can be two very different things. As mentioned, there are several weapons such as spears or staffs that would be better, but the problem is that they aren't very subtle and, magic aside, really can't be hidden.

However, your setup explains a way of overcoming this easily:

However, it is equally unbecoming for a male, guard or otherwise, to accompany a woman into certain 'female only' areas. (Bath, bedroom, etc.)

Given the situation, then, the only time the only bodyguards could not obviously armed (and men) would be in specific, non-public, locations. So there's your answer; you don't need to secretly equip the bodyguards; you equip the room. "Ceremonial" spears and shields on the walls. Staffs disguised as brooms or mops leaning in the corner. Things all over the freaking place so that the "maid" is never more than a meter or so away from something that is a hidden weapon, is a disguised weapon, or can be used as a weapon.

If the princess is travelling, this creates some problems, but that's easy enough to overcome, as propriety clearly indicates that her servants simply must check out bedrooms and toilets to see if they are fit for the princess, as well as of course she sleeps on her own linens because she's a princess and she has her own special blankets. So while the princess is outside in the public area surrounded by her very obvious guards, her maids are scurrying around preparing her bedroom, and unrolling all the weapons hidden in the blankets and sheets and setting them up.

  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of having concealed weapons pre-positioned. $\endgroup$ – Codes with Hammer Jul 12 '19 at 13:11

No weapon.

A dagger limits you. An opponent with longer arms can outreach you or kick you. An opponent with a thick body can take the dagger thrust and keep coming. An opponent can foul the dagger in his robes. You drop your dagger in the toilet and your enemy flushes it before you can stop him.

And a dagger is obviously what it is. If someone finds a weapon like this on the bodyguard her cover is blown, permanently.

The only answer is kung-fu!. Your lady bodyguard is trained in the techniques: fighting a larger and heavier opponent, fighting opponents with various armaments, and so on. She has nothing but her brain and body and so nothing to blow her cover.

If serious stuff is going down, she is handy with the daggers as well. She just doesn't have any on her. The male bodyguard keeps extras on his person of the type she likes. Even if the princess is in the potty, he is right outside. He hands over the daggers when it gets bad and then he and the lady guard are back to back with the princess between.

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    $\begingroup$ If you try to kick someone wielding a knife, you are going to discover just how quickly you can bleed to death through a severed artery. If you try and punch them, your arms are goinig to quickly get slashed up and rendered useless, reach or no. Then you'll bleed to death. There have been a sad number of real life cases of people, even those well trained in unarmed combat, who have been killed quickly by a relatively inexperienced but knife wielding opponent. Don't believe the self defense hype. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 9 '19 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ Does the body guard have to survive the encounter? That wouldn't be typical in the real world. $\endgroup$ – Trevor Jul 9 '19 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ @TrevorD I think it'd be great if you made your own answer which says that the bodyguard should be unarmed, but pretty fat. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 9 '19 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Yes, the unarmed self-defense hype and Hollywood are strong in this one. My instructor with 10+ years of experince admitted he would rather run if he met with a kinfe in an alley. Even though he effortlessly mopped the floor with us and we were in top shape. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jul 9 '19 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ umm....kung fu includes weapons (a lot of them) so that doesn't preclude the dagger - did you mean she is unarmed? Which to quote my instructors (and myself when teaching): "If you have to fight someone with a knife, you will get cut". The knife, any knife, will be better $\endgroup$ – LinkBerest - Goodbye SE Jul 9 '19 at 14:52

Daggers seem like a bad choice for a defensive bodyguard. More the kind of weapon picked by the assasins.

But depending on your courts fashion, your maid may have quite fashionable armour options for protection. A renaissance or later dress may include a heavily boned corset which may be enhanced easily with some chainmail or plate parts. It is typical to have lots of padding and multiple layers of cloth all over, not that different to a gambeson, especially if tailored for protective effect. Such a dress tends to be actually quite heavy. Or take a look at the laminated linen armour called Linothorax, a bit like an ancient version of Kevlar armour.

For weapons you may want to look at spears, staffs, quarterstaffs, escrima sticks (usually dual wielded), combat fans, tonfas or similar.


Yes they would be a viable choice, unless the assassins are full armoured knights, but not a necessary one. Unless the lord is expecting fairly well armoured assailants then any weapon is probably surplus to requirements, good training in unarmed combat is more desirable.

  • $\begingroup$ Unarmed combat and dagger techniques would be quite suitable for a covert bodyguard. All heavy-armoured attackers should be taken care of by the palace's security. A covert bodyguard is intended more to counter assasins and other covert threats, e.g. traitors. Hence, a lady-in-waiting that is the princess' personal servant, which is at the same time a bodyguard is a good choice. Regarding daggers: it's always advantageous to bring a knife to a fist-fight; and if we think of assasins: they might come with a knife included, so it's only prudent to bring a knife to a knife fight. $\endgroup$ – Dohn Joe Jul 10 '19 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding dual-wielding: make it a sturdy dagger with some additional throwing knifes. $\endgroup$ – Dohn Joe Jul 10 '19 at 7:51

No. As stated, the bodyguards' first priority is getting her charge to safety, thus any weaponry they have should be useful toward that objective. Daggers, as so many have mentioned, are offensive weapons, so even a duo of assailants would be too many for one bodyguard as one of the assailants could fairly likely reach the target. Instead, a bodyguard should be armed with weapons that hinder or slow down any potential threat so a retreat can be done as safely as possible. Caltrops, in medieval times where sources of light may be scarce, would be excellent options as any sneaky assassin-type would most likely have soft/silent footwear (or none at all) to be as quiet as possible.

Also, a throwing knife or dart may be useful. It has the benefit of range, and if used proficiently, can be enough of a deterrant to cause a would-be-assassin to flee.

It would also make sense to have something, which could be used as a makeshift weapon, in every room where regular bodyguards' presence is frowned upon. Like a broom, which may be used like a staff.


Thematically, the best defence against a dirty fighting assassin is another dirty fighting assassin, so concealed daggers would be a good option.

Who better to anticipate where attacks will come from than one trained in making those attacks. Who better to guide the Princess out of harms way than one who can out think their adversaries and leverage intimate knowledge of the castles secret ways.

Your bodyguard/lady in waiting shouldn't need to be carrying specific equipment to make her effective, she should be adept enough to make use of whatever happens to be around. Fire pokers, a bronze bust here, a mahogany chair there. Castles often have weapons hung on the walls or in the hands of statues and the assassin should be able to adapt to any of them as required.

Better still, make the Princess her own saviour. The assassin isn't just her lady in waiting and bodyguard, but her fencing coach and mentor too.


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