14th century English gentleman wearing an anelace on his girdle

An anelace (or in Middle English anelas) was a medieval dagger worn as a gentleman's accoutrement in 14th century England.

Frederick William Fairholt (1846) describes it as "a knife or dagger worn at the girdle",[1] and George Russell French (1869) as "a large dagger, or a short sword, [that] appears to have been worn, suspended by a ring from the girdle, almost exclusively by civilians".[2]

Anelaces had a broad blade "sharp on both edges, and became narrower from hilt to point".[1] Auguste Demmin (1870) also uses the term "anelace" for the similar cinquedeas of 15th century Italy.[3] The term is attested from 1250 to 1300 in the Middle English form of an(e)las, which is derived from the Old French ale(s)naz, a derivative of alesne (awl), itself derived from the Old High German alasna.[4]

French mentions numerous examples of anelaces appearing in 14th century English art.[2] They were also mentioned in literature. In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a franklin (a landowner) wears "an anelace and a gipciere [pouch] all of silk / Hung at his girdle, white as morwe milk", and in an undated English translation of the poem of Partonopeus de Blois, King Sornegur wears "an anelas sharp-pointed".[2]


  1. ^ a b Fairholt, Frederick William (1846). Costume in England: A History of Dress from the Earliest Period Till the Close of the Eighteenth Century: To which is Appended an Illustrated Glossary of Terms for All Articles of Use Or Ornament Worn about the Person. Chapman and Hall. pp. 411-412.
  2. ^ a b c French, George Russell (1869). A Catalogue of the Antiquities and Works of Art, Volume 1. London: Harrison and sons. p. 184.
  3. ^ Demmin, Auguste (1870). Weapons of War: Being a History of Arms and Armour from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, Part 1. Bell & Daldy. p. 378.
  4. ^ "Anelace". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2020-05-05.