Tradition states that he was a man of noble appearance, and his poems bear evidence of high mental culture. He was acquainted with the works of Homer, Virgil, Ovid and Horace, and was also a student of Italian literature. Especially remarkable as a poet of nature in an age when more warlike themes were chosen by his contemporaries, his poems entitled “The Lark,” “The Wind” and “The Mist” are amongst his finest efforts. He has been called the Petrarch, the Ovid, and (by George Borrow) the Horace of Wales. His poems were almost all written in the cywydd form: a short ode not divided into stanzas, each line having the same number of syllables. The poet died about the year 1400, and according to tradition was buried in the graveyard of the monastery of Strata Florida, in Cardiganshire.
DAGGER, a hand weapon with a short blade. The derivation is obscure (cf. Fr. dague and Ger. Degen), but the word is related to dag, a long pointed jag such as would be made in deeply nicking the edge of a garment. The war knife in various forms and under many names has of course been in use in all ages and amongst all races. But the dagger as generally understood was not a short sword, but a special stabbing weapon which could be used along with the sword. The distinction is often difficult to establish in a given case owing to the variations in the length of the weapon. The principal medieval dagger was the miséricorde, which from the end of the 12th century was used, in all countries in which chivalry flourished, to penetrate the joints of the armour of an unhorsed adversary (hence Ger. Panzerbrecher, armour-breaker). It was so called either because the threat of it caused the vanquished to surrender “at mercy,” or from its use in giving what was called the coup de grâce. From about 1330 till the end of the succeeding century, in many knightly effigies it is often represented as attached on the right side by a cord or a chain to the sword-belt. This weapon and its sheath were often elaborately adorned. It was customary to secure it from accidental loss by a guard-chain fastened to the breast-armour. Occasionally the miséricorde was fixed to the body-armour by a staple; or, more rarely, it was connected with a gypcière or pouch. The miséricorde may be called a poniard. The distinction between the dagger and the poniard is arbitrary, and in ordinary language the latter is taken as being the shorter and as having less resemblance to a short sword or cutlass. A weapon, with a longer blade than the miséricorde, was habitually worn by civilians, including judges, during the middle ages; such weapons bore the name of anlace (from annulus, as it was fastened by a ring), basilarde or langue de bœuf, the last from the broad ox-tongue shape of the blade. This had often a small knife fixed on the scabbard, like a Highland officer’s dirk of the present day. By nobles and knights the dagger or poniard was worn when they had exchanged their armour for the costume of peace. It is recorded besides that when they appeared at a tournament and on some other occasions, ladies at that time wore daggers depending, with their gypcieres, from their girdles. Thus, writing of the year 1348, Knighton speaks of certain ladies who were present at jousts as “habentes cultellos, quos daggerios vulgariter dicunt, in powchiis desuper impositis.” A longer and heavier dagger with a broad blade (Italian) is called cinquedea. The Scottish “dirk” was a long dagger, and survives in name in the dirk worn by midshipmen of the royal navy, and in fact in that worn by officers of Highland regiments. In the 15th and 16th centuries the infantry soldiers (Swiss or landsknecht) carried a heavy poniard or dagger. This and the earlier Spanish dagger with a thumb-ring were distinctively the weapons of professional soldiers. The rise of duelling produced another type, called the main gauche, which was a parrying weapon and often had a toothed edge on which the adversary’s sword was caught and broken. One form of this dagger had a blade which expanded into a triple fork on pressing a spring; this served the same purpose. The satellites of the Vehmgericht had a similar weapon, in order, it is suggested, that their acts should be done in the name of the Trinity. The smaller poniards are generally called “stilettos.” Much ingenuity and skill have been lavished on the adornment of daggers, and in rendering the blades more capable of inflicting severe wounds. Daggers also were sometimes made to poison as well as to wound. Of oriental daggers may be mentioned the Malay “crease” or “kris,” which has a long waxed blade; the Gurkha “kukri,” a short curved knife, broadest and heaviest towards the point; and the Hindu “khuttar,” which has a flat triangular-shaped blade, and a hilt of H-shape, the cross-bar forming the grip and the sides the guard.
DAGHESTAN, a province of Russia, Transcaucasia, occupying the triangular space between the Andi ridge, the south-east division of the main Caucasus range, and the Caspian Sea. It has the province of Terek on the N.W., the government of Tiflis on the S.W., and that of Baku on the S.E. With the exception of a narrow strip along the sea-coast and a small district in the N., it is entirely mountainous. Area, 11,332 sq. m. The snow-clad Andi ridge, belonging to the system of transverse upheavals which cross the Caucasus, branches off the latter at Borbalo Peak (10,175 ft.), and reaches its highest altitudes in Tebulos-mta (14,775 ft.) and Diklos-mta (13,740 ft.). It is encircled on the N. by a lower outer ridge, the Karadagh, through which the rivers cut their way. This ridge is thickly clothed with forests, chiefly beech. The Boz-dagh and another ridge run between the four Koisu rivers, the head-streams of the Sulak, which flows into the Caspian. The next most important stream, out of the great number which course down the flanks of the Caucasus and terminate in the Caspian, is the Samur. The most notable feature of the province is, however, according to O. W. H. Abich (Sur la structure et la géologie du Daghestan, 1862), the successive folds of Jurassic limestones and slates, all nearly parallel to the Caucasus, which form lofty, narrow plateaus. Many of the peaks upon them rise higher than 12,000 ft., and the passes lie at altitudes of 11,000 ft. in the interior and 9000 ft. towards the Caspian. Towards the Caspian, especially between Petrovsk and the river Sulak, the Cretaceous system is well represented, and upon its rocks rest marls, shales, and sandstones of the Eocene period. The country is altogether difficult of access, and only one military route leads up from the river Terek, while every one of the eleven passes known across the Caucasus is a mere bridle-path. The climate is severe on the plateaus, hot towards the Caspian, and dry everywhere. The average temperatures are—year 51°, January 26°, July 73° at Temir-khan-shura (42° 49′ N.; alt. 1510 ft.). The annual rainfall varies from 17 to 21 in. The population, estimated at 605,100 in 1906, numbered 587,326 in 1897, of whom only 5000 were Russians. They consist chiefly of mountaineers known as Lesghians (i.e. 158,550 Avars, 121,375 Darghis, 94,506 Kurins), a race closely akin to the Circassians, intermingled towards the Caspian Sea with Tatars and Georgians. There are also sprinklings of Jews and Persians. The highlands of Daghestan were for many years the stronghold of the Circassians in their struggle against Russia, especially under the leadership of Shamyl, whose last stand was made on the steep mountain fastness of Gunib, 74 m. S. of Temir-khan-shura, in 1859. The difficulty of communication between the valleys has resulted in the growth of a great number of dialects. Avarian is a sort of inter-tribal tongue, while Lakh or Kazi-kumukh, Kurin, Darghi-kaitakh, Andi, and Tabasaran are some of the more important dialects, each subdivided into sub-dialects. The mountaineers breed some cattle and sheep, and cultivate small fields on the mountain-sides. In the littoral districts excellent crops of cereals, cotton, fruit, wine and tobacco are obtained with the aid of irrigation. Silkworms are bred. The mountaineers excel also in a variety of petty trades. Sulphur, salt and copper are the most important of the minerals. A railway line to connect the North Caucasian line (Rostov to Petrovsk) with the Transcaucasian line (Batum to Baku) has been built along the Caspian shore from Petrovsk, through the “gate” or pass of Derbent, to Baku. The province is divided into nine districts—Temir-khan-shura, Avar, Andi, Gunib, Dargo, Kazi-kumukh, Kaitago-Tabasaran, Kurin, and Samur. The only towns are Temir-khan-shura (pop. 9208 in 1897), the capital of the government, Derbent (14,821) and Petrovsk (9806), the last two both on the Caspian.