Monday, May 7, 2012

The Art of Dueling

The History of Dueling is a bloody one based around the idea of
‘defending one’s honour.’

The personal Duel of Honour vs. the older Judicial Duel most probably
has its roots in the duel of Jarnac vs. Châtaigneraie. Officially,
this was a Judicial duel, both men had grievances and brought them
before the King. In theory, the duel would have been fought and the
winner declared ‘right’ in the eyes of the King and God. In reality,
the fight dragged on, Châtaigneraie was severely injured, but would
not surrender. The King refused to declare the fight over and
Châtaigneraie bled out on the field.

This duel is often cited as the ‘last’ judicial duel or the ‘first’
duel of honour. This is oversimplified, but the point is valid. Before
this time duels were primarily judicial, overseen by the Crown or
representative thereof and were considered legally binding. After this
time, duels became private affairs between individuals over points of
honour and were usually considered illegal (but often unofficially
sactioned, pardoned or out right ignored).

There were a variety of dueling codes (code duello) used in different
parts of the Western world at different times. The codes defined who
could be challenged for what, what rights the challenged had, what
rights the challenger had and what the ‘win’ conditions were.

A copy of the 1777 Irish Code Duello may be seen here:

In the movie “The Duelists” the character Jacquin offers up three ways
d'Hubert can avoid fighting Feraud again:
“You cannot fight,
One: if you're in different places. Physical impossibility.
Two: if you're of different rank. Breach of discipline.
And three: if the state is at war. Duels of nations take absolute precedence.
Therefore, keep away from him. Keep ahead of him. Put your trust in Bonaparte!”

Two additional  links, that got me thinking about this article:

“The Duel at Blood Creek”

“A Gentlemen’s Duel”

-- Colonel Etienne de Valois, duelist

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