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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As practised from the 11th to 20th centuries in Western societies, a duel is an engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons in accordance with their combat doctrines. In the modern application, the term is applied to aerial warfare between fighter pilots. A battle between two warships is also referred to as a duel or a naval duel, especially in the Age of Sail when such encounters were more common.

The Romantic depiction of mediaeval duels was based on either a pretext of defence of honour, usually accompanied by a trusted representative (who might themselves fight, often in contravention of the duelling conventions), or as a matter of challenge of the champion which developed out of the desire of one party (the challenger) to redress a perceived insult to his sovereign's honour. The goal of the honourable duel was often not so much to kill the opponent as to gain "satisfaction", that is, to restore one's honour by demonstrating a willingness to risk one's life for it.

Duels may be distinguished from trials by combat, in that duels were not used to determine guilt or innocence, nor were they official procedures. Indeed, from the early 17th century duels were often illegal in Europe, though in most societies where duelling was socially accepted, participants in a fair duel were not prosecuted, or if they were, were not convicted.[1] Only gentlemen were considered to have honour, and duels were reserved for social equals. Commoners might duel one another occasionally[2], but if a gentleman's honour were offended by a person of lower class, he would not duel him, but would beat him with a cane, riding crop, a whip or have his servants do so. Formal duelling is now virtually never practiced.



Sabre duel of German students, around 1900, painting by Georg Mühlberg (1863–1925)

Duels could be fought with some sort of sword or, from the 18th century on, with pistols.[3] For this end special sets of duelling pistols were crafted for the wealthiest of noblemen.

The traditional situation that led to a duel often went something like this; after the offence, whether real or imagined, one party would demand satisfaction from the offender,[4] signalling this demand with an inescapably insulting gesture, such as throwing his glove before him, hence the phrase "throwing down the gauntlet". This originates from medieval times, when a knight was knighted. The knight-to-be would receive the accolade of three light blows on the shoulder with a sword and, in some cases, a ritual slap in the face, said to be the last affronts he could accept without redress.[5] Therefore, any one being slapped with a glove was considered—like a knight—obligated to accept the challenge or be dishonoured. Contrary to popular belief, hitting one in the face with a glove was not a challenge, but could be done after the glove had been thrown down as a response to the one issuing the challenge. Each party would name a trusted representative (a second) who would, between them, determine a suitable "field of honour." It was also the duty of each party's second to check that the weapons were equal and that the duel was fair. In the 16th and early 17th centuries, it was normal practice for the seconds as well as the principals to fight each other. Later the seconds' role became more specific, to make sure the rules were followed and to try to achieve reconciliation,[6] but as late as 1777 the Irish code still allowed the seconds an option to exchange shots.

The chief criteria for choosing the field of honour were isolation, to avoid discovery and interruption by the authorities, and jurisdictional ambiguity, also to avoid legal consequences. Islands in rivers dividing two jurisdictions were popular duelling sites; the cliffs below Weehawken on the Hudson River where the Hamilton-Burr duel occurred were a popular field of honour for New York duellists because of the uncertainty whether New York or New Jersey jurisdiction applied. Duels traditionally took place at dawn, when the poor light would make the participants less likely to be seen. For some time before the mid-18th century, swordsmen duelling at dawn so often carried lanterns to see each other that fencing manuals integrated them into their lessons, using the lantern to parry blows and blind the opponent.[7] The manuals sometimes show the combatants carrying the lantern in the left hand wrapped behind the back, which is still one of the traditional positions for the off hand in modern fencing.[8]

At the choice of the offended party, the duel could be

  • to first blood, in which case the duel would be ended as soon as one man was wounded, even if the wound were minor:
  • until one man was so severely wounded as to be physically unable to continue the duel;
  • to the death, in which case there would be no satisfaction until the other party was mortally wounded;
  • or, in the case of pistol duels, each party would fire one shot. If neither man was hit and if the challenger stated that he was satisfied, the duel would be declared over. A pistol duel could continue until one man was wounded or killed, but to have more than three exchanges of fire was considered barbaric and, if no hits were achieved, somewhat ridiculous.
A fictional pistol duel between Eugene Onegin and Vladimir Lensky

Under the latter conditions, one or both parties could intentionally miss in order to fulfill the conditions of the duel, without loss of either life or honour. However, to do so, "to delope", could imply that your opponent was not worth shooting. This practice occurred despite being expressly banned by the Code Duello of 1777. Rule 13 stated: "No dumb shooting or firing in the air is admissible in any case... children's play must be dishonorable on one side or the other, and is accordingly prohibited." Practices varied, however, and many pistol duels were to first blood or death. The offended party could stop the duel at any time if he deemed his honor satisfied. In some duels there were seconds (stand-ins) who, if the primary dueler were not able to finish the duel, would then take his place. This was usually done in duels with swords, where one's expertise was sometimes limited. The second would also act as a witness.

For a pistol duel, the parties would be placed back to back with loaded weapons in hand and walk a set number of paces, turn to face the opponent, and shoot. Typically, the graver the insult, the fewer the paces agreed upon. Alternatively, a pre-agreed length of ground would be measured out by the seconds and marked, often with swords stuck in the ground (referred to as "points"). At a given signal, often the dropping of a handkerchief, the principals could advance and fire at will. This latter system reduced the possibility of cheating, as neither principal had to trust the other not to turn too soon. Another system involved alternate shots being taken—the challenged firing first.

Many historical duels were prevented by the difficulty of arranging the "methodus pugnandi". In the instance of Dr. Richard Brocklesby, the number of paces could not be agreed upon; and in the affair between Mark Akenside and Ballow, one had determined never to fight in the morning, and the other that he would never fight in the afternoon. John Wilkes, who did not stand upon ceremony in these little affairs, when asked by Lord Talbot how many times they were to fire, replied, "just as often as your Lordship pleases; I have brought a bag of bullets and a flask of gunpowder."


Physical confrontations related to insults and social standing surely pre-date Homo sapiens, but the formal concept of a duel, in Western society, developed out of the mediaeval judicial duel and older pre-Christian practices such as the Viking Age Holmganga. Judicial duels were deprecated by the Lateran Council of 1215. However, in 1459 (MS Thott 290 2) Hans Talhoffer reported that in spite of Church disapproval, there were nevertheless seven capital crimes that were still commonly accepted as resolvable by means of a judicial duel. Most societies did not condemn duelling, and the victor of a duel was regarded not as a murderer but as a hero; in fact, his social status often increased. During the early Renaissance, duelling established the status of a respectable gentleman, and was an accepted manner to resolve disputes. Duelling in such societies was seen as an alternative to less regulated conflict.

According to one scholar, "In France during the reign of Henry IV (1589–1610), more than 4,000 French aristocrats were killed in duels in an eighteen-year period...During the reign of Louis XIII (1610–1643) a twenty-year period 8,000 pardons were issued for murders associated with duels...In the United States thousands of Southerners died protecting what they believed to be their honor."[9]

The first published code duello, or "code of dueling", appeared in Renaissance Italy; however, it had many antecedents, ranging back to old Germanic law. The first formalised national code was France's, during the Renaissance. In 1777, Ireland developed a code duello, which was indeed the most influential in American duelling culture.

Prominent duels

To decline a challenge was often equated to defeat by forfeiture, and sometimes regarded as dishonourable. Prominent and famous individuals were especially at risk of being challenged.

The Russian poet Alexander Pushkin prophetically described a number of duels in his works, notably Onegin's duel with Lensky in Eugene Onegin. The poet was mortally wounded in a controversial duel with Georges d'Anthès, a French officer rumoured to be his wife's lover. D'Anthès, who was accused of cheating in this duel, married Pushkin's sister-in-law and went on to become French minister and senator.

In 1598 the English playwright Ben Jonson fought a duel, mortally wounding an actor by the name of Gabriel Spencer. In 1798 HRH The Duke of York, well known as "The Grand Old Duke of York", dueled with Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Lennox and was grazed by a bullet along his hairline. In 1840 the 7th Earl of Cardigan, officer in charge of the now infamous Charge of the Light Brigade, fought a duel with a British Army officer by the name of Captain Tuckett. Tuckett was wounded in the engagement, though not fatally.

Four Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom have engaged in duels (although only Pitt and Wellington held the office at the time of their duels):

In 1864, American writer Mark Twain—then editor of the New York Sunday Mercury—narrowly avoided fighting a duel with a rival newspaper editor, apparently through the quick thinking of his second, who exaggerated Twain's prowess with a pistol.[10][11][12]

The most notorious American duel was the Burr-Hamilton duel, in which notable Federalist Alexander Hamilton was fatally wounded by his political rival, the sitting Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr. Another American politician, Andrew Jackson, later to serve as a General Officer in the U.S. Army and to become the seventh U.S. president, fought two duels, though some legends claim he fought many more. On May 30, 1806, he killed prominent duellist Charles Dickinson, suffering himself from a chest wound which caused him a lifetime of pain. Jackson also reportedly engaged in a bloodless duel with a lawyer and in 1803 came very near duelling with John Sevier; In 1813 Jackson engaged in a frontier brawl, which does not count as a duel, with Senator Thomas Hart Benton.

On 30 May 1832, French mathematician Évariste Galois was mortally wounded in a duel at the age of twenty, the day after he had written his seminal mathematical results.

The last fatal duel in Canada, in 1833, saw Robert Lyon challenge John Wilson to a pistol duel after a quarrel over remarks made about a local school-teacher—whom Wilson ended up marrying after Lyon was killed in the duel. The last fatal duel in England took place on Priest Hill, between Englefield Green and Old Windsor, on 19 October 1852, between two French refugees, Cournet and Barthelemy, the former being killed. [13]

Unusual duels

In 1808, two Frenchmen are said to have fought in balloons over Paris, each attempting to shoot and puncture the other's balloon; one duelist is said to have been shot down and killed with his second.[14]

Thirty-five years later (1843), two men are said to have fought a duel by means of throwing billiard balls at each other.[14]

Some participants in a duel, given the choice of weapons, are said to have deliberately chosen ridiculous weapons such as howitzers, sledgehammers, or forkfuls of pig dung, in order to show their disdain for duelling.[14]

Isaac Asimov relates a joke in his Treasury of Humor (1971) that claims that Otto von Bismarck challenged Rudolf Virchow to a duel. As the challenged party had the choice of weapons, Virchow chose two sausages, one of which had been inoculated with cholera. Bismarck is said to have called off the duel at once.[15]

Single combat

The Jan. 1593 single combat, using war elephants, between Siamese King Naresuan and the Burmese crown prince Crown Prince Minchit Sra - still celebrated in Thai history (statue in Samut Prakan Province, Thailand).

Single combat is a duel between two single warriors which takes place in the context of a battle between two armies, with the two often considered the champions of their respective sides. Typically, it takes place in the no-man's-land between the opposing armies, with other warriors watching and themselves refraining from fighting until one of the two single combatants has won.

Single combats are attested at numerous periods and places, in both myth and the depiction of actual war. Earlier examples are the single combat between David and Goliath in the Bible. Duels between individual warriors are depicted in the Iliad, including those between Menelaus and Paris and later between Achilles and Hector. Single combat is mentioned quite frequently in the history of Ancient Rome: the Horatii's defeat of the Alba Longan Curiatii in the 7th century BC is reported by Livy to have settled a war in Rome's favor and subjected Alba Longa to Rome; Marcus Claudius Marcellus took the spolia opima from Viridomarus, king of the Gaesatae, at the Battle of Clastidium (222 BC); and Marcus Licinius Crassus Dives from Deldo, king of the Bastarnae (29 BC).

Depictions of single combat also appear in the Hindu epics of the Mahābhārata and the Ramayana. Single combats are often preludes to battles in the Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms and are featured prominently throughout the epic.

In The Cattle Raid of Cooley, a famous episode of Irish Mythology, all warriors of Ulster but Cúchulainn are affected by a curse and unable to fight the invading army of Queen Maeb - leaving Cúchulainn to fight a whole series of single combats by himself until they recover.

Many battles depicted in the mediaeval Chanson de Roland consist of a series of single combats, as are battles depicted in various tales of the Arabian Nights. Guy of Warwick, the legendary English Romance hero, is depicted as defeating in single combat the Viking giant Colbrand; the story is set in the time of Athelstan of England, but actually reflects the society of the late Middle Ages.

An important episode in Geoffrey of Monmouth's legendary History of the Kings of Britain (ca. 1136) is the single combat between prince Nennius of Britain and Julius Caesar.

Single combat was also a prelude to battles in pre-Islamic Arabia and early Islamic battles. For example, at the Battle of Badr, one of the most important in the early history of Islam, was opened by three champions of the Islamic side (Ali, Ubaydah, and Hamzah) stepping forward, engaging and defeating three of the then-Pagan Meccans, although Ubaydah was mortally wounded.[16] This result of the three single combats was considered to have substantially contributed to the Muslim victory in the overall battle which followed. Duels were also part of other battles at the time of Muhammad, such as the battle of Uhud, battle of the Trench and the battle of Khaybar.

Single combats were a major characteristic in the traditional Samurai fighting of medieval Japan, and the samurai despised the mass fighting style of the Mongols who invaded their country and saw it as inferior (see Mongol invasions of Japan#Significance).

The 1380 Battle of Kulikovo, a key event in the wars between the Tartaro-Mongols and the Russians, was allegedly opened by a single combat of two champions: the Russian Alexander Peresvet, and the Golden Horde's Temir-murza (also Chelubey or Cheli-bey). The champions killed each other in the first run, though according to Russian legend, Peresvet did not fall from the saddle, while Temir-murza fell.

In personal combat fought on the backs of war elephants in a war between Burma and Siam, Siamese King Naresuan slew Burmese Crown Prince Minchit Sra in 1593.

Captain John Smith of Jamestown, in his earlier career as a mercenary in Eastern Europe, is reputed to have defeated, killed and beheaded Turkish commanders in three single combats, for which he was knighted by the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory and given a horse and coat of Arms showing three Turks' heads.[17].

Single combats are especially common during battles fought between mounted aristocratic warriors (or earlier, driving chariots), a type of warfare allowing considerable freedom of manoeuvre and initiative to individual warriors. Single combat is less feasible where battles are fought by bodies of infantry whose success depends upon keeping an exact formation, such as the ancient phalanx and maniple and in later times the various formations of pikemen.

Duelling in particular regions

Germany, Austria, Switzerland

Historically a form of non-lethal duelling called Mensur was a tradition among students in these countries, and still exists as Academic fencing. This form of duelling is all about honour, therefore it is non-competitive.

"a traditional way of training and educating character and personality ... there is neither winner nor loser ... the goal being less to avoid injury than to endure it stoically"


In the Ionian Islands in the 19th century, there was a practice of formalised fighting between men over points of honour.

Knives were the weapons used in such fights. They would begin with an exchange of sexually-related insults in a public place such as a tavern, and the men would fight with the intention of slashing the other's face, rather than killing. As soon as blood was drawn onlookers would intervene to separate the men. The winner would often spit on his opponent and dip his neckerchief in the blood of the loser, or wipe the blood off his knife with it.

The winner would generally make no attempt to avoid arrest and would receive a light penalty, such as a short jail sentence and/or a small fine.[18]


In the South Indian state of Kerala, duelling between warriors was used to settle conflicts between local rulers. The practice ended in the early 1800s following the outlaw of Kalaripayattu by British Colonialists. The prime martial caste of Kerala, Nairs, and some prominent Ezhava families made up the Chekavars (which literally means "those who are prepared to die" in the local Malayalam language). Some prominent warriors who took part in Ankam (duel) were Thacholi Othenan, Unniarcha, Aromal Chekavar, whose legends are described in the Vadukkan Pattukal (Northern Ballads). The Mamankam Festival held by the Zamorin ruler in the kingdom of modern day Calicut, was a ritual which glorified the martial traditions of warrior families in the Malabar. The ritual ended after the Zamorin was overthrown.


In 1777, at the Summer assizes in the town of Clonmel, County Tipperary, a code of practice was drawn up for the regulation of duels. It was agreed by delegates from Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, and intended for general adoption throughout Ireland. A copy of the code, known generally as 'The thirty-six commandments', was to be kept in a gentleman's pistol case for reference should a dispute arise regarding procedure.[19] An amended version known as 'The Irish Code of Honor', and consisting of twenty-five rules, was adopted in some parts of the United States. The first article of the code stated:

Rule 1.--The first offence requires the apology, although the retort may have been more offensive than the insult.--Example: A. tells B. he is impertinent, &C.; B. retorts, that he lies; yet A. must make the first apology, because he gave the first offence, and then, (after one fire,) B. may explain away the retort by subsequent apology.[20]

The 19th century statesman, Daniel O'Connell, took part in a duel in 1815. Following the death of his opponent, John D'Esterre, O'Connell repented and from that time wore a white glove on his right hand when attending Mass as a public symbol of his regret.[21]

In 1862, in an article entitled Dead (and gone) Shots, Charles Dickens recalled the rules and myths of Irish duelling in his periodical All the Year Round.[22]


In Poland duels have been known since the Middle Ages. Polish duel rules were formed, based on Italian, French and German codes. The best known Polish code was written as late as in 1919 by Władysław Boziewicz. In those times duels were already forbidden in Poland, but the "Polish Honorary Code" was quite widely in use. Punishments for participation in duels were rather mild (up to a year imprisonment if the result was death or grievous bodily harm).[1]


Duelling is widely known to have existed for centuries in the Philippine Islands. In the Visayan islands, the offended party would first "hagit" or challenge the offender. The offender would have the choice whether to accept or decline the challenge. In the past, choice of weapons was not limited. But most often, bolos, rattan canes, and knives were the preferred weapons. Rules may be agreed upon. Duels were either first-blood, submission, or to the last man standing (last man still alive). Duels to death were known as "huego-todo" (without bounds).

Widely publicised duels are common in Filipino martial arts circles. One of those very controversial and publicised duels was between Ciriaco "Cacoy" Cañete and Venancio "Ansiong" Bacon. It was rumoured that Cacoy won in this match by executing an illegal manoeuvre, but this rumour has not been proven to this day. Another match was between Cacoy and a man identified only by his name "Domingo" in the mountain barangay of Balamban in 1948, which was also very controversial. Some claimed that this event was just a hoax.[citation needed]


Pre-history of Duelling in Russia

Prince Mstislav defeats Rededya. Picture by Nicholas Roerich (1943)

European tradition of duelling and the word Duel itself came to Russia in XVII century by european adventurers on russian service and quickly became such popular, that Emperor Peter the First was forced to forbade the duelling in 1715 under the threat of hanging the duellists, because it became a serious problem which could cause a lot of unmilitary casualties among the commanding ranks. However, even such strict measures, didn't cope with widespreading of duelling. Before duel came in Russia, there was another tradition of single combat in slavonic countries, with bare hands or with cold-steel weaponry such as swords, cudgels, maces. The point was to choke the rival, break his neck or spine, or neutralize him in another way in bare hands combat, or to kill him by slashing with sword, beating with cudgel or mace. Such procedure, historycally called bash na bash (old russian expression, means one-on-one) was a traditional way to avoid a bloodshed of internecine war. It means that leaders of both armies or other armed groups, comes towards the center of the battlefield and negotiating, or send a messenger to deal with one another, to come forward a two most skillfull fighters, or leaders themselves in a combat (usually, mortal), after which, the winner takes the army, the lands and towns with their communities, the wives, children and households of the loosing one. It means that for ordinary warriors, peasants and citizens was no matter who's in charge. In case when the conflict was arising between slavians and other non-Slavonic ethnical groups, such as Pechenegs, which had no intends to rule in slavonic lands, but either to rape and sack them, there was another kind of agreement: If Slav wins, they get out for good and never coming back, if Nomad wins - they do what they want, and take everything what they want. First documented fight was described by Nestor the Chronicler in the Primary Chronicle, and it was exactly as mentioned below, with Kievian strongman against Pecheneg's one. The most notable is a fight between Tmutarakan' Prince Mstislav the Brave and Kasogs Prince Rededya in 1022, where Mstislav has defeated him in fair bare hands combat, laid Kasogs under tribute and built a Church, took Rededya's wife and two sons, baptised them in Christianity and then married his daugher off to Rededya's son by the tradition of those times. This episod is also described in the Primary Chronicle. Notable fact, that being killed, Rededya received a honours, and his offsprings given a wide posterity and were considered as noble Russian family.


Duelling was a significant military tradition in the Russian Empire. Despite an official ban from the 17th through the 19th centuries, under penalty of death for both duellists, military men and nobility continued to solve their misunderstandings by the duel. Many prominent Russian writers, poets, and politicians experienced duels. Famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin died from gunshot wounds inflicted by Georges d'Anthès, a notable French adventurer, in an 1837 duel. His poetic successor Mikhail Lermontov was killed four years later, by fellow Army officer Nikolay Martynov.

Contrary to all official rules and regulations, there was a developed semi-legal (or completely illegal, considering that both duellists were liable to the death penalty, and all others involved to life-long exile) duelling code in the Russian Empire. This code forbade duels between people of different ranks (Table of Ranks). For instance, an infantry captain could not challenge a major, but could easily pick on a Titular Counsellor. On the other hand, a higher ranked person could not stoop to challenge lower ranks, so it was up to his subordinates or servants to take revenge on their master's behalf. Alternatively, an offended person of higher rank could just legally denounce his inferiors to the superior official, who would simply and quickly condemn them to death, exile or flagellation without any trial, hearing or litigation. This was characteristic of Russia's quick, severe legal judgements. However, the duel was an exclusive privilege of the nobility, and common people had no such recourse (for common people see Kulachniy boy). There was a detailed unwritten duelling code, which was eventually written down by V.Durasov and released in print in 1908[23].

The duelling tradition has been dying slowly since the mid-19th century. After the 1917 Bolshevist revolution there were no more duels in Russia. Shortly after the Revolution, the duel yielded to squealery.


In the subordinated state of Ukraine, a part of Rzecz Pospolita, duelling rights varied widely depending on the nobles' pro-Polish or anti-Polish stance. Native Ukrainian landlords stood in a lesser position in comparison with their Polish-descended neighbors. And even among the Ukrainian natives there was a wide gap in their rights and opportunities, depending on their partiality to Poland. For example, the prominent Ukrainian politician and military leader Bohdan Khmelnytsky was humiliated by his pro-Polish neighbor Daniel Czapliński, who seized Khmelnytsky's patrimony, killing one of his sons with a whip and raping his wife. After Khmelnytsky returned his place and discovered what had happened, he fought Czapliński in a sabre duel, but was stunned from behind and thrown into a dungeon. Later, because Czapliński was higher ranked and far more privileged than he, Bohdan appealed legally to Kazimir, the king of Rzecz Pospolita, but king answered only: "You have your sabre" (see "The Uprising").

Zaporizhian Sich

Duels between Ukrainian Cossacks were a kind of ordeal for persons suspected of treason. Duels were otherwise unheard of, because all Cossacks were considered brothers, and a duel would be considered fratricidal.

Opposition to duelling

The Roman Catholic Church and many political leaders, like King James VI & I of Scotland and England, usually denounced duelling throughout Europe's history, though some authorities tacitly allowed it, believing it to relieve long-standing familial and social tensions.

United Kingdom

Even though some of the most famous duels in British history took place in the early 19th century, as referred to above, by the mid 19th century duelling was widely frowned on, and largely ceased to occur.


King Louis XIII of France outlawed dueling in 1626, and duels remained illegal in France ever afterward. At least one noble was beheaded for fighting a duel during Louis's reign, and his successor Louis XIV intensified efforts to wipe out the duel. Despite these efforts, duelling continued. French officers fought 10,000 duels, leading to over 400 deaths, between 1685 and 1716.[24]


Dueling is illegal in Canada, pursuant to s. 71 of the Criminal Code which states:[25]

Every one who:
(a) challenges or attempts by any means to provoke another person to fight a duel,
(b) attempts to provoke a person to challenge another person to fight a duel, or
(c) accepts a challenge to fight a duel,
is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

United States


Duelling began to fall out of favor in America in the 18th century, and the death of former United States Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton by duelling did not help its declining popularity. Benjamin Franklin denounced the practice as uselessly violent, and George Washington encouraged his officers to refuse challenges during the American Revolutionary War because he believed that the death by duelling of officers would have threatened the success of the war effort.

By the end of the 19th century, legalised dueling was almost extinct in most of the world. As shown below, some U.S. states do not have any statute or constitutional provision prohibiting duelling, though the party causing injury in a duel may be prosecuted under the applicable laws relating to bodily harm or manslaughter.

State constitutional provisions and military laws prohibiting dueling

Several states have very high-level bans laid against duelling, with stiff penalties for violation. Several United States state constitutions ban the practice, the most common penalty being disenfranchisement and/or disqualification from all offices. As well, Article 114 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes duelling by a member of the armed forces a military crime.

  • Constitution of Alabama (Article IV, Section 86):
    • "The Legislature shall pass such penal laws as it may deem expedient to suppress the evil practice of duelling."
  • Constitution of Arkansas (Article XIX, Section 2)
    • "No person who may hereafter fight a duel, assist in the same as second, or send, accept, or knowingly carry a challenge therefor, shall hold any office in the State, for a period of ten years; and may be otherwise punished as the law may prescribe."
  • Constitution of Florida of 1838, Article 6, Section 5:
    • "No person shall be capable of holding, or of being elected to any post of honor, profit, trust, or emolument, civil or military, legislative, executive, or judicial, under the government of this State, who shall hereafter fight a duel, or send, or accept a challenge to fight a duel, the probable issue of which may be the death of the challenger, or challenged, or who shall be a second to either party, or who shall in any manner aid, or assist in such duel, or shall be knowingly the bearer of such challenge, or acceptance, whether the same occur, or be committed in or out of the State."
  • Constitution of Iowa (Article I, Section 5) (repealed):
    • "Any citizen of this State who may hereafter be engaged, either directly, or indirectly, in a duel, either as principal, or accessory before the fact, shall forever be disqualified from holding any office under the Constitution and laws of this State." (This section was repealed by Constitutional Amendment 43 in 1992.)
  • Constitution of Kentucky (Section 228 and 239):
    • "Members of the General Assembly and all officers, before they enter upon the execution of the duties of their respective offices, and all members of the bar, before they enter upon the practice of their profession, shall take the following oath or affirmation: I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of .... according to law; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God."
    • "Any person who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, either directly or indirectly, give, accept or knowingly carry a challenge to any person or persons to fight in single combat, with a citizen of this State, with a deadly weapon, either in or out of the State, shall be deprived of the right to hold any office of honor or profit in this Commonwealth; and if said acts, or any of them, be committed within this State, the person or persons so committing them shall be further punished in such manner as the General Assembly may prescribe by law."
  • Constitution of Mississippi (Article 3, Section 19):
    • "Human life shall not be imperiled by the practice of dueling; and any citizen of this state who shall hereafter fight a duel, or assist in the same as second, or send, accept, or knowingly carry a challenge therefor, whether such an act be done in the state, or out of it, or who shall go out of the state to fight a duel, or to assist in the same as second, or to send, accept, or carry a challenge, shall be disqualified from holding any office under this Constitution, and shall be disenfranchised."
  • Constitution of Oregon (Article II, Section 9)
    • "Every person who shall give, or accept a challenge to fight a duel, or who shall knowingly carry to another person such challenge, or who shall agree to go out of the State to fight a duel, shall be ineligible to any office of trust, or profit."
  • Constitution of South Carolina (Article XVII, Section 1B)
    • "After the adoption of this Constitution any person who shall fight a duel or send or accept a challenge for that purpose, or be an aider or abettor in fighting a duel, shall be deprived of holding any office of honor or trust in this State, and shall be otherwise punished as the law shall prescribe."
  • Constitution of Tennessee (Article IX, Section 3):
    • "Any person who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, fight a duel, or knowingly be the bearer of a challenge to fight a duel, or send or accept a challenge for that purpose, or be an aider or abettor in fighting a duel, shall be deprived of the right to hold any office of honor or profit in this state, and shall be punished otherwise, in such manner as the Legislature may prescribe."
  • Constitution of West Virginia (Article IV, Section 10)
    • "Any citizen of this state, who shall, after the adoption of this constitution, either in or out of the state, fight a duel with deadly weapons, or send or accept a challenge so to do, or who shall act as a second or knowingly aid or assist in such duel, shall, ever thereafter, be incapable of holding any office of honor, trust or profit in this state."
  • Uniform Code of Military Justice (Article 114):
    • "Any person subject to this chapter who fights or promotes, or is concerned in or connives at fighting a duel, or who, having knowledge of a challenge sent or about to be sent, fails to report the facts promptly to the proper authority, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

State and territorial laws prohibiting dueling

20 states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have some statute(s) (including constitutional provisions) specifically prohibiting dueling. The remaining 30 states either have no such statute or constitutional provision, or limit their dueling prohibition to members of their state national guard. This does not necessarily mean, however, that dueling is legal in any state, as assault and murder laws can apply. The following is a list of each state's or territory's status with respect to laws prohibiting dueling:

  • Alabama – See Constitution above
  • AlaskaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • ArizonaNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[26]
  • Arkansas – See Constitution above; specifically prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[26]
  • CaliforniaNo statutory dueling prohibition – California Penal Code Sections 225 through 232, repealed in 1994
  • Colorado – C.R.S. 18-13-104
  • ConnecticutNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[27]
  • DelawareNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • Florida – See Constitution above
  • District of Columbia – D.C. Code 22-1302
  • GeorgiaNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[28]
  • HawaiiNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[29]
  • Idaho – Idaho Code 19-303
  • IllinoisNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • IndianaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • IowaNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[30]
  • KansasNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[31]
  • Kentucky – K.R.S. 437.030
  • LouisianaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • MaineNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • MarylandNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • Massachusetts – G.L.Mass. ch. 265, sections 3–4
  • Michigan – M.C.L.S. 750.171–750.173a; M.C.L.S. 750.319 and 750.320
  • MinnesotaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • Mississippi – Miss. Code Ann. Title 97, Chapter 39
  • MissouriNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[32]
  • MontanaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • NebraskaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • Nevada – Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. 200.430 through 200.450
  • New HampshireNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • New JerseyNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • New Mexico – N.M. Stat. Ann. 30-20-11
  • New YorkDueling in New York is prohibited by Penal Law section 35.15(1)(c) which provides that the permitted use of physical force in defense of a person does not apply to "the product of combat by agreement"; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[33]
  • North CarolinaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • North Dakota – N.D. Cent. Code 29-03-02
  • OhioNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[34]
  • Oklahoma – 21 Okl. St., Chapter 22
  • Oregon – See Constitution above; also specifically prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[35]
  • PennsylvaniaNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[36]
  • Puerto Rico – 33 L.P.R.A. 4035
  • Rhode Island – R.I. Gen. Laws, Title 11, Chapter 12
  • South Carolina – See Constitution above; 16 S.C. Code Ann., Chapter 3, Article 5
  • South DakotaNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • Tennessee – See Constitution above
  • TexasNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • Utah – Utah Code Ann. 76-5-104 (homicide includes dueling and other "consensual altercations")
  • VermontNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • VirginiaNo speciffic statutory dueling prohibition, To stop dueling, Virginia's Anti-Dueling Act, passed in 1810, created civil and criminal penalties for the most usual causes of dueling. It is still on the books. Virginia Code §8.01-45 creates a Civil Action for insulting words. Virginia Code §18.2-416 makes it a crime to use abusive language to another under circumstances reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of the peace. Virginia Code §18.2-417 makes certain slander and libel a crime. see 1 VA. CODE REV. § 8 (1819), quoted in Chaffin v. Lynch, 1 S.E. 803, 806 (Va. 1887).
  • WashingtonNo statutory dueling prohibition for civilians; prohibited for personnel of the state national guard[37]
  • West Virginia – See Constitution above; W.Va. Code 61-2-18 through 61-2-25
  • WisconsinNo statutory dueling prohibition
  • WyomingNo statutory dueling prohibition

Anti-dueling pamphlets


The last duel in France took place in 1967 when Gaston Deferre insulted René Ribière at the French parliament and was subsequentially challenged to a duel fought with swords. René Ribière lost the duel, Deferre's sword having twice shed Ribière's blood. René Ribière was only slightly injured.[38]

Latin America

In much of South America duels were common during the 20th century[2], although generally illegal.

  • In Mexico, April 2009, 31 year-old Joseph Berrelleza and 18 year-old Eduardo Jesús Argüelles Rábago fought a duel in the state of Sinaloa. The duellists were 5 metres apart from each other and each used his own gun. Both were seriously wounded in the encounter.[39]
  • In Peru there were several high-profile duels by politicians in the early part of the twentieth century including one in 1957 involving Fernando Belaúnde Terry—who went on to become President.
  • Uruguay decriminalised duelling in 1920, and in that year José Batlle y Ordóñez, a former President of Uruguay, killed Washington Beltran, editor of the newspaper El País, in a formal duel fought with pistols. In 1990 another editor was challenged to a duel by an assistant police chief[3]. Although approved by the government the duel did not take place—and in 1992 Uruguay repealed the 1920 law.
  • In 2002 Peruvian independent congressman, Eittel Ramos, challenged Peruvian Vice President, David Waisman to a duel with pistols, saying the vice president had insulted him. Waisman declined.[4]
  • 1952: Chile. Senator Salvador Allende (later president of Chile) was challenged to a duel by his colleague Raúl Rettig (later head of a commission that investigated human rights violations committed during the 1973–1990 military rule in Chile). Both men agreed to fire one shot at each other. Both deliberately missed.[40] At that time, duelling was already illegal in Chile.


  • In May 2005, twelve youths aged between fifteen and seventeen were arrested in Japan and charged with violating a duelling law that came into effect in 1889. Six other youths were also arrested on the same charges in March.[citation needed]

Cinematic duels

In the world of cinema, duelling has provided themes for such motion pictures as Stanley Kubrick's 1975 Barry Lyndon (an adaptation of a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray from 1844) and Ridley Scott's 1977 The Duellists, which adapted Joseph Conrad's 1908 short story The Duel, [5] [ The 1943 film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp shows two main characters becoming friends after fighting a duel, the preparations for which are shown in great detail. Perhaps most notable of all however, is the career of Max Ophuls, who employs duels to resolve passionate conflicts in a number of his films. In 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun the duel between Bond and Scaramanga is refereed by Nick-Nack, who tells both contestants that this is a duel to the death; no wounding is allowed and, if necessary, Nick Nack will administer the coup-de-grace.

See also


  1. ^ John Albert Lynn, Giant of the Grand Siecle, p. 256, says that dueling was outlawed in 1626 in France and never again legalised, despite thousands of violations.
  2. ^ Lynn, 255
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Will and Ariel Durant (1950), The Age of Faith, p. 573.
  6. ^ Lynn, p. 255, 257.
  7. ^ accessed 7/25/2009
  8. ^ accessed 7/25/2009
  9. ^ The Dishonor of Dueling, Ariel A. Roth
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ The common is steeped in history, at Keep Englefield Green - The Heritage
  14. ^ a b c Smithsonian Magazine
  15. ^ Isaac Asimov, Treasury of Humor, page 202.
  16. ^ Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 14, Number 2659
  17. ^ Not Just Another John Smith,, January 21, 2007
  18. ^
  19. ^ Hamilton, Joseph (1829). The only approved guide through all the stages of a quarrel ((Internet Archive) ed.). Dublin: Millikin. Retrieved 29/June/2009. 
  20. ^ Wilson Lyde, John (1838 (reprint 2004)). "Appendix". The Code of Honor, Or, Rules for the Government of Principals and Seconds in Duelling. reprinted by Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 9781419157042.,+Or,+Rules+for+the+Government+of+Principals+and+Seconds+in+Duelling&source=gbs_keywords_r#search_anchor. 
  21. ^ Gwynn, Denis (1947). Daniel O'Connell. Cork University Press. pp. 126. 
  22. ^ Dickens, Charles; Chapman and Hall, (May 10, 1862). All the year round. Dickens & Evans (Firm). pp. 212–216. 
  23. ^ V.Durasov "The Dueling Code" ISBN - 5-7905-1634-3, 5-94532-010-2
  24. ^ Lynn, p. 257.
  25. ^ "Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 71". Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  26. ^ a b A.R.S. 26-1114
  27. ^ Conn. Gen. Stat. 27-251
  28. ^ O.C.G.A. 38-2-546
  29. ^ H.R.S. 124A-147
  30. ^ Iowa Code 29B.108
  31. ^ K.S.A. 48-3036
  32. ^ 40.385, R.S.Mo.
  33. ^ N.Y. Mil. Law 130.108
  34. ^ O.R.C. Ann. 5924.114
  35. ^ O.R.S. 398.393
  36. ^ 51 Pa.C.S. 6036
  37. ^ Rev. Code Wash. 38.38.768
  38. ^ Time Magazine
  39. ^
  40. ^ Nick Caistor (5 May 2000). "Raúl Rettig (obituary)". The Guardian. 


  • Baldick, Robert. The Duel: A History of Duelling. London: Chapman & Hall, 1965.
  • Cramer, Clayton. Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic: Dueling, Southern Violence, and Moral Reform
  • Freeman, Joanne B. Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001; paperback ed., 2002)
  • Freeman, Joanne B. "Dueling as Politics: Reinterpreting the Burr-Hamilton Duel." The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d series, 53 (April 1996): 289–318.
  • Frevert, Ute. "Men of Honour: A Social and Cultural History of the Duel." trans. Anthony Williams Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995.
  • Greenberg, Kenneth S. "The Nose, the Lie, and the Duel in the Antebellum South." American Historical Review 95 (February 1990): 57–73.
  • James Kelly. That Damn'd Thing Called Honour: Duelling in Ireland 1570–1860" (1995)
  • Kevin McAleer. Dueling: The Cult of Honor in Fin-de-Siecle Germany (1994)
  • Morgan, Cecilia. "'In Search of the Phantom Misnamed Honour': Duelling in Upper Canada." Canadian Historical Review 1995 76(4): 529–562.
  • Rorabaugh, W. J. "The Political Duel in the Early Republic: Burr v. Hamilton." Journal of the Early Republic 15 (Spring 1995): 1–23.
  • Schwartz, Warren F., Keith Baxter and David Ryan. "The Duel: Can these Gentlemen be Acting Efficiently?." The Journal of Legal Studies 13 (June 1984): 321–355.
  • Steward, Dick. Duels and the Roots of Violence in Missouri (2000),
  • Williams, Jack K. Dueling in the Old South: Vignettes of Social History (1980) (1999),
  • Wyatt-Brown, Bertram. Honor and Violence in the Old South (1986)
  • Wyatt-Brown, Bertram. Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (1982),

Popular works

  • The Code of Honor; or, Rules for the Government of Principals and Seconds in Duelling, John Lyde Wilson 1838
  • The Field of Honor Benjamin C. Truman. (1884); reissued as Duelling in America (1993).
  • Savannah Duels & Duellists, Thomas Gamble (1923)
  • Gentlemen, Swords and Pistols, Harnett C. Kane (1951)
  • Pistols at Ten Paces: The Story of the Code of Honor in America, William Oliver Stevens (1940)
  • The Duel: A History, Robert Baldick (1965, 1996)
  • Dueling With the Sword and Pistol: 400 Years of One-on-One Combat, Paul Kirchner (2004)
  • Duel, James Landale (2005). ISBN 1-84195-647-3. The story of the last fatal duel in Scotland
  • Ritualized Violence Russian Style: The Duel in Russian Culture and Literature, Irina Reyfman (1999).

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Duel is a 1971 television movie about a salesman driving through the California desert who is suddenly attacked by a large tanker truck after passing it on the deserted road.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Richard Matheson.
Fear is the driving force. Taglines


David Mann

  • Well, you never just never know. You just go along figuring some things don't change ever, like being able to drive on a public highway without someone trying to murder you. And then one stupid thing happens. Twenty, twenty-five minutes out of your whole life, and all the ropes that kept you hanging in there get cut loose, and it's like, there you are, right back in the jungle again. All right boy, it was a nightmare, but it's over now. [pauses] It's all over.
  • [In Chuck's Cafe] What if he followed me out, though? Started after me again? I'd be right back where I started; even if I got a lead, he'd overtake me soon enough. He's got some, some, some souped up diesel; my car's just not that powerful, I just can't break eighty and ninety miles an hour. As soon as I stop concentrating, I'd go back to sixty or seventy like I always do; it's a habit, I can't help it, he's just... [pauses] take it easy...just, take it easy.


Gas station attendant: Looks like you could use a new radiator hose.
Mann: Yeah, where have I heard that before. I'll get one later, thanks.
Gas station attendant: You're the boss.
Mann: Not in my house, I'm not.

Cafe owner: [as David Mann exits cafe restroom and enters dining area] Are you all right?
Mann: Yeah, I'm fine.
Cafe owner: What happened out there?
Mann: Oh, just a slight complication.
Cafe owner: Oh? Looked like a big complication to me. [Others laugh]

Mann: [mistakenly thinking that the man eating a sandwich in the cafe is the truck driver harassing him] Look, uh... I want you to cut it out.
Man in Cafe: [bites into sandwich, chewing] Wha?
Mann: Just... just cut it out, okay?
Man in Cafe: [bites into sandwich again, chewing] Cut what out?
Mann: Now come on, let's uh... let's not play games.
Man in Cafe: What the hell you talkin' about?
Mann: I can call the police.
Man in Cafe: [stops eating, looks surprised] Police?
Mann: You think that I won't? You're wrong, mister. I mean if you think you can just... just take that... that truck of yours and use it as a murder weapon and uh... killin' people on the highway... you're wrong! You got another thing comin'!
Man in Cafe: [shakes head, fed up] Man, you need help.
Mann: [Mann slaps the sandwich out of his hand] Don't you tell me I need help!
Man in Cafe: [punches Mann in the stomach]

Mann: That truck driver's crazy, he's been trying to kill me, I mean it!
Bus Driver: Well, mister, if I was to vote on who's crazy around here, it'd be you.

[The truck smashes into the Snake Lady's phone booth]
Mann: Call the police!
Snake Lady: With what? That's the only phone I got!


  • Fear is the driving force.
  • The Killer's Weapon - A 40 Ton Truck
  • Terror in your rear view mirror.
  • When the headlights of a truck become the eyes of a psychopath.
  • The most bizarre murder weapon ever used!


External links

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The Duel
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DUEL (Ital. duello, Lat. duellum - old form of bellum - from duo, two), a prearranged encounter between two persons, with deadly weapons, in accordance with conventional rules, with the object of voiding a personal quarrel or of deciding a point of honour. The first recorded instance of the word occurs in Coryate's Crudities (1611), but Shakespeare has duello in this sense, and uses " duellist " of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. In its earlier meaning of a judicial combat we find the word latinized in the Statute of Wales (Edw. I., Act 12), " Placita de tennis in partibus istis non habent terminari per duellum." Duels in the modern sense were unknown to the ancient world, and their origin must be sought in the feudal age of Europe. The single combats recorded in Greek and Roman history and legend, of Hector and Achilles, Aeneas and Turnus, the Horatii and Curiatii, were incidents in national wars and have nothing in common with the modern duel. It is, however, noteworthy that in Tacitus (Germania, cap. x.) we find the rudiments of the judicial duel (see Wager, for the wager of battle). Domestic differences, he tells us, were settled by a legalized form of combat between the disputants, and when a war was impending a captive from the hostile tribe was armed and pitted against a national champion, and the issue of the duel was accepted as an omen. The judicial combat was a Teutonic institution, and it was in fact an appeal from human justice to the God of battles, partly a sanction of the current creed that might is right, that the brave not only will win but deserve to win. It was on these grounds that Gundobald justified, against the complaints of a bishop, the famous edict passed at Lyons (A.D. 501) which established the wager of battle as a recognized form of trial. It is God, he argued, who directs the issue of national wars, and in private quarrels we may trust His providence to favour the juster cause. Thus, as Gibbon comments, the absurd and cruel practice of judicial duels, which had been peculiar to some tribes of Germany, was propagated and established in all the monarchies of Europe from Sicily to the Baltic. Yet in its defence it may be urged that it abolished a worse evil, the compurgation by oath which put a premium on perjury, and the ordeal, or judgment of God, when the cause was decided by blind chance, or more often by priestcraft.

Those who are curious to observe the formalities and legal rules of a judicial combat will find them described at length in the 28th book of Montesquieu's Esprit des lois. On these regulations he well remarks that, as there are an infinity of wise things conducted in a very foolish manner, so there are some foolish things conducted in a very wise manner. For our present purpose it is sufficient to observe the development of the idea of personal honour from which the modern duel directly sprang. In the ancient laws of the Swedes we find that if any man shall say to another, " You are not a man equal to other men," or " You have not the heart of a man," and the other shall reply, " I am a man as good as you," they shall meet on the highway, and then follow the regulations for the combat. What is this but the modern challenge ? By the law of the Lombards if one man call another arga, the insulted party might defy the other to mortal combat. What is arga but the dummer Junger of the German student ? Beaumanoir thus describes a legal process under Louis le Debonnaire: - The appellant begins by a declaration before the judge that the appellee is guilty of a certain crime; if the appellee answers that his accuser lies, the judge then ordains the duel. Is not this the modern point of honour, by which to be given the lie is an insult which can only be wiped out by blood ?

From Germany the judicial combat rapidly spread to France, where it flourished greatly from the 10th to the 12th century, the period of customary law. By French kings it was welcomed as a limitation of the judicial powers of their half independent vassals. It was a form of trial open to all freemen and in certain cases, as under Louis VI., the privilege was extended to serfs. Even the church resorted to it not unfrequently to settle disputes concerning church property. Abbots and priors as territorial lords and high justiciaries had their share in the confiscated goods of the defeated combatant, and Pope Nicholas when applied to in 858 pronounced it " a just and legitimate combat." Yet only three years before the council of Valence had condemned the practice, imposing the severest penance on the victor and refusing the last rites of the church to the vanquished as to a suicide. In 1385 a duel was fought, the result of which was so preposterous that even the most superstitious began to lose faith in the efficacy of such a judgment of God. A certain Jacques Legris was accused by the wife of Jean Carrouge of having introduced himself by night in the guise of her husband whom she was expecting on his return from the Crusades. A duel was ordained by the parlement of Paris, which was fought in the presence of Charles VI. Legris was defeated and hanged on the spot. Not long after, a criminal arrested for some other offence confessed himself to be the author of the outrage. No institution could long survive so open a confutation, and it was annulled by the parlement. Henceforward the duel in France ceases to be an appeal to Heaven, and becomes merely a satisfaction of wounded honour. Under Louis XII. and Francis I. we find the first vestiges of tribunals of honour. The last instance of a duel authorized by the magistrates, and conducted according to the forms of law, was the famous one between Francois de Vivonne de la Chataignerie and Guy Chabot de Jarnac. The duel was fought on the 10th of July 1547 in the courtyard of the château of St Germain-en-Laye, in the presence of the king and a large assembly of courtiers. It was memorable in two ways. It enriched the French language with a new phrase; a sly and unforeseen blow, such as that by which de Jarnac worsted La Chataignerie, has since been called a coup de Jarnac. And Henry, grieved at the death of his favourite, swore a solemn oath that he would never again permit a duel to be fought. This led to the first of the many royal edicts against duelling. By a decree of the council of Trent (cap. xix.) a ban was laid on " the detestable use of duels, an invention of the devil to compass the destruction of souls together with a bloody death of the body." In England, it is now generally agreed, the wager of battle did not exist before the time of the Norman Conquest. Some previous examples have been adduced, but on examination they will be seen to belong rather to the class of single combats between the champions of two opposing armies. One such instance is worth quoting as a curious illustration of the superstition of the time. It occurs in a rare tract printed in London, 1610, The Duello, or Single Combat. " Danish irruptions and the bad aspects of Mars having drencht the common mother earth with her sonnes' blood streames, under the reigne of Edmund, a Saxon monarch, misso in compendium (so worthy Camden expresseth it) bello utriusque geniis fata Edmundo Anglorum et Canuto Danorum regibus commissa fuerunt, qui singulars certamine de summa imperij in hac insula (that is, the Eight in Glostershire) depugnarunt." By the laws of William the Conqueror the trial by battle was only compulsory when the opposite parties were both Normans, in other cases it was optional. As the two nations were gradually merged into one, this form of trial spread, and until the reign of Henry II. it was the only mode for determining a suit for the recovery of land. The method of procedure is admirably described by Shakespeare in the opening scene in Richard II., where Henry of Bolingbroke, duke of Hereford, challenges Thomas, duke of Norfolk; in the mock-heroic battle between Horner the Armourer and his man Peter in Henry VI.; and by Sir W. Scott in the Fair Maid of Perth, where Henry Gow appears before the king as the champion of Magdalen Proudfute. The judicial duel never took root in England as it did in France. In civil suits it was superseded bythe grand assize of Henry II., and in cases of felony by indictment at the prosecution of the crown. One of the latest instances occurred in the reign of Elizabeth, 1571, when the lists were actually prepared and the justices of the common pleas appeared at Tothill Fields as umpires of the combat. Fortunately the petitioner failed to put in an appearance, and was consequently nonsuited (see Spelman, Glossary, s.v. " Campus "). As late as 1817 Lord Ellenborough, in the case of Thornton v. Ashford,. pronounced that " the general law of the land is that there shall be a trial by battle in cases of appeal unless the party brings himself within some of the exceptions." Thornton was accused of murdering Mary Ashford, and claimed his right to challenge the appellant, the brother of the murdered girl, to wager of battle. His suit was allowed, and, the challenge being refused,, the accused escaped. Next year the law was abolished (59: Geo. III., c. 46).

In sketching the history of the judicial combat we have traced the parentage of the modern duel. Strip the former of its legality, and divest it of its religious sanction, and the latter remains. We are justified, then, in dating > the commencement of duelling from the abolition of the wager of battle. To pursue its history we must return to France, the country where it first arose, and the soil on which it has most flourished. The causes which made it indigenous to France are sufficiently explained by the condition of society and the national character. As Buckle has pointed out, duelling is a special development of chivalry, and chivalry is one of the phases of the protective spirit which was predominant in France up to the time of the Revolution. Add to this the keen sense of personal honour, the susceptibility and. the pugnacity which distinguish the French race. Montaigne, when touching on this subject in his essays, says, " Put three Frenchmen together on the plains of Libya, and they will not be a month in company without scratching one another's eyes out." The third chapter of d'Audiguier's Ancien usage des duels is headed, " Pourquoi les seuls Frangais se battent en duel." English literature abounds with allusions to this characteristic of the French nation. Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who was ambassador at the court of Louis XIII., says, " There is scarce a Frenchman worth looking on who has not killed his man in a duel." Ben Jonson, in his Magnetic Lady, makes Compass, the scholar and soldier, thus describe France, " that garden of humanity": " There every gentleman professing arms Thinks he is bound in honour to embrace The bearing of a challenge for another, Without or questioning the cause or asking Least colour of a reason." Duels were not common before the 16th century. Hallam attributes their prevalence to the barbarous custom of wearing swords as a part of domestic dress, a fashion which was not introduced till the later part of the i 5th century. In 1560 the states-general at Orleans supplicated Charles IX. to put a stop to duelling. Hence the famous ordinance of 1566, drawn up by the chancellor de 1'Hopital, which served as the basis of the successive ordinances of the following kings. Under the frivolous and sanguinary reign of Henry III., " who was as eager for excitement as a woman," the rage for duels spread till it became almost an epidemic. In 1602 the combined remonstrances of the church and the magistrates extorted from the king an edict condemning to death whoever should give or accept a challenge or act as second. But public opinion was revolted by such rigour, and the statue remained a dead letter. A duel forms a fit conclusion to the reign. A hair-brained youth named L'Isle Marivaux swore that he would not survive his beloved king, and threw his cartel into the air. It was at once picked up, and Marivaux soon obtained the death he had courted. Henry IV. began his reign by an edict against duels, but he was known in private to favour them; and, when de Crequi asked leave to fight Don Philip of Savoy, he is reported to have said, " Go, and if I were not a king I would be your second." Fontenay-Mareuil says, in his Memoires, that in the eight years between 1601 and 1609, 2000 men of noble birth fell in duels. In 1609 a more effective measure was taken at the instance of Sully by the establishment of a court of honour. The edict decrees that all aggrieved persons shall address themselves to the king, either directly or through the medium of the constables, marshals, &c.; that the king shall decide, whether, if an accommodation could not be effected, permission to fight should be given; that the aggressor, if pronounced in the wrong, shall in any case be suspended from any public office or employment, and be mulcted of one-third of his revenue till he has satisfied the aggrieved party; that any one giving or receiving a challenge shall forfeit all right of reparation and all his offices; that any one who kills his adversary in an unauthorized duel shall suffer death without burial, and his children shall be reduced to villanage; that seconds, if they take part in a duel, shall suffer death, if not, shall be degraded from the profession of arms. This edict has been pronounced by Henri Martin " the wisest decree of the ancient monarchy on a matter which involves so many delicate and profound questions of morals, politics, and religion touching civil rights " (Histoire de France, x. 466).

In the succeeding reign the mania for duels revived. Rostand's Cyrano is a life-like modern portraiture of French bloods in the first half of the 17th century. De Houssaye tells us that in Paris when friends met the first question was, " Who fought yesterday ? who is to fight to-day ? " They fought by night and day, by moonlight and by torch-light, in the public streets and squares. A hasty word, a misconceived gesture, a question about the colour of a riband or an embroidered letter, such were the commonest pretexts for a duel. The slighter and more frivolous the dispute, the less were they inclined to submit them to the king for adjudication. Often, like gladiators or prize-fighters, they fought for the pure love of fighting. A misunderstanding is cleared up on the ground. " N'importe," cry the principals, " puisque nous sommes ici, battons-nous." Seconds, as Montaigne tells us, are no longer witnesses, but must take part themselves unless they would be thought wanting in affection or courage; and he goes on to complain that men are no longer contented with a single second, " c'etait anciennement des duels, ce sont a cette heure rencontres et batailles." There is no more striking instance of Richelieu's firmness and power as a statesman than his conduct in the matter of duelling. In his Testament politique he has assigned his reasons for disapproving it as a statesman and ecclesiastic. But this disapproval was turned to active detestation by a private cause. His elder brother, the head of the house, had fallen in a duel stabbed to the heart by an enemy of the cardinal. Already four edicts had been published under Louis XIII. with little or no effect, when in 1626 there was published a new edict condemning to death any one who had killed his adversary in a duel, or had been found guilty of sending a challenge a second time. Banishment and partial confiscation of goods were awarded for lesser offences. But this edict differed from preceding ones not so much in its severity as in the fact that it was the first which was actually enforced. The cardinal began by imposing the penalties of banishment and fines, but, these proving ineffectual to stay the evil, he determined to make a terrible example. To quote his own words to the king, " Ii s'agit de couper la gorge aux duels ou aux edits de votre Majeste." The count de Boutteville, a renommist who had already been engaged in twenty-one affairs of honour, determined out of pure bravado to fight a twentysecond time. The duel took place at midday on the Place Royale. Boutteville was arrested with his second, the count de Chapelles; they were tried by the parlement of Paris, condemned and, in spite of all the influence of the powerful house of Montmorenci, of which de Boutteville was a branch, they were both beheaded on the 21st of June 1627. For a short time the ardour of duellists was cooled. But the lesson soon lost its effect. Only five years later we read in the Mercure de France that two gentlemen who had killed one another in a duel were, by the cardinal's orders, hanged on a gallows, stripped and with their heads downwards, in the sight of all the people. This was a move in the right direction, since, for fashionable vices, ridicule and ignominy is a more drastic remedy than death. It was on this principle that Caraccioli, prince of Melfi, when viceroy of Piedmont, finding that his officers were being decimated by duelling, proclaimed that all duels should be fought on the parapet of the Ponte Vecchio, and if one of the combatants chanced to fall into the river he should on no account be pulled out.

Under the long reign of Louis XIV. many celebrated duels took place, of which the most remarkable were that between the duke of Guise and Count Coligny, the last fought on the Place Royale, and that between the dukes of Beaufort and Nemours, each attended by four friends. Of the ten combatants, Nemours and two others were killed on the spot, and none escaped without some wound. No less than eleven edicts against duelling were issued under le Grand Monarque. That of 1643 established a supreme court of honour composed of the marshals of France; but the most famous was that of 1679, which confirmed the enactments of his predecessors, Henry IV. and Louis XII. At the same time a solemn agreement was entered into by the principal nobility that they would never engage in a duel on any pretence whatever.. A medal was struck to commemorate the occasion, and the firmness of the king, in refusing pardon to all offenders, contributed more to restrain this scourge of society than all the efforts of his predecessors.

The subsequent history of duelling in France may be more shortly treated. In the preamble to the edict of 1704 Louis XIV. records his satisfaction at seeing under his reign an almost entire cessation of those fatal combats which by the inveterate force of custom had so long prevailed. Addison (Spectator, 99) notes it as one of the most glorious exploits of his reign to have banished the false point of honour. Under the regency of Louis XV. there was a brief revival. The last legislative act for the suppression of duels was passed on the 12th of April 1723. Then came the Revolution, which in abolishing the ancien regime fondly trusted that with it would go the duel, one of the privileges and abuses of an aristocratic society. Dupleix, in his Military Law concerning the Duel (1611), premises that these have no application to lawyers, merchants, financiers or justices. This explains why in the legislation of the National Assembly there is no mention of duels. Camille Desmoulins when challenged shrugged his shoulders and replied to the charge of cowardice that he would prove his courage on other fields than the Bois de Boulogne. The two great Frenchmen whose writings preluded the French Revolution both set their faces against it. Voltaire had indeed, as a young man, in obedience to the dictates of society, once sought satisfaction from a nobleman for a brutal insult, and had reflected on his temerity in the solitude of the Bastille.' Henceforward he inveighed against the practice, ' Voltaire met the chevalier Rohan-Chabot at the house of the Marquis of Sully. The chevalier, offended by Voltaire's free speech, not only for its absurdity, but also for its aristocratic exclusiveness. Rousseau had said of duelling, " It is not an institution of honour, but a horrible and barbarous custom, which a courageous man despises and a good man abhors." Napoleon was a sworn foe to it. " Bon duelliste mauvais soldat " is one of his best known sayings; and, when the king of Sweden sent him a challenge, he replied that he would order a fencing-master to attend him as plenipotentiary. After the battle of Waterloo duels such as Lever loves to depict were frequent between disbanded French officers and those of the allies in occupation. The restoration of the Bourbons brought with it a fresh crop of duels. Since then duels have been frequent in France - more frequent, however, in novels than in real life - fought mainly between politicians and journalists, and with rare exceptions bloodless affairs. If fought with pistols, the distance and the weapons chosen render a hit improbable; and, if fought with rapiers, honour is generally satisfied with the first blood drawn. Among Frenchmen famous in politics or letters who have " gone out " may be mentioned Armand Carrel, who fell in an encounter with Emile Girardin; Thiers, who thus atoned for a youthful indiscretion; the elder Dumas; Lamartine; Ste Beuve, who to show at once his sangfroid and his sense of humour, fought under an umbrella; Ledru Rollin; Edmond About; Clement Thomas; Veuillot, the representative of the church militant; Rochefort; and Boulanger, the Bonapartist fanfaron, whose discomfiture in a duel with Floquet resulted in a notable loss of popular respect.

Duelling did not begin in England till some hundred years after it had arisen in France. There is no instance of a private duel fought in England before the 16th century, and they are rare before the reign of James I. A very fair notion of the comparative popularity of duelling, and of the feeling with which it was regarded at various periods, might be gathered by examining the part it plays in the novels and lighter literature of the times. The earliest duels we remember in fiction are that in the Monastery between Sir Piercie Shafton and Halbert Glendinning, and that in Kenilworth between Tressilian and Varney. (That in of Geierstein either is an anachronism or must reckon as a wager by battle.) Under James I. we have the encounter between Nigel and Lord Dalgarno. The greater evil of war, as we observed in French history, expels the lesser, and the literature of the Commonwealth is in this respect a blank. With the Restoration there came a reaction against Puritan morality, and a return to the gallantry and loose manners of French society, which is best represented by the theatre of the day. The drama of the Restoration abounds in duels. Passing on to the reign of Queen Anne, we find the subject frequently discussed in the Tatler and the Spectator, and Addison points in his happiest way the moral to a contemporary duel between Mr Thornhill and Sir Cholmeley Dering. " I come not," says Spinomont to King Pharamond, " I come not to implore your pardon, I come to relate my sorrow, a sorrow too great for human life to support. Know that this morning I have killed in a duel the man whom of all men living I love best." No reader of Esmond can forget Thackeray's description of the doubly fatal duel between the duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun, which is historical, or the no less life-like though fictitious duel between Lord Mohun and Lord Castlewood. The duel between the two brothers in Stevenson's Master of Ballantrae is one of the best conceived in fiction. Throughout the reigns of the Georges they are frequent. Richardson expresses his opinion on the subject in six voluminous letters to the Literary Repositor. insolently asked the marquis, " Who is that young man?" " One," replied Voltaire, " who if he does not parade a great name, honours that he bears." The chevalier said nothing at the time, but, seizing his opportunity, inveigled Voltaire into his coach, and had him beaten by six of his footmen. Voltaire set to work to learn fencing, and then sought the chevalier in the theatre, and publicly challenged him. A bon-mot at the chevalier's expense was the only satisfaction that the philosopher could obtain. " Monsieur, si quelque affaire d'interet ne vous a point fait oublier l'outrage dont j'ai a me plaindre, j 'espere que vous m'en rendrez raison." The chevalier was said to employ his capital in petty usury.

Sheridan, like Farquhar in a previous generation, not only dramatized a duel, but fought two himself. Byron thus commemorates the bloodless duel between Tom Moore and Lord Jeffrey: " Can none remember that eventful day, That ever glorious almost fatal fray, When Little's leadless pistols met the eye, And Bow Street myrmidons stood laughing by?" There are no duels in Miss Austen's novels, but in those of Miss Edgeworth, her contemporary, there are three or four. As we approach the 19th century they become rarer in fiction. Thackeray's novels, indeed, abound in duels. His royal highness the late lamented commander-in-chief " had the greatest respect for Major Macmurdo, as a man who had conducted scores of affairs for his acquaintance with the greatest prudence and skill; and Rawdon Crawley's duelling pistols, " the same which I shot Captain Marker," have become a household word. Dickens, on the other hand, who depicts contemporary English life, and mostly in the middle classes, in all his numerous works has only three; and George Eliot never once refers to a duel. Tennyson, using a poet's privilege, laid the scene of a duel in the year of the Crimean War, but he echoes the spirit of the times when he stigmatizes " the Christless code that must have life for a blow." Browning, who delights in cases of conscience, has given admirably the double moral aspect of the duel in his two lyrics entitled " Before " and " After." To pass from fiction to fact we will select the most memorable English duels of the last century and a half. Lord Byron killed Mr Chaworth in 1765; Charles James Fox and Mr Adams fought in 1779; duke of York and Colonel Lennox, 1789; William Pitt and George Tierney, 1796; George Canning and Lord Castlereagh, 1809; Mr Christie killed John Scott, editor of the London Magazine, 1821; duke of Wellington and earl of Winchelsea, 1829; Mr Roebuck and Mr Black, editor of Morning Chronicle, 1835; Lord Alvanley and a son of Daniel O'Connell in the same year; Earl Cardigan wounded Captain Tuckett, was tried by his peers, and acquitted on a legal quibble, 1840.

The year 1808 is memorable in the annals of duelling in England. Major Campbell was sentenced to death and executed for killing Captain Boyd in a duel. In this case it is true that there was a suspicion of foul play; but in the case of Lieutenant Blundell, who was killed in a duel in 1813, though all had been conducted with perfect fairness, the surviving principal and the seconds were all convicted of murder and sentenced to death, and, although the royal pardon was obtained, they were all cashiered. The next important date is the year 1843, when public attention was painfully called to the subject by a duel in which Colonel Fawcett was shot by his brother-in-law, Lieutenant Monro. The survivor, whose career was thereby blasted, had, it was well known, gone out most reluctantly, in obedience to the then prevailing military code. A full account of the steps taken by the prince consort, and of the correspondence which passed between him and the duke of Wellington, will be found in the Life of the Prince by Sir Theodore Martin. The duke, unfortunately, was not an unprejudiced counsellor. Not only had he been out himself, but, in writing to Lord Londonderry on the occasion of the duel between the marquess and Ensign Battier in 1824, he had gone so far as to state that he considered the probability of the Hussars having to fight a duel or two a matter of no consequence. In the previous year there had been formed in London the association for the suppression of duelling. It included leading members of both houses of parliament and distinguished officers of both services. The first report, issued in 1844, gives a memorial of the association presented to Queen Victoria through Sir James Graham, and in a debate in the House of Commons (15th of March 1844) Sir H. Hardinge, the secretary of war, announced to the House that Her Majesty had expressed herself desirous of devising some expedient by which the barbarous practice of duelling should be as much as possible discouraged. In the same debate Mr Turner reckoned the number of duels fought during the reign of George III. at 172, of which 91 had been attended with fatal results; yet in only two of these cases Viii. 21 !n England. had the punishment of death been inflicted. But though the proposal of the prince consort to establish courts of honour met with no favour, yet it led to an important amendment of the articles of war (April 1844). The 98th article ordains that " every person who shall fight or promote a duel, or take any steps thereto, or who shall not do his best to prevent duel, shall, if an officer, be cashiered, or suffer such other penalty as a general court-martial may award." These articles, with a few verbal changes, were incorporated in the consolidated Army Act of 1879 (section 38), which is still in force.

In the German army duels are still authorized by the military code as a last resort in grave cases. A German officer who is involved in a difficulty with another is bound to notify the circumstance to a council of honour at the ?' latest as soon as he has either given or received a challenge. A council of honour consists of three officers of different ranks and is instructed, if possible, to bring about a reconciliation. If unsuccessful it must see that the conditions of the duel are not out of proportion to the gravity of the quarrel. Public opinion was greatly roused by a tragic duel fought by two officers of the reserve in 1896; and the German emperor in a cabinet order of 1897, confirmed in 1901, enforced the regulation of the, military court of honour, and gave warning that any infringement would be visited with the full penalties of the law. It is, notwithstanding, still the fact that a German officer who is not prepared to accept a challenge and fight, if the opinion of his regiment demands it, must leave the service. The German penal code (Reichsstrafgesetzbuch, pars. 101-110) only punishes a duel when it is fought with lethal weapons; and much controversy has raged round the question of the Mensuren or students' duels, which, as being conducted with sharpened rapiers, have, despite the precautions taken, in the way of bandaging the vital parts of the body which a cut would reach, to reduce the risk of a fatal issue to a minimum, been declared by the Supreme Court of the Empire to fall under the head of duels, and as such to be punishable.

The Mensuren (German students' duels) above referred to are frequently misunderstood. They bear little resemblance, save in form, to the duel a outrance, and should rather be considered in the light of athletic games, in which the overflow of high animal spirits in young Germany finds its outlet. These combats are indulged in principally by picked representatives of the " corps " (recognized clubs), and according to the position and value of the Schmisse (cuts which have landed) points are awarded to either side. Formerly these so-called duels could be openly indulged in at most universities without let or hindrance. Gradually, however, the academic authorities took cognizance of the illegality of the practice, and in many cases inflicted punishment for the offence. Nowadays, owing to the decision of the supreme court reserving to the common law tribunals the power to deal with such cases, the governing bodies at the universities have only a disciplinary control, which is exercised at the various seats of learning in various degrees: in some the practice is silently tolerated, or at most visited by reprimand; in others, again, by relegation or carcer - with the result that the students of one university frequently visit another, in order to be able to fight out their battles under less rigorous surveillance.

Any formal discussion of the morality of duelling is, in England at least, happily superfluous. No fashionable vice has been so unanimously condemned both by moralists and divines, and in tracing its history we are reminded of the words of Tacitus, " in civitate nostra et vetabitur semper et retinebitur." Some, however, of the problems, moral and social, which it suggests may be shortly noticed. That duelling flourished so long in England the law is, perhaps, as much to blame as society. It was doubtless from the fact that duels were at first a form of legal procedure that English law has refused to take cognizance of private duels. A duel in the eye of the law differs nothing from an ordinary murder. The greatest English legal authorities, from the time of Elizabeth downwards, such as Coke, Bacon and Hale, have all distinctly affirmed this interpretation of the law. But here as elsewhere the severity of the penalty defeated its own object. The public conscience revolted against a Draconian code which made no distinction between wilful murder and a deadly combat wherein each party consented to his own death or submitted to the risk of it. No jury could be found to convict when conviction involved in the same penalty a Fox or a Pitt and a Turpin or a Brownrigg. Such, however, was the conservatism of English publicists that Bentham was the first to point out clearly this defect of the law, and propose a remedy. In his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, published in 1789, Bentham discusses the subject with his usual boldness and logical precision. In his exposition of the absurdity of duelling considered as a branch of penal justice, and its inefficiency as a punishment, he only restates in a clearer form the arguments of Paley. So far there is nothing novel in his treatment of the subject. But he soon parts company with the Christian moralist, and proceeds to show that duelling does, however rudely and imperfectly, correct and repress a real social evil. " It entirely effaces a blot which an insult imprints upon the honour. Vulgar moralists, by condemning public opinion upon this point, only confirm the fact." He then points out the true remedy for the evil. It is to extend the same legal protection to offences against honour as to offences against the person. The legal satisfactions which he suggests are some of them extremely grotesque. Thus for an insult to a woman, the man is to be dressed in a woman's clothes, and the retort to be inflicted by the hand of a woman. But the principle indicated is a sound one, that in offences against honour the punishment must be analogous to the injury. Doubtless, if Bentham were now alive, he would allow that the necessity for such a scheme of legislation had in a great measure passed away. That duels have since become extinct is no doubt principally owing to social changes, but it may be in part ascribed to improvements in legal remedies in the sense which Bentham indicated. A notable instance is Lord Campbell's Act of 1843, by which, in the case of a newspaper libel, a public apology coupled with a pecuniary payment is allowed to bar a plea. In the Indian Code there are special enactments concerning duelling, which is punishable not as murder but as homicide.

Suggestions have from time to time been made for the establishment of courts of honour, but the need of such tribunals is doubtful, while the objections to them are obvious. The present tendency of political philosophy is to contract rather than extend the province of law, and any interference with social life is justly resented. Real offences against reputation are sufficiently punished, and the rule of the lawyers, that mere scurrility or opprobrious words, which neither of themselves import nor are attended with any hurtful effects, are not punishable, seem on the whole a wise one. What in a higher rank is looked upon as a gross insult may in a lower rank be regarded as a mere pleasantry or a harmless joke. Among the lower orders offences against honour can hardly be said to exist; the learned professions have each its own tribunal to which its members are amenable; and the highest ranks of society, however imperfect their standard of morality may be, are perfectly competent to enforce that standard by means of social penalties without resorting either to trial by law or trial by battle.

The duel, which in a barbarous age may be excused as " a sort of wild justice," was condemned by Bacon as " a direct affront of law and tending to the dissolution of magistracy." It survived in more civilized times as a class distinction and as an ultimate court of appeal to punish violations of the social code. In a democratic age and under a settled government it is doomed to extinction. The military duels of the European continent, and the so-called American duel, where the lot decides which of the two parties shall end his life, are singular survivals. For real offences against reputation law will provide a sufficient remedy. The learned professions will have each its own tribunal to which its members are amenable. Social stigma is at once a surer and a juster defence against conduct unworthy of a gentleman. Yet.

the duel dies hard, and even to-day it is approved or palliated by some notable publicists and professors in France and Germany. M. H. Marion (La Grande Encyclopedic), in an article strongly condemnatory of duels, still holds that the wrongdoer is bound to accept a challenge, though he may not take the offensive, and further allows that obligatory duels may be the only way of evoking a sense of honour and of maintaining discipline in the army. Dr Paulsen goes much further, and not only defends the duels of university students (Mensuren) as an encouragement of physical exercise, a proof of courage and a protest of worth against wealth, but maintains generally that the duel should be retained as an expedient in those exceptional cases when a man cannot bring himself to drag before a law court the outrage done to his personal honour. But in such cases Dr Paulsen would have the courts hold the injured person scathless, whether he be challenger or challenged, and visit the aggressor with condign punishment.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Castillo, Tractatus de duello (Turin, 1525); J. P. Pigna, Il Duello (1554); Muzio Girolamo, Traite du duel (Venice, 1 553); Boyssat, Recherches sur les duels (Lyons, 1610); J. Savaron, Traite contre les duels (Paris, 1610); Brantome, Memoire sur les duels rodomontades; F. Bacon, Charge concerning Duels, &c. (1614); d'Audiguier, Le Vray et ancien usage des duels (Paris, 1617); His Majesties Edict and severe Censure against private combats (London, 1618); Cockburn, History of Duels (London, 1720); Brillat Savarin, Essai sur le duel (1819); Chateauvillard, Essai sur le duel (1836); Colombey, Histoire anecdotique du duel (Paris); Fourgeroux de Champigneules, Histoire des duels anciens et modernes (2 vols., Paris, 1835-1837); Millingen, History of Duelling (London, 1841); L. Sabine, Notes on Duels (Boston, 1855); Steinmetz, Romance of Duelling (London, 1868). See also Eugene Cauchy, Du duel, &c. (1846), a learned and philosophic treatise by a French lawyer; G. LetainturierFradin, Le Duel a travers les ages (Paris, 1892); Mackay, History of Popular Delusions, Duels and Ordeals; and for a valuable list of authorities, Buckle, History of Civilization in England, ii. 137, note 71. For judicial combats see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. xxxviii. For courts of honour see Armed Strength of the German Empire (1876). For Mensur, see Paulsen, The German Universities (1906), ch. vi. (F. S.)

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Simple English

duelling with Aaron Burr]]

A duel is a fight between two people who have similar deadly weapons and have agreed to a set of rules before the fight takes place. The fight is usually about a matter of honor. The goal of a duel is not usually to kill the opponent but to restore the honor of the man who declared the duel. Duels are not official laws, they are carried out by individuals.

Duels were practiced from the 15th to 20th century in Western societies.



Duels could be fought with swords or pistols.

The person who felt offended or dishonored had to "challenge" his opponent to a duel. This was usually done by throwing his glove down in front of the opponent or by hitting him in the face with a glove. Each person had to then find a person to be his "second". The job of the seconds was to choose a place to duel and to decide whether or not the weapons were equal.

The person who declared the duel got to choose when the duel would be finished. Common endings to duels were:

  • until one person was injured, even if the injury was minor
  • until one person could no longer fight because he was too hurt
  • until one person was killed or injured so badly that he would soon die
  • duels with pistols could be ended after the first shot, even if no one was hit. Most pistol duels did not go longer than 3 shots


Scholarly Studies: US and Canada

  • Clayton Cramer. Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic: Dueling, Southern Violence, and Moral Reform
  • Joanne B. Freeman. Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic (2002)
  • James Kelly. That Damn'd Thing Called Honour: Duelling in Ireland 1570-1860" (1995)
  • Kevin McAleer. Dueling: The Cult of Honor in Fin-de-Siecle Germany (1994)
  • Cecilia Morgan. "'In Search of the Phantom Misnamed Honour': Duelling in Upper Canada." Canadian Historical Review1995 76(4): 529-562.
  • Dick Steward, Duels and the Roots of Violence in Missouri (2000),
  • Jack K. Williams. Dueling in the Old South: Vignettes of Social History (1980) (1999)
  • Bertram Wyatt-Brown. Honor and Violence in the Old South (1986)
  • Bertram Wyatt-Brown Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South (1982)

Popular works

  • The Code of Honor; or, Rules for the Government of Principals and Seconds in Duelling (1838)
  • Robert Baldick. The Duel: A History (1965, 1996)
  • Thomas Gamble. Savannah Duels & Duellists (1923)
  • Harnett C. Kane. Gentlemen, Swords and Pistols (1951)
  • Paul Kirchner. Dueling With the Sword and Pistol: 400 Years of One-on-One Combat (2004)
  • William Oliver Stevens. Pistols at Ten Paces: The Story of the Code of Honor in America (1940)
  • Ben Truman.The Field of Honor (1884); reissued as Duelling in America (1993)

Other websites

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