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The Romance of Duelling in all Times & Countries
Andrew Steinmetz (1868)
In this short excerpt, Steinmetz reviews the common protocols of the duel. The similarities between them and the protocols of the fencing match are obvious. Indeed, the principal distinction between the two is the difference between blunt and sharp.
It is evident from all these details that the fancy of duellists must have run mad in devising such a multiplicity of methods of fighting, --many of them calculated to place a man in an extremely ridiculous situation, veritably making the affair a monstrous tragicomedy. Such, however, were the various modes of duelling sanctioned for the vindication of injured honour, and we have now to inquire into the nature of the offences entailing such tremendous retribution.
According to the French code of honour there are three sorts of offences;
With regard to the first, if in the course of a discussion an offence is offered, the person who has been offended is the injured party.
If this injury is followed by a blow, of course the party struck is the injured one.
To return one blow with another of a more serious natureseverely wounding, for instance, after a slap in the facedoes not constitute the person who received the second blow, however severe it may be, the party originally insulted.
If in the course of a discussion, during which the rules of politeness have not been transgressed, but in consequence of which expressions have been used which induce one of the party to consider himself offended, the man who demands satisfaction cannot be considered the aggressor, or the person who gives it the offended; the case must be submitted to the trial of chance.
But if a man sends a message without a sufficient cause, he becomes the aggressor; and the seconds, before they allow a meeting to take place, must insist upon a sufficient reason being manifestly shown.
All these are insisted on because the selection of the weapons and the kind of duel rests with the offended party.
A son may espouse the cause of his father if he is too aged to resent an insult, or if the age of the aggressor is of great disparity; but the son cannot espouse the quarrel of his father if he has been the aggressor. As Dr. Millingen observes, this is a very judicious rule. Some of your old men are particular crusty and inconsiderate, and if this rule were not enforced any old gentleman might grievously offend another, screening himself by his age and infirmities, and sending some vigorous, active, and practised "big boy" to do the brave for him. Consequently he should be made personally responsible for his conduct, and obliged to make a most humble apology, if he cannot give personal satisfaction. Besides, the rule prevents the sacrifice of life to which filial affection might expose a generous youth, who in his conscience may condemn his fathers conduct.
If the offence has been attended by acts of violence, the offended party has the right to name, not only his duel, his arms, the distance, but may also insist upon the aggressor not using his own arms, to which he may have become accustomed by practice; but in this case the offended party must also use weapons with which he has not practised.
Honour can never be compromised by the offending party admitting that he was in the wrong. If the apology of the offending party is deemed sufficient by the seconds of the offended, if the seconds express their satisfaction and are ready to affirm this opinion in writing, or if the offender has tendered a written apology considered of a satisfactory nature, --in such a case the party that offers to apologize ceases to be the offender, and if his adversary persists the arms must be decided by lot.
However, no apology can be received after a blow. Such an offence has often led to a mortal combat.
If the seconds of the offending party come to the ground with an apology instead of bringing forward their principal, it is only to them that blame can be attached, as the honour of their principal was placed in their hands.
No challenge can be sent by collective parties. If any body or society of men have received an insult, they can only send an individual belonging to it to demand satisfaction. A message collectively sent may be refused, but the challenged party may select an antagonist from the collection, or leave the nomination to chance.
All duels should take place during the forty-eight hours that succeed the offence unless it is otherwise stipulated by the seconds. As Dr. Millingen remarks, this rule is of importance; forty-eight hours may be considered a fair time to reflect upon the painful necessity of a hostile meeting, and there is in general reason to suppose that a challenge sent long after a provocation has been the result of the interference of busy friends.
It is the duty of the seconds to decide upon the necessity of the duel and to state their opinions to their principals. After having consulted with them in such a manner as not to allow any chance of avoiding a duel to escape, they must again meet, and exert their best endeavours to settle the business amicably.
The seconds of a young man shall not allow him to fight an adversary above sixty years of age, unless this adversary had struck him, and in this case his challenge must be accepted in writing. His refusal to comply with this rule is tantamount to giving satisfaction, and the young mans honour is thereby satisfied.
If any unfair occurrence takes place in a duel, it is the duty of the seconds to commit the circumstance to paper, and follow it up before the competent tribunals, when they are bound to give evidence.
Such are the chief rules and regulations of the French code of honour. These new pandects were authorized and signed by eleven peers, twenty-five general officers, and fifty superior officers. Nearly all the maires and prefets gave in their adhesion, and even the minister of war, being restrained by a pardonable delicacy and the awkwardness of official position from attaching his signature, took the trouble of writing a formal letter, signifying his approval of the entire arrangement.
Many of the regulations however, are transparently borrowed from the Irish constitutions before mentioned. The important axiom of a blow admitting of no verbal apology whatever, and the almost casuistical theories as to what constitutes "the insulted party," are common to both.
Strange as may appear such exalted sanction according by the leading men of France to the practice of duelling, we must not forget the very wise remark of Bentham:
Of all the accounts of duels, ordinary and extraordinary, this is certainly one of my favorites. If you know and love dogs as I do, it will not surprise you in the least. Perhaps this is why dogs enjoy such liberty in France. In any case, its a tale with the wag of truth in it. This account is taken from The Romance of Duelling in All Times and Countries, Vol. 1, by Andrew Steinmetz, 1868. Republished by The Richmond Publishing Co., Ltd., Surrey, 1971.
At the close of the thirteenth century, Philip the Fair, having justly entertained at that early period a refined sense of the evil attending the judicial combat, used his best means to put a restraint on its practice. But the state of the times militated so much against his good intention that all he was able to effect was the publication of an edict of regulation, whereby nothing was to be brought to that bloody issue which could be determined by any other means. In consequence of this was adopted that singular ordeal, for want of other evidence, which took place in the Isle of Notre Dame, in the reign of Charles V. of France.
The Chevalier Maquer, in the sight of all Paris, entered the lists, with a dog, in mortal combat. The spot which was the scene of this singular encounter is still shown. The following are the circumstances that gave rise to it.
Aubry Mondidier, whilst taking a solitary walk in the neighbourhood of Paris, was murdered and buried under a tree. His dog, which he had left at home, went out at night to search for his master, whom at length he traced to the forest, and discovered his grave. Having remained some days on the spot, till hunger compelled him to return to the city, he hastened to the Chevalier Ardilliers, a friend of the deceased, and by his melancholy howling gave him to understand that their common friend was no longer in existence.
Ardilliers offered the dog some food, and endeavoured to quiet him by caresses; but the distressed animal continued to howl pitiably, and, laying hold of his coat, led him significantly towards the door.
Ardilliers at length complied with the dogs apparent request, and was led by the sagacious and affectionate animal from street to street, and conducted from the city to a large oak in the forest, where he began to howl louder, and to scratch the earth with his feet. Aubrys friend could not help surveying the sport with melancholy foreboding, and desired the servant who accompanied him, to fetch a spade and dig up the earth, --when, in a short time, he discovered the body of his murdered friend.
Some time after, the dog accidentally met the murderer of his master, barked, rushed upon him, and attacked him with such ferocity that the spectators could not, without great difficulty, extricate him. The same circumstance occurred several times. The faithful animal, which was in general as quiet as a lamb, became like a raging tiger every time he saw the person who had murdered his master.
This circumstance excited great astonishment; and strong suspicions having arisen, it was remembered that Maquer, on several occasions, had betrayed symptoms of enmity against Aubry; and various other circumstances being combined, brought the matter almost to a certainty.
The King, hearing of this affair, was desirous of being convinced with his own eyes whether or not the dog was in the right. The parties were brought before him; the dog fawned upon everybody else, but attacked Maquer with the utmost violence as soon as he saw him enter. The King, considering this to be a fair occasion for the ordeal, --which was at the time customary upon less important occasions, --ordered the fate of Maquer to be determined by single combat with the dog. Charles instantly appointed the time and place.
Maquer entered the list armed with his lance; the dog was let loose upon him, and a most dreadful contest ensued. Maquer made a thrust, but the dog, springing aside, seized him by throat, and threw him down. Thereupon the villain confessed his crime, and Charles, in order that the remembrance of the faithful animal might be handed down to posterity, caused to be erected to him, in the forest where the murder was committed, a marble monument, with a suitable inscription.
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The Naked Truth | If I Had a Hammer
The Sabre's Edge | Swordfight at the OK Corral
How to Defend a Monopoly | A Propos d'un Accident
The Dubious Quick Kill part 1 | The Dubious Quick Kill part 2
Review and Commentary | Duels with the Sword | Starting with Foil
Liancour's Tercentenary | The Manuel d'escrime of 1877 | The Military Masters Fencing Program
Analysis of the Patton Fencing Manual | The Red Court Fencing's Royal Connection
| The Practical Saviolo part 1 | Saddle, Lance and Stirrup
Demystification of the Spanish School 1 | Demystification of the Spanish School 2
Demystification of the Spanish School 3
| A Brief Look at Joseph Swetnam
| Ithacan Retains Title | Third Time's a Charm
Cross-Training Not Cross-Purposes | Riposte Direct | Use of the Word "Sparring"
Chivalry Makes a Come-back | Teachings of Marozzo |
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