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Honor And Dueling

Honor And Dueling
Honor And Dueling
A duel was a prearranged combat with lethal weapons between two people,
usually taking place under formal arrangements. Each side had a witness, called
seconds. The usual cause of a duel is an insult given by one person to the other or
over a question of honor. The challenged person has the right to set the place, time,
and weapons. Duels have generally been fought early in the morning in secluded
places. (Encarta Duel)
Dueling to avenge ones honor has never been legal, dueling has been marked
by laws opposing it. The practice became popular in Europe after the famous
challenge between King Charles V of Spain and Francis I of France. When war was
declared on Spain in 1528 by Francis, he annulled the treaty between the two
countries, Francis was challenged to a duel after being accused of ungentlemanly
conduct by the Spanish ruler. The duel never did take place because making
arrangements was to difficult, but this incident influenced the manners of Europeans
so that gentlemen everywhere thought they were entitled to avenge slights on their
honor by having similar challenges. (Encarta Duel)
Duels involving honor were so prevalent in France that Charles IX issued an
ordinance in 1566 that was death to anyone participating in a duel. This became a
model for later edicts against dueling. Dueling however did survive longer than
monarchy in France. Dueling became a technique for resolving political disputes.

(Britannica Duel) The duel was intensely popular in England, during Restoration.

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Legislation during the 17th century had little effect on suppressing the practice. The
English Common Law declares that killing in a duel to be held as murder, but juries
rarely convicted in cases of dueling until the custom had ceased to be popular during
the reign of Queen Victoria. (Encarta Duel)
The earliest form of dueling was the judicial duel or trial by battle. The
judicial duel was established because solemn affirmation, or swearing of oaths, in
legal arguments had led to extensive perjury and the ordeal has too much of a chance
of being manipulated by the priests. If one man declares before a judge that his
opponent was guilty of a crime and the accused said that his accuser is lying, the
judge would order the two to meet in a duel. The judge then stipulated the conditions
as to the place, time, and weapons. The combatants had to guarantee their
participation by throwing down a gauntlet and his opponent accepted by picking it
up. It was believed in such a situation that the right could not be beaten and the
loser, if still alive would be dealt with by the law this was thought to be the
judgement of God and could not be wrong. This form of trial was open to all free
men and sometimes serfs. Women, church clergy, the sick, and men under 20 or over
60 could claim exemption. In some cases persons under trial could appoint
champions to fight for them, but the person on trial as well as his defeated
champion were both subject to legal punishment. (Britannica Duel)
The rapier was introduced to Italy in the 16th century, the rapier was a long,
thin, lightweight sword, was held one hand, in the other was a dagger, and later a
folded cloak which replaced the shield. The use of the rapier spread throughout
Europe as the Italian fencing technique. In England and France, the shape and size of
the rapier were constantly being modified because of its weight and length made it
clumsy to carry around. (Encarta Fencing) When the rapier came to England not
all Englishmen adapted well to this southern European innovation. The rapier was
once criticized for its slender, easily broken blade, its large hilt and great length
which made it difficult to draw. The term rapier is unclear as to where it
originated it could be ascribed to the German word rappen, to tear; the Spanish
word raspar, to scratch. (Bull 96)
Works Cited
Duel. Encyclopaedia Britannica
Microsoft Works for Windows 98 (1999). Computer program. WA: Microsoft
Bull, Stephen. An Historical Guide To Arms And Armor. Ed. Tony North. New York:
Facts On File, 1991.Words
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