Dueling and the Law

A private duel is most commonly referred to as a “duel of chivalry”. Private duels happen within the bounds of the law where it is called a “duel of chivalry”, or if it happened outside of the law it is referred to as a “duel of honour” which was private, often illegal and therefore secret, though more oft than not word got out which usually drew a crowd.

The Duel of Chivalry

By and large the duel of chivalry that was prevalent in the olden days of knights and jousting has been replaced by the more private duel of honour. Courtly condemnation as well as the outlawing of the infamous trial by combat has gone a fair deal in terms of outlawing the duel of chivalry as now it was more often officers and other such important figures who were pursuing these duels.

The Duel of Honour

In place of the duel of chivalry, duels of honour have taken a huge upswing in favour. With the displacement of the aristocracy from their knightly roots, duels have now become one of the premiere ways to show one’s breeding and to outwardly show one’s honour. While technically illegal in nature, many judges tended to turn a blind eye, or at the very least show leniency towards any guilty parties that were involved in duelling. Killing a man in a duel however is still considered murder under the eyes of the law.

Duels of honour can happen anywhere and at any time and are usually issued when a party feels offended or slighted at the actions or words of another. With the banning of chivalric duels, generally many strictures and traditions have been moved into the private setting. Traditionally it is the challenged party’s right to choose weapons, and thus a wide variety of outlandish things have been used. Most commonly however it was usually the sword or the pistol that has most often been chosen to settle affairs.

Once the weapon has been chosen the date and the field of battle will then be picked. Traditionally it is still considered bad form to delay a duel for any significant period of time as it is seen as weakness, and a lack of determination to prove one’s honour with one’s life. At the time of the duel both parties will meet with each duelist having brought their own seconds and witnesses. A new fad has come into vogue with dueling pistols now becoming a thing, as gunsmiths who wished to cater to the nobility wished to provide pistols as evenly matched as possible. Regardless parties will either have brought their own weapons as chosen by the challenged party, or the challenged party will have brought them in the case of a matched set being provided.

The severity of a duel generally was decided upon time of challenging and reconfirmed again prior to commencement. Usually it is only to first touch, though parties who have felt they were severely wronged have issued challenges to the death. In some cases where pistols are involved, both parties aimed to miss their opponent or to shoot at a non lethal part, with each party being satisfied simply by the willingness to risk death and dismemberment to prove a point. At the conclusion of a duel, satisfaction is generally considered to be had.

Dueling and the Law

In the Shadow of Titans Cjwee