Trial by Combat. Wager by battle. Duelling. This one on one practice of conflict resolution has been around for centuries.
|Roman Gladiators would fight for the honor of their masters.|
Later around the 1700s, duelling became fashionable and was fought over more trivial matters. They were still matters of honour and were serious events despite what might have been the original slight.
As you can see the sword was the weapon of hand to hand combat. From the heavier broad sword, the longer Rapier, short sword and the deadly Saber.
All were weapons that could wound and kill depending on the combatants and the seriousness of their quarrel. Some duels were to the death while others were to first blood only.
Around the 1770s there was a brief transition whereby both the pistol and the sword were used in a duel. Swords soon fell out of favour and the pistol became the weapon of choice by the 1800s. Duelling with swords became more of a recreational sport amongst the aristocrats.
There were only a very few master craftsmen who made duelling pistols (Wogdon and Barton being two). These men took pride in their creations and presented them in a set, usually in a beautiful inlaid box. These pistols could be highly decorated or austere but they had one thing in common - they were deadly.
|French Duelling pistol set.|
|Set of Duelling pistols with all the trimmings.|
Watch this video if you want to learn more about the: History of the Duelling Pistol.
I have a duel in my current work in progress, currently called The Collector of Hearts. The duel is the catalyst for my hero's journey. Everything he does and every decision, right or wrong, is the effect of what happened that fateful day.
There are many variations on the rules of duelling depending on time period, country and choice of weapon. They are all very interesting.
There are many great stories of duels between notable men but I only have space for one. In 1761 Colonel Grey was killed and Major Egerton wounded after Grey bumped into Egerton while leaving a performance at the theatre. Egerton had called Grey 'a stupid booby', punches were thrown and a duel was quickly organised. Many such incidences occurred with at least six recorded in 1793 and 1796.
Women loved duelists, perhaps they were the bad boys of the time or just dangerous to know and exciting to be with.
I hope you have enjoyed this short history.
Watch the 1977 The Duellist movie