En Garde! Dueling History

Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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Linda McLaughlin

Very interesting post, Lady Sharon.


The poet Byron’s great uncle was convicted of causing a death in a duel and escaped by benefit of clergy. Several politicians duelled without any legal consequences though the newspapers spoke out against the practice. A couple of men were hanged for killing a man in a duel as that death came under the law under homicide. . Around 1819 a young man challenged the man he accused of causing his sister’s death to a duel to determine whether or not he was guilty of the offense– a jury had acquitted him for lack of sufficient evidence. Because the young man was underage, the accused refused to fight and parliament hurried to repeal the law as to conviction by battle ( I can’t remember the correct phrase) . There appears to have been an English code, an American code, a French code, and irish code and the German code. The German appears to have lasted the longest. It also appears to have required one man slashing the cheek of his opponent.
Duels should have been abandoned along with the idea that God determined the outcome back before the middle ages ended.
The duel in Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is often overlooked. It came out more clearly in the movie but it is definitely in the book. It also shows how stupid it was. Brandon faced being killed for no reason and the outcome didn’t improve the lot of Eliza’s daughter or her infant. It does show Brandon as a real romantic but it wasn’t even helpful there unless someone told marianne about it. Brandon either wasn’t trying or had a poor gun or thought killing Willoughby would turn Marianne against him– surely, otherwise, an army officer would be a better shot.

Katherine Bone

LOVE this post! I reblogged giving you credit, Lady Sharon. 😉

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