A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules. The duel is based on a code of honor. Duels are fought not so much to kill the opponent as to gain “satisfaction”, that is, to restore one’s honor by demonstrating a willingness to risk one’s life for it. Dueling has been outlawed in the Great Britain since the 16th century, but remained a popular way of settling disagreements among the more stubborn aristocrats. Dueling largely fell out of favor in England by the mid-19th century and in Continental Europe the turn of the 20th century has seen similar change.

Offense and satisfaction

Usually challenges are delivered in writing by one or more close friends who act as “seconds”. The challenge, written in formal language, lays out the real or imagined grievances and a demand for satisfaction. The challenged party then has the choice of accepting or refusing the challenge. Grounds for refusing the challenge could include that it was frivolous, or that the challenger was not generally recognized as a “gentleman” or the challenger is of lower Status than the challenged party.

Sword duels

Sword duels are most often fought with rapiers. There is three ways to conclude a duel, usually defined when the challenge is set, but also confirmed by the seconds.

  • To first blood: The duel ends when one of the parties suffer at least one Wound.
  • To incapacitation: The duel ends when one of the parties is Incapacitated.
  • To the death: The duel ends only when one of the parties is mortally wounded.

Pistol duels


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