*Slap!* Sir, I demand satisfaction
September 15, 2009 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Few things in history are as compelling as the duel. Refined and barbaric at the same time, this practice has had a checkered history. The rules of dueling were codified by the Irish in 1777 in the Code Duello (summarized here), which was codified at Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777. As evidenced by these documents, dueling was in practice prior to the Irish rules being drafted. The procedure and philosophy behind duels is illustrated in this article. Dueling gained some traction in America in the 19th century, culminating in the famous Burr-Hamilton affair. There are many more resources to find out more here. For a list of famous duels, you can check out this list. Lest you think men were the only ones dueling, here are a few short anecdotes of women dueling. Reportedly, dueling is still legal in Paraguay, as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
posted by reenum (17 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Galois :(
posted by kmz at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

German Dueling Fraternities
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:45 AM on September 15, 2009

My only problem with dueling is that it's hard to say "I demand satisfaction" these days without being arrested for soliciting.
posted by ob at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2009

It is mentioned in the linked Smithsonian article, but I can't let a dueling post pass by without mentioning Abraham Lincoln and BROADSWORDS IN A PIT!!
posted by marxchivist at 7:51 AM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

There was once a duel between a Plymouth and a Peterbilt. It was pretty intense.
posted by TedW at 7:55 AM on September 15, 2009

MetaFilter: Refined and barbaric at the same time.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:57 AM on September 15, 2009

Pushkin :(
posted by languagehat at 8:05 AM on September 15, 2009

Sunday, Sept 13, marked the 150th anniversary of this American duel, in which the pro-slavery judge David Terry shot and killed the anti-slavery Senator David Broderick (D-CA).
posted by grounded at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2009

Obligatory duel scene from Barry Lyndon
posted by Elmore at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2009 [3 favorites]

Along with Oakland, my town of Richmond, CA is suffering a plague of drive-by shootings. A drive-by is a sloppy way to gain respect or get revenge -- too many innocent bystanders, including children, are in the way. Re-introducing the American tradition of the duel would save lives every year.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 8:29 AM on September 15, 2009

For as barbaric as it could be, I will always owe a small debt to the idea of the duel for it's roll in the birth of fencing. I don't get to engage in it much any more (bad pun, sorry) but when I did, it was a source of great pride to know that I could poke someone with a blunted piece of metal before they could poke me.

Looking at later dueling, where firearms were involved gets to a new form of needless violence, but it also lends itself to some of the most beautiful of guns made.

Through misadventure, in the last month I ended up with a large, straight facial laceration running from my left ear to about half way down my cheek. I refused to tell any coworkers what caused it (it was mundane) and instead opted to make up several stories from "Octopus wrestling" to "chisel juggling". My favorite one, and the one that got the most raised eyebrows though was a simple statement; "It may seem like a good idea, but don't ever get involved in a speargun duel. No matter what you may have heard, everyone loses."
posted by quin at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Few things in history are as compelling as the duel.

It places on my list right after "wars" and "when that guy invented the sandwich".
People wore better gloves back then.
posted by Theta States at 9:03 AM on September 15, 2009

Second obligatory duel scene from Barry Lyndon.
posted by Iridic at 9:29 AM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Those lady duelists are awesome. Thanks for this, reenum!
posted by Jilder at 10:42 AM on September 15, 2009

Broadswords in a pit !
posted by hortense at 10:43 AM on September 15, 2009

There can be only one!
posted by homunculus at 5:26 PM on September 15, 2009

On the subject of dueling women, check out Mattie Silks, a Denver madam who dueled (topless?) with Katie Fulton over her lover and somehow ended up shooting him instead.
posted by alight at 1:38 AM on September 16, 2009

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