Glimpses inside a writer’s head

Dammit, Strafford, get out of my novel. I don’t have the space to deal with you.

ETA: Also, how distracting would it be, if I actually put in the line, “Let them go, let them go, to do their endeavour”? One suspects it actually was the line used to start duels. At least in Scotland.

ETA #2: Actually, let’s just do this the right way. Does anybody know of a book I could read to find out how duels and judicial combat were conducted in seventeenth-century England?

0 Responses to “Glimpses inside a writer’s head”

  1. arieluk

    Not sure it contains the rules of duelling, per se, but ‘English Martial Arts’ by Terry Brown (Anglo-Saxon Books, 1997, ISBN 1898281181) is a fascinating study of how to fight with a range of traditional weaponry, complete with photographs recreating the classic stances, defensive postures, attacks, etc.

  2. leatherdykeuk

    A film called “The Duellists” would be worth watching.

    I studied rapier under Professor Mark Donnelly ( what he doesn’t know about the subject isn’t worth knowing. You could ask him (tell him Rachel Green referred you)

    • Marie Brennan

      I’ve seen the film, but I wouldn’t want to apply French standards from 150 years later; these things did vary. I might, however, e-mail your professor. Thanks!

  3. cheshyre

    There was a more general-interest book about history of duelling called Gentlemen’s Blood. Entertaining. I don’t think it had quite the detail you were looking for, but may have a bibliography.

    I’ll check my resources for other sources.

    • Marie Brennan

      Oh, I think I remember hearing about that — it sounded interesting, but also a bit fluffy, iirc. I’ll see if my library has it, though.

      • cheshyre

        Never mind, I think I just hit gold.

        Don’t have access to the article, but I’ve got a citation for you.The Taming Of The Duel: Masculinity, Honour And Ritual Violence In London, 1660–1800, by Robert B. ShoemakerHistorical Journal; Sep2002, Vol. 45 Issue 3, p525, 21pAbstract: Over the course of the ‘long’ eighteenth century the nature and significance of duels fought in the London area changed dramatically. Pistols replaced swords, seconds took on a new role as mediators, and new conventions reduced the violence. Consequently, injuries and fatalities decreased significantly. The purpose of fighting duels also shifted from the defeat of one’s antagonist to a demonstration of courage. Although duels continued to occur, growing opposition meant that the audience of people who supported duelling became increasingly limited and duels took place in places far from public view. At the same time, both the press and the courts provided alternative strategies for defending reputations. These changes cannot be attributed to technological developments, official attempts to prevent duelling, or the embourgeoisement of the duel. Rather, they resulted from a series of interlinked cultural changes, including an increasing intolerance of violence, new internalized understandings of elite honour, and the adoption of ‘polite’ and sentimental norms governing masculine conduct. These eighteenth-century changes shed new light on the reasons for the final end of duelling in England in 1852.Is that the kind of thing you were seeking?

        • cheshyre

          An earlier work in the same publication:Francis Bacon, The Earl Of Northampton, And The Jacobean Anti-Duelling Campaign by Markku Peltonen Historical Journal; Mar2001, Vol. 44 Issue 1, p1, 28p
          LC does have a subject heading for “Dueling–History” but right now I only see two books — the one I mentioned (which is probably too fluffy for your needs) and a title coming out this fall, Pistols at dawn : a history of duelling by Richard Hopton

          • cheshyre


            A 2003 book by this author: The duel in early modern England: civility, politeness, and honour.

            Here’s the table of contents:The rise of civil courtesy and the duelling theory in Elizabethan and early Stuart EnglandThe Jacobean anti-duelling campaignDuelling, civility and honour in Restoration and Augustan EnglandAnti-duelling campaigns 1660-1720Politeness, duelling and honour in Bernard Mandeville

            And one last article, for which I can email you the full text, if you’re interested:Dialogue and Duelling in Restoration Comedy. By Kathleen Leicht. Studies in Philology, Spring2007, Vol. 104 Issue 2, p267-280, 14p


          • cheshyre

            Re: Bingo!

            Are you still looking?

            I just found back-door access to ProQuest’s Dissertation Db, and found:
            The rhetoric of duelling: Power, speech, and socialized violence in Renaissance drama
            by Low, Jennifer A., Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1996, 339 pagesStudies of duelling in drama have traditionally focused on the actual skills involved in enacting a combat onstage. But the history of the judicial combat and the elements of rhetoric and performance comprised in the conventions of duelling render its dramatic representation more complex than previous scholarship has acknowledged. This project begins by examining the duel as social practice. Associated with military customs and legal procedure for several centuries, the single combat became an overdetermined class marker in the late sixteenth century. It evolved from a civil procedure (trial by combat) into the duel of honor, which state authorities and the Crown tried to suppress. Because of its extralegal status, its practice could imply a rebellion against the Crown’s increasing arrogation of aristocratic prerogatives. But paradoxically the duel’s popularity helped to contain violence: the custom served as an alternative to blood-feuds, and the practice of duelling was regulated by the rigid ceremonies and precedents documented in contemporary fencing manuals. These texts suggest that the duel functioned as a social skill, particularly for aspiring members of the gentry.

          • Marie Brennan

            Re: Bingo!

            A bit belated, but thanks for these references — they’ve been very handy.

        • Marie Brennan

          Fantabulous. I’ll keep looking for something a little earlier — the scene in question is taking place in 1640, and also I should find something that would talk about judicial combat, which fell out of favor after the sixteenth century — but that looks like a good resource.

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