Thursday, February 26, 2009

Judicial Duels

Trial by Combat: Judicial duels in England and Scotland

Translation of Discours sur les duels de Brantôme.

Henry Charles Lea's Superstition and Force, 1878 (Thanks to Ariella Elema for pointing me to this.)

In the regulations of Philippe le Bel, 1306, it is set forth:—

"That the lists shall be forty feet in width and eighty feet in length.

"That the duel shall only be permitted when there is presumptive evidence against the accused, but without clear proof.

"That on the day appointed the two combatants shall leave their houses on horseback, with visor raised ; their sabre, sword, axe, and other reasonable arms for attack and defence being carried before them ; when they shall advance slowly, making from step to step the sign of the cross, or bearing an image of the saint to whom they are chiefly devoted and in whom they have most confidence.

“That having reached the enclosure, the appellant, with his hand on his crucifix, shall swear on his baptismal faith, on his life, his soul, and his honour, that he believes himself to have got a just subject of contention, and moreover that he has not upon him, nor upon his horse, nor among his arms, any herbs, charms, words, stones, conjurations, pacts, or incantations that he proposes to employ; and that the respondent shall take the same oaths.

" That the body of the vanquished man, if he is killed, shall be delivered to the marshal, until the king has declared if he wishes to pardon him or to do justice upon him ; that is to say, hang him up to a gibbet by one of his feet.

" That if the vanquished man still lives, his aiguillettes shall be cut off; that he shall be disarmed and stripped ; that all his harness shall be cast here and there about the field ; and that he shall remain lying on the ground until the king, in like manner, has declared if he wishes to pardon him or to do justice upon him.

"That, moreover, all his property shall be confiscated for the benefit of the king, after the victor has been duly paid his costs and damages."

Old and new Paris: its history, its people, and its places by H Sutherland Edwards; London : Cassell and Co., 1893.

And one of their councilors will give them their lance on their thigh, and if the combat is to be fought on foot, a lance in their hand, as well as a small shield (targon) and an axe.

Traicte de la Forme et Devis Comme On Faict les Tourneys, par Olivier de la Marche, Hardouin de la Jaille, Anthoine de la Sale, etc. Bernard Prost, ed. Paris 1878 pp. 164-165 Translation by Will Mclean, 2009

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another book-length discussion of the subject is Part Two of Henry Charles Lea's Superstition and Force. It was published in 1878, so the commentary is rather dated (as you can guess from the title), but Lea turned up a lot of excellent primary source material.

Ariella Elema