A duel is a form of combat between two armed persons usually fought in the presence of witnesses. The term "duel" most likely came from the Latin words "duorum bellum" meaning "a war of two." It was a commom way of solving various kinds of disputes in the early ninteenth century ranging from property disputes, charges of cowardice, insults to a family, personal honor, or cheating at cards and dice. However, dueling began long before the time of Septimus. It started during the time of Caesar when Germanic tribes were settling disputes through combat with swords. It has been used in between those times to solve disputes of all form and fasion. In many countries during the Middle Ages, duels were used to solve cases that could not be settled in the courts. The judges would order the opponents to fight a duel to solve the matter, and, by God's right, the winner of the duel was the just one.

The winner originally was decided by death, though as time progressed first blood became a common practice. Another way the duel could end would be with the challenger deciding his quarrel was satisified. Though not often employed, this was a suitable way for a gentleman to defend his honor without worry of killing his enemy. This tactic was often employed by friends who had offended the others honor or by politicians.

As the art of duelling progressed it became more and more in fasion. The weapons used depended upon the time period. Duelling with pistols did not become common until the 1770's. In Europe, inflicting pain was enough to satisfy honor, however in Amercia, death was the norm. All ranks of society fought in duels, but newspaper editors, politicians, and officers of the armed services were the most common participants for obvious reasons. Because Queen Elizabeth I abolished the duel as a form of justice, most battles were held in the early morning hours so as not to attract attention. To kill a man in a duel was murder, however only about one out of every 1000 duels was followed by a prosectution due to public opinion. The man challeged had the choice of weapons. The most common weapon in England and France was the sword. Pistols were used more in the United States, however, in Arcadia "rabbit pistols" were the intended weapon.

A Code of Honor first originated in Ireland in 1777. It was mostly a collection of rules and ethics that had been adopted and practiced throughout the years. Much of it bordered on the side of ridiculous, but there were a few sound things that it illustrated. One was that any exchange of words or expression between the components had to be polite and gentleman like so as to enhance the possibility of a resolution. The rules of the code, however, were seldom followed with strict behavior. The men believed that becuase they were risking their lives they had some freedom of choice in the details of the matter. One rule that was adhered to consistently was the duties of the seconds. They were in charge and responsible for measuring the ground, loading the pistols, and maintaining order. There was also some risk involved. If the men were caught, the seconds were subject to prosecution along with the duelists.

In every duel there was a particular order of conduct:

  1. The Challenge, usually portrayed with slapping with a glove or throwing the glove at the opposite's feet
  2. The Details, decisions are made about the time and place of the duel as well as the weapons.
  3. The Duel.

For more information regarding general dueling etiquette information, go to this Web Archive Site.
For more information relating to dueling throughout history, visit this Dueling Site.

Back to Duels and Arcadia

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