Theory and practice of a duel

The duel was the lot of the elect, who considered themselves true nobles and needed a means of defending their honor. Dueling code of fights on swords and sabers.

The duel belongs to the category of popular historical plots that attract the attention of not only professional historians, but also a wide range of the public familiar with the topic of the duel, primarily from historical novels and films, which form a certain stereotype of its perception. It can be argued that in the modern mass consciousness, the duel is strongly associated with such concepts as nobility, nobility, honor and justice. The duel is perceived as a kind of ritual adopted in the nobility and officer environment, "fair play", where equal opportunities for opponents and the principle of mutual respect are embedded in the very rules of duels - the dueling code. Such an idea of ​​the duel is largely due to the model of the duel that developed in Europe by the end of the 19th century, when the result of the duel was less and less serious physical damage caused by the participants to each other. Satisfaction implies the very recourse to a duel, not bloodshed.

However, the duel, like any historical phenomenon, has undergone significant changes over its more than four centuries of history, the duel rules have been transformed depending on time and region. Therefore, in the rules and practice of duels, one can find features that characterize a specific historical era and country, revealing a model of the worldview of that group of the population that was directly related to participating in duels. First of all, we are talking about the nobility and the military (primarily the officer corps), since it is among these social groups that the duel has always been the most common, and its tradition the most stable.

The time and region where the duel was most widespread and reached the peak of its development is France at the turn of the 16th-15th centuries.

In the historical literature, the following figure is well known: in less than 20 years of the reign of Henry IV, according to various estimates, from 6 to 10 thousand nobles died in duels, more than 7 thousand royal pardons were distributed to duelists. According to François de La Noux, in his time more nobles and soldiers die every year from duels in France than they would have died in the event of a big battle. This phenomenon of "dueling fever", which struck the French nobility in the second half of the 16th - first half of the 17th century, is rightly associated by modern researchers of the Western European nobility with a complex of crisis phenomena that swept the society of that era. Such researchers of the French nobility as A. Zhuanna, F. Billaqua, interpret the duel as a form of reaction of the nobility to the changes taking place in society, as a protest against the strengthening of the role of the state and the rise of elite groups associated with the development and complication of the functions of the state administrative and bureaucratic apparatus. In an environment of blurring class boundaries and a change in the value orientations of society, the function of the duel, its significance for the nobility, is a way of self-affirmation and protection of one's status and public reputation, a method of settling scores, a means of attracting attention, in particular, noble persons for career reasons, a sport, game and fashion, a lifestyle and behavior popular among noble youth. In the duel, a kind of private war was realized, replacing the judicial duel, although both the duel and the judicial duel were actually banned by the monarchy. In the duel, one can also see a challenge to public ideas about morality and the values ​​of Christian ethics, since the honor of the nobility was placed above not only the laws of the state, but also the commandments of Christ. And the duel is also a challenge to the new rising elite - the people of the mantle and their moral values; a challenge to the very foundations of the state, since it questioned the authority of the monarchy and the competence of its justice to interfere in matters of honor, which are the internal affairs of the noble community.

The motivation for a duel, whatever its specific reasons and reasons, has always implied exclusively the protection of the personal noble honor of a particular individual. The real reasons for the duel could vary from such serious reasons as revenge for killed friends or relatives, to an elementary petty quarrel due to a careless word or even gesture of the interlocutor. And in the case of a mortal insult, and in the case of a quarrel over a trifle, the duel was fought with the same bitterness, and the death was the norm rather than a rare exception. If we imagine a duel as a kind of “dialogue” between the nobles, then the manner of their “communication” during the duel should have reflected the psychological attitudes inherent in ordinary everyday life. Thus, the duel can be interpreted as a model of the worldview of the French nobles of the 16th century; Obviously, in an extreme situation of choice between life and death, the most significant features of the mentality of the nobles of that era were manifested.

From the beginning of the 16th century, when judicial duels and single combats of knights in war occurred less and less, a new type of duel was recorded - bataille à la mazza (duel in the bush) or bataille en bestes brutes (duel on animal manners). All contemporaries, authors of dueling treatises and zealots of chivalric traditions, whatever their attitude to this new type of battle, are united in determining the place of his birth - Italy, the Kingdom of Naples. In the first case, the name of the duel comes from the Neapolitan name for the bushes that form the thickets in which these duels were usually held. The second name reflects the essence of such a fight: to fight like wild animals fight - to the death and without mercy. The founders of this type of duel in the XVI century. considered Italians.

In Italian cities, the aristocratization of urban notables, the formation of neo-feudal clans, the desire to stand on a par with the traditional elite gave rise to a heightened sense of honor among them. I. Klula connects with this the growth in Italy, primarily in Naples and Tuscany, the number of skirmishes between the warring parties, fights and murders. They had no political background, they were based on revenge for the insult inflicted, in particular for the wounded honor.

If we compare the rules of the duel à la mazza and the prescriptions of the most popular authors of dueling treatises in France - Jean-Baptiste, Possevino, Paris de Puteo, Andre Alsiato or Girolamo Muzio (mid-16th century), it turns out that between there is a very significant gap between this practice and the theory of duels. For example, Muzio was forced to state that the rules he described, which were very close to the knightly courtly rules of the past, were falling into disuse. Muzio does not speak directly about bataille àla mazza and bataille en bestes brutes, his remarks on these types of duel are fragmentary, he mentions them only in cases where there is a clear divergence of their rules from the canons. In fact, for him, bataille à la mazza is not a new kind of duel, but a vulgar deviation from the norm, which has nothing to do with the honor duel. Muzio sees the main differences of the new duel in the following:

1. Refusal of publicity - these fights are fought in forests and other desert places.

2. Renunciation of protective weapons and change of weapons of combat. This is worth dwelling on in more detail. Ideally, Muzio considered the appropriate weapon for a duel to be exclusively knightly, the one that knights use in war. However, the improvement of weapons puts him to a standstill. For example, Muzio does not know the answer to the question whether it is permissible to use a cabasset (an open helmet, without a back) or a thin thrusting sword in a duel. But what, in his opinion, is absolutely unacceptable is the rejection of armor. Muzio names two reasons for the rejection of armor - technical and conceptual. Without armor, the duelist could easily move and make the most of fighting techniques - this is a technical reason. Conceptually, to make the death of one of the participants inevitable, in which Muzio sees not just contempt for death, but also a voluntary renunciation of life, which is a sin before the Lord.

3. Muzio justifies his attention to the hierarchy of various degrees of nobility of people of honor by the rejection of the new fashion - not to respect the ranks. This is especially true of the military, who must remember the inadmissibility of a duel between a superior and a subordinate - they can only fight outside the service, for example, after retirement. The soldier has the right to challenge the sergeant and the captain to a duel, but they have the right to refuse. Muzio substantiates the right of a soldier to a duel by the fact that weapons are annobled if the military profession is the only occupation of a person both in peacetime and in wartime. In duels, one should observe the hierarchy of nobility - serenissimes - illustrissimes - illustres. A less noble cannot summon a more noble.

Muzio does not touch upon the problem of the legitimacy of such correct fights at all, since only a knightly duel that corresponds to knightly norms is acceptable for him. The bans of sovereigns on a duel, according to him, expose the knights to the danger of dishonor and slander. It would be more honest not to forbid, but to demand that no one dare to seek a duel without the permission of his overlord. The overlord's refusal to grant the right to a duel in the event of a crime punishable by death, or to protect the reputation, according to the concept of Muzio, is incompetent, which is explained by the following logic. Honor is revered by noble people more than life. The issue of honor is no less important than civil or criminal proceedings. The monarch can restore a person's position, give him positions, property, his grace, make him poor or rich, but he cannot make him good or bad, since only God is the master of human will. Honor is outside the power of the sovereign, since he has no jurisdiction over the spirit.

Perhaps the only deviation from the ancient prescriptions that Muzio allowed was the punishment of the loser in a duel. The punishment for the loser is not his injury or death, but the loss of his honor, which in itself is much worse than cutting off a member or losing a life. The children of the disgraced should not bear the sin of the parent. Thus, for Muzio, the duel is still a form of restoration of justice and justice, adopted among knights and people of honor.

Now let's see how the French memoirist Pierre de Brant interprets the fight for the defense of honor; he is the only one of the numerous French authors of dueling and anti-dueling literature of the 16th century who, in his Reflections on Dueling, described in detail the fights themselves and commented on their rules. Most of these fights date from the reign of Francis I to the beginning of the reign of Henry IV. Often the descriptions of these duels served for him as illustrations of one or another opinion held by “society” (meaning the community of nobles and military men), or, conversely, as illustrations of deviations from generally accepted norms. Since Branthom tried to capture the details of the episodes he remembered, well known to his contemporaries, he did not care about the chronology, and it is far from always possible to establish it. Most often they are simply tied to the reign of kings or some event, such as a military campaign or battle.

According to Brantome, he writes “about what he heard about this (duels. - N. V.) in conversations between great captains, seniors, brave soldiers.” What interested them most was how much courtesy should be practiced and whether it should be present at all in duels, battles, judicial duels, skirmishes and challenges. Therefore, in Brantome's description of specific fights and in the comments on nimmies, in my opinion, we can find the picture of the duel that was seen by the dueling nobles themselves (many of them were his friends or good acquaintances).

Henry IV's historiographer Scipio Dupley devoted a treatise to the rules of duels. It pays much attention to the principles by which the nobles motivated certain provisions of the dueling code. The collective ideas of the nobles about the rules of the duel as presented by Brantome and Dupley are very close to each other, both relied on the practice prevailing in France, and not on the theoretical views of the Italian authors of dueling treatises.

According to Dupley, the acquaintance of the French with bataille àla mazza and bataille en bestes brutes, including those who were interested in the duel of potential authors of memoirs, in particular Brantome, occurred during the campaigns in Italy of Louis XII, and then the Neapolitan expeditions of Odette de Fua, Lord Lautrec (1527-1528) and the Neapolitan campaign of Francois de Guise (1557). This acquaintance was also facilitated by the fact that the contingent of Italian mercenaries in the French troops in Italy was a very significant part.

A new type of duel quickly and widely spread in France already in the early 30s of the 16th century, as evidenced by the ordinances of Francis I in 1532 and 1539. about the rules for carrying weapons in the kingdom; duels became an everyday element of military and noble life. Despite the fact that under Francis I the duel was absolutely legitimate, the number of nobles who chose simpler methods of settling scores in battle multiplied. In his ordinances, Francis I tried to remind the nobility that "if his subjects got involved in a quarrel in defense of honor, and this quarrel cannot be settled by justice, they must apply to the king with a corresponding petition and obtain permission from him for a duel." Nevertheless, the good royal wishes that "everyone may feel respected and be safe in his house and out of it without weapons as well as with weapons" remained only on paper. Almost all the duels Branthom describes during the Italian Wars from the reign of Francis I to the end of the reign of Henry II were fought more or less according to the new Italian rules. The spirit of these fights was already very far from knightly courtly combat and the idea of ​​restoring legitimate justice. Mid 16th century became a period of dynamic development of the duel, a stage in the formation of traditions and norms that, without major changes, existed in the future until the middle of the 17th century.

Branthom sought to understand how the duel differed from other forms of combat. At the same time, the impact on the duel of the new rules, which are very similar to the rules of warfare, was obvious to him: “Is there a difference between a ceremonial duel, conditioned and solemnly furnished by judges, field managers, seconds and confidants, and a duel that is conducted with and without violations? public, in the fields - here, where everything is from the war. He tends to see the main distinguishing feature of the first not so much even in its legitimacy and publicity, but in courtesy: “As in the battles“ to the extreme ”, which I wrote about earlier, there is little courtesy, so in battles à la mazza and challenges it is also not enough ". As in war, in a duel of honor, the concept of courtesy is a very specific, unwritten set of rules that regulate the actions of opponents in relation to each other. There is what is allowed and what is forbidden - all duel participants are obliged to obey these norms. What is the duelist's model of behavior in the interpretation of Brantome and other authors, how does this model correlate with the model of behavior of a nobleman and a military man? How were the laws of honor implemented directly in the duel?

The first thing that sharply distinguishes French duels from the duels of the past and even the duels of the Italians is the goal. According to Branthom, when the Neapolitan duels entered the practice of the French, there was no question of any mercy: one had to either kill the enemy or fall on the battlefield himself. Often injuring each other, but not stopping the duel, both participants died, "because when they go to this business, they get into such a rage, driven by excitement, annoyance and revenge, that often either one is killed from the first blow, or both remain dead on the field". It was considered quite acceptable to kill an unarmed, fallen or wounded enemy. The outcome of the duel was supposed to be obvious and not cause doubts about the victory.

Such fights - with a fatal outcome and without mercy - Brant, in his own words, can name hundreds, but he is interested in courtesy, therefore, from describing such fights, he always strives to move on to those where, in his opinion, it is present. However, the examples he cites indicate rather the opposite. In particular, the duel that took place in the vicinity of Rome during the Neapolitan campaign of de Guise between the Gascon and Italian captains. The reason was an insult: the Gascon said that all Italians are rogues. During the duel, the Italian struck the Gascon with a blow, which was then considered very vile, on the knee. The only reason that prompted him to leave his opponent alive was the fear of revenge on the part of the Gascon soldiers. Branthom advises duelists not to brag about their victory, arrange a triumphal procession, or take their weapons to church: after that, the winner risks not living even two days.

Courtesy Brant does not rank among the reasons why the opponent is given life in a duel: some do not finish off just because they do not quite know how to do it, others are afraid of the ghosts of the dead, someone simply does not have the courage to finish off, some they are afraid of God or the king with his justice, but most fear the revenge of the relatives and friends of the murdered. The probability of the latter was very high. Even after the duel between Jarnac and Chatenieret, which was conducted in accordance with all the rules and under royal supervision, more than 500 soldiers who served under the command of Chatenieret were ready to attack Jarnac and his seconds right there, on the spot of the duel. Branthom's only comment, therefore, is: "Ha! Now, if already in those days the French nobility were as well trained and experienced in riots and indignations, as they demonstrated in the first civil wars!

To give life to an opponent, to allow a fallen one to stand up, to pick up a broken sword or to take a new one to replace a broken one - such examples of noble, from a modern point of view, behavior, Brantom gives in his descriptions of duels. Another thing is how such actions were perceived by society in the 16th century. In the time of Francis I, Giannino de' Medici, being in the French military service, decided to put an end to the long-standing enmity of his two captains: he gave them each a sword, half his cloak and locked them in the hall, saying that he would not let them out until they " settle their differences." Captains San Petro Corso and Jean de Turin set to work. Jean de Turin wounded his opponent in the forehead, and he could not continue the fight, as the blood flooded his eyes and face. Then Jean de Turin offered to stop the fight so that San Petro bandaged the wound. After which the fight continued, and already San Petro knocked the sword out of the hands of de Turin, then allowing him to pick it up. In the end, they injured each other to such an extent that they were unable to continue the duel. But the opinion of all the military turned against San Petro, who did not take advantage of his luck and did not kill an unarmed enemy, but gave him life and thereby despised his victory.

Many authorities of that time believed that the winner should take the enemy’s weapon, especially if he was only wounded or admitted defeat: this is both a trophy, indicating victory, and a guarantee that the loser, in retaliation for humiliation, will not stick his weapons in the back of the enemy, as Ashon Muron, the nephew of Marshal Saint-Andre, did in 1559, treacherously killing Captain Matas, who won a fair fight. The captain, an old warrior, took pity on the youngster, knocked the weapon out of his hands and lectured that it was not good to attack experienced people, barely knowing how to wield a blade. When he, turning his back to the enemy, began to mount a horse, he stuck his sword in his back. The case was hushed up, given the kinship of Muron, and the courtiers, including Francois de Guise, not so much condemned the treacherous blow as resented the stupidity of the captain, who despised fortune and weapons.

In the same way, general opinion condemned the Comte de Grandpre, "valiant as a sword", an infantry captain who showed excessive courtesy in a duel with the quartermaster of the light cavalry, de Givry (the case refers to the wars of the League in the 80s of the 16th century.). When de Givry's sword broke, the count suggested that he take another one, to which de Givry said that a fragment was enough for him to kill the enemy, then de Grande lowered his sword and stopped the duel. The nobles and the military, who discussed this duel, considered that the count was obliged to kill an opponent who did not want to receive mercy from the enemy. But it would be even better if de Givry killed the count for excessive recklessness and bravado.

Giving life was sometimes perceived as a sophisticated additional insult and humiliation, many nobles believed that losing and staying alive is a shame. This was how the behavior of de Sourdeval was regarded, who loaded his seriously wounded opponent on his own horse, took him to the barber and took care of him until he was fully recovered. The case happened during the performance of de Sourdeval on a diplomatic mission in Flanders, where he, the future governor of Belle Ile, was sent by Francis I to Charles V. Brantomo specifically notes that, having learned about this duel, the emperor received the Frenchman at his court and presented him with a golden chain as soon as possible. for valor than for courtesy. Many in such a situation, he said, would rather die than be benefited in this way - the winner gains too much glory. In addition, the life of a seriously wounded opponent could be bestowed from the desire to kill him the next time he recovers, which was nobler than beating a lying or unarmed one. This is exactly what Brantome's brother Jean de Bourdelle, who during the Piedmontese wars fought on the bridge in Turin with the Gascon captain Cobio, was going to do. As Brantom writes, among those who are experienced to the subtlety and know the laws of the duel, it is considered courteous to give the enemy life if he lies on the ground with a serious wound. That is, it is solely about not finishing off someone whose chances of death are already high.

Sparing the enemy could lead to repeated duels, as happened with Captain Hautefort. During the fighting in Scotland (1548), he was forced to fight three times with the lord of Duss, who was wounded three times and each time was eager to fight again. If the enemy was spared in the first duel, then in the second duel, according to the generally accepted rules of the duel, he should have been finished off, even if he lay on the ground without a weapon with a serious wound and begged for mercy, for it is not worth tempting fate and God, refusing the victory granted to them. In general, it was believed that calling the person who gave you life in battle a second time to a duel was the same as killing your benefactor and second father. This was allowed only if the winner rudely insulted the pardoned or declared that he begged for his life or behaved like a coward. The best way to spare the enemy is to cripple him so that he can never fight again: it is best to cut off his arm or leg. And so that he can never deny that life was given to him, you can disfigure his face and nose as a keepsake. François de La Noux also testifies to this, stating that it is considered an honor for the French to cut off hands and feet, mutilate some and kill others.

Brantome sees the reason that the duel according to the Italian rules with the Frenchman was for the most part fatal, that the Italians, despite their bloodthirstiness, are more prudent and cautious. In the memoirs of Marshal Tavanna, in connection with the description of the Naples campaign of de Guise, there is even a kind of instruction to the French on how to fight if your opponent is Italian. The Italians are more skillful, dexterous and slender, they agree to a duel only if they have some kind of cunning technique that will negate the courage of the enemy. The French, according to Tavanne, surpass the Italians in courage and valor. Therefore, the French, if the choice of weapons is theirs, must fight on foot and in shirts, i.e. without armor. In this case, without a doubt, victory will go to them easily.

The result of the desire to kill the enemy was a change in the arsenal of duelists. The use of armor is still found in the description of duels during the Italian wars, but gradually they are completely out of use. Apparently, there were two reasons: not all military men had armor, and everyone had different armor. Their high cost could prevent the establishment of parity in armaments. According to Brantome, a duel in armor could completely ruin one of the parties, especially if one of the parties deliberately assigned weapons to the battle that the other side could not acquire. The rejection of armor "democratized" the duel, facilitated the procedure for agreeing on the terms of the duel and made it possible to reduce the time from challenge to battle, since it began to take less time to select the right weapon.

The sword and dagger most often served as the weapon of the duel, which in the 16th century. worn by the nobility and the military, regardless of their military specialization. It was believed that a nobleman should resort to the weapons that he had with him at the time of the call and which he constantly carried with him, and only military men and nobles had the right to carry these weapons outside of service and while in

the city. Usually, duels were fought not only without any protective weapons (chain mail or cuirass), but often without camisoles and tunics, in the same shirts or naked to the waist. On the one hand, this was supposed to indicate that no one would covertly resort to armor in order to create an advantage over the enemy. On the other hand, it showed the intent of a deadly fight.

The desire to indicate one’s readiness to win or die became the second and main reason for the disappearance of protective armor. And here Brantome’s opinion is directly opposite to the opinion of Muzio, who wrote that a person going to war is respected as much as he took care of his safety, dressed in reliable armor. Therefore, it is a mystery to him what made the duelists fight without them. For Branthom, there is no mystery here. To win or to die is a commendable and good aspiration, but this principle can be equally successfully implemented in armor and without them. But more respect deserves those who are protected in battle only by courage and who do not hang a pile of armor on themselves.

From the third quarter of the 16th century. (during the reign of Charles IX) in France, a rapier with a long and light blade came into use, often suitable only for stabbing, and from the end of the 16th century. the stabbing sword and rapier became the main dueling weapon, since the nobles preferred to die from a precise blow that left a small hole than to remain alive, but become crippled or walk disfigured by deep and long scars from chopping blows with a sword or heavy sword. It is no coincidence that some opponents of duels and supporters of their restriction, for example, Marshal Tavanne, as a measure that can significantly reduce the number of fights, recommended that the use of swords and rapiers suitable for stabbing be banned, and instead of them to use wide heavy swords and swords suitable exclusively for this purpose. to cut, as well as to prohibit fights without helmets and armor. Before the advent of the rapier, there were no differences between combat and dueling weapons: the same weapon was used in the duel as on the battlefield - swords, equally suitable for inflicting injections and chopping blows. In the 17th century with the development and improvement of firearms (the appearance of a pistol with a wheel lock, later a flintlock), a duel on pistols spreads, most often between riders. The sword and rapier remained the main dueling weapon for a long time: Brantom recalls only a few duels with pistols, and writes about them as a recent and little-spread innovation of recent years.

The opinions of supporters and opponents of the duel differed radically on the issue of assessing the art of fencing, which La Nu considered the first and main reason for duels. All authors unanimously admit that fencing is useless, it is almost never resorted to in war. But at the same time, despite their own hostility to this art, neither La Nu nor Tavanne reject fencing as such.

According to Tavanne, fencing develops courage and dexterity, allows you to protect yourself and your honor, a nobleman simply must be able to fence because of the prevalence of duels. But this art gives a man hope to kill and not be killed at the same time, since a good swordsman has a huge advantage over the enemy, and in this, according to Tavanne, there is little honor for a nobleman - he must save himself for war. Any soldier and assassin for whom this is a familiar thing can parry and fight for their own pleasure.

La Nu also considers fencing a useful activity, and the desire to achieve perfection in it is commendable. But he also emphasizes that a sense of superiority, a sense of strength and dexterity lead to the fact that young people who think a lot about themselves begin to flaunt their skills and, as practice shows, turn fencing into a means of gaining a reputation as an invulnerable brave man. In addition, achieving perfection in this art, they are constantly looking for fights in order to prove their superiority over others.

Authors of anti-dueling literature, such as Pressach and Gabriel de Trellon, tend to see swordsmanship as a kind of magic that allows the weak of heart to prevail over the more valiant. The swordsman's victory is equated by them with a victory won with the help of charms, with a kind of cowardice, like the use of amulets and charmed shirts in war, which are designed to save from arquebus bullets. One who practices swordsmanship has no prowess. Michel Montaigne was also sure that it was impossible to teach courage, success in fencing is a consequence of dexterity, not natural courage: “During my childhood, the nobles avoided acquiring a reputation as skilled swordsmen, because it was considered humiliating, and shied away from learning this art, which is based on dexterity and does not require genuine and genuine valor.

Brant, whose attitude to fencing is closest to the feeling of the duelists themselves, categorically disagrees with those authors of dueling treatises who write that victory is gained only by valor and virtues. Branthom himself studied swordsmanship in Milan and Rome with masters Tapp and Jacques Ferron of Asti. When describing duels, he is interested, among other things, in the level of swordsmanship of their participants. If he knows something about this or about the fencing teachers of any of the persons mentioned by him in connection with the duel, he does not forget to inform him. For Branthom, as well as for dueling nobles, both valor and weapons are equally important in a duel.


Recognition that the outcome of the duel largely depended on the level of possession of weapons, in fact, means that the meaning of duels was very far from the idea of ​​God's judgment. The more skillful one won, and not the one on whose side the truth was. By the way, in the XVI century. the custom of summoning an opponent with a thrown glove or hood completely disappears - the most important ritual part of a judicial duel, symbolizing the duellist's readiness to defend a just cause with his own body, the guarantee of which for God's judgment was the glove. The rejection of this tradition, in our opinion, is far from accidental: it never occurred to anyone that in battle he defends his truth in the face of the Almighty, and not his honor in the eyes of society of his own kind.

From the duel of the past, first of all judicial duel of the XVI century. was also distinguished by the changed role of the seconds. Now these are not observers, called upon to monitor compliance with the rules of the duel, but duplicating pairs of fighters, supporting two opponents in battle with their weapons. It is such a duel of several pairs of fighters that is most common in France, while the winner in one of the pairs could join one of his companions, after which they fought together against one. The duel could turn into a small battle - from 10 to 20 or more participants on each side. At the same time, the seconds could not feel any enmity towards each other, but, on the contrary, be friends.

We can find a description of the behavior of such a second both in Brantome and Montaigne. We are talking about a duel in the vicinity of Rome in 1581 between the French nobles, the Gascon Espereza and La Vilat. The second was the brother of Montaigne Matecoulon. With Esperez - the culprit of the quarrel and his partner in the duel, Mateculon was barely familiar, while his opponent and second to La Vilata was his friend Baron Saligny. Mateculon first killed his opponent, and then Espereza's opponent - the latter was clearly losing. Montaigne, in his own words, does not understand the laws of honor, since they often contradict reason and common sense. But his brother's behavior nevertheless finds an excuse for him: Mateculon had no right to be fair and generous, putting at risk the success of the person at whose disposal he placed himself. In the same way, Baron Biron, in the early 80s, in a duel with Karensi, first killed his opponent, and then killed two of his seconds. The explanation for this behavior lies, according to Scipio Duplaya, in the customs of the military: if, according to ordinary laws, a supporter of one of its participants who did not inform about a duel or an accidental witness to an illegal act is a criminal, then according to military rules, you cannot remain indifferent when your comrade in arms fights, - for the military, evading seconding is considered a shame. The military must either separate the fighting, or retire, or come to the aid of a friend. According to the laws of Mars, in a duel one must support a comrade in arms "to the last drop of blood."

Nevertheless, it is possible to judge a kind of internal corporate ethics in a duel based solely on the general situation of the period under study. In 1547, immediately after his accession to the throne, Henry II was forced to issue a special ordinance with the very revealing title "Against the murders that take place daily in our kingdom", dedicated primarily to ambush killings (guet-apens) and sudden armed attack (rihe). In essence, these murders became a kind of substitute for a private war and could be caused by a variety of reasons - from revenge for a murder to the elimination of a more successful rival in love. According to Brantoma, daily armed skirmishes between numerous supporters of the warring clans became commonplace for the cities of Italy, Spain, France in the middle of the 16th century, as a result, often dozens of dead and seriously wounded on both sides. These skirmishes sometimes escalated into small battles using all types of defensive and offensive weapons, including firearms, and the craft of an assassin - bravi (bravi) in Italy or espadassin in France and Spain - became a highly profitable and widely sought-after nobility. Brantome recalls how the nobles were ruined by the need to support entire armies of assassins at their own expense. Under these conditions, the duel, which defined the limits of the permitted means and provided the parties, at least in theory, equal opportunities, was a great progress, which made it possible to create a mechanism for settling conflicts between people who used to use weapons, and to avoid both general disorder and unnecessary victims.

One can fully and completely agree with the opinion of A. Corvisier that a duel is just one of the forms of settling scores, a kind of vendetta adopted in relation to each other by people of honor. The need for revenge and physical persecution of the offender was not in doubt among any of the nobles or the military. The question was solely in the choice of methods. In France, the procedure for challenging to a duel was gradually simplified; from the 70s of the XVI century. the matter was increasingly reduced to a verbal agreement without the use of a written challenge outlining the reasons for the duel (cartel) or the exchange of intermediaries to negotiate the terms of the battle. The gap between the challenge and the duel itself could take several minutes. The opinion prevailed that a duel immediately following an insult and a challenge, while feelings have not yet cooled down, is more noble and honest than a duel postponed for a while, which makes it possible to settle down passions and allows you to perceive the situation, guided by reason; but it will be a cold-blooded and deliberate murder. As Branthom writes: “The blood … cannot lie and commands us to take revenge in any way. But such blows must be delivered immediately, and not cold-bloodedly.

The beneficial effect of duels on the prevention of conventional killings was not denied by anyone, but duels were interpreted by many as something immoral. De Trellon even regrets that Machiavelli did not write a treatise on dueling, since this practice is very suitable for his fabrications. For Brantome, the duel is humane: one, two, or in extreme cases, several people die in a duel, while nobles “die like flies” during ambush attacks, which he witnessed more than once. However, the line between a duel and a conventional armed attack was very shaky. Often the duel was not preceded by any agreement: either both sides in anger immediately grabbed their weapons, or one of the sides forced the enemy to defend with its attack. Such fights were called rencontres. Participation in such a clash was condemned by society much less strictly than a duel, unless it was a vile murder, when the enemy was not given the opportunity to defend himself. According to Brantome, the most vile type of attack is a sudden attack without warning, when the enemy, without allowing the weapon to be drawn, is wounded, his arm is cut off, pierced through, and then, left half-dead, they say that they gave him life. The victim of such an attack has the right to take revenge in any way and with any weapon, to kill his enemy even from a pistol, even from a cannon. Worse than such murders is only slipping a specially broken or low-quality weapon to the enemy in a duel.

If you try to draw a psychological portrait of a French nobleman-duelist of the era of religious wars, then the first thing that catches your eye is the complete absence in the event of a conflict of the desire for reconciliation without resorting to arms, i.e. violence. Any single combat or duel can be classified into one of three categories: fight to annihilation, fight to defeat, and fight to an agreement. Nobles of the 16th century clearly preferred the former. Characteristic from this point of view is the attempt of reconciliation by King Henry III of Count de Saint Phalle and Baron de Bussy, famous by A. Dumas, as a model of noble nobility. Louis de Clermont, Baron de Bussy, according to his contemporaries, was ready to fight for a reason that would fit on a fly's foot. When the king sent Marshal de Retz to Bussy to achieve reconciliation with Saint Phalle, Bussy coldly replied: “Does the king want reconciliation? I want him very much too, but tell me, will Saint Phalle die then?” In response to Marshal Bussy's denial, he said: “But what kind of reconciliation will it be then? I don't want reconciliation if he doesn't die!"

The “flexible” perception of the courtesy of dueling behavior is quite significant: the ease with which any action that helped to achieve victory or superiority was approved goes far beyond the scope of dueling proper topics. War, struggle is the general law of life; the duel is the model of war, and war is the model of life itself. According to La Nu, it is impossible to completely avoid duels and war precisely because men always remain men, by nature prone to rage and revenge. This is joined by the idea of ​​the nobility and the military about weapons as "the most worthy tool that raises a person to honor." And since speed is directly dependent on the strength of the weapon, resorting to violent methods of solving absolutely any issues becomes inevitable. As Brantom writes, a nobleman must take revenge or die himself, but “forgetting insults, as God and his commandments command, is good for hermits, and not for... true nobility, wearing a sword on its side, and at its end - their honor. The consequence of this recourse to force and arms is promiscuity in means. Scipio Dupley states that in war any meanness is suitable for saving one's people - there it is called military cunning; all means are good to win. Many nobles are guided by the same principle in resolving their private conflicts. But Blaise de Montluc expressed this point of view most clearly and frankly: “Against your enemy, arrows can be made from any tree. As for me personally, if I could appeal to all the spirits of hell to break the head of my enemy who wants to break the head of me, I would do it with a pure heart, may the Lord forgive me.” Victory and defeat are a matter of chance, fortune. And the fool will be the one who misses his chance, helping the enemy out of a difficult situation (fall, breakage or loss of weapons, injury). Dueling code of the French nobles of the 16th century. fully reflects their ideas about the “right” of weapons and force as the last argument not only in matters of honor, but also in everyday life, in resolving any conflicts.

It is worth noting that since 1585 Italian and Spanish dueling treatises have ceased to be republished in France. This is largely due not so much to the weakening of public interest in the topic of the duel, but to the complete isolation of these treatises from modern realities and the rules of the duel. As for French authors, perhaps, with the exception of the work of Scipio Dupley, among more than 30 books on dueling topics published in France from 1585 to 1650, there are no treatises on dueling codes and illustrating dueling practice. Moreover, among the authors, "nobles of the sword" are a minority; there is not a single apologist or defender of the duel. Nobles - adherents of the duel did not leave any trace in the literature of the late 16th - early 17th centuries, i.e. during the period of maximum distribution of the duel in France. F. Billacua explains this by the lack of education of most of the nobility and the absence of a noble culture in general 76. One can generally agree with this, especially since for a person conducting a “dialogue” with a sword, a pen and literary polemics rarely become a means of conducting a discussion. Nevertheless, there was a real dueling code in the oral tradition. In our opinion, it no longer needed written fixation. Firstly, because the duel by the last quarter of the 16th century. became more and more illegal and began to be prosecuted by law. Secondly, the duel itself was the lot of the elite, who considered themselves true nobles and needed precisely this means of protecting honor. In fact, the duel has always been the property of that part of the nobility and those categories of the population that considered weapons to be the norm of their existence. In this case, the very knowledge of the laws of honor, the dueling code and the ability to follow them is a sign of belonging to this category of the elite.