illustration of two fencers in a French Salon, 1820.

Duelling and Fencing

Duelling was a way for ‘gentlemen’ to settle their quarrels. The duel of honour was fought in cold blood between gentlemen, one perhaps seeking ‘satisfaction’ from the other in response to an insult to his ‘good name’.

Swords

At first personal combats were fought with a sword and buckler. the rapier, a longer, narrower pointed sword was introduced after 1500. A new style of sword combat developed which emphasised the use of the point not the blade.

Swords were worn as part of a gentleman’s everyday dress.

Pistols

By around 1780 the pistol displaced the sword in the duel and many gentlemen owned a cased set of specialised duelling pistols. The duellist had to be able to aim and fire quickly and accurately, usually at a distance of not less than 15 metres (50 feet).

Duelling of any form has long been romanticised, however the reality was often, short, bloody, brutal and deadly.

18th century duelling interpretation

Clicking on the image below will open the YouTube video in fullscreen

18th century duelling - link to YouTube video


To read PDF documents you will need Adobe Reader. Reader
If you do not currently have it installed you can download Adobe Reader for free.

Did you know?

4 Eiffel Towers

During the siege of Sebastopol the British fired about 10,000 tonnes of iron shot; the French fired 510,000 round shot, 236,000 howitzer shells and 350,000 mortar shells – a total of around 43,000 tonnes of iron! About the same weight as 4 Eiffel Towers.