Duelling and honour

I’m digging around on this subject at the moment (I’m working on a sort of research thread I’m calling ‘Gentlemen behaving badly’; you’ll probably hear more about it before I’m done), so this is really just somewhere convenient to put together a few interesting links for me to refer to. I’ll add any more I find. And if you have any further suggestions for resources, especially good theoretical and comparative essays on (masculine/elite) honour, let me know. I’m mainly interested in sword duels of the 16th to early 18th centuries rather than the late 18th/19th century pistol duels. I’ll try to put together a reading list at some point, too.

The duel in early modern England – extract of the recent book by Markku Peltonen. Can also be sampled at Google Print.

Google Print has some other books on duelling to browse around: eg, this one on Ireland (have read that one before, but not recently).

The duel of honor: screening for unobservable social capital*
Honor’s history across the academy
The comparative history of honour

I didn’t think about it until just now, but typing ‘honour’ (or ‘honor’) into an academic library catalogue’s keyword/title search? Not very useful. And our library has very little re: duelling anyway. Neither of the recent books by Peltonen or Jennifer Low, nor the older works (Kiernan, Billacois). The book on Irish duelling is all it does have. Boo. (This means I have to go to NLW and squirm around on the hideously uncomfortable seats in the printed books room if I want to read/reread them.)

For those of you with JSTOR access:
The duel and the English law of homicide

(While I think of it, does anyone else ever have problems downloading JSTOR articles? I tried to get a ‘high-quality’ PDF of the article and it just gave me the message ‘The file is damaged and cannot be repaired’. It would only let me have the ‘economy’ version, not very good quality.)


*Raises the question: should economists really be allowed to write history? (I know I said I wanted theory, but…) I mean, what do you do with this kind of sloppiness? “Although aristocrats convicted of dueling could always receive a pardon, commoners caught engaging in a fatal duel were charged with murder.” Just in case you don’t get the problem straight off, this sentence would be equally true: “Although commoners convicted of dueling could always receive a pardon, aristocrats caught engaging in a fatal duel were charged with murder.” (Conviction and charge = completely different parts of the legal process.) And let’s not get into the fact that they seem to think that ‘rules’ of duelling simply represent actual practice. Or that they apparently have no awareness of the wider context of men’s confrontational violence of which duelling was just one form. I can go for the idea that scholars from other disciplines might take the work of historians and apply their own disciplinary skills to give us all some new perspectives, without ever going near primary source material. But this pair have barely read any of the secondary literature either…


Bonus tracks! (In the category of ‘not really related, but came up during Google search, and don’t want to lose track of it’)

Gender and citizenship in early modern Europe, essay by Hilda Smith.

4 thoughts on “Duelling and honour”

  1. THere’s a fascinating book I have (currently on loan to a friend, so I can’t confirm the title) about the duelling culture in fin de siecle Germany, which addresses a lot of the issues of masculinity and cultural preferences in seeking to understand why the German form of duelling was much rarer than its French or Italian equivalents, but conversely, had a much greater death rate for those duels which did occur.

    Plus, it calls the Kaiser a ‘gimp-armed advertisement for regicide’. In a serious academic text.

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