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Roland_M 29th November 2017 01:45 PM

A duel in the Thirty Years‘ War
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It is a story from the authentic book “Simplicius Simplicissimus”, in which a duel between two mercenaries/ soldiers is described very detailed.

I try now to translate the duel from German to English and I hope, that not too much information get lost because of my incompetence.

First things first, the duel area was an enclosed area of at least 50*50 yards or more. Both duelists enter the area and the duel begins. The duel will end, if one or both of the combatants is/are dead or unable to fight. Duels were strictly forbidden in that period and often the winner lost his head or at least his job as a punishment.

The duels itself were not as clean as we see it in many movies. They were brutal, tricky, malicious and dirty.

The duel: One duelist was very clever, he loaded his Matchlok-Musket very carefully including the primer powder in the pan. Than he closed the pan and (this is very important) he put grease around the pan cover to close the pan hermetically!
Now we come to the tricky and pretty smart part. He put a little bit of primer powder on the closed pan cover!
Minutes later the duel starts and he pulled his trigger to burn down the useless primer powder on the pan cover, not the primer powder inside the pan!
The opponent was thinking, that he has a dead-load and started to run to the man with the “useless” Musket to kill him with his pistol. As soon he was close enough, the other one opened the sealed pan and released the shot.
Boom, bang and fall was one and the same and the duel was over.

But the comrades of the dead duelist caught the winner and brought him to the officials which gave him a heavy sentence.

So in the end both sides were losers but one was a surviving loser.


p.s. the reason for the duel was a truly orgy of insults. And still today this would lead to a massive brawl, really hardcore and astonishing eloquent for that period. This orgy of verbal hate would be worth his own translation, it is incredible for people, which has seen nothing but war.

drac2k 29th November 2017 08:22 PM

Very interesting; it appears that in those days, words had real consequences!

Jim McDougall 29th November 2017 09:56 PM

This truly is an interesting aspect of arms study, that of dueling, and I sincerely hope it is a permissible topic for discussion, as it does attend to the actual use of a weapon rather than its elemental features.

With that I would note that these matters of 'honor', as it was a singular contest which would result in life or death for the combatants, it would seem quite likely that clever means would be used to ensure the outcome.

Beyond the actual combat itself, there were indeed consequences, as it seems often dueling was outlawed, as well noted here.

There were other considerations as well, as seen in the case of the death of Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) the famed Russian poet, and well established duelist, who was clearly obsessed with it, with accounts suggesting he virtually fought almost daily. This brings to mind a favorite movie , "The Duellists", with David Carradine and Harvey Keitel where on the movie marquis are the words:
"Fencing is a science,
Loving is a passion,
Duelling is an obsession".
While these words apply to swords, the broader reference dueling infers pistol duels as well.

Apparantly, Pushkin challenged his brother in law, a military officer, and when the two faced each other, D'Anthes (the brother in law) wanted to simply wound him harmlessly in the leg, as to kill the beloved poet would have been the end of his career.
Unfortunately Pushkin, who intended to kill him rushed the barrier, and D'Anthes fired quickly, the bullet hitting Pushkin in the abdomen.

Pushkin stoically then called, "Bravo!", and fired with a harmless light wound to D'Anthes arm and threw his pistol down. Pushkin died the next day becoming a legend of honor and dignity. It is not said what became of D'Anthes, who had inadvertently immortalized Pushkin.

So it seems, often, there were many considerations in duels, not just in legal outcome, but social and other matters.
Duellists were considered romantic figures of swashbuckling fame, but as with most such embellished fame, the reality was often far less colorful.

kronckew 30th November 2017 12:07 AM

Duelling was endemic in the USA too during the first half of the 19c. most famously when Aaron Burr, the vice president at the time duelled with Alexander Hamilton, ex secretary of the treasury and his bitter rival. You can read the whole thing HERE

Spoiler: alex died.

fernando 30th November 2017 03:23 PM

Before the mod throws this into the Miscellania section ...
You guys are too young to have seen THE LAST SUNSET, a movie produced in 1961, with Kirk Douglas & Co. Its title over here was DUEL AT THE SUNSET.

This is how it ends:
" On the eve of the showdown between the two men, Belle discloses the secret that Missy is the daughter of O'Malley and their incestuous love cannot continue. At the gunfight, O'Malley faces the sheriff with an unloaded gun, effectively committing suicide."

Eventually O'Malley dressed in black and always carried a Derringer ... which takes us back to old weapons discussions ;).


Ibrahiim al Balooshi 30th November 2017 05:12 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... It is not said what became of D'Anthes, who had inadvertently immortalized Pushkin...

Salaams Jim, The story unwinds a little more as after the duel ~ d'Anthès was imprisoned at Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. Dueling was illegal in Russia, and d'Anthès was called to court, but he was pardoned by the Emperor. Stripped of his rank, he was escorted back to the frontier and ordered to leave Russia permanently. In Berlin, he was joined by his wife, and the couple returned to France, in his father's region. There he began a successful political career: as first president of the local assembly, then member of the National Constituent Assembly from 1848 to 1852, and, at last, irremovable senator from 1852 to 1870.

His wife died on 15 October 1843 while giving birth to their fourth child. He died on 2 November 1895 at his family house of Soultz-Haut-Rhin (Sulz/Oberelsaß), then part of the German Empire.

Interesting portrait of d'Anthès below;

corrado26 30th November 2017 06:27 PM

Can anyone here please explain me how to define "honor"?

Jim McDougall 30th November 2017 06:35 PM

Ibrahiim, thank you very much for the addendum on poor D'Anthes, who was really a victim of this distorted 'honor' syndrome. Pushkin really sought reasons to call persons out over ridiculous notions and perceived slights.
As you have shown, regardless of the fact he was forced into this by Pushkin, who intended to kill him (self defense should have been the case).
It is hard to reasonably understand the legal ramifications with dueling.

The distorted causal factors bringing men to the field of honor exceeded any sort of reason in most cases, and often simply the act of showing up to face each other satisfied these almost perverse notions. This conundrum in the scope of legality has been troubled over throughout history it seems.

With the more commonly known sword duels, the phenomenon known as the ' mensur' , a type of qualifying duel with schlager, a specifically designed sabre for these contests. These were effectively outlawed in modern times but still practiced, and dictated as a manly assertion in societal circumstances where the objective seems to acquire a rakishly attractive scar on the face. Christoph Amberger, who is a well known fencing master fought seven of these 1985 to 1987 ( "By the Sword", Cohen, 2002, p.317, where he describes the events) though illegal.

Returning to the weapon 'of choice', the pistol, I am glad to see the period of the 'Wild West' being brought up, as while not specifically by 'code', these events were certainly contests in similar sense. Actually, I do remember the movie, and have been a great fan of Kirk Douglas. The dramatic idea of the deliberately unloaded gun in a confrontation has come up in a number of instances as an element of emotional finality.

I personally had an 'affair of honor' I guess it might be regarded (as often the case over a woman). Unfortunately in my situation, he had a gun, I didn't, but had even more unfortunately, a sharp tongue, not enough common sense and too much testosterone. I think, like d'Anthes, he meant to fire a threatening but not fatal shot (as we were facing each other from about 40 feet and he fired with rifle from the hip), but as there, in the heat of the moment, the shot took effect with my sustained wound thankfully not fatal but serious.
I think these kinds of situations, with gestures rather than fatal intent being the case, and fatality being more an incidental accident than intended end, were more commonplace than literature would have us believe.

The 'coup de Jarnac' has become a term applied to dirty tricks in dueling, but in some cases collectively used as a metaphor. It refers to the duel between a challenged novice and a seasoned duelist stubbornly honor addled as we have discussed. In an almost accidental event, the novice (Jarnac) takes an opportunity to deliver what he hopes will be an incapacitating wound by hamstringing the obsessed duelist. He stubbornly continues, but offset, again he is severely wounded.
He would have survived, but in his obsessive rage at being outdone, tears away his bandages and dies.

With the romanticized duelist seen as being outdone by an unscrupulous nobody, and unfairly by the populace, the term became notorious in the usual literary distortion (= romanticizing).

Jim McDougall 30th November 2017 06:38 PM

Originally Posted by corrado26
Can anyone here please explain me how to define "honor"?

Now THAT would be an interesting, but far too philosophical topic to attempt here, as there are certainly countless perceptions as seen differently by as many people. I do understand the point of the query though, and we can only try to imagine how in the world these situations represented such dramatic notions.

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 30th November 2017 06:53 PM

Yes I can! Read The Bridge at Dong Ha, by Colonel John Grider Miller. The Story about John Ripley at the Bridge. That's what Honour is. :)

fernando 30th November 2017 07:06 PM

Gentlemen, perhaps time to consider this duel topic exhausted.

Jim McDougall 1st December 2017 01:42 AM

Originally Posted by fernando
Gentlemen, perhaps time to consider this duel topic exhausted.

touche' :)

rickystl 1st December 2017 04:40 PM

Interesting Thread. Thanks to all for posting.


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