The most famous way to challenge to a duel - tossing a glove under the feet or hitting it in the face - refers to the medieval custom of knighthood. During the ceremony, the future knight was given a ringing splash. And then they encouraged him that this was the last offense for which he would not be able to get even.
Duels in our usual sense are only a few centuries old: they appeared in the 14th century. But during its existence, they were able to take away the number of human lives comparable to the loss in several bloody wars. In just 16 years of the reign of the French monarch Henry the 4th, more than 8 thousand duelists went to another world. And this despite the fact that the laws of the time prohibited dueling. The punishment was the most severe: the death penalty.
It is interesting that initially it was common practice, which was not at all censured by society, was the use of techniques that, according to modern ideas, did not correspond to knightly rules: to distract the enemy's attention, hit someone who accidentally slipped or stumbled, finish off a disarmed or wounded, stab in the back
Sometimes women in this matter did not lag behind men. In the fall of 1624, in the Parisian Bois de Boulogne, the Marquis de Nesles and the Countess de Polignac, in the presence of seconds, no longer crossed daggers, but real swords. The bone of contention was the favor of the future cardinal, but so far only the Duke of Richelieu. As a result, the Countess prevailed over the Marquise, almost tearing off de Nesle's ear with a blade.
For a long time it was believed that the word "duel" is a descendant of the Latin "duellum", that is, "war." In fact, the duel has a different "relative": the word "duo" (two).
Over time, European monarchs realized that duels were losing the color of a young society, and took decisive measures. For example, the Decree of Cardinal Richelieu of 1602 established the death penalty or exile with the deprivation of all rights and confiscation of all property for all participants in the duel, including even spectators, as a punishment for a duel. During the reign of Louis XIV, 11 edicts against duels were issued.
In 1899, the director of the American Patent Agency, a certain Duell, announced that it was time to close the patent offices, since technological progress had exhausted itself and man had already invented everything that was possible. If this official were in our time, he probably would have gone crazy ...
In comparison with the rules of Russian duels of the 19th century, European ones were of an operetta nature and rarely ended not only with someone's death, but also with injury. Indeed, in Europe, opponents fired at least 30 steps. Russian duelists fired at each other from ten. In the event of a mutual miss, the rivals did not disperse, but demanded final satisfaction: they fired until one of them was seriously injured or killed.
One of the most famous medical debates on the dueling topic is whether Pushkin could have survived if he had shot himself today and the most modern technologies were thrown to save him. Most experts are sure that no: the poet's wound would be too tough even for modern medicine, it was so severe.
Astronomer Tycho Brahe was considered one of the most avid duelists in history. Duels interested him no less than science. During one of the fights, in his youth, a part of the nose was cut off to the scientist. But for a long time Brahe did not lose heart and inserted a pure silver prosthesis into his nose.
Modern epee fencers, participating in the Olympics and in other competitions, are in fact "fighting a duel." After all, their weapon, sporting and completely harmless, came from the medieval sword - the favorite companion of the duelists of that time.