Chapter 23

The Code of Laws on judicial Combats

March 19, 2020

The regulations of Prince St. Lewis made such great changes to that judiciary order.

D√©fontaines was St. Lewis’ contemporary. Beaumanoir wrote after him. The rest lived since his time.

Chapter 24= “The rules of the judicial Combat”

If there are several accusers, they were obliged to agree who would be the one to be the prosecutor. If they could not agree, the person before whom the action was brought, appointed one of them to prosecute the quarrel.

When a gentleman challenged a villain, he was obliged to present himself on foot with buckler and baston. But if he came on horseback, armed like a gentleman, they took his horse and his arms from him. They stripped him to his shirt and compelled him to fight in that condition with the villain.

Before the combat, the magistrates ordered three rules to be published.

  1. The relations of the parties were commanded to retire
  2. The people were warned to be silent
  3. No one was allowed to aid either of the parties, under severe penalties or even death if by this aid either of the combatants should be vanquished.

The officers of the civil magistrate guarded the enclosure where the battle was fought.

In case either of the parties declared himself desirous of peace, they took particular notice of the actual state in which things stood at that very moment, to the end that they might be restored to the same situation, in case they did not come to an accommodation.

When the pledges were received either for a crime or for false judgment, the parties could not make up the matter without the consent of the lord.

When one of the parties was overcome, there could be no accommodation without the permission of the count which had some analogy to our letters of grace.

But if it were a capital crime, and the lord, corrupted by presents, consented to an accommodation; he was obliged to pay a fine of sixty livres, and the right he had of punishing the malefactor devolved to the count.

There were a great many people incapable either of offering, or of accepting battle.

But liberty was given them in trial of the cause to chuse a champion; He might have a stronger interest in defending the party, in whose behalf he appeared, his hand was cut off if he lost the battle

When capital laws were made in the last century against duels, perhaps it would have been sufficient to have deprived a warrior of his military capacity, by the loss of his hand; nothing in general being a greater mortification to mankind, than to survive the loss of their character.

When in capital cases the duel was fought by champions, the parties were placed where they could not behold the battle; each was bound with the cord that was to be used at his execution, in case his champion was overcome.

The person overcome in battle, did not always lose the point contested; if, for instance, they fought on an imparlance, he lost only the imparlance.


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