The Ties that Bind
Duelling and the Law
A private duel is most commonly referred to as a “duel of chivalry”. Private duels happen within the bounds of the law where it is called a “duel of chivalry”, or if it happened outside of the law it is referred to as a “duel of honour” which was private and often illegal and therefore secret.
The Duel of Chivalry
To duel within the bounds of the law, there are a few steps that one must take prior to the actual duel after the challenge is issued. First off, should this be a duel to the death, they must each get their liege lord’s permission. If it is not a duel to the death, then attaining the permission of the local lord is enough.
Once this has been done the next step is to mark out the field of honour, and decide on the date and time. The field generally varied in size depending on the type of duel being fought, with the largest marked fields generally being reserved for those who wish to derive their satisfaction from mounted combat. The date and time of a duel is generally set to happen shortly after the challenge. To delay more than a month is seen as a show of cowardice, and as a lack of resolve.
On the appointed day, the duellists are expected to come with seconds, as well as with their own equipment which was previously agreed upon when the challenge was issued. The challenged has the right to choose. A neutral party must also observe, and must also bear the formal documentation that all must agree upon before engaging each other. This form of duel protects the winner from repercussions and generally condemns any personal vendetta.
The Duel of Honour
Duels of honour can happen anywhere and at any time. Unfortunately though, despite its namesake, duels of honour tend to begin quite dishonourably. It is not surprising if a duel such as this were to start with an ambush, or even if the challenger had an unfair advantage. These duels also had a tendency to include no witnesses, or referees. If there are any witnesses more oft than not they are on the challenger’s side. However it is possible to earn a good reputation through duels of honour though, if you become known for your code of conduct, as opposed to being known as a cheat.
If done discreetly, duels of honour are seldom prosecuted. Should one fail to keep it discreet, a harsh punishment was most usually in order for the challenging party.