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  • High Noon at Carcassonne April 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    blind duelling

    Carcassonne is a stunning medieval town in the south of France, famous today for the attrocities carried out there against the Cathars, or those who were believed to be Cathars, in the thirteenth century. However, I recently ran across this news story from 1894 and the most recent in our practical jokes series: long time readers will remember Brunelleschi messing around with a neighbour’s identity and giant spiders in Bristol. Here the victim was a municipal official, the equivalent in Britain of the traffic warden or in the US a tax collector.

    A correspondent tells the following story of an extraordinary duel, reported from Carcassonne, the most provincial of large towns in the South France: In consequence of high words exchanged between a municipal official and a shopkeeper who has reputation a wit among his colleagues of the Club Sarcassonais the latter pretended to be in a great rage. and sent pair of seconds to his adversary, an encounter was agreed upon, the stipulation being that pistols should be used, only one which should be loaded, and that lots should drawn for the pistols. The adversaries were to stand at five paces blindfolded, and to fire at the word of command.

    Like mirrors in a magic trick or twins in a detective novel, blindfolds on the instructions of a town jester should be the warning that something untoward is about to happen.

    At the appointed time the adversaries were upon the field stripped to the waist, and blindfolded. When the word fire was given, the official received on his breast an enormous sponge soaken with blood warm from the slaughter-house, which left its red mark on the wounded man’s breast. He fell from the impact and the mental shock, and the bandage being removed from his eye. ‘Farewell Carcassonne,’ he moaned, ‘I am mortally wounded,’ and he fainted.

    I can’t recall them, but there are, I think, other nineteenth century (?) example of people being fooled into injury by convincing psychological conditions. In any case, the Municipal Official, was in a high fury when he opened his eyes again, presumably expecting celestial Carcasonne and, instead, being faced with a laughing and all too terrestial burghers.

    Several hours later, having recovered, was made aware of the joke practised upon him, and was angry, this time in earnest. It appears that the outcome of this practical joke will be second duel, but this time a serious one. 1894

    If anyone knows how this duel turned out or whether it in fact even took place then please get in touch: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com