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  • The Poison Duel 5#: Poison Dominoes in Poland September 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 5#: Poison Dominoes in Poland

    The poison duel is dramatic enough: two men with two glasses before them, one poison, one not. Both swig at the same time. But just imagine now, instead, that you add dominoes into the mix. Yes, dominoes… Perhaps only death by lawn bowling or tiddlewinks could be more exciting. This story dates to 1882 when […]

    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel? September 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel?

    The earliest nineteenth-century poison duel seems to have been that almost fought in 1821 in Virginia. However, there are pre-nineteenth-century records and strangely they concern doctors. The earliest record anywhere that Beach has been able to dig up was an alleged reference in the Iranian poet Nizami (obit 1209). Nizami in one poem (Treasury of […]

    The Poison Duel 3#: Poison at Dawn in Virginia September 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 3#: Poison at Dawn in Virginia

    Throughout the poison duels series Beach has noted their essential lack of veracity: that is most seem to be made up or at least there is no respectable proof that they took place. Here, however, is one case that seems quite reliable. There was not, admittedly, a poison duel: but someone suggested such a duel […]

    The Poison Duel 2#: Crossing Poison Pills in Louisiana September 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 2#: Crossing Poison Pills in Louisiana

    The following story, reported in 1895, uses assumed names and starts in Louisiana, the cradle of the tall tale: be suspicious, be very suspicious. A man, de Vailliere, approaches a woman to learn that another, Armand, is interested in her. Armand feeling insulted offers a duel: but here brave de Vallierre feels himself on the […]

    The Poison Duel 1#: Introduction September 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 1#: Introduction

    The poison duel is a classic of duelling literature. Two men decide to settle a matter of honour using poison as a weapon. Here the exact modality of life and death varies but the basic strategy is as follows: a pill is filled with water, and a second pill is filled with poison (sometimes glasses […]

    Unusual Wild West Duels August 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Unusual Wild West Duels

    Duels out in the unconquered west and in the badlands of Mexico should, by rights, just be a matter of six shooters and a fast finger and a faster hand. But here are three examples that show that nineteenth-century eccentricity over duels also reached far beyond New England. Let’s start with a particularly nasty one. […]

    The Ten Stupidest Duels in History July 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Ten Stupidest Duels in History

    Duelling was a sensible institution that, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, reminded young men, and sometimes women, of a particular social class that – never mind how they had been spoilt growing up – words and actions had consequences. Most individuals who paced around in Hyde Park  slashing the air with their swords, […]

    Starving Duel in Idaho June 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Starving Duel in Idaho

    By the nineteenth century duels were falling out of fashion. The state typically prosecuted and even the girl (or very occasionally the boy) who were argued over resented the fact that blood was going to be spilt on their behalf. There came, then, an interesting rash of fighting duels without weapons: because there was some legal […]

    A Duel in the Middle of a Battle! May 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Duel in the Middle of a Battle!

    Du ***Thanks to Chris S for sending this story in*** Attentive readers may have noted that StrangeHistory has recently been indulging in duel stories.  Today’s duel comes from the American Civil War and involves a confederate and a union soldier. Of course, the first reaction to any such story is the sheer redundance of this […]

    Duelling Schoolboys May 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Duelling Schoolboys

    Duelling is really all about grown men acting like complete asses. However, at least in one case in 1874 it appears that early teens in Lincolnshire, the UK emulated their elders. One Gerald Maurice Burn shot, 7 March 1874, at George Seagrave, both boarders at a local school run by a reverend no less. Burn […]

    High Noon at Carcassonne April 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    High Noon at Carcassonne

    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 […]

    The Last Single Combat? November 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Last Single Combat?

    Single Combat is not strictly the same as a duel, where two individuals meet to settle a matter of honour. In single combat a member of one army and a member from another meet before battle, either to warm up the ranks or, better still, to settle the affair pacifically without any one else having […]

    Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O’Hara November 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O'Hara

    Duelling? What an absolutely charming idea. Two men and occasionally two women resolve problems with recourse to combat. But doesn’t this make for rather boring history? After all, the two meet, the two shoot/cut and one apologies or dies. There just isn’t that much potential for things to go bizarrely wrong? Well, apart from that […]

    Highland Gladiators December 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Highland Gladiators

    If Beachcombing had another ten years to add to his natural lifespan he would study duels: there is enough bizarre material there for at least a decade of honest work. As it is the years pass and there is little time. So he will offer up here, in passing, just one of those many collected […]