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stared; the emperor smiled; and the absolution or pardon of Michael was approved by new rewards and new services.”
I shall only further observe on the extent of this evil in past ages, that Madox declares, in his History of the Exchequer, vol. I, p. 349, that trials of this description were so frequent in England, that fines paid on these occasions made no inconsiderable branch of the king's revenue. It was so universal that none were exempt from it but ecclesiastics, priests, monks, and ladies, together with those who were physically defective, or under twenty-one, or over sixty years of age. But even all these, if they desired to respect their character and main. tain a pure reputation, were required to procure a champion to fight in their place.
The next part of the subject, now to be briefly discussed, embraces the principal ceremonies and rules by which this species of trial was preceded and regulated. The laws of combat were nearly similar in Spain, England, France, Germany, and other countries of Europe. They differed however in a few circumstances, according to the fancies of those in authority. For instance, it was unlawful, for many years, to permit this trial to take place in any other parts of Germany than in Witzburg, in Franconia; and in Usbach and Hall, in Swabia. It also seems that he who yielded to his adversary, on receiving a wound, was esteemed infamous; he could not afterward hold any office, wear a weapon, mount a horse, or cut his beard; but he who died, gallantly defending himself, was honorably buried. This, in general, was not the case in France; the vanquished, dead or alive, was either hung or burned.
The following account of proceeding on such occasions is abridged from Blackstone and others :
When the tenant in a writ of right pleaded that he had more right to hold than the demandant had to recover, and offered to prove it by the body of his champion, if the tender was accepted by the demand. ant, the champion, in the first place, was produced, and threw down his glove as a gage or pledge, and thus waged or stipulated battle with the champion of the demandant; who, by taking up the gage or glove, promised on his part to accept the challenge. After this, generally, the champions, especially where they were allowed in criminal cases, were both taken into safe custody until the day appointed by the judge.
A piece of ground was then measured out, sixty feet square, inclosed with lists; and on one side was a court erected for the judges of the court of common pleas; and also a bar prepared for the sergeants at law. Early in the morning a proclamation was made for the parties and their champions; who were introduced by two knights, and dressed in a coat of armor, with red sandals, barelegged from the knee downward, bareheaded, and with bare arms to the elbows. Their weapons were batons, or staves of an ell long, and four.cornered leathered targets. In the military court they fought with swords and lance, according to Spelman and Rushworth ; and in France gentle. men were armed at all points.
The champion of the tenant then took his adversary by the hand, and made oath that the tenements in dispute were not the right of the demandant; and the champion of the latter swore in the same manner VOL. X.-April, 1839.
that they were. Next an oath against sorcery and enchantment was taken, in a form similar to this: Hear this, ye justices, that I have this day neither eaten nor drunk any thing, nor have upon me any enchantment, sorcery, or witchcraft, whereby the law of God may be abased, or the law of the devil exalted. So help me God and his saints.
The battle was then begun, and the combatants were bound to fight until the stars appeared in the evening. If the champion of the tenant could defend hunself thus long, the tenant gained his cause; if not, he lost it. This was declared either when one of the parties died, „which in civil cases happened but seldom, or when he pronounced the word craven, by which we are to understand that he yielded the point and craved mercy. Whenever this was done, that champion was always esteemed an infamous perjured person, and could never be a juror or a witness in any cause.
The manner of waging battle upon appeals was nearly the same as in a writ of right: only the oaths of the two combatants were much more striking and solemn. The appellee pleaded not guilty, and threw down his glove, and declared he would defend the same by his body: the appellant then took up the glove, and replied that he was ready to make good the appeal, body for body. Thereupon the appellee took the book in his right hand, and in his left the right hand of his antago. nist, and swore to this effect: Hear this, O man, whom I hold by the hand, who callest thyself John, by the name of baptism, that I, who call myself Thomas, by the name of baptism, did not feloniously murder thy father William by name, nor am in any way guilty of the said felony. So help me God and the saints; and this I will defend against thee by my body as this court shall award.
To which the appellant replied, holding the Bible and his antago. pist's hapd, in the same manner as the other : Hear this, O man, whom I hold by the hand, who callest thyself Thomas, by the name of baptism, that thou art perjured; because that thou didst feloniously murder my father William by name; so help me God and the saints; and this I will prove against thee by my body as this court shall award.
The battle was then fought with the same weapons, the same solemnity, the same oath against amulets and sorcery, that are used in the civil combat. If the accused was so far vanquished that he could not or would not fight any longer, he was sentenced to be hung immediately. If, on the other hand, he killed the appellant, or maintained the fight from the rising to the setting of the sun, he was acquitted. If the appellant became recreant, and pronounced the word craven, he was considered infamous.
The preceding was the ordinary manner of conducting these trials in civil and criminal cases in England; it varied a little from this in France, but the difference is not of sufficient importance to justify its insertion in this place.
We now pass on to the several causes which were tried by single combats. On this subject the writer is principally indebted to Robertson's History of Charles V.
(1.) Besides the common causes with which the reader is already acquainted, abstract points of law were sometimes determined in this way. In the tenth century, and during the reign of Otho I., the question came up before the doctors, and was afterward presented to the emperor for his opinion, whether children had the right to represent their deceased father equally with their uncles, in the lifetime of their grandfather. The doctors found this rather a difficult subject; and proposed that it should be decided by the judges. But Otho con. cluded to settle this mooted question by force of arins. Accordingly two champions of reputed valor' were selected, and the victory was gained by him who contended for the right of representation. It soon passed into a law, and is now established ali over Europe. This is perhaps the only benefit that ever resulted to the world by the trial of single combat.
(2.) It was also used, but not often, to ascertain the truth or falsehood of opinions connected with religion. A remarkable instance of this we have in the ecclesiastical history of Spain, of the eleventh century. Pope Alexander II. had commenced in 1068, and Gregory VII. in 1080 completed, the great work of changing the Mozarabic, or Gothic, liturgy, which was the ancient ritual of the Church of Toledo, for the service of the Romish Church. The Spaniards were as strongly attached to the forms of their ancestors as the purer Catholics were to their peculiarities; and a violent controversy was the result of this effort of the pontiff. Sanches, the king of Aragon, was the first to comply with the wishes of the pope. Alphonso, the king of Castile, influenced by the Queen Constantine, followed the example of his cotemporary in 1080. But as the mass of the people were still greatly divided, it was finally agreed to decide the point at issue by single combat. Two knights were selected for the purpose, who entered the lists in complete armor; and the champion of the Mozarabic liturgy was successful.
But the good queen, and the archbishop of Toledo, not satisfied with this decision, though it was universally admitted in those days that such a trial was an appeal to God, requested the permission of a different ordeal. This having been granted, a large fire was kindled, and a copy of each ritual was cast into the flames. The Gothic ser. vice was again victorious, for it remained entirely uninjured, while the other was speedily consumed. But notwithstanding this inter. ference of Divine Providence, as the people thought, the archbishop and queen succeeded at last, by their influence, if not by their ordeals, in bringing into general use the liturgy of the Church of Rome.
(3.) Questions about the property of churches, or monasteries, were occasionally decided by the sword, as well as by fire, water, and the cross. Robertson states a case of this kind which occurred in 961. A dispute arose concerning the church of St. Medard, whether it belonged, legally, to the abbey of Beaulieu or not, and the lawful owner was determined by judicial combat.
(4.) Points of honor, or reputation, in the character of individuals, were also thus determined.
Dr. Robertson, who has several times been quoted as authority on this subject, supposes this to have been the original design of these trials among the ancient Swedes. As the law in which this is contained is curious, and as it evidently supports this opinion, it shall here be adduced. The historian quotes the passage from Stiernhook, in his Laws and Customs of the Swedes and Goths. The words of the law are as follow :
“ If any man shall say. to another these reproachful words, . You are not a man equal to other men,' or, · You have not the heart of a man,' and the other shall reply, I am a man as good as you,' let them meet on the highway. If he who first gave offense appear, and the person offended absent himself, let the latter be deemed a worse man even than he was called ; let him not be admitted to give evidence in judgment, either for man or woman, and let him not have the privi. lege of making a testament. If he who gave the offense be absent, and only the person offended appear, let him call upon the other thrice with a loud voice, and make a mark upon the earth, and then let him who absented himself be deemed infamous, because he uttered words which he durst not support. If both shall appear properly armed, and the person offended shall fally in the combat, let a half compensation be paid for his death. . But if the person who gave the offense shall fall, let it be imputed to his own rashness. The petulance of his tongue hath been fatal to him, let him lie in the field without any compensation being demanded for his death."
The same writer observes, "By the law of the Lombards, if any one called another arga, i. e., a good-for-nothing fellow, he might immediately challenge him to combat:' and concludes by saying, “Thus the ideas concerning the point of honor, which we are apt to consider as a modern refinement, as well as the practice of dueling, to which it gave rise, are derived from the notions of our an. cestors, while in a state of society very little improved."!
Having thus noticed, as concisely as was thought judicious, the origin, causes, history, and extent of dueling, the ceremonies and rules by which it was regulated, and the different kinds of questions and controversies which were usually decided in this way, it re. mains, before we conclude, to consider the celebrated cartel of defiance sent by Francis I. of France, to the Emperor Charles V., and a few of the principal duels which have been fought in our own country.
The extensive influence of the royal challenge from the king of the French to the emperor of the Germans probably accomplished more in the promotion of modern dueling in private disputes, without the sanction of the civil magistrate, and without the solemnities of religious rites, than any other circumstance. These two monarchs were not only the most distinguished of their age, but they are known also in history as having been powerful rivals. When Maximilian, the emperor of Germany, died, in 1519, a new prince was to be placed on the imperial throne by the Germanic electors.
The astonishing success of Selim I. of the Ottoman empire, who threatened the liberties of Europe by his victorious arms, induced the electors to select such a sovereign from among the candidates for this high office as could not only secure their own prosperity, but also successfully and immediately withstand the encroachments of the Turk. Three individuals had a prominent standing in their estimation; one was Charles, the other Francis, and the third Frederick the Wise, duke of Saxony, who rejected the offer of the crown. The first was recommended to them by his extensive dominions; possessing, in right of his father Philip, the whole of the Low Countries; and, on the death of his maternal grandfather Ferdinand, the entire Spanish succession, which embraced the kingdoms of Spain, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and Spanish America, together with his patrimonial inheritance in Austria, transmitted to him by his paternal grandfather Maximilian I.
Several considerations inclined the electors to look also with a favorable eye on Francis. He had on his side maturer years, superior experience, a high reputation as a warrior, and the almost irresistible cavalry of the French.
But Charles was finally elected. Chagrined and disappointed at his rejection in preference to a mere youth, Francis determined to make the reign of his successful rival as troublesome as possible. A bone of contention was soon found, and the two countries were almost continually at war with each other, and in a state of unceasing agitation. At the battle of Paira Francis was taken prisoner. After the treaty of Madrid he was again set at liberty, and formed an alliance against the emperor with Henry VIII. of England, and with the pope, who absolved him from his oath to observe the pre. ceding treaty. Soon after two ambassadors, whom he had sent to the German court, proclaimed war against Charles in the name of their sovereign. Charles returned an answer to this declaration, couched in very acrimonious and indecent language, assuring Francis that, in disregarding his oath to pbserve the conditions of the treaty, and in other things, he had acted far beneath the dignity of a gentleman. The consequence of this insulting reply was a challenge to single combat from the king to the emperor, requiring him to name the time and place of meeting, and the weapons to be used on the occasion. As Charles esteemed himself a gentleman, the challenge, of course, was no sooner received by him than accepted. But after the exchange of several reproachful letters on the particular arrangement of the combat, the whole affair was finally relinquished.
“The example of two personages so illustrious, drew such general attention, and carried with it so much authority, that it had considerable influence in producing an important change in manners all over Europe. Upon every affront or injury which seemed to touch his honor, a gentleman thought himself entitled to draw his sword, and to call on his adversary to give him satisfaction. Such an opinion becoming prevalent among men of fierce courage, of high spirit, and of rude manners, when offense was often given, and revenge was always prompt, produced most fatal consequences. Much of the best blood in Christendom was shed; many useful lives were sacrificed; and, at some periods, war itself has hardly been more destructive than these private contests of honor.”—Ro. bertson, History of Charles V., vol. iii, p. 14.
And it would have been well for the United States if these unhappy “contests of honor” had been confined to the shores of Europe ; but our own national character has also been deeply stained with the blood of the base duelist. In this country too, which has so often been called the “home of the free, and the land of the brave,” and which has become the great asylum of an oppressed world, has this evil prevailed to a most woful extent; and prevailed too in disregard of the magnitude of the crime, the endearing ties of kindred, the remonstrance of conscience, the voice of