Dueling-SCA-art – 10/3/05
“Dueling, Rules of the Road” by Viscount Sterling, KSCA
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Dueling is one of many ways people in period settled disputes. It is often depicted as a dispute of honor or challenge between two champions. What ever the cause it is a formal way for two parties to settle disputes.
Dueling is prevalent in some Kingdoms and almost non-existent in others. In the “Rules of the list” and in a few other places it speaks of the fact that NO ONE can be forced to fight. So let us understand that people can issue challenges and be turned down. The rules state that no harm will befall those who turn down a duel.
As we are trying to relive the best part of the Dark Ages to the Renaissance, a way to settle disputes needs to be given. In corpora there is an excellent non-combat related way to settle disputes. For those who live by the Sword, often we can work out our issues on the field. It is perfectly fine to drop a gauntlet and challenge another party for actions, deeds and words that may be considered inappropriate.
Here is one way to handle the dueling process. We must remember that often Challenges are issued in the heat of the moment and it is important that we keep our civilities about us. Thus, dueling on the spot is not recommended. Rather give time for the parties to calm down. It is best to use this process to resolve issues rather than to escalate them. What is meant by this, is that in the process the issue/s between the combatants are to be resolved before they enter the field.
Lets look at the steps in the Process of dueling.
1) An offence is taken.
2) A challenge is issued.
3) The challenge is accepted or denied. If denied the process ends.
4) Seconds are chosen.
5) The seconds meet to work out the terms of the conflict.
6) Both parties agree to the terms.
7) Both parties meet and resolve the issue by way of a ceremony.
8) Challenge is fought and terms are rendered.
9) Close with an declaration that the issue of the conflict is now closed.
The process is much simpler to spell out than do. Getting the parties that have an issue to resolve their differences is difficult and really the goal of the challenge. The first three steps are self-explanatory. The choosing of seconds is most often where people fail to make the challenge work.
Duties of a Second; this is a difficult job. Each Second is responsible to make sure that the issue is resolved and that neither party is taken advantage of. The Second makes sure that their parties terms are brought forth and make every effort to find a way for both parties to resolve the issue. Once the issue is resolved the Seconds are responsible to ensure that all parties live up to the terms set. If for some reason one of the main combatants cannot make the duel their Second takes their place.
Terms of a Duel. There are three main categories that need to be agreed upon besides the resolution terms. The categories of a challenge that need be decided upon are Time, Place and Weapon Style. The time is rather simple, what time of day will the duel commence. (At dusk in the torchlight). Place is rather easy to, where will it be held. (At an event or Fighter Practice or what have you). Weapon style is what form of weapons will be used and what is counted asa blow. (Sword and shield, snowballs, crochet). The Person challenged gets to decide two of the three categories and the Person who challenges gets to choose the last category. The seconds will try to negotiate a fair and proper way to handle the Challenge depending on the seriousness of the issue. The person Challenged can choose a Champion if they so choose, as can the one who issues the Challenge. Remember the fight is but the formality and not the resolution of the conflict.
Now to the Terms of Resolution. This is where the fat hits the fire. If someone does get out of hand or just uses bad judgment this is the time to make amends for ones actions. Hopefully one can do an apology or make some other form of reparation. This is about Chivalry and Honor after all. People will only esteem you more if you admit wrong-doing and make amends for it. The Seconds will do their best to make this work for all parties. Remember, “Pride goith before the fall.”
Dueling Ceremonies are often well attended. The more pomp and ceremony that one can deliver, the better. Make it look good and take the time to rehearse your lines that you will be giving. The fight is the climax of this and should also be done with great honor and dignity. The giving of gifts between the combatants is a great show of good will and that the issue is resolved.
Once the fight is over and both parties have given their last words on the subject, the Seconds close the issue by saying something like, “This Duel is concluded and the issue/s are now over. Let no one bring them back from the grave.” This is to signify that everyone present is to let sleeping dogs lie.
Copyright 2005 by Schawn Smith, 6245 S. Sycamore St, Littleton, CO 80120. <schawnsmith at att.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.