A duel of honor consists of the following elements: a challenge, oral or written; a challenger; a defendant; and a combat. The proper duel results from the lie, as fencing-master Vincentio Saviolo specifies: “hee unto whome the lie is wrongfullie given, ought to challenge him that offereth that dishonour, and by the swoorde to prove himselfe no Iyer” (His Practise, sig. R4r). Saviolo offers hypothetical examples: “Caius sayth to Seius that hee is a traitour: unto which Seius aunswereth by giving the lie: whereuppon ensueth, that the charge of the Combat falleth on Caius, because hee is to maintaine what hee sayd, and therefore to challenge Seius” (sigs. R3v-R4r). The one who gives the lie is the defendant, who is “both accused and constrained to fight”; the one who proves his assertion (or accusation) is the challenger, who is “to overcome, unies hee will altogither loose the quarrell … to the one it appertaineth to proove, and to the other it is sufficient onely to defend” (Saviolo, sig. BB2v). The two meet on a chosen day between sunrise and sunset, and “after that the Combatters are entered the lists, if they have no further agreement betwixt them … the fight is to continue to the death or flight, or til it be forbidden” (Saviolo, sig. BB4v).


Sixteenth Century Military Commander Henry VIII Single Combat Courtly Lover 
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© Jennifer Low 2003

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