View Full Version : Duelling (and not with banjos!)

08-09-2010, 12:50 AM
My MC has been challenged to a duel by another man. The place and time is Ireland in the 1670s. My research suggests that the most likely weapon is the short sword, although I'm open to suggestion on this.

I've read a lot about the swords themselves, and the rules surrounding duels (at the time, not as codified as they would be later). However, I'm having a problem describing the action of the fight. Any ideas where I could research this? Would a fencing match give a good idea or be misleading (since fencers aren't trying to kill each other)? Are there any good web sites? Youtube videos?

08-09-2010, 12:59 AM
check out Rob Roy. I think this is what you're looking for.



08-09-2010, 05:23 AM
A foil match will approximate a duel, as the foil was invented to train for the smallsword. (which I think you mean, instead of the shortsword) in foil fencing, the torso is the target area, which in real life would stand a good choice of inflicting a fatal wound. A small sword is a light weapon around three feet long and weighing a little more than a pound, which replaced the rapier. It was used as a side arm of civilians, and was not used on the battlefield. Short sword is a generic term that generally means a more robust blade, frequently for battlefield use, and two feet long or less. Its not a particularly technical term, as it can be used to describe many different blades in all eras of history.

One difference is that people fighting with live blades will naturally be more cautious than what you see in a typical fencing match.

If you like, try this book: http://www.amazon.com/Secret-History-Sword-Adventures-Ancient/dp/1892515040

And finally, I'm assuming your characters are aristocratic. The traditional weapon for the Irish commons would be a cudgel.

Becky Black
08-09-2010, 01:06 PM
Always consider Point of View too. If the POV character is trained in swordfighting they'll have a very different experience of the fight than someone who knows little more than "you try to stick the pointy end in the other guy."

09-03-2010, 08:48 PM
Sorry for the late reply (been AWL from the boad for a while), but I wanted to thank y'all for your replies.

Yes, the characters are aristocrats (my MC is a little fallen on hard times, but his sword is one of the last things he'll give up). Both have some experience in swordfighting, but for my MC it's the first time he's had to do it in earnest (with a real chance if dying). If the other guy had been sober, he might not have won!

09-03-2010, 09:53 PM
been AWL

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09-04-2010, 09:36 PM
Are the duelers Catholic or Protestant? Keep in mind that dueling was and is an excommunication offense in the Catholic Church (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05184b.htm). Not that the ban on dueling ever stopped the extremely butthurt, but your MC, if he's Catholic, might want to find a bishop afterwards.

Hope that helps.

09-05-2010, 02:41 AM
You could try describing the events in this one.


An excellent duel to the death staged by two fencing masters.

Smiling Ted
09-05-2010, 06:36 AM
Project Gutenberg.

Keyword "fencing."

Try it.