Duelling Stories - Deeds of Bayard
- the fight with Alonzo
Duelling stories of the 16th Century From the French of Brantome by George H Powell (AH Bullen 1904)
Originally published in Punta Dritta, February AS XXXV (2001)
These stories are my paraphrasing of his paraphrasing of Brantome. They are various strange true tales of duels that were fought in the 16thC, showing the rules and customs.
- Silfren the Singer
The Chevalier de Bayard once had a Spaniard as a prisoner of war. The Spaniard upon release told all and sundry that he had not been treated as a gentleman should be - a story that none believed as all knew that Bayard was the most courteous man alive.
Bayard grew weary of the Spaniard's story, and sent him a cartel, offering to meet him. The Spaniard accepted, and on the appointed day the two met. The Spaniard unexpectedly called for the fight to be on foot, as Bayard had a touch of the ague and would be thought to be at a disadvantage. Bayard of course accepted quickly enough despite the concern of his seconds, as no man should cry off a duel unless sick unto death, and the list field was marked out.
Don Alonzo selected the arms and armour to be used - a close helm and gorget, with spear and dagger. The combatants knelt to pray and then Bayard laid himself flat to kiss the earth before springing up as advancing as gayly as if he was entering some palace to dance with fair ladies.
Don Alonzo was no less at ease, and went straight to Bayard saying "Sir Bayard, what would you of me?" To which Bayard answered "To defend my honour!". They fell to, dealing fierce thrusts.
Alonzo was wounded slightly in the face, then several more blows were exchanged without result.
Bayard noticed his opponent had a trick of thrusting and then immediately parrying to deflect any return his adversary might make. The Chevalier then waited for the Spaniard to raise his arm for a thrust, then started to deliver his return... but waited a moment for the parry to pass so that the unblocked attack went home. The lance went a good four inches through the gorget into the man's throat!
Don Alonzo feeling he was wounded unto death grappled with Bayard and they both fell to the ground. Bayard drew his dagger and held it to the Spaniard's nostrils crying "Surrender or you are a dead man!" but too late, for Alonzo was dead already.
Alonzo's second came forward to say "Seigneur Bayard, he is dead and you have conquered." And no one was more distressed than the victor who said that he would have given a hundred thousand crowns to have conquered him alive. Bayard then dragged the body from the lists, as it was his to do with as he pleased. By the laws of the duel he could have left it for the dogs, but he gave it into the keeping of Alonzo's seconds for honourable burial, showing his honour and courtesy.