Duelling Stories - des Guerres and de Fendilles
Duelling stories of the 16th Century From the French of Brantome by George H Powell (AH Bullen 1904)
Originally published in Punta Dritta January 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
When Henry II came to the throne of France, there as a duel fought at Sedan between the Baron des Guerres and the Lord de Fendilles over a great insult de Fendilles had offered to the Baron.
The young Fendilles refused to enter the ring to face his older opponent until a gallows had been erected as he was determined to follow the old custom and "do as he willed" with his conquered foe.
Both parties wore armour, and des Gurres as wronged party had chosen the short thick "bastard sword" as weapon. de Fendilles objected as it wasn't the weapon of a gentleman, but des Guerres maintained that those warlike people, the Swiss, used no other.
So they fought. At the first pass, the Baron was hit so that his thigh was torn right open, and feeling faint from loss of blood he tried his skill as a wrestler and closed with his opponent, bearing him to the ground. Neither now had a sword, the Baron was uppermost, using his fists and hands all he could, but getting weak from loss of blood.
Suddenly a scaffold bearing many ladies who were watching the fight collapsed! The cries were great and the people didn't know whether to go and rescue the ladies or watch the fight...
The Baron's partisans took shameful and unlawful advantage of the commotion to call to him to "throw some sand!" and he had just enough strength left to throw sand and gravel into his opponent's eyes and mouth and so defeat him.
des Guerres's men claimed the victory, and the Baron said he'd hang and burn Fendilles as Fendilles would have done to him. But the young man's supporters claimed they had heard no call of surrender!
The dispute was put to the judgement of M. de Buillion who decided the affair would go no further.