Our next book in the Book of the Month Club will be Murder, Rape, and Treason: Judicial Combats in the Late Middle Ages, by Steven Muhlberger and Will McLean.
The word “duel” suggests to modern audiences a conflict over honor, but although medieval trials by combat were likewise concerned with issues of reputation and shame, their purpose was judicial: a method of reaching a verdict when other methods could not. If evidence or testimony was not clear or was rejected by participants in a legal case, one could always turn to God. The controversies surrounding duels resulted in a number of late medieval duels being recorded in some detail. These duels are therefore among the best-known medieval deeds of arms, and accounts of some of the most sanguine, unusual or controversial are contained herein.
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