Shooting naked and fighting with a dog: 5 of the most unusual duels in history

1. Shooting naked

Pistol duel. Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Weapons: Single-shot dueling pistols.
  • Sides: Sir Humphrey Howarth vs. Sir Henry Barry, 8th Earl of Barrymore.

This story took place at the end of July 1806. One evening in the city of Brighton, gentlemen named Humphrey Howarth and Henry Barry came after the races to the Castle Hotel to drink whiskey and play whist, the traditional English card game. One of them was MP for Evesham, the other was the eighth Earl of Barrymore.

In general, the gentlemen got drunk over the cards, quarreled, fought, and the count challenged the truce to a duel.

The next morning – which came just 4 hours later, so no one had time to sober up – the gentlemen met at the Brighton racecourse with seconds and weapons. The 36-year-old Earl of Barrymore threw off his coat and vest, took a pistol and stood up to the far barrier.

His opponent, who was an obese elderly man, did not limit himself to a vest and undressed entirely. Startled seconds and spectators began to ask him what it meant.

Howarth replied that he had served as a field surgeon in the army of the British East India Company. He supposedly had to deal with a lot of bullet wounds. And he knew that often death comes from an infection that got into the wound along with fragments of clothing. Therefore, the parliamentarian decided to play it safe.

The crowd giggled at the sight of the fat old man without pants, but he was unperturbed. When the command of the seconds rang out, Humphrey “The Naked Gun” Howarth shot the Earl of Barrymore. True, since he was drunk, the bullet flew into the milk.

The count, silently watching all this farce, raised his pistol and fired into the air. He then said that it was simply ridiculous for a gentleman to kill a naked old man, and that since the duel had taken place, his honor was satisfied anyway. And left.

2. Billiard duel

Game of billiards. Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Weapon: ivory billiard balls.
  • Sides: Monsieur Lenfant and Monsieur Melfant.

On September 4, 1843, in the French village of Maisonfort, two young gentlemen, whose names were Lenfant and Melfant, played billiards in pleasant company and with an abundance of strong drinks. The latter, apparently, were the reason that one accused the other of dishonest play. Word for word, and the men decided to duel to the death, and without delay until the morning.

In fact, in the evening after drinking, there is much more courage in the body than in the morning, when a hangover comes.

The owners of the house offered guns to the daredevils, but they decided to fight in a more original way – by throwing billiard balls at each other. We went out into the garden, measured 12 steps and got ready to throw. By lot, Melfant was the first to throw the ball. The one shouting “I’ll kill you with one throw!” threw a heavy ivory projectile at the head of the enemy, he fell and died without regaining consciousness. Such are the things.

True, the victory did not bring Melfant much joy. Since duels were banned in France by Louis XIV in the second half of the 17th century, the well-aimed billiard player was arrested and put on trial. As a result, he went to prison.

3. Dog test

Richard de Maker’s duel with a dog. Image: Public Domain
  • Weapons: wooden club and shield on the defending side, jaws on the challenging side.
  • Sides: Chevalier Richard de Maker and a dog that remained nameless in history.

In the XIV century in France, two knights served at the court of Charles V – Aubrey de Montdidier and Richard de Maker. The first showed more success in the career of a chevalier and aroused the envy of the second. Once they went hunting together, but Richard returned alone.

About the missing companion, he calmly answered something in the spirit: “I didn’t see it, I don’t know! Not small, he will return.

Mondidier’s friend, Chevalier Ardillier, went into the forest with the dog of his missing comrade, and the dog suddenly took someone’s trail. The man followed her and found Aubrey’s corpse in some ditch in the thicket itself.

Since DNA testing and fingerprinting had not yet been thought of in the Middle Ages, it would not have been possible to directly accuse de Maker of murder. But the unexpected happened: at the funeral of Sir Aubrey, his dog suddenly barked angrily at Richard and almost attacked him. And Ardillier took the opportunity to accuse him of murder right in front of Charles V.

It may seem strange to you that the barking of a dog would even come to anyone’s mind to be considered as something worthy of attention. But in the Middle Ages, it was believed that animals could well be witnesses to a crime and even accused, so courts with their participation were not uncommon. And in fact, if at the hearings of rats then subpoenas were summoned and lawyers were allocated to them, then the testimony of the dog and all the more worth paying attention to.

The king, however, decided to conduct another check and lined up two hundred of his knights, including de Maker, in a line. And when the dog was brought to them, he immediately barked at the suspect.

One problem: the dog could not present clear evidence of de Maker’s involvement in the murder, because he did not fully speak French. Therefore, His Majesty Charles V solved the problem in the simplest way – he declared the need for an ordeal , or God’s judgment. And he ordered de Maker to enter into a duel with a dog – they say, whoever wins is right.

He wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of fighting a calf-sized dog, but he couldn’t refuse. And on October 8, 1371, the duel began. The dog was armed with teeth, the Chevalier Richard with a club and a wooden shield. These weapons did not help him, and the dog knocked him down and began to ruffle.

Then de Maker, so that he would not be bitten to death, shouted out a confession in the murder of de Mondidier. The dog was dragged away, recognizing his accusations as fair, and Chevalier Richard was executed by hanging. This story was captured on the stained-glass window of the church in the city of Montargis, where the murdered man came from. The further fate of the dog, however, is not known.

4. Duel 19 years long

Portrait of General Francois Louis Fournier-Sarlovez. Antoine-Jean Gros, between 1800 and 1812. Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Weapons: pistols, swords, sabers, rapiers and spears.
  • Sides: Divisional General François Louis Fournier-Sarlovez, Count and Divisional General Pierre Dupont de l’Etang.

In the history of our long-suffering planet, there have been not only hundred-year wars, but also nineteen-year duels. And it’s not about the age of the participants, but about the duration of the fight.

Napoleon Bonaparte had two generals – Francois Fournier-Sarlovez and Pierre Dupont de l’Etang. And the first one was just the wildest bully. He fought duels with everyone he saw, and was considered the owner of “the nastiest character in the whole Grand Army.”

And then one day General Dupont came to Fournier to give him a package with orders from his superiors. History is silent about what was written there, but the man flew into an indescribable rage and challenged the messenger to a duel.

It is possible that Dupont was not in business at all, but the officer’s honor forced him to accept the challenge. The gentlemen generals began to shoot, and Fournier was wounded. But he refused to accept his defeat. They arranged a new duel – this time Dupont was wounded, but his opponent was still dissatisfied and did not consider the outcome of the battle an honest victory.

In short, the duelists made a pact: to fight each time they were within 100 miles of each other. Cancellations are not accepted.

From 1794 to 1813, these bullies fought from 27 to 30 battles (figures vary), fighting with swords, pistols, sabers, rapiers and spears. Fights were held not only on foot, but also on horseback.

It seems unlikely that two professional soldiers couldn’t kill each other for so long. But perhaps they paid more attention to the process than the result. In the end, the men even became friends a little and often dined together before the fight.

Finally, in 1813, Dupont wounded Fournier in the neck during another unforeseen sword fight, and he barely recovered. The winner told his opponent that he was tired of fighting all the time, he was going to get married and finally live in peace. Therefore, he wants to ask Fournier for forgiveness for the offenses inflicted – however, no one really remembered what they, in fact, are – and stop the enmity.

Fournier was outraged and demanded a final duel with pistols to decide for sure which of them would live and who would die on the field of honor. Dupont was forced to agree.

They started shooting again. Fournier was in a hurry and fired a shot at long range, causing him to miss. Dupont, whose gun was still loaded, called the enemy to the nearest barrier, and they approached each other within the minimum allowed distance.

Then Dupont said that he did not want to shoot Fournier, and demanded that he break his stupid contract with duels. Furious, but the losing general finally relented, and the nineteen-year confrontation ended in peace.

5. Duel in a carriage

Place Carruzel in 1853. Image: Wikimedia Commons
  • Weapons: rapiers, daggers and teeth.
  • Sides: Colonel Barbier-Dufay and Captain Raoul de Vere.

As you can see, even though Napoleon strictly forbade duels, the French were not stupid to fight. Another curious duel that took place at that time was the battle between Colonel Barbier-Dufay and Captain Raoul de Vere.

The captain mocked the colonel’s cockade and ribbons – they say, he looks too dapper, not according to the charter. The enraged Barbier-Dufay called him to account and demanded to fight him right now, on the Paris Carruzel Square, where, in fact, the altercation took place.

They began to fight with swords. But the captain, although he was younger and stronger than the colonel, turned out to be an extremely mediocre swordsman. The fact is that in the army of Napoleon they fought in a modern way: they stood in the ranks, fired from muskets, reloaded, fired again. Then – a bayonet attack. Who survived – restore the system, into position, repeat.

To stab an enemy with a bayonet, knowledge of subtle techniques was not required. The colonel, on the other hand, belonged, as they say, to the old school, and brilliantly wielded a heavy rapier.

Barbier-Dufay knocked the weapon out of de Vere’s hands and stabbed him once, a second, a third, a fourth. But neither one nor the other contender agreed to admit that he was satisfied.

A horse-drawn carriage drove past them, and the brave warriors decided to sort things out in a different way.

In general, they hired this cabman and got into the carriage, tying their left hands together so as not to break the distance. Each was armed with a dagger.

The carriage began to move and made two circles around Carruzel Square. When she stopped, onlookers who were watching the showdown opened the doors and found that de Vere was stabbed to death in the corner, and above him, hunched over, the wounded Barbier-Dufay was sitting.

The colonel survived his rival by only one day, because he received many stab wounds and was bitten in addition. Dying, he proudly declared to his comrades gathered around his deathbed: “At least, Monsignors, you will give me credit by admitting that I defeated him in a duel on fair terms!”

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