The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Since the new movie adaptation of the real history, with all-star actors and actresses, is all the buzz, I decided to read the book that it was based on. And no, I have not seen the movie (yet).
But either way, I'm glad to have read it. It's the account of the last lawful use of duels in the French court during the Hundred Year's War, and because it was a pretty horrific way to perform law from any way you look at it, it also ended the practice.
Rivalry, rape, rapine, perhaps even a bit of revenge. Of course, the topic is evergreen. How should the law be settled in case of rape accusations? Why, with multiple perjury, likely malfeasance, with women treated as chattel and burned, pregnant, at the stake for simply accusing her rapist, of course. And if that isn't enough, resort to systemized knightly duels because, as we know, might always makes right.
The history is written well and the book is very readable, full of basic explanations and personages and cultural baggage, but the history of this, itself, is aggravating as hell.
Good book, however. And good riddance to the practice.
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