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Duels between French Women

From the book by J.C. "Milligan. History of duelling. Published by Richard Bentley in London, 1841."
Source: The New York Mirror

Русская версия

Ladies duel

Duel between Edmon's lovers
Illustration for the novel by Retif de la Bretonne "La paysanne pervertie ou Les dangers de la ville" (1775)
Source: Gallica. Bibliotheque Nationale de France

That women who can mostly get silly people to fight for them, shouldn't fight themselves, is natural, but there are instances on record in which ladies have shown their determination to avenge their own wrongs. Madame de Villedieu who lived in the 17th century, mentioned a duel fought with swords by the Henriette Sylvie de Moliere with another woman, both in male attire. In the Letters of Madame Du Noyer (17th cent.), a case is mentioned of a lady Beaucaire, and a young lady of rank, who fought, with swords in their garden and would have killed each other had they not be separated; this meeting had been preceded by a regular challenge.

Ursula against a rogue
Ursula in a domestic duel against a rogue.
Illustration for the novel by Retif de la Bretonne.
La paysanne pervertie ou Les dangers de la ville (1775)
Source: Gallica. Bibliotheque Nationale de France

Vulson de la Colombiere (17th century) mentions a duel that took place on the Boulevard St. Antoine between two ladies, in which they inflicted on each other's face and bosom several wounds, two points at which female jealousy would naturally aim. French author of the 18 century Germain de Saint-Foix, in the "Paris Essay" relates the case of Mademoiselle Durieux, who attacked and fought her lover with a blade in the open street.

But the most celebrated female duelist was the actress La Maupin (1673-1707), one of the performers at the Opera. Serannes, the famous fencing master was one of her lovers, and from him she received many valuable lessons. Being insulted one day by an actor by the name of Dumeny, she called him out; but as he refused to give her satisfaction, she carried away his watch and snuff-box as trophies of her victory. Another performer having presumed to offend her; on his declining a meeting, he was obliged to kneel down before her and implore her forgiveness. One evening at a ball [being in men's attire], having behaved in a very rude manner to a lady, she was requested to leave the room, which she did on the condition that those gentlemen who had warmly espoused the offended lady's cause should accompany her. To this proposal they agreed - when, after a hard combat, she killed them all, and quietly returned to the ball-room. Louis XIV who had banned duels granted her a pardon and she withdrew to Brussels, where she became the mistress of the Elector of Bavaria. However, she soon afterwards returned to the Parisian Opera and died in 1707, at the age of 37.

Under the Regence (1715-1723), a pistol meeting took place between the Marquise de Nestle and the Countess de Polignac for the possession of the Due de Richelieu. In more modern times, so late indeed as 1827, a Madame B., at Saint-Rambert, received a challenge to fight with pistols; and at about the same period a lady of Chateauroux, whose husband had received a slap in the face without resenting the insult, called out the offender and fighting him with swords, severely wounded him.

In 1828 a duel took place between a young girl and a Garde du Corps. She had been insulted by the gallant soldier, and insisted upon satisfaction, selecting her own weapons by the right of an offended party. Two shots were exchanged, but without any result, as the seconds very wisely had not loaded with ball. The young lady, however, ignorant of this precaution, fired first, and receive the fire of her adversary with the utmost coolness; when to try her courage, after taking a long and deliberate aim, he fired in the air, and then terminated the meeting, which no doubt led too many others of a less hostile nature.

In the same month, as a striking instance of the contagion of this practice, a duel was fought near Strasbourg between a French woman and a German lady, both of whom were in love with an artist. The parties met on the ground armed with pistols, with seconds of their own sex. The German damsel wanted to fire across a pocket-handkerchief, but the French lady and her seconds insisted upon a distance of twenty five paces. They both fired without effect, when the exasperated German insisted that they should carry on the contest until one of the parties fell. This determination, however, was controlled by the seconds, who put a stop to further proceedings, but were unable to bring about reconciliation.

From the book by J.C. "Milligan. History of duelling.
Published by Richard Bentley in London, 1841."
Source: The New York Mirror

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