*Originally posted November 9, 2010

This is a transcription that I did from a passage of The Third Book of Of Honor and Arms that I thought might make interesting reading for a [Saturday] morning.  I took the liberty of modernizing some of the language in hopes of making it easier to read.  If anyone would like it in the original please feel free email me.  My contact information can be found on the about page.

Reference: Author Unknown. The Booke of Honor and Armes. Published by Richard Jones. 1590. Available from http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home. Downloaded Sept. 2007

What Sorts of Men Ought not to be Admitted to Trial of Arms

Because the trial of arms is the realm of the gentleman and gentility itself is an honorable state it is not fit that any person of base or mean condition (i.e. any ungentlemanly person) should be admitted into that realm.  Just as judges of civil trials will often reject the testimony of an infamous witness, so to should a man of mean or base quality be disallowed from accusing an honorable man.  After all, how can such a man charge another of a crime when he himself has committed an offence against his own reputation?

1.       It has therefore been determined that no man having committed treason against his prince or country should be admitted.

2.       Also any man who has had intelligence or conference with the enemies of this prince or who having been taken by his prince’s enemies chooses to remain with them even if he has the means to return to his prince’s service.

3.       He who becomes a spy for the enemy, takes an oath against his prince, or takes his prince’s money and leaves before serving his full time.

4.       He who abandons the army of his prince and flees to the enemy, or who after having been discharged goes to the enemy during a skirmish or fight.  He shall be reputed as infamous and as a traitor.

5.       He that abandons the ensign of his prince or captain or that either during the day or night maliciously departs from the place of his charge about the prince’s person or in camp.

6.       All thieves, beggars, bawds[1], victuallers[2], excommunicated persons, usurers, men banished from the army, and every other man engaged in an occupation or trade unfit and unworthy of a gentleman or soldier.

7.       Finally, whosoever is defamed of any notable crime or who is by law not allowed to bear witness.

These are the men who should rightfully and lawfully be disallowed from challenging any gentleman or soldier and should also be abhorred by every honest person.  If a man of good reputation should fight with such person be besmirches his own character in doing so.  However, if a gentleman would refuse a challenger on these grounds he must confidently know that this man has been condemned for such crimes or at least he has been condemned for crimes so notorious that the repulsed party cannot deny it.  It should be known though that if any man of such infamy were to be challenged by a gentleman or a soldier, he may not himself refuse, unless after the challenge the challenger commits some infamous act which must be observed by both parties.

Citation: Unknown. The Booke of Honor and Armes. http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home. (1590) p.30-32


[1]Bawd: a person dealing in the prostitution industry.

[2] Victualler: a person licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.  Also used to refer to the landlord of a public house or similar establishment

This is a transcription that I did from a passage of The Third Book of Of Honor and Arms that I thought might make interesting reading for a Tuesday morning.  I took the liberty of modernizing some of the language in hopes of making it easier to read.  If anyone would like it in the original please feel free email me.  My contact information can be found on the about page.

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I’ve probably mentioned it here before but for the past year and a half at least I’ve had an unfinished green linen gothic fitted gown sitting on my shelf waiting to be picked back up.  It was all cut out, it just needed to be assembled.

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I had a fabulous time at June University this past weekend.  I got to spend some time fighting C&T pickups with Giacomo, enjoyed Isobel, Robert, and Lisette’s furniture class, and my dueling class went rather well.

It was really rather hot on Saturday but I didn’t really feel hot.  I felt warm but comfortable while I was fighting which I found a little surprising considering how hot I felt fighting at Coronation which was about the same temperature.  I think the main difference was the amount of water I drank.  I drank an insane about of water before and during University and I followed that up with a bunch of water on Sunday.

The library seemed very well attended and there were a ton of books.  I was quite impressed by the work that was put into making it happen.

My class went rather well.  I had a bunch of students and the day shade that the group had provided for our class was quite comfortable and had plenty of space.  As soon as I format my citations I’ll be putting the handout up on my site so it will be available to anyone who was unable to attend the class.

The 16th Century saw a notable rise in interest in the Italian culture in England.  While we most often think of the rapier as the most important Italian import in to England it was not the only one.  Italian courtesy manuals became immensely popular in the mid to late 16th Century, especially among the English nobility.  Among the many things these treatises imparted was the Italian sense of honor and gentlemanly behavior.  Previously there had certainly been courtesy books based on the Christian sense of civility however these new manuals were specifically directed towards the men of the court.  These treatises placed particular emphasis on decorum, presentation, and conduction oneself so as to be thought well of by other courtiers and gentlemen.  Thus this courtesy and decorum became a way to both gain and bestow honor and reputation.

There were thought to be two different kinds of honor during this time period.  Vertical honor was the honor due to one’s superiority and horizontal honor was the honor due to an equal or a member of one’s peer group.  Vertical honor could be increased as a man gained superiority however, horizontal honor could not.  Horizontal honor was thought to be innate and served as a man’s reputation among his peers.  Also known as natural honor, it was believed to have been conferred on a man at birth.  Interestingly for men of the time period natural honor could only be lost, not regained.  Thus it was immensely important to preserve one’s reputation and honor.  In a society were the opinion of one’s peers was so very important, reputation was everything and it was vitally important to preserve their good opinion.  This is why it was so important to maintain civil and courteous interaction.  Gentlemen conferred honor on each other through their courteous behavior.  Thus discourteous behavior meant running the risk of loosing that honor.  Once one’s honor and reputation had come under question a gentleman had no other recourse to retain his status and reputation than retaliation.  The only acceptable method of retaliation open to a gentleman was the duel.

On June 12th I will be teaching Introduction to the Structure of the Duel in Early Modern England at Atlantian Summer University.  I’m working on finalizing my handout and class notes this week but I wanted to give you all a little sneak preview of the subjects we will be covering while you still have time to sign up for the class!

The topics we will be covering include:

  1. Honor and Reputation in Early Modern England
  2. Dueling as a Tool to Preserve Honor and Reputation
  3. Injuries
  4. Giving the Lie and the Order of the Challenger and Defender
  5. Types of Lies: Certain, Conditional, General, Particular, and Foolish
  6. Why you Can’t Take up Arms After Giving the Lie
  7. Cartels
  8. Election of Weapons
  9. Achieving Victory

There’s still plenty of time to sign up!  If you are interested in registering for this or any other June University Session #77 class check out the University website!

This afternoon I finished my second Foundations Revealed article and I’ll be turning it in a week from Monday.  This article will be a tutorial on 14th Century bias cut hosen and I’m very please with how it has turned out.  This also means that I now have an extra week to work on my dueling class for Atlantian University. :)

This week has been particularly crazy.  I’m in the finishing stages of my first article so I haven’t had much time for other writing.  I did want to update you all on a small change to these projects though.  I found out last week that there has been a slight change in publication plans.  Rather than being published in the June and July issues of Your Wardrobe Unlock’d: the Costume Maker’s Companion they will instead be published in the June and July issues of YWU’s sister site Foundations Revealed – the Corsetmaker’s Companion.  I know I am still keeping you all in suspense as to the subject of the articles, but I think they will fit in very well at Foundations Revealed, which is dedicated specifically to historical undergarments where as YWU is dedicated to historical clothing in general.

I have also submitted a class to the HMA track at Atlantian June University.  After much debate with myself on whether to submit a new class or an old class I decided to submit a class on Early Modern Dueling.  I have really been enjoying my research on that topic and I’m looking forward to teaching a full class on it.

Image from Saviolo's PracticeDueling in the 16th century was often used as a form of private judicial combat between two individuals in order to settle disagreements over reputation and honor.  “Giving the lie” began the process of the duel itself and there were two basic injuries over which the lie was given: injuries caused by words and injuries caused by deeds. 

Injuries Caused by Words:

As an example of an injury caused by words Edward says to Michael that he is a spy and a traitor.  Michael answers by saying Edward lies (this is the giving of the lie).  In this scenario Edward now becomes the Challenger because the burden of proof has been placed on him to prove that he has not spoken falsely. 

Injuries Caused by Deeds: 

As an example of an injury caused by deeds Edward strikes Michael by beating him violently in some way.  How he strikes him does not really matter, only that he does.  Michael answers the offence by accusing Edward of abusing him or using violence against him (effectively the accusation is that Edward has not behaved as a gentleman should).  Here though it is Edward that gives the lie, saying that Michael lies about the abuse and thus his behavior.  Now the burden of proof is on Michael and he becomes the Challenger. 

The Role of Challenger: 

The role of challenger does not fall based on the righteousness of an individual’s cause.  The role of challenger is assumed by whoever is given the lie falsely.  The man who receives the lie wrongfully must prove that he is not a liar, thus he is the one that must challenge the man who gave him the lie. 

Saviolo maintains that the reason the role of challenger falls to the man who wrongfully receives the lie is because in court every man is assumed to be honest, honorable, and just until it is proved that he is not.  So if a man is accused of a crime he has only to deny it to be set free, unless there is other proof of his guilt.  Thus the man who receives the lie must prove that his original words were true.