En garde, you swine

“Serious dueling—dueling to the death to settle a conflict or an insult to one’s honor—arose among the nobility in early modern Europe at a time when states were centralizing. In medieval days the nobility had dominated its demesnes with serious violence, enforcing decrees, claiming and defending territory and levying tribute much as present-day mafiosi do. To assert authority and collect taxes, centralizing governments had to limit such private violence. Monarchs did so in part by establishing courts that the nobility had to attend as disarmed courtiers to seek royal favor. Monarchs also outlawed violent personal contests. The duel, a formalized violent personal contest, then developed outside the law as an implicit political protest, an assertion by the nobility that while it was prepared to bend its knee to the monarch in matters of taxation and social control, it did not recognize the monarch’s writ in matters of personal honor.” – Richard Rhodes, Masters of Death

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