Stephen Banks: A Polite Exchange of Bullets: Duelling and Honour

Dr Stephen Banks, from Reading University, spoke to all branches of the WP about duelling in England, with swords and then pistols, and the violent culture of honour of which it was a part. He shared, in a fascinating, fun and clear way, his original research into the history of this (to us) alien cultural practice: 16% of duels ended in death, 40% in injury, yet only a small percentage of challenges actually ended in a duel. Duels were usually fought not on great issues of politics or religion, but over apparently trivial matters of respect, matters which nevertheless were to do with the all-important concept of honour: one man was killed when his labrador shook water over a lady’s dress…

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