training : trial by combat : On the Trial by Combat

n the Trial by Combat

Introduction and Background

The armoured judicial duel was typically held between nobles, fought in armour with the knightly weapons that include the spear, longsword and dagger, and were usually fatal [ 1 ]. Essentially, the duel was a private affair and the role of the judge was only to

Preparation for the judicial duel, extracted from Talhoffer's 1459 manuscript. (Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen, Thott 290 2, 150 ff. Bayern 1459 - Talhoffer's "Alte Armatur und Ringkunst")
ensure that the duel was conducted according to the formalities of the period. If a noble had to undergo a trial-by-combat to settle the issue of whose case was right or to provide evidence in support of the individual, the challenger had to wear the same clothing and armour as depicted. Not all trials were fought to the death. This was necessary only when a major offenense like murder, treason, heresy etc. was put to court.

In the case of a minor offense, the trial would be stopped by the judge when one of the combatants was exhausted, wounded or perceived as being clearly overwhelmed. In this case, the judge could stop the fight and ask the parties if they'd like to consider the issue settled and the point being proven. If the parties agreed, the fight would stop, if not, they would continue, but again not necessarily to the death. The fighting style in the judicial duel will comply with eskermir à outrance as defined above.

Additional requirements over and above the tournament arms & armour requirements will include:

The biers were assumed to be used as a stretcher used to carry the dead from ths list. For additional background information on a judicial duel, an extract from the Froissart's Chronicles of the life-and-death duel between James le Gris and John de Carogne is available for study. Also refer to the video segments of a judicial duel conducted by AEMMA and hosted the WCJA in Orangeville below. For more information and references on Judicial Duels, refer to the Armoured Judicial Duels below.

Tournament / Duels Videos
  1. 2nd International Western Martial Arts Workshop 2000 Toronto, October 13-15, 2000.
  2. Armoured Judicial Duel conducted by AEMMA and hosted by the World Championship Jousting Association tournament, Orangeville, July 14, 2001.
  3. 3rd International Western Martial Arts Workshop 2001 New York City, NY, October 12-14, 2001.
  4. Dragon's Lair Canadian National and International Jousting Tournament - 14th Century Judicial Duels, Waterford, ON, July 12-14, 2002.
  5. A promotionary short video clip of the armoured tournament, March 2008 at the Royal Ontario Museum entitled "Armoured Combat" (Stimulus Café)

References & Sources
  1. Dillon, "On a MS Collection of Ordinances of Chivalry of the Fifteenth Century, Belonging to Lord Hastings" Archaeologia, LVII (1902), 62-66. Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, Constable under Richard II On the Manner of Conducting Judicial Duels. AEMMA Online Library. Last accessed November 9, 2009.
  2. Froissart, Jean [1337-1412]: "Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain, Portugal, Scotland, Brittany, Flanders, And the Adjoining Countires; Translated from the Original French by John Bourchier, Lord Berners". London: Printed by F.C. and J.Rivington, T.Payne..., 1812. Vol II, CAP. LXI, Pg 201: "Howe a squyer called Jaques le Grys was accused in the parlyament house at Parys before all the lordes there present, by a knyght called John of Carongne, and what Jugement was gyuen vpon them; and howe they Justed at vtteraunce in Parys, in a place called saynt Katheryne, behynde the temple; and how Jaques le Grys was confounded.". AEMMA Online Library. Last accessed November 9, 2009.
  3. Hans Talhoffer [1459], Alte Armatur und Ringkunst. AEMMA Online Library. Last accessed November 9, 2009. Kämpfe in den Schranken mit Spiess und Schwert in voller Rüstung (Fight in the lists with Spear and Sword in Full Armor - enter page 172 in the lower left of screen). Last accessed November 9, 2009.
  4. Hans Talhoffer [1467], Fechtbuchs aus dem Jahre 1467, Kämpfe in den Schranken mit Spiess und Schwert in voller Rüstung (Fight in the lists with Spear and Sword in Full Armor). AEMMA Online Library. Last accessed November 9, 2009.
  5. Hodges, Kenneth. Trial by Combat between a Man and a Woman. University of Oklahoma. Last accessed November 20, 2009.
  6. Jager, Eric, " The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France" Broadway Books, USA. October 12, 2004.
  7. Russell, M.J. Trial by Battle in the Court of Chivalry. The Journal of Legal History. December 2008, pages 335-357.
  8. von Baumans [c1470], Fechtbuch. AEMMA Online Library. Last accessed November 9, 2009.

  1. Judicial Duels held in England were usually non-fatal for the combatants, however, on the continent, things were a little different, and most duels were fatal to at least one of the combatants. Judicial duels were only fought over serious matters like murder and treason.

Copyright © 2000 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts AEMMA
Released: July 23, 2000 / Last modified: December 3, 2009