Today I welcome author Laurie Brown to the blog!
Laurie is the author of What Would Jane Austen Do? a fabulous new time travel romance which is now available!
Here’s a blurb for the book:
Surely Jane Austen would know how to handle such a rake…
From the author of Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake, a new time travel romance featuring a modern day career woman swept back in time to Regency England, where she thwarts a Napoleonic spy, chats with Jane Austen, and falls in love with a notorious rake.
Eleanor is a costume designer in England for the Jane Austen festival, where her room at the inn is haunted. In the middle of the night she encounters two ghost sisters whose brother was killed in a duel over 200 years ago. They persuade her to travel back in time with them to prevent the duel. Eleanor is swept into a country house party, presided over by the charming Lord Shermont, where she encounters and befriends Jane Austen. But there’s much more to Lord Shermont than the ghosts knew, and as Eleanor dances and flirts with him, she begins to lose her heart.
Now here’s Laurie with a blog about some interesting research she conducted for this book…
The Rules of Dueling
By Laurie Brown
One of the things I like about reading historicals and time travels is learning interesting new facts. It should be no surprise then that one thing I love about writing them is doing the research. In my new release, What Would Jane Austen Do? the heroine must stop a duel from happening. Even though I’d read about duels in other books and seen them on TV and in the movies, I knew I needed to know more.
Dueling existed in one form or another dating back to medieval times (i.e. jousting). Duels could be fought with swords but from the 18th century on, pistols were the weapons most often chosen. Special sets of dueling pistols were used by the wealthy.
From the early 19th century duels were often technically illegal in Europe, though in practice participants in a fair duel were hardly ever prosecuted, and rarely convicted. Since only gentlemen were considered capable of having honor, only they could duel. There were many codes or sets of rules, changing with geography and available weaponry. During the Regency and into the early Victorian Age the Code Duello, formalized in 1777, was widely accepted. Young gentlemen learned the 25 (sometimes 26) rules of the Code as part of their education.
The goal of an honorable duel was not necessarily to kill the opponent but to restore one’s honor, to gain ‘satisfaction. A number of the rules therefore have to do with who should apologize and when. Rule 1 “The first offense requires the first apology, though the retort may have been more offensive than the insult.”
Avoidance of unnecessary or frivolous deaths appears to be the goal. For example, Rule 15 says, “Challenges are never to be delivered at night unless the party to be challenged intends leaving the place of offense before morning, for it is desirable to avoid all hot-headed proceedings.”
In certain instances a duel is not only condoned, but called for. Rule 5 “As a blow is strictly prohibited under any circumstances among gentlemen, no verbal apology can be received for such an insult. The alternatives, therefore- the offender handing a cane to the injured party, to be used on his own back, at the same time begging pardon; firing on until one or both are disabled; or exchanging three shots, ands then asking pardon without proffer of the cane. “ Rule 9 “All imputations of cheating at play, races, etc., to be considered equivalent to a blow; but may be reconciled after one shot, on admitting their falsehood and begging pardon publicly. And Rule 10 “Any insult to a lady under a gentleman’s care or protection to be considered as, by one degree, a greater offense than if given to the gentleman, and to be regulated accordingly.”
Firing into the air, a delope, was strictly prohibited by Rule 13. If the duel had gotten to that point the offense should have been serious enough to continue. “…therefore, children’s play must be dishonorable on one side or the other…” That said, the delope was often used for milder refractions, honor having been restored simply by the act of being willing to place your life on the line for it.
The challenger chose the terms of the duel, to first blood, until one man was so wounded as to be unable to continue, or to the death. In the case of pistols, the choice would be one, two, or three shots. More than three exchanges of fire was considered barbaric and, if no hits were achieved, somewhat ridiculous. The challenged had the choice of weapons.
Each party would name a trusted representative as his second. This wasn’t a duty accepted lightly. The seconds would decide on the “field of honor” and time, usually an isolated location and at dawn so they would not be interrupted. Seconds also checked the weapons to make sure they were of equal, loaded the pistols (if used), witnessed the duel, and were expected to continue the fight if honor had not been deemed satisfied.
By the mid-Victorian Age, duels had gone out of fashion. Except in fiction. I’m glad my heroine was able to prevent the duel.
Readers, be sure to look for What Would Jane Austen Do? in stores now!
And be sure to check out Laurie’s website for updates: http://www.lauriebrown.net
So What Would Jane Austen Do? involves time travel…what would you do if you found yourself transported back in time?
Would you want to go?