Women fighting with swords and pistols: famous women’s fights

(ORDO NEWS) — The use of private duels as a way to resolve matters of honor spread across Europe from Italy in the late 15th century, although the institutional practice was much older.

These fights were governed by a strict code and elaborate procedure. They arose because of real or imagined insults and insults, and sometimes they could be caused by the most trifling disagreements.

This practice became so widespread in France that in 1566 participation in a duel or trial by combat became punishable by death. However, during the revolutionary period, duels resumed and continued until the 20th century, although by that time duels were held mainly for formality. In England, this practice was banned in 1819.

As common as this practice was among aristocratic males, it was common for women to use other means to resolve their quarrels and differences. However, a case of a “duel in a petticoat” is recorded in history, when two ladies decided to take their own lives with swords or pistols.

There were many reasons for women’s duels, some of them banal: modern actresses argued with each other about which of them was the best actress; society ladies quarreled over their position at a social event; one woman even fought another after a nasty remark about her age. But most often the reason for the women’s duel was jealousy of the man.

The women did not usually fight each other to the death or pain, but usually only to first blood. But there were exceptions to this rule.

Earliest female duel in history

One of the earliest known duels between women was between two Neapolitan noblewomen – Diambra de Pettinella and Isabella de Carazzi – in 1552. It was an intriguing reversal of a medieval story about shining knights in armor fighting for the hand of a beautiful lady, the duel was fought by a man named Fabio de Ceresola.

Which of the two ladies emerged victorious from the duel and whether she really won Fabio’s heart remains unknown. However, the duel was fascinating enough to be remembered over 80 years later in a painting by José de Ribera titled Duel of the Women (1636).

Duel in lingerie

One of the most famous female duels took place in 1792 in London between Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs Elphinstone. Or not?

The reason for the duel was Mrs. Elphinstone’s suggestion that Lady Almeria is much older than she claims. “You were a very beautiful woman.

You still have a very good autumn face. Forty years ago, as I was told, a young guy could hardly look at you with impunity.” This angered Lady Almeria (who claimed to be 30 years old) so much that she called Mrs. Elphinstone on a date.

They met in Hyde Park and first exchanged pistol shots, which resulted in a hole in Lady Almeria’s hat. Then they resumed sword fighting, and this time Mrs. Elphinstone was slightly wounded in the arm. Lady Almeria’s honor was satisfied and they were done with it. Mrs. Elphinstone later wrote Lady Almeria a letter of apology.

It’s quite an interesting story, but perhaps nothing more. The source was an article in Carlton House Magazine, and Lady Almeria Braddock appears to have been a fictional character.

There was no real person by that name, and Lady Almeria was most likely based on the actress George Ann Bellamy, who played the character of Almeria in one of her plays and knew General Edward Braddock. Probably, “Duel in the coat” was nothing more than a figment of the imagination of an inventive writer.

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Duelists in Underwear” is depicted in an engraving from the Carlton House magazine in 1792

Patriotic duel

But there are many equally interesting examples of duels conducted by women, the veracity of which is beyond doubt. In 1886, a strange quarrel broke out between two female doctors of different nationalities.

The fiery French feminist and physician Madame Marie-Rose Asti de Valsayre got into a heated argument with a fellow feminist and American physician named Miss Shelby over the relative superiority of French and American female physicians.

During the argument, Miss Shelby called Madame Asti de Valceire an idiot. Unable to bear the insult, Madame Asti de Valseire threw down the gauntlet to Miss Shelby.

Madame was a better fencer, she was a passionate supporter of this sport for women and even ran a fencing school herself. The outcome of the duel was a foregone conclusion, although she generously gave Miss Shelby 15 days to train.

Wounded in the shoulder by Madame, Miss Shelby was forced to admit that the French doctors were better than their American counterparts.

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Madame Marie-Rose Asti de Valseire in a duel with Miss Shelby

The strangest female duel: Bare-breasted women fight over flowers

Perhaps the most bizarre lingerie duel ever recorded was a duel between two Austrian aristocrats in 1892 for a completely frivolous reason.

Differences between Princess Pauline Metternich and Countess Anastasia Kielmansegg arose over the floral design of the Vienna Music and Theater Exhibition, of which the princess was honorary president, and the countess was president of the ladies’ committee. The dispute became so serious that they decided that the only way to resolve it was in a duel.

Accompanied by seconds and an experienced doctor, Baroness Lubinskaya, the opponents went to Vaduz on the Swiss border for a duel.

Here, on the advice of the baroness, who warned them about the consequences of getting clothes into the wound from the sword and its sepsis, both ladies undressed to the waist. The only men present were the servants, and they were asked to move away and stand with their backs to what was happening.

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Duel between Princess Paulina Metternich and Countess Anastasia Kielmansegg

However, when both ladies bled each other – the princess cut the countess’s nose, and the countess hit the princess on the hand with a sword – the seconds fainted from this sight. At the cries of the ladies, the servants rushed to help, but Baroness Lubinskaya beat them with an umbrella, shouting: “Look away, lustful scoundrels.”

Bitter duel

Duels also spread to the Americas, and one of the last duels in the classical style took place between two society ladies in Mexico in 1900. Marta Duran was at the ball with her lover Rafael Riquelme. Rafael had a wandering eye and turned his attention to Juana Luna. Juana began to absorb his admiration.

A dispute arose between the two ladies, and they decided to settle it with a duel. It was a fierce duel that did not end in first blood; it continued until Martha was severely wounded and Juana injured her sword arm. Marta had no choice but to agree to give Raphael.

But the matter did not end there. Marta had to turn to a surgeon for help. The matter reached the police, and Juana and his seconds were arrested and imprisoned. It all ended with the fact that both ladies voluntarily abandoned Raphael.

Although dueling is not as common as dueling men, it seems that quite a few women resorted to this practice to resolve personal quarrels and disagreements.


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