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For centuries, duelling played an integral role in the preservation of the aristocratic order in Europe, defying attempts by both church and state to ban the practice. Moreover, the romance and drama of the duel has made it an enduring fixture in films, literature, and the theatre.
In The Duel in European History, renowned historian Victor Kiernan writes with his characteristic wit and insight of duelling's evolution from its medieval origins – when it was regarded as a badge of rank - to the early twentieth century, by which time it was seen as an irrational anachronism. In doing so, he shows how the duelling tradition was something unique to Europe and its colonies, and, in its contribution to the development of the officer corps, played a key part in shaping European military power.
Drawing on a vast range of historical and cultural sources, this is the definitive account of a violent ritual that continues to fascinate even today.