Top 10 Famous Duels

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In 1777, Irish statesmen met at Clonmel and drew up a Code Duello. The Code Duello was a dueling code which was popularly used in Ireland and in Britain. Immediately after its conception, the rules of Code Duello crossed the Atlantic and became used for dueling in the United States.

Much of the Code Duello dealt with how challenges were to be issued and answered. Although dueling was a form of fighting used before the Code Duello, it only became widespread after its conception. Here are 10 examples of famous duels pre and post Code Duello.


1. David Vs. Goliath:

This was one of the most famous mythical duels that is still spoken about in contemporary society. David was a young teenager who heard Goliath (a giant) shouting his daily defiance. Understanding the great fear stirred within the men of Israel, David volunteered to fight Goliath. As Goliath moved in to the kill David with his sword, David reached into his bag and threw stones at Goliath’s head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into the Goliath forehead, making him fall to the ground. Taking Goliath’s sword, David killed his opponent and cut off his head.


2. Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr:

The duel was between Alexander Hamilton (the former Secretary of Treasury) and Aaron Burr (Vice-President of the United States) on July 11, 1804. Bitter political tensions ensued between the two men. The tensions came to a boiling point when Hamilton defamed Burr’s character during the 1804 New York gubernational race. The tensions were preconceived as both were on opposing political sides (Federalists vs. Democratic-Republicans). During the duel, Burr shot Hamilton, causing damage to the liver, abdomen and diaphragm. Hamilton died the next day from his wounds.


3. Aleksandr Pushkin vs. Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès:

Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès mortally wounded Aleksandr Pushkin in a duel which took place in 1837. The cause of the duel was Pushkin’s wife affair with d’Anthès. As a result of the affair, Pushkin fell into debt and wanted to resolve it once and for all. Mortally wounded, Pushkin died 2 days later.


4. Mikhail Lermontov vs. Nikolai Martynov:

On July 25, 1841, the two decided to duel over Lermontov’s jokes about Martynov. Two days later, Lermonotov took on Martynov’s challenge to a dual at the foot of Mashuk Mountains. Lermonotov was killed by Martynov’s first shot.


5. Miguel Cervantes vs. Antonio Sigura:

The duel resulted in the wounding of Sigura in 1569. For his role in leading the duel, Cervantes was to be banished from Spain for 10 years and to lose his right hand. Cervantes ran away before the punishment could be fulfilled. When eventually deciding to return to Spain in 1575, Berber pirates took his ship near Barcelona. They captured Cervantes and his brother Rodrigo and jailed them in their Algerian prisons.


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