28 August 2008

Node: Military Transformation

Reading: Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance Barton C. Hacker Source: Signs, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Summer, 1981), pp. 643-671 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173736 This was definitely a worthwhile article, less for what it contained, and more for the ideas I had while reading it. It focusses a great deal on English, American and (to some degree) Austrian experiences, but the approach is interesting. Essentially, it's a discussion of the lives and social status of the women who followed armies around. There's a lot of reference to other works (which are probably worth looking up later) and not a lot of primary sources, so I'm not entirely sure yet how legitimate some of the figures quoted are (the claims that up to 50% of an army, as counted, might be made up by camp followers seems suspicious). Some interesting thoughts, and I'll put in a brief summary (again, in rough note form, since I have to leave soon) of what I found relevant: There were, of course, any number of morally legitimate reasons a woman might choose to follow an army. Wives might well follow husbands, and augment (unreliable) promises of pay by performing menial tasks such as cooking, laundering, mending and firewood-gathering. Others seem to have done a brisk trade in the supply of luxury goods like tobacco and alcohol. Some simply had no place better to be, or saw fit to provide nursing, such as it was, to friends and family. Even simple things like helping to relieve burden by carrying things were percieved as helpful, valuable contributions -- and certainly would have left men in less weary shape for battle. And of course, others sold themselves as prostitutes -- though not (Hacker suggests) as many as historical assumption (and contemporary prejudice) suggests. It would be interesting to see if this social accusation and assumption is at any way linked to the efforts to encourage self-sufficiency in soldiers. Sancho de Londono, in Discours sur laforme et maniere qu'on devroit user, pour reduire la discipline militaire a meilleur et son ancien estate [(1589) , link is spanish, ] argues for the tolerance of camp prostitution as a means of preventing an army of men from committing crimes against local populations. Which makes sense -- this isn't an issue that any current army can honestly claim to have solved -- but the fact that it's being discussed at all suggests that it is an issue AND that there were those who felt otherwise. Find them :) Look for information about Gustavus Adolphus on his military codes surrounding camp followers for other contemporary examples -- it's alluded in the article that he was fairly stringent on their expected roles and treatment, but the source for this wasn't overly telling. Sir James Turner (1615-1686, Scottish soldier and military writer): As woman was created to be a helper to man, so women are great helpers to armies, to their husbands, especially those of the lower condition, neither should they be rashly banisht out of armies; sent away they may be sometimes for weighty considerations: they provide, buy and dress their husband's meat, when their husbands are on duty or newly come from it; they bring in fewel for fire; a souldier's wife may be helpful to others, and gain money to her husband and herself; especially they are useful in camp and leaguers, being permitted (which should not be refused them) to go some miles from the camp to buy victuals and other necessaries. [uncited in the article, go find] Check to see if/when custom of being granted permission to marry is implemented in France c. 1650 and any limits on the number of followers a company was allowed. Nicolas Guerard (fl. 1680-1719) titled Soldats en arreste et sur la cheval de bois (engraving of two people (one, female) being punished on the wooden horse in the barrack yard) -- see if his engravings can be tracked down. (Gallica has quite a few of his engravings -- haven't had time to search yet) In 1840: French army barred army wives from serving as vivandieres, who were now issued uniforms and assigned regular duties -- out of time period certainly, but interesting bookend. Other possible routes to explore with this include: Filles du Roi and settlement in Quebec, Haiti and Louisiana (1663 - 1673?) and other examples of this policy (if any, and where/how it developed) Hmm. Been reading a bit about the Filles du Roi (I haven't studied them before, so want general knowledge). Interesting demographics (of an approximate 700 to Canada) : "After l'Ile-de-France, the provinces contributing most to the movement are: Normandy, with 120 girls, Aunis, le Poitou, Champagne, Picardy, Orléans, and Beauce. Only Alsace, Dauphiné, Provence, Languedoc, Roussillon, Béarn, Gascony and the county of Foix did not participate. " (http://www.civilization.ca/vmnf/popul/filles/18-en.htm, very basic site) I am eyeing the demographics from Normandy with a very thoughtful eye to the reading on Normandy customary law re. females. I wonder if that number is out of line for population distribution, and (if so) if there's any other factors that may have made this seem like a good and timely choice. Hmm. In today's fun day of odd web searches, this look utterly tangental and indulgent of the part of me that likes curious things: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Dieu-Le-Veut

26 August 2008

Directions - Domestic Abuse

structuring notes: A few places to start looking. Am inclined to divide female participation in violence as functions of economics (violence dealing with prostitution, domestic violence over acquisition and distribution), reproduction (infanticide, rape and infidelity), and religion (look into this later, not sure how relevant witchcraft really is in France during this period, though Huguenot/Catholic conflicts may provide possible direction)...definitely going to fall off topic, but as a node for future reference. Today's reading: Women before the Bench: Female Litigants in Early Modern Normandy (Zoë A. Schneider) Focussing primarily on the Norman experience, and a good outline on the strikingly disenfranchising economic restrictions placed on women. Not of particular usefulness at the moment, but interesting as a legal extreme. Of note: Wives explicitly may not sue husbands for battery unless he gouges out her eye or breaks her arm. (Ancien coustumier de Normandie, c. 1280) When reformed, the specifics are taken out but general principle still holds that “A wife may render a complaint to Justice for an injury made to her person, and pursue it even if she is disavowed by her husband, as long as the injury is atrocious.” (Coutume de Normandie, Art. 543, 1583) Would be interesting to see if there are cases of this being upheld -- and which situations (if any) are considered atrocious. Early Modern Perspectives on the Long History of Domestic Violence: The Case of Seventeenth-Century France (Julie Hardwick) Lots of potential here. Discusses the early modern distinction between corrective and abusive domestic violence within France and court-granted separations of person and property. She focusses a bit on the idea of class in motivating domestic violence -- economic motivations for lower classes, and reproductive motivations for higher. Likewise, judicial redress seems to have been sought more by lower classes (she suggests this is prestige-motivated, but it could be worth pursuing the possibility that courts were/were percieved to be more sympathetic to economic issues) It's mentioned that one fifth of the complaints are of men against their wives, but no examples are given -- investigate? The economic causes are interesting from a social level. Lower classes of men and women both are responsible for family income -- and in many of the cases Hardwick cites, it seems that it is the woman who is the principle bringer (and dispenser) of income (lineage properties as an example). Most of these cases that she cites follow the general theme of man-wants-money-for-socialising -> woman-refuses-or-criticises -> violence. Her suggestion through the work seems to be that lower class women had an overall easier time of coping with domestic violence -- certainly in terms of seeking redress and help. The densely packed living situations she alludes to, and instances of neighbours intervening and providing testimony, shelter and social pressure all were certainly more prevalent in lower castes than higher. While the nature of domestic violence is such that a true estimation of its frequency is nearly important, she does draw a good line between what was considered acceptable (ie, "rational" corrective violence, delivered upon provocation [verbal or otherwise] and without excessive anger. And, not surprisingly, social intolerance for any sort of violence when a woman is pregnant is far higher than when not) “The woman has not been formed from the foot of the man, but from one of his sides in order to show that she is a companion, not a slave.” (2121 ADR BP3985, folder 1654, February 10, 1654, and 1717 ADR BP5985, folder 1653, January 30, 1653) seems to have been popularly upheld -- another royal prosecutor seems to feel that at while light correction (? Define this.) are considered within a husband's authority, it is not a right that extends to "violence". There seems to have been an effort to judge each case on its merits and provocation, rather than developing a codified system of what was considered acceptable and beyond civility. Causing visible physical injury seems to be a line between correction and abuse. Cuts, black eyes, bruises, torn clothing or disheveled appearance are all cited repeatedly by witnesses, and instances of community intervention seem common -- she offers many examples of this. More interestingly, the impetus for secrecy seems to be far more the domain of the abuser vs the abused than in current society -- being the subject of a husband's violence does not seem to have the strong overtones of humiliation (at least, to the lower classes) to the wife, but rather the social shame seems to belong exclusively to the husband (unless, of course, provocation is considered a mitigating factor) Help seems to have been offered cross-class, from a non-legal point of vioew. She cites the case of Louise Desvignes: Over a period of fifteen years, "neighbors, family members, a doctor, a marquise, “several ladies of high rank,” and her parish priest all offered various kinds of help and mediation." (6259 ADLA B5833, July 31, 1680.60 ADR BP4045, June 2, 1720.61 ADR BP3985, folder 1641, December 21, 1641.62 ADR BP3984, folder 1682, September 22, 1682, and January 9, 1683.) More instances of higher class women (and perhaps men/religion) intervening are mentioned, and might be worth following up on. Allegations of sexual misconduct seem to be far more detailed (and cited) in higher-class society. This may be the lack of economic motivation -- social preoccupation with being seen as the head of the household -- or simply less fear of social censure. The example of Dame Anne Raoul and her husband Louis Delaroche is an extreme example of this -- in front of their staff, witnesses testify that they saw her slapped, kicked, locked in a small room for weeks with only bread and water, and quite abusively raped in a vinyard in front of fifteen or sixteen peasants. Fear (one assumes) and obedience to his orders even involves the servants in the abuse -- holding and tying her down to be beaten at his orders. To a friend, the poor woman confides (after just being slapped by her husband) that "he had “mistreated” her several times but that “she had not wanted to complain for fear of scandal.” When slapped in front of another woman, her friend's only response was to tell the husband that “if he did that in fun, it was too hard and if he meant to hurt her he had succeeded.” (ADLA B5842, May 31, 1690.) Should see if there's more to support this suggestion, or if it is a (relatively) isolated/exceptional incident, though the husband's lack of secrecy, and the complacency of both servants and friends suggests it is not. Further Reading to track down: B. C. Hacker, "Women and Military Institutions in Early Modern Europe: A Reconnaissance", (Signs, on jstor) Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France "Courting Families: Litigation and the Political Economies of Daily Life in Early Modern France" Julius Ruff, Violence in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2001) Merry Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, 2nd ed. (Cambridge,2000) Olwyn Hufton, The Prospect before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 1500–1800 (New York, 1996) Kristen B. Neuschel, “Noblewomen and War in Sixteenth-Century France,” Changing Identities in Early Modern France, ed. Michael Wolfe (Durham, NC, 1996) Frances Dolan, “Household Chastisements: Gender, Authority, and ‘Domestic Violence,’” in Renaissance Culture and the Everyday, ed. Patricia Fumerton and Simon Hunt (Philadelphia, 1999) Farr, “Pure and Disciplined Body.” Farr, Hands of Honor Julie Hardwick, The Practice of Patriarchy:Gender and the Politics of Household Authority in Early Modern France (UniversityPark, PA, 1998)

25 August 2008


Barring lack of a supervisor, I'm going to go with the violence topic. It has more potential and leaves me less stereotyped. Or possibly feeling less stereotyped. I spent the day thinking about the nature of biographical writing, and decided it's not something I'd be as good at. And if I'm doing a masters/doctorate, I want it to be my best work possible.

Decisions, decisions

So, in good news today, I heard back from another professor and it looks like the university has recently hired a specialist in the French Revolution and have a few French modernists not listed on the website (yet). This is particularly of note since the other possible thesis topic I'm considering is an exploration of Pauline Bonaparte -- Napoleon's younger, and slightly less-than-respectable sister. This has the decided bonus of opening up another possibility for me... ...and the setback of introducing another decision after I'd pretty much resolved on the ethics of violence topic. I suppose the decision is really a matter of what sort of history I want to get into -- and get a name for. The violence topic is far more macro-history: looking at sweeping cultural changes and trends, and how they filter down to a more personal level. I know already that this is a sort of history I'm very good at writing and researching: it has echoes of what I did in my baccelaurate for Robson, on a different subject, but the same general approach. I can see the path I want to follow -- not all the details along the way, of course, but I have a general idea formulating that I think is both solid and original without crossing into the rather murky uncomfortableness of revisionist history, and I think it definitely opens the way to a rather solid founding in the place where military and cultural history intersect. Which I find immensely interesting and could definitely devote my life to the subject: there's certainly no lack of things to research and paw over academically. The only hesitation I have in this topic is that some of the ground I'll be covering is well-trodden and established -- and while the approach I take is (I think) innovative, I'm hardly expecting to discover anything frightfully new or groundbreaking, though there is something to be said for lending new perspective. Pulling 125-150 pages out of this won't be any sort of difficulty at all -- nor will be defending my conclusions. Pauline Bonaparte is, however, something quite considerably different. I've not really put a lot of thought into biographical writing, and it strikes me as the sort of thing fraught with peril. How presumptuous it is, to cut into another person's life with the cold scalpel of historical analysis, tear it apart, expose things meant to be private to postulation and inference, and then neatly sew it back up with a neat conclusion that makes it seem as if it were all planned, all representative of deep political currents and trends, all indicative of a solid, consistent personality. And yet, for a thesis, that is exactly what needs to be done, though perhaps not quite so harshly, because not to analyse, not to postulate or conclude, is simply a regurgitation of events. The opposite difficulty, of course, is leaning too far the other way -- turning the world in which she lived into a splendid backdrop against which she is the principle actress, being too sympathetic, identifying too much and turning the lot into a rather bad collision of historical research with historical romance. Given Pauline's notorious reputation for boudoir intrigue, and the alternately scandalous and scandalised claims made against her by contemporaries, even the most clinical treatment will resonate with elements more appropriate to popular film than serious history. Which raises another problem: As a) a woman b) a woman married to another woman and c) a woman married to another woman writing about a historical figure renowned for her sexuality and flouting of convention it is almost inevitable that I will labeled a feminist historian. Which is hardly true (or a bad thing, in itself), it rather depends on the definition of feminist one happens to be using. Gender is undeniably a factor in social expectation and identity, but I think that the habit of many feminist historians (not all, of course) of rigorously working to reclaim the voice and identity of every female in history, while simultaneously reducing the opinions and actions of that great humbug "male dominated society" to nothing more than gender-influenced social robotics is disingenuous and ultimately flawed logic. It is no more appropriate to say "women played a passive role through most of history, because of their natural sexual receptiveness, they are meant and created by nature to be passive recipients of male ideas, male actions, and male society" than it is to suggest that the predominance of war and violence through history is the direct result of the shape and intended function of masculine genitalia. I far prefer the term equalist as a historian. If I write about Pauline, regardless of what I say, there is a very good chance of getting pigeon-holed this way. That said, Pauline is a very promising subject in that no one seems to have written seriously about her (except to express shock or admiration of her sexual habits), there seems to be plenty of primary sources to get into (letters, memoires, etc), and near-Byzantine levels of political agenda to sort out, which sounds both challenging and fun. I can certainly drag in some cultural history -- Corsican vs French vs Italian sounds likely -- and I think the primary trick in writing it will be to avoid being overly narrative and focus on analysis (with events as springboards). Hmm. Such joyous choice!

20 August 2008


Not nearly done. Will edit as I go. Comments welcome, of course.

The Etiquette of Violence in Early Modern France

Themes to explore (August 20, 2008)

In my thesis, I will explore how the shift in ideas about power influenced the perception and etiquette surrounding violent acts in Early Modern France. I will discuss how this shift occurred primarily as the result of philosophical and technological advances, and how it influenced social identity and values.

Violence itself is a tricky subject. For the purposes of this thesis, I will focus on three particular manifestations, though they are by no means exclusive to each other:

  1. Personal: The sort of violence that takes place on an individual level, but that has no broader social rammifications attached to the outcome. For the purposes of this discussion, it will refer only to violence occurring between members of similar social and economic status, as the dimension cast by such interactions between classes might be considered a far better expression of social violence.
  2. Social: The sort of violence occuring as the result of social factors, or for social change/benefit. While most sorts of crime might be classed as personal violence, the social punishments attached to the act would fall under this purview. Similarly, religious conflict could be classed as social violence, saving only that undertaken directly by, or at the orders of, the state. In general, this might be considered to be the sort of violence undertaken by otherwise unorganised groups of individuals, with the intent of defending or attacking established convention.
  3. Political: Violence undertaken in the name of, or for the benefit of, the state. Assassination, war, and the state-sponsored religious conflicts that occurred through this period might all be considered prime examples of political violence.

Approaches (August 21, 2008)

Outside Influences: Castiglione and Machiavelli

The Italian Wars (1494-1559) resulted in a great deal of cultural exchange between France and Italy. I will explore how the introduction to Italian thought, culture and technology began to influence French ideas about the concept of power -- and how several factors encouraged a change in the expression of power, both social and political, from a function of strength to one of flexibility and adaptation. This idea is echoed not only in politics, but also in the change in popular weapons (the heavier broadsword to the lighter, more flexible epee and, eventually, that great equaliser, the pistol); the development of faster, more flexible troop types (dragoons, hussars, and light field artillery), organisation and tactics; and even to a gradual redefinition of the concept of "honneur" itself, from a measure of title and wealth to an assessment of personal morality and quality. All in all, the continual reinforcement of the idea that focus, subtlety, position and speed are of greater importance and merit than overt displays of bulk and might dramatically changed the way that violence was viewed.

The Development of the Modern Army

It is during this period that the idea of a modern army is developed in France. The transition between a military as a company of individuals ranked by prowess and social status, to a military based on an internal hierarchy characterised by conformity and order was fundamental to the gradual redefinition of military etiquette and expectation. This shift was further influenced by the wide-scale implementation of consistent uniforms, drill, and merit-based rank -- and evolved into an understanding of (and expectations for) violence that gradually was emulated by the civilian classes.

With the dramatic increase in military size through the period, the political etiquette of force also bears examination. Expectations of behaviour -- both within and without one's own borders -- changed as a result of scale through this period. An examination of the enforcement of policies on looting, foraging, and behaviour to the civilian populace within occupied territory (whether domestic, foreign or colonial) offer insight into how the idea of the civilised army developed.

The potential for social advancement through this adoption of military etiquette and fierceness ought not be underestimated. Within the paradigm of the early modern army -- unnecessarily regimented and overly uniform, by previous standards -- the ability to follow commands and execute orders became more valued than personal feats of military prowess. As more and more men from the lower classes were integrated into the structure of the new army, the concept of rank became superimposed over the existing social differences -- early modern tactics depended more on the ability of its soldiers to work together as a cohesive unit, than as an exemplary group of individuals working to distinguish themselves. The military became at once less personal, and more social -- and, just as the currency of early modern warfare became adaptability and position, so too did the currency of the men within the military become the reputation they carried with each other, and their ability to correctly establish and defend their place within the internal order.

Many of the concepts developed within the military structure filtered out to the general population. The the demographic shift in social class within the military through the early modern period suggests that the potential for social advancement was not overlooked. Furthermore, the integration of military manners and etiquette into civilian life allowed for a blurring of the lines between the noblesse de robe and the noblesse d'epee that would not otherwise have been possible.

The Duel

The duel is the classic example of formalised personal violence. Very specific rules and expectations evolved through this time period, serving to elevated the act of personal revenge and murder to a ritualised, socially admired convention. Furthermore, despite numerous initiatives to ban (or at least limit) the pervasiveness of duelling became ingrained in French culture and identity through the period.

But why France? The social destructiveness of duelling was certainly recognised by many French polititians and philosophers through the period, yet it persisted long after the practice fell out of favour and acceptance elsewhere in the world. Attributing this phenomenon to something as wooly as national character and, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would put it, the "blend of the many high-spirited nations which go to make up the French people" seems a bit lacking. The argument that the duel as a social expression of masculinity might well account for its acceptance, but certainly not the longevity or raging popularity it enjoyed in France long after expiring elsewhere.

Francis I - Henry IV? Investigate.

overview, but as a political form of violence -- military structure as personal/social -- integrate notes here

Crime and Punishment

not done but will likely be about :

  • assassination and murder
  • executions
  • domestic violence/rape
  • civil violence
  • change in the notion of blood as washing away sin/guilt -- a negation of any charge
  • affirmations of the courts for crimes of a husband against wife, lover or mistress

Gender roles/expectation (August 25, 2008)

That approach is certainly one I've been considering of late -- I'm noticing (in particular regarding the duel/honour branch mentioned above, it's what I've been doing the most recent reading on and is thus quite fresh in my mind) that ideas about male identity in this period are painted with a rather broad brush -- far more generalised statements seem to be implied than I would like to think many historians would make about women. I think that the way gender identity changes with socio-economic class, occupation, and identity is quite fascinating, and could certainly see focussing in on this interaction. In particular, my primary interest in this would be exploring the change in social expectation felt by the soldier and criminal classes -- as "outsiders" to regular society, their perspective (and indeed, the way they're viewed) is an interesting counterpoint to social norms, and it is, at the base, etiquette and rule that makes the actions of one socially valuable, and the other socially reprehensible. By "soldier class", I don't mean just men. The change in military organisation and size in the 17th and 18th centuries resulted in two significant changes that I can see focusing on: the recruitment of a much larger body of men drawn from the lower classes, and the drill-based training geared to make men-at-war as self-sufficient as possible. Volunteer recruitment necessitated a level of prestige associated with 'wearing the uniform' (which also underwent tremendous redesign and definition as a reflection of this change in dignity). In short, the idea of self-sufficiency seems to have taken a more prominent role in the social definition of manhood, and attempted on some levels to relegate the idea of organised violence to an exclusively masculine sphere. The adjacent identity change afforded to women (whether wives, daughters, or camp followers) would be something I would expect to see reflected in the social correspondence and memoires among the literate military populace, as well as significant comment on their behaviour from the civilian population with which they were housed. Likewise, the popularity of social and etiquette manuals of the time (there seem to be many) offers a host of potential leads. I would suspect, in fact, that part of the change in opinion surrounding the common soldier was motivated because the economic benefit outweighed the inconveniences and occasional violent behaviour military integration can sometimes bring -- the huge industry created by a large army has obvious benefit to the middle classes, and, perhaps, the presence of soldiers discourages crime that would be considered more inconvenient -- both just speculations I'll keep in mind while researching, but possible conclusions that might be drawn nonetheless. Violence and ideas of etiquette associated with the criminal classes will, I imagine, be a little more elusive -- court records, correspondence and comment about them, certainly, but as it isn't generally a class associated with a high degree of literacy, I suspect that value I'll find will be more in the change in perception regarding violent crime through these sources. Accounts and details of executions, likewise are of interest -- the notion of state-controlled violence as suitable vengeance for breaking social expectation. Sexual violence, and the way that rape is defined, punished, and viewed as both an act of violence between members of the same social class, and as an act of violence between disparate social classes would also be a possible route I could see taking. The ways that both military and criminal classes are treated in popular literature, art, and music may also open some room for speculation, as all three tend to be reflections of the social climate in which they are created.

Leads to follow:

Sources mentioned that look like they might have what I'm after -- investigate and integrate as I go.
  • Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France, by Robert A Nye
  • Denis Crouzet's "Les guerriers de Dieu" and Jean Nicolas' "La rébellion française".
  • Sport and Society in Modern France, by Richard Holt
  • The History of Manners, by Norbert Elias
  • Dueling for Equality: Masculine Honor and the Modern Politics of Dignity, by Mika LaVanque-Manty (found)
  • Pierre Brantôme
  • Duprat, Baron of Vitaux
  • Lord Herbert of Cherbury (English ambassador to the court of Louis XIII)
  • petticoated Chevalier d'Eon
  • Monsieur de Reuly
  • Caylus and D'Entragues
  • Montesquieu
  • Kant
  • code duello
  • The Duel: Its Rise and Fall in Early Modern France, by Francois Billacois
  • "The Sixteenth-Century Italian Duel" by Frank R. Bryson, 1938 - source of dueling codes. "Infanticide, Child Abandomnent and Female Honour in Nineteenth Century Corsica" by Stephen Wilson, in Compatative Studies in Society and HIstory 30, no. 4, Oct 1988 Carroll - Blood and Violence in Early Modern France
  • Kant - "the woman's honour: what the world says....her honour: what people say; not what they think." and that reputation for honour should not trump life save for soldiers and women (R,XV:481)
  • look up information on gascon manners, etiquette, and the claim that they influenced the french court
  • A seventeenth-century account of “The Female Duell, or the Maidens Combate,” attributed to Thomas Toll
  • scienza cavalleresca
  • "When Charles de Bourg found his wife Denise in bed with a certain M. de Precorbin, he killed her, and later explained to the court, 'I was like a savage beast; when someone attacks my honour, I am the sort of man who is able to defend himself'" -> acquited, with a reproach to M., who fled the scene half clothed for 'having cost Mme du Bourge her honour and then not defended her." (177, Nye)

19 August 2008

This amuses me

1836: Two duelling politicians from Lower Canada were lucky to have sensible seconds. Clément-Charles Sabrevois de Bleury, a member of the Lower Canadian Legislative Assembly, insulted fellow politician Charles-Ovide Perreault. Perreault then struck de Bleury, and a duel was set. Both men were determined to settle the matter with pistols, but their seconds came up with a unique solution. The two foes would clasp hands and de Bleury would say, "I am sorry to have insulted you" while at the same time Perreault would say, "I am sorry to have struck you." They would then reply in unison, "I accept your apology." The tactic worked, and the situation was resolved without injury. Such a Canadian solution. source: Wikipedia