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The Duel in Early Modern England
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  • Page extent: 374 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.7 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 394.8/0942
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: CR4595.G7 P45 2003
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Dueling--England--History--16th century
    • Dueling--England--History--17th century
    • Mandeville, Bernard,--1670-1733

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521820622 | ISBN-10: 0521820626)

Arguments about the place and practice of the duel in early modern England were widespread. The distinguished intellectual historian Markku Peltonen examines this debate, and show how the moral and ideological status of duelling was discussed within a much larger cultural context of courtesy, civility and politeness. The advocates of the duel, following Italian and French examples, contended that it maintained and enhanced politeness; its critics by contrast increasingly severed duelling from civility, and this separation became part of a vigorous attempt in the late seventeenth century and beyond to redefine civility, politeness and indeed the nature and evolution of Englishness. To understand the duel is to understand much more fully some crucial issues in the cultural and ideological history of Stuart England, and Markku Peltonen's study will thus engage the attention of a very wide audience of historians and cultural and literary scholars.

• The first comprehensive study of any aspect of the duel in early modern England • A major reappraisal of civility and politeness in the early modern period • Important contribution to Ideas in Context in an area where the Press is already very strong


Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The rise of civil courtesy and the duelling theory in Elizabethan and early Stuart England; 2. The Jacobean anti-duelling campaign; 3. Duelling, civility and honour in Restoration and Augustan England; 4. Anti-duelling campaigns 1660–1720; 5. Politeness, duelling and honour in Bernard Mandeville; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.


'… this book is a welcome and valuable addition to our understanding, not only of a set of social and intellectual debates, but of the formation of modern society …' History

'… we come much closer to an understanding of why it was in early modern England that not only the great but also the humble were prepared to risk all when reputation was on the line …' The Times Literary Supplement

'Markku Peltonen's excellent new book identifies the ideas underpinning the duel in early modern England and relates those ideas to wider cultural debates about civility and politeness. In doing so it casts light on parallel developments in the law of defamation and provides a fascinating account of how English law attempted to respond to a widespread, and widely accepted, practice of unlawful self-help … Apart from the legal aspects given specific attention here, this book includes much of wider interest … In short it is a work of variety and richness with a great deal to offer legal historians.' Journal of Legal History

'… Markku Peltonen's fine study of debates about civility and politeness in early modern England, and the place of duelling within them, makes an important case for long-term continuity by rejecting several of the distinctions that have underpinned narratives of change. … The principal strength of Peltonen's analysis is its combination of meticulous research with a long-term perspective.' Historical Journal

'He has, more generally, in this admirable study, provided a convincing account of the development of duelling in England and offered a sophisticated reading of the contemporary debate on civility, politeness and honour.' James Kelly, St Patrick's College Drumcondra, Dublin

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