1371: The Strangest Duel

Middle_Ages_rabid_dog

The strangest duel I ever met with, was one fought Between a dog and a man in the year 1371, in the presence of King Charles V of France… A Gentleman of the Court was supposed to have murdered another, who had been missing for some days. This suspicion arose from the mute testimony of the person’s dog, a large Irish greyhound, who with uncommon rage attacked this supposed murderer wherever he met him. As he was a gentleman, and a man of very nice honour (though by the way he really had murdered the man), he could not bear lying under so dishonourable a suspicion, and therefore applied to the king for leave to justify his innocence by a Single combat with the said dog. The king being a great lover of justice, granted his suit, ordered the lists to be made ready, appointed the time, and named the weapons. The gentleman was to have an offensive club in his hand; the dog a defensive tub, to resort to occasionally. The Irish greyhound willingly met this fair inviter, at the time and place appointed. They fought; the dog prevailed, and almost killed the honorable gentleman, who had then the honour to confess his guilt, and of being hanged for it in a very few days.

Susannah Dobson: Historical Anecdotes of Heraldry and Chivalry: Tending to Shew the Origin of Many English and Foreign Coats of Arms, Circumstances and Customs (1795)

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