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A knight or group of knights (tenans or "holders") would stake out a travelled spot, such as a bridge or city gate, and let it be known that any other knight who wished to pass (venans or "comers") must first fight, or be disgraced.If a traveling venans did not have weapons or horse to meet the challenge, one might be provided, and if the venans chose not to fight, he would leave his spurs behind as a sign of humiliation.
The Roman Catholic Church was critical of dueling throughout medieval history, frowning both on the traditions of judicial combat and on the duel on points of honor among the nobility.In 1777, a code of practice was drawn up for the regulation of duels, at the Summer assizes in the town of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland.A copy of the code, known as 'The twenty-six commandments', was to be kept in a gentleman's pistol case for reference should a dispute arise regarding procedure.During the Early Modern period, there were also various attempts by secular legislators to curb the practice.Queen Elizabeth I officially condemned and outlawed dueling in 1571, shortly after the practice had been introduced to England.A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules.
Duels in this form were chiefly practiced in early modern Europe with precedents in the medieval code of chivalry, and continued into the modern period (19th to early 20th centuries) especially among military officers.In early cases, the defeated party was then executed.These type of duels soon evolved into the more chivalric pas d'armes, or "passage of arms", a type of chivalric hastilude that evolved in the late 14th century and remained popular through the 15th century.The battle was fought as a result of a slight or challenge to one party's honor which could not be resolved by a court.Weapons were standardized and typical of a knight's armoury, for example longswords, polearms etc., however, weapon quality and augmentations were at the discretion of the knight, for example, a spiked hand guard for or an extra grip for half-swording.Judicial duels were deprecated by the Lateran Council of 1215, but the judicial duel persisted in the Holy Roman Empire into the 15th century.