Дуэль
от божьего суда
до благородного преступления
13
.05
1 /
Exhibition Hall of the
Assumption Belfry
DUEL
From Trial by Combat
to a Noble Crime
14
.08.
2 /
Exhibition Hall of the
Patriarch’s Palace
20
22
THE
Books and Souvenirs
RU
EN
/ EXHIBITION
Duelling was born long before the affair of honour of the 18th-19th centuries, well-known thanks to Russian classical literature. Postulates of defending the nobleman’s honour were formed in the 16th-17th centuries to the sound of crossing blades and moans of the deadly wounded. It is to this fascinating time that the exhibition "The Duel: from Trial by Combat to a Noble Crime" is dedicated. Duels of that era are mostly familiar to us because of the novels of Alexandre Dumas and numerous movies based on them, depicting duellists as noble heroes. But actual duels and duellists are much less known.
Unique exhibits will help to immerse in the world of duels of the 16th-17th centuries; many are exhibited in Russia for the first time and never before seen in the same space.
The display features over a hundred and forty artefacts – rare drawings, engravings, paintings, treatises on the art of fencing, arms and armour of that time, given on loan by Russian museums and libraries.
Duels were preceded by the medieval tradition of trial by combat. In a judicial duel, God was believed to help the one standing up for a righteous cause, as it happened in the Old Testament battle of David and Goliath. The duellers believed that a crime against honour was like murder, and the perpetrator deserved death, so they were entitled to the honour defence in a duel.
The honour defence idea was not alien even to monarchs who esteemed the laws of chivalry.

The exhibition tells about the planned duel between Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France that never took place — the portrait of the French King and his armour and arms, as well as the armour of Charles V, are on display. A landmark in the history of duels is the last trial by combat in France, held in 1547 between Baron de Jarnac and Seigneur de La Chateigneraie. That duel was caused by the actions of the future King Henry II, who tried to smear Jarnac. A fine portrait that preserves Henry II's appearance and an engraving of his death scene at the tournament are also on display. Visitors to the exhibition can visualize the 16th-century court duelist thanks to the drawings and engravings, arms and armour and elegant jewellery of that period.
The monarchs, the church, and the jurists
tried to fight duels considering it an enormous crime. However, they had to reckon with the position of the aristocracy, which often took duellists under its protection. Kings themselves were brought up on chivalric ethics, were considered the first nobles of their kingdoms, and could not ignore the rules of the code of honour. Therefore, the anti-duel policy was inconsistent – the severity of the laws that threatened duellers with capital punishment and confiscation of property was compensated by their non-compliance. Only in some particularly scandalous cases, duellists were subjected to actual prosecution. On display is a portrait of Jean-Baptiste Budes de Guébriant, who had to hide in exile because of his involvement in a duel — but that did not later interfere with the brilliant military career of this French

marshal. The art of swordsmanship, which nobles were taught in childhood, is inextricably linked to the advent of duels. On display are duelling weapons and treatises on fencing from the most famous teachers and masters of the 16th-17th centuries. The famous printmaker Jacques Callot's etchings depicting duel scenes accompany the swords used in duels by noble aristocrats. Struggle against the duelling became part of the monarchical policy of subordinating the nobility. King Louis XIV achieved the utmost success in that – he even was proclaimed the vanquisher of duels. A special medal was coined to commemorate this supposed victory. However, he did not manage to eradicate the duelling custom in full. During the Sun King’s reign, duels became rarer and less bloody; they were hidden from the authorities and carried out

without witnesses in secluded places. But immediately after the French monarch died, several high-profile duels occurred, marking a new stage in the duelling history. An affair of honour tradition continued and gradually disappeared only in the 20th century. even was proclaimed the vanquisher of duels. A special medal was coined to commemorate this supposed victory. However, he did not manage to eradicate the duelling custom in full. During the Sun King’s reign, duels became rarer and less bloody; they were hidden from the authorities and carried out without witnesses in secluded places. But immediately after the French monarch died, several high-profile duels occurred, marking a new stage in the duelling history. An affair of honour tradition continued and gradually disappeared only in the 20th century.
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PHOTO GALLERY /
Breastplate of infantry armour
Taza rapier
Admonition to the King in the Exercise of Horse Riding
Small sword
Battle on Vught Heath
Helmet
Portrait of Henry d'Albre, King of Navarre
Portrait of the French Marshal
Portrait of Diego de Villamayor
Buckler
Portrait of Henry II of France
Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Budes de Guébriant (?)
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/books and souvenirs
The edition is timed to the self-titled exhibition at the Moscow Kremlin Museums and is dedicated to the history of duels in Europe between the 16th and 17th centuries. The duel is among those popular mythologised subjects that are constantly reproduced in various forms of mass culture. Nineteenth-century literature played a significant role in this process, having embedded duel in the collective memory of European society. The word ‘duel’ itself has become a denominative to refer to any kind of rivalry between two opponents. While the general public is well acquainted with the myth that duels were a sublime old custom, the real history of duelling often remains unknown even to professional historians, with the exception of those who specialize in this subject.
The catalogue introduces rare objects of the 16th and 17th centuries: armours and duelling weapons, portraits of famous duellists, engravings and fencing treatises, paintings and works of decorative and applied art preserved in the collections of famous museums and libraries in Russia, Austria, Great Britain, Spain and France. Many of them are first published. The book opens with two introductory articles: the one tells in detail the history of the rising and the heyday of duelling in early Modern Europe, and the other is about the judicial combat and chivalric duels in the late medieval Holy Roman Empire. The catalogue comprises seven sections: ‘Judicium Dei and the Tradition of Chivalric Combat in France’; ‘The Duel of the Сrowned Knights’; ‘The Birth of the Duel. A Combat of Honour’; “Duel Fever” of the Late 16th and Early 17th Centuries’; ‘The Geometry of Death: The Art of Fencing in the 16th and 17th Centuries’; ‘Justice and the Duel in the 17th Century: The Case of Bouteville’; ‘The Sun King: Would-be Vanquisher of Duels’.
Press /
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Press release
On 13 May 2022, the Moscow Kremlin Museums launched the long-awaited exhibition The Duel: from Trial by Combat to Noble Crime. The major-scale project intends to introduce the Russian public to the European history of duelling through the original historical sources and artefacts of the 16th-17th centuries. Many exhibits have never been previously shown in Moscow or been jointly displayed within a single exhibition space.
04.03.
Дуэль/
от божьего суда
до благородного преступления
/DUEL
From Trial by Combat
to a Noble Crime
THE
/ Visit Us
Opening hours
10:00 to 17:00

Ticket office: 09:30 to 16:00


Day off ‒ Thursday


Left luggage office: 9:00 to 18:30


Guided tours office:
+7 (495) 695-41-46
+7 (495) 697-03-49
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500
250
Exhibition tickets. Available online, at the museum ticket office and via touch-sensitive terminals.
The admission is organized in sessions every half hour from 10:00 to 16:00.
Discount tickets for all under-16s. Available online and at the museum ticket office
The admission is organized in sessions every half hour from 10:00 to 16:00.
Face coverings and QR-code or a negative PCR-testing result are needed
Ticket price
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1
3
2
4
Ticket and Guided Tours Office in the Alexander Garden
Kutafiya Tower
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Exhibition Hall of the Assumption Belfry
Exhibition Hall of the Patriarch’s Palace
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