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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.Roth also notes that thousands of men in the Southern United States "died protecting what they believed to be their honor." The first published code duello, or "code of dueling", appeared in Renaissance Italy.The first formalized national code was France's, during the Renaissance.In Medieval society, judicial duels were fought by knights and squires to end various disputes.The feat of arms was used to settle hostilities between two large parties and supervised by a judge.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.
In Western society, the formal concept of a duel developed out of the medieval judicial duel and older pre-Christian practices such as the Viking Age holmgang.The cultivated art of politeness demanded that there should be no outward displays of anger or violence, and the concept of honour became more personalized.By the 1770s the practice of dueling was increasingly coming under attack from many sections of enlightened society, as a violent relic of Europe's medieval past unsuited for modern life.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.Despite these efforts, dueling continued unabated, and it is estimated that between 16, French officers fought 10,000 duels, leading to over 400 deaths.By the late 18th century, Enlightenment era values began to influence society with new self-conscious ideas about politeness, civil behaviour and new attitudes towards violence.During the early Renaissance, dueling established the status of a respectable gentleman, and was an accepted manner to resolve disputes.