The counting of steps, the smell of gunpowder, the sound of clashing swords. This is the duel; gentleman’s right, settler of disputes, restorer of honor, a really easy way to get yourself killed. Duels took many forms over the years, including some very unusual conflicts. In this four-part animated video series,  we recount history’s most unusual duels along with the lessons learned.

Duel Number One: The Princess Vs. The Countess 

To paraphrase Kathleen Hanna, girls to the front. Duels between women were rare, and duels between topless royal women of the late 1800s, yet rarer still. But this duel was special not just for its manner of undress or the gender of its participants. It actually represented a leap forward for science. 

Medical thinking played a large role in this fight. It should also be noted that Baroness Lubinska was far ahead of her time, in that germ theory was still new and largely dismissed by the medical establishment at the time. This duel would be a lot less delightful if one of them died of an infected arm in the end.

Lesson learned: Always fight naked.

The Captain Vs. The Creole

During this period New Orleans was home to more duels than any city in America. A duel was fought almost daily at the dueling grounds (now part of City Park) under a set of large oak trees. In 1839 one busy Saturday saw ten duels fought back to back on the spot, and while the duels didn’t always lead to death, the old trees soaked up plenty of spilled blood. While the duelers are all long dead, by pistol or by time, the “dueling oak” still stand. 

Lesson learned: Pick the right weapons. 

Melfant Vs. Lenfant

Lesson learned: Good aim doesn’t equal good judgement. 

Monsieur Vs. Monsieur

Lesson learned: Aim carefully. 

This has been Unusual Duels in Four Animated Parts.