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 the first installment of a four-part animated video series,  we recount history’s most unusual duels along with the lessons learned.

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 duel’s winner, Princess Pauline Clémentine von Metternich, should be recognized for her style, her love of music and painting, and for performance with a sword.

Princess Pauline von Metternich, daguerreotype by Hermann Krone, 1854. Source Wikipedia. Public Domain.