Home » The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager
The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager

The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial

Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager

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 About the Book 

In 1386, a few days after Christmas, a huge crowd gathers at a Paris monastery to watch the two men fight a duel to the death meant to prove which mans cause is right in Gods sight. The dramatic true story of the knight, the squire, and the ladyMoreIn 1386, a few days after Christmas, a huge crowd gathers at a Paris monastery to watch the two men fight a duel to the death meant to prove which mans cause is right in Gods sight. The dramatic true story of the knight, the squire, and the lady unfolds during the devastating Hundred Years War between France and England, as enemy troops pillage the land, madness haunts the French court, the Great Schism splits the Church, Muslim armies threaten Christendom, and rebellion, treachery, and plague turn the lives of all into toys of Fortune. At the heart of the tale is Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight who returns from combat in Scotland to find his wife, Marguerite, accusing Jacques Le Gris, her husbands old friend and fellow courtier, of brutally raping her. The knight takes his cause before the teenage King Charles VI, the highest judge in France. Amid Le Griss vociferous claims of innocence and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerites charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a trial by combat that leaves her fate, too, in the balance. For if her husband and champion loses the duel, she will be put to death as a false accuser. Carrouges and Le Gris, in full armor, eventually meet on a walled field in Paris before a massive crowd that includes the king and many nobles of the realm. A fierce fight on horseback and then on foot ensues during which both combatants suffer wounds - but only one is fatal. The violent and tragic episode was notorious in its time owing to the nature of the alleged crime, the legal impasse it provoked, and the resulting trial by combat, an ancient but increasingly suspect institution that was thereafter abolished.