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The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime,…
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The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in… (original 2004; edition 2005)

by Eric Jager

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Member:InsightsGal
Title:The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France
Authors:Eric Jager
Info:Broadway (2005), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager (2004)

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This is shelved as non-fiction, but if you read Jager's notes, you realize that he's ...extrapolated from the existing texts. The narrative he tells is gripping, but I can't trust anything in the text here, and therefore cannot recommend it. ( )
  cricketbats | Apr 18, 2013 |
I really enjoyed this true account of a duel to the death in Medieval France. The wife of Jean de Carrouges was attacked and her husband took her case all the way to the King and Parliament and received the right to duel his wife's attacker to the death. I agree that the best part was the duel itself which was fascinating, hard to believe such things actually took place. ( )
  slvoight | Mar 31, 2013 |
Fascinating look at trial by combat in 14th century France. When the wife of a nobleman alleges rape, it only adds fuel to a long simmering dispute between her husband and the accused. Although the odds are stacked against the married couple, they persist in their quest for justice, even if they must stake their lives on the outcome. ( )
  barlow304 | Jul 10, 2011 |
This is quite an engaging work of popular history. Jager uses the tale of Jean de Carrouges and Jacques le Gris, who in 1386 fought the last ever judicial duel to be approved by the French parliament, to provide a thumbnail sketch of life in medieval France. There is little new here, beyond the actual details of the trial, for someone who has done much reading in medieval history—certainly the historian might well quibble with one or two of the generalisations which Jager makes—and I really wish that the author had been clearer at several points as to where exactly he was sourcing his information, but I think overall The Last Duel would make a fast-paced, engaging text to use in an undergraduate history course. ( )
  siriaeve | Jan 28, 2011 |
The Last Duel is the true story of a duel—the last duel, in December 1386, sanctioned by the Parlement of Paris, conducted between two former friends, the knight Jacques le Gris and the squire Jean de Carrouges, over the alleged rape of Carrouges’s wife by le Gris. The trial and duel took over a year to complete, and it attracted the attention of people all over Europe. The eighteen-year old King Charles VI even postponed the duel so that he could attend.

Set against the historic backdrop of the Hundred Years’ War, The Last Duel is primarily a legal history. The late fourteenth century was a litigious time in France, and it seems as though Le Gris and Carrouges were extremely contentious men—and both made some extremely foolish, un-tactful decisions, in an era when tact was valued at court.

Everything about the trial, and trial by combat, was uncertain: did Le Gris ever really rape Marguerite? Or was it a case of mistaken identities? Either way, the outcome of the case was tragic for everybody; if God decided that Carrouges was in the wrong, and he lost the duel, his wife Marguerite would be burned at the stake—alive.

The author does repeat himself—I think he mentions several times that sanctioned dueling was rare, and that Carrouges had a contentious personality. But the material in the book is presented in an interesting way, one that holds the reader’s interest inside and out. Even someone familiar with late fourteenth century legal history will find something new here. And for those who aren’t as familiar with medieval history will find that the author explains various medieval legal terms. It’s an extremely readable account of a long-forgotten trial. It’s a quick read, too—a little over 200 pages, and it doesn’t feel as though there’s any “filler” material here. ( )
1 vote Kasthu | Aug 10, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0767914171, Paperback)

In 1386, a few days after Christmas, a huge crowd gathers at a Parisian monastery to witness what will become the nation's final "trial by combat"—a court-ordered duel intended to let God determine which of the two men was telling the truth. 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. Bringing to life a colorful, turbulent age and three unforgettable characters caught in a fatal triangle of crime, scandal, and revenge, The Last Duel is at once a moving human drama, a captivating detective story, and an engrossing work of historical intrigue.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:27 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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 man's cause is right in God's 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 husband's 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 Gris's vociferous claims of innocence and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite's 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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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