Traditionally, the clarification of relationships using weapons was considered a non-female occupation. When the men agreed to a duel, defending the honor of the ladies, it was a noble act. But how to qualify a similar pattern of behavior among women?
Women’s duels were, though more rare, but far more brutal than men’s duels – most of them ended not with “first blood,” but with death.
Duels have always been considered the prerogative of men, but women often disagreed with this. In 1552 in Naples, Isabella de Caracci and Diambra de Pettinello fought in a duel for a man.
This event inspired the Spanish artist José de Ribera to create the painting "Women’s Duel".
Jose de Ribera. Women’s duel, 1636
The first recorded duel between women was a duel on May 27, 1571. In the chronicle of the St. Nicholas Convent in Milan. Benedicts this day was marked by the arrival of two noble senorites, who asked the abbess for room for joint prayer.
Locked in the room, the women fought on the daggers. As a result, both died.
In 1642, according to legend, a duel took place because of the Duke of Richelieu – the future cardinal – between the Marquis de Nesle and Countess de Polignac. The ladies fought for the favor of the duke with swords in the Bois de Boulogne – at least Richelieu described this incident in his notes.
In the middle of the XVII century. in France, England, Germany, Italy, women’s duels took place more and more. Fights with swords or pistols were fatal in 8 cases out of 10 (for comparison, in male duels, 4 out of 10).
The ladies fought with particular cruelty – they smeared the tips of the swords with poison or with a special compound that caused a burning pain on any touch, and shot until one of them was killed or badly wounded. As a rule, the ladies fought with topless swords – firstly, the dresses restrained movements, and secondly, it was considered dangerous to get into the wounds of pieces of fabric.
Female duels were widespread in France, but in Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries. they also happened quite often. The Russian boom of women’s duels began with the ascension to the throne of Catherine II, who in her youth herself fought with swords with her second cousin.
In 1765 alone, 20 female duels took place.
In the XIX century. The women’s fights became the scene of women’s fights. So, in the cabin of Vostroukhova in 1823, 17 duels passed.
According to the recollections of the French marquis de Morten, who witnessed these battles, “Russian ladies like to sort things out among themselves with the help of weapons. Their duels do not carry any grace that can be observed in the French women, but only a blind rage, aimed at the destruction of a rival. "
In defense of compatriots, it can be noted that their deaths were much lower than those of the bloodthirsty French women.
The most brutal were female duels motivated by jealousy. Because of the men, the ladies fought with pistols, swords, penknives and even nails!
In fact, such fights often became fights without rules. One of their contemporaries rightly remarked: "If we take into account the great irritability that so often accompanies relations between women, we will be surprised that they still rarely fight in a duel, which is a valve for the passions."