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FAMOUS DUELS

From THE DUEL A History of Duelling by Robert Baldick

     

The “Duel des Mignons”, 1578

A nineteenth century engraving

One of the most famous duels was fought during the reign of Henri III, and one which distressed the King the most, was the so-called DUEL DES MIGNONS, fought between his favorites Quelus and d’Entragues, who had fallen out over some ladies of the court.  With Riberac and Schomberg, who were d’Entragues’s seconds and Maugiron and Livarot who were Quelus’s, they met near the ramparts of the Porte Saint-Antoine with no one present but “three or four poor persons, wretched witnesses of the valour of these worthy men”.  The principles had scarcely begun fighting before Riberac said to Maugiron “I think we ought to reconcile these gentlemen, rather then let them kill each other” To this unworthy proposal the other replied “ Sir I did not come here to tell beads but to fight” But with whom”, Riberac asked innocently, “since you are not concerned in this quarrel?” why with you, to be sure” replied Maugiron.  “In that case” said Riberac, “Let us pray” and drawing his sword and dagger and crossing their hilts, he fell on his knees.  Maugiron was neither a patient nor a religious man for before long he told Riberac  “he had prayed long enough” At this the two men fell upon each other and within a few moments Maugiron was dead and Riberac mortally wounded.

Meanwhile, ashamed of standing by while all this slaughter was going on Schomberg said to Livarot “These gentleman are fighting, what shall we do? To which Livarot reasonably replied “We cannot do better than fight to maintain our honour” Schomberg, who was German followed the fighting method of his country and cut off half the left cheek of his opponent who returned the compliment by running him through the breast, killing his on the spot.

Of the two victorious seconds, Riberac died the following day and Livarot was killed in another duel two year later. As for the principals in the duel des mignons, d’Entragues though severely wounded made his escape, while Quelus who had received nineteen cuts lingered on for over a month.  On his deathbed he complained bitterly that d’Entragues had been armed with a dagger as well as his sword and that when he had protested that he had no dagger himself, his opponent had retorted “So much the worse for you, you ought not to have been such a fool as to have left it at home”.

But at least Quelus when dying and dead was given all the honour that was his, for although he died continually repeating “Oh my King, my King” without one word of Almighty God, so that a preacher of the time exclaimed in the pulpit that “the bodies of these blasphemers should be flung into a ditch”, the King visited him every day on his deathbed and gave him and his fellows a princely funeral, a noble monument and an epitaph calling upon God to receive the disrespectful mignons into his bosom.

 

 

   
     
 

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