Regency Duels, Affaires of Honor

In England, dueling was part of a long-standing code of honor, far beyond mere tradition. Gentlemen took their dueling very seriously; they would rather die than be dishonored. Today, we’d call it misplaced pride, or an overdeveloped sense of vengeance, or really stupid, but hey, that was a different world with a different set of rules. And yeah, I’m extremely grateful the men we love don’t settle their differences like this.

               Duelling pistols

By the Regency Era, dueling was outlawed. However, duels still happened more frequently than many people knew. The problem was, because courts were made up of peers, they were reluctant to charge another peer with murder as a result of a duel. There is a case where one nobleman was charged with murder and tried, but used the defense that his behavior was gentlemanly and honorable, meaning that he acted within the proper code of conduct. He was acquitted by his peers.

If they were socially equal, or at least similar, the gentleman who was offended would tell the man who’d wronged him that he should choose his “second,” a close friend or family member who would look out for his best interests. If he was really incensed, he might slap him with his glove, but that was considered extreme and beneath gentlemanly behavior, as it was the ultimate insult and probably resulted in a fight then and there.

Cruikshank, The Point of Honor decided, or the Leaden argument of a Love affaire, from The English Spy, 1825

The procedure for issuing a challenge was very specific. A gentleman never challenged a social inferior. For instance, a gentleman of significance with ties to the aristocracy or nobility would never challenge a commoner, such as a blacksmith or a farmer. Also, if there was a significant age difference, the duel would not be extended.

After the verbal challenge – or perhaps warning would be a better word – was issued, depending on the severity of the offense, the other might have a choice; he could either apologize, or he could accept. Sometimes, the apology would not be accepted, often if there were a third person who’d been wronged such as a lady’s honor. (Okay, call me crazy but that almost makes me want to swoon.)
The next day, supposedly after heads had cooled, the wronged man who wished to duel would send his “second” usually a trusted friend, with a written letter challenging the duel. The recipient may chose to apologize or accept the challenge. If accepted, he would choose swords or pistols, and name the time and the place where he wish the duel to take place. In my humble opinion, swords was a more more gentlemanly way to duel. Shooting at someone seems more cold-blooded, but I’m sure it took a great deal of courage to stand still and take aim at someone who was also taking aim at them.
When the allotted day arrived, they met, usually at dawn, in a remote place such as Putney Heath or Battersea Fields which were near London, yet secluded enough to reduce their chances of being caught by the law. Seconds inspected the weapons to be used. A final opportunity for an apology could be given. If not, the seconds decided if the duel should be fought to (a) first blood, or (b) until one can no longer stand, or (c) to the death. Once that was decided, the opponents dueled and the seconds watched to insure that nothing dishonorable happened. f the combatants used pistols, they only took one shot. 
If, during a duel fought by swords, one of the duelers became too injured to continue, occasionally the second would step in and duel. Sometimes, the seconds were hot-headed or very angry (loyal?) and ended up dueling each other as well. This never happened is the duel were fought with pistols since, to my knowledge, one shot was only ever used.
As horrible as it sounds to our modern selves, these gentlemen took their honor very seriously, and considered death preferable to living with the label of a coward, a label that would follow them and their families for years.
And, maybe it’s me, but there a certain romance about a gentleman brave enough and protective enough to be willing to risk death defending my honor from another man who’d besmirched it.

19th Century Firearms

179114_411185115585451_1139554877_nSometimes, staying true to the Regency era can create some problems, yet further research almost always provides fun answers. While writing my Regency Romance, The Guise of a Gentleman, my Regency lady grabbed her gun and faced down a group of bad guys. I knew if she were to defend the man and boy in danger, she’d only be able to get off one shot because of the time and difficulty reloading guns in that era. I considered either having her ride with two loaded guns or have a groom with her but I wasn’t crazy about either option.

Then, I found just what I needed: existence of a double-barrel flintlock which could fire two shots using two different triggers. Huzzah!!!

Some rifles also had a side-by-side barrel, like a double-barreled shotgun. Like the shotgun, this type of weapon has two hammers, though it’s hard to see the second one behind the first in most photos. It also has two triggers, one for each barrel. I found a .54 cal. with the damascus barrel measuring nine inches long and weighing close to three pounds. Unusual for its day, the double-barrel configuration provided a decided advantage over its single-barreled counterpart, given the notoriously slow reloading procedure for flintlocks. The barrel is generally about eight inches long and it weighs about 2 pounds.

Most Flintlock pistols measured between 10 to 16 inches long, from butt to barrel muzzle. They weighed from one to four pounds, depending on the caliber and the number of barrels. There were a number of styles of double-barreled pistols during the Regency, but they were generally big and heavy. There were two types, the over and under, with a revolving lower barrel, but only one hammer, so that the pan had to be primed before firing again.

Ladies’ pistols were generally six to eight inches long–too small to hold a ramrod. A bullet for such a small gun would be no wider than this: / / roughly the size of today’s ammo for a BB gun.  Ladies’ pistols weighed between 12 oz to one and a half pounds. The problem was that the flint, amount of powder, and mechanisms has to be smaller, which made firing them successfully more difficult.

Even though ladies’ pistols and double-barreled pistols look different, they were loaded the same way as all flintlocks. Most all flintlocks were smoothbores. Some were rifles, with spiral rifling in the barrels. They were difficult to load because the bullet had to be seated against the rifling grooves to spin the ball, so it was hard to ram home. Using cloth or leather wrapped around the ball made it easier to get down the barrel.

In the early 1800s, guns were hand made, and could be customized to fit the buyer’s specifications, so there were almost limitless options.

 

Note: I tried to add photos to this blog, but couldn’t find any that I was certain weren’t copyrighted. If you go to your browser and type in: “18th century black powder flintlock” or “18th century black powder ladies’ guns” you will find some beautiful images, mostly from places that have them to sell.

 

Book giveaway

The Suspect's Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

***GIVEAWAY CLOSED****

THE WINNERS: Julie won A Perfect Secret and Jerika and Rebecca won The Suspect’s Daughter.  CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you to everyone who entered.

It’s giveaway time! I am giving away 2 PROOF paperback copies of The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts series. If you have not yet read any of my other books, don’t worry–you don’t have to have read them first in order to understand this book. It’s written as a complete, stand-alone story.

Here is the back cover blurb of The Suspect’s Daughter:

Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril. Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone. Jocelyn will do anything to clear her father’s name, even if that means working with Grant. Time is running out. The future of England hangs in the balance…and so does their love.

Like all my stories, The Suspect’s Daughter is a Clean & Wholesome Romance. It gets a bit gritty and deals with some sensitive subjects, but there are never sex scenes or bad language in any of my books.

This particular copy is the early, “proof” edition of The Suspect’s Daughter. It was printed to give to final proof readers and has a couple of dozen or so typos and other errors in it. So please be kind when you read it–it’s not perfect. The final copy that is available for sale on Amazon has these errors corrected.

If you’d like to enter one of two free proof copies of The Suspect’s Daughter that I am giving away, please leave a comment in the Comments section below. Include the title of the book you want, your name, and your email address so I can contact you. This is a purely random drawing.

I ask nothing in return, however, if you feel you can give it a good review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, please consider doing so. Reviews really are the life-blood of an author.

A Perfect Secret

Original cover

Also, I am giving away a paperback copy of my book, A Perfect Secret book 3 in the Rogue Hearts Series. This particular book has the original cover, not the new and improved cover, which is why I’m giving it away. It’s the same story–just with a new cover.

The old cover is pictured at the left. The new cover, pictured at the right, is NOT part of the giveaway. I’m just showing it so you know what it looks like. I’m just nice like that 🙂

Here is the back cover blurb of A Perfect Secret:

APerfectSecret2Desperate to protect her father from trial and execution, Genevieve breaks off her engagement with Christian Amesbury and marries a blackmailer. After a year of marriage, she flees her husband’s violent domination only to have fate bring her back to Christian. Just when she thinks she’s started a new life of safety and freedom, her husband tracks her down, stalks her, and threatens everyone she loves. Still brokenhearted over Genevieve’s betrayal a year ago, Christian can’t believe she’s come back into his life–and worse, that she’s done it on the anniversary of his brother’s death, a death that haunts him. Though tempted to throw her back into the river where he found her, he can’t leave her at the mercy of the terrifying man she married. When her husband torments Genevieve and puts the Amesbury family in danger, Christian will do anything to protect those he loves…anything except give Genevieve another chance to break his heart.

Like all my stories, A Perfect Secret is a Clean & Wholesome Romance. It gets a bit gritty and deals with some sensitive subjects, but there are never sex scenes or bad language in any of my books.

If you’d like to enter to win a paperback copy of A Perfect Secret, please leave a comment in the Comments section below. Include the title of the book you want, your name, and your email address so I can contact you. This is a purely random drawing.

I ask nothing in return, however, if you feel you can give it a good review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, please consider doing so. Reviews really are the life-blood of an author.

Rules:

Available only in US and Canada

Random drawing

No purchase necessary

Void where prohibited