Reconstruction of a Judicial Duel c. 1400
Video of the session Affairs of Arms I: A Judicial Duel Demonstration, during the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies (2013)
Presided by Annamaria Kovacs
Gregory D. Mele presents a paper examining the relationship between judicial duels and trial by combat, and about the various customs in different countries related to this topic. This is followed by a physical reconstruction and demonstration of a judicial duel at the turn of the 15th century, performed by members of the Chicago Swordplay Guild and La Belle Compagnie.
On the Freelance Academy Press Blog the premise of the duel is outlined:
c.1410, somewhere in northern Italy, a young, Italian squire, Giacomo Culla accuses an English knight of having been seen coming from the chambers of a well-known guildswoman “before morning mass”. The guildswoman, Natalia of Philadelphia was seen “with her hair loose and her bodice undone”, and the knight, had “marks of passion about his neck. Further complicating this claim is that both the squire and the knight are in the service of the lord, Sir Geoffrey Peel, an English adventurer (mercenary) in the Italian wars, and the knight’s wife, a native Italian woman, is currently pregnant, and so the squire claims outrage on the lady’s behalf.
It is not the charge of adultery, however, that precipitates the duel, however, but rather the knight’s claim that the squire Giacomo is a liar, and his demand that he recant his claims. This exchange of challenge and response, known as a Cartello, also outlines the form of the duel.
You can read the full script of the duel from Will McLean’s A Commonplace Book blog.