Arguments about the place and practice of the duel in early modern England were widespread. The distinguished intellectual historian Markku Peltonen examines this debate, and show how the moral and ideological status of duelling was discussed within a much larger cultural context of courtesy, civility and politeness. The advocates of the duel, following Italian and French examples, contended that it maintained and enhanced politeness; its critics by contrast increasingly severed duelling from civility, and this separation became part of a vigorous attempt in the late seventeenth century and beyond to redefine civility, politeness and indeed the nature and evolution of Englishness. To understand the duel is to understand much more fully some crucial issues in the cultural and ideological history of Stuart England, and Markku Peltonen's study will thus engage the attention of a very wide audience of historians, cultural and literary scholars.
Markku Peltonen is Senior Lecturer in General History, Department of History, University of Helsinki.