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The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France Paperback – Sep 13 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 13 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767914171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767914178
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #352,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In 1386, Jean de Carrouges accused his former friend, Jacques LeGris, of raping his wife, and the young king of France allowed their dispute to be resolved in what was to be the last legally ordered judicial combat in Paris. Jager deftly blends this story with the background necessary to understand it: the ideas behind trial by combat, the realities of 14th-century marriage, the complexity of the regional and central powers in France, and the personal rivalries at court. Jager describes a harsh and violent era, when public executions were a form of entertainment and both commoners and elites eagerly anticipated the increasingly rare duel to the death. But it was also a time of lawyers, chroniclers and ceremony. Jager doesn't condescend to the people of medieval France but explains the complicated logic by which they could believe that a duel would prove guilt or innocence, pregnancy could be considered proof that sex had been consensual, and a lady could be convicted and executed as a false accuser if her champion lost. A brief history of the duel demonstrates its origins in age-old military tradition rather than divine providence. Jager acknowledges where the definitive facts of his story are unknown while presenting a riveting account that will satisfy general readers and historians alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Feudal society in the Middle Ages was founded on a hierarchy of relationships between servants and lords. Improving one's station in life generally meant winning and retaining favor with one's lord. Sometimes this led to competition and jealousy among knights serving the same lord. Such was the case with Jean de Carrouges and Jacques LeGris, two fourteenth-century French nobles (one a knight, the other a squire). A rivalry formed between the once-close friends that started with jealousy, progressed into lawsuits, escalated with the alleged rape of Carrouges' wife by LeGris, and ended with a judicial duel to the death by which (it was believed) the righteous man would be revealed by God himself. Jager provides an excellent depiction of feudal society, placing the reader into the lives of knights and nobles, detailing their relationships with each other and their lords. The ongoing Hundred Years' War and each man's role in it give this personal conflict its historical context. The story of the duel and the rivalry leading up to it make for quick reading as enthralling and engrossing as any about a high-profile celebrity scandal today. Gavin Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an account of past values and facts that reads like a novel yet holds it's own as a history text. Never does the reader catch himself thinking it's anything but true and accurate. The author has taken great pains to sift through the large cache of historical documents to keep all the events in what appears to be the correct order while still allowing the main characters their individual personalities.

The over reaching question as to whether the court decision is tempting God or the logical conclusion of an age of faith is ever present.

This is certainly a must read for those interested in the Middle Ages and recomended to to anyone just looking for a good read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 70 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable summer read Sept. 7 2015
By Surrydog - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in medieval history, legal matters, Catholicism, and a fairly good yarn, this book is for you. It makes for somewhat slow reading, but picks up a bit 1/3 through the book, after which it is difficult to put down. The resolution of the duel, however, leaves some doubt as to what exactly happened in regard to the event that prompted the duel. Since I definitive endings and clear resolution to stories, this resulted in me rating the book at 4 stars rather than 5. Still, I recommended it to my wife, and I would recommend the book to anybody interested in law, history, or medieval matters.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging tale, better than most fiction Sept. 2 2015
By stagecoach66 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Could not put it down. The author does a great job of painting a portrait of the main characters, establishing the historical era in which they lived, and building the plot in an entertaining and engaging way. He uses historical sources extensively - the book is well researched - and it's obvious how he thinks events played out. But - to his credit - he acknowledges that no one can ever be sure exactly what happened, and summarizes the alternative theories in the epilogue. Well written and informative - I would recommend this to non-history buffs as well.
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it Oct. 21 2016
By Nancy H. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
That was quite a good book. Mr. Jager included several illustrations of documents that he had found and tapestries that showed the duel, I feel it's important to note that because illustrations don't come though well on a Kindle very often. I thought it was well researched, he went into different events that were examples of when a duel was fought in France at the time.

Mr. Jager explained would happen to Marguerite in the event her husband Jean de Carrouges lost the duel. There is also a chapter at the end that explains why some of the claims made at a later date didn't hold up with the evidence that he uncovered in his research.

I did enjoy this book and I may read it again.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting account of a real life 14th century Thunderdome April 27 2011
By J. Fuchs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Last Duel does what any great general reading history should do, by putting the reader squarely into a time and place and being as easy and gripping to read as if it were a novel. The last trial by combat authorized by the High Court of Paris was a duel to the death between a squire accused of raping his adversary's wife. Why and how this "death joust" took place is set forth in this book in detail so rich and real you can imagine the events taking place before your eyes -- the cold and loneliness of traveling over mud roads in winter, the majesty and solemnity of the formal proceedings before the king and the court, and the duel itself, in a great enclosure in a field behind a monastery, with every class of France, from the king to the lowest commoner out watching.

Well-researched and superbly written, The Last Duel is a page turner that hooks you from the opening chapter right up until the bloody ending.

Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read July 9 2016
By Jeff Cantrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating and engaging book! Once you start, it is difficult to put down. It sheds light on judicial combat with a real-life fact pattern.