Divorce Duel: How Medieval Europeans ended their Marriage

Divorce Duel: How Medieval Europeans ended their Marriage

It was extremely hard to get a divorce in medieval Europe, so couples who had enough of each other sometimes opted to end the marriage with a divorce duel.

German combat instructor and court adviser Hans Talhofer wrote Fechtbuch (“Fencing Book”) in 1467, an illustrated tome that included techniques for couples engaged in such duels.

 

Since men have obvious physical advantages, things had to get evened out. Hubbies, armed with three clubs, had to fight from inside a waist-high hole about three feet wide, with one hand tied to their body. Wives were armed with three rocks that weighed up to eight pounds, tied in a cloth like a battery in a sock, and could move around the hole freely.

<\/div>

 

Both sides’ weapons had to be of equal length. A husband who touched the hole’s edge forfeited a club. If he did so three times, he had to continue unarmed. If that happened, he would presumably have to try and wrestle his wife into the hole before she bashed his head in.

Divorce Duel: How Medieval Europeans ended their Marriage
Divorce Duel: How Medieval Europeans ended their Marriage

Talhofer’s manual offered advice about appropriate clothes, best techniques for each gender, and step-by-step instructions to exploit the opponent’s vulnerabilities.

The duels were surprisingly fair, and numerous women emerged victorious. Although divorce duels were not to the death, death was the ultimate result. If the wife won, her husband was executed, and if the husband won, the wife was buried alive.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.