Review of «Las Duelistas», by Mamen Gil

Review of «Las Duelistas», by Mamen Gil

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The Duelists, by Mamen Gil, is a book in which we will find some of the most famous duels in history, starring women.

Does more than 100 years took place, in Madrid Retirement park a duel whose protagonists were Paz Villavicencio and Lolita, nicknamed the «of the Canas».

It was about two courtesans who wanted to settle the brawl that started at Café Fornos, one of the most famous and busiest establishments of the time, located on Calle Alcalá on the corner of Calle Peligros.

The duel took place at the foot of the statue of the Fallen Angel, whose symbolism perhaps anticipated the unfortunate outcome.

That set motivated by questions of love, and that would be interrupted by the timely arrival of a bailiff, inspired a zarzuela titled, of course "The fallen angel”.

The premiere of the play, at the Teatro de la Zarzuela on July 11, 1897, had a great reception.

The Sevillian journalist Mamen gil, (Andalusia Prize for Journalism 2017), collects in this original book, the main duels celebrated by women throughout history, something that is practically unknown because when we think of foils and swords, the figures that come to mind are characters like the musketeers or Errol Flynn fighting in one of his emblematic films.

But a few ladies also decided to settle their disputes with the blow of the sword, and we will see it in the book entitled The Duelists.

Duelist motives: honor, disputed love, or misunderstanding

The motives behind these duelists were diverse: to establish which of the two was more important, as in the case of Mademoiselle de Guignes and Mademoiselle d'Aiguillon; to dispute the love of a man, as happened between Isabella de Carazzi and Diambra de Pettinella; honor her family and her father, as Agnes Hotot decided to do; or put an end to a simple misunderstanding, as happened between Lady Almeria and Miss Elphinstone.

But they all have something in common, they all fought for his honor and imposed their will either through the barrel of the gun or the edge of the sword.

The issues of love were the main cause of dispute. The duel that took place in 1721, betweenthe Countess de Polignac and the Marquise de Nesle.

The latter went down in history for her adulterous relationship with the Duke of Richelieu who, in turn, had another affair with the Marquise de Polignac.

Out of jealousy, the Marchioness challenged her rival to a duel in order not to share her lover's favors.

The mythical meeting took place in the Boulogne forest in September 1718 and the chosen weapon was the pistol. Both would be injured.

Expel a "squatter"

It was the seventeenth century whenthe Countess of Saint-BelmontAs a widow, she communicated the invitation in writing to a French officer, to give him an explanation of the reasons that had led her to settle comfortably in his home.

When he received no reply, he sent him an anonymous note challenging him to duel to satisfy an offense. The signature on the card was: «Knight of Saint-Belmont", So the challenged decided to accept, without suspecting that his opponent would be a woman.

It seems that the countess did not take long to disarm him and when she had him at her mercy she declared: «You are wrong if you think you have been fighting with a knight. I am Madame de Saint-Belmont, and I urge you to be more sensitive to the requests of women from now on.

A matter of age

In 1792 the so-called "crinolines duel" took place in London, which faced lady Almeria Braddock with Mrs. Elphinstone.

The two ladies were having tea when Mrs. Elphinstone, after the inevitable exchange of compliments, hinted at the mark left by time on Lady Almeria's face.

This resulted in a famous duel. The two clashed first with pistols (one of the bullets went through Lady Almeria's hat) and then with swords (Mrs. Elphinstone received a wound in her arm).

In the end, everything was settled with an apology from Mrs. Elphinstone.

After studying History at the University and after many previous tests, Red Historia was born, a project that emerged as a means of dissemination where you can find the most important news of archeology, history and humanities, as well as articles of interest, curiosities and much more. In short, a meeting point for everyone where they can share information and continue learning.

Video: Las Duelistas