Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Code Duello Definition:

A rough code on the conduct of a a duel.

Related Terms: Duel, Chance Medley

Also codo duelloe".

The Code Duello purported to set out the rules of “gentlemen”in the conduct of their duel, by sword or by pistol.

Writing in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Jeremy Horder proposed, of the the variety of so-called d"codes" for the conduct of duels:

“On the nature of such codes, ... perhaps the most influential and important of them was the code adopted by a group of gentlemen for the governance of duels in Ireland, at the Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777. It was identical or similar to codes followed in England:.1

The use of the word code practically presents an oxymoron since tools were illegal many participants in the life-and-death situation such as would be presented in the dual, would probably find it difficult to remember the niceties of "article 3, subsection (b)" for example, whatever that may be. Also, there were different kinds of duels: tools by fisticuffs or the duels that have been more romanticized by temporary literature, sword or pistol duels. For those duels that were controlled, as best as they could be, each participant was using allowed a second, the referee or a judge would count down and who would say some magic word at which time, the duelists would throw themselves at each other more shoot each other from point-blank range. That magic word was either "fire" or "present".


but there were some basic elements of fairness which the participants generally agreed to in a  duel, a xode duello, such as not to engage until the so-called magic word and to otherwise comply with any other terms such as a certain number of paces between the participants, etc.


  • NOTE 1: Horder, Jeremy, Duel and the English Law of Homicide, The; 12 Oxford J. Legal Stud. 419 (1992)

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