Did I reveal too much about Julie d’Aubigny in the title? No, I don’t believe I did.
I stumbled onto this woman last week when I was researching Hot Stuff Guys Used to Do, of which, obviously, the number one thing is dueling. Dueling was huge for . . . really all of history, right up until the Civil War, when people realized that young people getting killed for no real reason was actually not so great after all. I don’t know how much they focus on this in Lincoln, because I have not seen the movie, but I’m sure dueling receives its own 20 minutes, right? However, I digress! For a while the activity was so accepted that dueling was considered almost essential to a man’s character. I really like this quote, in particular, from a 19th century Irishman:
“A duel was indeed considered a necessary part of a young man’s education . . .When men had a glowing ambition to excel in all manner of feats and exercises they naturally conceived that manslaughter, in an honest way (that is, not knowing which would be slaughtered), was the most chivalrous and gentlemanly of all their accomplishments. No young fellow could finish his education till he had exchanged shots with some of his acquaintances. The first two qualifications always asked as to a young man’s respectability and qualifications, particularly when he proposed for a lady wife, were ‘What family is he of? And ‘Did he ever blaze?’ ”
So, men were just blazing left and right for hundreds of years. It was, as I have already established, just one of the hot things that guys did. But what about the ladies? Who were the lady duelists? And what were they doing it in? I am asking you that last question because a not safe for work photograph is coming right at you!