January 15, 2017 Martial Arts Studies

News of the Duels


The period between 1660 and 1670 was an eventful one for both Britain and its martial arts. 1660 saw the Restoration, where the Stuart dynasty was returned to power under Charles II and the post-Civil War Commonwealth swept away. For all the optimism at Charles’ coronation, however, his kingdom was ill at ease. Such uneasy times were also significant for the press. It is what the press (and other sources from this period) reveal about duelling practice at the time, martial arts in general, and the changing nature of violence that is the focus of this article. As the insurrections, riots and various acts of violence taking place both in Britain and abroad demonstrate, the 1660s were certainly a violent time. But, as the newspaper coverage also demonstrates, the nature of violence itself was changing. This continued a trend, dating back to the Civil War, where close quarter fighting skills had begun to give way to the relative ease and convenience of firearms. British violence found itself, ironically, in as much a state of flux as the rest of the country.


DOI 10.18573/j.2017.10097


Hay, Alexander. 2017. ‘News of the Duels: Restoration Duelling Culture and the Early Modern Press’, Martial Arts Studies 3, 90-102.


Dr Alexander Hay is Lecturer of Digital Journalism at Southampton Solent University, and comes from an eclectic humanities background, covering everything from sea monsters to music journalism and reader response theory. His martial arts experience is similarly varied, and he is presently studying boxing, while retaining an on-going interest in Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA). His research interests include the history of journalism and online media and how they intersect with a wide range of other topics and disciplines.

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