Duels have been fought by men and women for years, in the hopes of settling their disputes with swords or guns when words aren’t enough. Some of the duels on this list have been fought with such extraordinary skill, or in a way that became so unusual that they became famous duels and have even inspired films. Famous duels have been talked about for thousands of years from the sword fights during medieval times, to the cowboy shootouts in the old west. This is a list of 10 breathtaking famous duels from history.


Alexander Pushkin

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Alexander Pushkin is a famous Russian poet, and the founder of modern Russian literature. There had been rumours spreading that his wife was having an affair with Georges d’Anthes, a French soldier living in Russia. Someone even sent him a letter saying that he had been elected to the Most Serene Order of Cuckolds. In 1837 they met for a duel. Both men were wounded during the duel, Pushkin was shot in the abdomen, and later died of his wounds. D’Anthes survived the encounter. The Tsarist administration moved his funeral to a smaller location, and only allowed his family and friends to visit. This is because they feared a political demonstration. The body was taken at midnight in secret, and he was buried on his mother’s estate.


Wild Bill Hickok – Davis Tutt shootout

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This was one of the few one-one quick-draw duels ever recorded and seen in the public eye. The two were friends at first but fell out over women. There were rumours that Hickok had an illegitimate child with Tutt’s sister, and Kickok was suspicious that Tutt was courting his lover. Things became more and more tense between them, and it came to the point where they agreed to duel. Around 6:00 p.m., the two men met outside, 75 yards apart. Both men faced each other sideways. The two men quickly reached for their gun, and shot at the same time. Tutt missed, but Hickok hit Tutt in the abdomen. Tutt shouted “Boys, I’m killed.” Then collapsed and died.


Miyamoto Musashi vs Sasaki Kojiro

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This is one of the most famous duels of all time, between two legendary samurai. They agreed to fight on the island of Funajima. Musashi arrived late, and made Kojiro wait for hours. When Musashi finally arrived he only fought using a wooden sword he made out of an oar, he had on the boat he used to get there. Musashi taunted him just before the fight started, then Kojiro tried to hit him and barely missed, cutting off a part of his hair. Kojiro almost beat him several times, but he was suddenly blinded by the light of the sunset. Musashi took this oppurtunity to hit him over the head with his bokken (wooden sword) killing him. Some people think he arrived late on purpose to try and blind him with the sunset.


Luke Short Vs Jim Courtright

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“Early in the evening I was getting my shoes blackened at the White Elephant, when a friend of mine asked me if there was any trouble between Courtright and myself, and I told him there was nothing. A few minutes later I was at the bar with a couple of friends when some one called me. I went out into the vestibule and saw Jim Courtright and Jake Johnson. Jake and I had talked for a little while that evening on a subject in which Jim’s name was mentioned, but no idea of a difficulty was entertained. I walked out with them upon the sidewalk, and we had some quiet talk on private affairs. I reminded him of some past transactions, not in an abusive or reproachful manner, to which he assented, but not in a very cordial way. I was standing with my thumbs in the armholes of vest and had dropped them in front of me to adjust my clothing, when he remarked ‘Well, you needn’t reach for your gun,’ and immediately put his hand in his hip-pocket and pulled his. When I saw him do that, I pulled my pistol and began shooting, for I knew that his action meant death. He must have misconstrued my intention in dropping my hands before me. I was merely adjusting my clothing, and never carry a pistol in that part of my dress.” Jim Courtright


The Duke of Wellington’s Duel

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The Duke of Wellington got into a heated debate with the Earl of Winchilsea, and they furiously exchanged letters with each other until their contempt for each other eventually boiled over into a duel between the two of them. Wellington was prime minister at the time, and many people felt it was irresponsible for him to enter into a duel over an argument but he did it anyway. They met on Battersea fields, but the duel took an unexpected turn. Winchilsea refused to fire at Wellington and fired into the air. Wellington returned the favour and deliberately missed as well, and they ended their dispute peacefully, it remains one of the most famous duels in English history.


Hot Air Balloon Duel

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In 1808 a duel was fought between two Frenchmen in Paris over a female opera singer. Mr Granpree was dating the singer but M. Le Pique had been planning illicit deeds with her. When Granpree discovered a letter revealing this, a duel ensued, of unusual circumstances. The men decided that they would fight their duels while riding in hot air balloons. They both rose up in their separate balloons armed with blunderbuss’s, as pistols couldn’t be accurate in the circumstances. When they were within 80 yards of each other, and were 900 yards high M. Le Picque shot at Granpree but missed him and his balloon. Granpree returned fire and managed to hit Le Pique’s balloon which sent him hurdling down to the ground.


19 Year Duel

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Francois Fournier was a General of the Napoleonic wars, and after getting into an argument with a messenger went on to have a duelling war with him which lasted for 19 years, and involved over 30 duels between the two of them. Fournier was a general, and known as “the worst subject in Napoleon’s Grand Armee.” A messenger named Dupont was ordered to give a bad message to Fournier, and upon receiving the message Fournier decided to go against the famous saying and shoot the messenger. He challenged Dumont to a duel which ended unsatisfactorily for Fournier so he demanded a rematch, which eventually turned into another thirty rematches over 19 years which involved fighting mounted, on foot, with rapiers, sabres, and pistols. Eventually Dupont won the final duel, and made Fournier promise never to bother him again.


Mark Twain Duel

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Mark Twain got into a serious argument with the publisher of a rival paper, named James Laird. This argument went so far as to end up with being settled with a duel. Twain was getting shooting lessons in preparation for the duel, but even though he was learning from a crack shot he was completely terrible, and so they devised a plan to get him out of the duel without duelling. Twain’s teacher shot a bird, and told Laird that Twain had shot the bird from 30 feet away. This story completely fooled Laird and he was so scared that he agreed to call off the duel. It became of the most famous duels that never happened.


Nude Duel Humphrey Howarth

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Humprey Howarth, a member of British parliament, was dining at the Castle Inn, and got into an argument with a man there which eventually ended in them arranging to have a duel the next morning. This duel instantly got off to a strange start as Howarth began to strip off his clothes stand in front of his opponent wearing nothing but underpants. This seems strange but was actually quite clever. Howarth used to be a surgeon and knew that people would often die because of the infection from dirty clothes instead of the gunshot wound and stripped to avoid this problem. In the end both participants missed and they settled things peacefully.


Flamma’s Final Bout

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Flamma was a Syrian soldier captured by Rome, and sentenced to death by fighting in the arena. Although most gladiators met their end pretty quickly in the ring, Flamma went on to fight 34 battles and defeated many opponents. Flamma fought for 13 years, and wasn’t just great at his job, he revelled in it. Although Flamma was technically a slave he was offered freedom four different times, and always turned it down so he could keep fighting in the ring. Flamma became the most famous and popular gladiator in history, and his face was even on coins used at the time. In his 30th fight he finally died.

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