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Susan of DT Songs About Duels and Dueling (34) RE: Songs About Duels and Dueling 06 Dec 19


From my book, Body Count: Death in the Child Ballads:

In Child #207, Lord Delamere, the quarrel is an interesting one. A young lord proposes to the King that he should hang his peasants, rather than starve them to death with taxes. A French, or Dutch, knight offers to fight Delamere for his insolence. Since Delamere is under age, the Duke of Devonshire fights and kills the French night in his place42. The King wants to arrest Devonshire who insists he, unarmored, has killed the armored Frenchman fairly. . [Bodycount = 1]

   ‘It’s better, my liege, they should die a shorter death
   Than for your Majesty to starve them on earth.’
   With that up starts a Dutch lord, as we hear,
   And he says, ‘Thou proud Jack,’ to my lord Delamere, (207B.5)

   ‘Thou ought to be stabbed,’ and he turned him about,
   ‘For affronting the king in the Parliament House.’
   Then up got a brave duke, the Duke of Devonshire,
   Who said, I will fight for my lord Delamere. (207B.6)

   Devonshire dropped on his knee, and gave him his death-wound;
   O then that French lord fell dead upon the ground. (207A.8)

In Child #99, Johnnie Scott, there is a duel towards the end of the
ballad with Johnnie killing the king’s Italian champion and, thus, winning the princess as his bride. [Bodycount = 1]

   Then out it came that Italian,
   An a gurious ghost was he;
   Upo the point o Johney’s sword
   This Italian did die. (99A.31)

   Out has he drawn his lang, lang bran,
   Struck it across the plain:
   ‘Is there any more o your English dogs
   That you want to be slain?’ (99A.32)

   ‘A clark, a clark,’ the king then cried,
   ‘To write her tocher free;’
   ‘A priest, a priest,’ says Love Johney,
   ‘To marry my love and me. (99A.33)

In Child #61, Sir Cawline first wins a fight with King Eldrige on a fairy mound, a task set by his lady, the princess, and then kills a pagan giant (hend soldan), a task set by his king. He is rewarded with the princess’ hand in marriage. [Bodycount = 1 giant]

   But the hend soldan and Sir Cawline
   Th?e ffought a summers day;
   Now has hee slaine that hend soldan,
   And brought his fiue heads away. (61.37)

In Child #262, Lord Livingston, the lady chooses which of a pair of rivals she prefers and marries him. The other challenges her husband to a duel and kills him. The lady mournes for seven years and then dies for love.   [Bodycount = 2]

   ‘Come on to me now, Livingston,
   Or then take foot and flee;
   This is the day that we must try
   Who gains the victorie.’ (262A.23)

   Then they fought with sword in hand
   Till they were bluidy men;
   But on the point o Seaton’s sword
   Brave Livingston was slain. (262A.24)

   ‘My mother got it in a book,
   The first night I was born,
   I woud be wedded till a knight,
   And him slain on the morn. (262A.30)

Bewick and Graham, in Child #211, were best friends and had no wish to fight, but their fathers quarreled over whose son was best and forced the fight. One father said his son was better because he could read and write. The father of the “inferior” son (Graham) told him he had to fight his friend or else fight him, his own father. Young Graham agonized over whether to fight, and chance killing, his father or his friend. He decided that killing his father would be worse than killing his friend, but swore that if he killed his friend, he would kill himself and so he did. [Bodycount = 2]

   ‘Now Grahame gave Bewick an ackward stroke,
   An ackward stroke surely struck he;
   He struck him now under the left breast,
   Then down to the ground as dead fell he. (211A.43)

   ‘O horse, O horse, O bully Grahame,
   And get thee far from me with speed!
   And get thee out of this country quite!
   That none may know who’s done the deed.’ (211A.46)

   ‘O if this be true, my bully dear,
   The words that thou dost tell to me,
   The vow I made, and the vow I’ll keep;
   I swear I’ll be the first that die. (211A.47)

   Then he stuck his sword in a moody-hill,
   Where he lap thirty good foot and three;
   First he bequeathed his soul to God,
   And upon his own sword-point lap he. (211A.48)


The full ballads are in the DT and many other places.
If you want my book:
   Amazon(US) says it is out of stock
   Loomis House Press (CAMSCO's publishing partner) has it
   or PM me


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