Fascinating black and white footage showing France‘s last ever duel has emerged.
It features two French politicians fighting for their honour on April 20, 1967.
The duel between Marseille mayor Gaston Defferre and another politician named Rene Ribière was performed with épées, the largest type of swords used in fencing.
The duel between politicians Gaston Defferre and Rene Ribière was performed with épées
The combat took place in a private property in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris in April 1967
The combat took place after Defferre yelled ‘Taisez-vous, abruti!’ (‘Shut up, stupid!’) at Ribière following a clash in the National Assembly.
Defferre refused to apologise, so Ribière challenged him and he accepted, fight coordinator James Kirby says.
The duel took place in a private property in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris and was officiated by Jean de Lipkowskiin, who then was France’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
Rene Ribière was 12 years younger than Defferre but he offered to use sharper swords
One of the two politicians, Ribière, was to be married the following day.
Defferre had vowed not to kill him, but to wound him and ‘spoil his wedding night very considerably’.
In fact, he landed a couple of touches on Ribière’s arm.
Rene Ribière, who was 12 years younger, took the duel very seriously and offered not only to use sharper swords, but also to continue fighting after Defferre first struck him.
The combat took place after Defferre yelled’Shut up, stupid! at Ribière following a clash in the National Assembly
The duel was officiated by Jean de Lipkowskiin (left), who stopped the combat after Defferre struck Ribière for the second time
Jean de Lipkowskiin then put an end to the combat after Defferre struck Ribière for the second time.
The effect Ribière’s injuries had on his wedding night, however, is not clear.
Both politicians went on to live their lives after the duel.
Defferre died in Marseille in 1986 and Ribière in Italy in 1998.
Some of the most legendary duels in history
- Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (1804): On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton, a leading Federalist and former Secretary of the Treasury and Aaron Burr, vice president under Thomas Jefferson, took part in a duel near Weehawken, New Jersey. Hamilton had campaigned against Burr during his bid to become governor of New York. He considered him an opportunist. Burr, who wanted to restore his reputation, shot Hamilton in the stomach. Hamilton died the next afternoon. Following his opponent’s death, Burr was charged for murder and arrested. When he was acquitted, he fled to Europe before returning to his private life in New York.
- Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs Elphinstone (1792): Mrs Elphinstone visited Lady Almeria Braddock’s home in London in 1792. The hostess, angry because of a comment Mrs Elphinstone made about her age, challenged her guest to a duel in Hyde Park. Mrs Elphinstone fired her pistol first and then they went on to fight with swords. Lady Braddock wounded her opponent in the arm but there were no further consequences as Mrs Elphinstone decided to write a letter of apology.
- Édouard Manet and Edmond Duranty (1870): In February 1870, French painter Édouard Manet challenged his friend Edmond Duranty after reading a sentence the critic had written about two of his works. They faced each other in the forest of Saint-Germain and writer Émile Zola supported Manet during the combat. They allegedly struck only once, but so strongly that their swords buckled. After the duel, they stayed friends and shared meals at Café Guerbois in Paris.
- Alexander Pushkin and Georges d’Anthès (1837): George d’Anthès had pursued Alexander Pushkin’s wife Natalya in Saint Petersburg. The Russian poet threatened him verbally. George d’Anthès then married Natalya’s sister Ekaterina, but on January 27, 1837, the two men met in a duel. D’Anthès got a gash on his arm, but Pushkin got a bullet in his stomach and died two days later.
- Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson (1806): Charles Dickinson had described Andrew Jackson’s wife Rachel as a bigamist, referring to an error in her divorce from her previous husband. On May 30, 1806 they met with pistols. Dickinson fired first and Jackson fired back, fatally wounding his opponent.