Henry's proposal of challenging Williams via gages, the agents associated with the judicial duel, is particularly outrageous.
Strictly considered, Prince Hal's and Hotspur's fight is single combat in battle, violence different from judicial duels and duels of honor.
The adversarial system should be rethought, because this throwback to the medieval mode of trial by combat, also called wager of battle and judicial duel
, no longer can be justified in a time when the public interest and the general welfare must be served.
The opening chapter begins with definitions of the early modern duel of honor, identifying both its roots in and contrasts with earlier versions of individual fighting such as single combat between two opposed leaders, the more playful chivalric tradition of jousting, and the judicial duel
offering trial by combat.
The judicial duel was not restricted to the sword--traditionally an aristocrat's weapon--and could even be fought with clubs and shields because in theory, at least, neither strength nor skill decided the outcome.
While the judicial duel was not the only form of State-sponsored violence, it was a particularly important one because God's favor was implied in the outcome.
Shakespeare's presentation of the judicial duel raises a number of questions about that ritual's relation to monarchic authority.
Richard fails to anticipate the free-floating aggression that erupts when he aborts the judicial duel, breaking up others' business and imposing, as it were, a compulsory coetus interruptus.
The historical Richard had already been temporarily deposed twice in his short life--and the nature of the judicial duel increases the power of the victor tremendously.
Victory in the judicial duel amounts to a character reference from God.
But when he learns that Mowbray has died, he consents to the alternative: the judicial duel.
Yet the judicial duel has been transformed between Act I and Act IV, a point never fully acknowledged.