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Hungarian Prime Minister fights third duel this year

The year being 1913, of course.

The Times, 21 August 1913 p4

The Times, 21 August 1913 p4

The whole business seems to be a bit stylised although still dangerous.

15 comments to Hungarian Prime Minister fights third duel this year

  • Regardless of that, present Hungarian politics is worse.

  • Why do you say “regardless”? I feel moved to speculate that if the grand old custom of monomachy were to be reinstated it might improve politics no end.

  • Much as I am a sucker for the trappings of monarchy: the titles, the uniforms, the moustaches etc with my rational head on I have to accept they weren’t very good. Reading up on the world before 1914, you realise how bumbling they tended to be. Absolute democracy, for all its faults is an improvement.

  • Richard Thomas

    Patrick, as it’s turning out, not by much, if anything.

    Sometimes I wonder if the “blood of patriots and tyrants” thing is not so much about political balance as simply culling the herd of those who want to rule and those who want to be ruled so that there’s less of them to bother those of use who want to be left alone.

  • I’m with Richard on this, Patrick. Whatever improvement there is, it is not due to democracy, but to unrelated factors (mainly things such as science and technology, if I have to be more specific).

  • When Natalie wrote “monomachy”, I read “monarchy”. Oh dear.

    Alisa, I was only making a comparison between how the monarchies at the time made policy and how the republics at the time (I am including Britain in this) made policy. It seems to me that the republics/democracies (call them what you will) were much better when it came to being rational, consistent and persistent.

  • Oh, OK Patrick, I must have missed your point – sorry. If the comparison is roughly within the same period, then you may well be right. But then the comparison probably takes into account parameters that are at least somewhat different. Or so I would think – it really is an interesting question, come to think of it some more.

  • Richard Thomas

    The problem appears to be accumulation of power. Democracies and republics may slow that somewhat. Then again, there may have been periods in monarchies where more enlightened rule allowed for a fairly pleasant existence. Serfdom and class structure may have been a larger issue than the form of the political structure. I think one has to be careful not to engage in temporal provincialism.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I confess I only know the word “monomachy” because I read The Shadow of the Torturer.

    But the debate I accidentally re-started is an interesting one. My general view is, as I have post every few years, is that I take seriously the old line that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others.

    Yup, the Kaiser was far from the monster we portrayed him as, but his rather childish and spiteful decisions had a terribly amplified effect because he had too much power.

    The current reverence for democracy is a horrible mistake. It ought to be regarded as an embarrassment that anything should ever come to a vote. “Oh dear, we have allowed the situation to deteriorate so much that we are actually going to have to override some people’s wishes. Sigh. Well, let’s get it over with and try and settle things the proper way by negotiation next time.”

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Turning from monarchy to monomachy, I was told that in French duels of the late nineteenth century the type of ammunition used (or possibly it was the choice of powder rather than ammunition, I can’t recall) was selected such that wearing a stout woolen overcoat would almost certainly save you from injury. It made a nice impressive bang though, and thus honour was satisfied.

    According to Wikipedia, the last duel in France was fought between two French parliamentarians, with swords, in 1967.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Natalie Solent opined: “I feel moved to speculate that if the grand old custom of monomachy were to be reinstated it might improve politics no end.”

    Indeed. I have often claimed that the right way to handle elections to political office is to take all who desire power over others, which is to say, the candidates, to a windowless masonry room, give each a flail or morning star as a weapon, and inform them that the last survivor will be released and given the office.

    All exits should then be bricked up, and left sealed for a period of no less than 100 years. If anyone manages to crawl out after, he can then be informed that due to irregularities, the election process is to be repeated.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Natalie Solent (Essex) @ August 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm:
    … in French duels of the late nineteenth century the type of ammunition used … was selected such that wearing a stout woolen overcoat would almost certainly save you from injury.

    See Mark Twain, “The Great French Duel” (Chapter 8 of A Tramp Abroad.

    He acted as second to M. Gambetta, who fell on him. “…Many sincere and warm-hearted persons had themselves introduced to me, and said they were proud to know the only man who had been hurt in a French duel in forty years.”

  • Paul Marks

    I can think of various people I would like to call out – but that would give them choice of weapons.

    They would choose sword – and that would be me dead.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    I saw a good proposal in a book by Parkinson, the writer who came up with Parkinson’s Rules. He thought that you should advertise for the job, and have a final qualification like, “The successful leader will, when his term expires, by painlessly killed by lethal injection.” If no-one turns up, increase the length of the term. If more than one person applies for the job, reduce the length, until only one person is left.

  • Two consenting adults… I have no problem whatsoever with duelling. Maybe not the best way to resolve differences but if people choose swords at dawn or pistols at high noon then it is no business of mine.