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According to Ariel Roth, during the reign of Henry IV, over 4,000 French aristocrats were killed in duels "in an eighteen-year period" while a twenty-year period of Louis XIII's reign saw some eight thousand pardons for "murders associated with duels".Roth also notes that thousands of men in the Southern United States "died protecting what they believed to be their honor." The first published code duello, or "code of dueling", appeared in Renaissance Italy.Weapons were standardized and typical of a knight's armoury, for example longswords, polearms etc., however, weapon quality and augmentations were at the discretion of the knight, for example, a spiked hand guard for or an extra grip for half-swording.

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These type of duels soon evolved into the more chivalric pas d'armes, or "passage of arms", a type of chivalric hastilude that evolved in the late 14th century and remained popular through the 15th century.

A knight or group of knights (tenans or "holders") would stake out a travelled spot, such as a bridge or city gate, and let it be known that any other knight who wished to pass (venans or "comers") must first fight, or be disgraced.

By the 1770s the practice of dueling was increasingly coming under attack from many sections of enlightened society, as a violent relic of Europe's medieval past unsuited for modern life.

As England began to industrialize and benefit from urban planning and more effective police forces, the culture of street violence in general began to slowly wane.

The word duel comes from the Latin 'duellum', cognate with 'bellum', meaning 'war'.

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