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By the late 18th century, Enlightenment era values began to influence society with new self-conscious ideas about politeness, civil behaviour and new attitudes towards violence.The cultivated art of politeness demanded that there should be no outward displays of anger or violence, and the concept of honour became more personalized.The feat of arms was used to settle hostilities between two large parties and supervised by a judge.

The Roman Catholic Church was critical of dueling throughout medieval history, frowning both on the traditions of judicial combat and on the duel on points of honor among the nobility.

Judicial duels were deprecated by the Lateran Council of 1215, but the judicial duel persisted in the Holy Roman Empire into the 15th century.

Dueling largely fell out of favor in England by the mid-19th century and in Continental Europe by the turn of the 20th century.

Dueling declined in the Eastern United States in the 19th century and by the time the American Civil War broke out, dueling had begun to decline, even in the South.

In Western society, the formal concept of a duel developed out of the medieval judicial duel and older pre-Christian practices such as the Viking Age holmgang.

In Medieval society, judicial duels were fought by knights and squires to end various disputes.Depiction of a judicial combat in the Dresden codex of the Sachsenspiegel (early to mid-14th century), illustrating the provision that the two combatants must "share the sun", i.e.align themselves perpendicular to the Sun so that neither has an advantage.The duel lasted until the other party was too weak to fight back.In early cases, the defeated party was then executed.A copy of the code, known as 'The twenty-six commandments', was to be kept in a gentleman's pistol case for reference should a dispute arise regarding procedure.

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