This Day In History: Alexandre Dumas Fights Duel, Loses Pants in Process

J.M. Aucoin . Fencing, History, Swords 4363 No Comments

One hundred and ninety years ago, Alexandre Dumas (at the green age of 23) fought in his first duel. He didn’t get injured but he did lose his pants in the process. Whoops!


The duel was instigated a few days before it took place. Dumas was having dinner at the Palais-Royal with a group of his friends. After eating, they decided to head out to smoke and play billiards at a local cafe. While at the cafe, a soldier who was playing billiards made a joke at Dumas’ expense, particularly making fun of Dumas’ cloak and boots. Like any good Frenchman of the day, Dumas didn’t take this slight on his honor lightly and a duel was set for a few days later, much to the chagrin of Dumas’ friends who didn’t fancy him going up against a trained soldier.

Reminds me of Rochefort making fun of d’Artganan’s horse.

At the appointed time, Dumas showed up for the duel armed with his father’s sword, but his rival was nowhere to be found. After further investigation, it was discovered that his opponent had slept through the time of the duel, so it was rescheduled for the following day at a quarry near Montmartre in Paris.

Were alarm clocks not invented yet?

On the day of the duel, it was extremely cold and there was significant snow on the ground. Once a suitable location within the quarry was chosen, Dumas’ opponent asked that Dumas take off not only his jacket, but also his vest and shirt. While doing this, Dumas also removed his suspenders, at which point his pants fell down due to his belt buckle being broken. A crowd of quarry workers that had gathered had a good laugh at Dumas’ expense over this, but this time he was at least sensible enough not to challenge them all to duels. Rather, he simply tied up his pants with his suspenders and the two opponents went en-garde.

D’Artagnan would’ve challenged them all… and won. Probably not a smart idea to challenge everyone at once, though. It’s a marathon not a sprint, lad.

Once the duel began, Dumas immediately managed a strike on the man’s shoulder (the soldier, apparently, was a very poor fencer). His opponent was not seriously wounded by Dumas. However, the man tripped on a root and fell after jumping back in surprise.

The soldier then yielded… probably for the best considering how much of a fool he seems. Also, it means we get books like The Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo.

So glad that my pants haven’t fallen down during a duel… yet…


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J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

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