When monks fought a nobleman in a judicial duel

In the medieval period the practice of dueling was part of the legal system in many places in Europe. The idea was that if a matter couldn’t be settled, then God could decide. It seems a bit unfair then, that monks should fight in such judicial duels. But that happened.

It’s good to know that not all judicial duels were fought with lethal weapons and to the death. Around 1100 A.D. a conflict arose between the monks of Saint-Serge of Angers and a nobleman called Engelardus over some rights to five mills on the banks of the Loire.

The bishop, Geoffrey of Mayenne, had decided that since he couldn’t determine who had the right to the land and mills, the matter should be settled with shields and staves at the villa called Vi. Two champions were selected and they fought for a full day.

In the end, the monks were victorius and Engelard and his companions were humbled and offered more than the monks had initially asked for. Engelardus even offered millers to the monks and the bishop received a plowshare. In the end, all were happy neighbours.

The church in the Abbey Saint-Serge of Angers. When the monks weren’t fighting, they had a famously large choir who sang here.
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