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Ludwig, U. Von Scherzen und Duellen. Wettkampfspiele als Typus von Ehrkonflikten im schwedisch-pommerschen Offizierskorps. Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, 38(3), 371-403.
Ludwig, Ulrike "Von Scherzen und Duellen. Wettkampfspiele als Typus von Ehrkonflikten im schwedisch-pommerschen Offizierskorps" Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 38.3, , 371-403.
Ludwig, Ulrike: Von Scherzen und Duellen. Wettkampfspiele als Typus von Ehrkonflikten im schwedisch-pommerschen Offizierskorps, in: Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, vol. 38, iss. 3, 371-403, [online]


Von Scherzen und Duellen. Wettkampfspiele als Typus von Ehrkonflikten im schwedisch-pommerschen Offizierskorps

Ludwig, Ulrike

Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, Vol. 38 (2011), Iss. 3 : pp. 371–403

4 Citations (CrossRef)

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Dr. Ulrike Ludwig, Institut für Geschichte, TU Dresden, Helmholtzstraße 10, 01069 Dresden.

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Of Jokes and Duels. Competition Games as a Type of Honour Conflict in the Swedish-Pomerarian Officer Corps

Without a doubt, honour was a central part of early modern society and conflicts over honour were a central part of everyday life. But when trivial matters or teasing, playful conversations turned deadly, then it is only with difficulty that the logic and functions of these disputes is revealed. The goal of this article is to suggest an analytical definition and interpretation of such conflicts. Within the field of early modern honour battles, these types of disputes are best conceptualized and characterized as group-oriented. It will be suggested to conceptualize these honour conflicts as ‘competitive games’ because they took place in a playful, yet charged setting (using Bourdieu's concept of a game).

Early modern officer corps are the protagonists of this investigation. Membership in this group and the group's own specific form of collectivization were crucial for creating the settings from which such conflicts arose. These same settings, however, were also essential for the settlement of these competitive games. Competitive games, therefore, can be considered as a typical phenomenon of homo-social groups: they are the expression and result of everyday, communicative practices that were dominated by concerns over one's image. The typical strategy was to ‘playfully’ jeopardize the honour status of one's communication partner.

Besides conflicts within the realm of competitive games, a form of ‘substitute conflicts’ were also common. In these instances, one disputant would publicly attack or challenge the other on an issue, seemingly unrelated to their original quarrel. For example, to get an unwilling debtor to pay, one would publicly attack their honour, forcing the debtor to respond. The attack on the debtor's honour was merely a cover to the real conflict at hand: the unpaid debt. The contrast of substitute conflicts and competitive games make it clear that substitute conflicts should be seen as a form of conflict management; while competitive games came about without ‘serious’ motives and are better conceptualized as a form of habitual behaviour.

Through the settlement of competitive games, membership in and the community of the officer corps was first of all created and through supplementary re-enactments obtained lasting power. As a result, the representation of the conflict came to have long-term meaning and served a fundamental function. The representation offered the possibility to present the acts as evidence for honourable fighting and in this manner to stress the observance of group-specific norms.