The historic minute: In medieval Germany, fights between spouses were allowed

Although less and less common in the late Middle Ages, trials by combat were very popular, especially in medieval Germany. And it wasn’t just limited to men.

It was indeed possible for a man to fight his wife. The practice was regulated, and detailed in the Fechtbuch, a combat manual written in 1467 by Hans Talhoffer. When such a clash took place, the woman could place a four or five pound stone in a piece of cloth, while the man had a club as long as his wife’s sling.

But the peculiarity of these fights is that the man had to place himself in a hole up to his waist, in order to balance the duel. The manual even details the possible outcomes of the fight, with the man who lures the woman into her hole or the woman who strangles her husband. Fortunately, the practice then died out.

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