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Thread: Trial by Combat

  1. #1
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    Trial by Combat

    From what I can tell, and please correct me if I am wrong, trial by combat is only the right of highborn. So for example, a master at arms for a house accused of cheating in a tournament, could not invoke trial by combat, but if the house/lord were implicated they could?

    Also can only the accused/defendant call for trial by combat? I didn't find anything definitive, but the only examples were the accused.


    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    Highborn, yes.
    Called by the defendant, yes.

  3. #3
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    Highborn is not to 100 per cent correct, I would say. I would judge the trial in the first "dunk and egg" story also as trial by combat, and that was mainly against Hedge Knight (and those who were willing to help him), a man from unknown heritage (which knighthood was very fresh and not confirmed by any).

    I also would say that some lords may also let the possibility of a trial by combat also to be open for the people under their rule (if they are very pious and have no great interest in judging the case by themselves).

  4. #4
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    I believe trial by combat would not be officially a privilege of the highborn as the tradition has a deep religious background, but I would say that in westerosi society would be very plausible for highborns to stick together and ignore lowborn's demands for a trial by combat against one of them. So if Ser Jon of the Trident, a hedge knight, calls the Heir of House Bracken to a trial by combat, the local court would laugh it's ass off for the ridiculous proposition and would not take it seriously, even if there is nothing wrong about it, and probably it would be required some kind of intrigue to move the story to that direction. Being Ser Jon of the Trident successfully provoking the Heir into a duel, being some ally of the hedge knight convincing a local lord that indeed the demand is qualified and legitimate.

  5. #5
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    The divide is between nobles and smallfolk. Highborn, as the name implies, are simply born with rights to have a proper hearing and to demand trial by combat.

    Knights, and presumably their spouse and children, also have this right, but knights need not be born as nobility. Noble bastards, at least the acknowledged ones, also counts, though as highborn in this particular case.

    So it really depends who this master at arms is, he doesn't get the right to trial by combat through his position, but most master at arms tends to be knights and often highborn, too. All it takes to be highborn is to have a great-grandfather that was lord or something, at least if it's through a trueborn male line.

  6. #6
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    I was making the assumption that the master-at-arms was at least knighted, and thus eligible to call for trial by combat.

  7. #7
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    I'm not really an expert on this, but I believe that, historically speaking, Trial by Combat was an option open to pretty much everyone. However, the person invoking it would have to be in possession of arms and armour to use to defend himself. Which would be a limiting factor to those in the lower social ranks.

  8. #8
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    Well, what we know is that highborn (and knights) have the right to a trial, as confirmed in the books. And we have examples of the accused demanding trial by combat (Tyrion) and the accuser also demanding it (Hedge Knight).

    Less evidence for the smallfolk, though the stories told by various characters in the night watch suggests that their sentences were a lot more summarily done than that of nobles.

  9. #9
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    While I am curious about the answers in general...the specifics of my case:

    The master-at-arms is NOT knighted. The group is currently accusing someone else of murder, however due to the actions they have taken and how they have acted, the tables are going to turn against them rather quickly (unless they figure out the tables are turning and stop it) and the master-at-arms is more than likely going to be accused of a cheating in a tournament, accomplice to murder, and other bad things.

  10. #10
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    Re: Trial by Combat

    Well, we also need to determine if smallfolk, commoners, etc are allowed to compete in tournaments as well.

    We know for a fact that jousting is only for "knights and nobles" (my new phrase for "highborn").

    The melee and archery competition may, however, be open for debate. I could be persuaded either way on these two.

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