A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two
individuals, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon rules. Duels
in this form were chiefly practiced in early modern Europe with precedents in
the medieval code of chivalry, and continued into the modern period (19th to
early 20th centuries) especially among military officers.
During the 17th and 18th centuries (and earlier), duels were
mostly fought with swords (the rapier, and later the smallsword), but beginning
in the late 18th century in England, duels were more commonly fought using
pistols. Fencing and pistol duels continued to co-exist throughout the 19th
The duel was based on a code of honor. Duels were fought not
so much to kill the opponent as to gain "satisfaction", that is, to
restore one's honor by demonstrating a willingness to risk one's life for it,
and as such the tradition of dueling was originally reserved for the male
members of nobility; however, in the modern era it extended to those of the
upper classes generally. On rare occasions, duels with pistols or swords were
fought between women; these were sometimes known as petticoat duels.
Legislation against dueling goes back to the medieval
period. The Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) outlawed duels, and civil
legislation in the Holy Roman Empire against dueling was passed in the wake of
the Thirty Years' War. From the early 17th century, duels became illegal in the
countries where they were practiced. Dueling largely fell out of favor in
England by the mid-19th century and in Continental Europe by the turn of the
20th century. Dueling declined in the Eastern United States in the 19th century
and by the time the American Civil War broke out, dueling had begun to decline,
even in the South. Public opinion, not legislation, caused the change.
In Western society, the formal concept of a duel developed
out of the medieval judicial duel and older pre-Christian practices such as the
Viking Age holmgang. In Medieval society, judicial duels were fought by knights
and squires to end various disputes. Countries like Germany, United Kingdom,
and Ireland practiced this tradition. Judicial combat took two forms in
medieval society, the feat of arms and chivalric combat. The feat of arms
was used to settle hostilities between two large parties and supervised by a
judge. The battle was fought as a result of a slight or challenge to one
party's honor which could not be resolved by a court. Weapons were standardized
and typical of a knight's armoury, for example longswords, polearms etc.,
however, weapon quality and augmentations were at the discretion of the knight,
for example, a spiked hand guard for or an extra grip for half-swording. The
parties involved would wear their own armour, one knight may choose to wear
full plate armour, whilst another wears chain mail. The duel lasted until the
other party was too weak to fight back. In early cases, the defeated party was
then executed. These type of duels soon evolved into the more chivalric pas
d'armes, or "passage of arms", a type of chivalric hastilude that
evolved in the late 14th century and remained popular through the 15th century.
A knight or group of knights (tenans or "holders") would stake out a
travelled spot, such as a bridge or city gate, and let it be known that any
other knight who wished to pass (venans or "comers") must first
fight, or be disgraced.. If a traveling venans did not have weapons or horse
to meet the challenge, one might be provided, and if the venans chose not to
fight, he would leave his spurs behind as a sign of humiliation. If a lady
passed unescorted, she would leave behind a glove or scarf, to be rescued and
returned to her by a future knight who passed that way.
The Roman Catholic Church was critical of dueling throughout
medieval history, frowning both on the traditions of judicial combat and on the
duel on points of honor among the nobility. Judicial duels were deprecated by
the Lateran Council of 1215, but the judicial duel persisted in the Holy Roman
Empire into the 15th century. The word duel comes from the Latin 'duellum',
cognate with 'bellum', meaning 'war'.
During the early Renaissance, dueling established the status
of a respectable gentleman, and was an accepted manner to resolve disputes.
Dueling remained highly popular in European society, despite
various attempts at banning the practice.
According to Ariel Roth, during the reign of Henry IV, over
4,000 French aristocrats were killed in duels "in an eighteen-year
period" while a twenty-year period of Louis XIII's reign saw some eight
thousand pardons for "murders associated with duels". Roth also notes
that thousands of men in the Southern United States "died protecting what
they believed to be their honor."
The first published code duello, or "code of
dueling", appeared in Renaissance Italy. The first formalized national
code was France's, during the Renaissance. In 1777, a code of practice was
drawn up for the regulation of duels, at the Summer assizes in the town of Clonmel,
County Tipperary, Ireland. A copy of the code, known as 'The twenty-six
commandments', was to be kept in a gentleman's pistol case for reference should
a dispute arise regarding procedure. During the Early Modern period, there
were also various attempts by secular legislators to curb the practice. Queen
Elizabeth I officially condemned and outlawed dueling in 1571, shortly after
the practice had been introduced to England.
However, the tradition had become deeply rooted in European
culture as a prerogative of the aristocracy, and these attempts largely failed.
For example, King Louis XIII of France outlawed dueling in 1626, a law which
remained in force for ever afterwards, and his successor Louis XIV intensified
efforts to wipe out the duel. Despite these efforts, dueling continued
unabated, and it is estimated that between 1685 and 1716, French officers
fought 10,000 duels, leading to over 400 deaths.
By the late 18th century, Enlightenment era values began to
influence society with new self-conscious ideas about politeness, civil
behaviour and new attitudes towards violence. The cultivated art of politeness
demanded that there should be no outward displays of anger or violence, and the
concept of honour became more personalized.
By the 1770s the practice of dueling was increasingly coming
under attack from many sections of enlightened society, as a violent relic of
Europe's medieval past unsuited for modern life. As England began to
industrialize and benefit from urban planning and more effective police forces,
the culture of street violence in general began to slowly wane. The growing
middle class maintained their reputation with recourse to either bringing
charges of libel, or to the fast-growing print media of the early nineteenth
century, where they could defend their honour and resolve conflicts through correspondence
Influential new intellectual trends at the turn of the
nineteenth century bolstered the anti-dueling campaign; the utilitarian philosophy
of Jeremy Bentham stressed that praiseworthy actions were exclusively
restricted to those that maximize human welfare and happiness, and the
Evangelical notion of the "Christian conscience" began to actively
promote social activism. Individuals in the Clapham Sect and similar societies,
who had successfully campaigned for the abolition of slavery, condemned dueling
as ungodly violence and as an egocentric culture of honour.
Dueling became popular in the United States – the former
United States Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel
against the sitting Vice President Aaron Burr in 1804. Between 1798 and the
Civil War, the US Navy lost two-thirds as many officers to dueling as it did in
combat at sea, including naval hero Stephen Decatur. Many of those killed or
wounded were midshipmen or junior officers. Despite prominent deaths, dueling
persisted because of contemporary ideals of chivalry, particularly in the
South, and because of the threat of ridicule if a challenge was rejected.
By about 1770, the duel underwent a number of important
changes in England. Firstly, unlike their counterparts in many continental
nations, English duelists enthusiastically adopted the pistol, and sword duels
dwindled. Special sets of dueling pistols were crafted for the wealthiest of
noblemen for this purpose. Also, the office of 'second' developed into
'seconds' or 'friends' being chosen by the aggrieved parties to conduct their
honour dispute. These friends would attempt to resolve a dispute upon terms
acceptable to both parties and, should this fail, they would arrange and
oversee the mechanics of the encounter.
In the United Kingdom, to kill in the course of a duel was
formally judged as murder, but generally the courts were very lax in applying
the law, as they were sympathetic to the culture of honour..This attitude
lingered on – Queen Victoria even expressed a hope that Lord Cardigan,
prosecuted for wounding another in a duel, "would get off easily".
The Anglican Church was generally hostile to dueling, but non-conformist sects
in particular began to actively campaign against it.
By 1840, dueling had declined dramatically; when the 7th
Earl of Cardigan was acquitted on a legal technicality for homicide in
connection with a duel with one of his former officers, outrage was expressed
in the media, with The Times alleging that there was deliberate, high level
complicity to leave the loop-hole in the prosecution case and reporting the
view that "in England there is one law for the rich and another for the
poor" and The Examiner describing the verdict as "a defeat of
The last fatal duel between Englishmen in England occurred
in 1845, when James Alexander Seton had an altercation with Henry Hawkey over
the affections of his wife, leading to a duel at Southsea. However, the last
fatal duel to occur in England was between two French political refugees,
Frederic Cournet and Emmanuel Barthélemy near Englefield Green in 1852; the
former was killed. In both cases, the winners of the duels, Hawkey and
Barthélemy, were tried for murder. But Hawkey was acquitted and Barthélemy was
convicted only of manslaughter; he served seven months in prison. However, in
1855, Barthélemy was hanged after shooting and killing his employer and another
Dueling also began to be criticized in America in the late
18th century; Benjamin Franklin denounced the practice as uselessly violent,
and George Washington encouraged his officers to refuse challenges during the
American Revolutionary War because he believed that the death by dueling of
officers would have threatened the success of the war effort. However, the
practice actually gained in popularity in the first half of the nineteenth
century especially in the South and on the lawless Western Frontier. Dueling
began an irreversible decline in the aftermath of the Civil War. Even in the
South, public opinion increasingly came to regard the practice as little more
The most notorious American duel was the Burr–Hamilton duel,
in which notable Federalist and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander
Hamilton was fatally wounded by his political rival, the sitting Vice President
of the United States Aaron Burr. This duel was reenacted in the musical
Hamilton to the song "The World Was Wide Enough".
Another American politician, Andrew Jackson, later to serve
as a General Officer in the U.S. Army and to become the seventh president,
fought two duels, though some legends claim he fought many more. On May 30,
1806, he killed prominent duellist Charles Dickinson, suffering himself from a
chest wound which caused him a lifetime of pain. Jackson also reportedly
engaged in a bloodless duel with a lawyer and in 1803 came very near dueling
with John Sevier. Jackson also engaged in a frontier brawl (not a duel) with
Thomas Hart Benton in 1813.
On September 22, 1842, future President Abraham Lincoln, at
the time an Illinois state legislator, met to duel with state auditor James
Shields, but their seconds intervened and persuaded them against it.
On 30 May 1832, French mathematician Évariste Galois was
mortally wounded in a duel at the age of twenty, the day after he had written
his seminal mathematical results.
Irish political leader Daniel O'Connell killed John
D'Esterre in a duel in February 1815. O'Connel offered D'Esterre's widow a
pension equal to the amount her husband had been earning at the time, but the
Corporation of Dublin, of which D'Esterre was a member, rejected O'Connell's
offer and voted the promised sum to D'Esterre's wife themselves. However,
D'Esterre's wife consented to accept an allowance for her daughter, which
O'Connell regularly paid for more than thirty years until his death. The memory
of the duel haunted him for the remainder of his life.
In 1808, two Frenchmen are said to have fought in balloons
over Paris, each attempting to shoot and puncture the other's balloon. One
duellist is said to have been shot down and killed with his second.
In 1843, two other Frenchmen are said to have fought a duel
by means of throwing billiard balls at each other.
The Russian poet Alexander Pushkin prophetically described a
number of duels in his works, notably Onegin's duel with Lensky in Eugene
Onegin. The poet was mortally wounded in a controversial duel with Georges
d'Anthès, a French officer rumoured to be his wife's lover. D'Anthès, who was
accused of cheating in this duel, married Pushkin's sister-in-law and went on
to become a French minister and senator.
In 1864, American writer Mark Twain, then a contributor to
the New York Sunday Mercury, narrowly avoided fighting a duel with a rival
newspaper editor, apparently through the intervention of his second, who
exaggerated Twain's prowess with a pistol.
In the 1860s, Otto von Bismarck was reported to have
challenged Rudolf Virchow to a duel. Virchow, being entitled to choose the
weapons, chose two pork sausages, one infected with the roundworm Trichinella;
the two would each choose and eat a sausage. Bismarck reportedly declined. The
story could be apocryphal, however.
Duels had mostly ceased to be fought to the death by the
late 19th century. The last known fatal duel in Ontario was in Perth, in 1833,
when Robert Lyon challenged John Wilson to a pistol duel after a quarrel over
remarks made about a local school teacher, whom Wilson married after Lyon was
killed in the duel. Victoria, BC was known to have been the centre of at least
two duels near the time of the gold rush. One involved a British arrival by the
name of George Sloane, and an American, John Liverpool, both arriving via San
Francisco in 1858. Duel by pistols, Sloane was fatally injured and Liverpool
shortly returned to the US. The fight originally started on board the ship over
a young woman, Miss Bradford, and then carried on later in Victoria's tent
city. Another duel, involving a Mr. Muir, took place around 1861, but was
moved to an American island near Victoria.
The last fatal duel in England took place on Priest Hill,
between Englefield Green and Old Windsor, on 19 October 1852, between two
French political exiles, Frederic Cournet and Emmanuel Barthélemy, the former
By the outbreak of World War I, dueling had not only been
made illegal almost everywhere in the Western world, but was also widely seen
as an anachronism. Military establishments in most countries frowned on dueling
because officers were the main contestants. Officers were often trained at
military academies at government's expense; when officers killed or disabled
one another it imposed an unnecessary financial and leadership strain on a
military organization, making dueling unpopular with high-ranking officers.
With the end of the duel, the dress sword also lost its
position as an indispensable part of a gentleman's wardrobe, a development
described as an "archaeological terminus" by Ewart Oakeshott,
concluding the long period during which the sword had been a visible attribute
of the free man, beginning as early as three millennia ago with the Bronze Age
Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: The
Extraordinary Exploits of the British and European Aristocracy
by Karl Shaw
The alarming history of the British, and European,
aristocracy - from Argyll to Wellington and from Byron to Tolstoy, stories of
madness, murder, misery, greed and profligacy.
From Regency playhouses, to which young noblemen would go
simply in order to insult someone to provoke a duel that might further their
reputation, to the fashionable gambling clubs or 'hells' which were springing
up around St James's in the mid-eighteenth century, the often bizarre doings of
An eighteenth-century English gentleman was required to have
what was known as 'bottom', a shipping metaphor that referred to stability.
Taking part in a duel was a bold statement that you had bottom. William Petty,
2nd Earl of Shelburne certainly had bottom, if not a complete set of gonads
following his duel with Colonel Fullarton, MP for Plympton. Both men missed
with their first shots, but the colonel fired again and shot off Shelborne's
right testicle. Despite being hit, Shelborne deliberately discharged his second
shot in the air. When asked how he was, the injured Earl coolly observed his
wound and said, 'I don't think Lady Shelborne will be the worse for it.'
The cast of characters includes imperious, hard-drinking and
highly volatile Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who is remembered today as much
for his brilliant scientific career as his talent for getting involved in
bizarre mishaps, such as his death as a result of his burst bladder; the
Marquess of Queensberry, a side-whiskered psychopath, who, on a luxury
steamboat in Brazil, in a row with a fellow passenger over the difference
between emus and ostriches, and knocked him out cold; and Thomas, 2nd Baron
Lyttelton, a Georgian rake straight out of central casting, who ran up enormous
gambling debts, fought duels, frequented brothels and succumbed to drug and
Often, such rakes would be swiftly packed off on a Grand
Tour in the hope that travel would bring about maturity. It seldom did.
the eighteenth century was very much a new city, risen from the ashes of the
Great Fire. With thousands of homes and many landmark buildings destroyed, it
had been brought to the brink. But the following century was a period of
vigorous expansion, of scientific and artistic genius, of blossoming reason,
civility, elegance and manners. It was also an age of extremes: of starving
poverty and exquisite fashion, of joy and despair, of sentiment and cruelty.
Society was fractured by geography, politics, religion and history. And
everything was complicated by class. As Daniel Defoe put it, London really was
a 'great and monstrous Thing'.
White's tremendous portrait of this turbulent century explores how and to what
extent Londoners negotiated and repaired these open wounds. We see them going
about their business as bankers or beggars, revelling in an enlarging world of
public pleasures, indulging in crimes both great and small - amidst the
tightening sinews of power and regulation, and the hesitant beginnings of London
long-awaited finale to his acclaimed history of London over 300 years, Jerry
White introduces us to shopkeepers and prostitutes, men and women of fashion
and genius, street-robbers and thief-takers, as they play out the astonishing drama
of life in eighteenth-century London.
Britain and London are virtually synonymous in the eyes of
the world. The eve of the Olympics is a good time to go back to the century
that saw the making of Britannia and the London we walk and live in today.
Jerry White's history of 18th-century London is the culmination of two previous
volumes about London in the 19th and 20th centuries. This new book finds him
inspired by the city that Daniel Defoe identified as "this great and
monstrous Thing called London".
In 1700, it was divided, in separations that linger, into
three: the City (London), the court (Westminster and St James's) and south of
the river (Southwark). The essayist Joseph Addison, in 1712, looked on it as
"an aggregate of various nations distinguished from each other by their
respective customs, manners an interests". In 1700, its population
numbered about half a million, swelling to approximately 750,000 by 1750 and
roughly a million by 1800. By contrast, England's second city, Bristol, had scarcely
London was not just staggeringly larger than anywhere else,
it was also a vivid new metropolis, much of it in soft pink brick. The Great
Fire of 1666 had left more than half of the old city in smouldering ruins.
After the union with Scotland, the capital became the outward sign of British
prosperity and self-confidence. And the people most attracted to it, for its
teeming opportunities, were the Scots.
Georgian London became a Scottish city. Its main architect,
James Gibbs, was Scottish. So was the circle that formed around the young
George III. That great Londoner, Samuel Johnson, loved to goad the Scots, but
his amanuensis, James Boswell, was one himself, and so were five of the six assistants
on his famous Dictionary. Scots in the capital often attracted hostility. When
officers in highland dress appeared at Covent Garden, the upper gallery yelled:
"No Scots! No Scots!" and pelted them with apples.
In other ways, Britannia's London was more extreme but not
so different from our own: prey to rioting, seething with sex and violence.
Visitors to London, appalled by the atmosphere, also noted what one described
as "the vast number of harlots" roaming the streets by night. London
was the sex capital of Europe, but hardly uplifting. "She was ugly and
lean," wrote James Boswell of one encounter in the park, "and her
breath smelt of spirits. I never asked her name. When it was done, she slunk
White's account is not exactly new. Much of this book reads
like an animated Hogarth cartoon. But he has uncovered a wealth of evidence to
sustain a portrait of a society revelling in money and pleasure in ways that
recall the excesses of the 1980s.
Contemporaries saw the city as a marketplace for every kind
of trade. In the mixing of vice and fashion, there were remarkable social
consequences at work, too. White argues persuasively that historians have paid
insufficient attention to the role of prostitution in the rise of democracy.
It's a pleasing picture that while the women of the town flirtatiously
dissolved the bonds of deference, London became a democratic crucible.
But there was a dark side. "Crime and criminals,"
says White, "knew no bounds of rank in 18th-century London." Suicide
was common, executions a public spectacle. Violent property crime rose. In
1780, with the outbreak of the Gordon riots, London seemed on the brink of
In early June, the mob attacked 10 Downing Street and then
moved on to batter the city's prisons, destroying Newgate. It has been
calculated that these riots destroyed 10 times more property than was destroyed
in Paris during the entire French revolution.
The repression of the 1790s was the response of an establishment
reasserting state control. The French revolution and the wars that followed
loosened the city's devotion to popular democracy and brought merchants and
courtiers from the east and west ends into a loyal alliance behind the throne.
London had become the world capital it remains today.
Robert Hardy, who has died aged 91, was one of the most
instantly recognisable and authoritative actors of the past half-century on
television, especially in the role of Winston Churchill – whom he played in at
least eight incarnations – and as Siegfried Farnon, the senior vet in the
long-running BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, based on the
semi-autobiographical novels of James Herriot.
Leading actors have often become associated with living
characters – Michael Sheen with Tony Blair, for instance, or Meryl Streep with
Margaret Thatcher – but Hardy relished the challenge of playing a historical
figment, someone already lodged in his own mythology, though he did happen to
know, and became a personal friend of, Herriot’s veterinary colleague, the
eccentric Donald Sinclair, the acknowledged basis and inspiration of Farnon’s
“The great joy of acting,” he said, “is getting into the
part, which is why I enjoy playing people who actually lived.” His patrician
manner and gloriously disdainful bearing meant that he specialised in high-born
politicians, diplomats and royalty: Prince Albert, Gordon of Khartoum,
Mussolini, several Shakespearean kings and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester,
all fell naturally within his compass. He played the last of these, the doomed
favourite of Glenda Jackson’s austere Virgin Queen, in the great 1971 BBC
six-part series Elizabeth R. For a time, if there was a “class” series or TV
film to be made – An Age of Kings, a decade earlier; Edward the Seventh
(starring Timothy West; Hardy was consort to Annette Crosbie’s Queen Victoria)
in 1975 – Hardy’s very presence was guarantee of its quality.
But his range was not confined to costume drama. He played
in countless contemporary works on television, though he never gained a
foothold in Hollywood. He was probably, at that time, too crusty – his voice,
which stung as much as it sang, had the distinctive, dry property of superior
sandpaper – and he was too rigidly clubbable and respectable for Hollywood’s
idea of a “gentleman” in the raffish style of Rex Harrison or David Niven.
His early career as a leading light at both
Stratford-upon-Avon and the Old Vic, though, suggested he might follow his
great friend Richard Burton to even greater glory. He was the first David
Copperfield on BBC TV (in 1956), and a fiery Prince Hal and Henry V at the Old
Vic – in this role he developed what became a lifelong interest in the history
of the longbow – and you could say that he spent the rest of his life adapting
his golden boy pre-eminence to lesser, and then older, character parts.
Hardy’s background defined a personality which, he admitted
on Desert Island Discs in 2011 (“Music is a constant in my life, my head is
filled with it”), came with a spine of steel and a streak of ruthlessness. His
choice of records included Beethoven, Poulenc, Berlioz, Sibelius – and Pearl
Bailey singing What Is a Friend For? He was prickly to a fault and, by his own
admission, “difficult to live with”. There was always a sense of danger in his
acting: he was like a corked bottle of combustible gas.
Born in Cheltenham, he was the youngest of six children of
Major Henry Harrison Hardy, headmaster of Cheltenham college, and his wife,
Edith (nee Dugdale), and was educated, after prep school (“absolute hell”), at
Rugby and Magdalen College, Oxford, where his tutors were CS Lewis and JRR
Tolkien. Still, his degree was “shabby”, and he pitched straight into the
professional theatre in a spirit of rebellion, having split his time at Oxford
– where he played Fortinbras in Kenneth Tynan’s First Quarto Hamlet in 1948 –
with a period of service in the RAF.
He made his professional debut at the Memorial theatre in
Stratford-upon-Avon in 1949, touring to Australia as Banquo in Macbeth, and
making his first London mark as Claudio in John Gielgud’s revival of Much Ado
About Nothing at the Phoenix in 1952. His star rose at the Old Vic in three
seasons, 1953-56, when he played Laertes to Richard Burton’s Hamlet and Claire
Bloom’s Ophelia; Ariel in the Tempest; Dumaine in Love’s Labour’s Lost; and a
dashing Prince Hal to Paul Rogers’s Falstaff.
After West End stints in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, and
as Lord Byron in Tennessee Williams’s Camino Real, he returned to Stratford in
1959, playing a highly rated, viciously evil Edmund to Charles Laughton’s King
Lear; the King of France in All’s Well That Ends Well; and a devious tribune
alongside Laurence Olivier’s Coriolanus.
Thus established, he launched his notable television career
alongside seasons at the Bristol Old Vic and in the West End, playing the Count
in Jean Anouilh’s The Rehearsal and, in 1963, the adulterous wine merchant in
Iris Murdoch’s A Severed Head at the Criterion. One of his most glittering
performances came in 1967, as Sir Harry Wildair in the George Farquhar
Restoration comedy The Constant Couple at the New (now the Noël Coward)
For five years in the late 1960s, he appeared as a thrusting
oil-company executive in the BBC’s groundbreaking The Troubleshooters, a series
that started in black and white and ended in colour. This was an immensely
popular programme, with gripping plotlines of global espionage, free-market
enterprise, middle-aged testosterone, internal politics and dangers on the
North Sea oil rigs.
After that, Hardy did not expect All Creatures Great and
Small to be a success; he thought it would “bore the town and annoy the country”.
Instead, it played in all for 90 episodes between 1978 and 1990. He also fitted
in eight episodes of The Wilderness Years in 1981; his portrait of Churchill
between the wars, reclaiming his “lost” career before going to the Admiralty in
1939, remains a highlight of TV acting, vigorous, peppery, lovable and bullish,
but not remotely an “impersonation”, honoured with a Bafta award.
That portrait hardened into something more like mimicry in a
feeble musical, Winnie, at the Victoria Palace in 1988; Hardy did little more
than intone highlights from the great speeches as part of a wartime cabaret in
bombed-out Potsdam to launch the 1945 general election campaign. His other
Churchills included an appearance in the television abdication drama The Woman
He Loved (1988), and the miniseries War and Remembrance (also 1988), starring
Robert Mitchum as a second world war naval officer. He played Churchill in
French, in Paris, in a play called Celui Qui A Dit Non (1999). His last,
seriously ailing Churchill was in Marion Milne’s TV movie Churchill: 100 Days
That Saved Britain (2015), with Phil Davis as his physician, Charles McMoran
Wilson, and Jemma Redgrave as Clementine.
Hardy’s West End adieu had been in Roy Kendall’s Body and
Soul (1992), an old-fashioned problem play – the “problem” being the ordination
of women into the Church of England – in which he bristled with charm and
alertness as an astonished bishop whose vicar, Christopher, has returned to the
parish after a sex change.
Before then, he
popped up on film in Alan Bridges’ The Shooting Party (1985), with a deluxe
cast of James Mason, Edward Fox, Dorothy Tutin and Gielgud, and in David Hare’s
Paris by Night (1988), a political thriller led by Charlotte Rampling and
Michael Gambon. His Indian summer in British-based movies continued in Kenneth
Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility
(1995), Mrs Dalloway (1997) with Vanessa Redgrave, The Tichborne Claimant
(1998) and Oliver Parker’s An Ideal Husband (1999), lining up alongside Cate
Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Rupert Everett and John Wood.
No surprise at all, then, that he joined in the Harry Potter
film franchise, appearing in four of the series, starting with the second,
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), as Cornelius Fudge, the
Minister of Magic.
Hardy’s book about his passion, The Longbow (1976), is a
standard work on the subject, and he co-authored another volume, The Great
Warbow, in 2004. He served as a trustee of the board of the Royal Armouries,
chairman of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Naturalists’ Trust
Appeal and as a member of the Woodmen of Arden. He held several honorary
degrees and was made CBE in 1981.
He was twice married, first to Elizabeth Fox, and second to
Sally Pearson, both marriages ending in divorce. He is survived by a son, Paul,
from the first and two daughters, Emma and Justine, from the second.
• Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy, actor, born 29 October 1925;
died 3 August 2017
Robert Hardy, Harry Potter actor,
dies at 91
Star’s 70-year career included roles as Cornelius Fudge,
Churchill, and Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small
Mark Brown Arts correspondent
Thursday 3 August 2017 16.42 BST First published on Thursday
3 August 2017 16.32 BST
The Harry Potter actor Robert Hardy has died at the age of
91, his family has said.
They paid tribute to an actor whose theatre, film and
television career spanned 70 years.
His children – Emma, Justine and Paul – said: “Gruff,
elegant, twinkly, and always dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him
and loved him, and everyone who enjoyed his work.
“We are immensely grateful to the team at Denville Hall [a
London retirement home for actors] for the tender care they gave during his
Hardy was also known for his many portrayals of Winston
Churchill and as the irascible vet Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and
His early years as an actor were at the Shakespeare Memorial
theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon where, while playing Henry V, he developed what
became a lifelong interest in the longbow, later publishing two books on the
In his later career, Hardy played Cornelius Fudge, in the
Harry Potter movies about the boy wizard, but he came to national attention in
1977 when he was offered the role of the mercurial, cantankerous Siegfried in
All Creatures Great and Small, based on the memoirs of the Yorkshire vet Alf Wright
who used the pseudonym James Herriot. The stories and chemistry between the
actors helped it become one of the BBC’s most successful and popular family
His co-star Christopher Timothy paid tribute to Hardy
saying: “He has left an unbelievable legacy of fantastic work for many
generations to enjoy and appreciate. A fascinating man, he didn’t suffer fools
I can tell you, but he was a good fellow.”
JK Rowling also shared her memories of working with Hardy on
the film adaptations of her Harry Potter books. She wrote: “So very sad to hear
about Robert Hardy. He was such a talented actor and everybody who worked with
him on Potter loved him.”
Hardy played Churchill on numerous occasions, notably in the
1981 ITV series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years for which he won a
In 2015 Hardy, writing in the Daily Mail, said portraying
the wartime leader had “undoubtedly been the greatest challenge of my acting
career … To prepare I spent nine months listening - morning, afternoon and evening
– to 24 double-sided long playing records of all the speeches he’d made. By the
end of those nine months I could tell which of the recordings Churchill had
made before lunch, and which he’d made after!”
Hardy had been due to play Churchill once again in the stage
production of The Audience, with Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II, but, at the age
of 87, was forced to pull out because of injury.
His family said Hardy was a “meticulous linguist, a fine
artist, a lover of music and a champion of literature, as well as a highly
respected historian. He was an essential part of the team that raised the great
Tudor warship the Mary Rose”.
(…) “Interestingly enough, the term “NATO strap” came into
use as a shortened version of NATO Stocking Number (NSN), and otherwise has
very little to do with the strap carrying its namesake. The more appropriate
name for the “NATO” strap is actually the “G10” — which is how we’ll refer to
it from here. In 1973, “Strap, Wrist Watch” made its debut in the British
Ministry of Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-15. For soldiers to get their hands
on one, they had to fill out a form known as the G1098, or G10 for short. Subsequently,
they could retrieve the strap at their unit’s supply store of the same name.
Though DefStan’s name for the strap was decidedly
nondescript, its specifications were distinct and specific. MoD-issued G10
straps were nylon, only made in “Admiralty Grey” with a width of 20mm, and had
chrome-plated brass buckle and keepers. Another key trait was a second, shorter
piece of nylon strap attached to the buckle. Since the strap was to be used by
the military, it needed to be functional and fail-safe. The extra nylon had a
keeper at its end through which the main part of the strap passed through after
it had been looped behind the watch. This created a pocket, limiting the
distance the case could move. As long as the strap was passed through properly
and snugly on the wrist, the case would stay exactly where it was needed. The
bonus feature of a strap that passes behind the watch is there so that in the
event that a spring bar breaks or pops out, the case will still be secured by
the other spring bar.
Since 1973, the G10 strap has seen only slight modification.
The current version has been downsized to 18mm (this is due to the 18mm lugs
found on the Cabot Watch Company’s military issue watch) and now has stainless
steel hardware. In 1978, a company known as Phoenix took over production of
MoD-spec G10 straps; those would be the “real deal” if one were looking for
Not long after the simple “Admiralty Grey” G10 was issued,
British military regiments began wearing straps honoring their respective
regimental colors with stripes of all colors and combinations. One strap’s
stripe pattern has become more famous than all the rest, but to call it a G10
or a NATO strap is actually a misnomer. When Sean Connery’s Bond famously
wrist-checked his “Big Crown” reference 6538 Submariner in Goldfinger, he
revealed an interestingly striped nylon strap. Aside from being too narrow, the
strap was notable because of its navy blue color with red and green stripes.
Many watch enthusiasts have labeled this strap as the “Bond NATO.” Despite the
strap’s similarities to a G10, Goldfinger began filming in 1964, nine years
before the first MoD G10 strap was issued. Timeline issues aside, it’s clear
that the strap Connery wore had a very simple one-piece construction, not unlike
that of a waist belt, and distinct from a true NATO.
Despite Bond’s trendsetting strap choice, it would be many
years before the nylon strap industry would take hold. Like many other trends
born from utilitarian military items (M65 Jackets, camouflage, etc.), early G10
strap adopters were attracted to the item’s usefulness and “tacti-cool” street
cred. The usefulness is still intact, but now that there are literally hundreds
of straps of different colors, stripes and materials sold by vendors around the
world, the street cred has become more “faux” than ever. This shouldn’t stop
you from wearing one, however. The straps are inexpensive, extremely durable,
and can be switched out to fit whatever outfit or mood you’re in. In fact, most
watch nerds probably have more G10s than they do watches.
G10s have been heavily trending upwards over the last
several years or so. While it may be a fad that eventually fades, they don’t
appear to be going away in the short term. Watchmakers like Tudor, Blancpain,
Hamilton and Bremont have been either throwing in a G10 as an accessory to a
watch purchase, or flat out offering one as the main strap option. The horology
purist may scoff at such a thing, but watchmakers would be foolish not to ride
the G10 wave; and while they come in varying degrees of quality, a good one is
a trustworthy piece of equipment with a rich history.”