The Last Duel by Eric Jager

Takoma Park Library

The Last Duel by Eric Jager

Staff recommendation

In 1386, Jean de Carrouges returned home to France from fighting in Scotland. His wife, Marguerite, had stunning news for him. She told him that Jacques Le Gris, a squire, had entered their home and forced himself on her. What would follow in the months afterwards would lead to The Last Duel by Eric Jager. This book is the basis for the new movie of the same name.

The court case attracted great attention in France and beyond. Accusations and counter accusations on both sides followed. The case ended in a deadlock. The Parlement of Paris authorized a duel to finalize the case. If her husband lost, Marguerite would be held accountable for her accusation. On the day of the duel, with Charles VI attending, many turned out to watch. An afterword details what happened to Jean and Marguerite de Carrouges and what the case means today. Copies of the book are available to check out from the library system.

The concise, well-written book is a stirring account of the last authorized duel and provides details of medieval life and customs. The author extensively researched the court case and duel in Normandy and Paris. At the time of de Carrouges's case against Le Gris, France (then a smaller country in the 14th century) was experiencing internal unrest, plague, and war with England. A young King Charles VI ruled in name only--a regency led by his uncle governed the country. I recommend reading the book for historical background before going to see the movie.

A final historical note: King Charles VI was affected by personal and public crises later in his reign, some of these dated back to the time of the duel. As told in Blood Royal, also by the same author, the Kingdom of France was rocked by crime and scandal involving some of the most powerful men in the royal court. I read and recommend this book too.

The adaptation of The Last Duel will release in theaters on October 15.
~Elisa Babel, Adult Librarian