The rea­der will per­haps be curious to see this mons­trous prac­tice of judi­cial com­bat redu­ced in prin­ci­ple, and to find the body of such a sin­gu­lar juris­pru­dence. Men, though fun­da­men­tally rea­so­na­ble, sub­ject even their pre­ju­di­ces to rules. Nothing was more contrary to good sense than judi­cial com­bat ; but this point once made, its exe­cu­tion was car­ried out with a cer­tain pru­dence.

In order to grasp tho­roughly the juris­pru­dence of those times, one must read with atten­tion the sta­tu­tes of St. Louis, who made such great chan­ges in judi­cial order. Défontaines was a contem­po­rary of that prince ; Beaumanoir wrote after him,1 and the others have lived since him. The ancient prac­tice is the­re­fore to be found in the amend­ments which were made to it.

In the year 1283.