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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.

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.

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.

The feat of arms was used to settle hostilities between two large parties and supervised by a judge.