The Subtle Art of Topless Swordfighting


A long time ago duels to the death were a common way of telling your foes who’s boss. Less commonly remembered was the “duel till first blood” where opponents would battle until the victorious would draw the weaker’s blood. Duels between women were known as Emancipated duels. The most famous of these was in August 1892 between Princess Pauline von Metternich of Austria and Countess Anastasia Kielmannsegg. In order to avoid clothing infecting the would, combatants would often fight topless. The two battled over flower arrangements for the Vienna Musical and Theatrical Exhibition. The countess was declared the winner for drawing first blood but many argued that the princess was the victor because she afflicted her opponent with worse wounds.

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