A 19th century engraving depicting one of the strangest “duels” of all time between a man and a dog. Taking place in 1400 it falls into the category of a “trial by combat”
The circumstances surrounding a murder led to this curious encounter between man and beast. The slain victim was Aubruy de Montdidier who was murdered by his “friend”, Chevalier Maquer in a forest outside of Paris, France. The only witness to this crime was Montdidier’s large dog. Maquer buried the body in the presence of the dog. The dog remained at his master’s shallow grave until forced by hunger he went to the home of Chevalier Ardilliers, a friend of his master, to beg for food. Ardilliers noticed that there was something wrong with the dog as it wined and whimpered. The dog eventually compelled Ardilliers to follow him into the forest where the animal led his master’s friend to discover the grave. Ardilliers and his servants dug up the corpse. Sometime later when walking on the street Ardilliers and the dog met Maquer and the dog attacked him with such ferocity that it took several men to pull him off. It was unusual behavior for the dog, as it was known that the beast was of a tranquil and pacific temperament. This occurred again on several separate occasions, which gave rise to suspicion from many people. Finally, all was reported to the King. The monarch made the decision that the guilt or innocence of Maquer was to be decided by a trial by combat in which dog and man were to be the principles.
The combat took place on the Isle of Notre-Dame. The dog was led into the lists by Ardilliers were he was loosed upon Maquer. There is more than one account of what transpired but this engraving depicts Maquer armed with a stick to defend himself against this large dog. The stick being an insufficient weapon of defense, the dog attacked savagely and seized Maquer by the throat. Maquer reportedly screamed that if the dog were pulled away that he would confess to the crime. Maquer was hanged for the murder that he committed.