The Cult of the Duel

Giving Satisfaction at the University of Vienna and in the Joint Army, 1867-1914

  • Sophie Hammond University of Southern California
Keywords: Habsburg, Empire, Masculinity, Dueling, University, Military, Gender, Austria, Nineteenth Century, 19th Century


In the Habsburg Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, dueling was a crucial way for university-educated men, as well as Joint Army officers, to assert the value of their own honor. It was a terrible insult when, in 1896, German-nationalist university dueling fraternities (Burschenschaften) in Germany and Austria passed the Waidhofen Resolution, officially declaring Jewish men unable to give satisfaction in a duel and therefore incapable of possessing honor. This article argues that the passage of the Waidhofen Resolution was not an isolated incident of bigotry but an evolution of the German-nationalism of the Burschenschaften as they increasingly valued an exclusionary definition of what it meant to be “racially German,” and that the Burschenschaften’s definition of honor fought against the more inclusive (and pragmatically self-serving) definition of honor espoused by the army.

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