How Historically Accurate Is The Last Duel?

Ridley Scott's epic film "The Last Duel" falls into the genre of historical dramas, like many of the other films that Scott (above) has helmed. While it has not been nearly as successful as some of his other films like "G.I. Jane," "Blackhawk Down," "Robin Hood," and the legendary "Gladiator," the story of "Duel" falls into a similar category. Modern society has a fascination with stories of noble knights, evil kings, and damsels in distress, as well as duels and war, and this film has many of the elements in it. However, as many of those bedtime stories we were told of King Arthur and his knights are tales of fantasy, it makes you wonder: How much truth is there in Scott's new movie?

The story behind "The Last Duel" is in fact based on a true story. According to Smithsonian Magazine, in 1386 an epic duel took place between two men, Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, over a woman. The two former friends had a falling out after Carrouges' wife, Marguerite, accused Le Gris of raping her, which he denied. They must solve this disagreement via trial by combat, and the victor would be proven to be telling the truth. Marguerite's life also hangs in the balance; if her husband loses, she would be declared a liar, and burned at the stake.

Based on historical events, with some dramatic flair

So how much of the historical fact is used in the film, and how much creative liberty has been taken in an attempt to create a better movie? The main characters who are presented stay pretty close to the historical narrative, as Carrouges, Le Gris, and Marguerite are all based on historical figures. It is also true that trial by combat was a common practice during the Middle Ages to resolve conflicts. Though the people are based on real characters, and the narrative utilizes customs of the time, the film admittedly dramatizes certain events.

Smithsonian specifically mentions jealousy as a source of the conflict between Carrouges and Le Gris. Carrouges was allegedly envious over some of the treatment that Le Gris was being given, but the two attempted to resolve their differences initially. That is reportedly when Marguerite enters the picture and the dynamic between the two friends begins to go haywire. There was also focus on the alleged rape of Marguerite, which in the film does happen, but couldn't be quite confirmed historically. The fact that they went with trial by combat in the first place suggests that there wasn't enough evidence to either convict or exonerate the accused of the charges.