In the bullring at Ronda there’s a bullfighting museum, one of the siderooms of which has a dozen wood and leather cases of duelling pistols. These intricate sets are accompanied by explanations of the entire history of the duel, from two centuries of swords to guns (easier to master), and their rituals (fire in the air to acknowledge your mistake in calling the duel, but risk of taking a ball.)
The complexities of the ritual fail to explain its popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries, even among women. There is a glamour and grace about something as absurd as fighting for honour, preceded with a slap of the glove to provide evidence of the slight.
With this in mind I’m now heading to Cadiz, hopefully to see the legendary matador Padilla in action, fighting on despite the horrific goring that popped his eye.