The Last Duel: How a Medieval Showdown Paved the Way for Modern Justice Systems

A historical drama film based on the true story of the last officially recognized judicial duel in medieval France.

Background and Context

Two armored knights face each other on a grassy field, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers.</p><p>The sun sets in the distance, casting a warm glow over the scene

The last duel that ricocheted through the annals of medieval France was not just a clash of swords; it was a collision between societal ideals and the pursuit of justice.

Below, a dive into the historical backdrop and key narrative elements of this epic event sets the stage.

Historical Accuracy

The duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris took place in 14th century France, a time where personal honor and chivalric codes were more than mere words; they were the pillars of societal life.

The event has been meticulously chronicled in Eric Jager’s book, which sheds light on the historical truth of the medieval epoch.

Jager’s work underscores the duel as a serious legal proceeding, sanctioned by the king, and ultimately, a grim reflection of the era’s judicial practices.

Synopsis and Themes

Central to the last duel’s tale are the three principal figures: the knight Jean de Carrouges, his squire Jacques Le Gris, and Jean’s wife Marguerite.

When Marguerite accuses Le Gris of an unspeakable crime, the accusation sets forth a series of events culminating in the last officially recognized judicial duel in France.

This historical epic is rife with themes of truth, honor, and the societal roles of men and women within the rigid structures of medieval society.

The story offers a window into the complexities of life and justice in 14th century France, where the lines between law, chivalry, and personal vendettas were often blurred.

Production and Release

“The Last Duel” is a cinematic gem that materialized through the collaborative efforts of an all-star cast and a highly esteemed crew.

The film’s behind-the-scenes journey is as captivating as its on-screen narrative.


The screenplay of “The Last Duel” was co-written by Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon, marking a much-anticipated reunion since their acclaimed work on “Good Will Hunting.” They based their script on the historical novel of the same name.

Renowned director Ridley Scott was at the helm of this project, crafting the intricate details of 14th-century France with his visionary approach.

The creative process had the backing of several production studios, with 20th Century Studios, TSG Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, and Pearl Street Films contributing to make the historical drama a reality.

Critical Reception

Following its release on October 15, 2021, the film received a myriad of reviews.

Critics praised Ridley Scott’s direction and the performances of the star-studded cast.

The screenplay by Holofcener, Affleck, and Damon was commended for its depth and the intriguing manner in which it handled the themes of justice and honor in a bygone era.

Certain reviewers highlighted the meticulous attention to historic detail, an accolade often reserved for Oscar winners like Scott.

Commercial Performance

Despite the positive feedback from many critics, “The Last Duel” faced challenges at the box office.

Given its simultaneous release during a time when movie-going attitudes were shifting, its financial turnout did not fully reflect the anticipation held prior to its premiere.

Nevertheless, the involvement of proven producers like Kevin J. Walsh, Jennifer Fox, Madison Ainley, Drew Vinton, and Kevin Halloran displayed an impressive commitment to bringing this ambitious project to audiences worldwide.

Cast and Characters

A medieval battlefield with two opposing armies clashing, banners flying, swords raised, and chaos reigning

“The Last Duel” brings to life a riveting tale from medieval France, featuring a standout ensemble that vividly portrays the drama’s historic figures.

Main Cast

  • Matt Damon as Jean de Carrouges: A nobleman-turned-knight whose honor and marriage are at the center of the story.
  • Adam Driver as Jacques Le Gris: The squire accused of an unimaginable crime against Jean de Carrouges’ wife.
  • Jodie Comer as Marguerite de Carrouges: The courageous woman whose testimony is pivotal to the plot and who stands firmly at the heart of this narrative.
  • Ben Affleck as Pierre d’Alençon: A count and the lord of both Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, adding a layer of complexity to the conflict.

Supporting Cast

  • Harriet Walter portrays a deeply nuanced character relevant to Marguerite’s personal journey.
  • Željko Ivanek offers a solid performance that complements the main cast, playing a character influential to the unfolding legal drama.

The actors seamlessly inhabit their roles, with Jodie Comer delivering a particularly well-acted portrayal of a woman facing the harrowing circumstances of medieval justice.

The interaction between squires, noblemen, and women provides an enduring image of betrayal and chivalry.