I have a (medieval non-fantasy but fictional world) setting in which several kingdoms have royally sponsored duellists that will represent the kingdom in international disputes. As this isn’t a particularly realistic concept, I have devised the following scenario:
We have a few kingdoms on a large peninsula, which is divided from the mainland by a mountain chain (think a larger Iberian peninsula). The mountains are not impassable, but pose a significant obstacle.
Beyond the mountains is a relatively large empire that’s known to have absorbed several smaller nations. The kingdoms behind the mountain chain have remained independent largely by relying on this natural defence making an invasion much more costly and easier to defend than is worth trying for.
During the year of a bad harvest there’s a conflict between the two largest kingdoms, at least one of which borders the mountains. The conflict is important enough to go to war under normal circumstances, but with the food being scarce it’s a really bad idea to take all the grown men away from the fieldwork. Furthermore, the war and famine combined would likely weaken the kingdoms so much that an invasion from beyond the mountains would now have a chance of success, something none of the kingdoms want to risk. We’ll assume that the nature of the conflict doesn’t allow to just wait for 2-3 years before going to war.
In that situation the kings agree to each appoint a representative to duel in their name with the winner receiving a favourable resolution of the conflict and a one-year treaty of nonaggression being signed. They fight, one wins and one loses and both nations keep to their word.
This does not abolish war and field battles in the future, but it leads to the establishment of a tradition in which conflicts that aren’t quite important enough for all-out war are resolved via duels, thus giving monarchs an incentive to find and sponsor the most skilled fencers in their respective nations (and possibly entice those of others to switch sides).
Is this close enough to making sense to trigger suspension of disbelief or is it completely impossible or ridiculous?