The eleuenth discourse.
Whether there be any meanes so to reforme the order of the sters of France as to reape anie seruice of the same.
SUch mightie kingdomes as sometimes are * accustomed to handle their neighbours rough∣ly, ought to haue especiall regarde that they suffer not their forces wherewith they haue attayned their fame so to degenerate, as no parte thereof remaineth in heart. For vppon their decaie or slothfulnesse, the others calling to minde what hath passed, doe the more boldly attempt agaynst those that did beate them, and oftentimes do terrifie and hurt them as much as themselues haue bene endomaged. Which hauing e∣uermore bene so, ought to waken Princes and gouernours of com∣mon wealths, to the end to prouide that one arme at the least may alwayes be stirring to serue when time shall require. Truelie I wo• not to what estate I may better applie this counsayle, than to our France, which being at rest hath played the pampered kicking horse. But being afterward growen weake (as now we see it) hath it not sufficient cause to feare the readinesse and diligence of those from whom it hath meanes sufficient to defend it selfe, if it list to do whatsoeuer is conuenient for the safetie thereof?
Our neighbours sleepe not, neither haue they but too much in∣telligence of our disorders, which as it seemeth, we respect not, let∣ting * passe euen whole yeres without seeking anie remedies, either great or small. For we must not thinke that great and redoubted power of men of armes that we had in the time of king Frances the first (wherein consisted the chiefe strength of the Realme) to be still in force. It is since that time much altered: neither are the footmen so good as in the time of king Henrie. Now they resent∣ble, as a man should saie, olde garmentes, torne and halfe worne a∣waie with the tediousnesse and violence of ciuill warres, and there∣fore Page 146 stand in need of peecing vp again with new. Neither must we, besides al this, •aue to help our selues wt al other forces yt we may, wherwith to hide our nakednesse: yt is to saie, to keep yt stranger frō cōming euē into our bowels to foray vs as he hath done & stil threat∣neth. The French power in old time consisted of ye proper subiects of the realme, who serued our ancient kings with all loyaltie. But within these 60. yeres we haue begun to mingle stranger's among vs, & so long as mony lasteth, we cannot want them: whereas to the contrarie, if yt faileth, we may be assured to haue our men to seek: wherfore ye surest way were to 〈…〉nd yt which we haue in our own land, to the end therof to make a sure post to trust to, & then to hope for what we can get from abroad. Also in as much as in diuerse re∣spects it is vnpossible to redresse both ye men of arms & the footmen (which are the best strength of the state) at once, but by litle & litle, we must in this necessicie as it were •eed vp new forces: namely, ye same that haue bene vtterly contemned, whē the rest flourished. For the more arches & pillers yt state vp ye building, ye stronger it wil be. By these I meane the general musters of France, wherto may be * adioyned the Legionaries: but my intent is not to treat of them in this discourse, wherein I meane to shew that those olde reliques of nobilitie which we suffer to wallow in the dust, being a little redu∣ced into good order, would bring forth fruit, & peraduenture more than we think. When a Gentleman hath spent the most part of his goods in riot, & that pouerty approcheth him, in liew of his gay vel∣uet garments that he was wo•t to weare, he goeth to seeke to put on course cloth, whereto he so accustometh himselfe, that sauing for his fancie, he maketh as much vse of the last as of the first, & so may we doe with many things that are of no account, in making them through vse both to be esteemed of & profitable. It were verie good, would some man saie, if it might be done, to make that thing profi∣table that is vnprofitable: But what likelihood is there to compasse it in these musters which haue bene so little set by, since the time of Charles the seuenth, that they haue bene as it were bannished the warres for their cowardlinesse▪ Hereto I saie, that although they haue in respect of their imperfectiō ben much contemned, yet must nothing be vtterly reiected before all meanes haue ben proued to sée whether it wil serue or no. For I suppose this hath not ben earnest∣ly dealt in, because there was no great need thereof: but now yt we are put to take all kinds of wood in band, like him yt new buildeth his house which the fire hath halfe cōsumed, it were a point of negli∣gence Page 147 not to seeke among our old ruines, for some good stuffe yet remaining, to the end to apply the same to good vse.
Before yt k. Lewes the 11. hired strangers, the footmen that we * vsed in our wars were of smal effect: & as I take it, were tearmed Francharchers or Franctanpins. Since we haue séene how by ex∣ercise they haue fashioned thēselues, so as if any man should bring in one of the ancient Franctaupins in their kinde of furniture, among these old & braue regiments of our footemen in these daies, who of them, vnles he had euen death betweene his teeth, could for be are or abstaine frō laughter▪ And yet haue both the one & the other bene gathered in one selfe field, as being all bred in France: Euē so now if you consider the ordinarie muster it is a poore thing. But rule it & vse it, & you shal see it grow into reputatiō. We haue an old French prouerbe yt saith: In a hundred yeres a banner, & in a hundred yeres a carter: which was inuented to signifie that euery thing hath his ri∣sing & falling. Euen se it happened to our musters: for hauing ben a long time in great credite and force, afterwarde when the men of arms were instituted, maintained, & ordinarilie vsed, yt others were quite reiected, reseruing vnto them only their auncient name with a verie weake effect. Howbeit I will not blame the institution of the men of armes, which haue brought forth so good effects, & still may bring forth more, nay rather I wil alow it: but likewise I wish to see a good order among all that deale wt armes. The difference between thē consisteth not in ye men, for yt same nobilitie yt in time past serued after one manner, doth now serue after another. The di∣uersitie resteth in the warfare which is changed.
The better to vnderstand these changes, & to know the dueties of * seruice, we must take things farther of, & climbe euē to their origi∣nal. Those that haue written of the affaires of France, especiallie the L. of Haillan do aduow that our fees were instituted vnder the first line of our kings. By which fees he meaneth a certain quantity of land which they gaue (to some more to some lesse) to such gentle∣men & famous warriors as had serued thē in the wars, to holde the same vpon their faith & homage, & to come & serue them a certaine time of the yere at their own charge. To the end also that these no∣ble & innobled persons should be the better able to maintaine thē∣selues, they licensed thē to let and demise their lands to the pesants for rent and yerely pension. Moreouer they granted thē both high, meane, and lawe iustice ouer their men and vassalles, the appeales whereof were reserued to their soueraigne iurisdiction. Page 148 Thus had the high Iusticer his lawe and inferiour Iustices vnd er him, whom he tearmed his men of warre, for they were bounde to wait vpon him as vpon the Lord of their fee, and the others he tear∣med peasants. These landes thus giuen vpon condition aforesayd, such a fee was to set out one man of armes, such a one an archer, such a one a third, and such a one a fourth, who were bound to meet at a place appointed, so oft as by the dukes or earles (who were but simplie gouernors of the prouinces & townes) or their bailiefes or stewards yt succeeded thē, they should be commanded. These assē∣blies were called Ban or Heriban, which after some signifieth crie or outcrie. This order seemeth to haue bene confirmed in the time of Charlemayn, vnder whose posteritie the fees & Lordships, which * vnder our former kings were but benefits giuen for tearme of life, were through fauour continued from the Father to the sonne, and so grew to be patrimoniall and hereditarie. Heereby it appeareth, what goodly priuiledges haue bene graunted to the nobilitie, but withall we are to consider that the bonds are verie strict. For they must alwayes come armed in defence of the Realme, and be readie to repulse the assaultes and violences of straungers abroad. These were the auncient strength of France, where with our kings for the space of seuen hundred yeeres did many notable deedes vntill the yere 1454. wherein the men of armes were instituted.
But who so is desirous more perticularly to see theyr auncient * order, let them read Frossart, who describeth the difference between the Barons, Bannerets, and high Iusticers, as also of those that might beare banners (which were square Ensignes) and of those that might carrie but penons. Likewise the armes of knights and manner of fight as well ioyntly as seuered, with the rewards and martiall punishments: neither doe I doubt but hauing seene all this, he will iudge our auncestors to haue beene braue fellowes.
The Lord of Haillan like wise in his discourses of France, dooth shew how fees came to be alienated, which were not amisse to bee * knowen. The first cause proceeded of our parents deuotion. For they being by the Cleargie dayly perswaded, that they that gaue most to the beautifying and enriching of the Church, had the high∣est places in paradise: such of them as were able founded Abbies, Priories, and Chappels, al wel prouided for, of good rents, therby thinking sufficiently to discharge themselues. Then followed the imaginations of Purgatorie, where they were tolde that for a mortall sinne they must burne seuen yeres in a most violent fire: Page 149 howbeit yt they might be deliuered therefro through abundance of messes and praiers. Wherevpon he that had but one hundred shil∣lings of rent, gaue twentie for singing and praying as well for his owne soule as for his kinsfolkes and parents deceased. Thus came aboue the sixt part of the fees of France into the hands of the Cler∣gie. The second cause was, the vioages vndertakē for the conquest of the holy land, whereat whosoeuer bare anie valiant minde would not faile to be, the rather for yt our kings thēselues went in person. And because that some lasted three or foure yeres, the nobles solde part of their fees, so to get money to maintaine themselues withal. Besides all this, they also made their wills, wherein they bequea∣thed (in case they died) a good portion thereof to be praied for: so as many dying in those dangerous and long iourneies, a greate num∣ber of the fees were still alienated to the Church. The third cause hath growen of the continual warres with the Englishmen, where through many Gentlemen haue bene forced to sell their fees to the vnnoble, who had permission of the kings to buy the same, for with out such license they could not before haue anie proprietie therein. All which alienations set together, haue pulled the third part of fées out of the bodie of the nobilitie, whereby they are fallen as it were into dead hands, that is, into their hands who cannot in person dis∣charge the auncient duties belonging to the same. Likewise since that time the Lawiers, Receiuers, & some Merchants haue so wel husbanded for themselues, that they also haue laide holde vppon a good part of the sayd fees, so as we may truly saie that the nobilitie doe not now possesse aboue the one halfe. Which notwithstanding our kings in the meane time haue still had the vse of their Arrier∣bans: wherin were but few Gentlemen, who all almost ranne into place where paye, honours, and martiall rewards were shared out, so as there remaine none but men of smal experience: neither were they imploied but in the defence of those prouinces that lay farthest out of the danger of warre.
Moreouer, many of all sorts of people both great and smal haue purchased exemptions frō the charges wherto their fées are bound, which haue bred as great weakning both in men and money. Our kings Frances the first and Henrie the second, seeing all these in∣conueniences, which they sought to redresse, made notable decrees for the reducing of the said Arrierbans into some order: which for lacke of well obseruing haue not much profited. Thus much in briefe of the succession of these matters.
Page 150 Some man may now tell me yt I labour in vaine in giuing coun∣saile * to redresse that thing which the experience of many yeres haue taught to be so weake and feeble, that it is vnpossible to raise it vp againe. This argument hath in deede some apparance, howbeit I will yet better examine it: then if reason will me to yeeld I will be content. Shall we, hauing so long practised with our French Flo∣rentines, who through their subtil wits haue bene able to wreast a quintessence out of the most vnprofitable things, seeme such doults as to haue retained no one precept of theirs? It hath bene already shewed yt in old time bailiefs & stewards were charged with ye leuie & cōduct of the Arrierbans. It is their office euen to this day. And in place where there bee none of the short roabe, they choose Cap∣tains (as in Britain) to gather their men together after the proclai∣ming of the kings precepts: but because in such offices there con∣sisteth no great honor, none but such Gentlemen as neuer stir out of the Country wi•take them, yea, & those rather for the benefit thā for any other respect: they also, although they be honest and such as may be imploied, yet hauing for the most part but small experience in armes, take no great heed of those that come to them: and to the end to pleasure their neighbors & friends, doe accept of all that are offered. Now is there great difference betweene the troups, when they appeare at the musters in the chiefe towne, & when they march whether they be commanded. For at the musters we many times see Gentlemen well prouided, who appeare onely to saue their fées from seazure, & as it were to say that they are ready to do their ser∣uice: but whē the said troups are appointed to go forth, thē shal we see yt the one halfe of thē are but great lubberlike boies, with a foot of beard, who wil daily deuour halfe a mattō, & do march for their masters. Then say you whether the king be not wel serued: So in a companie that should contain at the least 60. horse of seruice, ye shal scarce finde ten that may passe. How is it then possible that they should worke any good effect, considering the diuersitie of men so meanly armed. For we shal find ye speares, pistols, & harquebuts on horsebacke very simple ones, & others, armed only with brestplates: likewise crosbowes on foot, harquebuts, & others, armed only with a shirt of maile & a rustie iaueline, wherof some wil say they be men of armes, others archers, but in deed few of them good souldiours. There is not so expert a Captaine but would find himselfe shreud∣ly troubled to set the whole generation of them in araie to fight: so as euen they that command ouer them may wel iudge that it is hard Page 151 to get any good seruice at the hands of such disordered troups. In ye time of k. Henrie the L. of Iaille was made Colonel, who in an ex∣pedition into the fontiers of Picardie, had so bad hap yt his men fled (as it is said) before they came to battel, which brought the Arrier∣bans into such contēpt, yt euery man laughed them to scorue. Since the L. of Sanzlay hath gottē that office, to whō it should appertaine to purchase redresse. In the meane time my selfe will grosely trace this purpose that tendeth to the same end, leauing to him and others more skilful than my selfe the adding of the draughts of perfection, as also the correction of any thing wherein I may erre.
In old time the Arrierbans were bound to serue the king but sixe * weeks, & only in defence of the realme, neither might he detain thē longer without pay: then also were wars short & commonly decided without battel. But in ye decrees since made it seemeth ye time to be proroged to 3. moneths: as wel in respect of trauailing to the place where the seruice is to be done, as also for their so•ourning there: wherin there is some reasō in respect of the extēt of ye realme. Now wil I proceed to speak of the abuses, especially of one yt is cōmitted in the taxing of fees: wherin it is often seene yt a manor worth 2000 franks rent, shal pay but 40. franks toward ye Arrierban, & others lesse. Neither know I whence those errors should proceed, but on∣ly frō those yt are charged with the said taxes, who vpon their perti∣cular consideration do defraud the common. In these daies most of those that owe the seruice, both noble & vnnoble, do acquit thēselues with money. For he yt should set out 2. or 3. men of armes, shal cō∣pound for some smalsūme, & those are rare fellowes yt set forth meet men for seruice. True it is that when a small fee oweth but the 3. or 4. part of man, they must take money, but so should they not for higher fees. Then all that money (as I vnderstand) is afterward cōmitted to the treasorer of the Arrierbans, who disposeth thereof according as either the supertor or inferior Captaines do appoint. Whether ther be any fraud vsed therin I wot not, but do refer it to ye iudgemēt of others. Notwithstanding al these defaults, yet when these troups are leuied (whatsoeuer mixtiō there be) we stil see some good portiō of that old shipwrack, wherby I deeme yt if they might be purged and furnished againe, we might reap some commodity at their handes. I did once enquire what number of such men euery prouince was able to furnish, one with another: wherevpon I was certified that Britain, which is one of the greatest, might easily fur∣nish 300 good horse, then considering with my selfe of the rest, each Page 152 according to the proportion either for largenesse or smalnesse, I ga∣thered that all France by cōuerting the kind of men into horsmen, was able to bring into ye field 2500. horse, which is no smal power. This ancient order is yet in practise in the Turkish Empire. For there the most part of the horsmen are entertained of the lands that are giuē to euerie horsman for his life time, which is called Timar, and it is a tenure somwhat resembling our fees, exceyting the pri∣uiledge of Iustice. And when the Beglierbei (who are gouernors of prouinces) do send for men, they al come to yeeld their seruice, as being therevnto bound in paine of depriuation from the benefite re∣ceiued. Without the diligent obseruing of this rule, the Turke could neuer be able to bring halfe so many horse into the field as he doth: neither to maintaine warres so long. Whereby it appeareth that the barbarous nations haue better obserued the consideration of their estate than we. Frossart writeth, that in a iourney that K. Charles the 6. made against the Flemings whom ye k. of England fauored, at his entry into their country had aboue 22000. speares, such a number as sufficiently testifieth the plentie of nobilitie theu in France: as also the good order to call them together, which con∣sisted in the Ban and Arrierban. But since the men of arms were instituted, I assure my selfe there were neuer seene together 2000. speares, except at the iourney to Valenciens. This exāple haue I alleaged to the end to driue those that know not of what strength & power the ancient things haue ben, from finding fault with them.
Now is it meete that I discourse of the meanes how to restore these old ruines, as men do such houses, as in processe of time are al∣most fallen downe: but when they fall into a good husbands hands, he trimmeth vp some small corner of them, making it habitable: e∣uen so must we also, if it be possible, deale herein, which were easie to do, if the maister of the house would bend his affection any whit thereto. For when our kings are willing and do but speak, the dis∣position * to obedience is great. The first thing wherby I thinke it were good to beginne, were to create some Prince or Marshall of France, generall of al the Arrierbans of France. And notwithstā∣ding at the first blush it seemeth ridiculous to commit vnto such great personages a charge accounted so vnworthie, yet is it all but cōceit: for if it may be restored I wil proue it to be honorable: & we must think that the credit of the Captaine is of great force in this case: for whereas now a number of Gentlemen do disdain to march vnder the banners of the Nobles, then would they willingly come Page 153 in, if they might see Princes or such other greate estates be their guides & conducters. And they likewise respecting their honours, would labor to iucite the better sort of men to enter the same dance: neither is it to be doubted but their motions & example would win many, considering the French honour which is readie to embrace those things wherin there is any likelihood of winning praise. Next it were requisite in euery gouernment that comprehendeth diuerse bailiwicks to establish one Captaine to cōmand ouer those persons that should be therin taken. And where we haue alredy shewed that out of Britaine might be brought 300. good horse, which counter∣uaile three companies of men of arms, & out of lesser gouerumēts 100. at the least: are these to be accounted a small charge? yea, I wold who euer it were, that he were such a one as might be thought to deserue it. It is most certain yt in euery Prouince there be such like that are vnprouided for, & would be glad to take vpon thē such functions, when they see themselues vnder the gouernment of the mightie, & withall would delight, each one in his quarter, to beau∣tifie their troupes. So would it follow that the simple Captaines of bailiwickes would also amend, knowing that their men shoulde march in the armies and not be alwaies tied to keepe the house. If therefore the Captaines were such, the nobilitie would of necessitie gather to thē, as is aforesayd. And for my part I will neuer dispute whether being well led they would not sufficiently do their duties. It wer likewise requisite to obserue one straight rule, which is, not to admit into the companies that are erected in Bailiwickes anie other than shall be fit for armes, & to reiect those that being sent are incapable. For it is most certaine that abroad in the countrie there dwell poore gentlemen enow & other braue souldiors that haue but smal liuing, & wold be glad to be inrouled, & when any of the afore∣sayd that ought to send one or two, should chaunce to set forth some great lubber to serue in his stead for his owne commodity, the same should be reiected, & one of the aforenamed put in his place. For so do the decrees of k. Henrie as I remember, import. Yea, they ex∣empt not the L. of the fee from this personall seruice, but in case of sicknesse or age. But if we should see some one vnfit & not greatlie affected to warres, the same should be excused from marching: nei∣ther were he seruiceable for ought. So did Scipio when he passed into Sicil, for with the armaurs of 300. Sicillians that shunned the wars, he armed 300. Romains yt did him great seruice in Affrick: Neither is it inough that the men admitted be & beare the face to be Page 154 good, but they must also haue fit furniture, as horse, armor & pistols, for in these cōpanies I wold not wish anie but pistols, as wel for yt those armes are more easie to handle than the spere, as also to auoid the diuersitie of weapons now a daies brought in, which breed con∣fusion. It may be sayd that it were a hard matter to bring them to this order, cōsidering there are many that are charged but with an archer which coūteruaileth an harquebut on horsback; others with a footman, others wt the 3. or with ye 4. part of a man of armes. The remedie herein were to conuert those duties into coin, wherwith to to hire & furnish such as I speake of: but they that were bound to a whole man of armes should set him forth at the full. But it is to be noted, that besides the paie, the furniture must also be prouided▪ for the duty is, a man furnished & paide, & not a simple paie onely. This difficultie may also be propounded, viz. that it will be hard to finde a sufficient number of poore gentlemen or notable soldiors to supply the roome of the others, because that so soone as warre is once pro∣claimed, euerie man straight taketh a part: but they that make this obiection haue not sufficiently considered the multitude of men in France: for stil we haue enow that keep home, which my selfe haue many times noted, & therfore this need is not to be feared. Also or∣der once set downe, & that the pistoller should haue giuen him 30. crownes to arme himselfe, & other 30. for his 3. moneths paie, wee should see men enough readie furnished of horse or armour, or both, come to offer their seruice. And better to haue in a troupe but 25. good men than 100. so armed as is aforesaid, which ordinarily are good for nothing but to skarre the peasants and deuoure victuals. Thus woulde I wish them to bee furnished: with blacke Corslets somewhat light (for the heauy doe but cloy them) Tases, Poul∣drons, and Burgu•nets, than a good & long Pistoll, and the Baul∣dricke full of charges, but no cassocke, for the true Reister should shew foorth nothing but yron and fire. Their march after the manner of Reisters, that is, three and three, and to fight in squa∣drons, for who so vseth otherwise, is deceiued. And thus should the bailie or steward order his men to bring them to the Captain of his prouince. Likewise this order should be obserued: that every 6. score horse, or 100. at the least might raise a banner & make a companie. * So that if in a bai•ywick there shall be but 20. or 30. than to ioyne 3. or 4. together, afterward to agree vpon a lieuetenant & Ensigne. Al things aforesayd put in effect the Arrierbans would no longer be vnprofitable people, but grow to a power of horse composed of Page 155 many Gentlemen & good Captaines that would not faile in their duties: wherof in ye armies but one halfe were to bee vsed for feare of vnfurnishing the prouinces, and the same would amount vnto a∣bout 1200. horse. And in my opinion that Prince were farre out of taste that would disdaine to command ouer such a companie which vpon necessity might seeme to sight in flanke of a king in two great squadrons. Neither is it yet al to haue propounded this braue pat∣terne and set downe orders: for small fruit would arise hereof, vn∣lesse we should prouide for two pointes of great consideration. The one to make a more iust valuation of that which the fees ought to coutribute: the other to cut off vnnecessarie exemptions. Concer∣ning the first, many abuses are therein committed. For sundry doe spare themselues, and burthen their neighbours, or fauour o∣thers.
I remēber that once I heard of a fee not worth aboue 400. franks by yere, belonging to an ancient Gentleman, that in his youth had done verie good seruice, rated at 80. franks for the Arrierban. And of another goodly manor hard by it, worth 1800. which a 〈◊〉 Ad∣uocate had scratched in with 4. hands, rated but at 35. This is the goodly equality many times obserued in such affaires. Wherfore to preuent all such deceits, it were requisite in euery bailiwick to chose six men of the three estates, honorable & honest men (because at this daie the fees are diuided amōg them) to assist at the taxing, to ye end to draw thē neerer to reason: so do I imagine that if we should take but the tenth part of the sayd fees the king should be well serued, & the priuate parties haue no great cause to complaine. It were also good to haue regard to the persons: For there were no reason as much to charge him, who after a sorte serueth the common wealth, or is vertuous, or that hath bene employed in good seruice, as a greate feed vsurer, at whose gate the poore die for hunger, or a pet∣tie fogger that continually troubleth his neighbours. Thus might men that would incroch fees be accustomed to abandon their euill manners that hurt others. *
I knowe verie well that vpon this reuiew, sundry will crie out, and that peraduenture with sound heart, saying: What doo ye seeke to alter? My fee for this hundred yeeres paide but so much (which is peraduenture but the thirtieth or fortieth part) and now you aske me more, this violence is not to be borne. If this plaintiefe be a Gen∣tleman, hee is one that eyther goeth to the warre, or that tarrieth at home. Page 156 If he be a warriour, he complaineth wrongfully, considering that going to serue he is exempt frō paiments. If he go not to the war he is either vertuous or vicious: if vertuous, he will consider that if it be a point of dishonestie to denie priuate bonds, much more dis∣honestie is it to denie publike. And then it is to be supposed, he wil yeeld to reason. But if hee bee one of them that doth but beare the name of gentilitie which he blemisheth wt vicious actions, I would set before him the custome practised by our ancient Gaules, in the time of Iulius Caesar, which was this. After the precepts directed forth for the assembling of the nobilitie, he that came after the time limited, not letted but by his owne negligence, was put to death in sight of the whole armie, thereby to warne the rest to be more dili∣gent. For so might he gather, that if in those daies they did so se∣uerely punish their sloth that were willing to serue: their ingrati∣tude that will neither helpe in person nor in purse deserueth much greater punishment. As for the vnnoble that haue fees, such as haue anie iudgement, or are endued with any indifferency or knowledge, either be put in office, should not murmure when they are called v∣pon to giue some small portion to be exempt from personall seruice whereto they are vnmeet. Neither wil they in anie wise refuse so to do. But as for those who as much vpō an earnest desire to be called Lords, as for couetize, do nothing but heape fee vpon fee, & do ney∣ther serue the common wealth, nor vse charitie, & yet would excuse thēselues frō discharging those most ancient duties, which I doubt whether euen the Kings can bee excused of, ought to bee charged double, like the Asse yt hath a strong back, to teach them to bee more willing. Should they not consider yt they are vnworthy the prero∣gatiues & honors of fees, sith they are vncapable of military actions which ought to accōpanie those yt do possesse them? They that séek nothing but starting holes, will yet saie that the king raiseth subsi∣dies of the people for the paie of his men of armes, which sheweth that noble mens lands should be quite discharged. Truely they doe wel fulfil ye rule of iustice, making it to yeld to their owne profit, & straining it to the ouerthrow of others. I thinke if anie man would euen flay the people, they could be content, so thēselues might haue some morcel of the skin. It is the cōmons pouertie that ought to be pittied, & not their abūdance yt cannot be satisfied. One word yet of exemptions, which in such a case as this that concerneth the pre∣seruation of the Realme, are but ouer common.
The harme is the kings who is stil ye worse serued. But as himself *Page 157 is the cause of this diminishing through the lyberalities, which without giuing to him to vnderstande the consequences, they force at his handes: so is it his part also to enquire what may iust∣lie be granted, and to cut off whatsoeuer is vnnecessarie. Wherfore it were requisite the Captaine generall should be carefull to obtain of him a declaration, for a rule in the Prouinces. For as these due∣ties are no new matters, but verie auncient and meete for the vp∣holding of the crowne and maintainance of the French Nation, so must they be diligentlie seene into before they bee dispensed with∣all.
The Romaines, who did but seldome oppresse their subiectes with great tributes (had neuerthelesse, when any great warre came vpon them, especially agaynst the Gaules) no respect of persons, neyther were their Priests, whom they esteemed sacred, exempt from common contributions: so carefull were they for the publike benefite. The lyke regard ought we to haue of ours, and not to let those helpes that serue to that end runne into decaie, which neuer∣thelesse we ought not to vse to the murthering of our selues, but rather to repulse the chiefe enemies of this estate, who doe but watch occasion to destroie vs. For this cause ought wee of our po∣uertie and necessitie to make a vertue, least we be circumuented. For if we suffer our selues to be beaten, our neighbours will saie, that we shall haue wrong: but if we well defend our selues, as wée may, (if wee redresse the forces of our Realme) they will be affeard to come and assaile vs.