The politicke and militarie discourses of the Lord de La Nouue VVhereunto are adioyned certaine obseruations of the same author, of things happened during the three late ciuill warres of France. With a true declaration of manie particulars touching the same. All faithfully translated out of the French by E.A.
La Noue, François de, 1531-1591., Aggas, Edward.

The twelfth Discourse.

Of the multiplying of priuate quarels, with the abuses therein committed, which greatly want reformation.

THe true spring and originall whereof so many qua∣rels * doe arise, which are now more common among the French nation than euer heeretofore, are Pride and Wealth. Two most vehement passions that so farre transport them as to dissolue the bonds of amity Page  158 and friendship which held them vnited together. And not withstan∣ding many do labour to restraine them, yet are they in great force by reason that euill customes in liew of quenching do kindle the fire of the same, whereby no man can well exempt himselfe from iniurie: yea, euē the nobilitie which hetherto hath alwaies ben most readie to all braue enterprises, is at this day the formost in maintai∣ning these abuses. To them therefore do I direct my speech, to the end to assaie by some meanes to diuert them from pursuing the er∣rors that molest them, and tend to their confusion.

Many men of iudgement there are that thinke so many braules & * quarelles as ordinarily fall out, to be necessarie euils, which it were meete somewhat to tollerate, so to auoide others farre greater. For they imagine that this heate being very naturall to our nation must of necessity dissolue and euaporate in small matters, least otherwise it proue an occasion to cast vs into ciuill dissention: yea, they affirm that proces of law tend also to the same end, because they be occupa∣tions, during the which the abundaunce of choler weareth awaie. This opinion truly auoureth somewhat of a paradoxe, in being al∣leadged * in such a season as seemeth no whit to fauour it. Yet had it borne some likelyhood if it had ben propounded in the daies of our former kings. But since such terrible ciuill warres haue ouertaken vs, we haue greater reason to think that they haue ingendered these perticular disorders, rather than to imagine ye same to haue alwaies bene such as we now see them, either that they haue ben accounted as preseruatiues against greater mischiefs. I knowe well in ought that warlike mindes are hardly restrained, also that it is necessarie to entertaine them in some kinde of exercise, whereby to alaie the heat of their courages. But to suffer them to hurt, or by armes to assault each other, and not to restraine them, we haue verie few ex∣amples, vnlesse among the barbarous nations. For so should wee submit the lawes, which are rather made to suppresse violence, to the imperfections of men. In Italie where are the greatest politikes, the common Courtisans are suffered to dwell in euerie Towne, to the end through such libertie to eschue other more hainous leud∣nesse: Wherof notwithstanding, no good cōmeth, but rather it see∣meth that al intemperancie doth ouerflow. Such vces as in yeight of God are abhominable, as whooredome & murther ought neuer vnder colour of eschuing greater incouneniences, to be permitted.

But some man will saie, Are not combats forbidden in France? Yes, such as are made with lawes & publik ceremonies (which like∣wise *Page  159 the Pope hath forbidden so farre as his dominion stretchech) & it is a good lawe, howbeit that notwithstanding wee are not yet at rest. For now all respect being taken awaie, they appoint theyr cō∣bats without authoritie, and go to fight whensoeuer the toy taketh them in the heads, as wel against those whom they hate, as against their owne friends, as if all were good ware. And if we should dili∣gently account how many are yerely slain by such priuate braules, we should find that there haue bene battels fought wt lesse losse both of gentrie & souldiors. Those that consider but the present time, or * are but young as neuer to baue scene other, do peraduenture think that men haue alwaies so liued in this Realme, wherein they are greatly deceiued. For it is not yet fortie yeeres since quarels were rare among Gentlemen, & who so was noted to be a quareller, was shunned as a kicking ade: which proceeded in that their manners were more pure, and the true points of honour better knowen than at this day. Thus are the euills that in old time were small, toward the end of this age wonderfully increased, so as we may say them to be rather our sinnes than the sinnes of our fathers.

Some haue imagined that our troubles haue bred thē, by extin∣guishing * the ancient cōcord & exasperating the minds of ye French natiō: which I confesse to be in part true: but my opinion is, yt many other occasions haue holpen as much or more to procure the same. First a presumption yt many haue conceiued of their owne strength & dexteritie, which haue made them more readie to doe iniurie. For since ye exercise of fencing, which of it selfe is comēdable, came to be vsed, also yt yong mē especially haue found thēselues to be perfectly instructed therin, they haue imagined yt they might braue it out at their pleasures, & obtaine reputation of valiancie, considering that experience teacheth, that he that is perfect in the vse of his wepon, & withall wanteth no courage, hath almost alwaies the better hand of him that is ignorant, and in deed there is no doubt but the skilfull hath great aduantage of the vnskilfull. Thus are men entered into a foule abuse, in vsing such skill as they haue attained vnto, to the wronging of others: which ought not to be imploied, but to the pre∣seruation of life, & that in case of necessity. The 2. cause is, the exā∣ple of some Lords & notable courtiers, yt haue ben seene fight both in the court & in the middest of the chiefe townes, wherby other gen∣tlemen (who are very diligent imitators of exāples either good or bad) haue ben induced to cast off all regard of ciuilitie & to seeke to decide their cōtrouersies, as they see others do. The 3. is impunity. Page  160 For seeing such disorders to escape without punishment, it hath emboldned them not only to fight one with another, but also to put in execution most villanous reuenges.

The fourth hath growen, because men haue tied honour to the mangling of arms and legs, & mayming or killing one of another, which ye nobilitie hauing noted (as couetous of glorie) haue sought by such meanes to attaine thereto.

Of all these causes, together with the had affections which these * long ciuill warres haue ingendered, is this hideous beast Quarell formed, which intruding it selfe among the nobilitie, dooth vnper∣ceiued by little and little deuour the same. What a deede was that of the sixe Gentlemen of the Court, who appointing to meet at the Tournels were so fleshed each vpon other, that foure of them there remayned, and the other two were sore wounded. There were a∣mong them such as in time might haue attayned to great dignitie, & yet lead by extreame follie, chose rather to perish in the flower of their age, which was lamentable. Diuerse other cōbats there haue ben both in Paris and at the Court, which haue sent many valiant persons to the graue. In the meane time throughout all the other Prouinces euerie one haue not bene at rest, for some of them haue we seene disquieted and spotted with the bloud of gentrie. In this state are we at this daie in France, whereinto our owne follies, to∣gether with the tolleration therof, haue brought vs. And vnlesse the kings discretion and authoritie doe prouide some remedie all will still empaire.

Now although I may freely reproue the corruption of our time, * yet will I not thereof inferre that in time past men liued without quarels. For men are men and subiect to wrath and reuenge. But vndoubtedly they had verie few, neither wold they be moued with∣out great iniuries: where now a word of nothing or in est bringeth the lie, a sharpe looke shall be accounted an iniurie, and a slaunder or false opinion call for a combat: so ticklish and pricking is our dayly conuersation, which proceedeth of a false imagination con∣ceiued, that true honor consisteth in surmounting others with force and making them to tremble vnder vs. A man may seeke aduaun∣tage and victorie ouer his companions by playing at his weapon, leaping, vaulting, running at the ring, and such lyke exercises: but that he shal not be esteemed vnlesse he deuour them, assaulteth their liues, or sheddeth their bloud, it is a most pernitious opinion? This haue made men so incompatible, that haunting together, they are Page  161 forced to practise this prouerbe, To day a friend, to morowe an enemie: Among all shames, nay rather infamies, this is not the least, that a Gentleman, euen vpon a friuolous occasion, shall tain his sword in the blood of his friends, with whom before he made but one bed, one table and one purse. And yet if any would dili∣gently enquire, he might finde aboue a hundred such examples within these twentie yeeres: yea euen neere kindred cannot dwell long together without braules, which after bring them to blowes.

I thinke that these disorders are much encreased through the * libertie of youth, which being crept into credite haue reiected all feare of lawes and counsaile of their elders, and taking bit in the teeth haue bred great abuse herein, which custome hath but too much confirmed. But wee are not to finde it straunge that the first age which is accompanied rather with heate then discretion doth sometymes disorder it selfe. Rather should we wonder that wise men and magistrates can closely cōsent and suffer such things as they ought sharply to represse, to haue free course. I haue she∣wed with what inconstancie men vse to make quarels without any ground, also with what furie they afterward fight head to head. But yet is not this all the worst, for others, which are no lesse then these, doe ensue. One taketh amends with aduauntage: an other taketh cruell reuenge: one procureth the killing of his enemie in treazon with the shot of some Dagge or Harquebut: others doe make great assemblies resembling pettie warres: and many tymes one quarell breedeth fower, and twentie dye for one mans offence.

These are vnworthie actions for Gentlemen, but among the * rest, priuie murders are detestable. But most of all I wonder at an other abuse now in great course among the most gallantest, that being so pernitious, it hath so long continued. That is, that when any is disposed to fight, he that is his second, as we terme it, or his third, must also fight to extremitie with the second or third of the contrary part: yea they euen striue who shall bee one. These men (in truth) may be termed scourges to themselues rather then those who clothed in linnen, with whippes in their handes, goe vp and downe with heauie cheare daintely striking their delicate skinne. Can there be any more fond folly then to see a Gentleman against his companion of Court without any cause of hatred, yea perad∣uenture hauing some ground of amitie, and sometymes his kins∣man, yet through a certaine brauerie, goe cut his friends throate▪ In my opinion these doe but badly knowe the true office of seconds Page  162 in a controuersie of honor. For as I thinke, they should resemble the Iudges that are chosen in Combats: who are to assist their friends: first as pledges of their faith giuen, as also to see there bée no fraud in such an action, neither on the one part nor on the other, whereof they are to aunswer. And next to bee witnesses of the va∣lour of those whom they conduct: moreouer to agree them or part them in the field, as sometnmes it happeneth, after blood drawne. But now in liewe of doing these dueties and fearing to quench their heate, these men doe helpe to kindle them more and more, sometimes to their owne destruction: a most deserued penance for such an ouersight. Some say these fashions are brought out of I∣talie. I referre that to the truth thereof, but now the vse is ours, and if Iustice were restored and royall authoritie better regarded we should become more ciuill. But I will alleadge one example to prooue the lewd consequence of quarels, which is that vpon a cōtro∣uersie growne betweene two gentlemen of the court, almost all the Princes and Lords with their fautors tooke parts, so as the King was driuen to send his guard to kéep them asunder and cause them to depart. Now if these had met I leaue to your iudgement what a bloodie folly it had bred.

It seemeth wée haue entred déepe enough into this laberinth of * mischief which hath cost vs deere, & brought too much disaduantage to desire any more experience therof. And as the gentrie hath bene the greatest fauorers & nourishers therof, so must it be the first that should helpe to destroy & banish it, especially if it mind the recouery of ye good reputatiō which it had in the daies of ye great K. Frances. Then was it a goodly matter to see the good agreement among the gentry. Then was applyed vnto thē this Spanish prouerbe: To the friend as soft as waxe, but to the enemy as hard as steele. By which e∣nemies were ment none, but those that were so reputed in time of warre. Thē was there great modestie among thē: societies of sun∣drie companions did long continue, & friends obserued the rules of perfect fidelitie. If any cōtrouersie did arise, they al ranne to quēch it, where now they fuffer it to encrease, to ye end to haue the pastime of the combat. So yt when I think of it, we must no more speake of those daies, least ye vnlikelinesse of ours therto do make vs to blush for shame. Such as by nature are giuen to peace & withall are en∣dued with any discretion, do find it very rude. For notwithstanding they studie to shunne all contention, yet are they sometimes entan∣gled therein through other mēs arrogancy, which is so intollerable Page  163 that it ouercōmeth all patience. Thus are they forced to follow the wicked custome, least they should be altogether disdained. Albeit many times it falleth out yt they free themselues from such braules with as great honor, as their prouokers. Well was it sayd of him that termed prowesse and quarels two bad beastes: for worse are there none to be found. I haue heard of a gentleman yt reported that for * ten yeres space he was much troubled with 4. horrible mischiefes: frō which God had deliuered him. The 1. a processe in law, wher∣vpon the one halfe of his liuing did depend: the 2. a disease thought incurable: the 3. a bad wife: & the 4. a quarell grounded vpō great iniuries: among all which he affirmed yt the quarell had bred him most cares & disquiet, with continuall torment, where in the rest he had some respite & ease. And this may well be: for he that perswa∣deth himself that vntill he bee reuenged euery man skorneth & dis∣daineth him, dare scarce shewe his face in any cōpanie. He is still in care how to find meanes to haue amēds of the iniurie that he hath receiued. His hatred to his enemie stil stingeth his hart & the desire of reuenge leaueth him no rest. Likewise when he considereth the fortune of Combats, the feare of infamy molesteth him. Finally, if he haue any feeling of godlinesse or religion, & that he thinke vpon the euident danger of his soule, if his body should perish in the pur∣suite of so mortall reuenge, may not all these troubles be compared with the furies that the auncients haue so much spoken of? And to say the truth, it is the very punishment of quarellers, whom Gods iustice permitteth to be continually molested, because themselues will not suffer others in rest. Many mischiefes there are that light vpon vs, wherof we are in small fault: but this our selues doe forge and take vp vpon our shoulders, at the least they that will not liue without controuersies. There be gentlemen enow that hauing had 1000. or 2000. crownes rent, haue spent it all in this miserable ex∣ercise. If a man should aske of ye quarellers, What is it that so trou∣bleth you, and causeth you to encurre so many hazards and perils, and to wast your selues in so great expences? It is, will they say, the respect of our honor. Truely that is such an honor as bringeth many mise∣ries: where it should rather bréed content & pleasure. But I doubt if we should more néerely consider hereof, wee should finde that the cause of this mischiefe consisteth in our owne errors and follies. * And as the ambitious (as Plutarke sayth) to the ende to hunt after a phantasticall glorie, doe habandon the true: so haue we formed to our selues a false honor, that is obteyned by a certaine valiancie Page  164 (which yet were commendable in warre against our enemies) con∣sisting but in braueries, bragges, iniurious speeches, outrages, stripes and murders, and all against those that before were our companions and friends. This is a briefe description of that mag∣nificent honor which is now adaies so rife in our mouthes.

Herevpon will some man say: Why must I beare wrong & stripes*and not reuenge my selfe againe? Hereto I aunswer, that my entent tendeth not to will you to suffer all: but rather that you must in no wise commit such iniuries. What then is true honor? It is a goodly praise and commendation, by good men attributed to some in re∣spect of their vertue which by diuers good effects they make de∣monstration of. And this consisteth in the vse of wisedome, iustice, prowesse, temperance, truth, courtesie, and such other vertues: wherof it ensueth that the ground of honor consisteth in the posses∣sion of vertue, wherewith he must be clothed that mindeth to at∣teyne to the fruition thereof. Those therefore are deceiued that thinke themselues woorthie to tryumph of the one, and haue so smally profited in the knowledge of the other: for it is as much as to seeke to haue the shadowe without the bodie, or the barke with∣out the tree. I assure my selfe that the wise will choose to thriue by the waies afore recited, rather then by imitating the abuse of cu∣stome, wherewith they should helpe themselues onely in great ex∣tremities, as men doe with corrosiues, and not otherwise. For it may so fall out that a sober gentleman shall be so grieuously wron∣ged through the insolencie of an other, that he cannot brooke it: so is he after a sorte compelled somewhat to frame himselfe to the cu∣stome, vntill such good order bée restored as men neede not to en∣curre the reproach of cowardlinesse or base mindes. It was an old prouerbe, That men should flee a hundred miles from an assault, and runne a hundred miles to a battell: which with greater reason may be sayd of quarels, wherein there is lesse honor to bee gotten then in an assault. It is but small honor to set vpon and ouercome him that is weaker then my selfe: but if I maime him that is taken to be a braue fellowe, euery man will bewayle his mishap and accuse my valour, as hurtfull to my owne nation: likewise if it bee my friend and I kill him, who will not accuse me of inhumanitie? Wherefore, for my institution it were requisite that all men should know that the aforenamed, did force me to proceede so farre, which circumstances doe but sieldome happen. France hath at all tymes had many couragious gentlemen, of whom wee haue, euen in our Page  165 daies, seene some shewe wonderfull proofes of valiancie in priuate quarels: neuerthelesse they haue not bene any thing so much com∣mended therefore as for other their valour shewed in skirmishes, assaults and battels. In the warres are wee to display our for∣ces and liberallie to hazard our liues, which they that cast them selues headlong into quarels doe seeme to make small accompt of.

Here might I yet note other abuses in these cases committed, * but they are so common and so well knowne that it would but breed tediousnesse to heare thē repeated. And more meet it were to discourse of the fittest remedies, for the banishing or helping of the same: wherof if some had bin sooner applyed, they might haue done more good: for the longer wee delay, the deeper roote doth the mis∣chiefe take. Howbeit, it is yet curable, if we will begin our cure ra∣ther by the causes thē by the accidents. The maner hath bene that if any honorable person had chaunced in any quarell to bee killed in the Court, by and by there were decrees and orders set downe to preuent the like inconuenience againe: which was diligently ob∣serued for some moneths space, and then all was forgotten. This was as a man should say, after meate mustard: or when the man is dead, seeke the Phisition: as also the preseruatiue was too weake for the tyme to come. But we must remember that the mis∣chiefe is vniuersall, and that the remedies ought also so to be: like∣wise that all the parts grieued, both neere and farre should taste of the benefite of the medicine. Sundrie bookes haue bene published which being translated out of Italian doe entreate of iniuries, a∣mendes, combats, &c. which also doe teach Gentlemen how to shunne quarels, and prescribe meanes when a man is in, how to get out again without losse of honor: among yt which, Mutio doth best deserue to be read. Howbeit, al this put in one of the skales, the other conteyning corrupted custome, hath wayed it downe, euen as a Portegue should way downe a French crowne: wherein it ap∣peareth that custome is much stronger then the written lawe. It is the Kings duetie to vndertake the conquest of this mōster which glutteth her self with blood. For so soone as he beginneth in earnest to set hand to the worke, the Magistrates will doe the like, and then shall the inferiours bee forced to obey. But sith the question con∣cerneth the rules and decisions of honor, wee must not seeke or ad∣mit any other then from the Court: for whatsoeuer is there prac∣tised, is receiued and allowed in all the other Prouinces. The first foundation of this reformation must therefore be there layd, which Page  166 cannot at the beginning but seeme deformed, because this great mischiefe is very hard to bee pulled vp but by discending through smaller euilles, vntill men may be in state to embrace such good pre∣cepts as teach that all these combats are not onely wicked but also deuillish, inuented to the destruction both of bodie and soule, & ther∣fore by no Prince to be lawfully permitted.

But to proceed in my purpose: Concerning present remedies, * this I must say, that it were good his Maiestie, the Princes and Lords should in their ordinarie speeches which they vse publickly, reproue quarellers, in liewe of commending them after they haue tainted their weapōs with blood, and withall giue them to wéet that they detest them as men that haue no delight but to rise by others hurts. That they should admonish all men to gouerne themselues with modestie & discretion, & threaten the transgressors with most grieuous punishments. Then if at the Court any should so farre presume as to appoint place to iniurie other, the same should be se∣uerely punished and not to spare any whosoeuer. For 2. or 3. exam∣ples of iustice would correct aboue 500. And this is most straight∣ly obserued in the Court of Spayne. Some are emprisoned in Ca∣stles: others are banished for a certaine time: others are condemned to the warres of Barbary against the Moores: & others are forced to make publicke satisfaction: yea if the offence be great, the losse of goods or death do depēd theron. Sith also in our France this noy∣some humour is so rooted, it were méete the purgation were some∣what sharpe, yet would it not breed sedition. There are that hold o∣pinion that it were good the K. would referre the punishment & cor∣rection of these ordinary quarellers & murderers to the Iustices, & himself not to meddle therein: neither can I mislike it so farre as it tendeth only to most villanous wilfull slaughters, & such like as daily are cōmitted. But sith this matter concerneth honor & armes, likewise that either good or bad instructions are learned in the court or in the warres, my opiniō were that thence likewise should pro∣ceede order & correction. To this end also it were requisite his Ma∣iestie should assemble ye Marshalles of France, with the most aun∣cient Capteines to make some good decrée for this matter, to order diuers things misunderstood & worse practised: & to shew how they should behaue thēselues in poynts of honor, which done, to publish the same throughout the Prouinces, their euery man being aduer∣tised might conteine himself in his duetie: so would good examples, conioyned with seuere punishmēt, be no doubt of great force to sup∣presse Page  167 the present confusions and errors. As also it were meete the same were carefully obserued in the Court, at Paris, & whersoeuer there is any bodie of men of warre: for the youth from all partes of the realme do draw thether to learne, & if abuses do there raigne, at their returne home, they sow the same all ouer: as contrariwise sée∣ing good customes, they doo imitate & make thē manifest to others. The Gouernours likewise are to haue expresse charge so soone as any quarell ariseth within their gouernmēts to send for the parties to seeke to agree them, & if they be men of great calling & the mat∣ter very difficult, to enioyne thē without delay to haue recourse to his Maiestie to the ende he may prouide therefore, as hauing great interest when his subiects do liue in discord: also if any should pro∣céede to villanous outrages, to pursue them stoutly & without re∣spect of persons. And indeed I suppose that neither the one nor the other will be so blind as to beare with wicked actions. Some man will say: Hath not the King published such commaundements enow? Yes, I confesse he hath: but they haue no whit profited, for want of putting in execution: & how should those that dwell farre of obey them, when they see them euen in the Court vtterly contemned. For there all sorts of iniuries both in word & deede, all trecheries, reuenges and set combats are openly practised euen in euery mans view, without any great reprehension. If we wish good orders to take place, our Magistrates must bee the first that must obserue them, and then cause others to doe the like.

Something would I say of poynts requisite to bee conteyned * therein, were it not that I might séeme to enterprise vpō those that should be appoynted to doe it, whose sufficiencie I imagine to be such as not to need any instructions, sith it is their parts to giue thē to others. Howbeit, to satisfie the mindes of the curious (who I thinke would bee glad to see some) I will propound onely 7. or 8. which first come to mind: namely, That slight iniuries proceeding of sudden chollor or otherwise, must not bee refelled with the lye, in that the same is a word now too odious, but with some more modest deniall, whereto a man cannot reply with the lye. He that shall giue it, vnlesse vpō such an iniurie as being proued might breed to the gentlemā that shall haue receiued it either infamy, or desert of death, shall be driuen to amends. He that shall without cause wrong any man in worde or deede, shall be forced to satisfaction. He that shall haue receiued any iniurie, shall not assigne any place to his enemie, neither procure him to bee chalenged vnder payne of most seuere punishment, as well Page  168 to himself as to the chalenger: but shall come before the King, the Go∣uernour, or the Captaine of the Prouince, to craue leaue to redresse his wrong by armes: then if the partie that offereth the iniurie appea∣reth not within the third summons of his superiour, he shall by pub∣licke placards bee banished the Court, the Armies and the capitall Cities: and the other restored to his honor, as well in respect of his o∣bedience, as for amends, and discharge of the combate, although the author by secret meanes should labour to come thereto. And touching all such quarels as the Gouernours and Capteynes cannot agree, they shal not neuerthelesse haue authoritie for the decision therof, to graunt the singuler combate, but shall referre the parties, with straight prohi∣bition not to hurt each other, vnto his maiestie, to whom onely belon∣geth the graunt thereof. Whosoeuer shall by himselfe or by any other, strike a Gentleman with audgell, shall after satisfaction be also pu∣nished by limited banishment or some other grieuous payne, because it is a boyish iniurie. If the partie iniuried practise any trecherie for the recouerie of his honor, the superiour shall force him to amends for his cowardlinesse. Likewise for those who in the Prouinces through their quarels shall make any great assemblies, or with open force pursue their aduersarie: because such are but sparkes wherewith to kindle warres. Many other such like articles may be hereunto added, which dige∣sted into order, would beare some grace. But after some good re∣solution taken for their well obseruing, they may soone enough bée reuealed. For this tyme it may suffice to runne ouer these small peeces, which I haue layd together to awaken many good wittes that I knowe in France, to the ende they may say better then I haue done, correct that which I haue set downe, and shew the great ones that it is their dueties by all meanes to seeke to reduce the Nobilitie into the way from whence it hath strayed: for so long as it shall remaine wandring both in word and deede, it shall still pro∣phane Uertue and Armes and wast it selfe, whereas contrariwise if good discipline may force it to reenter into the carrier of our aun∣cesters, easely it may atteyne to the end therof, where the crownes of true honor are distributed.