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.
Page  169

The thirtenth Discourse.

That his Maiestie ought in the tyme of peace to enterteyne at the least fower regiments of footmen, reduced into the number of 2500. men, as well for the preseruation of mar∣tiall discipline, as to bee alwaies assured of a great body of olde Souldiers.

WOrthely is King Charles the seuenth com∣mended, * for his so profitable establishment of the men of Armes, whereof he was the au∣thor. Neither doth the great King Frances deserue lesse praise, in that imitating the aun∣cient discipline, he could finde meanes among his owne subiects to forme a mightie bodie of footmen, wherewith the more to furnish out his warsare: For before there was but small accompt made of them, as is aforesayd. But since the setting downe of good rules, and that the exercise thereof hath ensued, they haue fashioned themselues, and are growne more obedient and valiant. Harquebuts came but little before into vse, which haue made them very terrible and so necessary as they may not be missed. Sith therefore the experience of many warres haue taught that it is not possible to prosecute them well without a good number of footmen, were it not a great ouersight not to lay any foundation of them: Considering that a meane hath bene found how to forme so strong a one of Horsemen? For the same reasons that moued our auncient Kings to ordeyne the one, may vrge them that now raigne to establish the other. In olde tyme the chiefe dif∣ferences of warre were decided in the plaine field: where now they consist in surprises, assaults, and defence of Houlds. Wherein the Harquebuts and Pikes are not only profitable but also necessarie. Now, if wee list to consider the number of Footmen that France mainteyneth in the tyme of peace, they will seeme to be fewe in re∣spect of the Horsemen, who in the tyme of King Henry the second were aboue sixe thousand speares. For excepting the Garrisons of Citadelles and Castles which are there to bee settled, the rest is a Page  170 small matter. But for the procuring of a well ordered warfare it is requisite there be some proportion betwéene the parties and sortes of men of warre whereof it consisteth, as there is betweene the mē∣bers of a mans bodie: For either superfluitie or want doe breed de∣formitie. And notwithstanding the men of armes doe in dignitie surmount the others, yet doth it not thereof ensue that they should in quantitie so farre excéede. The arme is more honorable then the legge, yet is the legge as massiue and great as it, yea and as profi∣ble in his function. In my opinion therefore it seemeth there were some reason in tyme of peace to entertaine fower regiments of footmen of sixe hundred in each, so to concurre with the force of the Ordinances, notwithstanding the same now consist but of 4000. Speares. I will not stand to shewe what neede France still stan∣deth * in of an armed arme: for all men of iudgement doe sufficient∣ly know that the Eagles of Austrich would come and eate vp her Chickens if martiall order were extinct. But many doe thinke the French nation to be so well enured to warres, that they neede but stampe on the ground (as Pompey sayd) to bring foorth whole le∣gions armed: Howbeit they are deceiued, neither is there any trust to be reposed in that: For if discipline and enterteynment faile, the more men there be, the more is the disorder and confusion. Such as suffer themselues to be abused with the noyse of many Drums, with the sight of many Flagges wauing in the wind, and with the view of a field couered with men, doe not wéene themselues to bée deceiued, because they thinke that euery one should be as readie to doe his duetie as he is to make a bragge: but at the proofe we many times finde that a small troope of resolute enemies doth ouerthrow all this. Haue not wee also within these twentie yeeres sufficiently felt the spoyles that a disordered multitude doth worke, euen to their friends? All these experiences might perswade vs that a few olde Souldiers doe profite more then a great sort of rawe and vn∣skilfull.

I knowe that no man will say but wee ought alwaies to main∣taine * a good number of men of armes: but for Footmen some thinke that in time of peace they may well enough be spared: because the Realme for want of habilitie had néede to spare many things. But I will say, that if the Realme bee poore it will bee contemned: if it be contemned the more will practise against it: which ought to moue the mightie well to vnderproppe it with counsaile and force. I will be aduised how I will thinke our pouertie to be such as not to Page  171 be able to maintaine fower thousand Speares and fiue and twentie hundred Footmen in ordinary, besides the garrisons and warders of Castles. Wee might doe more, but when a little will suffice, a great deale is superfluous. Now doe I wish that the bodies of re∣giments should still bee in force, to the ende the arte of warre bee not forgotten, not in speculation but in practise: as also to preserue many men of commaundement. I haue guided companies of 60. men, which in my opinion would bee sufficient in time of peace. For when occasion should fall out to augment them, putting in∣to euery companie the full number, they will in two moneths, as well through the diligence of good Capteynes, as by vertue of good orders, bée trayned to doe good seruice. But so will not the newe leuyed regiments: For if the Colonell bee a man of small experience, he maketh but bad choyse of Capteynes and they of Souldiers. Then as well the one as the other guyding them selues rather after their owne phancies, then after any good milita∣rie order, it is not to bee meruailed though such bad beginnings haue worse ends. The like may also happen to this warfare: for if the Colonell, louing the Court will not remaine with his compa∣nies: and the Capteynes do for the most part keepe home, likewise that as well the one as the other to the ende to furnish themselues doe make their prouision of halfe their Souldiers pay, all will bee corrupted. In a matter of such importance we ought to be very di∣ligent, and the more that abuses doe multiplie, the more seuerely are they to be looked vnto.

The fower regiments afore mentioned would I wish to bee * put in garrison in the frontiers of Picardy, Champagne, and o∣thers of protection, there to serue as well for the custodie of some places of importance as Metz and Calais, as also to bee Schooles where young Gentlemen growne from Pages, and other youth might goe to learne the arte of warre: but the chiefe ende indeede, is to haue alwaies a storehonse of old souldiers readie prouided for euery neede. For so soone as warre were proclaymed and the King shall haue cōmaunded to encrease the companies to their full num∣ber, amounting to two hundred a peece: we should within some sixe or seuen weekes be able to bring forth into the fielde two thousand Corcelets & sixe thousand Harquebuts, which ioyned with a parte of the men of armes would beare a good brunt, vntill the comming of the rest of our power. Now, if euer, it is necessary to reforme our footmen, sith the ciuill warres haue so corrupted them yt either they Page  172 cannot or will not almost obey: onely breeding terror where they march and scath where they continue. In these daies when a yong man commeth newly into a regiment of Footmen, I presume that he learneth some feates of warre, also to be the more couragious: but it is to bee feared least in the same Schoole he get as great im∣perfections, which darken all the good that he had learned, as I haue shewed els where. Where cōtrariwise these fower regiments would be as it were great springs from whence would flowe none but fayre and cleere water, which shedding it selfe all ouer the Realme would clarifie those that are troubled. For discipline be∣ing established and obserued, such as followe the same, shewing themselues euery where gentle to their equalles, obedient to their superiours, courteous to the commōs, and stout against the proud, especially against their enemies, should cause all men much more to admire them therefore, then for their bigge lookes: besides the fame of so braue an institution being spred abroad, all noble harts will detest the accustomed corruptions, and withall desire to sub∣mit themselues to the same. Had I not heretofore seene the like effects proceede of the like cause, I would not speake so boldly as I doe. I remember that in the beginning of King Henry the se∣conds raigne, when certeyne Capteynes and Souldiers that had lyen two yéeres in garrison in the townes of Piedmont returned into France, they were greatly esteemed, because they shewed them selues so ciuill, and courteous, nothing iniurious, and speaking so orderly of the exercise of armes, which caused many young men to runne thether in hope of the like instructions. Yea, my selfe haue seene the Earle of Charny (one of the most vertuous and honestest Lords of this land) weare the Corcelet and goe to warde as duely as one of the meanest Souldiers, euen in the tyme of peace.

Now may some good husband obiect that this multiplicitie of * Capteynes and Companies, will much augment expences, which though they be ordinarie doe neuerthelesse growe grieuous in the ende: also that it were better to mainteyne but tenne compleat. To whom I will aunswer, that my entent is not to forme one full re∣giment: for alwaies as affayres growe on, it shall bee but one regi∣ment: but I looke to lay the foundation of many, which being good, all that shall be built thereon will take the like goodnesse, that is to say, Valour. As also it would followe thereof that we should haue thrise so many men, which is one of the drifts that I tend vnto. For, as hath bene aforesayd, these fower bodies should maintaine Page  173 eight thousand Souldiers, all which being incorporated therein, might be tearmed olde. They should moreouer be shops, out of the which we might fetch Capteynes for our footmen: for in three or fower yeeres exercise, euen in the tyme of peace, a man of any capa∣citie might grow worthie to commaund through often conference of the 〈◊〉 of warre, and practising the offices of those that deale therein, 〈◊〉 also by continuall viewe of some image thereof before his eyes. As for the charge I confesse it would amount vnto about fower thousand crownes at the most by moneth. But withall we should mainteyne a hundred or sixe score men of commaundement: whereof many might in tyme doe such seruice as could not bée re∣compenced. What braue Colonels haue the Infantery bred with∣in these fiue and twentie yeeres▪ of whom I will name but a fewe, as Charry, Gohas, Causseins, Sarlabous, Pilles, Mounans, and the valiant Montbrun. It is to bee thought that this good order will raise vs vp more such. Wee shall doe our maister no hurt in giuing him counsaile to spend a handful of money, to reape againe so good interest for it. The Colonels of these regiments being well and without fauour chosen, must also wee subiect to dwell fower or fiue moneths of the yeere among them: neither may the Cap∣teynes haue leaue to bee absent aboue three or fower moneths at the most. For when the officers be away, discipline is neglected and obedience lost. Likewise were it requisite the assignations of payment were certaine, to the ende the Souldier bee not corrupted in being driuen to seeke his liuing abroade. Thus would 15000. crownes by moneth suffice, which is such a somme as our Kings sometyme doe giue to some one man in one day. Likewise where our Souldiers will now a daies weare no Corcelets, the same * might by this meanes be brought againe into vse and estimation: which is more easie to bee done then men weene for: but then the Capteynes must begin, who haue reiected the vse of the Pike: for they must bee enioyned to take it againe together with the Millan Corcelet. If they will they may also haue the Sword and Target of proofe against assaults and skirmishes. In the Companies one quarter should bee Corcelets, (and that should neuer faile) and the rest Harquebuts. And notwithstanding this were not a fit propor∣tion which requireth to consist of as many of the one as of the o∣ther, yet must we come as neere it as wee may. Also the better to bring our Souldiers into tast with the sayd Corcelets, they should haue those that should bee well made and grauen to the ende the Page  174 beautie might allure their affections. Thus whē they should sée the examples of their Capteynes together with the great payes ther∣to alotted, also that the Gentrie were brought to weare them, they would not looke for much entreatie. The Harquebut is good to trayne young men, and when they haue gotten some reputation and experience therein, they must bee afterward allured into the o∣ther degree which must be made as honorable as the first. It is in my opinion a poore exscuse to say, The Souldier will not do this or that: for although in ciuill warre it must many tymes passe for payment: yet in a tyme of rule and reformation it is meete to com∣maund with authoritie, so to make the Souldiers more readie to frame themselues to whatsoeuer is conuenient. The Spanish In∣fanterie although it hath stooped to the ciuill warres of Flanders did neuerthelesse neuer habandon the Corcelet: and the third parte of their best men doe still weare it. Besides it hath alwaies conti∣nued the obseruation of orders: so as it deserueth this commenda∣tion, that in Christendome there is no better Souldier. But will some man say: What accompt make ye of the French man? Forsooth I say yt being well instructed he yeeldeth to no nation, as likewise for want thereof he seeldome doth any thing worthy remēbrance.

I would wish they would practise some of the Spanish customes, * which in my opinion are very good. One is that when any newe Souldier commeth into their bands, the olde doe instruct him in his duetie: if he transgresseth they reproue him: and if he be mean∣ly apparelled they helpe him, least he should bee a dishonor to their nation: and he likewise taketh these admonitions as courteouslie, where we doe the contrary. For if a yong man newly come into a companie committeth any folly, they all doe laugh him to scorne: and if he haue any money, he is presently plumed either by play or some other practise: whereby many through this bad beginning doe start backe againe. Neither will I here conceale an other fault of our youth: which is, when any man seeketh amiably to reproue them, they spurne at it, and take all in euill parte, as if their age were not subiect to doe amisse. Secondly, among the Spanyards ye shall not haue a braule in sixe moneths: for they disdaine qua∣rellers and delight in modestie: so as if any doe happen, they ende∣uour diligently to take them vp: and yet when they cannot bee en∣ded without blowes, they discharge themselues honorably. The French Souldier is much more diuers, and can hardly liue with∣out braules, shewing himselfe but ouer couragious against his Page  175 companions. Thirdly, if a Souldier among them be hurt, he that hath but one crowne will giue him halfe. Fourthly, if any one doe any notable act, all his companions will praise and honor him, and seeldome doe they through enuy conceale any vertue. This like∣wise is good in them, that in their militarie commaundements euen the brauest Souldiers and of greatest calling will obey a sim∣ple Serieant: so pliable are they to their officers. As also when they are called to haue any charge, they doe as well keepe their au∣thoritie. Finally, in the bodie of their guard they will not suffer any insolencie, but the same are as Schooles where their ordinary talke is of the dueties of Souldiers, Capteynes, Honor, and such like matter concerning Armes. More might be here sayd: but this is sufficient in that such as goe newly into the bands may knowe that these bee no custumes of Munckes, as the prouerbe goeth, but of excellent Souldiers. If the Capteynes of the regiments aforesaid would likewise take a little paynes, they might instruct theirs in like sorte: and labour no lesse to fashion them then a horse course doth to breake his horse: And it were a great shame that we should not haue more care of men then of beastes.

The humour of French youth, will some say, can hardly away*with patience and modestie. Truely I had as liefe they should say that sith it is somewhat enclined to rashnesse and heddinesse, it must be let runne. I thinke no nation to be more capeable of vertue then ours, if it bee taught, and vrged to put it in practise. And vndoub∣tedly if Colonels and Capteynes would growe to commend and aduaunce these Souldiers whom they see well disposed to followe their exercises, and to make no accompt of such as are giuen to their belly and idlenesse, the most parte would imitate the good. Ordinarily they propound vnto them ritches, which I mislike not so that they first preferre honor, for that is a bridle to holde them from stumblig, and a spurre to stirre them vp to valour. I dare af∣firme that of ower regiments ordered as aforesayd, we may haue more seruice then of tenne such as they now be. For first we should be sure of two reasonable battels of Pikes whereof our Infantery standeth in neede: which is a great want.

I remember in the third troubles the Lorde of Acier brought * 18000. good and braue Harquebuts Protestants: but if they had met in the fielde with seuen or eight hundred Speares, I would weete whether they would not haue bene all ouerthrowne? More do think yea thē nay. Howbeit if they had had but fiue or sixe thou∣sand Page  176 Corcelets among them, a whole armie should hardly haue broken them. To be briefe, the Harquebuts without Pikes are as armes and legges without bodies, which were monstrous. Se∣condly, if this small number were thus trained: the souldiers would bée more obedient; would not scatter so much; would beare more, and would fight more cheerefully: which we may without farther proofe, easely iudge. This order likewise practised three or fower yeeres would stand the newe regiments, that vpon occasion might be leuyed, in great stead. For most of the officers being taken out of such a Schoole, would endeuour to cause those that had before but heard speaking of it, to obserue the same discipline: so as by little and little the vse of pilferie with such other bad customes would be suppressed. Oh what a goodly matter it were to see the peasant out of feare of the Souldier, who is in these daies a horror to the Villages! Likewise to see humanitie in such credite among them that they would at their hostes houses behaue themselues as in their owne! These be none of Platoes Idees, that is to say, ima∣ginations, for the French men for certaine yeeres practised them in Piedmont. Hereof should the Capteynes reape honor and the Souldiers both profite and content: for they should no longer bée shunned, as is aforesayd, but louingly receiued, still finding plentie where now sometymes they meete with pouertie onely and want: and withall his Maiestie should be much better serued.