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  215

The fourth Paradoxe.

That daylie experience haue taught such meanes to fortifie Holds, as are most profitable in respect of the small charge thereof, and no lesse defensible then such stately ones as the Ingeniors haue aforetime inuented.

THE Italians deserue the commenda∣tion * of being the first inuenters of di∣uers sortes of gallant fortifications, which since they haue reduced into such an arte as hath bene esteemed honora∣ble, neither hath it bene of lesse profite to those that haue delt therein. And per∣aduenture this last poynt hath partly bene the occasion that they haue per∣swaded Princes that such and so many things were requisite to bring a peece of worke to perfection and worthie them. Wherein they haue not bene altogether vntoward: for through great & long expences the water is come to their mil. I know it beseemeth great Princes to doe great workes, because they haue great meanes and therefore the small will not content them; but withall they should prize them in the ballance of commoditie, least the dearenesse of the one hinder the setting hand to the other. I seeke not herein that * which is seemely for a fewe, but that which may bee commodious and profitable to all: Especially for their sakes who being weake, had neede for their owne fafetie to fortifie themselues, and yet through pouertie are driuen to spend but little. I take that to be a fruitfull peece of worke which is performed quickly, easely, and with small cost, and yet in goodnesse doth counteruaile an other whereto they cannot attaine without contrary meanes. I meane not in this my treatise to comprehend such places as are strong by nature, but only those which may be so made by arte.

The first place that here I will bring to view, shall be the Cita∣dell of Antwerpe, wherein wee may say that nothing hath bene *Page  216 forgotten, either in wealth, diligence, inuention or plentie of stuffe: so as in all Christendome a goodlier peece of worke for fortifica∣tion hath no man seene. But on the other side if wee consider that the building thereof cost 1400000. Florins, and yet, had it bene assaulted, would not peraduenture haue held out much better then Oudenarde or Maestricht which were fortified but with earth, it will make men somewhat curious to examine these matters more exactly. Especially small Potentates and little townes are to looke very néerely hereto: for if they should measure their defence by the ell of these great Princes, they should bee peraduenture empouri∣shed, yea vtterly ouerthrowne before they could bee halfe fotified. The Citadell of Mets cost aboue a million of Franks, and I sup∣pose that that of Turin drewe néere to 300000. Crownes. Which I speake not as misliking that these great Princes should employ so much vpon these small Castles: for they wast much more vnpro∣fitably: but only to the ende to let men see that for the fortifying of such a towne as Malines or Orleance, which in greatnesse are a∣like, after that order the charge would amount vnto aboue fiue millions of Florens: also that for the furnishing of money they should bee driuen either to sell one of their Estates or make peace for a hundred yeeres with their neighbours, that they might worke at leisure.

Some man may say, it is but a small matter for the Kings, who * in the ciuill warres of Flanders and France, haue each of them spent aboue 70. millions of golde. But I will to the contrary con∣clude by the same reason: for hauing wasted such innumerable summes, a little will be found to be a great deale. If we shall looke all France ouer, I thinke wee shall scarcely finde (except a fewe Castles) any towne halfe finished after the engeniors rules. Some doe beare themselues herein like vnto certaine Brides, who being perswaded that a gowne of cloath of golde will make them more beautifull then one of taffatie; doe thereby force their husbands to consent that half their dowrie be consumed in beautifull ornaments for their mariages: but afterward they haue sower sauce to their sweete meate, as being driuen to a long pennance for their sumpte∣ous vanitie. It were much more profitable for both to know what were méete, and to goe no farther. When I compare the townes that were besieged in the time of King Frances & his sonne Hen∣rie, with those that haue bene assaulted in our ciuill warres, I am forced to confesse that these last haue bene better defended, not∣withstanding Page  217 they haue bene assayled with greater arte, and yet most of them were neuer furnished with any of these stately fortifi∣cations: which sheweth that so many great expences are super∣fluous, sith they bring foorth no better fruite then those that are lesse.

The ingeniours will say that notwithstanding men fortifie but * with earth without any of their supporters of Stone or Bricke, (which are no lesse beautifull then necessarie) yet still they followe their precepts. Wherto I aunswer that in many things men may helpe themselues therewith: howbeit they are rather to sticke to newe experiences which haue taught very good kindes of fitting and defending themselues. The first is the same that I haue alrea∣die mentioned, namely fortification with earth: which cost tenne times lesse then great Masondrie, and is neuer a whit worse. For proofe hereof I will alleadge the towne of Gaunt, which in two yeeres was finished and furnished with Rauelins, ditches & coun∣terscarpes, (although it be of as great circuite as Paris within the walles) and cost not aboue 300000. Florins: But if the King of Spayne should haue made this fortification according to the writ∣ten rules, he must haue spent aboue sixe millions and twentie yeres at the least. In diuers places the townes haue bene taken, before they haue bene a quarter fortified after these great platformes. The second thing which experience hath made many to allowe of, is to losen the Bastions from the Courtines, yea and to carie them without the ditch. For although they be not defended with the Ar∣tillerie from any lowe Casemates, yet doe the Harquebuzery suf∣ficiently shield them from the Curtines which is a continuall a∣noyance that cannot bee taken away, where the flankes of the Ba∣stions may bee pearced or broken when the shoulders are weake. Also if one of those rarelines that I speake of should chaunce to bée taken, yet is not the place therefore so lost, but that the enemie may very well be put backe, where contrariwise it is a necessarie conse∣quence to those that haue ioyned them to the Rampiers. The third is the vse of intrenching, which is a marueilous profitable remedie, though smally practised in times past, but in our ciuill warres, men haue learned to vse it very well. Though they bee weake and but ill made, yet doe they preserue from being forced on a sudden, and procure some reasonable composition. But if they be large and well made, either they wholy preserue or at the least doe giue a mo∣neths respite (which is a soueraigne purchase to the besieged, when Page  218 the enemie must winne it by little and little) during which time they may light vppon some fauourable accident for themselues. Hereto will I adde one sleight which practise hath taught, namely, to striue for a drie ditch after the Counterscarpe is wonne, and so to defend a Rampier a fewe daies, though the enemie be lodged in the Parapet. For with sundrie pollicies haue men learned to fight each with other, some more, some lesse: as hath bene seene in diuers Sieges both in the Lowe countries and in France. All which in∣uentions doe consist as much in remouing the earth, as in any o∣ther manuall defence.

Now will I shewe how I would the place which I propound * should be prouided for, presupposing ye situation to be in ye plaine as are the situatiōs of most of the townes in Flanders. First I would not haue the Rampier raised too high: For such as are so vnreaso∣nable high, as they are in most places about Bruxelles, Tournay, Orleance, and Rochell, are rather Mountaines then Rampiers, and bee within as I thinke thirtie foote high. For herein they be hurtfull, that being wonne, there is no more meanes to defende, because the defendants cannot entrench behinde to any purpose, when their trench shall bée so ouer awed. As for the ditch, I would wish it to bée full of water if it might bée, so to eschue surprizes, as also that it is more troublesome to the assailant then the drye. Counterscarpes doe after a sorte serue, and the couert way to them should bée large.

Likewise I would thinke an other pathe to be profitable, which should be behinde or vnder the first, being sixe foote broade and as many high: Which should serue to the ende that when the Coun∣terscarpe chaunced to bee wonne by vyolence (as was that of Vul∣pian in Piedmont, where all the Souldiers were drowned and slaine) the defendants might saue themselues. As for the Rauelins they would be fitly placed without the ditch, and made so large that they may beare a good entrenching. For so shall the enemie, al∣though he haue wonne the poynt, haue a fortnights worke. But the inner ditch, if it were possible, should be drye, to the ende the Souldiers might in the beginning of the Siege bee kept there for issues: which I thinke to bée necessarie for the besieged, as well to the encrease of their courages, as in respect of ye great hurts which the enemie shall thereby receiue. For these are meetly safe enter∣prises for a cunning Captaine, and will amaze the assailants when they shall finde themselues assailed.

Page  219 Whosoeuer vndertaketh to assault such a place, must of neces∣sitie * begin with the Rauelin, which is a most assured warning that he will beate the Courtine on that side. Wherefore omitting all other matter they must fall to entrenching, whereby in time they may make as it were a newe towne, in case they haue people enow and a skilfull Ingeniour.

I suppose that in a place where there are Souldiers a Rauelin should hold out one month at the least, yea euen against the Prince of Parma, who is the skilfullest assaulter of townes that I know. The rampier and passage of a ditch full of water will be as long: and the inner trench, being almost equall with the heigth of the rampier that is beaten downe may be kept as long or longer, pro∣uided alwaies, that it be made 60. or 80. foote from the Courtine. Now I take this at the worst: for there bee such weake assailants of Houlds, as shall labour two moneths about the winning of a Raueline. There are that thinke it an easie matter to keepe them from passing the ditch, but for my parte I thinke it harde, for they will enter either by night or day. Thus when a frontier towne shal haue stopped a mightie armie so long as I haue sayd, it shall haue quit it selfe well (for there bee fewe townes inpregnable) and the Prince that may haue lost it shall haue this comfort: That as the fencing of it had cost him little, so his enemie shall haue spent much time, many men, and money enough in the winning of it.

Some Ingeniour may say that water vndermindeth the foun∣dations * of a Rampier, and that from tenne yeeres to tenne yeeres they runne out: which they do not if they be walled within. It is so indeede where the water is a running water: but the repairing cost little, as also doe the props that beare vp nothing but earth. How∣beit, I say that a man may fortifie a whole small towne with earth with the charges of one enclosure to a Bastion made of bricke or stone with the countermynes thereof. This maner do I here alow for an other respect: which is, that Potentates & Commonwelths are better able to prouide for the inward fortifications, which must accompanie the outward, & do consist in al kinds of necessarie pro∣uision that want in many townes, though not in whole, yet in parte. And as many are lost through this default as for lack of Ba∣stions. They may likewise spare great sommes, which are spent in these great workes, and with the same maintaine a sufficient ar∣mie, through want whereof the strongest places are taken, as hath bene seene in Flanders. Many thinges more may bee obiected Page  220 to beate downe this our Bulwarke, which is much more profitable to the weake then beautifull to the mightie Monarkes. In the meane time such as shall followe this construction, shall not finde themselues the worse thereby: as the future experience peraduen∣ture will teach better then the passed.