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 ninetenth Discourse.

That the continuation of the wicked proceedings of the warres of these daies doe make a iust cause to seeme vn∣iust.

PHilippe Comines in his remembrances reporteth that the Duke of Guyenne,* the brother of King Lewes the 11. ioy∣ning with Duke Charles of Burgundy in the warre for the Commonwealth: when he considered the number of the wounded and slayne at the battaile of Montleherie, with the spoyles that the Souldiers made all ouer the Countrie, was merueilously daunted thereat, and tolde Duke Charles that it had bene better neuer to haue begunne that warre that bred such mischiefe and ruine: who aunswered him, that those things were not to bee meruailed at sith such were the naturall fruites thereof: But being afterward alone among his familiers, he scorned that yong Prince which brought pitie and compassion vnto the Thea∣ters of Mars, where rigour and vengeaunce doe holde their soue∣raigne Empyre. In these daies wee heare some make almost the like aunswers to many that curse our ciuill stormes: for they tell them, It is the warre, and so doe weene that that word being heard should make them to shrinke vp the shoulder after the Italian ma∣ner, and prouide to suffer worse matter. But in my opinion such reasons are to bee suspected, as procéeding from those that hauing no other delight or sustenance but in other mens spoyles, would make men to accompt warre to be a necessary euill, to the end they Page  221 should not be slacke in giuing to them that foode which they do de∣sire. Truely these men are not altogether to be beleeued, least wee confound crueltie and iniustice with equitie and humanitie, and so of an extraordinarie accident make an ordinary custume. Nei∣ther must we print in our phantasies the imaginations of many o∣thers, who wish to sée a warre exempt from the things that of long time haue bene proper thereto, and are as it were essentials, name∣ly, rapine, disorder and crueltie: for in these daies wherein wee liue, vertue being tyed vp and vice let loose, wee cannot atteyne to this perfection.

What shall we then say hereof? For sooth, that to the ende well * to measure the matters whereof we now speake, wee must take the olde rules, not of Iron, which cannot bend, but of leade, which are somewhat plyable, and frame them to the crooked and difformed stones whereof our ciuill warres are composed, that is to say, to our confusions: and then finding what is somewhat ollerable, as also what is to bee reiected, to patch vp againe so well as wee may this house of bondage, wherein so many persons within these fiue and twentie yeeres haue bene tormented: or els quite to rase it to the foundation by an assured peace, which were the better way. I meane not here curiously to examine or way the right or wrong of those that are in armes, because I will not offend any. Only I am content generally to say that such on either side as loue godlinesse or vertue, doe for the satisfying of themselues either inwardly or outwardly, vnderproppe their actions with iustice. Neither should any warres bee vndertaken without that good faundation, least o∣therwise wee bee found guiltie before God, who will not that men vse such vyolent remedies but vpon great necessitie, neither guide them after their owne disordinate affections.

Now in these controuersies and publique quarelles as well ci∣uill * as others, furiously raised through mans mallice, it often fal∣leth out that all the right lighteth on one side and all the wrong on the other. Sometimes that both parties are led by like mallice: and sometime that he which in deede hath the right, doth seeme to haue the wrong, and so to the contrary. As also that sometimes in some one of the poynts thereof a man may be in the right and in all the rest in the wrong, of all which differences I meane not here to entreate. Only I would aduertise the readers to note them in rea∣ding the histories, wherein the diuersities of so many martiall pur∣poses are liuely set out. But for my self I wil procéed in discoursing Page  222 vpon my first proposition of the euill behauiours which are to bée seene in our sayd ciuill warres, together with their consequences. I thinke they cannot bee better compared then to an ouer flowing brooke, which with the vyolent force thereof not only destroyeth the whole roppe of a plaine, but also carieth downe the trees, buil∣dings and bridges where it goeth, so as neither arte nor diligence are able to preuent it. Whosoeuer would walke through France and Flanders might see (euen vpon insensible things) the footsteps of our daily furies, which are not neuerthelesse the greatest doma∣ges, for those that wast our good and valiant men, and corrupt perticuler maners & politique orders are much worse. Truely we haue great cause to wonder at our negligence: which on euery side is such, that no man laboureth so much as to qualifie these so terri∣ble furies, which greatly offend all those that are beholders of our miserable tragedies. Yea many of those that be vpon the theaters hereof, and are endued with some integritie, are no lesse offended thereat. Thucidides saith, that in seditions men may see the image all mischiefes, but in our warres men may say that euen the mis∣chiefes themselues doe come in poste, to the ende to fester them with eternall reproach: Yea euen the extraordinarie ones which were hidden and durst not haue appeared fiftie yeeres ago, do now come to bragge among vs. No yeere escapeth free without some note of treason, treacherie, murder, poysoning or barbarous vyo∣lence: yea sometime the terrible monster Massacre striketh through and with the mightie blow of her talents smiteth those that thinke not vpon her. Oh what straunge things are these!

A Spanish Gentleman reported vnto me, that when the Forte * of Frezin Ferry was wonne from the French, there was a Wal∣lon Souldier, being found there, taken prisoner: and when the chiefe Captaine commaunded to put al to the sword, the said soul∣diers owne brother, seruing in the Spanish Campe, stepped foorth and shewing a cruell countenance sayd: This wretched traytor to his King must dye of no other hand but mine owne. Neither was his wrath appeased vntil he had diuers times thrust him through, not∣withstanding he pitifully kneeled to him. Had the dead mans of∣fence bene fower times as great, yet should he haue abhorred to foyle his hands in his brothers blood. We reade in the ciuil warres of Silla that a Romaine souldier hauing in ight slaine his enemie, stripping him found him to be his owne brother, who was on the contrary partie, which when he perceiued, he was attached with Page  223 such sorowe, and so spited his vnfortunate ignorance, that himselfe ranne vpon his owne sword and so fell vpon the others bodie. And although that was a very corrupt world, yet many commended that furious pietie of the poore Paynim. But the deede that here I haue rehearsed of this Christian of our daies (which is so farre vnlike to the other and ought to be buried in obliuion) had not per∣aduenture any fewer allowers thereof. If this déede were true, it deserueth to bée yoked with an other as bad or rather worse of a notable murderer of Paris, who, as some haue written, began his rage with two of his owne niepes of twelue yeeres of age, whom he slewe while they embraced his knees and cryed him mercie. I am ashamed to speake of these parricides, which neuerthelesse these men were not ashamed to commit.

But being entred this carrier I will performe my race, and re∣ueale * yet one mischiefe which is but too well knowne, for I haue touched others in other my discourses. It is the villanous sacking of poore countrie people, yea euen friends and partakers: for not∣withstanding their continuall labour, as well for their owne suste∣nance, as to satisfie those whome iustly wee may tearme warlike Harpies, yet do they not spare to eate thē vp, sometime all at once, sometime by little and little with vnspeakeable boldnesse and con∣tempt, neither can they be restrayned therefro by any consideration that they serueth ye same partie, or that their deuotion is tyed ther∣to. Uyolence wrought against the enemie breedeth no wonder, neither néedeth any excuse, although there should bee a little mea∣sure obserued: but these are inexcusable, as meanes to destroy them selues, and to bring common hatred vpon their superiours, which out of the fieldes is sowen in townes and cities. The sayd supe∣riours should remember that into this great troope the poore, the widowe, and the Orphan (whom God houldeth so deare) are in corporate, who in their sorowes haue no other recourse but to sobs and sighes which ascend into his presence, where they are most fa∣uourably receiued. And it is a bad signe, when such as should blesse doe curse, and euen plucke downe Gods wrath, and cast it vpon those that in outward apparance doe seeme to defend them, but in deede doe deuoure and eate them vp. These are in part the exerci∣ces of our ciuill warres which daily do empayre: which also are the occasiō that many times the wisest, who do imagine that they haue the best cause, in seeing so many miserable maners of proceedings, which teach to commit all mischiefe without remorce, doe growe Page  224 into such doubts, as doe in maner shake the foundations of the firmenesse that they had leyed. If then they doe sometimes totter or reele, thinke what the simple shall doe that vse to allowe or disa∣lowe of the causes of warres according as they be well or euill or∣dered.

If wee speake of words, wee heare nothing but Gods honor,*the Kings seruice, Catholick religion, the Gospell, our Coun∣trie. All which goodly titles doe binde the ministers of armes to endeuour that their workes may concurre with their words. But when afterward wee see the most part take a contrary course, and as the prouerbe of the Tennis court importeth, play at bandy and scraping, yea & that rather vpon the friend thē vpon the enemie, that is to say, glut their vengeance, ambition, couetousnesse and aua∣rice vpon whatsoeuer the warre doth make to stoope to them, wee must not thinke that they will bee mumme that suffer all these things.

If such a peasant as he that dwelt vpon the bancks of Danow,* who was said to haue come in the time of M. Aurelius to the Ro∣mane Senate to complaine, should now rise among vs, I imagine his speech should tend to this purpose. Oh ye Christians that doe so cruelly deuoure each other like fierce and angrie beasts, among whom pitie seemeth to be dead, how long shall your rage continue? Why do ye graunt no truce or release to the rest of your miserable liues, to the end at the least to creepe into your graues in some quiet? What violent cau∣ses are those that stirre you vp? If Gods glorie, then consider that he taketh no pleasure in sacrifices of mans blood: but detesteth them and loueth mercie and truth. If your Princes seruice, you must thinke ye doe them small seruice in slaying one an other, for so doe you deminish and plucke away the chiefe senowes of his Realme. If religion mo∣ueth you, it seemeth ye knowe not the nature thereof: for sith it is all charitie, the same should induce you to meekenesse. If your Countrie, behold your fieldes are almost all desert, your villages burnt, your cities sacked, your ritches in straungers hands, and your glorie vtterly lost. Seeke then no more excuses to lengthen your calamities: rather cut them off, then alleadge such necessities as doe impose other necessities. This were easie to bee done if ye would practise this soueraigne rule of estate which excelleth the most excellent. Giue to Caesar that belon∣geth*to Caesar, and to God the things that appertaine to God. But when I remember my selfe, how can you, you Souldiers fulfill this, who haue forgotten the arte of rendering and can doe nothing but take? Page  225 Who sometimes doo saie well and alwayes liue euill? What are your troupes and armies in these dayes, but shoppes of all vice, which where they passe doe leaue more horrible footsteps than doe the Grashoppers where they liue continuallie? Your enimies do hate your crueltie, your friends doe feare your sackings, and all people doe flie from before you as from the flouds? Who wil beleeue that your cause is iust, when your behauiours are so vniust? And although it were iust, doe not you yet hazard it to all rebuke and slaunder? To be briefe, learne to liue bet∣ter, or thinke not much that no man beleeueth your wordes, but cry out against your deeds.

This truly were a very free speech, which neuertheles I think to approch so neere ye truth, yt I wil not giue it the lie, least they yt haue * indured it should come in for witnesses against mee, and so returne my lie vpon my selfe. Out of this ranke I will exempt the honora∣ble and good mem that professe armes, as well noble as others, of whome there be yet many abroad. Neither must the whole blame of these disorders be layde vpon the small, whose wantes doe often∣times stirre vp their mallice. For there be great ones, who because they care not for moderating or suppressing them, must haue their parts: & those especiallie are most guiltie, that had rather see whole riuers of mischiefe than loose anie part of their reuenges or domi∣nion. If anie man aske the souldiours why they make such hauock, they will answere, that want of paie compelleth them, which is a reason to be considered of. If they tel the Princes yt these behauiors sauour verie euill, and must be taken awaie with golde, they wil say that all the Indias will not suffice for so many high payes, and o∣ther subtill proulings. Which cause must be well waied. In the meane time vnder these excuses the mischiefes doe on both sides continue and feede vpon the infortunate Prouinces that beare thē, which cannot possiblie be eschued, so long as the mightie ones are so obstinately bent to make the wars perpetuall by keeping great armies all Winter and Summer in the fielde, whereof it follow∣eth that in the ende, most of the men become rauening beastes, the country is disinhabited, the treasure is wasted, the great curse them∣selues, and God is displeased.

If we should call to minde how in the wars betweene the French * and Spanish, especially in Piedmont, we should often see a Cornet of speares passe through a village where they might see banqueting & dauncing, & the people without anie force come & bring them all kinds of refreshing. Againe within halfe an houre after another Page  226 troope enimie to the former, to passe in like sort, and to receiue all kinds of curtesies. Also these 2. troops within a while after to meet and beate each other well fauouredly. Then the conquerer to carie into the sayd village the sore wounded, as well of the one partie as of the other, to be dressed and to lie all in one hostrie, the vanquished vpon their faiths, and the vanquishers in the custody of the aforena∣med, vnto their ful nre, when each ought to returne to theyr Cap∣tains. Thus should we see that these and such maner of proceeding purchased to both nations great fame among strangers, and more amitie than is now to be found among pareuts. This I say being reported vnto them, they would account for fables, because our pre∣sent customes are cleane repugnant thereto. And yet if in any wars ciuill behauiour be to be practised, than in these wherein fellow Ci∣tizens after they haue ben together by the eares in their natiue soile doe fall agayne into familiaritie and loue one with another: which neuer happeneth with strangers: for the controuersies ended, they neuer lightly haue occasiō to see one another again: yea, they ought to behaue themselus herein as kinsmen, who among their hatred & force doe intermingle equitie and honestie. Finally, such as do bet∣ter note pollicie and good order, and withall doe shew themselues most curteous, doe giue the lookers on to thinke that they haue the better cause, who therefore do fauour them with their prayers, and themselues likewise by their good actions are the more satisfied and confirmed in their opinions, which make them the bolder. Contra∣riwise, those who through their dissolutions doe make their warre, (which of it selfe is terrible) vtterly detestable, notwithstanding the cause be neuer so iust, God will not fayle to punish for prosecuting it by such sinister meanes.