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 20. Discourse.

That a king of France is of himselfe mightie enough, though he neither couet nor seeke other greatnesse than his owne Realme doth afford him.

ALL such as professe the reading and diligent exami∣nation * of histories, doe with one voice confesse, that most of the calamities & miseries fallen vpon diuerse lands and nations haue proceeded of the ambition of Page  227 Princes and common wealthes, who haue raysed such warres as red the same.

To auoide all the doubtes whereof, reade but the liues of Phi∣lippe of Macedon, Alexander, Pirhus, and Demetrius, with the warres of the Romaines against the Catthaginians: wherein ye shall finde that nothing is more true. And although time by little and little suppresseth the force of the strongest things, yet coulde it neuer much extinguish the flames of so ve∣hement a passion, which passing from the Father to the sonne, hea∣ping the former ages with mischiefe, hath reached euen to ours. I will forbeare to speake of things happened within these fifty yeres in respect of so many people yet liuing, which may haue considered thereof: but of foure score yeres ago Phillip Commines & Fran. Guicciardine doe yeeld such testimonie, that wee may say that the desire of dominion haue caused infinite disorders, which haue disfi∣gured the beautie of politike gouernment. It cannot be denied but ours haue danced at the feast among others, and peraduenture oft∣ner: but it hath likewise soone after mourned for it as wel as ye rest, as hauing reaped no other commoditie of the greate warres of Charles the eight and Lewes the twelfth (which neuerthelesse were not quite deuoide of all grounds of iustice) but wast of mo∣ney and consumption of men. Which might admonish all Princes to undertake none but such as be necessarie, & vtterly to reiect those that containe no necessitie.

I knowe they haue a wonderfull quick desire to increase, which * neuertheles they maye moderate by a representation of the mis∣chiefes and difficulties of warres, were it not that they find them∣selues strengthned and vnderpropped with the counsayle of the young, together with custome: which not onely maintaineth it in force, but also dooth greatly increase it. For assuredlie the migh∣tier that a Prince is, the more is hee pricked forwarde with such stings, as leaue him but small rest vntill that hee hath chaunged other mennes mindes: whereby he entangleth himselfe in many cares and wantes, which he might well inough forbeare. Howbe∣it those men are happie who in the middest of such disordered broiles, false perswasions, and wicked customes, doe guide them∣selues by wisdome and discretion: for ordinarilie they passe on the waie without stumbling and attaine to such endes as breede their contentation. Our good King Henrie the seconde hauing practised and tried the vanitié of couetousnesse and warres, Page  228 was determined to passe ouer the rest of his daies in tranquilitie, and content himselfe with that mightinesse that to him remained; which was not small, but it pleased God to call him. And although all things haue since greatly decayed throughout this Realme, yet I thinke our king hath cause enough (preseruing and accommoda∣ting that which yet remaineth) to account himselfe mightie & hap∣pie, though he neuer seeke with yron, fire, and bloud, the forced do∣minion ouer his neighbours.

By this proposition I bring the ambitious into the listes, who * saie, That the inclosing of our kings heartes within the accustomed bounds, is the waie to quaile their courages, and to depriue them of all trophees and conquests, the goodlie inheritances wherein theyr aun∣cestours meant they should participate: likewise That it is vnpossi∣ble when they consider the dominions of Charlemagne, which as all good histories doo testifie, stretched into Italie, Germanie, France, che lowe Countries, & Spaine, euen to the riuer Ebro, but they must needs blush for shame, thinking how themselues lurke at home & do nothing. Trulie these be high wordes, which in my opinion, doe resemble the furious Northerne windes that stirre vp the greate tempests: for by theyr often blowing in kings eares, they prouoke their mindes, whereof doe ensue the torments of warres which drowne so many people. If they could weigh the dissimilitude between old and new vertue, they would bee more stayed: For as sayth Plu∣tarke in his small workes, it is as much follie to applie the he∣roycall deedes of those that are past, vnto men present, as to put vpon the head & feete of children of sixe yeres of age their grandfa∣thers hats and shooes. But men ought to propound things conue∣nient to that age wherein a man liueth, so long as they bee iust and honest. We Frenchmen should thinke that France is past her grea∣test grouth, and that wee are come to the time of her declination, wherein wee shall doe much if wee can but keepe her well, which we shoulde endeauour to performe, and not to feede vppon her passed glorie and mightinesse, because we are destitute of ye power, occasion, and good happe that lead our auncestours thereto.

Some there are that thinke that a Prince cannot bee tearmed * mightie or great, vnlesse hee ioyne newe Prouinces to his estate, and make his neighbours to feare and stand in awe of him, through his weapons, which doe incourage him to enterprise and threaten greate thinges, wherein they followe the common iudgement, which as sayth Plutarke also, doe admire the Thunder and Page  229 lightning, and make small account of the sweete Zephirus: for they making no reckning but of whatsoeuer procedeth of force do leaue behinde them any thing proceeding of iustice, notwithstanding the one be to be preferred before the other. Many Emperours & Kings there haue bene, who haue indeauoured to purchase fame through their conquests, and yet those that had bene content to take paines to bee good, and so to make their people, and well to rule and go∣uerne them, haue purchased another greatnes, if we iudge vpright∣ly, no lesse thā the former, seeing it alwais profiteth, where the other doth ordinerilie hurt. Yet doe I not meane that a Prince shoulde tread armour vnder his feete, or contemne it, for so shoulde hee but giue himselfe to be a praie: but that he should vse it onely to keepe himselfe from taking of harme, and not to doe hurt to others.

I will therefore begin to shew forth the greatnesse of our king * by the extent of his Realme, which in length containeth aboue two hundred French leagues: For from Bayone to Mets, it is more: and from Cales to Narbonne almost as much. But from Morles in Britaine to Antibe in Prouence it is at the least 250. which is the longest waie. True it is that from Roche to Lyons which is * a straightning made in the middest of Fraunce, is but sixe score leagues. But be what it will, it is a goodly peece of ground & well * inhabited. As for the fruitfulnesse thereof, it is such as all thinges necessarie to mans life, doe so abound, that onely for Corne, Wine, Salt, and Woad, transported into foreine lands, there is yeerelie brought in in counterchaunge therof aboue 12. millions of franks. This is our Peru, These are our mines which neuer drie vp: and peraduent ure from the West Indies which are so rich, the Spani∣ards doe not yeerely receiue much greater treasure. But the prin∣cipall that we are to consider, is the multitude of people wherwith it is replenished: for turne which way ye wil, the people do swarme as they did in the Countie of Flanders before the last tempest wa∣sted the inhabitants, their wealth & stately borowes. The peasants * are verie simple and obedient, the Townesmen painfull, industri∣ous, and affable: also the men that giue themselues to learning both diuine and humaine, are most learned. The Nobilitie is very va∣liant * and curteous, neither is anie estate in Christendome so plen∣tifully stored therewith. More might I saie, had I not spoken ther∣of at large in other places: but this we may affirme, that vniuer∣sallie they are giuen to rebellion: which is the testimonie that Cae∣sar gaue of the auncient Gaules. If anie man should doubt there∣of, Page  230 I would present him the deuotion of our Fathers which haue engenderd aboue an hunderd Archbishops and Bishops sea, about 650. Abbies of the order of Saint Barnard and S. Benet, beauti∣fied with good kitchins, and aboue 2500. Priories. For then did the chiefe holynesse consist giuing to the Oleargie. Neither were it any lie to saie, that at this day they possesse aboue 20. millions of frankes in rent. Who then can tearme that land wast, where in one of the members is so great; fat, and plentifull.

Hold your peace wil some forren sensor say, and labour no more to*exalt & set out that state which hath neither godlines, iustace, weath, concord, martial discipline, nor order. But haue patience a while, will I answere, vntil I make a reuiew of this great and olde vessell which the stormes and tempest haue cast vpon the sands, then hauing shew∣ed vnto your hat the chiefe members there of which haue bene so tossed and seabeaten, haue yet some force and power, also that it is no harde matter to redresse the whole, you wil peraduenture be of another mind, and confesse the verie relickes to be great. I wil begin with deuoti∣on,* which, as I haue said, our fathers (as they thought) did stedfastly embrace, for the manifesting whereof they spared not their goods. The same by the lyke reason should now be more liuely; sith for the defence therof we spare not our liues. These marks although they be good, be not the principall. For the best and most assured in this point, wherin our doe honor & seruice to God doth consist, is to yeld to his holy will reuealed vnto vs in the Scriptures. As for ye other part of deuotion, which hath relatiō to our neighbors, our cōtenti∣ons hath wonderfully indomaged it: yet must wee returne to this passe, that the Frenchman take the Frenchman not only for his fe∣low countriman, but euē for his brother: & grieuing at his hurt, wish his good. I think that yet among our dissipations there be many yt practise this rule: so as if peace might gouerne any time, we should not find in all Christendome any better Catholikes & Gospellers than in France. Some there be yt cannot graunt therto: for hearing any speech of Frenchmēs pietie; they smile & say that ye protestants know but little, & the Papists if they know it, doe yet cloath it with hypocrisie. But I wil make thē no other answere, but yt albeit our nation be no longer the Popes minion, yet this old trée which in the time of Charlemaine spred out such goodly branches alouer Chri∣stendome, may stil ••d forth the like to ye benefit of many. For Iu∣stice, in no coūtry in the world is better established & knowen than * in ours so as the corruptions yt haue infected her being purged a∣waie, Page  231 she will shine forth agayne. And where are there at this daie goodlier portraitures of these ancient Senates & iudiciall courtes than in our parliaments. The 3. point concerneth our treasury,* (which is much subiect to pinching) whereof we are thought to be halfe spoyled, yea, euē of ye cōmon. But it is an error to suppose that it may bee dried vp in this realme. For besides our 4. sortes of Aa∣mmant stones afore mencioned, there be many other smaller kinds yt continually draw them in & make them to fleet vpon the seas. So as, were it not that one part therof do afterward through a certaine hiddē attractiue power flow to Rome, & another through violēt puls into Germanie, we should many times see euen great tides. In the time of Henry the 2. the cōmon treasury was such, as by ordinarie meanes he yerely raised vpō his cōmons 15. milions of franks, part wherof was since paied forth for debts, which not withstanding, our k. doth at this day gather as much. Now would I demand whether a king in ioying such a reuenue may be saide to bee beggered? The holy father yt liueth in such glory & pompe, & princelike cōmandeth ouer diuers states & prouinces, hath not 150000. crowns reu of al yt his late predecessors good husbandry hath purchased for him: for of the patrimonie of S. Peter he inioyeth but a net to fish withall, & of S. Pauls, but a cloke. Those men therfore are misinformed that report the k. of France to be at beggers dore. For albeit he owe 50 millions of frāks, they may be all paied in 10. yeres, by winning his subiects harts, for hauing ye harts he hath yt goods also. What shal * we say of cōcord, which is so great a help to ye increase of all estates? Forsooth yt she was like to haue gotten from vs, & to haue gone else where: but now she beginneth to inhabit again, & to soūd forth some anciēt agreemēts: which maketh to vs hope yt shortly we shal heare her perfect harmonie; in case we wold abandō forein counsel, which vnder faire pretēces go about to kil her, as knowing well inough yt Frāce cānot stoop to thē, before it be diuided in it self, & therfore they secretly thrust it into such diuisions, to yt end to ouerthrow it, wher∣by themselues may afterward fall vpon the spoile. I am assured it would be loth to bend the neck to their authoritie, wherfore it were good to tell them in time, My masters neuer let your mouths run on water after so daintie a morsell, for you may not tast of it: It is so hot it will burne your lips, and therefore retire to your owne quarters.

As for martiall discipline wee must confesse that of late it hath * bene so sicke, as to be driuen to keepe the chamber and not to come abroad: but peace may by little and little restore it to health, & if her Page  232 medicines would worke earnestlie, it would soone be on foot again. Our Censors we speake but too much of the absence thereof from among vs, saying that our footmen fight fayre & far of, & our horse-men are verie furious at the first, but afterwarde can fauour them∣selues well inough: yea, they oast that with three thousand speares they will fire the Milles at Paris. I cannot denie but there is much bad matter among vs: but withall I will aduowe that there is some verie good. But those men are deceiued that will assesse iudgement vpon the ordinarie and well ordered forces of a mightie state, by the extraordinarie & voluntarie forces which the abundance * thereof hath vpon occasion cast forth.

And sith this speech forceth mee to laie open our wares, I saie that of so many our battailes and combats, we haue yet remaining sixe braue Princes, as well of the bloud royall as others, who haue many times commanded whole armies, of whome some haue giuen great ouerthrowes, and both defended & taken townes of account. Next vnto them shal come our Marshals of France, who haue ma∣ny times ben imployed, among whom the Lords of Montmorency & Biron may be commended for the two best experienced Captains that we haue. Twentie other good Captaines of the men of armes may we finde, who hauing seene the warres of Henrie the second doe deserue to leade an auantgard. How many other Lordes and Captains be there, who hauing seene but the ciuil wars, or part of them, haue diuersly testified their valiancy and good conduct. Like∣wise from among our great numbers of Captaines of footmen, I suppose we may well choose halfe a dozen good and worthie Co∣lonels. Hereby it appeareth that we are not cleane destitute of men of command, which is the principall part of our warfare. I wil not speake of the rest of our nobilitie and soldiours: for leade them well and they will shew valour sufficient, neither can anie warre weare * away either the one or the other.

If our king should perceiue anie neighbour readie to plaie with his frontiers, I thinke he might easily make an armie of 60. com∣panies of men of armes, twentie Cornets of light horse, and fiue companies of harquebuziers on horsebacke, to whom he might ode three or foure hundred Reisters, aboue 100. Ensignes of French footmen, and fortie of his good friends the Zuitzers, and all this notwithstanding, the rest of the frontires to be sufficiently furnish∣ed of men, as well to defend in the forts as to offende in the fielde. This armie being in the field, it would bee some what harde to goe Page  233 burne the windmils at Paris, and it may be, those that are of that o∣pinion, will then be so curteous as to be content with the firing of that at Catelet. So mightie an armie, will some oran saie, would deserue the kings presence: neither should it want if any other king should come to assaile him: for he is no apprētise in matters of war, neither shall we at this daie finde anie that with the swoord in his hands hath bene so victorious in two battailes as he, or that in the ditch of a besieged towne hath receiued the harquebuze shot, which maketh me to thinke that he will neuer suffer anie vpon presump∣tion to curtall his coate. Sith therefore he is yet able to bring such a power into the field, there is no wise man that will thinke him re∣die to play banquerout (as some men doe make account) but rather * to be a most mightie Prince.

It resteth that we speake of order which in many other matters is verie disordered among vs. But the kings owne hand must bee the true meane to restore it, which can as well do that as handle the sword: But he must haue the assistance of time and peace, without the which it is vnpossible hee shoulde attaine thereto: for adding to them both his owne diligence and good example, the worke will be performed: in such wise that where now it is called France decai∣ed, it shall be tearmed France restored. I would extend my speech farther, were it not that I remember I may be accused of cogging with strangers, and flattering my owne nation. Rather woulde I wish the first to knowe that as stronge bodies doe through theyr owne riot ouerthrowe themselues: so likewise by a certaine hidden power in them they rise againe, examples whereof we haue enow. For such considerations may make them wiser to iudge of matters of estate and of other mens, and not vnder the pretence of a few di∣seases to condemne a man to death.

As for the second, I should be glad to see them affected to main∣taine themselues vnited vnder the authoritie of this crowne, wherof would insue the greatnesse and felicity of the same, which we ought as much to desire, as heretofore we haue tasted of the swetnes ther∣of: But if God wold vouchsafe vs ye grace to see ye beginning of this goodlie world, it would redo••d to our great cōtentatiō, & after we haue wrestled against so many calamities, to finde our selues in the middest of our domesticall goods, which were almost vanished a∣waie, we should haue no cause to waken our couetous desires, nei∣ther to whe our swoords to goe with great labour to seeke goods other where, for we should find sufficient in our own houses. To con∣clude, Page  234 we must not thinke that true greatnesse consisteth in getting much land, but rather in possessing much vertue, which is such a prize as when a king hath coueted and obtained it, both he and his realme may be tearmed mightie.