Of the first progresse of both the armies, when being in their prime they sought with like desire to fight.
AFter the ouerthrowe of Mouuans the Catho∣licke* armie retired to Chastellerault, fearing least the Protestants being so mightie would come vpon them in some bad ground. There was also the Duke of Anieow who brought other power very resolute in that their Cap∣taine to whome they bare great honor and re∣uerence was such a Prince. And in my opinion there had not of long time bene seene so many Frenchmen in both the armies. The Prince of Condé his places furnished, had in his eighteene thousand Harquebuziers and three thousand good horse: and I take that in Monsiers were at the least eighteene thousand Souldiers and foure thousand Speares, besides the Suitzers: so as on both sides might haue bene found aboue fiue and thirtie thousand Frenchmen, all trayned, and peraduenture as bould Souldiers as any in Christendome. The Protestants finding themselues strong would haue sought to ioyne, and came within two leagues of Chastellerault: But the Prince hauing aduice that the other campe was planted vppon a strong ground almost enuironed with a small marish, whereto was in some places adioyned a slight Trench, ment not rashly to attempt any thing, but sought meanes to drawe them foorth to battell. Hereto was he enuited by the heate that he perceiued in his souldiers: likewise by his great number, for he doubted that such an armie wanting pay would not long continue great, as also that the sharpenesse of winter would soone deminish it. It may be that in the Catholike army some of these considerations might likewise take place. But there was a good vniformity in this, that both the generalls were touched with equall desire to ioyne and like purpose each to goe liue vpon his enemies land, so to preserue his owne from the ex∣treeme spoyle which whole armies doe make.
Page 419 Thus they both raised their campes and tooke their way to Lu∣signan,* neere whereto was a small quarter of land, good in all per∣fection, where each entended to lodge: and albeit they were both neere together, yet could neither heare newes of other, which is not very straunge, for we see it many times come so to passe. Both parties therefore hauing appoynted their generall meeting at a great borowe named Pamprow, plentifull in victualles, the Mar∣shals of both the campes came thether much about one time with their troopes, from whence they beate each other forward and back∣ward twise or thrise, so desirous was euery man to catch that bone to knawe vpon, which in the ende was giuen ouer. Howbeit, ei∣ther of them knowing very well that they should haue support, stood stiffe, and would not flee but retired a quarter of a league of, where they set themselues in battaile aray: Afterward came the Lord Admirall and d'Andelot with fiue Cornets of horse onely, and on the behalfe of the Catholickes came seauen or eight hun∣dred Speares. It is now, sayd the Lord Admirall, no speaking of lod∣ging but of fighting: and with all speede aduertised the Prince, who was a long league of, to set forwarde, in the meane time he would set a good face on the matter. He commaunded them to stand in a∣ray vpon a small rising, so to take from the enemies the viewe of a valley least they should discouer him: and this did he to the ende to make thē think that we had some great power both of horsemen & footmen hidden therein. Being thus in aray within a Canon shot each of other, he willed a Captaine of harquebuziers on horseback to set forwarde fiue hundred paces, and to stay neere to a hedge, which he did: But as these people albeit they can discharge run∣ning are not neuerthelesse skilfull souldiers, so had they not stayed there sixe paternosters while but halfe of them moued to skirmish, and after marched their whole Cornet to support them: The ene∣mies seeing this, imagined they would haue comen to them, which made them to close themselues & with three or foure great troopes of Speares begin to set forward. Truely at that time I saw these two Captaines very sorie that they had not foreseene the folly of that foole, but more because they wist not what counsaile to take, seeing their enemies much stronger then themselues: Howbeit, when they came to conclude, each of them concluded otherwise then his nature or custome did import. The Lord of Andelot who neuer found any thing too hot, sayd that they ought to retire the pace: that the enemie being the stronger would giue vs the foyle: Page 420 and that wee should not respect the shame, considering that he that scapeth the perill, besides the profite that he reapeth doth al∣so enioy the honor. The Lord Admirall, a man of great conside∣ration, was obstinatly bent to abide, saying that it was neces∣sarie with a good countenance to hide our weakenesse, and imme∣diatly sent to reuoke the harquebuziers, wherevpon the enemie stayed.
Now, albeit this counsaile was profitable, yet was the Lord of Andelots the surer and to be preferred; at the least in my opinion, * who thought it good to rehearse this small action somewhat at large, to the ende that such as would bee instructed in deedes of armes may reape this fruite, viz. When any action of importance commeth in question to remoue the Argolets out of the front, and in their place to commit some warie Captaine accompanied with good Speares: For he that hath this place is a guide to the rest; and vpon his aduice they all doe mooue, and who doth otherwise doth erre as he who marching in an vnknowne countrie doe com∣mit the conduct to such a guide as knoweth not the way. Herein wee may also note that albeit there bee no ielouzie betweene Cap∣taines, yet, euen in a very euident, matter wee shall see contrarietie of opinions. But herein my most wonder is that each of them contraried his naturall disposition and vsuall maner of procee∣dings. For the one being as actiue as a Marcellus determined ve∣rie wisely: and the other slawe and very consideratiue as a Fabius did giue a very aduenterous opinion. To reporte the cause hereof I cannot, except that vppon sudden motions men doe not alwaies obserue the order accustomed in their actions. Wee may also see how bouldnesse sometime standeth vs in steade: But according to the prouerbe, These things may well bee done once, but it is not good to vse them often in respect of the daunger. I did since aske the Lord of Martigues, who commanded ouer this troope of speares, whether be knewe that the Lordes Admirall and Andelot were among these fiue Cornets▪ He tould me no, for had he knowne it it should haue cost them all their liues but they would haue had them quicke or dead: and that they tooke them to haue bene the Marshals of the lodgings troopes, which also they would haue charged, had it not bene for a doubt least they had bene supported by a maine power of harquebuzerie, which to their seeming appea∣red in a village behinde, who in deede were but varlets that at∣tended the comming of their foo•men.
Page 421 Within one houre after each parte looked for a greater game: * for on all sides they might discerne the Footmens Ensignes come in•arthing on with the squadrons of horsemen, and it was late be∣fore all were come, so as there was nothing done but a great skir∣mish; which the night brake of. There was but the Catholikes〈…〉ntguard who seeing the match but euill made of them onely against the Protestants whole campe vsed a proper pollicie where∣with to make vs suppose that their maine battaile had bene there: for they caused the Drammes of their French Regiments to strike vp after the Suitzers maner: which confirmed our opinion that their whole power was present, neither was there any speech but of battaile in the morning. As also they charged that none of their bands should straggle foorth: likewise that they should in fight stande onely vppon the defensiue, least by the taking of any prisoner the trueth might bee reuealed: all this if wee had kno∣wen they had bene set vppon the same night. They strooke vp the watch and caused to make great fires, but hauing taken their repaist with small noyse they departed, some to Iasnueil where Monsiere was lodged with the battaile, and the rest to the Bor∣rowe of Sansay which is but a league of. At three of the clocke af∣ter midnight was the Prince aduertised of their departure, and at fine followed vppon their tayle with his whole power, doubting that all theirs was not come thether. Thus doe wee in one day see two braue occasions lost, the first by the Catholikes, the se∣cond by the Protestants, albeit neither of them are greatly to bée blamed, as being hard to bee discouered at the instant, and in two or three houres they were past. True it is that some aduice would haue bewrayed them at the full, but this is a benefite of good happe which dependeth not vpon the sufficiencie of the Cap∣taines.
All that I haue reported of the former day is yet but a small * matter in respect of that which happened the next day at Iasnueil, and it seemeth yt the guider of all things purposed for certaine daies to laugh to skorne so many excellent Captaines there present: for many things which then happened and fell out were rather by chaunce and in a maner vnlookedfor, then through any counsaile. The Protestants were determined to follow the enemie euen into ye bodie of his armie, also to fight with him whersoeuer they might find him. Herevpō the L. Admiral followed their steps which were euident enough, and the Prince marched after. But where as there Page 422 were two waies, the one leading to the borowe of Sansay, the other to Iasnueil, the Prince through a mist that arose afore breake of day, strayed and tooke the way to Iasnueil. The forefront which being strong, the Lord Admirall had set before him, about eight of the clocke in the morning came vpon the borowe of Sansay, where fiue or sixe hundred horse were lodged, who were forced to retire more then the pace, lost all their cariages, and were pursued very farre. In the meane time the Prince continuing the way that he had taken, after he had marched two leagues lighted vpon the fore∣front of Monsiers armie, not hearing any newes of his aduant-guard. Then seeing himselfe beset, he thought it best to set a good countenance, and seeing the countrie was strong, he placed his Harquebuziers, who were aboue twelue thousand, formost and be∣gan the skirmish: he also sent word to the Admirall (albeit he wi•• not where he was) that he had bene forced to make as if he would fight, seeing himselfe so neere the enemie, willing him with all di∣ligence to returne to him. Before the messenger was in the midde way, the Lord Admirall heard the Canon rore, wherevpon he doubted of that which was happened, and marched toward the noyse with all that he could gather: but when he came to the place the Sunne was going downe, whereby they could haue no time to consult, discouer, or enterprise any matter in grosse: But al went away in great skirmishes as braue as any that had bene seene of long time, which somewhat amazed Monsiers armie by reason it stood vpon a very discommodious ground, which notwithstanding it still set a good face on the matter. They see not one an other, as being hidden with hedges and small vallies, neither was there any but the loose Shot perceiued. I could well note that our men were full of courage, but the conduct was not alike: for they discharged as it had bene for salutation and remayned too close to∣gether, yea a whole regiment assailed at once, where contrariwise Monsiers came scattered shooting slowly and marching in small troopes, so as two hundred harquebuziers could keepe a whole re∣giment of Protestants occupied. Howbeit, they could not keepe some of ours from entring euen into the first tentes, which their heate cost them dere: for the Lord of la Valette twise charged them with three hundred Speares, and slewe some hundred and fiftie. Now may some man aske, if the Princes whole armie had come with him what would haue ensued? I am of opinion that the other would haue bene shrewdly shaken, for their battaile ground was so Page 423 straight that they had not enough to haue set them in aray: when they should haue come to fight wee might haue cast vppon their flanckes (which was al vpon a strong ground) tenne thousand har∣quebuziers, supported with one thousand horse: Then with the rest of the footmen and aboue one thousand & fiue hundred horse haue charged vpon their front, who could hardly haue borne it. The Ca∣tholick Captaines there present, if they list to say the truth cannot greatly gainsay this, for they neuer were so, pestered as then, as my selfe haue heard euen of the best, who haue not concealed it from me. The night comming on the Prince went to take his lod∣ging at Sansay, which was but a league and a halfe of.
One thing worthie laughter which then happened I will not * suppresse: and it was this. While wee houered, all our footmens cariage came and stayed along a woods side not farre from the taile of our men of warre, and there prouided them selues, wee∣ning they should haue pitched in that place, & making aboue 4000. fires they perceiued not the retiring of the armie by reason of the night, whereby many maisters had but had suppers. Some of the Catholickes watch haue confessed vnto me, that seeing so many fires and hearing such noyse they tooke it certainly to be our armie and expected the battaile in the morning: wherevpon they were the more diligent in fortifying all the waies. The late Captaine Ga∣ries also could me that himselfe offered to goe and discouer what it might bee: but they would venture nothing against those braue Souldiers. About midnight the Prince was aduertised that all the cariages were as it were enclosed and it was accompted lost, neuerthelesse, he sent foure or fiue Cornets to get it away, and an houre after commanded one thousand horse and two thousand har∣quebuziers to goe to the rescue if the enemie followed. The first commers found our maisters the •arlets and lackies camped very orderly, warming themselues, singing and making good cheare, yea a farre of men would haue thought them to haue bene 10000. men, neither were they any more afeard then if they had bene in some strong towne: They began to laugh at this rascaldrie, which for the most part is as fearfull as a Hare euen in place of assurance: and yet there in the middest not of great daunger onely but euen of death, was nothing but mirth: for they had very well supped with their maisters victuals. They came to the head of this braue campe where the valiantest lackies and boyes had set their watch and sen∣tinels, who from as farre as they could perceiue any, albeit a hun∣dred〈1 page missing〉
Page 426 began to play into the squadrons which sometimes it ••••maged. There might a man see aboue 40000. men (the most French) in aray and not farre asunder, their courages as fierce as their coun∣tenances braue, and many of them did but waite for the token of battaile.
Now must ye vnderstande that vetweene the two armies there * was but a plaine fielde without any aduantage, which may make some man maruaile why they ioyned not: But on the other side ye must weete that there had not bene so sharpe a winter seene in 20. yeeres before, neither was it only a hard frost but withall there fell so terrible a sleete that a footman could scarce march without fal∣ling, much lesse the horse, for it was so slipperie that a horse could not passe a bancke of three or foure foote high. And whereas be∣tweene the two armies there were many such made for partition of lands, the same were as good as trenches: so as who so had at∣tempted to assaile must of force haue bene wholy disordered. This caused them to stand fast each looking who would first begin this hazard or rather follie. No man would trie the passage, only there was some small skirmish, and one houre before night they retired each into his quarter. The next morning they set themselues a∣gaine in battaile aray discharging their artillerie as the day before: some also that went to skirmish, either brake or put their legges or armes out of ioynt, and more there were hurt by this incōuenience then by any harquebuze shot. The third day they shewed the like countenance, but could finde no meanes to ioyne without falling into great disaduantage. But the fourth day Monsier retired a league of, not to refresh his men (as we vse to say) but to warme them vnder couert against the iniurie of time, for they were no longer able to beare the colde which killed diuers as well of the one as of the other. It is a manifest abuse obstinatly to labour to ouer∣come the sharpnesse of the weather: for sith euen the hardest things are thereby broken, much more must man who is sensible giue place: as also that which followed teacheth that we ought not, but vpon great necessitie, to make the souldier beare more then he may. For within a fewe daies such violent and lanquishing diseases sea∣sed vpon them, that in one moneth I am assured there dyed aboue three thousand of ours, besides those that retired home: and I haue heard that on the other part there were as many or more that tooke the same course. Euery mans desire to fight, together with the presence of their Generalles, made them to beare euen to extremi∣tie: Page 427 howbeit, if I should not lye, Monsiers parte endured most through want of the couert and victuals that we had. Some Cor∣nets of horse of both campes were lodged within halse a league or three quarters of a league each of other: howbeit when they retur∣ned to their lodgings they were all so sterued with colde that they had no mindes to molest their enemies, not so much as to giue one alarum, as if there had bene some perfect truce betweene them.
On the morowe after the departure of Monsiers armie there * fell out a braue occasion, which the Lord Admirall had before fore∣seene, and was reasonably hotly pursued, which neuerthelesse had not the hoped successe. He gessed that the Catholickes, who the daies before were lodged half along the hedges, would (being got∣ten a little aloofe) scatter into the good villages, which in déede they did, so as in the bodie of the armie there remayned none but Mon∣siers owne person, the artillerie, the Suitzers, three or foure hun∣dred horse, and about twelue hundred harquebuziers. The rest were some one league, some two leagues of. Now, about nine of the clocke in the morning, so soone as the Princes horse were arri∣ued, they sent foorth twelue or foreteene thousand harquebuziers with foure small peeces, determining to set full vpon the bodie of the enemies armie, which was but a small league and a halfe of. They knewe well enough that there was a small brooke with di∣uers foords ouer it, which by the report of their guides they tooke not to bee very difficult: also hauing ouer night discouered and ta∣sted the guardes thereof they found them forceable. Thus they marched making a braue head: and when they came to the passage which was within a quarter of a league of their campe, they found it kept by some footmen, who doubted no such matter. The same did they charge very liuely, but could not force it, & so stayed there vpon the skirmish. Their campe hauing hereof taken a very hot alarum, began to shoote of Canon after Canon to call in their scat∣tered people, and very certaine it is that at the beginning they were greatly astonied: then their Captaines prouided for the reen∣forcing of the guard of this passage: howbeit, within a good quar∣ter of an houre after the Lord Admirall set vpon an other passage which was also as well defended: but could they haue bene wonne there was some likelihood that their armie might haue bene ouer∣taken: For before they could haue had the succour of a thousand men, wee should at the first comming haue set in their faces 1500. horse and 6000. harquebuziers, which would haue shaken them Page 428 shrewdly. About two houres after, being encreased they planted some peeces vpon a rising: and after some shot on each side the colde caused euery man to retire.
As well the gentrie as common Souldiers on both sides did * much murmure against their Captaines, in that without any pro∣fite they were made a pray vnto the frostes and colde, as also they complayned that famine assaulted them, so as if they would not prouide for them in safe & fortified places, they being no loger able to endure such extremities, would place themselues. Hereto was there no contradiction, for their Captaines entents did concurre with their desires. The Catholicks went to lodge beyond Loyre, about Saumure: The Protestants returned to Montreuill-bellay and Touars. In this last action I consider that many good occa∣sions doe fall out when the armies are lodged scatteringly, which should dispose their leaders to watch diligently for feare of trying one vnfortunate houre. At the least ought they to labour to be able with Alexander to say: I haue slept soundly, for Antipater hath watched for me. Some there are that thinke that the readers can gather but small instruction in the view of things not performed, which they tearme vnperfect workes: but I am not of their minde. For whensoeuer any action together with the circumstances there∣of is truely set downe, albeit it reacheth but halfe the way, yet may there still bee some fruite gathered thereof: euen as men may take some examples by such as liue but to the third or fourth parte of the common course of mans life: for vertue will somewhat appeare in all parts of mans age or actions, and this shall cause me yet to set downe here one bould attempt, which albeit it came not to ef∣fect, is neuerthelesse worthie to be knowne.
The Countie of Brissack was the dealer and attempter thereof * during the aboade of both armies. He was bould, and for his age very wise: but his excessiue desire of glorie did euen rauish him to high and difficult attempts. The Lords Admirall and Andelot were lodged in the towne of Montreuill-belay with their cornets which were great. In one of the suburbes at hand was there also two cōpanies of footmen in the rou〈…〉e of a simple watch, as well before their lodgings as at the gates. The gentlemen did onely keepe the rounds euery houre about the walles, and this seemed to suffice. For by reason that vppon the way from Saumure there were in a great suburbe beyond the riuer sixe or seauen regiments of footmen, the towne was couered on that side: On the other side Page 429 there were great marishes a league about, which could not be pas∣sed but in certaine places, also nine or tenne Cornets of horsemen lodged in the villages on the hether side, who beate the waies both night and day. All this so assured the towne as there was small likelihood that it could fall into any daunger. Now as in these ci∣uill warres men haue alwaies had good aduertisements, by reason that the secrete enemies are still hidden in the parties bowels, so the sayd Countie was first aduertised of the small watch kept in the towne: secondly that by going two leagues about out of the high way he might come, without the daunger of our horsemens watch. Howbeit he would not trust hereto: but for his better assu∣rance requested a French Captaine and an Italian by night to goe and discouer the truth. One of them did assure me that they came to the foote of the wall, and with a long pike and a corde with an yron hooke vpon it, they gat vp (for it was but lowe) and about nine of the clocke at night came euen to the Lord Admirals lod∣ging, and returned againe vndescried. He vnderstanding of this fa∣cilitie was very glad thereof, and therevpon layed his purpose a∣foresaid in maner following. Himselfe would with a thousand cho∣sen and nimble harquebuziers & fiue hundred horse depart in such time that he might come to Montreuill-bellay by three of ye clock in the morning, so to haue at the least two houres of night to fa∣uour his retraict if he should faile of his purpose: but in case he did compasse it he should haue made great fires about the Castle, so to aduertise the Catholicke armie which was at Saumure to march with all speede to his succour, as assuring himselfe not to be forced without the Canon, neither is it to bée doubted but in sixe houres they might haue bene there. So doing he should take two notable Captaines in the middest of their assurance, and 100. gentlemen of name: moreouer he should disperse this aduantguard there lod∣ged, which would neuer haue abidden the comming of the Catho∣licks succour, so sore would they haue bene astonied, yea & peraduē∣ture other inconueniences might haue ensued. I for my parte who was then there & haue wel viewed both the inside & the outside, al∣so the state of the affaires do not think the execution therof to haue bene vnpossible: But as it is requisite that God should watch ouer thē that sleep & vpon the preseruation of cities: so when the Coun∣tie was vpon his way to performe his enterprise, he light vpon an vnlooked for mishap which ouerthrew all his entent. For hauing to yt effect see forward with 12. ladders & his men well resolued, being Page 430 within two good leagues of the towne, by chaunce he met with two hundred Protestants horsemen that were going to beate about who seeing this great troope of horsemen and footmen in the fielde, did suddenly returne and giue the alarum both to the towne and to the other quarters of the horsemen, whereby the Countie was forced to retire. Afterward the Lord Admirall caused greater watch vpon the waies and to beate the fieldes oftner, albeit he ne∣uer knewe of this enterprise nor my selfe neither, vntill after the peace concluded. Truely I doe greatly commend this valiant en∣terprise of this yong noble gentleman, to whom the only daring to attempt it was an honor. Howbeit, I meruaile not that the Lord Admirall neuer doubted any such matter, for he must, as a man should say, haue foreseene it by inspiration. Neuerthelesse, it is good for a man when he is neere a great power and such resolute Cap∣taines to haue a double care, and to thinke that the desire of honor will furnish them of wings.