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.
Of the battaile of Montcontour.

SOme will say that this battaile was a conse∣quence of the siege of Poictiers, because the *Protestāts power was much weakned before: which in troth happened rather through sick∣nesse and the retiring both of Gentlemen and souldiers then by any violent death. Indeed this was one of the causes of our mishap, but there were others, as our seiourning at the borough of Fay La Vi∣neuse,Page  443 while the armie of Monsieur grewe strong at Chinon. Whereto we were all forced, because then all our draught horse for our ordinance were sent awaie to carie to Lusignan part of that ar∣tillery which had ben emploied at the siege of Poictiers, & had euer since remained in a Castle, which returned so iust, that had they stai∣ed but one daie longer, we should haue bene driuen to haue forsaken ours by reson of the approch of Monsieurs army to London, which was within three leagues of vs. Also because we were in a deuou∣red soyle and but badly seated, the Lord Admiral thought it better to goe lodge at Montcontour, where the lodginges were commo∣dious and victualls more plentifull: and I beleeue that as well he as many other were deceiued, in that no man supposed that they whome we had forced to so long a retreate & that in the night, from before Chastelleraud, could so soone haue bene readie to seeke vs. Thus on the fridaie he departed, sending his carriage one waie while himselfe with the armie went another.

Now neere to a village called Saint Clere, the one hearing in * manner no noise of the other, the head of the Catholikes armie led by the Lord of Biron met with ours as we marched, almost vppon our flanke: he seeing opportunitie with one thousand speares gaue a charge vpon the Lord of Mouie, who was vpon the retreate with 300. horse and two hundred harquebuziers on foote. These hee ouerthrew and put to flight, and there were lost the most part of the sayd shot, and about fortie or fiftie horse: This happening sodainlie and at once with the sound of foure Canons that were discharged, bredde such a terror among our men, that without telling who had wonne or who had lost, euerie man at the onelie noise they heard be∣hinde them fled as halfe afraide. One thing I will aduow (not that I will speake it to our reproch, but rather to shew preuention to be a cause of great disorder, also that the hazards of warre are dange∣rous) that is, that had it not bene for a passage which was founde in time, where there could but twentie horse passe in front, and so stai∣ed the Catholikes, our whole armie had bene ouerthrowen at this first encounter. The Lord Admiral séeing this, shewed himselfe to his men & gathered togither his troopes, so as at this passage, there were giuen two or thrée great assaults & repulses of 1500. or 2000 horse at a time: and whosoeuer passed ouer, was soone driuen back: there did Countie Lodouicke & Countie Wolrad of Mansfield behaue thēselues very wel. The two armies planted themselues in battell araye, the one on the one side, and the other on the other, Page  444 within a good musket shot together, where ours was somewhat in couert, neyther did I euer see any so neere together, and not to fight a maine battell. No man durst aduenture any more ouer the passage, in respect of the daunger thereof, for sundry squadrous would haue oppressed that which should haue aduentured. But the Catholikes hauing their ordinance there, and ours beeing already at Moncontour, they vsed it and therwith slue about 100 men in the squadrons, who neuerthelesse set a good countenaunce, and had not the night come on vnder the fauour wherof euerie man retired, we had had more hurt. That at S. Denis, & this came wel for vs. In the morning Monsieur caused to discouer ye lodgings at Mont∣contour, and to tast the Protestants, but he found them verie well fortested in the suburbes, hauing no other comming thereto, where was a skirmish both of horsemen and footmen.

The same time it happened that two Catholike Gentlemen stragling came and spake to some Protestants in place where there * was a ditch betweene: My masters, sayde they, we weare the bad∣ges of enemies, albeit we hate neither you nor your party. Warne my L Admirall to beware that hee fight not: for our armie through newe supplies is wonderfull mightie and verie resolute, wherfore let him for∣beare but one moneth onely, for all the nobilitie hath sworne and tolde Monsieur that they will tarie no longer, howbeit if he employ them in that time they will do their indeuors. Let him remember how dange∣rous it is to iustle agaynst the French furie which neuerthelesse wil so∣dainly be ouer: Thus if they haue not speedie victory now, they shall vpon diuerse considerations be driuen to peace, & the same to your ad∣uantage. Tel him that this we haue leanred in place of credit, & were desirous to aduertise him thereof. Thus they departed, & the others immedlatly came & made report hereof to the L. Admirall who li∣ked it. They also told it to others of the principall of whom some thought it not to bee reiected but wished it to bee followed: but the most parte tooke it to be a pollicie to astonish vs, saying moreouer that albeit it had some apparance of goodnes, yet in that procee∣ded from suspected persons, accustomed to vse guile & deceit, it was not to be esteemed of. This was another cause of our mischiefe, in yt we to much neglected ye thing which ought to haue ben noted.

Then did they meet to learne what were best to be done: some pro∣pounded to goe & winne Eruaux, & so to put the riuer betweene vs & ye enemy, also to depart about 9. of ye clock al night, & so to march al night to get safe thether, because we were so neere thē: but others Page  445 replyed, that these night retreates do print a certaine feare in those that marke them, deminishe their credite, and embolden the eni∣my, * so as it were better to depart at breake of day, whose opinion was followed. Now was the Lord Admirall sore troubled, as fea∣ring least the Reisters should raise any mutiny for want of pay, also ye 2. or 4. regiments of his own dwelling farre off, who already had asked leaue, should forsake him: he knew also that sundry gentlemē of the countries in our possession were already gone home: where∣fore to the end to containe the army in duty, as also to refresh it, he had requested the Lords Princes, who lay at Partenay, to come to thē, which they did & brought with them about 100 & 50 good hor∣ses. In the morning we were on horsback by break of day, to march straight to Exuaux, euery man with a white shirt, the better to bee known if we should be forced to fight: But our Launceknights said they would not march without mony: a quarter of an howre after fiue cornets of Reisters sayd as much, so as it was aboue an howre and a halfe before this tumult was appeased, wherof followed that we could not reach into a place of aduantage which had bene disco∣uered nere vnto Exuaux where we might haue sould our skinnes dearer, neither was this any of the least causes of our losse. Hauing gone about a quarter of a league we perceiued the enimy comming towarde vs, so as wee had no more leasure but to order our selues and get into a little close vnder couert from the Canon. An other inconuenience also chanced vs in yt when the L. Admiral perceiued * ye Catholikes auantgard make straight toward him, which was so strong (for it conteyned nineteene cornets of Reisters in two squa∣drons) he sent to County Lodouicke, who led our battell to suc∣cour him with three Cornets, he did so: but himselfe brought them and at the same instant began the fight where hee remained fast ti∣ed: for hereof it came to passe yt the said body wanting a leader, wist not howe to behaue it selfe, and it is thought that if hee had beene there, he woulde haue done more, considering that beeing without both captein & order it had neuertheles almost shaken Mounsiers. The fight lasted somewhat more then halfe an houre, and all the Protestants army was put to flight, the Princes being yet young, were retired a little before. Almoste all our footemen were cut in peeces, the artillery and ensignes taken and County Lodouike chased almost a league, who made a braue retreat with 3000 horse in one body, neither was the L. Admiral ther, for he was wounded in ye beginning. The slaughter was great, for the Catholicks were Page  446 fore fleshed through the cruelties vsed, sayd they, at Roch-labelle, but especiallie for the death of Saint Columbe, & others slaine in Bearn. Many also of our prisoners did they dispatch for satisfactiō. My selfe likewise in the heate had like to haue gone the same waie, had it not bene for the humanitie of Monsieur, who was an instru∣ment of Gods blessing for the preseruation of my life, which in my opinion I ought not to conceale. By this exploit wee may see that the same roiall armie which we caused so swiftlie to retire from be∣fore Chatelleraud, and that in the night, was able neuerthelesse within three weekes after to ouercome vs, because wee made some difficultie to retire by daie: also through staying vppon the maitai∣nance of our reputation in shew, wee lost it in deede, which is one point sometime to be thought vpon by all souldiours as well young as olde.