To the Knights, Esquiers, •nd Gentle∣men of the English Nation, that are honourably delighted in the Art and Science Militarie.
THE chiefe cause and principall end of the first association of men dispersed, from a solitary sauage life, into Citties, Common wealths, or other ciuill societies, was, that by meanes thereof they might enioy a cer∣tain cōmon good, tranquility, & happines, whervnto al humane kind (how barbarous soeuer) is naturallie inclined; and the speciall waies or meanes to preserue and continue those ciuil societies thus assembled & vnited,* in their desired quiet prosperous estate, and to defend them from the vnnatural rapines,* violence and oppressions, of their domesticall wicked neighbors, and from the incursions and inuasions of forren Enemies, is Religion, pollicie, and dis∣cipline militarie.
Religion saith Plato, is the foundation of al Cōmon wealths, and of humane societie; execution of good lawes, and admini∣stration of Iustice, (which is rightly to be called pollicie) is the fountaine of felicitie: And the exercise of Armes and of the Art and discipline militarie, is the maintainer of peace, and ground of securitie; without these and euery one of these, no kingdome can continue, and the Common wealth where they are with good order established, doth prosper and flourish: For ouerpassing the commoditie and necessitie of Religion and pollicie, to be dilated of by Diuines and states-men, as more a∣greeable to their profession, and impertinent to my present purpose: Concerning the Art and science Militarie, this may I boldly & trulie write and affirme: that by the exercise ther∣of all Empires, kingdomes, and Common wealthes haue come to their height and soueraintie, and haue maintained their happy state and prosperitie; And by neglecting the same, they haue declined, decaied, and finally been made praies to their Enemies.
The Art Militarie it was, that established the Empires Page [unnumbered] of the Egyptians, Assirians, Medes, Persians, & Grecians; and that inlarged the dominions of the Romains to so wonder∣ful greatnesse: This Art it was, by the which great Alexan∣der with a handful of souldiors (as they may be tearmed) did vanquish infinit Armies, and did conquer a great part of the world▪ and beyond the hope & expectation of almen, did march vnto the v•most parts of the Earth then known, And the neg∣lecting thereof againe, hath beene the decay and ruine both of those and many other most noble Empires and Kingdomes, and hath caused the losse of all Greece, and a great part of the Ro∣maine Empire; and without the great grace & especiall good∣nesse of Almighty God, wil be the ruine of the rest.* By men of Warre (saith Aristotle) Common wealths are conserued, and that the Art Militarie should be alwaies practised in any well ordered kingdome, it is both profitable and necessarie: which Gelon king of Scicilie wel knowing and considering, & that people vnpractised in Armes through idlenesse and want of experience incur danger to be subdued: He caused often in his kingdome rumors of warres, and inuasions of Enemies to bee raised, and therevpon made present preparation of resistance, leuied souldiors, trained and exercised them in al points of mi∣litarie discipline, and led them foorth in warlike order some certen daies march, towards the sea coast, as though hee in∣tended presentlie to giue battle to his enemies inuauding; but his souldiors expecting the enemies, and when they should fight, he emploied them in certaine labors and trauailes, such as he thought conuenient, saying, that in performing the same, they should both ouercome sloth and Idlenesse, two mortal E∣nemies of the common wealth; and that their enemies besides, vnderstanding how they were void of Idlenesse, and exerci∣sed in Armes, would neuer haue the boldnesse to inuade them.
The like prouident care haue diuers other noble kings, Em∣perors and gouernors of Common wealthes had, for the conti∣nual exercise of their people in matters militarie, both for the continuance of their owne estates, and to the terror of their enemies vpon iust occasions of iniuries offred. But seeing at this present day the contrarie, and that the a•ncient and true Page [unnumbered] knowledge of discipline militarie is in most parts of Christen∣dome by ciuil Warres corrupted and greatly decaied, I, for the benefit of my Countrie and Nation, wherevnto I wish a•pros∣peritie and happinesse, and for the commoditie of you Gentle∣men, vnto whom matiers and affaires of Armes, and also of Iustice, do most properlie appertaine, haue with some labour and pains, collected and set downe in this treatise, Certen or∣ders, instructions, and obseruations Militarie, the most of which in seruices of diuers warres vnder notable Captaines, of diuers Nations I haue seen practised, & the rest by reading of diuers histories, I haue other wise obserued: giuing you therewithal to vnderstand, that my intent & purpose is not to treat in this booke generally of all matters militarie by lande which are in•inite; for I handle not therein the approching & and besieging of Citties, and places for•ified, nor the forming and fortifieng of Campes, nor the lodging and disl•dging of ar∣mies, nor the making of Bridges ouer riuers to passe ouer Armies, nor in•inite other ma•ters and stratagems milita∣rie: Al which (some at one time, and some at another) haue beene very wel written off by many principall Captaines and gentlemen of diuers Nations, and some of them also handled by me in some other Books of mine that I haue composed, which I haue not as yet put in print.
But in this booke I haue begun and chieflie handled (as the Reader may see) the reducing of footmen and horsemen into their simple and single order of rankes from point to point, and after how to reduce them into many forms of troups, squadrōs, & battles in the field, & that (chieflie) to the intent to enter into skirmish & to giue battle with the most aduantage, which of al other matters military are of greatest importance, to work the highest effects in the field, by reason that thereby great victories are atchieued, and sometimes Empires, Kingdomes and dominions conquered: And for most of al those matters that I haue written of, I haue alledg•d manie reasons to forti∣fie and prooue the same: All which not withstanding, I doubt not, but that in reading a•d perusing of this my treatise, in this malicious time, there •ill bee some found cast in the mould of that good fellow, who going to another mans house, vsed to ca∣rie Page [unnumbered] both his eies in his head, and returning home to his owne, put them vp in his pocket; Many I meane that will find fault, for one that will commend: and some (as saint Ierome wri∣teth vpon the like occasion) that wil curiouslie search and sift euery sentence, clause, word and sillable, yea and the very let∣ters of my writing, and then censure both my worke and my selfe according to their Mydaslie iudgement; But as Pindarus answered a king of Sparta, it is one of the easiest things in the world to find fault. Sed ecquid habent melius? let them be∣ware least in passing aboue the slipper, and in correcting the shadowes of Apelles picture, the boies that grinde collours laugh them not to scorne, who so long as they hold their peace thinke them by their gaie and golden garmentes to be goodlie fellowes.
But leauing enuie to worke vpon hir owne intrailes, & set∣ting light of the malice of detractors, to you the honourable gentlemen of my Countrey, for whose good I composed and im∣printed these discourses, and to whom with a sincere affection & deuotion I cōmend and present it; I say and protest that if it may find at your handes that fauorable acceptance and friendlie allowance that I expect it shall, and worke withal that desired effect that I hope it will; I shal eesteeme my labours and trauels well imploied, and my selfe for the same euerie waies abundant∣lie satisfied.
From my house at Badewe in Essex this first of May. 1594.
Your louing friend Io. Smithe.