Instructions for the warres. Amply, learnedly, and politiquely, discoursing the method of militarie discipline. Originally written in French by that rare and worthy generall, Monsieur William de Bellay, Lord of Langey, Knight of the order of Fraunce, and the Kings lieutenant in Thurin. Translated by Paule Iue, Gent.
Fourquevaux, Raimond de Beccarie de Pavie, baron de, 1509-1574., Ive, Paul., Du Bellay, Guillaume, 1491-1543,
Page  [unnumbered]

❧ The Authour his Preface: wherein he disputeth whether it be lawfull for Christians to make Warres, or not.

ALthough that the question, to weet, whether it be lawfull for Christians to make warres among themselues, doth yet hang in controuersie, not hauing at any time bin fully decided, because it is hard to iudge in a difference, where the reasons that either party alleadgeth for himselfe, do make it so doubtfull, that hardly it may be resolued: not∣withstanding I dare beleeue that those warres which are taken in hand neither for ambition, nor for the de∣sire of reuenge, nor voluntarily, nor to the intent to vsurpe other mennes goods, are iust and lawfull; es∣pecially for a Prince, if it bee to defend his countrey and subiects, for whose safety he is bound to hazard his life. And in mine opinion it serueth to no pur∣pose that some alleadge out of the holy Scripture to the contrary, saying, that a good Christian ought pa∣tiently to suffer the iniuries and wrongs that are done vnto him, without making resistance vnto those that would take away his goods, or would strike him. For I hould opinion that that was only spoken vnto the A∣postles, and their like, vnto whome it was necessary to haue humilitie and patience in all their busines, if they would that the doctrine which they preached should Page  [unnumbered] bring foorth good fruite, and take roote, because it was not in them to vse force, and that in truth those things which we perswade with humilitie, are of much more vertue then those things which are constrained to be be∣leeued through violence. But as for vs which faithfully beleeue the Gospell, and are not called to preach, and those that do gouerne a people, I thinke it is lawfull for vs to vse armes against them that would ouerrunne vs; and that the sword was giuen vnto Princes to defend their Subiects and good men from the deuouring of the stronger and wicked: and consequently, authoritie to helpe themselues by armes, and through the force of their subiects, to make the royaltie which God hath giuen them to be of estimation; for it is not without cause that they do beare the sword, nor without miste∣rie. Wherfore in mine opinion, Princes may iustly take armes in hand for the defence of their subiects, and the subiects likewise for the maintenance of their Princes authoritie, and that to this intent it should be lawfull to leuy men, and afterwards to make warres. Not that this taking vp of men should be handled, after the manner of those people which do enrowle themselues voluntarily, and which go to the warres for a brauery; or to the intent to make a hand therby: but I meane, that this leuy should be made by the commandement of the Prince, and that the subiects should neither haue liberty to offer them∣selues, nor refuse to goe whither it shall be his good pleasure to send thē within his countrey to driue out an enemy only, and not to assault him. As we see in Fraunce the King doth leuy his Rierban, and may compell them to goe into any of the frontiers of his countrey, for the defence of the same, in which case, there is no Gentle∣man Page  [unnumbered] that may refuse, or excuse himselfe; but must be there at the day appointed, if the excuse be not very law∣full. So that me thinke, these Rierbans may then goe a∣gainst the Kings enemies, and enter into battaile against them, without charge of conscience any way; as well for that naturall reason would that euery man should defend his goods and countrey: as also, because it is the King that commaundeth vs to go, vnto whome we are bound by the lawes of God to obeye, and vnto all other Pote∣states hauing charge from him. The leuy then which is made in this order, and to this intent, is not (as I thinke) reprouable; and so likewise is to be thought of the seruice which the common people do vnto their Prince, which in my iudgement, is so reasonable, that I dare affyrme, that those that happen to be slaine in this quarrell; shall not be reproued for the same before God: which I will not say for those that goe out of their Countrey to seeke their aduentures, what likelyhood of good title so euer they haue, for their excuse can not be grounded vpon any coulor of reason that I do knowe. So it is then, that if the Prince do compell them to goe, they shall be mutch more excusable, then when they go of their owne free wills, forasmutch as we owe (as is aboue said) all obedi∣ence vnto our King; and who so resisteth the King, resis∣teth the ordinance and will of God. Wherefore if we commit any fault in obeying him, that is to say, if we of∣fend his enemyes as farre-foorth as the lawes of armes will permit, and no further, we must thinke that the fault shall not be altogether ours, but that he shall haue his part in it; but peraduenture the gouernment may be handled so gratiously in moderating of our quarrels, that one of our warres may rather be called a threatning, or a cor∣rection, Page  [unnumbered] then otherwise: because it cannot well be tear∣med a warre, for that the controuersie, or quarrell, that those that are of one party haue amongst themselues, is called a Mutinie, and wee are all belonging vnto one, to weet, vnto Christ. Therfore the controuersies which we haue sometimes amongst vs, are very mutinies, and ought not properly to be called by any other name: in consideration whereof, as often as we fall into this in∣conuenience, we ought to vse the matter in sutch sort, and with sutch modestie, that from an outward sedition, we fall not into a right cruell warres: and that we which do carry one name, and make profession to preach per∣fect amitie, saying, that we all are one onely body in Christ, do not become deuided, wholy contrary vnto the signification of our name, and the sufferance of our law. For in truth, in troubling one another as we do, our forces diminish, and the infidels waxe stronger, who knowe so well to make their profit of our said mutinies, that they from day to day do enlarge their Empyre, and assure it to themselues, while we fight together, and con∣sume one anothers forces for a thing of naught. Wher∣in they vse so great industrie, that it is to be feared that in time they will by little and little take from vs the rest which we enioy. And yet there is none that doth looke into it, or if any do fore-see, none that do make shew to withstand it, so that euery one trusteth vnto them that are the nearest borderers, saying, let them defend if they will, and that it will be long eare they come vnto vs, but that is an opinion that may aswell deceiue vs one day, as it hath done others that trusted therevnto, especially those that made no accompt to quench the fire that was kind∣led at their owne dores, as hath been seene amongst the Page  [unnumbered]Greekes, who were slothfull to helpe one another, when the Turkes came first downe into Greece, at which time they were of small force, but after that they had once put in their foote, it was then too hard to driue them out a∣gaine, and therefore they haue continued their maisters, and the first inhabitants were forced to seeke other ha∣bitation, or to abide their tyrannies. The Hungarians likewise looked to be intreated to send ayde against the same aduersarie, and it is seene what they haue gotten thereby. The Polonians, Bohemians, and Almaigns, were long time negligent to succour Hungary for their owne particular quarrels, and therefore the Turke is at theyr gates. Italy, Spayne, and Fraunce, haue suffered for to spite one another, that many strong Townes, Ilands in the sea, and Countreys, haue been lost within this forty yeares vnto their great shame, for which they do alreadie suffer a certaine pennance, to weete, by the courses and pillages that are made vpon their sea coasts, besides the feare that each one of them hath to receiue a worse turne, how long soeuer it be deferred. Truly it is against that vnbe∣leeuing people that our Princes should declare them∣selues enemies, for to keep out of their hands that which yet remaineth vnto vs, and to recouer from them that which they vniustly hold from the Christians, for that for a more iust or holy quarrell, they cannot require to take armes in hand, and in truth sutch a warre as would not offend God, sith it should be but to make resistance vnto a people that do seeke to put downe our Religion, to aduance theirs, and our common wealth, to make themselues lords and monarks of all. Suppose that our said Princes should do no other good, but deliuer the poore Christians, which they do tirannously and outra∣geously Page  [unnumbered] vse at all times, and hinder, that little infants should not from henceforth be taken out of the armes and laps of their fathers and mothers to be circumcised as they are, and instructed in countryes vnto them vn∣knowne, in that most damnable sect of Mahumet, their parents neuer hearing what is become of them; and which is worse, of the members of Iesus Christ, are made members of the Diuell; should not this be ynough for our said Princes? me thinke yea, and to their great honor, whereas it is to their great shame that they do no better indeuer. Well, I doubt that they shall one day yeld an accompt for it, and not only they; but also those that haue any authority amongst vs: principally my maisters the prelates of the Church, who little regard to declare it vnto them, vnto whom it appertaineth; and furthermore to employ a good portion of their owne goods, seeing they haue wherewithal to do it, and very good occasion to speake of it. Notwithstanding they are cold, and make no reckning (as is aboue said) of the danger that they are in, nor of the seruitude that the poore Christians which dwell in Greece and Asia, are held in, vnder the hands of Infidels, to the great preiudice of our Religion, for the which all faithfull Christians ought to take armes in hand against our common aduersary rather to day, then to morrow. And to that end I beleeue firmely, that it is lawfull for vs to make warres, if it be not lawfull for any other intent. Prouided alwayes, that the cause that mo∣ueth vs therevnto be sutch as it ought to be; and that the determination be not to kill those that will not by and by beleeue. For it is not with the stroke of the sword that Infidels are conuerted, and become Christians; but it is example and conference that may do more then force: Page  [unnumbered] and the force (I say) which we may do vnto them, is only that we should defend our marches, or deliuer the Chur∣ches of the abouesaid Countryes, out of the captiuities that they are in: or if so be that the said infidels would en∣ter further vpon vs, or would not freely depart out of the countryes which they do vsurp, I am of opinion that we might goe vpon them for these causes, and make thē a most cruell and sharp warre; and yet notwithstanding hauing the victory, vse them as gently as we do vse one another in our warres, forasmutch as peraduenture they might heereafter be conuerted: and in truth no man was euer reproached for making of honest warres, and for shewing mercy vnto the vanquished. This then is the most iust warres of all that a Christian may make; the defence of our Prince and his Realme is the next. Like∣wise a Prince may goe out of his Countrey to assault a∣nother, so that it be to get his owne againe, if so be that it were taken wrongfully from him, or that any people his subiects did rebell: for sith Princes haue charge of their subiects, and therefore may punish those that do wrong one to another; who is it then that shall forbid them to aske theyr owne, and to recouer with force that which is kept from them by force? seeing that they haue no body to runne vnto greater then themselues, or that is their superior. I speake of a king of Fraunce or of another his equall, specially after hauing made the requests and demonstrations vnto the withholders that in sutch a case are necessary. In which case if it were not lawfull to haue recourse vnto armes, it would therof ensue; that the world would be so ful of vprores, & of those that seke to surprise one another, chiefly the suttle sort, being assured they should not suffer smart for the violence they cōmit: Page  [unnumbered] a thing not tollerable, because the common peace would be too mutch disquieted. I say further for the subiects, that if the King do compell them to enter vpon the lands of another man, vnder what title so euer it be, that they are not to enquire whether it be good or euill, nor are so culpable as so me perhaps will say that they are, so that they do it to obey him, for they ought to depend vpon him all in all. But as concerning the King who is the occasion, it shall be his deede, and those that counsay∣led him therevnto. Then to play surely a Prince which pretendeth to make warres, ought to handle the matter so, that his pretences do not sauour of any of the condi∣tions aforesaid, or else he cannot so well colour his fact, but that his cause would be wrongfull. And suppose further that he hath some colour to make warres, yet is it better, first before any thing be taken in hand, to haue recourse vnto arbitrers, then to be the occasion of the great mischiefes which do follow a warre: but if so be that his aduersary refused conference, or would not put his controuersie to arbitrers that are not to be suspected, and that it behoued him with all speed to take armes for his refuge, and to inuade his said aduersarie, or those that do him wrong, it ought to be done with a maxime, to make the least outragious and bloudy warres that he might, and the shortest. In consideration whereof, a Prince which at any time findeth himselfe driuen vnto the necessitie to assault his neighbours, or to be assaulted himselfe, ought betimes to furnish himselfe with good souldiours, which should not only be valiant men, and well practised, but moreouer should be men of good life, to the intent he might in short time ouercome his ene∣myes, without too great a losse of his owne people, or of Page  [unnumbered] his aduersaties, but as the equitie of a gratious warre re∣quireth. But for that it would be impossible to conduct a warre of great importance soone to an end, without the hauing of very good Souldyers, and further to keepe them from endomaging himselfe and others, except they were men of very good life, it should be necessary that the said Prince should haue a care, that those whome he pretendeth to employ in this busines, should be the least vitious, and most expert in the feat of armes that he pos∣sibly could finde. And that he should seeke by all meanes possible to make them so perfect, which cannot be done without reading of the Authors that haue giuen rule for it, wherein I haue somewhat spent my time, because I would gladly be the occasion of some profit vnto the King if I might. And hauing seene and read the said Au∣thors sufficiently, at least the most renowned, I haue in fyne assayed to shew by this worke, how the said Lord might recouer sutch Souldyers as are spoken of, and to that ende I haue distributed this worke into three parts. The first shall shewe how to leuie a great number in Fraunce, and how to traine them to haue seruice of thē in euery place. The second shall treate of all the points that a Captaine Generall ought to know how to conduct the warres to his honor, and to ouercome his enemies. The third shall also treate of the same matter, and shall like∣wise speake of the lawes that ought to raigne amongst Souldyers. Of all which things shal be so largely spoken, that peraduenture I shall be found too troublesome vnto those that shall see my worke, specially for that I deter∣mine to make ample mention of all that appertaineth vn∣to this science, except it be how to defend a place. For I do presuppose that the hoast which I will make, shall be Page  [unnumbered] alwayes so strong, that it shall not at any time be constrai∣ned to enclose itselfe where it may be besieged: but I meane to make it sutch a one, that it may besiege and as∣sault al others. Which to do, throghout the whole book I haue chosen for my chiefe guide the vses and customs which I do find haue bin obserued of the auncient Soul∣diers, after whose example I do gouerne my selfe more then after the manner that is now in vse amongst vs, be∣cause ours is too far differing frō that Militarie discipline, which ought to be obserued among vs for the better. And the reason that maketh me to beleeue that it is so contrary, and of mutch lesse value then theirs, is, that all things concerning this matter were mutch better done by them, then they are by vs, and that their Souldiers were more orderly, more painefull, more vertuous, and better men of warre then we are, as the deedes both of the one and the other would make shew, who so would compare them together. Wherefore I would frame them of whome I intend to speake, after the auncient manner, and according vnto my small capacitie. And al∣though I follow the auncient manner in most part of the actions which a Campe doth, notwithstanding it is without reiecting our owne fashions in any thing that I thinke them to be surer then theirs. And if I put too any thing of mine owne, it is not without due examination, and that I know that there is some aduantage to be had in vsing the manner I do speake of. If then mine opinion be thought anything worth, let it be taken in good part, for I haue done it for the desire I haue to see our Disci∣pline in better state then it is at this day. But if so be it be found to be worth nothing, let it be then left wholly vn∣to those that I haue borrowed it of, and vnto me. And if Page  [unnumbered] peraduenture the affayres of Fraunce do stand at any time in ill state for want of foresight (which God forbid) let the fault be layd vppon their necks, that might haue re∣medyed it; if they had would, and not vppon his that would haue remedyed it, if he might.