The number of Souldiers that might bee leuied in Fraunce.
The 2. Chapter.
THis kingdome is so inuironed on euery side with diuers nations, ye loue it but a little, that to assure it against them, it had need of a very great number of souldiers, and such a number as our legionaries were; but the charge that this multitude would cost would be insuppor∣table: and on the other part, the pay of foure franckes, and the exemption of another francke scot and lot yearely, would not bée sufficient to make them to be contented and bound vnto the due∣tie that this busines requireth, to do seruice with them neither for fayre nor foule: so that to make such a leuie would cost much, and yet our force should be nothing thereby augmented, for that they would serue against their willes, seeing the payments to be so little. Wherefore it were better to take a lesse number of peo∣ple, and to giue them reasonable warres, then to take a great number, and to haue them the better cheape. And that the sayd people might be of abilitie to apparell themselues honestly twise a yeare, and defray their owne charges in going and comming from the musters they should make, without eating the people, as the souldiers do at this present. And moreouer, if they were called out to go to the warres, that from the day that they put themselues in a readines to march, their pay should bee so aug∣mented, that it might maintaine them in apparell and victuall, according vnto their qualitie. And the Chiefs, Members, and Page 15 Officers, should be maintained both in time of peace and warre, with the same wages that the Legionaries had heretofore. As concerning that, I say wée should take vp so many the lesse: I meane, not that this number should bee so greatly diminished, but that being assembled, it might make the iust forme of an hoast: as some fiue and twentie thousand footmen, or there a∣bout. For otherwise it would bée a leuying of men for to spend monie, but not to do seruice: specially for that a small number in short time would come to nothing, because of the infinite mis∣happes that oftimes happen vnto men, so that there must bee euer and anon newe men inroulled, to fill the bands that should lacke. And for that the sayd number could not bee raunged and exercised as they ought to bee, if they were leuied in places farre distant one from another: because they could not be assem∣bled, when they should bée trayned and exercised, without great expences: and it is a thing necessarie to bring them oftentimes together: for not being practised, they could not bee made ser∣uiceable.
It were good that the first leuie that should be made, should be ordained vpon the frontiers, who are most subiect vnto the cour∣ses of their neighbours, in those countries which lie neerest adioyning together. As if wee doubted the Almaignes, this leuie might bee made in Campaigne, Burgundie, and Daulphine. And who so feared the Spanyards, might pro∣uide in Languedoc, and Guyne: for these are the countries bor∣derers: and so likewise in others. Vpon which countries borde∣rers the sayd 25. thousand men should bee leuied, and should be practised a yeare, two, or three, vntill that they might bee thought to be sufficient good souldiers. And that terme expired, a newe leuie might be made in other places: who also should bee practised as long. And afterward to followe in order through∣out all the other countries and frontiers of Fraunce, vntill that all had been gone through, and then to begin a newe to bring into order those that were first inroulled: and consequently the second, and afterwards the others. And that those that should rest while th'others were trained (for I meane that there should bee but the number abouesayd maintained at once) should bee Page 16 bound vpon paine of great punishment to exercise themselues perticularly in their houses, and together, if they might do it without expence, to the intent that they might alwaies remem∣ber and keepe that which had been shewed them touching the feate of the warre. The roules likewise of those that lye still should bee kept in their intiere, not suffering any man in the meane while to bee discharged, nor that any mans name should bee blotted out, but with the leaue of the Lord Constable, al∣though the king do giue him no wages for the time; because that they might tarrie while their turne did come about, or bée imployed, if we had neede to defend our selues: for that they would be readier to be sent for, and leuied, then if vpon euery oc∣casion there should be newe men, and newe roules made. This done, the king should find that there would be a great number of men of warre leuied, and practised within sixe yeares, which would bee so well ordred and fit for the warre, that the one halfe (to weet fiftie thousand, for so many would the one halfe mount vnto, or very nere) would suffice to make resistance vnto a whole world of enemies, and the King should not feele how: sith that he should not wage but 25. thousand at once, or thereabout.
But if this counsaile were misliked, it would bee sufficient to withstand the sodaine courses of our neighbours, if the sayd 25. thousand should be leuied vpon the foure frontiers, that are most in hazard of this daunger; which number might bee ordinarily maintained as is aforesayd. And put case that this were done, or that I spake of before: wee must not therefore feare that the sayd souldiers might do any disorder in the countries that they are leuied in: (although me thinke it were to be doubted) for that all the disorder that such sort of people can do is after two man∣ners: to wéet, among themselues, or against others. As for the disorder that may happen amongst themselues, while they are vnder their Ensignes, the lawes that are prouided for those men that are leuied by way of ordinaries, do forsee into it; who punish greeuously quarrellers, mutins, and all other sort of people that commmit any crime, as shall be shewed toward the ende of this booke. And there is nothing that can saue or defend them from gréeuous punishment what armies soeuer they were; because Page 17 the King shall alwaies be stronger then they, and they must ra∣ther be taken at the holding vp of a finger, then that one offence should escape vnpunished. And when all is sayd, the Almaigne souldiers do gouerne themselues well vnder a lawe, and do well maintaine iustice amongst them, who vse in their countrie (I meane out of their great townes) a more greater libertie to do euill, then the most corrupted of ours in Fraunce: and notwith∣standing, contrarie vnto their nature and custome, they submit themselues humbly vnto the iustice of a Prouost, when as they haue occasion to go into a straunge countrie, or when as they are leuied to tarrie at home vpon their owne dunghill. What would then in truth our souldiers do, who are bred in a countrie that is gouerned by lawes, & which doth punish offences more rigorously then any other that is knowne: truely me thinke that they would liue at the least as honestly as the Almaignes do, and also would not be lesse obedient vnto their Chiefs, and vnto those whom they ought to obey. Touching the faults that they may commit at home amongst their neighbours, the ordinarie Iustice of the place where they dwell will punish them: as the King his declarations made vpon this poynt do instruct vs: by which he pretēdeth, that the iustice of the Colonells should take place for the offences of their Legionarie souldiers, but only while they were in campe, or elsewhere vnder their Ensignes: of whom they are to execute good and short punishment: but when they are returned, or that they are not leuied to go into the feeld, the ordinarie iustice should punish them. But if so bée that the sayd souldiers would exempt themselues from the ordi∣narie iustice by force, and that through their great number they would bee the readier and boulder to do mischiefe, in ioyning themselues together, or make any shewe to leuie themselues without expresse commaundement of their Colonells, to the in∣tent to ouerrunne and spoyle the countrie, or to vse force vnto any man: in these cases it may bee lawfull for the people to rise, and to put themselues in armes to strengthen iustice if it were required; without whose authoritie, or the commaundement of some royall officer, and that also of the chiefest sort, I am not of opinion that the people should rise: for it is to be feared that they Page 18 would do more insolencies then the souldiers themselues, as did those that lately rose at Tours and thereabout: who in fewe daies did more hurt and domage vnto honest men, and vnto the places they passed through, then the malefactors whome they pursued, had done in all the time that they kept the feelds.
And after this manner I beleeue wee ought to vnderstand the king his institutions made in the yeare 1523. by which he permitteth the people to defend their goods against a companie of henne eaters, which do sometimes thrust themselues vpon the countrie without commission. But for that it is a most hard matter that souldiers should commit any offence but that the Chiefes should immediatly bee informed of it, who oftentimes make shewe not to vnderstand of their faults, being negligent in reforming them: yea and sometimes giue them example to do euill: so that the misdemeanour of the Souldiers doth pro∣ceede asmuch of the Captaine his fault, as of the euill disposi∣tion of the Souldiers. Therefore I say, it must bee narrowly looked into, that those wicked Chiefs may be punished with ri∣gour, to the intent that they may bee an example vnto others their like to amend themselues: and vnto the good to bée more carefull to punish their euill doers. And if this leuie should bée thought daungerous, for the aduauntage it might giue vnto Colonells, who might so winne their Souldiers hearts, as that they might vse them at their willes, through their long autho∣ritie ouer them, and continuall frequentation. The surest way would bee oftentimes to chaunge Colonells, and to giue such charges vnto those that before had made some proofe of their loyaltie vnto the king, and then it would not be to be feared that they should helpe themselues with their forces against the king, nor his subiects, as I thinke. For there is no man in Fraunce, but had rather continue poore in his obedience, being accompted for an honest man, then to serue his enemies to become rich, and to be accompted for a traytor and a wicked man. But if perhaps there were any Colonell that would make profe of any commo∣tion by meanes of his authoritie, the King should alwaies bee strong enough to ouerthrowe him, and to cut his followers in péeces with little difficultie. This inconuenience then need no Page 19 more to be doubted; because that those that heretofore encoura∣ged the people to rise, are extinct, and their Dutchies and coun∣tries ioyned vnto the Crowne: insomuch that there is no man in Fraunce that dare perswade any Souldier to put himselfe into the feeld, to diminish the King his authoritie, nor to enter∣prise against his Maiestie. And although he should thinke to do it, who is there to fauour him against the Kings power?