The practice, proceedings, and lawes of armes described out of the doings of most valiant and expert captaines, and confirmed both by ancient, and moderne examples, and præcedents, by Matthevv Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe, Matthew, 1550?-1629.
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❧ To the Reader.

MAny doe wonder, some complaine, and those that haue least interest, if so bee they haue any loue to their Countrey, they cannot chuse but lament, that in those warlike actions which of late yeeres haue bene attempted publikely, the successe hath beene so slender, the losse of men so great, the charge so bur∣densome, and the proceedings and effects so contrary to antiqui∣tie: and as naturall affection leadeth them, I doubt not, but ma∣ny are inquisitiue and desirous to know the causes. And to say trueth, good it were that the true causes of disorders were pub∣likely knowne, that not onely those that are wrongfully charged may be cleared, but that those that laugh in others griefes, and rise out of the common ruines might be knowen, and rewarded: at least that the causes of former disorders may bee remoued, and that such prouision and order as hath beene hitherto wanting, may in time to come, and in time also be better supplied. For this cause I haue framed this discourse. Wherein when thou shalt see what is required in the orderly proceeding and managing of warres; thou maiest easily see what we wanted, and (I feare me) shal want, vnlesse it please God to touch mens hearts with a more zelous care of their countries honour hereafter. I doe not meane any one speciall man more then others, God is my witnesse. What soeuer he is that by delayes, irresolution, niggardise, rapine, cow∣ardise, trechery, and other villeny abuseth his prince, and coun∣try: let him not thinke that I aime particularly at his person; but at delayes, irresolution, niggardise, rapine, briberie, cowardise, trechery, want of skill, and such other abuses. I haue no meaning to touch any thing that may sound to any mans hurt or disgrace. And therefore although I haue store of domesticall examples, Page  [unnumbered]yet haue I chosen rather to exemplifie abuses by forreine histo∣ries. My purpose is to doe good to all without hurt to any particu∣lars, vnlesse percase those that liue vpon pillage, doe account the common good to be their priuate hurt, when the meanes of their gaine shall be taken from them. If then thou desirest to see the causes of former losses, or els wishest to know how breaches of for∣mer time may be repayred; behold but this treatise, wherein as thou shalt see the good successe of all those that proceeded orderly, and like men of warre: so thou mayest also see, that those that haue neglected discipline of armes, and warlike proceeding, haue had euents and successe according to their deseruing.

Now to the intent thou maiest the better both addresse thy affaires, if thou hast any charge in warres, and vnderstand the proceeding and continuance of warres, and warlike actions; I haue followed in this discourse the order of time, setting downe those things first, which are first to bee considered, prouided, and executed; and so prosecuting euery action of warre seuerally by it selfe. Those that haue done otherwise, I see they haue trifled a∣way many words without any small profite. They talke of rankes and arayes at large, others of building of fortresses: (that belon∣ging to a good Serieant properly, this to a good mason.) But howe souldiers shalbe prouided, and how they shall proceede, and howe souldiers and fortresses are to be gouerned, they scarce mention; sure few of them know, or can declare. Besides these they omit manie other necessarie poyntes of warre, wherein the safetie of an armie, and a state consisteth. Wherefore omitting, or slen∣derly handling those sleight poyntes; I haue chosen other matters more important to dilate, beginning first with the cau∣ses of warres: then with the prouision, that is made before warres be attemted. For although souldiers are the principall actors in these tragicall matters: yet before wee drawe an army into the fielde, or make leuie of souldiers, manie things are to be considered, and prouided. First wee are to consider, that our Page  [unnumbered]cause be good, and iust. For warres without cause are nothing, but robbery and violence contrary to humanitie, and reason: se∣condly all things necessary for the warres are to be prouided: thē are souldiers to be leuied, and exercised, and so brought into the field to prosecute all other necessary faits of armes.

1 First therefore I will (God willing) declare, what causes make warres iust, or vniust, and what are the effects of lawfull warres, and therein also what solemnities, or circumstances are to be considered in defiance of our enemies, or first attempts of warre.

2 Secondly, what prouision is to be made of treasure, armes, munition, victuals, ships by sea, and carriages and tents by land.

3 Thirdly, that wee are to strengthen our selues with the helpe of confederates, and associates, so much as we can, and to draw what friends, or strength wee can from the enemie, both before we attempt warres, and after.

4 Fourthly, what partes, and qualities are required in a General, and what counsell he is to adioyne to himselfe, and whe∣ther it is better to giue souereigne authoritie in warres to one a∣lone, or to more: likewise what authority and commission the Generall ought to haue: further what is to bee respected in the choyce of Colonels, of Captaines of companies, and other officers of the army: and what in the choyce of common souldiers: what othe they are to take, and how much the souldiers of our owne na∣tion, are to be preferred before strangers: what inconueniences ensue of want of pay: what numbers of souldiers are required in warres, and finally, how souldiers are to be exercised, that they may be made ready for the warres.

5 Fiftly, what things are to be considered of those that are to transport an army by sea, or by land into an other countrey: and whether it is better for the English nation to inuade the Spani∣ard, or any other forreine enemie in his owne countrey, then to receiue his assault at home, or to stay vntil he come on our coast, Page  [unnumbered]or within our countrey: and lastly what cautions souldiers sent abroade in succour and ayde of other nations are to vse.

6 Sixtly, what order and aray an army is to obserue in mar∣ching, and how the same may march safely in the enemies coun∣trey, surmounting all difficulties, whereby either in champion, or wooddy countries, or els in the passage of riuers, or hilles, and straites it may be disordred, stopped, or hindred.

7 And for that we are not onely to offend, but also some∣times to defend, we are also to shewe what oppositions, and tra∣uerses the defendants are to make, thereby to stoppe the progres∣sion, and marche of the enemie: and how to send our men safely forth on forraging, and howe to stoppe, and cut off the enemies forragers.

8 For that oft times, time is vainely spent in deliberations, daliances and delayes, to the impouerishing of many states, and ouerthrow of many good actions; we will shew by many proofes, that nothing is more aduantageous then expedition, and celerity in preparing, marching, executing, fighting, and all enterprises of warre; nor any thing more hurtfull or dangerous, then delaies.

9 What orders are to be obserued, in the fortifying, defen∣ding and gouerning of our campe and lodging, that we be not ei∣ther charged a l'improuista, or easily forced to fight.

10 We will also shewe, that as the assaylants in the enemies countrey are to seeke that the matter may be soone tried by bat∣tell: so the defendants without great aduantage are to auoyde it: and further by what meanes the enemie may be brought to fight, and how those that feare to fight, may auoyde the encounter with least losse.

11 Before the Generall doeth bring foorth his armie into the fielde, many things are to be considered, all which shalbe de∣clared in the eleuenth Chapter.

12 In the twelfth we are to discourse of the aray, and charge of an armie encountring the enemie in open fielde: and therein Page  [unnumbered]of the vse of horsemen, of pikes, halberds, targets, small shot, ar∣cherie, and great ordonance.

13 In the thirteenth shall follow a briefe treatise of strata∣gemes, ambushes, and whatsoeuer deuises serue for the more rea∣dy atchieuing of our purpose.

14 After the victorie once obteined, and the enemie van∣quished, in the next Chapter we are to shew, how the victorie is to be vsed, and the conquest may best be mainteined.

15 And because the hazard of warre is doubtfull, in the fif∣teenth Chapter we purpose to declare, by what meanes an army that is foyled, or feareth to fight, may most safely, or with least danger, or losse retire, and howe the enemie in following the course of his victorie may be stopped.

16 The sixteenth Chapter shall conteine precepts, and orders for the gouernment of a camp that besiegeth a citie or fort, and what course is best in besieging, battering, assaulting, or en∣tring the same.

17 For the behoofe of the defendants, the 17. shall declare what proceeding is best in the defence and gouernment of a towne or place assayled, besieged, battered, assaulted, or demy∣forced.

18 And for that sea townes are not easily defended, nor be∣sieged without a nauie at sea; in the next place followeth a dis∣course concerning the vse of ships of warre, and how they are to be prouided, ranged, and managed in sea-fightes.

19 Next vnto the execution of warres followeth the treaty of peace, truce, and confederacies, of which we are in the 19. Chapter to intreate, and also of the assurance of articles of peace, truce, and confederacie, and likewise of the priuiledges of am∣bassadors, and messengers by which such matters are treated and brought to passe.

20 After warres ensue rewardes of such, as haue behaued themselues valiantly in the seruice of their countrey: and there∣fore Page  [unnumbered]in the 20. Chapter we are to entreat of the rewards of va∣liant souldiers, & punishment of cowards and disorderly persons.

21 In the last Chapter, for that our souldiers are for the most part raw and ignorant, and would haue things expressed and taught them plainely, I haue gathered together certaine milita∣rie orders, some concerning religion & manners; others concer∣ning & especially tending to the common safetie of the state, ar∣mie, or garrison, or els concerning the speciall dueties of captains or common souldiers; others respecting the campe, or towne of garrison; others specially belonging to sea causes, and aduentures at sea; others to the Officers of the army, or fleete; others concer∣ning booties, spoyles, and prisoners; and some concerning the ex∣ecution of lawes and administration of iustice. out of which I would haue so many as are fitting for the seruice in hand to be chosen out, and put in writing, and proclaymed openly and deli∣uered vnto euery captaine or colonell, that euery man may vn∣derstand some part of his duetie, and what punishment is due for his offences.

These things I haue for thy sake not without great labour brought together, and layde foorth in this forme which I haue declared. Reade them therefore with indifferencie, and weigh them with iudgement, and say not this can not be so, for I neuer sawe it. the authoritie is drawen from those which haue seene more then thy selfe; and standeth vpon better reason, then with∣out experience thou canst imagine. if thou allowest and likest my reasons, followe them, and vse them: if not, yet proceede not a∣gainst reason. my only desire was to profit my countrey, and to content and profit thee▪ other boone or reward I craue none, but that I doe not receiue at thy hands disgrace, for my diligence; nor reproofe or scorne for my good will. which because common humanitie forbiddeth me to feare, I will bid thee a dieu, and be∣gin to addresse me to my purpose.