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.

CHAP. IIII. Part.4. Of the authoritie, and Commission of the Generall.

ACcording to that opinion which Princes and States haue of their Captaines, and sometimes respect had to the danger of the times: their vse is to giue vnto them more ample, or more straite commission. But if they purpose, that their affaires shal succeed wel, of two things one is necessarie: to wit, that either they furnish them with meanes sufficient, or giue them commission to furnish and helpe themselues: and that either they doe direct them sufficiently, which is scarce possible: or els giue them leaue to take order according to the occasions offered vpon pre∣sent viewe, and varietie of times, or things. For neither can he doe Page  54seruice vpon the enemie, that wanteth either conuenient force or meanes; nor may he, or dare he take the aduantage of time, and other circumstances, that is brideled and bound by his instructions. The Romanes although most expert in deedes of armes, whose Senate consisted for the most part of such as in their time had bene comman∣ders, and altogether of men exercised in armes; yet did not at any time prescribe their Generals what to doe; and what they should not doe; much lesse howe they should doe, or when they should doe it. Much more absurd therefore it is, that men that neuer sawe enemie, nor know the traine of warres, should take vpon them to direct Ge∣nerals what they should doe at land, or sea: and very strange it see∣meth to me, that Generals to whome armies are committed should like schooleboyes take forth such lessons, as these ignorant pedants and scriuanoes should prescribe. Warres are not made by indenture, neither can any couenant with his enemie to doe this, or not to doe it. Nor can any man conceiue, what is best to be done, but such as are present. And therefore the ordinary limitations of some commissi∣ons, doe nothing els, but binde the hands of our captaines, that they shall not vse opportunitie, or percase further and helpe the enemie. Herein therefore it is good to imitate olde warriers, at least to come so neere them, as difference of times will permit. The Romane cap∣taines had authoritie most large, and meanes sufficient. Their forces were great, their furniture and prouision plentifull. least they should exact any thing of their associats, they were furnished with all thingsanecessary, euen to theirbmules, tentes, and carriages. That which was wanting, or might more easily be had otherwhere, they had au∣thority to supply. All which consisted, & was giuen them in one word. Now captains haue many words in their commission, & litle scope, or authority. Vnder this one word imperium, they cōprised al authority necessary for the gouernement of the warres. By the same they had power to leuy men, to leade them, to employ them, as appeareth by theccommission giuen to Octauius Caesar, that afterward was called Augustus In the Prouince where they made warres, they might be∣side the number they brought with them, leuy other souldiers, & im∣pose vpon the people necessary charges for the defence of the coutry. Caesardto resist the attempts of the Heluetians, which threatned to passe through the Prouince of France subiect to the Romanes, le∣uied as many men, as he could, in his gouernement. Fuluius vnder∣standing Page  55that theaCeltiberians gathered newe forces, he also in his gouernement, procured what helpe hee could of his subiectes, and associates. From their associates and subiects in their gouern∣ment, they had power to take victuals, carriages, shippes, and ne∣cessarie furniture of warre, as is euident in the warres that Scipio made in Spaine and Afrike, Caesar in France, Sylla and Pompey in Asia, and other Countreys. They had also power to doe iustice as well to their associates, and subiects, as to their owue souldi∣ers: otherwise they could neither haue encountred with trechery of men euill affected, nor defended their fauourers, and friendes. The defence of the Prouince, and theirbfriendes both against se∣ditious mutins, and foreine inuasion was likewise committed vn∣to them, and per consequent, power giuen them to leuy power, and vse all meanes for the maintenance of their associats, and for the gouernment and execution of warres, without which they could not be defended.

Good it had bene for our Generals likewise in the Lowe coun∣treys, and other where, that their authoritie had bene also enlar∣ged. For while they had neither victuals, nor lodging, nor shippes, nor cariages, nor artillery, nor munition, nor other furniture of warre, but at the pleasure of the States, some whereof were too respectiue of their owne profite, nor could execute any man of those Countreys for treason, without their consent, it is no maruaile, if their proceedings were slowe, their executions slender, their wantes great.

Further the Romanes gaue their Generals power both to make warres by sea, and land. Do doubt they had also sufficient meanes, without which all power is frustratory. Our Captains in the Low countreys, as they haue bene weake by land, so they depended on others pleasures, for matters at sea.

In later times also the same course hath bene taken. WhencCorbulo was sent by Nero against the Parthians, hee had power equall to that which Pompey had graunted vnto him in the warres against the Pirats. Kings, Gouernours of Prouinces, and the Offi∣cers of the Romanes were enioyned to obey him. It is the vse of all Nations both to furnish their Generals, and to authorize them sufficiently. What authoritie Annibal had, it is partly eui∣dent by his actions (for it is not to be presumed that he did matters Page  56without authority) and partly by the wordes of Fabius perswading the Romanes to chuse a captaine equall to Annibal, a leader (sayth hee) of great authoritie by reason of his continuance, and not restrained by any limitation of times, or lawes so, but that he might doe all things, according as opportunites of warre should require. Herein Demosthenesa declareth, what great aduantage Philip king of Macedonia had aboue the captaines of the Atheni∣ans: for he was not limited by any Superiors commandement, nor restrained by termes, or time, as were they. Which thing (sayth he) is very effectuall for dispatch of matters. Those captaines (saythbLiuy) that haue absolute authoritie, and are free from impedi∣ments, and haue power ouer things and times, doe worke great effectes with their counsels.

Whosoeuer therefore for enuy, or feare, or other cause goeth a∣bout to perswade Princes to pare their Generals authoritie, and to binde them with strait conditions, hath an euill minde himselfe, and as much 〈◊〉 in him lyeth, ruinateth the affaires of his Prince. For what seruice can they doe that are not onely pinched in their proui∣sions, but also bound fast by their commissions? Thec commissions which Charles the fift gaue to his captaines, had this condition either expressed, or implyed, that they should proceede according to the varietie of times, and occasions notwithstanding any thing in them conteined. And some very expert, and wise men haue not doubted, seeing a manifest aduantage to goe against their Princes commissi∣on.dTriuultio although by his directions, he was first to haue care of the affaires of Genoa: yet doubted not to take Bosco, a fit place in the territory of Alexandira. And albeit that Lewis the 12. gaue his Captaines expresse charge, that they should not fight with the Spaniards: yet seeing their weakenes, and their owne manifest ad∣uantage, they fought with them, and foyled them at Cirignola. Where for their defence is alleaged, that the commaundements of the King being farre off, and not seeing the state of things, were ra∣thereremembrances, then precepts to be followed. Trimoille see∣ing the danger of the state of France assaulted by diuers enemies, and also by the Switzers, madefpeace & compounded with them, although he had no commssion so to doe. Of which act Guicci∣ardin guieth this testimonie, that by that accorde he saued the realme of France out of a mauifest danger. And very absurd it were, if a mā Page  57might not doe his countrey seruice without commission. Thea safe∣tie of the state, and honor of the Prince are warrants, and exceptions of a most high nature. And for a man to doubt, to take the enemie at aduantage for feare of violating his commission, as the Spaniards say that the Duke of Medina did in his voyage for England, is nothing but to spreade a cloke to couer his owne cowardise, or insufficiencie.

Yet may not the Generall doe against his commission rashly, or without apparant cause, or sufficient order: neither may he doe all things without commission. He may not proclaime warres, or inuade any nation that is out of commission: onely if his enemie flie into an other Countrey, he may followe him. For in that casebManlius auoweth his warres against the Gallo-grecians, andcFabius his voyage through the wood Ciminia. Also all such as inuade his go∣uernement, or his friends, or associats, he may prosecute without his gouernement. He may not make peace, or treate of peace with the enemie: for he is sent to make warres. He may not dimisse his armie without commandement: nay he may not proceede against the lawes of Armes. ThedRomane Dictator, although he had great auctho∣ritie, and could determine matters of life and death without ap∣peale: yet did not hee execute or iudge any, but by the lawes of Armes. That which in commō termes some cal executing by martial lawe, when innocent men are hanged without for me of lawe, or cause, may better be called martiall force, then martiall lawe. For this hath only place in warres, and redresseth disorders against militarie pro∣ceedings.eFinally the General, whatsoeuer his commission is, may not deale fraudulently in his charge, nor proceede contrary to mi∣litarie profession, and practise: in which case euery Generall is sub∣iectfto the lawe.

Very necessarie therefore it is, that Generals should haue their commissions large, both in respect of their prouision, which by this meanes may in some sort be supplied, and in respect of the expedition andgexecution of warres, which ought not to be hindred, nor can conueniently be prescribed. And without large aucthoritie, neither can our owne souldiers, nor associats be well gouerned. The experi∣ence of the seruice in the Lowe Countries, and disorders at sea, which for want of power haue not bene redressed, doe minister vnto vs suffi∣cient proofe of this matter. Some will say, that it is dangerous to Page  58commit so large power into any mans hands, especially if he should deale disloyally. But what a reason is this, because men may abuse their power, not to giue them sufficient power for those matters which are committed to their charge? Those that meane disloyally to∣ward the State, although they should haue neuer so strait limitations in their commissions, would not stand vpon termes, and wordes of lawe. And rather it giueth them occasion of discontentment, when they see themselues distrusted, then bridleth any euill purpose, if they should doe against their allegiance. And why should any man without cause suspect any noble man, that he will deale against his Countrey, hauing so many pledges of his loyaltie? but if any should be so euill disposed, yet may we not thinke, that all his army would follow him, rebelling against his Countrey. And if they should, yet is it not the force of one armie, that can preuaile against a whole king∣dome that is well gouerned. And therefore for feare of disloyaltie of some; let no man feare, or omitte to make sufficient prouision; and ra∣ther let loyall men be sought out with diligence, and disloyall men remoued, then that the necessarie prouisions of warre should be neg∣lected, or the proceeding hindred for want of aucthoritie.