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MONTESINOS. They were drawn partly from those who could no longer carry on the trade of piracy, which, having so long been a royal occupation, was about this time put down; and partly, perhaps, they came from the manufacturing population which was then springing up in Brabant and Flanders. I have said that these mercenaries were regarded with horror for their cruelties :.. yet war was never carried on with so little bloodshed and so little ferocity as by men of the same description in Italy.
SIR THOMAS MORE. In Italy they formed the best, and generally the largest part of the forces which were brought into the field during the ages to which you refer. And having the trade of war, for a trade they made it, in their own hands, they adapted its regulations to their own convenience. I saw the termination of that system. The French and Spaniards and Germans were not accustomed to consider war as a game at chess; their struggle in Italy was carried on upon a widely different scale, and with a widely different feeling. And even if their interference, which has proved in its consequences so fatally injurious to Italy, had not taken place, the use of fire-arms must soon have put an end to that
sort of conventional fighting, which rendered a battle little more dangerous than a tournament. But there was another effect arising from the introduction of gunpowder in war, which, if Roger Bacon had perceived it, might have reconciled him to the discovery. It rendered the lot of war equal; for during the chivalrous ages that dreadful occupation was carried on upon terms of tremendous disparity for the chiefs and for their followers: the one were cased in compleat steel* from head to foot; the others provided only with a corselet and a headpiece, which could afford little defence against the spear of the knight, his battle axe, his mace, or the huge sword which he wielded with both hands.
MONTESINOS. This levelling property was grievously complained of by those whom it affected. Bayard, humane and generous as he was, and every way worthy of the high place which he holds in
* Bien mal-aisez estoient a tuer is the memorable expression of Philippe de Comines concerning certain knights who lay helplessly on the ground while the peasants bewed away at their armour with batchets. It may remind the reader, by contrast, of the Irish soldier's exultant exclamation, when he was using the bayonet in action for the first time—“ Captain, it goes into them quite aisy !".
general estimation, never gave quarter to a harquebussier. Yet proof enough may be found in his memoirs, (without looking farther,) that the sense of honour is more generally felt in modern armies than it was in the high days of chivalry, when knights and men-at-arms shrunk from services of imminent danger, to which the foot soldiers were exposed with as little remorse as the Spahis among the Turks, whom the Janizaries in old times drove before them “ to fill* up the ditches of towns besieged, or to serve them for ladders to climb over the enemies' walls upon.” History, indeed, and old romance, in which the sure history of feelings and opinions, as well as of manners, is to be sought, show plainly how little effect chivalryt produced in softening and humanizing the characters of those by whom it was professed. If gunpowder did away with the “ pomp and circumstance of glorious war,” it called forth qualities for which the warfare of the middle ages allowed no scope. When this new agent of destruction was brought into full action, minds
* Knolles. Brief Discourse of the Greatness of the Turkish Empire.
+ Upon this subject more may be found in a paper upon the Menoirs of Bayard, Quarterly Review, vol. xxxii.
that could plan, became not less necessary for ensuring success, than hands that could execute; science, and foresight, and combination, were required; and, as the greatest benefit of all, the participation of danger induced a common feeling between officers and men, which had not before existed either in the same degree or kind, and a sense of honour and duty was diffused, which has made the military character in public estimation what it is and ought to be.
SIR THOMAS MORE. The religious wars, amid all their horrors and atrocities, produced some beneficial effect upon the persons engaged in them. However mistaken the parties may have been on one side, or on both, there was in both a religious principle, a sense of moral duty, a strong persuasion of right, very different from what existed in the feuds and factious struggles of the preceding ages. In Holland, for example, how differently must men have felt who were fighting on one side for their images and altars, on the other for liberty of conscience and the dearest interests of man, from those who were laying the country waste, and squandering their own lives in the disputes between the Kabeljauwse and the Hoekse! And it was the same every where. As for the great majority of the
persons thus engaged, perhaps they took part in a religious war as they would have done in any other, because they found their advantage in so doing ; but the better spirits were purified and exalted.
MONTESINOS. Exalted, perhaps, always,.. but not always purified; for those wars, even in England, where they were carried on with least ferocity, and most principle, on both sides, left men worse both in principle and in practice, than they found them. The bad passions, which the struggle generated or fostered, survived the honest feelings by which they were originally put in action; and that which was begun for conscience sake, was continued at last for motives of the veryest cupidity and worldly ambition.
SIR THOMAS MORE. Never let man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul! Any other issue is doubtful; the evil effect upon himself is certain.
MONTESINOS. In those wars, however, the first example was given which the modern world had seen of religious discipline. It was introduced into the Prince of Parma's army by the Jesuits, than