TO THE MOSTE
HIGHE, AND EXCELLENT PRINCES,
BY THE GRACE OF GOD, QUENE
OF ENGLANDE, FRAUNCE, AND IRELANDE,
DEFENDER OF THE FAITHE, AND OF THE CHURCHE
OF ENGLANDE, AND IRELANDE, ON YEARTH
NEXT UNDER GOD, THE SUPREME
ALTHOUGH COMMONLIE every man, moste worthie and renoumed Soveraine, seketh specially to commend and extolle the thing, whereunto he feleth hymself naturally bent and inclined, yet al soche parciallitie and private affection laid aside, it is to bee thought (that for the defence, maintenaunce, and advauncemente of a Kyngdome, or Common weale, or for the good and due observacion of peace, and administracion of Justice in the same) no one thinge to be more profitable, necessarie, or more honourable, then the knowledge of service in warre, and dedes of armes; bicause consideryng the ambicion of the worlde, it is impossible for any realme or dominion, long to continue free in quietnesse and savegarde, where the defence of the sweard is not alwaies in readinesse. For like as the Grekes, beyng occupied aboute triflyng matters, takyng pleasure in resityng of Comedies, and soche other vain thinges, altogether neclecting Marciall feates, gave occasion to Philip kyng of Macedonia, father to Alexander the Great, to oppresse and to bring theim in servitude, under his subjeccion, even so undoubtedly, libertie will not be kepte, but men shall be troden under foote, and brought to moste horrible miserie and calamitie, if thei givyng theim selves to pastymes and pleasure, forssake the juste regarde of their owne defence, and savegarde of their countrie, whiche in temporall regimente, chiefly consisteth in warlike skilfulnesse. And therefore the aunciente Capitaines and mightie Conquerours, so longe as thei florished, did devise with moste greate diligence, all maner of waies, to bryng their men to the perfect knowledge of what so ever thing appertained to the warre: as manifestly appereth by the warlike games, whiche in old time the Princes of Grecia ordained, upon the mount Olimpus, and also by thorders and exercises, that the aunciente Romaines used in sundrie places, and specially in Campo Martio, and in their wonderful sumptuous Theaters, whiche chiefly thei builded to that purpose. Whereby thei not onely made their Souldiours so experte, that thei obtained with a fewe, in faightyng againste a greate houge multitude of enemies, soche marveilous victories, as in many credible Histories are mencioned, but also by the same meanes, their unarmed and rascalle people that followed their Campes, gotte soche understandyng in the feates of warre, that thei in the daie of battaile, beeyng lefte destitute of succour, were able without any other help, to set themselves in good order, for their defence againste the enemie, that would seke to hurte theim, and in soche daungerous times, have doen their countrie so good service, that verie often by their helpe, the adversaries have been put to flight, and fieldes moste happely wone. So that thantiquitie estemed nothing more happie in a common weale, then to have in the same many men skillful in warlike affaires: by meanes whereof, their Empire continually inlarged, and moste wonderfully and triumphantly prospered. For so longe as men for their valiauntnesse, were then rewarded and had in estimacion, glad was he that could finde occasion to venter, yea, and spende his life, to benefite his countrie: as by the manly actes that Marcus Curcius, Oracius Codes, and Gaius Mucius did for the savegarde of Rome, and also by other innumerable like examples, dooeth plainly appeare. But when through long and continuall peace, thei began to bee altogether given to pleasure and delicatenesse, little regardyng Marciall feates, nor soche as were expert in the practise thereof: Their dominions and estates, did not so moche before increase and prospere, as then by soche meanes and oversight, thei sodainly fell into decaie and utter ruine. For soche truly is the nature and condicion, bothe of peace and warre, that where in governemente, there is not had equalle consideracion of them bothe, the one in fine, doeth woorke and induce, the others oblivion and utter abholicion. Wherfore, sith the necessitie of the science of warres is so greate, and also the necessarie use thereof so manifeste, that even Ladie Peace her self, doeth in maner from thens crave her chief defence and preservacion, and the worthinesse moreover, and honour of the same so greate, that as by prose we see, the perfecte glorie therof, cannot easily finde roote, but in the hartes of moste noble couragious and manlike personages, I thought most excellente Princes, I could not either to the specialle gratefiyng of your highnesse, the universall delight of all studious gentlemen, or the common utilitie of the publike wealth, imploie my labours more profitablie in accomplishyng of my duetie and good will, then in settyng foorthe some thing, that might induce to the augmentyng and increase of the knowledge thereof: inespecially thexample of your highnes most politike governemente over us, givying plaine testimonie of the wonderfull prudente desire that is in you, to have your people instructed in this kinde of service, as well for the better defence of your highnesse, theim selves, and their countrie, as also to discourage thereby, and to be able to resist the malingnitie of the enemie, who otherwise would seeke peradventure, to invade this noble realme or kyngdome.
When therfore about x. yeres paste, in the Emperours warres against the Mores and certain Turkes beyng in Barberie, at the siege and winnyng of Calibbia, Monesterio and Africa, I had as well for my further instruction in those affaires, as also the better to acquainte me with the Italian tongue, reduced into Englishe, the booke called The arte of Warre, of the famous and excellente Nicholas Machiavell, whiche in times paste he beyng a counsailour, and Secretarie of the noble Citee of Florence, not without his greate laude and praise did write: and havyng lately againe, somwhat perused the same, the whiche in soche continuall broiles and un-quietnesse, was by me translated, I determined with my self, by publishyng thereof, to bestowe as greate a gift (sins greater I was not able) emongeste my countrie men, not experte in the Italian tongue, as in like woorkes I had seen before me, the Frenchemen, Duchemen, Spaniardes, and other forreine nacions, moste lovyngly to have bestowed emongeste theirs: The rather undoubtedly, that as by private readyng of the same booke, I then felt my self in that knowledge marveilously holpen and increased, so by communicatyng the same to many, our Englishemen findyng out the orderyng and disposyng of exploictes of warre therein contained, the aide and direction of these plaine and briefe preceptes, might no lesse in knowledge of warres become incomperable, then in prowes also and exercise of the same, altogether invincible: which my translacion moste gracious Soveraine, together with soche other thynges, as by me hath been gathered, and thought good to adde thereunto, I have presumed to dedicate unto youre highnes: not onely bicause the whole charge and furniture of warlike counsailes and preparacions, being determined by the arbitremente of Governours and Princes, the treatise also of like effecte should in like maner as of right, depende upon the protection of a moste worthie and noble Patronesse, but also that the discourse it self, and the woorke of a forrein aucthour, under the passeport and safeconduite of your highnes moste noble name, might by speciall aucthoritie of the same, winne emongest your Majesties subjectes, moche better credite and estimacion. And if mooste mightie Queen, in this kind of Philosophie (if I maie so terme it) grave and sage counsailes, learned and wittie preceptes, or politike and prudente admonicions, ought not to be accompted the least and basest tewels of weale publike. Then dare I boldely affirme, that of many straungers, whiche from forrein countries, have here tofore in this your Majesties realme arrived, there is none in comparison to bee prefered, before this worthie Florentine and Italian, who havyng frely without any gaine of exchaunge (as after some acquaintaunce and familiaritie will better appeare) brought with hym moste riche, rare and plentifull Treasure, shall deserve I trust of all good Englishe hartes, most lovingly and frendly to be intertained, embraced and cherished. Whose newe Englishe apparell, how so ever it shall seme by me, after a grosse fasion, more fitlie appoincted to the Campe, then in nice termes attired to the Carpet, and in course clothyng rather putte foorthe to battaile, then in any brave shewe prepared to the bankette, neverthelesse my good will I truste, shall of your grace be taken in good parte, havyng fashioned the phraise of my rude stile, even accordyng to the purpose of my travaile, whiche was rather to profite the desirous manne of warre, then to delight the eares of the fine Rethorician, or daintie curious scholemanne: Moste humblie besechyng your highnes, so to accept my labour herein, as the first fruictes of a poore souldiours studie, who to the uttermoste of his smalle power, in the service of your moste gracious majestie, and of his countrie, will at al tymes, accordyng to his bounden duetie and allegeaunce, promptlie yeld hym self to any labour, travaile, or daunger, what so ever shal happen. Praiyng in the mean season the almightie GOD, to give your highnes in longe prosperous raigne, perfect health, desired tranquilitie, and against all your enemies, luckie and joifull victorie.
Your humble subject and dailie oratour,