CHAP. XVI. OF ARMOUR AND MUNITION.
HOW well or how stronglie our countrie hath béene furnished in times past with armor and artillerie, it lieth not in me as of my selfe to make rehersall. Yet that it lacked both in the late time of quéen Marie, not onlie the experience of mine elders, but also the talke of certeine Spaniards not yet forgotten, did leaue some manifest notice. Vpon the first I néed not stand, for few will denie it. For the second I haue heard, that when one of the greatest péeres of Spaine espied our nakednesse in this behalfe, and did solemnelie vtter in no obscure place, that it should be an easie matter in short time to conquer England, bicause it wanted armor, his words were then not so rashlie vttered, as they were politikelie noted. For albeit that for the present time their efficacie was dissembled, and semblance made as though he spake but merilie, yet at the verie enterance of this our gratious quéene vnto the possession of the crowne, they were so prouidentlie called to remembrance, and such spéedie reformation sought of all hands for the redresse of this inconuenience, that our countrie was sooner furnished with armour and munition, from diuerse parts of the maine (beside great plentie that was forged here at home) than our enimies could get vnderstanding of anie such prouision to be made. By this policie also was the no small hope conceiued by Spaniards vtterlie cut off, who of open fréends being now become our secret enimies, and thereto watching a time wherein to atchieue some heauie exploit against vs and our countrie, did therevpon change their purposes, whereby England obteined rest, that otherwise might haue béene sure of sharpe and cruell wars. Thus a Spanish word vttered by one man at one time, ouerthrew or at the least wise hindered sundrie priuie practises of manie at another. In times past the chéefe force of England consisted in their long bowes. But now we haue in maner generallie giuen ouer that kind of artillerie, and for long bowes in déed doo practise to shoot compasse for our pastime: which kind of shooting can neuer yéeld anie smart stroke, nor beat downe our enimies, as our countrie men were woont to doo at euerie time of néed. Certes the Frenchmen and Rutters deriding our new archerie in respect of their corslets, will not let in open skirmish, if anie leisure serue, to turne vp their tailes and crie; Shoote English, and all bicause our strong shooting is decaied and laid in bed. But if some of our Englishmen now liued that serued king Edward the third in his warres with France, the bréech of such a varlet should haue beene nailed to his bum with one arrow, and an other fethered in his bowels, before he should haue turned about to sée who shot the first. But as our shooting is thus in manner vtterlie decaied among vs one waie, so our countrie men wex skilfull in sundrie other points, as in shooting in small péeces, the caliuer, and handling of the pike, in the seuerall vses whereof they are become verie expert.
Our armour differeth not from that of other nations, and therefore consisteth of corslets, almaine riuets, shirts of maile, iackes quilted and couered ouer with leather, fustian, or canuas, ouer thicke plates of iron that are sowed in the same, & of which there is no towne or village that hath not hir conuenient furniture. The said armour and munition likewise is kept in one seuerall place of euerie towne, appointed by the consent of the whole parish, where it is alwaies readie to be had and worne within an houres warning. Sometime also it is occupied, when it pleaseth the magistrate either to view the able men, & take note of the well kéeping of the same, or finallie to sée those that are inrolled to exercise each one his seuerall weapon, at the charge of the townesmen of each parish according to his appointment. Certes there is almost no village so poore in England (be it neuer so small) that hath not sufficient furniture in a readinesse to set foorth thrée or foure soldiors, as one archer, one gunner, one pike, & a bilman at the least. No there is not so much wanting as their verie liueries and caps, which are least to be accounted of, if anie hast required: so that if this good order may continue, it shall be vnpossible for the sudden enimie to find vs vnprouided.
As for able men for seruice, thanked be God, we are not without good store, for by the musters taken 1574 and 1575, our number amounted to 1172674, and yet were they not so narrowlie taken, but that a third part of this like multitude was left vnbilled and vncalled. What store of munition and armour the quéenes maiestie hath in hir storehouses, it lieth not in me to yéeld account, sith I suppose the same to be infinit. And whereas it was commonlie said after the losse of Calis, that England should neuer recouer the store of ordinance there left and lost: that same is at this time prooued false, sith euen some of the same persons doo now confesse, that this land was neuer better furnished with these things in anie kings daies that reigned since the conquest.
The names of our greatest ordinance are commonlie these.
- Robinet, whose weight is two hundred pounds, and it hath one inch and a quarter within the mouth.
- Falconet weigheth fiue hundred pounds, and his widenesse is two inches within the mouth.
- Falcon hath eight hundred pounds, and two inches, and a halfe within the mouth.
- Minion poiseth eleauen hundred pounds, and hath thrée inches and a quarter within the mouth.
- Sacre hath fiftéene hundred poundes, and is three inches and a halfe wide in the mouth.
- Demie Culuerijn weigheth three thousand pounds, and hath foure inches and a halfe within the mouth.
- Culuerijn hath foure thousand pounds, and fine inches and an halfe within the mouth.
- Demie Canon six thousand pounds, and six inches and an halfe within the mouth.
- Canon seauen thousand pounds, and eight inches within the mouth.
- E. Canon eight thousand pounds, and seauen inches within the mouth.
- Basiliske 9000 pounds, eight inches, and thrée quarters within the mouth. By which proportions also it is easie to come by the weight of euerie shot, how manie scores it doth flée at point blanke, how much pouder is to be had to the same, & finallie how manie inches in height ech bullet ought to carrie.
|The names of the greatest ordinance.|| ||Weight of the shot.||Scores of cariage.||Pounds of pouder.||Height of bullet.|
I might here take iust occasion to speake of the princes armories. But what shall it néed? sith the whole realme is hir armorie, and therefore hir furniture infinit. The Turke had one gun made by one Orban a Dane, the caster of his ordinance, which could not be drawen to the siege of Constantinople, but by seauentie yokes of oxen, and two thousand men; he had two other there also whose shot poised aboue two talents in weight, made by the same Orban. But to procéed. As for the armories of some of the nobilitie (whereof I also haue seene a part) they are so well furnished, that within some one barons custodie I haue séene
thrée score or a hundred corslets at once, beside caliuers, hand-guns, bowes, sheffes of arrowes, pikes, bils, polaxes, flaskes, touchboxes, targets, &c: the verie sight wherof appelled my courage. What would the wearing of some of them doo then (trow you) if I should be inforced to vse one of them in the field? But thanked be God, our peaceable daies are such, as no man hath anie great cause to occupie them at all, but onelie taketh good leisure to haue them in a readinesse, and therefore both high and lowe in England
Cymbala pro galeis pro scutis tympana pulsant.
I would write here also of our maner of going to the warres, but what hath the long blacke gowne to doo with glistering armour? what sound acquaintance can there be betwixt Mars and the Muses? or how should a man write anie thing to the purpose of that
Maiè musis cum Marte.
wherewith he is nothing acquainted? This neuerthelesse will I adde of things at home, that seldome shall you sée anie of my countriemen aboue eightéene or twentie yéeres old to go without a dagger at the least at his backe or by his side, although they be aged burgesses or magistrates of anie citie, who in appeerance are most exempt from brabling and contention. Our nobilitie weare commonlie swords or rapiers with their daggers, as dooth euerie common seruing man also that followeth his lord and master. Some desperate cutters we haue in like sort, which carrie two daggers or two rapiers in a sheath alwaies about them, wherewith in euerie dronken fraie they are knowen to worke much mischiefe; their swords & daggers also are of a great length, and longer than the like vsed in anie other countrie, whereby ech one pretendeth to haue the more aduantage of his enimie. But as manie orders haue béene taken for the intollerable length of these weapons; so I sée as yet small redresse: but where the cause thereof doth rest, in sooth for my part I wote not. I might here speake of the excessiue staues which diuerse that trauell by the waie doo carrie vpon their shoulders, whereof some are twelue or thirtéene foote long, beside the pike of twelue inches: but as they are commonlie suspected of honest men to be theeues and robbers, or at the leastwise scarse true men which beare them; so by reason of this and the like suspicious weapons, the honest traueller is now inforced to ride with a case of dags at his sadle bow, or with some pretie short snapper, whereby he may deale with them further off in his owne defense before he come within the danger of these weapons. Finallie, no man trauelleth by the waie without his sword, or some such weapon, with vs; except the minister, who cōmonlie weareth none at all, vnlesse it be a dagger or hanger at his side. Seldome also are they or anie other waifaring men robbed without the consent of the chamberleine, tapster, or ostler where they bait & lie, who féeling at their alighting whether their capcases or budgets be of anie weight or not, by taking them downe from their sadles, or otherwise see their store in drawing of their purses, do by and by giue intimation to some one or other attendant dailie in the yard or house, or dwelling hard by vpon such matches, whether the preie be worth the following or no. If it be for their turne, then the gentleman peraduenture is asked which waie he trauelleth, and whether it please him to haue another ghest to beare him companie at supper, who rideth the same waie in the morning that he doth, or not. And thus if he admit him or be glad of his acquaintance, the cheate is halfe wrought. And often it is séene that the new ghest shall be robbed with the old, onelie to colour out the matter and kéepe him from suspicion. Sometimes when they knowe which waie the passenger trauelleth, they will either go before and lie in wait for him, or else come galloping apace after, wherby they will be sure, if he ride not the stronger, to be fingering with his purse. And these are some of the policies of such shrews or close booted gentlemen as lie in wait for fat booties by the high waies, and which are most commonlie practised in the winter season about the feast of Christmas, when seruing men and vnthriftie gentlemen want monie to plaie at the dice and cards, lewdlie spending in such wise whatsoeuer they haue wickedlie gotten, till some of them sharplie set vpon their cheuisances, be trussed vp in a Tiburne tippet, which happeneth vnto them commonlie before they come to middle age. Wherby it appéereth that some sort of youth will oft haue his swinge, although it be in a halter.
I might also intreat of our old maner of warfare vsed in and before the time of Cesar, when as the cheefe brunt of our fight was in Essedis or wagons; but this I also passe ouer, noting neuerthelesse out of Propertius, that our said wagons were gorgeous and gailie painted, which he setteth downe in these foure verses insuing, Arethusæ ad Lycotam, lib, 4. eleg. 3.
Te modò viderunt iteratos Bactra per ortus,
Te modò munito Sericus hostis equo,
Hiberníque Getæ, pictóque Brittannia curru,
Vstus & Eoa discolor Indus aqua.