S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
The Swiss and the Spaniards were, at that time, regarded as the best soldiers in Europe. The Swiss battalion consisted of pikemen, and bore a close resemblance to the Greek phalanx. The Spaniards, like the soldiers of Rome, were armed with the sword and the shield. The victories of Flaminius and Æmilius over the Macedonian kings seem to prove the superiority of the weapons used by the legions. The same experiment had been recently tried with the same result at the battle of Ravenna, one of those tremendous days into which human folly and wickedness compressed the whole devastation of a famine or a plague. In that memorable conflict, the infantry of Arragon, the old companions of Gonsalvo, deserted by all their allies, hewed a passage through the thickest of the imperial pikes, and effected an unbroken retreat, in the face of the gendarmerie of De Foix, and the renowned artillery of Este. Fabrizio, or rather Machiavelli, proposes to combine the two systems, to arm the foremost lines with the pike for the purpose of repulsing cavalry, and those in the rear with the sword, as being a weapon better adapted for every other purpose. Throughout the work the author expresses the highest admiration of the military science of the ancient Romans, and the greatest contempt for the maxims which had been in vogue amongst the Italian commanders of the preceding generation. He prefers infantry to cavalry, and fortified camps to fortified towns. He is inclined to substitute rapid movements and decisive engagements for the languid and dilatory operations of his countrymen. He attaches very little importance to the invention of gunpowder. Indeed, he seems to think it ought scarcely to produce any change in the mode of arming or of disposing troops. The general testimony of historians, it must be allowed, seems to prove that the ill-constructed and ill-served artillery of those times, though useful in a siege, was of little value on the field of battle.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Machiavelli, March, 1827.
Examples have demonstrated to us, that in military affairs, and all others of the like active nature, the study of science does more soften and untemper the courages of men, than any way fortify and incite them. The most potent empire that at this day appears to be in the whole world is that of the Turks, a people equally inclined to the estimation of the arms and the contempt of letters. I find Rome was more valiant before she grew so learned; and the most warlike nations at this time in being are the most ignorant: of which the Scythians, Parthians, and the great Tamerlane, may serve for sufficient proof. When the Goths over-ran Greece, the only thing that preserved all the libraries from fire was that some one possessed them with an opinion that they were to leave this kind of furniture entire to the enemy, as being most proper to divert them from the exercise of arms, and to fix them to a lazy and sedentary life. When our King Charles the Eighth, almost without striking a blow, saw himself possessed of the kingdom of Naples, and a considerable part of Tuscany, the nobility about him attributed this unexpected facility of conquest to this, that the princes and nobles of Italy more studied to render themselves ingenious and learned than vigorous and warlike.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. xxiv.
Alexander, the most adventurous captain that ever was, very seldom wore arms, and such amongst us as slight them, do not by that much harm the main concern; for if we see some killed for want of them, there are few less whom the lumber of arms help to destroy, either by being overburthened, crushed, and cramped with their weight by a rude shock or otherwise. For, in plain truth, to observe the weight and thickness of those we have now in use, it seems as if we only pretend to defend ourselves, and that we are rather loaded than secured by them. We have enough to do to support their weight, being so manacled and immured, as if we were only to contend with our own arms; and as if we had not the same obligation to defend them that they have to defend us.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. lxvi.