An Apprenticeship in Arms: The Origins of the British Army 1585-1702

By Roger B. Manning | Go to book overview

6
The campus martius: the domestic
school of war

Walled towns, stored arsenals and armouries, chariots of war… ordnance,
artillery and the like: all this is but a sheep in lion’s skin except the breed and
disposition of the people be stout and warlike…. Neither is money the sinews
of war (as is trivially said) where the sinews of men’s arms, in base and effemi-
nate people, are failing…. Therefore let any prince or state think soberly of his
forces, except his militia of natives be good and valiant soldiers.

Sir Francis Bacon, Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall,
ed. M. Kiernan (1985), 91–2.

The Romans appointed a long and spacious field which they called campus
martius
, wherein they exercised their youth in the knowledge of martial feats;
they likewise invented glorious triumphs which was to no other end but to
stir up the minds of the people to magnanimity and martial exercises.

Barnabe Rich, A Path-Way to Military Practices
(1587; repr. 1969), sig. A2v.

These are strange spectacles to this nation in this age that we have lived thus
long peaceably without noise of drum or shot, and we have stood neuters and
in peace when all the world besides hath been in arms.1

Original Memoirs Written during the Great Civil War, Being the Life of
Sir Henry Slingsby
(1806), 22–3.

Lacking a standing army for home defence, England depended upon a select militia system which kept the more substantial householders at home and sent abroad those socially less desirable persons whom the deputy lieutenants and constables wished to be rid of. The training and modernization of the militia, begun in the mid-Elizabethan period, was neglected during the Jacobean peace, but the outbreak of the Thirty Years War in Germany reminded Englishmen that the realm

1 A meditation of Sir Henry Slingsby as a deputy lieutenant for the West Riding of Yorkshire upon viewing the training of the light horse in 1639 in preparation for participation in the Bishops’ Wars against the invading Scots.

-126-

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