Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/448

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which are now forbidden; and the captains are made responsible for the good conduct of their men. The seneschals and bailiffs are given authority, if authority suffices, to punish any military crimes whatsoever, and wheresoever committed. The financial side of the measure is indicated by a clause prohibiting all lords from levying tallies in their lands without the King's leave, impeding the collectors of the King's faille, or collecting any increment on their own account. The King intends to have an army, to have the only army, to have it disciplined and obedient, and to have the money for its pay.

Unfortunately the revolt known as the Praguerie, which broke out soon after, impeded the development of this plan. The Armagnacs were then sent to be let blood in Lorraine and Switzerland. The warlike operations of 1444 having been carried out, the scheme took effect in the following year. Fifteen companies of one hundred "lances" were instituted, each under a captain appointed by the King. It would seem that five more were to be supported by Languedoc. Each "lance" was to consist of one man-at-arms, two archers, a swordsman, a valet, and a page, all mounted and armed according to their quality. The page and the valet were the servants of the man-at-arms, but the valet at least was a fighting man. The method of organisation is strange, but has an historical explanation. It had long been customary for the man-at-arms to take the field accompanied by several armed followers; the ordinance adopted the existing practice. Its effect was to establish several different sorts of cavalry, light and heavy, capable of manoeuvring separately, and useful for different purposes; but tradition required that they should be grouped in "lances," and it was long before the advantage of separating them was understood. For a time the superstitious imitation of English tactics made the men-at-arms dismount for the shock of battle; but they learned their own lesson from experience, and found that few could resist the weight of armoured men and heavy horses charging in line.

At first the new companies were quartered on the several provinces, and the task of providing for them was left to the local Estates. But before long the advantage of regular money payment was perceived, and a tattle was levied to provide monthly pay, at the rate of thirty-one livres per lance.

The force of standing cavalry so formed became the admiration of Europe. Their ranks were mainly filled with noblemen, whose magnificent tradition of personal courage and devotion to the practice of arms made them the best possible material. In four campaigns they mastered and expelled the English. In Britanny, in Italy, on a score of fields they proved their bravery, their discipline, their skill. They had undoubtedly the faults of professional soldiers, but their virtues no body of men ever had in a higher degree. Even the moral tone of an army that trained and honoured Bayard could not be altogether bad.