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Renascence Editions

Lawes and Ordinances militarie (1586)

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Note: this Renascence Editions text was transcribed by R.S. Bear, December 2000, from the 1586 edition. Any errors that have crept into the transcription are the fault of the present publisher. The text is in the public domain. Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 2000 The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the Publisher, rbear[at]uoregon.edu.

and  Ordinances  militarie,
sett downe and established by the 
right excellente ROBERT Earle of LEYCESTER, 
Baron of Denbigh, Iustice of Oyer and ter-
miner of her Maiesties forestes, Chaces and par-
kes on this side Trente, Maister of the Horse to
the Queenes most Excellente Maiestie One of
the Lordes of her moste honourable priuie coun-
saile, Knight of bothe noble Orders, of the
Garter and S. Michaell: her Highnes Lieute-
nant and Captaine GENERAL of her Maist. Armie
and forces in the lowe Countries: And Go-
uernour GENERAL of all the Prouin-
cies and Cities vnited in the saide
lowe Countries, and there

 To be obserued by all suche as shall serue in her Maiest.
Armie vnder him in the saide Countries.

Imprinted at Leyden by Andries Derschout/the
xxv. of Januarie. 1586. de stilo nouo.

FOrasmuch as there is not any Estate, which in peace or warre can be accounted sure, or preserued from dishonour & ruine, vnlesse it bee supported and borne vp by Iustice duely administred, and discipline orderly obserued: And for that no man can be so ignorant as not to knowe that honor, fame and prosperitie doe duely follow that common Wealth or Nation, wherein good lawes are established, the Magistrate ministering Iustice is duely regarded, and the peple fearing to offende, are drawen vnder the rules of Iustice and obedience: And seeing that martiall discipline aboue al things (proper to men of warre) is by vs at this time most to be folowed, aswell for the aduanceme[n]t of Gods glorie, as honourable to gouerne this Armie in good order: And least that the euill inclined (pleading simplicitie) should couer any wicked facte by ignorance: Therefore these martiall ordinances and Lawes followinge are established and published, whereby all good mindes endeuouringe to attaine honour, may stand armed, and receiue encouragement to perseuere in well doing, & such as are inclined to lewdenesse, be warned from committing offences punishable. which being embraced with carefull respect, and followed with obedie[n]ce, doe promise good order and agreeme[n]t amongst our selues, with victorie and good eue[n]t against our enemies.

Blasphemers.      1     First, Forasmuch as the holy Name of our most mightie and invincible God, with all reuerence ought to be regarded, and that destruction is pronounced to suche as blaspheme or abuse the same: it is therefore ordeined and commanded, that no person whatsoeuer, either in common conference or communication, or for any cause whatsoeuer, shall blaspheme, or take his Name in vaine, vpon paine of losse of v.s. to the releefe of the poore for the first offence: for the seconde, fiue dayes imprisonment: for the third, losse of his place and wages.
Diuine seruice.     2     And because the continuall and vnspeakeable fauours of our Almightie God, by our vnthankfulnesse may be taken from vs, and that no good euent of any action can be expected, wherein God is not first and principally honored and serued: It is therefore especially ordeyned and commaunded, that all persons whatsoeuer, shall vpon general warning giuen either by sound of Trompet or Drum, repaire to the place appointed, where the Diuine seruice is to be vsed, there to heare the same read and preached, vnlesse for the present by sicknesse or other seruice he be impeached, vpon paine to lose his dayes wages for the first, two dayes wages for the second, and so to be encreased by the discretion of the Iudge, and for euery such default in the Souldier, aswell the Captaine as his inferiour officers, to be punished with like penaltie. 
Vnlaufull ga-
    3     And seeing it well beseemeth all Christians, especially such as professe the militarie seruice, to passe away the time in matters requisite for their profession: And because no time can be more vainely spent, then that which is consumed in vnlawfull games, besides the breeding of much contention and quarrelles: And for that there be many allowable and commendable exercises for all sortes of men to vse: Therefore it is streightly commanded, that no priuate Souldiour or inferiour Officer shal play at Dice and Cardes, nor any other vnlawfull games, vpon paine of two dayes imprisonment for the first time, and for after committing the like, to bee further p[u]nished by the Iudges discretion.
Vagrant woe-
    4     And for that it often happeneth, that by permitting of many vagrant & idle women in an armie, sundry disorders and horrible abuses are committed: Therefore it is ordeined that no man shall carrie into the fielde, or deteine with him in the place of his garrison, any woman whatsoeuer, other then such as be knowen to be his lawful wife, or such other women to tende the sicke and to serue for launderers as shall be thought meete by the Marshall, vpon paine of whipping and banishment.
Women with
Aged persons.
    5        And insomuch as clemencie amongst men of warre in some respectes is a singular vertue: It is ordeined that no man in any part of this seruicethat he shall doe, shall lay violent handes vpon any woman with childe, or lying in childebed, olde persons, widowes, yong virgins, or babes, without especiall orders from the Magistrate, vpon paine of death.
Violent displing
of women.
    6        Noe man of what degree so euer he be, shall enforce any wife, widowe, maide or virgin, and by violence defile anie of them vppon paine of death.
Dronkenes and
    7        What person soeuer that shall be commonly giuen to drunkennesse, or riotously behaue himselfe, shall be banished the Armie.
Concelement of
    8        Whosoeuer shall conceale, or in any sort kepe secrete, Treason, any dangerous conspiracie, or other practise which may be hurtfull, and may concerne the peril of her Maiesties person and realme, or of her General, or the estate of this Armie, and shall not with all diligence reueale the same either vnto the Generall, or some other Officer of especiall trust, shal incurre the paines of death with torme[n]ts.
Treason and
    9        If anie man whatsoeuer shall practice and conspire anie thinge to the hurte or perill of her Maiesties person, and realme or of her Generall, or the estate of this Armie, and he therof laufullie convinced, shall suffer death with torments.
Conference/ or
writinge with or
to the Ennemie.
    10        No man shall haue speeche or conference, send message, deliuer or receiue letters to or from the enemie, or any of his confederates, either secretly or openly, without manifesting the same presently vnto the Generall or Marshall, or hauing former authoritie to soe do, vpon paine of death.
Departinge from
the Camp or the
Garrison with-
out leaue.
    11        No man being in this seruice shall departe the Campe or place of Garrison for any cause whatsoeuer, without the Generals especiall Pasport, or other head Officer authorized, vpon paine of death.
Breaking order
of the ranke.
    12        No man shall breake out, or leaue the order of his ranke, being once ordered in the fielde by the Marshall or Sergeant Maior, without some great occasion first made knowen vnto the saide Officer, vpon paine of losse either of life or limme, at the discretion of the Generall or of the Marshall.
Watch worde
    13        No man appointed to watch or warde, shall shun or depart the place, neither shall sleepe, or neglect his duetie therein, especially after the watch is set and the woorde giuen, vnlesse he be orderly relieued, or for some great occasion enforced, with licence of his Captaine or Officer, vpon paine of death.
Watch worde be-
    14        No man shall bewray the watchworde to the enemie or to any other, of giue any other worde then is deliuered by the Officer, vpon paine of death with torment.
Mutynie or vn-
lauful assemblies
    15        No man shall raise any mutinie, or procure vnlawfull assemblies vpon priuate, secrete, or hidden purpose, whereby to disturbe the peace and quiet of the Armie, vpon paine of death.
Weapon against
    16        Noe man shall lift vp his weapon against the Magistrate, his Captaine or Officer, vpon paine of death.
Quarrelinge or
fraiemakinge in
Campe or Tow-
ne of garrison.
    17        No man shall quarrel, brawle, or make any fray within the Campe or Towne of garrison, vpon olde malice, or newe ocasion whatsoeuer, but shall complaine to the Officer, who is to decide the cause and punish the partie offending, vpon paine of losse of life or limme, at the discretion of the Generall or Marshall.
Foreiner abused
by English men.
    18        And whereas sundrie nations are to serue with vs in these warres, so as through diuerstie of languages occasion of many controuersies may arise or happen to growe: It is therefore ordeined, that if any person of English nation shall finde him selfe agrieued with any wrong profered him by any foreiner, that then without profering further reue[n]ge hee shall signifie the same vnto his Captaine or other officer, whereby other may be taken so, as no further quarrel growe thereof, but that quietnesse in all respects may be preserued, vpon paine of such punishment as the head officers shall thinke meete, either by losse of life or limme.
Leavinge breach/
trench/ or streight
vppon fained
    19        No man appointed to the defence of any Breach, Trench, or Streight, either Captaine of Souldiour, shall willingly leaue it, or vpon any false or imagined cause or excuse shall absent himselfe from the place, without sufficient warrant, vpon paine of death.
Souldier enro-
led vnder two
    20        No man shall enrolle his name vnder two Captaines, nor muster in seuerall comanies at one time, or otherwise passe in an other mans name, or lende armour, weapon, or other furniture vpon the muster day, whereby to abuse her Maiestie, and weaken the present seruice, vpon paine of a moneths imprisonment, and banishment.
Armour embezil-
led/ dyminished/
or pawned.
    21        No man shall embezill or deminish any of his Armour, weapon and furniture, which is appointed him by his Captaine, vnlesse he can prooue that he lost the same in seruice. And that no man shall take in pawne any Souldiours weapons or furniture, vpon paine to the Souldiour of losse of hys place, and to the other that shall take it in pawne, the losse of the double value.
Playing awaie of
    22        No man shall play away, engage, or lende away his furniture, but shall alwayes keepe his Armour and weapon cleane and seruiceable, vpon paine of being discharged.
Pilfering of his
fellowes victuals
    23        No man shall deceitfully take away his companions prouision, victuals, or furniture, vpon paine of imprisonment.
Forceable exac-
tion of victuals
or goodes.
    24        No person traueyling, lodging, or abiding in any the Townes or Contreis of her Maiesties friendes or Allies, shall in any wise exact or take by force from the people either victual or other their goods whatsoeuer, without present payment, or other sufficient order to the iust satisfaction of the partie, upon paine of death.
    25        No man shall forestall any victuals brought for the Campe or place of garrison, but suffer the same peaceably to come into the Market place, there to be rated and priced by the Marshall or his officer, before he buy the same, vpon paine of death.
Robbing or spoi-
linge of vitler or
    26        No man shall robbe or spoyle any Shop or Tent, or any victualler or Marcha[n]t comming for reliefe of the Campe or garrison, but in all good sort shall entertaine and defend them, vpon paine of death.
Exceeding the
dayes for takinge
of victuals.
    27        No Souldiour commaunded at any time to take victuals for certaine dayes, shall exceede the same dayes, or spe[n]d the same other wise then according to the proportions and time allowed him, vpon paine of imprisonment, or other such punishme[n]t as the lawfull officers shall appoint.
None to be spoi-
led beinge of the
Generalls pro-
    28        No man shall distresse or spoyle any person standing on her Maisties partie, or beinge vnder the Generals protection, vpon paine of death.
    29        No man shall disobey or transgresse any Proclamation made by Drumme or Trumpet, set foorth by the Generall, vppon such paine as he shall set foorth.
Resistinge the
apprehension of
    30        No man shall resist the Prouost or his other officer in apprehending of any malefactour, but if neede require, shall ayde and assist therein, or otherwise if by suche occasion any escape be made, it is ordeined that euery person by whose defaulte the escape was committed, shall suffer like punishment that the parties so escaped should haue endured.
Disturbance of
any there lod-
    31        No man shall molest or trouble any person being vnder his owne regiment, or the leading of any other, once placed by the Marshall, forrier, or Herbinger in the Campe or Towne, but quietly to permit and suffer euery one to enioye his seuerall roome or lodging, vnlesse it be by mutuall consent and agreement, neither shall any man lodge out of his Captaines quarter without licence, vppon paine of imprison[ment].
Water Milles.     32        No man shall ouerthrowe or destroye any water Milles or water workes without speciall commaundement of the General, or other heade Officer vppon paine of death.
Burnynge by
    33        No ma[n] contrarie to order shall set on fire or burne any house, milne, or corne, nor at dislodging or remoouing shall set the Campe on fire, without speciall commaundement from the General or other head Officer present, vpon paine of death.
Silence in watch
warde or Am-
    34        No man shall make anie owterie or noise in any watch, warde, Ambushe, or anie other place where silence is requisite and necessarie, vppon paine of losse of life or lymme, at the generals discretion.
Alarms.     35        No man without great occasion shall make any Alarme, but if any chance to arise, then shall euery man presently repaire in all haste vnto his appointed place, vnlesse some true excusable cause doe hinder him, vpon paine of death.
Harboring of
Strangers not
in paie.
    36        No man shall harbour or receiue into his lodging any person being a stranger, or of our owne nation not being enrolled in her Maiesties paye, but shall presently acquaint the Generall or Marshall with his name, countrey, the time of his comming, and busines, vpon paine of imprisonment, and losse of his place and wages.
Talkinge with
the Enemies
    37        No man shall talke or haue conuersation with any Trumpetter or Drummer of the enemies, or other sent in message, but such as bee appointed by the Generall, vpon paine of death.
Attendance vp-
on Carragies.
    38        No man shal attendt vpon the carriages, but such as are appointed to that charge, neither linger, or loyter behinde with them to ride or ease themselues, vnlesse it be such as by sickenesse, hurtes, or other infirmities knowe[n] to the officers, to be permitted so, vpon paine of impriso[nment], & losse of wages.
Foraginge.     39        No man shall attempt to goe a forraging, without the officer appointed for that purpose deliuer them a sufficient guarde for their defence, vpon paine of death.
    40        Euery Souldier shall present such prisoners as are taken, to their Captaine immediately at their returne to the Campe, and none shall either kill them, or license them to depart, without commaundement or leaue from the Generall, or other head Officer thereunto appointed, vpon paine of being disarmed, and banished the Campe.
Obedience of the
Souldier to his
Captaine/ or his
    41        Euery Souldier at all times in seruice shalbe obedient and faithfull, as well to Their Captaines as other inferiour Officers, & not to refuse direction of any, vnder whom they are appointed to serue, vpon paine of imprisonment, and losse of a moneths wages. And whensoeuer anie Captaine of anie bande shall vppon vrgent causes appointe in his absence anie other whome he shall thinke good to supplie and execute his roome of captaineship, euery man ought to followe and obey the saide deputie with not lesse care and diligence, then they woulde the Captaine him self vppon the same paine.
Supporting the
    42        Euery man shall support and defende his owne Ensigne both night and day, and shall resort vnto the same vpon the first warning, and depart vntill it be brought into safetie, vpon paine of death.
Sounde of
Drum/ Fif[e]/ or
Trumpet to be
    43        Euery souldier shal diligently obserue and learne the sound of Drums, Fifes, and Trumpets, to the end he may knowe howe to answere the same in his seruice.
Slaughter of


Waters vnde-

    44        No man shall slaughter or kill any beast of what nature soeuer within the Campe or Garrison, but in such places as are appointed for that purpose, nor shall suffer the garbage to remine vnburied, neither shall any man trouble or defile the waters adioyning, but in the lower part of the streame some good distance from the Campe, vpon paine of imprisonment.
Easementes.     45        No man shall ease himselfe or defile the Campe or Towne of Garrison, saue in such places as is appointed for that purpose, vpon paine of imprisonment, and such further punishment, as shall be thought meete by the chiefe Officers.
Prisoners and
booties certified.
    46        If any man doe take a prisoner or bootie, he shall immediately after hee is returned vnto the Campe or Towne of Garrison, make his Captaine or Gouernour acquainted therewith, and the Captaine shall declare the same vnto the Marshall, who euery eight dayes shall make certificate thereof vnto the Generall, vpon paine of imprisonment, and further punishment as the Generall shall set downe.
Crie/ att the put-
tinge vp of any
    47        In Marching by the fieldes, no man at the putting vp of any Hare, or any other beast shal make any shout or crie, whereby to disquiet or stay the rest of the bands, but to vse all quietnesse and silence in their march, vpon paine of imprisonment.
Place of charge/
geuen to the Ene-
    48        No man shall giue vp or deliuer vnto the enemies any place left to his charge or keeping, vpon paine of death.
Flyinge/ to the Ene-
    49        If any man flie to the enemies, or be taken vpon his departure towards them, he shall suffer death.
Passage by ordy-
narie waie.
    50        That no person whatsoeuer shall passe by any other way either in Towne or Campe, but at the ordinarie gates and passages, vpon paine of death.
Heraults.     51        That all heraults of Armes shall doe there messagies, and make proclamacion at such times and places and in such order without addicion, dymynucion or alteracion, acccordinge vnto there direction and commission from the generall, vppon paine to be inflicted at the generals discretion, accordinge to the qualitie of there faulte.


Enter[tayn]inge of a
Souldier from
his Captaine.
    52        No Captaine, Officer, or other person, shal receiue or entertaine any other mans Souldiour or seruant, without consent of his former Captaine or Mayster, neither shall entice an other mans Souldiour from him, vpon paine of losse of a Monethes wages, and to restore the partie to his former Captaine or Maister.
Doinge any En-
terprise without
the generals
    53        No Captaine shall sende foorth any men to doe any enterprise, without knowledge of the Generall, or chiefe officer appointed thereunto, vpon paine of losse of his place.
Watch and ward
by priuate Cap-
    54        All priuate Captaines, being no head Officers, shal watch and warde with their Ensignes, vnlesse it be by speciall leaue, vpon paine of the losse of a monethes paye, and for the second time, losse of his place.
Prisoner raunso-
med or solde.
    55        No Captaine shall sell or raunsome his prisoner without license of the Generall, and shall not suffer them to depart without making the high Marshall priuie to the same, vpon paine of losse of his prisoner, and imprisonment.
Souldier trans-
gressing to be
taken by any
    56        Any Captaine finding any Souldier of what band or company so euer, which hath transgressed any of these Lawes and Ordinances, may take him and bring him vnto the Marshall to be punished.
Souldier sworne
before he be re-
    57        That no Captaine shall receiue or enroll any person vnto his paye vnder him, but that he cause the sayde Souldier to receiue the othe, vpon paine to the Captaine for not obseruinge the same, of losse of a moneths paye.
Captaine not to
license any soul-
dier to departe
the Campe.
    58        Noe inferior Captaine shall for corruption, or any other cause license any of his souldiers to departe the Campe, or Garrison without speciall license of the Generall, or other hedde Officer, vppon paine of losse of his monethes paie, and expulsion out of his office.
Souldiers paie.     59        If any Captaine hereafter receauinge his souldiers paie, doe not paie the same vnto them within 8. daies after, and beinge demaunded, Then vppon complainte made, and the Captaine therof convicted, he shall lose hys monethes paie, and be deprived of his office, banished the Campe, and disabled from thensforth to serue in this Armie.
Visitinge the
souldiers furni-
    60        Captaines and Officers shall frequent & resorte vnto the Souldiers lodgings to see in what state there Armour and Munitions be in, And to geue greate charge that there furniture be alwaies in a redines, there corslets with all peeces belonginge to the same, and there Caliuers to be made cleane and oyled, to haue match and powder drie, and Stringes for there Bowes, there bylls and halberts to be kepte cleane and sharpe, vppon paines and punishment arbitrarie, accordinge to the qualitie of there negligence.
Punishment of
all other Offen-
    61        All other offences and Actes that may tende to disorder, not comprised within these Articles, shalbe subiect to such maner of punishment, as the Lieutenant Generall shall inflict vpon them, as if it had bene specially expressed and set downe.
Publishinge of
the Articles.
    62  And to the intente that no man maie pretende and alleage any iuste cause of ignorance of the afore recited lawes and Ordinanceis, or anie of them, the said lord Generall bothe ordaine, That all chief Officers, and Captianes of this Armie shall cause the same to be red and published with in there Bande euerie xx. daies, to all those whitch be vnder there charge respectiuelie accordinge to there quarters, especiallie in all those placeis where they shall lie in Garrison, as well horsemen, as footemen, and to cause the same to be kepte and oberued inviolablie asmuch as in them lieth in euery branche & article of the same, accordinge, to the tenor, forme and effecte therof.

The forme of the Othe
Whiche all Officers, Captaines, Soul-
diers, and all other seruinge in this
Armie shall take and

Othe. I, A.B. doe sweare and promise to doe all loyall, true and faithfull seruice vnto the Quene of England her most excellente Maiestie, and vnto the Prouinces and Cities vnited in these Countries, and there associats vnder the charge and obeidence of the right excellente the Earle of L E Y C E S T E R, Gouernour generall of the saide Prouinces and Cities, & there associats, and of her Maiesties armie and forces within the same. And all laufull and due obedience vnto the saide Gouernour, and to any other superior, that shall haue charge vnder him for gouerment in this Armie. And farther I do promise to endeuour my self to fulfill and kepe all suche laufull Ordinances as his Excellencie hath or shall sette forth and establishe for the better ordering of this Armie, as muche as concerne me, so longe as I shall serue in the same vnder him. So helpe me God, by Iesus Christe.

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