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HISTORY]
521
INFANTRY


became more and more popular until at last on the verge of their brief ascendancy (about 1475-1 SI 5) the Swiss armed as much as one quarter of their troops with it. The use of firearms made little or no progress amongst them, and the Swiss mercenaries of 1480, like their forerunners of Morgarten and Sempach, fought with the arms blanc/ze alone. But in a very few years after the Swiss nation had become soldiers of fortune en masse, the more open lands of Swabia entered into serious and bitter competition with them. From these lands came the Landsknechts, whose order was as strong as, and far less unwieldy than, that of the Swiss, whose armament included a far greater proportion of firearms, and who established a regimental system that left a permanent mark on army organization. The Landsknecht was the prototype of the infantryman of the 16th and 17th centuries, but his right to indicate the line of evolution had to be wrung from many rivals.

The year 1480 indeed was a turning-point in military history. Within the three years preceding it the battles of Nancy and The long Guinegate had destroyed both the old feudalism of Pugh Charles the Bold and the new cavalry tactics of the French gendarmerie. The former was an anachronism, while the latter, when the great Wars came to an end and there was no longer either a national impulse or a national leader, had lapsed into the old vices of ransom and plunder. With these, on the same fields, the franc-archer system of infantry tactics perished ignominiously. It rested, as we know, on the principle that the fire of the infantry was to be combined with and completed by the shock of the gendarmerie, and when the latter were found wanting as at Guinegate, the masses of archers and arblasters, which were only feebly supported by a few handfuls of pikemen and halberdiers, were swept away by the charge of some heavy battalions of Swabian and Flemish pikes. Guinegate was the début of the Landsknecht infantry as Nancy was that of the Swiss, and the lesson could not be misread. Louis XI. indeed hanged some of his franc-archers and dismissed the rest, and in their place raised “ bands ” of regular infantry, one of which bore for the first time the historic name of Picardie. But these “bands ” were not self-contained. Armed for the most part with armes de jet they centred on the 6000 Swiss pikemen whom Louis XI., in 148O, took into his service, and for nearly fifty years thereafter the French foot armies are always composed of two elements, the huge battalions of Swiss or Landsknechtsf armed exclusively with the long pike (except for an ever-decreasing proportion of halberts, and a few arquebuses), and for their support and assistance, French and mercenary “ bands.”

The Italian wars of 1494—1544, in which the principles of fire and shock were readjusted to meet the conditions created by firearms, were the nursery of modern infantry. The combinations of Swiss, Landsknechts, Spanish “ tercios ” and French “bands” that figured on the battlefields of the early 16th century were infinitely various. But it is not difficult to find a thread that runs through the whole.

The essence of the Swiss system was solidity. They arrayed themselves in huge oblongs of 5000 men and more, at the corners of which, like the tower bastions of a 16th-century The

|¢, |;, ,, fortress, stood small groups of arquebusiers. The Wars, Landsknechts and the Romagnols of Italy, imitated ZZ' and rivalled them, though as a rule developing more front and less depth. At this stage solidity was everything and fire-power nothing. At Fornuovo (1495) the mass of arquebusiers and arblasters in the French army did little or nothing; it was the Swiss who were Vespérance de l'ost. At Agnadello or Vaila in 1509 the ground and the “ encounter battle ” character of the engagement gave special chances of effective employment to the arquebusiers on either side. Along the front the Venetian marksrnen, secure behind a bank, picked off the leaders of the enemy as they came near. On the outer flank of the battle the bands of Gascon arquebusiers, which would otherwise have been relegated to an unimportant place in the general line of battle, lapped round the enemy's flank 1 The term landsknecht, it appears, was not confined to the right bank of the Rhine. The French “ lansquenets " came largely from Alsace, according to General Hardy de Perini. In the Italian wars Francis I. had in his service a famous corps called the “ black bands " which was recruited in the lower Rhine countries. in broken ground and produced great and almost decisive effect. But this was only an afterthought of the king of France and Bayard. In the rest of the battle the huge masses of Swiss pikes were thrown upon the enemy much as the old feudal cavalry had been, regardless of ditches, orchards and vineyards. Then for a moment the problem was solved, or partially solved, by the artillery. From Germany the material, though not-at least to the same extent-the principle, of the wagenburg penetrated, in the first years of the 16th century, to Italy and thence to France. Thus by degrees a very numerous and exceedingly handy light artillery-“ carts with gonnes, " as they were called in England-came into play on the Italian battlefields, and took over from the dying franc-archer system the work of preparing the assault by fire. For mere skirmishing the Swiss and Landsknechts had arquebusiers enough, without needing to call on the masses of Gascons, &c., and, Dari passu with the development of this artillery, the “ bands, ” other than Swiss and Landsknechts, began to improve themselves into pikemen and halberdiers. At Ravenna (1512) the bands of Gascony and Picardy, as well as the French avenluriefs (the “ bands of Piedmont, ” afterwards the second senior regiment of the French line) fought in the line of battle shoulder to shoulder with the Landsknechts. On this day the fire action of the new artillery was extraordinarily murderous, ploughing lanes in the immobile masses of infantry. At Marignan the French gendarmerie and artillery, closely and skilfully combined, practically destroyed the huge masses of the Swiss, and so completely had “ infantry ” and “ Ere ” become separate ideas that on the third day of this tremendous battle we find even the “ bands of Piedmont ” cutting their way into the Swiss masses. But from this point the lead fell into the hands of the Spaniards. These were originally swift and handy light infantry, capable-like the Scottish Highlanders at Prestonpans and Falkirk long afterwards-of sliding gfnish under the forest of pikes and breaking into the close- infantry locked ranks with buckler and stabbing sword. and ffl# For troops of this sort the arquebus was an ideal '""'"°b“" weapon, and the problem of self-contained infantry was solved by Gonsalvo de Cordoba, Pescara and the great Spanish captains of the day by intercalating small closed bodies of arquebusiers with rather larger, but not inordinately large, bodies of pikes. These arquebusiers formed separate, fully organized sections of the infantry regiment. In close defence they fought on the front and Hanks of the pikes, but more usually they were pushed well to the front independently, their speed and excellent fire discipline enabling them to do what was wholly beyond the power of the older type of firing infantry-to take advantage of ground, to run out and reopen ire during a momentary pause in the battle of lance and pike, and to run back to the shelter of their own closed masses when threatened by an oncoming charge. When this system of tactics was consecrated by the glorious success of Pavia (1525), the “ cart with gonnes " vanished and the system of fighting everywhere and always “ at push of pike ” fell into the background. The lessons of Pavia can be read in Francis I.'s instructions to his newly formed Provincial (militia) Legions in 1534 and in the battle of Cerisoles ten years later. The “ legion " was ordered Mm to be composed of six “- bands "—battalions we should Cent" call them now, but in those days the term “ battalion ” tnticfy was consecrated to a gigantic square of the Swiss typeeach of Soo pikes (including a few halberts) and 200 arquebusiers. The pikes, 4800 strong, of each legion were grouped in one large battalion, and covered on the front and Hanks by the 1200 arquebuses, the latter working in small and handy squads. These “ legions ” did not of course count as good troops, but their organization and equipment, designed deliberately in peace time, and not affected by the coming and going of soldiers of fortune, represent therefore the theoretically perfect type for the 16th Century. Cerisoles represents the system in practice, with veteran regular troops. On the side of the French most of the arquebuses Were grouped on the right wing, in a long irregular line of companies or strong squads, su ported at a moderate distance by companies or small battalions ofQ' corselets ” (pikes of the French bands of Picardy and Piedmont); the rest of the line of battle was composed of Landsknechts, &c., s1m1larly arrayed, except that the arquebusiers

were on the flanks and immediate front of the “ corselets " and behind