ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
and as for the bones, that they should be preserved, to be carried with him [the king] and the army whenever it should happen that there was war with the Scotch; as if destiny had linked victory inevitably to his bones. (b) Jean Vischa, who embroiled Bohemia in defence of the heresies of Wyclif, ordered that his body should be flayed after death, and a drum be made of his skin, to be borne in war with his enemies, believing that it would help to continue the successes he had won in the wars waged by him against them. Certain Indian peoples in like manner carried into battle against the Spaniards the bones of one of their leaders, from consideration of the good fortune he had had in his lifetime. And other nations in that same part of the world bear with them in war the bodies of the brave men who have fallen in their battles, to give them good luck and encourage them. (a) The first of these instances indicates a retention in the tomb only of the reputation acquired by past deeds; but the last would conjoin therewith the power of continued action.
The act of Captain Bayard is of a finer description, who, feeling himself to be mortally wounded by a shot from an arquebus, and being urged to withdraw from the battle, replied that he would not begin at the end of his life to turn his back to the enemy; and having fought as long as his strength lasted, feeling that he was fainting and about to fall from his horse, he bade his servant lay him at the foot of a tree, but in such wise that he would die facing the enemy, as he did. I must add this other example, which is as remarkable for the sort of thing under consideration as any of the preceding. The Emperor Maximilian, great-grandfather of the present King Philip, was a prince endowed to the full
- Changed to Zischa [Ziska] in 1595. Montaigne’s source for this is uncertain. The fact is mentioned in various sixteenth-century compilations.
- See Lopez de Gomara, Histoire Générale des Indes, III, 22.
- Bayard was killed at the river Sesia in 1524. See Mémoires du Bellay, book II. These memoirs treat of the events in France from 1513 to the death of King Francis I. They are the work of two brothers, Martin, Seigneur de Langey, and Guillaume, who became Seigneur de Langey on his brother’s death. They consist of ten books, of which the 5th, 6th, and 7th were written by Guillaume, the others by Martin.
- Philip II, of Spain.