There was a time when war was infused with Christian courtesy

December 20, 2012

Blaise de Lasseran-Massencôme, seigneur de Monluc

[E]ven the stern [Blaise de Lasseran-Massencôme, seigneur de] Monluc could relax a bit at Christmas. In 1554, the Spanish commander in Northern Italy, the Marquis of Marignan, was tightening his blockade against Monluc and the French troops. Nevertheless on Christmas Eve Marignan sent Monluc as a little token of the season “half a stag, six capons, six partridges, six flagons of Trebian wine and six loaves of white bread for a party the next day.” Monluc found this quite a legitimate procedure and explained the situation: “All these courtesies are very genteel and praiseworthy, even among the greatest enemies, if there is no understanding between them, as was the case with us; he was serving his master and I was serving mine. It is to act like Turks and Saracens to refuse little courtesies to one’s enemy; it is not necessary, however, that they be so large or of such nature that they may hamper or delay your plans.”

William Leon Wiley, The Gentleman of Renaissance France (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954), pp. 165-166.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 240


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