Las Siete Partidas: Laws concerning warfare and the military

Las siete partidas, the Seven-Part Code, is one of the most remarkable law codes of medieval times. The code, written in Castilian, was compiled about 1265 under the supervision of Alfonso X, the Wise (1252-1284), of Castile. Among the wide range of topics covered in this law code are many items that deal with military affairs. In the following section, some of these laws are given here which deal with a variety of issues, from the reasons for going to war to how camp sites should be arranged.

Title XXI

Law X – In What Way Castles Should be Furnished with Provisions and with all other things which are Necessary

Food is something without which men cannot live; it is necessary that they have it continually, and if they cannot do without it elsewhere, much less are they able to do so in castles where they are, as it were, shut up and guarded, so that they cannot go out anywhere without the order of the governor; and, moreover, it might happen that even if he commands them to go forth, they are powerless to do so; through being besieged or constantly attacked by the enemy. – For this reason it is necessary for him always to keep the castle furnished with provisions and especially with water, which can be less dispensed with than other things, and if there is a supply of it, that he may know how to preserve it, and use it in moderation so that it may not fail. Search must be made, and everything else that is possible be done, in order to have water; for as a castle cannot be defended without men, so they cannot exist or protect it, if they do not have the means of sustenance; therefore the first thing that should be provided is water, for not only is it needed to drink, but for many other purposes which are indispensable, and since, from the lack of it rather than the want of anything else, they may more quickly perish, great care should be taken that it does not fail; for, although water is very common and cheap, among men nothing is more dear when it cannot be obtained, for which reason it should be well guarded. Moreover, bread should be provided, and of such a kind as is understood will keep best in the climate of the country. The same precaution should be taken with regard to meat and fish, nor should salt, oil, vegetables, or other things which are very useful for the provisioning of the castle, be forgotten. Care should also be taken to provide mills or hand-mills, charcoal, wood, and all those other articles called utensils, without which provisions cannot easily be made use of, even although they are supplied; and men’s clothing and shoes should also be included, because they are things which cannot be dispensed with, since they assist them to live and to make a more creditable appearance. It is better for the castle to be provided with what we have specified before it becomes necessary to use haste, wherefore everything which is furnished the governor for the use of the castle, should be deposited in it, not only what we have men­tioned, but also all other articles which are necessary. For, if he should act otherwise and the castle be lost through the want of any of these things, he will incur the penalty of treason, as one who had the means to defend the castle of his lord, and did not avail himself of them, for which reason it was lost.

Law XI – How Castles Should Be Provided with Arms

In order that castles may be guarded and protected whenever it is neces­sary, they should be well supplied with arms. For, although they maybe furnished with men and with provisions, if they are not provided with arms, all else will be as nothing, for by means of them men must protect themselves. In addition to all the weapons which the lord leaves in his arsenal, the governor should always have his own, in order to show that he desires to protect his loyalty, and he should also keep there everything necessary to make and repair said arms, so that they may be used when required; for a weapon which a man cannot make use of, is rather a hindrance to him, than an advantage. And, above all, care should be taken, that the people in the castle do not steal or reduce them in number in anyway, so that they may be available when needed; and those who do so should be severely punished. For if: he who steals what belongs to another deserves exemplary punishment for the reason that he causes his property to be diminished, how much more does he deserve it who steals that by means; of which he causes the loyalty of another to be diminished, and him to incur the penalty of treason.

Wherefore all the arms in the castle, those belonging to the lord as well as those in possession of the governor, should, be well guarded, not only to prevent them from being stolen, or disposed of as we have mentioned, but also to avoid their being injured or destroyed, excepting such as may be lost in the protection and defense of the castle. This should not, however, be done by way of contempt, and by neglecting them, or by making use of them in such a way as will not be for their benefit or protection, or for that of those of the place. Wherefore, a governor who does not keep the castle provided with arms in this way, or makes an ill use of those which he has there by which conduct the castle may be lost, will, on this account, incur the penalty of treason; and although it may not be lost, he should pay double the value of all the arms which are destroyed through his fault.

Law XII – How Castles Should be Defended and Protected with Valor and Intrepidity

The ancient people of Spain well knew how to preserve their loyalty by paying careful attention to all those matters by which castles may be better defended, so that their lords might not lose them; and after careful investigation of all by which this might be more thoroughly accomplished, they ordained that those who occupied the castles should do two things; first, they should defend them with valor and intrepidity; second, they should do this with wisdom and prudence; and by their acting with valor and intrepidity was meant that they should defend the castle with great boldness, wounding and killing the enemy as vigorously as they could, so as not to permit him to approach it. In doing this, they should not spare father or son, or any lord whom they formerly acknowledged, or any other man in the world who was on the other side, and wished to make them lose the castle; for, it would be very unjust and contrary to law to protect a man who is a traitor. They should, moreover, have the resolution to endure all fears and hardships which may come upon them, not only from watching, but also from the thirst, hunger, and cold, to which they are exposed; for since they must not surrender the castle except to their lord, it is necessary that they derive courage from themselves, in order to be able to do this, and not by their own fault commit treason. Wherefore they should not fear death, or any other danger which can be borne, so much as an evil reputation, which is something that will always attach to them and their descendants, if they should not do their duty in defending the castle. For which reason the ancients deemed it proper that, when a governor saw military engines in course of preparation, or mines opened, or any other way of reducing castles begun, he should explain these things to those who are present, so that they may not be dismayed. For although it is a natural thing, for men to fear death, yet, since they are aware that they must endure it, they should rather wish to die while acting in a loyal and lawful manner, and give persons reason to praise them after death much more than when they were living; leave a glorious name as well as a good reputation to their, descendants, and have a way opened by which the lords with whom they lived would be obliged to confer benefits and honors upon them, and always confide in them; than to exhibit downright cowardice, on which account they will be considered wicked, and be liable to undergo a traitor’s death, or, if they escape this, will be despised and dishonored and render their descendants, infamous forever.

For this reason the ancients always placed eminent men in charge of castles, who could clearly show and know how to explain these matters to those who were there, so that they might have courage to behave properly, and be able to avoid incurring the penalty of treason. This should be done in the morning, when all are assembled, before they are scattered, and while fasting, neither having eaten nor drunk, and they should exhort them not to be gamblers, or robbers or quarrelsome persons, or interfere with one another, that they may not be embroiled with or oppose, the governor; and when it is not certainly known that anyone is meditating treason, or any other wicked act by which injury may result to the castle; this should, nevertheless, be established in such a way that it can be proved upon the culprit, or evidence given by which it must be believed. Governors, more than other men, are obliged to do this.

Law XIII – Prudence and Wisdom are Necessary for the Defense of Castles

Men must have great wisdom and prudence in order to defend castles, for, although valor and intrepidity are very noble qualities in themselves, yet, in most instances, they should be assisted by intelligence and prudence in order that the means which men desire to employ to enable them to conquer, may not cause them to be vanquished. And, although this is very necessary in all warlike operations it is especially requisite for those whose duty it is to defend castles from the enemy, as they are more frequently taken by skill and artifice than by force. The besieged can manifest such boldness in attacking the besiegers that if they do not act with sufficient wisdom and intelligence for the castle to remain in safety, it will be lost. On this account it was decreed, in Spain that, after a castle had been invested, no one should open the gate in order to make a sally, without the order of the governor; for if anyone did so, and the castle were lost on this account, he would be considered a traitor, and should be put to death in the most creel manner in which it could be inflicted, and should forfeit half his possessions. Even if the castle were not lost, he should lose his life for the reason that he disobeyed the order of the governor, at a dangerous time; but they deemed it proper that, so far as the governor was concerned, he should not himself attempt such a proceeding, for if he did, even though he were killed or taken, he would not be exculpated from treason, if at that time the castle were lost; because since it was given to him to defend, he should not leave it without the command of the king, or of the other lord of whom he held it. The order must be positive, so that he can prove it by credible witnesses. Moreover, those charged with the defence of castles should be endowed with prudence, in order to provide arms, stones, and other articles necessary for their protection, so that they may not be obliged to tear down walls, towers, or anything else to defend themselves, for, if they do so, and the castle is lost, they should not escape the penalty aforesaid. They should also take good care of the arms, so that they may not be destroyed, except when this is necessary, as above stated.

Law XVIII – In What Way Castles Should be Surrendered to those Lords to Whom they belong, in order for men to maintain their Loyalty

We have mentioned in the laws preceding this one, the three ways in which castles should be received, protected, and defended, as was formerly that if he is not experienced in such matters, he should be notified to have men with him who are so, in order to oppose the military engines of the enemy, or make use of those which he has caused to be constructed inside the fortifications, if it should become necessary. Moreover, the governor, as well as the men whom he has with him in the castle, should be prudent and wise enough to be able to conceal the losses which they suffer, or the injury which they sustain from the besiegers, so that they may strengthen themselves, and the enemy may not have occasion to press upon them, or learn their ill-fortune. Those who act in this manner preserve the loyalty which they are bound to keep, and, moreover, perform deeds far which they should receive honor and distinction from their lords.

Law XV – In What Way Castles Should Be Strengthened by Repairing Them

Intelligence and prudence are two things which greatly assist men in preserving their loyalty, for intelligence gives them wisdom to show it, and prudence enables them to guard it. Wherefore the ancient Spaniards, who possessed these two qualities, paid especial attention to that by means of which their lord was protected from loss, themselves from evil fortune, and the kingdom from injury. And by careful consideration of this subject, it did not appear to them that providing castles with men, arms, and the other supplies which we mentioned in the preceding laws, was sufficient to defend them perfectly, but they also held that assistance should be furnished in time of war, when they were known to be besieged or attacked. This assistance should be given in two ways; first, by labor; second, through affording succor by means of men, and other things which castles have need of. The first, which relates to labor, should be performed in this way, namely; where any structure has been overthrown, or has recently fallen down in a castle, the men who are there should render assistance, as soon as possible, by making repairs, in order that the castle may not be lost for that reason. And, although this work ought to be performed in time of peace, nevertheless, if the lord did not do it through lack of prudence, or on account of great obstacles by which he was impeded, those who hold the castles should immediately give their aid in repairing them, whenever they think it necessary; and they cannot avoid affording assistance in this matter, in every way possible, on account of their descent, or of any quality which they possess, for loyalty is more precious than lineage, or any other attribute which can exist. Hence where anyone refuses to act, and the castle is lost on this account, he will incur the penalty of treason, which he cannot escape in any way whatever.

Title XXII – Concerning Commanders, Light Cavalry, and Foot Soldiers

In the preceding Title we described the knights, and now we intend to treat of commanders, light cavalry, and foot soldiers, all of whom are very, necessary in time of war. We shall speak in the first place of commanders, and what kind of men they should be; why they are so called; what matters they should be skilled in how they should be selected; who has power to appoint them; and in what way they should be appointed. We shall also show what kind of men should compose light cavalry; how they should be enlisted and what men they should select to take with them to war.

Law I – What Qualities a Commander Should Possess, What Kind of a Man He Should Be, and Why He Is So Called

The ancients declared that a commander should possess four qualities; first, intelligence; second, Strength; third, good natural prudence; fourth, loyalty. They should be intelligent, in order to protect armies and enable them to avoid bad measures and dangers; and, they should be wise, so as to be able to guide armies and expeditions, not only those that are openly, but also those that are secretly conducted, directing them to places where they can find water, wood, and grass, and all take their rest together; they should, moreover, be acquainted with localities which are favorable for placing am­buscades of infantry as well as cavalry, and know how to instruct them to remain silent while there; and to come forth when it is necessary.

It is also proper for them to become well acquainted with the country which they are about to overrun, and where they have to send foraging parties; and this in order that they may do so more quickly and better, and depart in safety with their spoil; and they should understand how to place, scouts and sentinels, not only those which mount guard publicly, but others called secret sentries; and also how to obtain information of their enemies, in order always to have knowledge of their movements. When they are unable to do this in this way, they should exert themselves to seize persons belonging to the neighborhood where they are making war, in order that they may learn from them certainly the condition of their enemies, and in what way they should attack them. One of the things to which they should pay much attention is to ascertain what provisions the army as well as the foraging parties should take with them, and for how many days, and they should know how to make them last longer, if it becomes necessary. Hence the ancients who were well skilled in war, had such a desire to inflict injury upon their enemies that they carried their food tied up in paniers and bags, whenever they went on predatory excursions, and did not wish to take other animals with them. They did this in order to travel more rapidly and more secretly, the higher in rank they were the more pride they took, and they considered themselves superior in knowing how to endure hardship and to subsist on little in time of war. They acted thus in order to conquer their enemies, for it appeared to them that no reward and no pleasure in this world was greater than this: and because they carried their rations, as above stated, they afterwards called it their store of provisions.

Therefore commanders should be well informed concerning all the matters which we have mentioned in this law, in order to be able to explain them to all other men, so that they may, become familiar with them; and that, in the performance of their duties, men will willingly obey their orders, not only those of emperors and kings but those issued by others engaged in war, under whose direction they are to act, and, for this reason, their authority is very great. Such as are unwilling to obey their orders should suffer the penalty which the king finds they deserve, in proportion to the injury which those forming the expedition sustained on account of their disobedience.

They must also be bold of heart, so that they may not be overcome or dismayed by dangers, when they come upon them, as, for instance, when they lose the way which they desired to take, and come into a more dangerous neighborhood; or when a great force of the enemy suddenly attacks them by surprise, when they are few in numbers; or when other accidents of this kind happen to them; and they should, above all, have good, bold hearts, in order to strengthen and comfort themselves and others, and put their own hands to the work and render them good assistance by this means whenever it becomes necessary. For it is not right that such persons should spare their own bodies, while others under their command are risking theirs. Not only should they be bold in action but also in speech, so that they may be able to encourage and console others by this means; for it is a true saying of the ancients, that good courage often conquers bad fortune.

Commanders should also be endowed with sound, natural prudence, in order to be able to make use of these qualities, namely, wisdom and courage, each in its proper place. They should know how to reconcile men when they are at variance, and they ought to share with them what they have, and also honor and reward faithful soldiers who form part of the armies or the foraging parties which they command. But, above all other things it is fitting that they be loyal, so that they may know how to love their religion, their natural lord, and the troops which they command; so that neither hatred, ill­ will, nor avarice, may induce them to do anything contrary to this. For, since those under their command, trusting in their fidelity, place themselves in the power of their enemies, or venture into places where they have never entered; if their commanders are not loyal, their treason will be more serious and more injurious than that of any other man, because they can inflict upon those over whom they have control all the harm which they desire; for which reason it was formerly decided that a commander should possess all these four qualities; and therefore they were called adalides, which means guides, because they must possess all the qualities aforesaid, in order to be able properly to direct armies and foraging parties, in time of war.

Law II – How Commanders Should Be Selected, and Who Has Authority to Do It

In ancient times, those who were skilled in war established certain rules for the appointment of commanders which also stated how their lords should honor them, and in what matters they should give them authority, and we desire to explain this in these laws, for it is something which is very essential to warfare. Wherefore, we decree that whenever the king, or any other lord desires to appoint a commander, he shall summon twelve of the wisest commanders that can be found, and these, after being sworn to tell the truth, must state whether he whom it is intended to appoint commander, possesses the four qualities which we have mentioned in the preceding law; and if they state under oath that he does, he should then be appointed. If the lord cannot find a sufficient number of commanders to give this testimony, the places of those who are wanting should be filled with other men who are familiar with war and its operations, and where they give their testimony along the others it is as valid as if they were all commanders. The latter should be selected in this way, and in no other; for the lord by himself cannot appoint a commander, nor has he power to do so even if the party is fitted for the place, unless he be an emperor or king or some one representing him. Where anyone ventures to do this who is not one of the persons mentioned in this law; or if another person, on his own responsibility, assumes power to act as commander – even though he should be fit for the office – they shall both lose their lives on this account, for the reason that they attempt to do that for which they have no authority; and where they cannot be found, they shall forfeit all their possessions.

Law III – How a Commander Should Be Appointed, What He Who Appoints Him Should Give Him, and What Honor He Obtains After He Had Been Appointed

Anyone whom it is desired to appoint a commander, should be honored in the following manner. He whose duty it is to promote and appoint him should provide him with clothing, a horse, arms of wood and iron, according­ to the custom of the country; and a nobleman who is a lord of knights should be ordered to gird on his sword, but he must not give him a slap on the neck. After he has girded him, a shield should be laid upon the ground with the hollow part of it above, and he who is to be appointed commander must stand upon it, and the king, or whoever is performing the ceremony, should draw the candidate’s sword from its scabbard and place it naked, in his hand. Then the twelve who gave their testimony for him should raise him on the shield as high as they can, and while holding him in this way, they should immediately turn his face to the east, and he must make with the sword two kinds of blows, first raising his arm above and striking downward, and the other blow he should strike in a transverse direction, this forming a cross, and saying at the same time: “I, So-and-So; in the name of God, defy all the enemies of the Faith, and of my lord the King, and of his country.” He should do and say this, turning each time he says it to the other three quarters of the world. Then he should, himself, put his sword into the scabbard, and the king should place a banner in his hand, if he promotes him to be a commander, and say to him at the same time: “I appoint you commander from this time forward;” and where anyone else does this in the name of the king, he should place the banner in his hand and address him as follows: “I appoint you commander in the name of the king;” and from that time he is entitled to bear arms; and to have a horse and a banner, and. sit at the table with knights, whenever he happens to be with them; and he who offers him any indignity must be punished just as if he had treated a knight in this way, on account of the honor of the king. After he has been made commander, as above stated, he is authorized to control men of distinguishing rank and knights by reprimand and light cavalry and foot soldiers by blows and punishments, but not in such a way, or in such a place, that they may be injured.

Law IV – For What Reasons Commanders Should Be Appointed with Marked Ceremony, What Authority They Have, and What Punishment They Deserve If They Do Not Perform Their Duties Well

The ancients ordained that commander should be appointed in an honorable manner, as we stated in the preceding law. They did this for several reasons; first, on account of the great deeds which they achieve by means of them; second, on account of the great dangers to which they are exposed, and also because of the power which they have to determine many things which other men cannot do. For they have authority to decide all questions arising from those composing foraging parties; and they must be present with them to divide what they obtain, and have restoration made for what they lose. They also have authority to command light cavalry and foot soldiers, and to place sentinels by day and to appoint sentries and patrols at night. It is their duty to direct the movements of foraging parties and ambuscades, each as it should be done. They have the right to appoint commanders of foot soldiers, as stated in the law which treats of this subject, and, for this reason, they should be wise and extremely prudent in order to select proper men for the above-named duties; and if they do not act in this way they should be punished both in person and in property, in proportion to the evil resulting from the offenses which they have committed. Where, however, the offense was not caused through the fault of the commanders, but through that of those whom they appointed, then the others, who did not discharge their duty, should suffer the penalty aforesaid.

Law V – What An Almocaden Is, and What Are the Duties of Him Who Is Made One

Those formerly called commanders of foot soldiers, are now called almocadenes. These are of great advantage in war, because foot soldiers can enter places and perform deeds which horsemen cannot. For which reason when a foot soldier desires to become an almocaden, he should act in the following manner, namely; he must go first to the adalides, and convince them by whatever arguments he can that he deserves promotion. Then twelve almocadenes should be summoned and compelled to swear, and tell the truth as to whether he who seeks this office possesses four qualities; first, whether he understands war, and how to lead those who accompany him; second, whether he is strong, in order to perform warlike deeds and dominate his soldiers; third, whether he be active, for this is something which is very proper for a foot soldier in order that he may quickly reach what he has to seize and he should also know how to cure wounds when urgent necessity arises; fourth, whether he is loyal, in order to be a friend of his lord and of the troops which he commands. These are the qualifications which a commander of foot soldiers should have at all times.

When those selected have testified that the applicant possesses these four qualifications, they should conduct him to the king or to some other officer of the army, or the foraging party, stating that he is a good man for the office of almocaden. After they have presented him to the king, the latter should furnish him with new clothing, according to the custom of the country, and should give him a lance with a small pennon, to mark the halting place of an army; and this pennon should bear whatever device he wishes, so that he may be recognized by it and be better protected by his troops, and also in order that they may know whenever he conducts himself improperly, or well.

Law VI – How an Almocaden Should Be Made, and What Punishment He Deserves If He Does Not Make Proper use of His Office

The twelve almocadenes having made oath in favor of him whom they desirer to promote to their office, as stated in the preceding law, they should take their lances, and cause the candidate to stand upon the shafts, holding them in such a way that they will not break and he will not fall, and raise him four times from the earth, facing the four quarters of the world; and each time he must repeat the same words which we stated above should be pronounced by the adalid, and while he repeats them, he should hold his lance with its pennon in his hand, with its head always directed towards the quarter to which he turns his face. Even if a party, has qualifications which would entitle him to be an adalid, he cannot become one, unless he has served a certain time as a light horseman; and as the ancients said whatever goes well should always progress and rise from one rank to a greater one; so a good almocaden is made out of a good foot soldier, and a good light horsemen out of a good almocaden, and a good adalid out of him.

This is the way in which an almocaden should be appointed, and whoever appoints one in any other way should lose the place he holds for venturing to do so, and he should suffer other punishment as well, if from his obtrusiveness any injury results through the fault of the illegally made almocaden; and the penalty which he who made him should undergo ought to be in proportion to that injury; but where he is properly appointed, as above explained, he who created him almocaden will not be at all to blame if he commits any offence; but he himself should suffer for it according to the nature of his act. We declare that the same rule shall apply where his troops refused to obey orders, and that they should be punished in proportion to the injury resulting from their disobedience; this, however, is understood to apply to cases where the almocaden cannot prevent it, for, if he is able to do so, he should bear the blame and suffer the penalty.

Law VII – What Kind of Men Foot Soldiers Should Be Throughout the Country, and How They Should Be Chosen and Equipped

The frontier of Spain is naturally hot, and animals born there are larger and of stronger constitution than those which belong to the older country. For which reason the infantry who march with the adalides and almocadenes to engage in warfare, should be physically qualified, accustomed to, and prepared for, exposure to the open air and the hardships of their calling; for, where they are not of this description, they cannot long remain healthy, even though they be astute and valiant. Wherefore commanders of horse and of foot should be very careful to take with them in their foraging excursions and other warlike enterprises foot soldiers practiced in war and used to the privations which we mentioned above; and they should also see that they are active, crafty, and have well made limbs, in order to be able to endure the hardships of war, and that they are always provided with serviceable lances, javelins, knives, and daggers. They should, moreover, take with them men who know how to shoot with the crossbow and are provided with the equipment pertaining to archery, for soldiers of this kind are very effective in warfare. And when they are of such as these, the commanders of horse and foot should have great affection for them, and honor them both in word and deed, and divide with them the booty which they take together, as has been previously stated; and where it happens that infantry of the description above mentioned cannot be obtained, they should prefer to enter the enemy’s country with a few good foot soldiers, than with many bad ones.

Title XXIII – Concerning the War which all Persons on Earth should engage in

War is of two kinds one bad, the other good. And although each of these can be divided with relation to the deeds to which it gives rise, nevertheless, so far as the name and the manner of making it are concerned, both are one and the same thing; for engaging in hostilities, although it involves destruction and the inciting of dissensions and enmity among men, yet, when, it is carried on as it should be, it afterwards brings peace, from which result quiet, rest and friendship. For this reason the ancient sages declared that it was well for men to endure the hardships and dangers of war, because, by this means they eventually obtain beneficial peace and rest; and since the evil inherent in it is productive of good results, and on account of the mistrust which compels men to engage in war, those who desire to inaugurate it should be well informed before they begin.

Wherefore, since in the preceding Title we have spoken separately of knights and commanders, and of the things which they are required to observe and do, we intend to show here in the laws of this Title what wars it is proper both should engage in with consideration of the two different advantages which may be obtained by their country through war; first, by learning how to protect and defend it from its enemies; second, how to aggrandize, it by obtaining their property. In the first place, we shall show what war is; how many kinds there are; for what reasons it should be made; with what things those who desire to make it should be provided and equipped; what kind of men those who are selected to act as commanders in the war should be; what they should do and observe; how all the rest of the people should be governed by them; and what benefit arises from this control. We shall also show how many kind of bodies of troops there are; and how they should be divided when they have to invade a country or go into battle; and also how the officers should be vigilant while in command of an army when it marches from one place to another, or when they select a camp for the night, or desire to lay siege to a town or castle; and, above all, we shall speak of foraging parties, ambuscades, forays, and all the other kinds of hostilities which men engage in.

Law I – What War Is, and How Many Kinds There Are

The ancient sages who treated of the subject of war stated that it is hos­tility to peace, the motion of things that are quiet, and the destruction of things that are complex. They also described war as something from which proceeds the death and captivity of men, and the injury, loss, and ruin of property. There are four kinds of war. The first is called justa, in Latin, which means, in Castilian, founded upon right. This happens where a man engages in it to recover his own property from the enemy, or to protect himself and it from them; the second is called, in Latin, injusta, which means a war instituted through pride, and contrary to what is right. The third is called civilis, which means one which arises among the inhabitants of a certain locality, as among factions, or in a kingdom on account of some disagreement which the people have among themselves. The fourth is called plusquam civilis, which means a war in which not only the citizens of some locality contend with one another, but also where relative is arrayed against relative, by reason of faction; as was the case with Caesar and Pompey, who were respectively father-in-law and son-in-law, And in which war Romans fought, fathers against their sons, and brothers against their brothers, some of them support­ing Caesar and others Pompey.

Law II – For What Reasons Men Are Impelled to Make War

The inauguration of war, is something which those who wish to, make it should carefully consider before they begin, in order that it may be carried on with reason and justice, for, by doing this, three great advantages are obtained; first, God will afford greater assistance to those who institute it in this manner; second, they will exert themselves more strongly on account of their being in the right; third, those who hear of it, if they are friendly, will assist them with greater good will, and if they are hostile, will withdraw themselves more from them. The right to maintain a just war, is as the ancient sages explained, based upon three considerations; first, to expand the religion of the People, and to destroy those who wish to oppose it; second, for the sake of their lord, by desiring loyally to serve, honor, and defend him; third, in order to protect themselves and aggrandize and honor the country in which they dwell.

A war of this kind should be made in two ways, namely; one on enemies who are within the kingdom, who are doing harm to the country by robbing and unjustly depriving men of their property – for kings and those who have the right to sit in judgment should oppose such as these, and see that justice is executed upon them and the whole body of the people should fight them, in order to eradicate and expel them. For, as wise men stated, persons of this kind are malefactors in the kingdom, and resemble poison in the body of a man, who cannot be well as long as it is there. Wherefore, it is proper that war should be carried on with men of this kind, by pursuing them and inflicting upon them as much injury as possible until they are driven from the kingdom or killed, (as we stated above in the laws of the Title treating of this subject,) in order that the people who inhabit the land may be able to live in peace. The second kind of war of which we intend to speak here, is that which is carried on with enemies outside the kingdom, who desire to deprive the people of their country by force, and for the purpose of protecting them in what they should justly possess. We desire to show how this kind of war should be made, as established by the ancient sages, who, as well as other knights, thoroughly understood it, because they were well informed on the subject through their own operations and practice during a long period of time.

Law III – With What Supplies Those Who Make War Should Be Provided and Furnished

The people, when they desire to make war against their enemies, should be provided thoroughly and in many different ways not only with men, horses, arms, and money, but also with military engines and tools, and everything else which is necessary for the purposes of attack as well as defence, for there are some of these things which are adapted to some operations, and others to others. Therefore they should be ready in time, so as to have all these supplies and not be lacking in them, for if there should be a deficiency when they are needed they will be destroyed and can obtain no advantage, and their wishes will be unfulfilled and they will be thought persons of little prudence. They should, moreover, be vigilant, in order always to know the condition of their enemies, and be constantly on their guard so that they may not acquire any information concerning them; and, for this reason, they will protect themselves and their property when they wish to make war for their own advantage and show themselves to be men of prudence. When they do not act in this manner the opposite will happen to them, for they will be ill-treated and sustain loss, and the war will be to their injury, and they will also be considered men of but little caution.

Law IV – Who Should Be Chosen as Generals in War, and for What Reasons

Generals occupy a position of great honor, for, without them, nothing can be done by common consent, and this is true of all matters, not only those which are trifling, but those which are important as well. Wherefore, since in the most vital and dangerous enterprises great attention should be paid to this, we desire to describe here what kind of men should be selected as generals, and to show, according to the opinions of the ancients, for what reasons this should be done; and we, therefore, decree that men should be chosen generals for one of the three following qualifications. First, on account of their lineage, for this makes man noble, honorable, and highly esteemed, and hence he can be chosen as a general, although, he may not be very prominent, or very learned. The second is, on account of their power, as is the case with emperors, kings, and other lords, who occupy honorable and exalted positions. For although these may not be of very distinguished lineage, or very learned, they become generals solely on account of the sovereignty and the power which they exercise. The third, which is derived from Wisdom, is of greater force than either of the other two which we mentioned; for when either he who becomes a general through his rank, or he who obtains the office through power, is not well informed, it is proper, by all means, for him to have recourse to such as know how to make war. Wherefore, in everything relating to warfare great attention should be paid to this, namely; that persons of eminence as well as those of good lineage, by whom men are commanded and governed, should have practice in, and knowledge of, command; for such as are not so may bring matters to such a pass that neither authority nor birth will be of any avail; and it is but natural and reasonable for a man to go to look for what he desires where he knows he will find it and can obtain it.

Law V – Generals Should Be Valiant Against Their Enemies

Valor, skill, and prudence are three qualities, which in all respects are becoming to those who desire to make war successfully; for, through valor, they will be enterprising; and, through skill, masters in making war, by protecting themselves and inflicting injury upon their enemies; and prudence will cause them to employ each of these at the proper time and in the proper place. For which reason those ancients who discussed the subject of war, held that though all, in common, should possess this attribute, it was more suitable for generals than for other men, since they have the power of command; as they should be valiant in order to face dangers, and accustomed to the use of arms through knowing how to bear them, and employ them to advantage. They must also be skilled in, and masters of, the art of war, not only in enduring the hardships and perils which result from it, but they should also understand how to direct other men in what way to conduct it, and be able to issue their orders to them, and make use of them for this purpose before they begin operations, so that when they are engaged in hostilities they may be prepared, and know how to proceed. For this reason the ancients considered it so important for men to be accustomed to be commanded, that their officers-showed them not only how they should obey by the use of words, but also by signals which they communicated to them. They did this in order that the enemy might not; understand what they told them, or obtain any information from this source; for one of the means by which men can most readily inflict injury upon their enemies is by carrying out their measures secretly. The ancient sages also took care, above all else, that a general should be naturally prudent, so that he might know how to protect his honor whenever it was necessary, and preserve his valor and wisdom, each in its proper place because prudence is most essential and be able to make use of each of the other qualities where it becomes necessary, for he employs valor in undertakings that he thinks he can accomplish, and knowledge where it is proper to do so; and he changes his practice in one way and another according to circumstances, and he causes his honor to perceive where it should be protected. And since prudence is superior to all lineage and power, generals have more need of it than other men; for if every man has occasion for it in order to govern himself in time of peace, how much more does he require it who is engaged in warfare, and must command himself and many more.

The ancients also declared that commanders should possess two qualities which appear to be of a contradictory character; first, that they should be loquacious; second, that they should be silent. For they should be good reasoners and ready of speech, so as to know how to address their soldiers and instruct them and explain to them what they have to do, before they go into action. Their speech, moreover, should be agreeable and bold, in order to inspire them with comfort and valor, when they are engaged in battle. A general should be silent, so that he may not be continually talking on account of which his conversation will be despised by men; nor should he, moreover, boast too much of what he has done, or relate his achievements in any other way than that in which they occurred, for by praising himself he diminishes the honor of his deeds and renders them contemptible; and, by relating them untruthfully, he will be found to be deceitful, and will not be believed in other matters in which he should be. For which reason a general, by whom the entire army is to be commanded, should be gifted with all the above-named qualities. If the emperor, or king, or other lord whose interests are concerned, is endowed with all these attributes he will be the greater for that reason; and if he is not, a man should be selected for this office who does possess them, and by whom the king himself and others may be commanded, for war is full of dangers and chances, and, moreover, a fault which is committed in conducting it cannot well be corrected afterwards. For this reason a general should not be selected except on account of his prudence and great talents for command.

Law VI – Generals Should Be Acquainted with What They Have to Do, Before They Act

The exercise of care is one of the natural qualities which men possess, for as they cannot do without eating, drinking, and sleeping, at their proper times, so they cannot avoid reflecting upon matters. Wherefore the ancient sages, who discussed everything thoroughly, declared with great reason, that since thought is something which cannot be avoided men should make use of it as far as they can, in a way which will result in their benefit, and not in their injury. And, although this should be borne in mind in everything which men do, it is much more important in affairs relating to war, which are pregnant with danger anal fear; and, therefore, commanders should, before they proceed to action be careful to reflect upon any mars concerning which they may feel apprehension or anxiety. By doing this they will acquire knowledge of their duties and be able to perform them better and more efficiently, and avoid sustaining injury and incurring shame, which are two things which men should carefully shun on all occasions, and especially in time of war; for the thought which arises simultaneous with the deed is injurious, because one is a hindrance to the other. Moreover, those who act in this manner show that they are imprudent and do not pay proper attention to what they have to do before they act; and, therefore, generals should be cautious, as we stated above, and examine undertakings before they engage in them, and carefully consider the fear and danger which attend warlike deeds, and be apprehensive, when they reflect upon them, and forget them when they go into action. For the thought which will then bring to their remembrance the fear and danger to which they may be exposed, will be such an obstacle in their way that they will not be able to perform good deeds, or obtain any advantage from them; but they will be considered unfortunate and will acquire the reputation of being timorous. For which reason they should not think of such things at that time but of those that will give them courage to accomplish their undertaking, by means of which they may obtain honor and distinction.

Law VII – Generals Should Always Endeavor to Obtain Superiority

For a man to place obstacles in the way of his enemies, when he is compelled to engage in battle with them, is one of the things in the world which, as the ancient sages declared, is of the greatest assistance in deeds of arms; for this is the way to destroy them without great injury to one’s self. For which reason a general, in order to accomplish this, should always attempt to attain the advantage of superiority; as, for instance, when he has but few troops, and the enemy are many in number, and he is aware that he cannot attack them with safety or avoid fighting them, he should seek some locality where he can inflict injury upon them, so that his superior advantage of position may counterbalance their superiority in numbers. Where his troops equal those of the enemy, he should, nevertheless, not avoid securing the advantage, so that if the sun strikes them in the face he will contrive, if he can, that it may strike the others instead; and if not, that the disadvantage may be divided between them, so that the rays of the sun may strike his followers on the left side, and the enemy on the right. We declare also that he should see, if it is very windy, that the wind blows in the faces of the enemy, and interferes with their orders, or carries dust and does them harm by preventing them from seeing, or obscures the devices on their arms, so that they cannot be recognized. He should also be sure, if the enemy has foot soldiers in his army and he has none, to order a certain number of his knights to harass them, so that the infantry may be so occupied with them that they cannot advance along with their cavalry. He should also be very careful, if he is in a place where there are hostile infantry and he cannot make them advance, not to attack them behind fortifications, nor on the summit of a mountain, nor in a disadvantageous situation, but he should endeavor to draw them out into the open field, if he can do so. For as foot soldiers have the advantage over cavalry on high ground, on the other hand, cavalry have the advantage over them in the open fields, on account of their horses and arms which give them superiority, as well as by reason of the ground by which their movements are not impeded. Wherefore commanders, in cases like those above and in others similar to them, should always be careful to obtain the advantage in the best way they can, so that they may conquer their enemies without injury to themselves.

Law IX – How Soldiers Should Be Subject to the Commands of Their General, and How He Should Act to Conceal His Own Movements and Learn Those of the Enemy

Commands, as those who were skilled in arms and warlike deeds have said should be given in two ways; first, by words; second, by deeds; and those given by speech are such as a commander gives to his troops so that they may observe great secrecy and what they wish to do may not come to the knowledge of their adversaries, but that they may obtain information of the movements of the latter, as stated in certain laws which we have already given. For, as it is an act of flagrant treason for men to reveal secrets of which they are in possession, and great injury results from it; so, on the other hand, those who endeavor to obtain intelligence concerning their enemies, manifest their loyalty, and great benefit will result to them from it. Moreover, men should be directed early to become accustomed to do what they are com­manded, and to understand by a few words what is said to them and as signals are employed for good reasons, namely: that they should recognize those made to them and act in accordance with them, just as if their orders had been given them in words; these are two things which a general as well as those under his command should practice, in order to be able to act more quickly and without observation. If the enemy should happen to become acquainted with his signals he should change them for others that he may have constantly in his power the skill and ability to conquer his enemies, and not give them the advantage. He should also issue orders for his troops to keep quiet, and not speak unless they are commanded to do so. This is done for two reasons; first, because the noise of many words prevents men from understanding one another; and second, because those who talk a great deal cannot accomplish as much with their hands as those who are silent; and this is the case because they lose a great part of their energy through the words which they utter. They should, moreover, be cautioned, when they are engaged in any affair of great importance and cannot restrain themselves from talking, to say but few words, and those of a character not to discourage their companions, but to embolden them. They should also constantly admonish them that, in their intercourse with one another, they should not be quarrelsome or meddling; for this is something which, at all times, is productive of great injury, and especially so in time of war, for the reason that the confusion and tumult which they cause may be of such a character that everything which their commander attempts to do may fail on account of it. Wherefore, a general who wishes to command by means of speech should order his men to perform and observe all the aforesaid matters, and if any loss results through error or injury arising therefrom, all the blame should be his, and he deserves a punishment in proportion to the harm which men suffer through the want of what he should have ordered.

Law XVI – How Many Kinds of Military Divisions There Are, and How They Should be Distinguished

Those of the ancients who understood and practiced deeds of arms, assigned different names to the various divisions of the army, according to their arrangement in facing the enemy. For those which were drawn out and joined to one another, they called a rank; those which were drawn up in the form of a rounded square, they designated a millstone; they styled those who marched in a solid body, which was narrower in front and broad behind, a wedge; and they called those who stood closely together in the form of a square, a wall. There was still another formation which they named an enclosure, which was shaped like a courtyard, and in addition to these there­ were still others called, in Spain, citaras. And they called a body of men composing a company a troop, whether there were many or few of them, without regard to the manner in which they were divided; and they gave them all these names according to the honor and advantage to be obtained from each of them.

They instituted extended ranks in order that the knights might make a better appearance, and seem to be more in number than they really were, which is something that causes ill-disposed people to experience greater fear and to be more readily overcome. There is also another reason why they did this, for where one company was smaller than another, and they wished to make an attack on the center, they could then attack them on all sides, which they could not do in any other way than with extended ranks; and hence the ancients formed divisions of this kind, with ranks drawn up one behind the other, to make a better exhibition of their strength and because, if one rank became fatigued or was destroyed, the next, which was fresh, might go to its assistance.

They formed the millstone, so that, if their enemies surrounded them they might always find them in front defending themselves against them; and the other body, called a wedge, was invented, in order that when the ranks of the enemy were strong and thick they could break and divide them, and conquer them more readily, for, by this means, few could overcome many. The wedge should be formed in the following way, namely; by first placing three knights in front, and behind them six, and in the rear of the six twelve, and behind them twenty-four, and thus doubling them and increasing their number constantly, according to the size of the division; but where the soldiers were few in number they could begin with one, and then double the numbers, as above stated.

They devised the wall so that when they caught sight of the enemy they could put all their baggage in its center, so that it could not be destroyed, or taken by force. They made use of this formation when kings engaged in battle with one another, and left some to guard the baggage train of the army as above stated, while the others went into action. They formed a corral, or enclosure, to protect their kings, so that they might remain in safety. They formed it with infantry, which was drawn up in three ranks, one behind the other, and they tied their feet together so that they might not be able to run away, and made them hold the butts of their lances resting on the ground, with the blades pointed directly towards the enemy, and placed within their reach stones, darts, crossbows, or bows, by means of which they could shoot and defend themselves at a distance. They did this to preserve the honor of their lord, in order that the enemy might not be able to reach him or do him harm, and if his followers conquered, that he, alone, might appear not to have changed his position, or show that he considered them of no importance; and if they were beaten, that they might find safety and strength where he was, by means of which they might subsequently prevail.

They invented the citara, to the end that if the ranks should happen to be widely separated from one another, the enemy could not enter between them by the flank, and also for the reason that when the ranks were united those on the wings reach them more readily, so as to strike the enemy on the flank, or attack him from the rear. Divisions of the troops were invented and arranged for the purpose of dispersing an army, and also to fall upon those who were scattered, by taking them in the rear so as to destroy them. Commanders should be, familiar with all the above named bodies of troops for two reasons; first, to form them and make use of them; whenever it becomes necessary; and second, to know how to put them in disorder when they are formed by the enemy. The general-in-chief should appoint men who are brave and prudent over each of these different kinds of divisions, to command them, and have these matters observed, as above stated, and all should obey the orders of those whom he appoints just as they would if they were issued by himself. Whatever their commanders, including the general-in-chief, may do to any persons who disobey orders by refusing to join the ranks in whatever way they are formed, as we have stated, or who break ranks after they have been formed; as, for instance, if they wound or kill them, or do or say anything else to them by way of punishment, they will not be liable to any penalty for this reason, nor can they be called to account because of the dishonor of those whom they have treated in this manner; nor should they incur the ill-will of them or of their relatives, since the act was committed by him who held the place of their lord, and was for the common benefit of all. But where the commanders are men of such character that they do not punish an offence of this kind, as above stated, they should suffer the same penalty, as he or they deserved who broke ranks and refused to obey orders; where, however, some other and more serious injury results through this dispersion, both those who took part in it, and those who did not forbid them to do so, shall undergo a punishment in proportion to the harm or the injury which the king may decide was caused by them.

Law XVII – How Armies Should Be Commanded While on a March

The ancients showed that troops should be well guarded while moving from one point to another, for it frequently happens that they are defeated or destroyed by the enemy while on the march if they do not know how to protect themselves properly. This occurs in many ways, as, for instance, when the divisions composing an army are separated on several roads, and also when they march through such places as do not permit their formation in ranks, or troops, and it must be made in a long line, and when they desire to halt they are prevented from advancing; and besides the beasts of burden grow weary with their loads and many of them may perish or be injured, which causes great loss to an army; and, moreover, they are sometimes compelled to traverse such strong passes, that a few men are able to put large numbers to rout.

In addition to all this they occasionally march near localities where their enemies are posted, for which reason it is necessary that commanders should know how to prevent the army from sustaining injury in the above-named places. Wherefore they should make arrangements, before it begins its march, for the entire line to proceed together and not be divided into many parts, and if this is done, they should punish it with severe corporal penalties. Moreover they ought to select those composing the rear and the advance guard; the latter should be stronger, however, for the reason that when the enemy attacks, it will be more difficult for men to turn and face him, than it will be for the advance guard, which it opposes on the way in which it is going.

They should be careful, if the line is lengthened, to provide for its protection everywhere they think this is necessary, in order that the troops may not be detained, or fatigued, or the animals perish. Moreover, when they are obliged to pass places capable of strong defence, as, for instance, deep ravines, or marshes which they cannot avoid, they should send forward soldiers enough to prepare them so that they can proceed without hindrance, and leave others to guard them that they may not suffer damage. But where the pass is very strong, as, for instance, situated under a rock, or so narrow that a few men can hold it against a large number, they should dispatch a sufficient force to take possession of it before the enemy seizes it, in order that the army may traverse it in safety. When they approach a place where enemies are, they should cause the advance guard to halt there, until a sufficient number of knights or foot soldiers arrive to be able to protect the line until the real guard comes up, and the entire army has passed in safety. Commanders should be familiar with all these matters and be well prepared for them, in order to protect themselves from the injury which may be inflicted upon them by the enemy.

Law XVIII – How Commanders Should Act, When the Enemy Suddenly Attacks the Army

When the enemy suddenly attacks any part of the army, the commander should be very careful not to permit so many troops to go to that point as will cause a great diminution in other quarters, because it may happen that this is done through stratagem, in order to strike a blow where it is thought that the greatest damage will result. And in order to be prepared always to protect themselves under all the circumstances we have mentioned, they ought to do two things; first, they should send forward knights on the right and left flanks, who are called scouts, so that when the enemy approaches they may give notice to the army and it may not suffer any injury; second, while the army is on the march the knights should be constantly armed and ready, so that if the enemy attacks them suddenly they may not be long delayed through arming themselves and preparing to assume command. For every prudent man should be aware that as the object of the enemy is to do him harm, he must not give him time to arm himself, or for long reflection as to how he shall issue his orders; and, it also seems to be folly for knights and other men to be ashamed to bear the arms, which were made to protect them, in places of danger.

Where an army marches in the manner we have mentioned, vigilant and under command, it cannot be injured by the enemy, unless his force is great and excessive, in which case those composing it will not be to blame. Wherefore, soldiers who disobey the orders of their commanders so that through their fault the army is injured, or officers who fail to perform their duty, should each be punished as we have stated in the third law preceding this one.

Law XIX – In What Places Commanders Should Find Quarters for the Army

To find quarters for an army requires much skill, and the general who does this must be possessed of great wisdom. In order to accomplish it he should always take with him a number of men who are well acquainted with the country, who are now called adalides, and were formerly called guardadores. These always accompany the advance ward with those who bore the ensign or pennon of the king, or that of the commander-in-chief, in whose rear the others marched.

When they arrive at the place where the army is to halt, he whose duty it is to find quarters for the troops should be careful that, if they are many in number, he does not cause them to be crowded, and if they are few, that they may not be separated from one another, for this is something by means of which they might easily receive great injury from the enemy; but he should cause them to be quartered together, and strengthen the position of the army as much as he can. For this reason the camp of an army was formerly called, in Latin, castra, which means a position which is strong and contrived so as to be protected from the enemy. For this reason the ancients, when they took many carts with them, were in the habit of placing them around the camp, and made, as it were, a wall of them; and when they did not have them they used sharp stakes covered with plates of iron to which iron rings were attached, which they set in the ground and connected with ropes, and by this means encircled the entire army, and these made them so strong, and arranged the tents in such good order, that the enemy could not easily break through them.

They did still another thing, for, when they did not have the stakes to plant around the camp, they placed the tents near one another, and connected them in such a way that no mounted or foot soldier could break through them. The generals effected this through their great skill, with the intention that the troops who endured severe fatigue during the day, might rest securely at night. Those who selected the camp of the army were careful not to choose for it a place under a hill or a lofty mountain, so that the enemy might not gain possession of high ground for the purpose of inflicting injury upon them, and that they might repose in safety. They also took care not to locate it in a marsh, or where a watercourse could cause their inconvenience.

Camps should always be situated near water, grass, and wood, which are things very necessary for an army and cannot be dispensed with; for just as care should be taken to have the location where it is healthy, strong, and abounding in water and other things that are essential where a good town is built, so this rule should also be followed in selecting the camp of an army, by finding a suitable place for it, and if this is not possible, the best that can be obtained should be chosen, according to the situation of the ground.

Law XX – How the Camp of an Army Should Be Formed

An army should encamp according to the conformation of the ground, being governed by its shape, whether long, square, or round. The tent of the lord should be placed in the center and those of the officers in his service around it, in the manner of a fortress. All the doors of these tents should be opposite those belonging to the lord, and in their rear an open space should be left where those who come to visit he king may dismount, and the officers may assemble in case of surprise; and in the rear of these tents all the others of the army should be placed like the houses of a town, and around them the tents of the commanders and other men of rank should stand, and surround the camp like a wall with towers. When the camp is circular, a wide space should be left within, around the tents of the men of rank and those of the soldiers; and when it is oblong, this should be left in the middle, that it may be perfectly straight; and where it is square in form, two, or four streets should be laid out some lengthwise, and the others transversely. The commanders should mark all these streets by their banners, so that the troops may know how they ought to be quartered and commanded, according to the banner which is raised; and neither the king nor his knights should dismount until the arrival of the rear guard, but he should rather allow them to remain around the camp to protect it by placing sentinels everywhere, as well as by dispatching scouts to examine the surrounding country, so that while they are in camp they will not sustain injury from the enemy. If other sentinels are stationed along the line on the flanks of the army, they should wait until the baggage train arrives, for the reason that it happens very frequently that the enemy, when they learn that an army is encamped, attack the guard conducting the baggage train, thinking that those who are in camp will not go to its assistance.

Law XXI – How the camp should be Protected

The commander-in-chief should surround the camp with a ditch, when it is known that the army will be compelled to make a protracted stay in any locality; first, that it may not suffer damage from the enemy; second, that its animals may not be lost, or its property stolen. He should, moreover, appoint a certain number of knights and foot soldiers to guard it by night, dependent upon what he understands the force of the enemy to be, and which is adapted to the position they occupy. These sentinels, like those stationed by day, should be relieved so that they can endure the hardship.

Commanders-in-chief should do all these things which we have mentioned and order others to do them as well, and he who is unwilling to perform these duties, if he is a man of superior rank, should be punished by the king in proportion to what he refused to do; and if he is of inferior rank, the general should not be blamed for any penalty which he may impose, as will be shown hereafter; where, however, the fault was due to the general, the king should punish him as he deserves, in proportion to the injury which resulted.

Law XXII – How Pack Trains Should Be Guarded and Conducted When They Bring Provisions to the Army, as Well as Those Who Go for the Purpose of Collecting Grass, Straw, or Wood.

Wood, grass, water, and straw, are things which troops cannot dispense with, nor can they avoid sending out pack trains to bring them whatever they require. For which reason the commanders, whose duty it is to protect and lead those who go for the purpose of collecting these supplies, should be men of intelligence, in order to conduct the soldiers of their command in a body, and not straggling or scattered among the rear or advance guard, according to the nature of the ground through which they are compelled to pass. And they should always be alert in order to obtain information of the enemy for when they possess this, while the enemy are expecting to inflict the injury upon them, they, on the other hand, will receive it at their hands. They should always march under arms, in order that if the enemy should suddenly appear they may the better be able to defend themselves. Nevertheless, they should not fail to employ scouts to examine the country who are able to guide them by the straightest and best roads, avoiding dangerous points and places where they know they may receive injury.

When they discover the enemy, the general should encourage and animate them in two ways; first, by speech, stating that the foes are not so numerous as they seem to be, nor as good as they, and by other words of this kind which may give them comfort and hope; second, by deed, exhorting them, and placing each one and giving him his orders to be prepared, and explaining what should be done, if they are attacked. Where the troops are few in number and have many unloaded animals, he should cause the soldiers to mount them, in order to magnify their numbers, and he should also command them to do everything else which he thinks will give them self-reliance and resolution to conquer. And, although commanders should do this in every instance, it is much more important for them to do so for the protection of those who go in search of the above mentioned supplies, where the latter are inefficient and have but little courage, because commanders should encourage such as these more than other men; for the ancient sages, who were skilled in deeds of, arms, declared that the inspiriting words and encouragement which a commander gives his followers when they are timorous, are like those which a physician gives a sick man when he thinks he is about to die. They should treat those in a similar manner who go on search of wood, grass and straw. And while they are collecting them they should cause armed knights to guard them and place sentinels to watch the country so as to discover the enemy before he comes suddenly upon them. In addition to all this, the commander should order his men to bring all their loads together and then place them on their beasts of burden, in order that they may not straggle, and the baggage train be difficult to protect, and no loss be sustained while on the way to camp; which would be a greater disgrace than at any other time, because it would be apparent that it was caused by their not exercising proper care through the desire of returning to camp. For this reason the commander should be more watchful in returning than in going, because when starting the soldiers are more apprehensive and on the return they feel more secure; and, therefore those who are unwilling to obey orders should be punished, as we have stated in another law. Where commanders err in the performance of their duties they should undergo the penalty prescribed by this same law.
[More excerpts will be added at a later date.]

From Las Siete Partidas , translated by Samual P. Scott, introduction by Charles Lobingier, (New York, 1931).. The University of Pennsylvania Press has recently reissued this translation in a five volume set, with a new introduction by Robert I. Burns, S.J.

Readers can also consult the article, “War (and Peace) in the Law Codes of Alfonso X”, by Joseph O’Callagham, from Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon (2003).

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