Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
How to Meet the Turk
By Sir Henry Wotton (15681639)
From The State of Christendom
THE TURK he (the Spanish king) knoweth to be a Prince greatly to be feared of all Christians, as well in regard of his great power, as in respect of his subtile policy. His power is terrible, because he armeth speedily, and that in such multitudes, as both the number and the expedition terrifieth all Christendom. For when he armeth, he most commonly bruiteth it abroad, that he meaneth to carry his Forces to one place, when indeed, he conveyeth them to another; yea, and sometimes he sendeth Ambassadors to will them to be assured and out of all doubt, that he will not in any wise molest or trouble them, whom his full intent, purpose, and resolution is to invade upon a sudden. Considering therefore his strength, his religion, his natural hatred against Christians, together with the continual emulation, quarrels, and contentions that are betwixt Christian princes, he holdeth it most convenient and necessary to have always a vigilant eye over such an adversary. For of Christian princes, he considereth who they be whom he most envieth, whose states he most longeth for, after whose dominions he most thirsteth, and unto which he hath best access, and easiest possibility to attain them. The House of Austria are his nearest kinsmen, and on one side, the next adjoining neighbours unto the Turkish territories. With them for kindreds sake he entertaineth perpetual amity, and is loth to offer them any occasion of discontentment because he knoweth that of late years they have not only possessed the Empire, but also been greatly favoured in Germany, with whose invincible power and puissance, they are both able and ready, when occasion shall be offered, to offend and defend the Turk. For it is their dominion unto which the Turk hath an especial eye, and an unsatiable desire, and by them and their means, Christian princes most annoy him; because by the country of Hungary the way lieth open unto these regions, which he lately subdued; and a Christian prince leading an army through the country against the Turk, may undoubtedly have good success against his forces, if he shall observe these conditions following:
First. If in conducting his army he shall avoid and decline the wide plains, and come not near unto the river Danubius; of the commodity whereof, the Turk by reason of his great courage, standeth always in need.
Secondly. If he shall not come nigh unto such places where the Turk may have convenient use of his horsemen and innumerable footmen; with the excessive multitudes of which, he will easily oppress and suppress a Christian army, if they should chance to encounter in those plains.
Thirdly. If the Christian prince shall arm this year, and proceeding slowly on his journey not meet with the Turk, but fortify and strengthen such places as he shall get and conquer; and the next year, when, as the Turk neither is wont, nor can arm with the like number and quantity, proceed manfully; for the Prince in thus doing, shall compel him to stand continually upon his guard, and always to entertain great and gross armies, which he should not be able to endure long; or else enforce him to use such forces as might be more easily conquered, and so consequently drive him to change the accustomed course and custom of his wars, which would be as much as half a victory gotten against him.
Fourthly. If the Christians shall endeavour to draw him into some strait, and there with some warlike stratagem enforce him to a battle, and with a troop of well-ordered footmen, encounter his Janizaries, which he usually reserveth for some extremity, and some unknown and unusual exploit, drive them to the worst, or put them out of their array and order; there is no doubt but with the strangeness thereof he might obtain a notable victory against him; whose horsemen are most easily overthrown, because they are for the most part unarmed.
Fifthly. If he shall mark and observe when there is a mutiny, sedition, or secret dissension, disturbance, or discontentment betwixt the Turk and his subjects, and by all cunning and policy entertain the same, maintain the procurers and heads thereof, and in the very heat of their tumult be ready to invade them. For indeed, the especial means to weaken the Turk, is to assault him when he is otherwise busied in wars with the Sophi, or with any other enemies, or when his successors are at contention for the crown, or his people divided amongst themselves, or he did lately receive some notable overthrow; for he, tyrannising his subjects in such manner as he doth, the least overthrow that can be, must needs endanger his State greatly, because he feareth that his own people will be ready to give entertainment, aid, and succour unto any, by whom they may have certain hope to wind their necks out of the yoke of that intolerable servitude which they now suffer.
This is so true, that it is credibly affirmed by the best warriors of our age: that if the Christians had proceeded with their invincible navy, when Don John de Austria gave the Turk the famous overthrow (for which all Christendom greatly rejoiced) they might haply have gotten Constantinople, and have recovered most part of the Turkish dominion.