DAVIES, Edward


DAVIES, Edward Military directions, or The art of trayning: plainely demonstrating how euery good souldier ought to behaue himselfe in the warres.

London, printed by Edward Griffin, 1618


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [viii], 66, [ii]. A-I4, K2. K2 blank. Roman letter some Italic. Title within double line rule, text within box rule, woodcut initials and headpieces, typographical ornaments. Light age yellowing, title dusty with minor spots, the odd marginal mark, cut a little close at fore-edge just touching box rule on a few pages. A good, crisp copy in modern quarter calf over paper boards, title gilt in long on spine.

Exceptionally rare first edition of this work, a training manual, reprinted a year later as ‘The art of War, and Englands Traynings’; Estc records four copies only, three at Oxford, and one at the Huntington library. Most historical works refer to the second and third editions only, perhaps never having come across the first. The work is an eminently practical manual of drilling or training soldiers and officers, which is probably why it has survived in so few copies.

“Many of these war manuals repudiated the all-embracing blessedness of peace; ‘these halcyon days wherein Peace and Plenty lull us asleep in the lap of Securitie’, as one author [Davis] put it. It is arguable however, that they were justifying their own enterprises rather that expressing apprehensions about Jameses foreign policy. But when we come to Edward Davies the ‘Art of War’, published in 1619 [second edn.], the target becomes somewhat more definite. Promising to make ‘the many unexpert traine-men of this Kingdome’ ‘absolute Souldiers’, Davies readily confessed that he was facing an uphill struggle since the would be soldiers had ‘reaped a large harvest of peace under the most peacefull Monarch in Europe.’” Markku Peltonen. ‘Classical Humanism and Republicanism in English Political Thought, 1570-1640’

“In fact, veterans seemed to emerge from the woodwork to produce new instructional books for soldiers during the 1620s. Edward Davies, a contemporary and student of John Bingham’s methods, was one such figure. … Davies cited the contributions of the Honourable Artillery Company to the perfection of the militarie discipline in England. His connection with the company is murky though. He was indebted to its members and very aware of their activities but he is not listed as one of the company’s members in the Vellum Book. Davies describes himself as a Gentleman and alludes to his long years of military service in the Spanish Army, though he provided few details about that career. .. For Davies the success or failure of the army rested on the qualities of the common soldier, and for this reason he spent so much of the .. book explaining how officers might shape the men into competent soldiers. Captains were expected to train up men ‘of assured good qualities, [who] may be able to persever in each enterprise, beare out every brunt stoutly, and serve sufficiently’ The advice Davies offered was relatively straight forward, with officers and their men expected to show good judgement in adequately preparing themselves for war. Officers, as well as the men, were expected to be familiar with all the practices of soldering, with young officers learning to give orders and to obey them, as it was universally recognised that a good officer could never ‘governe’ others unless he first understood how to carry out orders. … By the 1620s, English military writers like Davies we are moving away from the reliance on classical illusions and concentrating instead on modern drill as exemplified by Maurice and his brother and successor, Frederick Henry.” David R. Lawrence. ‘The Complete Soldier: Military Books and Military Culture in Early Stuart England.’

An extremely rare work and most interesting practical work.

ESTC S109317. STC 6327. Cockle 92.

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