THE PRACTICE, PROCEEDINGS, AND LAWES OF ARMES: DESCRIBED OUT OF THE DOINGS OF MOST VALIANT AND EXPERT CAPTAINES, AND CONFIRMED BOTH BY ANCIENT, AND MODERNE EXAMPLES, AND PRÆCEDENTS.
(London: Deputies of Christopher Barker, 1593). 195 x 140 mm. (7 5/8 x 5 1/2"). 12 p.l., 328, 327-342 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Inoffensive 18th century calf, covers with simple blind-tooled frame, raised bands, rebacked preserving original backstrip, spine panels with blind-stamped calligraphic centerpiece, gilt titling, newer endpapers. With woodcut initials and decorations. Printed in black letter, italic, and roman type. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Mark Dineley; front free endpaper with bookplate of the Fox Pointe Collection. Cockle 57; STC 23468; ESTC S117986; Heuser, "Strategy Before Clausewitz: Linking Warfare and Statecraft, 1400-1830" (2017), chapter 5: "A National Security Strategy for England: Matthew Sutcliffe, the Earl of Essex, and the Cadiz Expedition of 1596." Spine gently faded, joints and extremities a bit rubbed, a little foxing to title page, final page a bit soiled, isolated rust spots or small wax stains, but an excellent specimen nevertheless--clean, fresh, and mostly rather bright, in a solid, serviceable binding.
This rare treatise addressing all aspects of war has been cited by military historian Beatrice Heuser as perhaps a unique example of a case "in which a civilian, an 'armchair strategist', published a book containing a comprehensive concept for how to conduct a war with a specific enemy that was applied in practice." According to Heuser, Sutcliffe penned "a national security strategy for England," and one that Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, to whom the work is dedicated, put into practice in the country's ongoing conflicts with Spain, leading to the operation that resulted in the successful capture of Cadiz in 1596. Sutcliffe had met Essex at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he had likely served as one of the young earl's tutors. DNB observes that Sutcliffe, who studied law before becoming a doctor of divinity, applied his legal training to this work, in which he examines not only fortifications, aggressive and defensive tactics, and the practical considerations of recruiting, paying, feeding, and housing armed forces, but also discusses laws and regulations governing the military. Cockle notes that the work "was well known both at home and abroad," and that it "urge[d] the importance of military studies." Following this consequential work, Sutcliffe restricted his writings to theological subjects, and enjoyed a 40-year career as dean of Exeter Cathedral. This work is rare in the marketplace: ABPC and RBH find just three other copies at auction in the past 40 years. (ST15634)