(London: Henry Middleton for John Harison, 1579). 188 x 131 mm. (7 3/8 x 5 1/8"). 63 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Modern dark brown calf in the style of the period, covers with gilt oval ornament at center, raised bands, two brown morocco labels, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Title within woodcut border, coat of arms of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford on page facing dedication to him, two large historiated woodcut initials. Printed in black letter. Cockle 26; STC 11683; ESTC S102948. Text washed and pressed (title page a little gray as a consequence), first three quires with faint dampstain to gutter, last quire a little browned, other, more trivial, imperfections, but still quite an acceptable copy of a book welcomed in any condition, with the text being clean and still reasonably fresh, and the retrospective binding unworn.
In what DNB calls "one of the most remarkable works of its type," soldier Geoffrey Gates (fl. 1566-80) makes an impassioned defense of his profession, of men charged with protecting the sanctity "not only of the seat of justice, but also of the cow and plough, of the bed and cradle, yea of the altar and of the sovereign state." An ardent Calvinist, Gates saw military service as a fight to "execute the high justice of God upon the earth." He had fought for the Dutch in the early years of their Eighty Year War for independence from Spain, and was a great admirer of the Dutch leader, William I, Prince of Orange, who is praised here as a defender of the Protestant faith. Our author reserves special contempt for merchants, lawyers, and rich men who spend freely on luxuries but begrudge paying to equip an army, and urges Englishmen to join him to "fight with Sathan in plain battell, for the recoverie of [God's] holy Sanctuary . . . trodden under the feete of Antichrist" (i.e., Catholic Spain). DNB argues that although this is "a rambling . . . work, it still has a power to move the reader because of its author's intense zeal and commitment to his cause. . . . 'The Defence of the Militarie Profession' remains a remarkable monument to his obscure yet passionate life." The book is extremely rare: we were able to trace no other copies at auction, and just three copies are listed in North American libraries by ESTC and OCLC. (ST15849)
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PJP Catalog: BibWk21.044