Home > Uncategorized > Montaigne: God would not favor so unjust an enterprise as insulting and quarreling with another nation for profit

Montaigne: God would not favor so unjust an enterprise as insulting and quarreling with another nation for profit

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Montaigne: Selections on war

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Michel de Montaigne
From Of Bad Means Employed for a Good End
Translated by George B. Ives

The Romans…purposely fostered wars with some of their enemies…to keep their men in action…

At the time of the treaty of Brétigny, Edward the Third, King of England, did not choose to include in the general peace that he made with our king the controversy about the duchy of Bretagne, in order that he might have a place where he could dispose of his troops, and that the multitude of English whom he had employed in his affairs on this side of the Channel might not be thrown back into England. The same thing was one of the reasons why our King Philippe consented to send Jean, his son, to the war overseas, in order that he might carry with him a great number of young hot-bloods…

There are many in these days who reason in like manner, desiring that this direct heat of emotion which exists among us might be directed to some neighboring war; for fear that these peccant humours which prevail in our body politic at the present moment, if they are not drawn off elsewhere, will keep our fever still at its height, and finally bring about our total ruin. And, truly, a foreign war is a much milder evil than civil war; but I do not think that God would favour so unjust an enterprise as insulting and quarreling with another nation for profit.

[We] see every day in our wars thousands of men from other lands pledging for money their blood and their lives, in broils in which they have no interest.

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