Home > Uncategorized > Lawrence Schoonover: Accursed powder

Lawrence Schoonover: Accursed powder


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

American writers on peace and against war

Lawrence Schoonover: An age of strict justice and peace, when nations shall live under law, without war

Lawrence Schoonover: An entire nation praying for peace at one time


Lawrence Schoonover
From The Spider King
A Biographical Novel of Louis XI of France

The smell of death was gone, and in its place there was smoke and the smell of gunpowder; and through the smoke the ghostly wail of an Englishman, Roger Bacon, crying to the little prince (who as yet had not opened his eyes): “Would God I had never set down that diabolical formula, even in an anagram! How was I to know it would be deciphered or to what use it would be put? I thought it so pleasant to dabble in the natural sciences!”


No weapon more horrible than gunpowder had been or ever would be suggested by the Devil and invented by man. Surely gunpowder had exhausted both man’s ingenuity and the Devil’s imagination.


Where were the ideals of chivalry?

From time to time a member of their own class would supply the answer by dying miserably of a bullet no surgeon knew how to extract, some deep-seated fragment of iron aimed by a base-born engineer and shot from a blindly impersonal gun that the chevalier had not even seen, mortally wounded through Milanese armor that offered no more protection than if it had been an eggshell. Where had the rules of chivalry been since gunpowder was brought into war?


So many men, so many unsuspecting, unwarned, unshriven men, so soon to become bloody, mangled corpses, unrecognizable as humanity! In former wars with less violent weapons there had always been something left to bury.


A new generation of warriors, proud of their wonderful weapons, contemptuous of the old rules and…dedicated solely to winning, had changed the art of war. It was impersonal now, soulless, incredibly effective.


The truce with England had spewed into Paris twenty thousand brawling soldiers, brutal spawn of the weary war, with no skill but the skill of killing, no home but the camp, and no pay since for the moment there was no fighting.


Among the crowds were many maimed and crippled veterans of the perpetual war, brutalized by poverty, unemployable and forgotten, begging their lives away on the streets before old wounds killed them.


Customs, costumes, dialects, weights, measures, laws, everything changed with the crossing of each petty boundary. Such was the chaotic legacy of generations of war and the Black Death, and such was the misery of France. Men drew apart from their neighbors, trusting only the power of some local lord to protect them in times of danger, and danger was constant, behind the walls of some provincial capital.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: