The real point of all this, though, was to remember just how ghastly the middle ages were, and, by extension, just how ghastly various places around the world are right now, some, at least, as a result of our interventions. If the neocons and liberal imperialists had really supposed that they wanted to drag the whole world into an age of freedom and democracy, they might have reflected how long it took us to come to even vaguely tolerable habits. So here are the rest of Hume’s stories, taken from the accounts of the Hundred Years’ War.
* Private security contractors:
bq. They associated themselves with the banditti, who were already inured to the habits of rapine and violence; and under the names of the companies and companions^ became a terror to all the peaceable inhabitants. Some English and Gascon gentlemen of character, particularly sir Matthew Gournay, sir Hugh Calverly, the chevalier Verte, and others, were not ashamed to take the command of these ruffians, whose numbers amounted on the whole to near 40,000, and who bore the appearance of regular armies, rather than bands of robbers. These leaders Fought pitched battles with the troops of France, and gained victories ; in one of which Jaques de Bourbon, a prince of the blood, was slain :c and they proceeded to such a height, that they wanted little but regular establishments to become princes …
* Pacifying mountain tribesmen
bq. Edward was obliged again to assemble an army, and to march into Scotland: the Scots, taught by experience, withdrew into their hills and fastnesses : he destroyed the houses and ravaged the estates of those whom he called rebels : but this confirmed them still farther, in their obstinate antipathy to England and to Baliol; and being now rendered desperate, they were ready to take advantage on the first opportunity, of the retreat of their enemy …
* Humanitarian intervention
bq. The gentry, hated for their tyranny, were every where exposed to the violence of popular rage; and instead of meeting1 with the regard due to their past dignity, became only, on that account, the object of more wanton insult to the mutinous peasants. They were hunted like wild beasts, and put to the sword without mercy: their castles were consumed with fire, and levelled to the ground: their wives and daughters were first ravished, then murdered: the savages proceeded so far as to impale some gentlemen, and roast them alive before a slow fire : a body of nine thousand of them broke into Meux, where the wife of the dauphin, with above 300 ladies, had taken shelter: the most brutal treatment and most atrocious cruelty were justly dreaded by this helpless company: but the Captal de Buche, though in the service of Edward, yet moved by generosity and by the gallantry of a true knight, flew to their rescue, and beat off the peasants with great slaughter.