The Habit Of Contemplation Is Necessary For the Next Holy Roman Emperor
It would be perfectly consistent with reason that the lord king remain inactive to have leisure for begetting, rearing, and teaching his children; to pronounce sentence and dispense justice personally in important cases and transactions, or to have it done by others; to carry on campaigns through the agency of his closest and most trustworthy war leaders; and to furnish warriors and the supplies necessary and useful for carrying on war. This is evident from what the Philosopher says in his Politics: ‘Men of vigorous intellect are naturally the rulers and masters of others.’ He says also in the seventh book of the Physics, ‘The tranquil mind becomes wise and prudent.’ Thus the sainted David remained inactive, taking leisure for contemplation, while he sent the sons of Israel off on campaigns.
War leaders sent out in this way can maneuver quickly, begin battle suddenly, proceed with cunning, transfer themselves hither and thither by day or by night to harass the enemy, and can subsist mostly from the spoils of the enemy. A great king or prince cannot do this, for it is not seemly for him to go forth to war on behalf of a few and neglect the administration of an almost incomparably greater number of people. It ill becomes so great a prince to neglect his many important administrative duties and expose himself to danger and the chance of accidental death, lest ‘when the shepherd is stricken at the devils’ instigation, the sheep of the flock be scattered.’
It is far better for that prince who sends an army to some province for the purpose of quelling a revolt to ordain that if by chance the war leader die, be wounded, fall ill, or be incapacitated in some other way, another be substituted for him at once: unconditionally and without reserve, if the leader be dead; if merely incapacitated, until he recovers. The substitute should at once proceed promptly and at the opportune time with the plan agreed upon. It would be a serious defect in the organization of a great army if it should remain inactive and impotent or disintegrate because of the incapacity of a single individual.
Boethius says, ‘Only that merits being spoken of as in the world which is ordained by and serves nature.’ As the Philosopher says, ‘Just as the world is a unit by the unity of the ordering of the goal sought by all, which is the first principle which we call God, so the army is a unit by the ordering of its goal, which is the victory sought by the war leader and which each and every man in the army ought to seek.’ It were well for the prince to direct his energies toward this goal, to wit, the attainment of perpetual peace, so that in time of peace men will have full, free, and perfect leisure to acquire the virtues and sciences. ‘He who otherwise seeks was for its own sake is in the extreme of wickedness,’ as the Philosopher testifies. He who humbly seeks victory and peace by God’s power, and not by his own efforts, will find the peace of God, which according to the apostle ‘surpasseth all understanding.’
The Recovery of the Holy Land