The Devil's Broker: Seeking Gold, God, and Glory in Fourteenth- Century Italy

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9780060777302: The Devil's Broker: Seeking Gold, God, and Glory in Fourteenth- Century Italy

The second son of a minor English landowner, John Hawkwood chose to head south in 1360 after serving as a captain in the Black Prince’s wars against France. He and other freebooters besieged the pope at Avignon, and when they were paid to desist at Avignon and go to Italy, they discovered that the threat of force could be very profitable indeed. The Italian city states – Florence, Milan, Siena, and Pisa – offered the richest pickings in Europe. By alternately besieging and protecting them, Hawkwood became the most wily, reliable, and successful mercenary leader of his time, leading the Italians to conclude that “the Devil is an Englishman.”

This is the story of an age when everything came to have a price, when the mercenary companies werevastly rich corporations with their own accountants, lawyers, and orators. It was also a time of cultural greatness, creating the ferment that would give birth to the Renaissance. In The Devil’s Broker, Stonor Saunders creates a glittering and hard-edged evocation of an era peopled by characters ranging from the great poets Chaucer, Petrarch, and Boccaccio to St. Catherine of Siena, a succession of corrupt, incompetent, and venal popes, and the tyrannical Visconti family of Milan. Brilliant and drivingly readable, The Devil’s Broker vividly recreates a complex man and a fascinating era.

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A vibrant history of Italy in the cataclysmic fourteenth century as seen through the life of a brilliant military strategist and bandit lord

At the dawn of the Renaissance, hordes of mercenaries swooped down on the opulent city-states of Italy and commenced to drain them dry. The greatest of all the bandits was Sir John Hawkwood, an English expatriate and military genius who formed his own army, cleverly pitted ancient rivals against one another, held the Pope for ransom, and set blood running in the streets.

In this gripping biography of the charismatic Hawkwood, Frances Stonor Saunders illuminates the fourteenth century as a time of plague, political schism, and religious mania offset by a gargantuan appetite for spectacle and luxury. Dazzling and addictively readable, The Devil's Broker is a riveting account of the fortunes gained and lost in a tumultuous time.

Product Description:

This is the bold story of Sir John Hawkwood, English knight turned mercenary general, who alternately besieged and protected Italy’s richest city states in the late fourteenth century, leading the Italians to conclude that “the Devil is an Englishman.” Brilliant and drivingly readable, The Devil’s Broker recreates a complex man and a fascinating era.

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