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Sir John Hawkwood: Chivalry and the Art of…

Sir John Hawkwood: Chivalry and the Art of War (2008)

by Stephen Cooper

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I wanted to give this book 5 stars very badly but I'm kind of stingy with those. That said, this is a very good book. It is basically broken down in two parts. The first being Hawkwood's career in Italy beginning with his descent from France to join up with the Great Company. It covers the battles and campaigning, along with a bit of his personal life, up until his death in 1394.
The second half of the book deals basically with the mercenary trade in Italy in general and a fundamental study as to how war and chivalry combine (and clash) throughout Europe. This book relies heavily upon contemporary sources which I find very helpful and usually entertaining. There are chapters that deal with how mercenaries were percieved then and now. There is even a chapter that answers the question "Where Italians just too cowardly to fight their own wars?", which I thought amusing.
I give the author 5 stars for butting heads with Terry Jones and William Urban on the subject of mercenaries and Medieval warfare in general.
The only thing, in my opinion, lacking in this book was John Hawkwood's youth and first experiences in soldiering. These are covered well in William Caferro's [John Hawkwood: An English Mercenary in 14th Centrury Italy] but is always nice to have varied and sometimes differing sources. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  Poleaxe | Jan 22, 2009 |
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John Hawkwood did not make the mistake as Konrad von Landau, the German commander of the Great Company.
Those who make their living by commerce cannot know what war is...They engage in their usual occupations and say "We have beaten the enemy"-like the fly who sat on the ox's neck and, when asked "What are you doing, fly?" replied "We are ploughing".
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A perceptive account of the career of the famous medieval mercenary soldier Sir John Hawkwood, this title presents insight into the brutal politics and warfare of medieval France and Italy.

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