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The Devil's Broker : Seeking Gold, God, and Glory in Fourteenth-Century Italy
by:Frances Stonor Saunders
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...
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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