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Hawkwood : de duivelse Engelsman von Frances…
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Hawkwood : de duivelse Engelsman (Original 2004; 2005. Auflage)

von Frances Stonor Saunders

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
401949,223 (3.77)12
The hugely acclaimed, best-selling life of Hawkwood, one of the outstanding figures of English and European history. John Hawkwood was an Essex man who became the greatest mercenary in an age when soldiers of fortune flourished - an age that also witnessed the first stirrings of the Renaissance. When England made a peace treaty with the French in 1360, during a pause in the Hundred Years War, John Hawkwood, instead of going home, travelled south to Avignon, where the papacy was based during its exile from Rome. He and his fellow mercenaries held the pope to ransom and were paid off. Hawkwood then crossed the Alps into Italy and found himself in a promised land: he made and lost fortunes extorting money from city states like Florence, Siena, and Milan, who were fighting vicious wars between themselves and against the popes. This man of war husbanded his use of violence, but for all his caution he committed one of the most notorious massacres of his time - an atrocity that still clouds his name.… (mehr)
Mitglied:marieke54
Titel:Hawkwood : de duivelse Engelsman
Autoren:Frances Stonor Saunders
Info:Amsterdam : Anthos; 389 p., [16] p. pl, 23 cm; http://opc4.kb.nl/DB=1/PPN?PPN=287894088
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
Bewertung:
Tags:biography, history, medieval, renaissance, italy, florence

Werk-Details

Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman von Frances Stonor Saunders (2004)

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Writing a biography of a medieval mercenary soldier (1323-1394) is always going to be difficult because of the lack of hard information on the chosen subject. Some biographers might resort to surmising on what could have happened or even inventing stuff from best guesses; Francis Stonor Saunders, does a little of this but on the whole she has chosen to provide the reader with a lively account of events on the continent in which Hawkwood may or may not have been involved.

After the battle of Poitiers 1356, where the French army was routed and the English Nobility returned home with their prize of the King of France, there was a lull in the fighting. Suddenly a large number of soldiers found themselves at a loose end, with no pay and no one to fight for. They had been campaigning for some months and many were loathe to return to rural England. The prize of more booty kept them under arms and they soon formed themselves into mercenary companies for hire. France without it’s king became a particularly lawless country and there was profits to be had, especially as the catholic church was in schism with one of the two Popes based at Avignon. Rich opportunities presented themselves and Hawkwood emerged as one of the leaders of the so called Companies. In 1361 Hawkwood and the White Company crossed into Italy where the warring Italian city states presented the mercenaries with plenty of opportunity.

The Companies were organised on military lines and were for hire by the highest bidder. No national loyalties meant that they could cross and double cross their employers as they saw fit. They became so powerful that the only method of securing a cities safety was to either buy them off or hire another company to fight them off. Hawkwood like the leaders of other companies was ruthless in the extreme. His mercenaries lived off the land, murder, rape, and ransom was the order of the day and many villages and towns were laid to waste. Crops and houses were burned and castles and strongholds were besieged. Historical records of contracts made and ransoms paid enable historians to follow the progress of men like Hawkwood, but details of their characters and motives (apart from their need for money) remain elusive and much of what we know about them comes from their reputations.

Francis Stonor Saunders wisely does far more than present just an historical record of Hawkwood’s exploits, she attempts to place the Companies themselves within the context of life in Italy and France during that time. In an excellent introductory chapter titled the fourteenth century she paints a lively picture of life and death in that turbulent time. Drawing on the work of historians Barbara Tuchman and Johan Huizinga she tells of the horrors of war and rapine that were a fact of life for many people, but she balances this out with the opportunities that were there for people to forge for themselves a better life. Visitations of the Plague had thinned the population, presenting opportunities for the survivors, medieval service to the Lords of the manor were breaking down, city states were emerging where trade and enterprise spoke louder than fealty, or the power of the clergy. In some respects a figure such as Hawkwood may appear as a murderous mercenary leader or as a Knight (but not quite in shinning armour).

It is a difficult task for an author to extract a narrative from the chaos of the Italian city states in the latter part of the fourteenth century, especially when her subject is a man who profited so much from the chaos that he helped to create, but by concentrating on the difficulties of the schismatic Popes and the powerful Visconti family of Milan and the city state of Florence she does present a story that holds together. The closest she gets to her hero is the Hawkwood in later life when he became the captain of the Florentine mercenary army. His marriage to a daughter of the Visconti family allows her to describe: from historical records, the life of a wealthy young wife, whose older warrior husband was busily still trying to maintain his lifestyle through warring.

The book contains much of what might interest the more general reader. There are of course vivid accounts of atrocities, with all their barbarity, of battles, of bravery and cowardice as well as Hawkwood’s abilities to keep himself alive and on top of his game, but this is offset by a more rounded portrayal of 14th century life. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales has all of this life in abundance and surely it is not a coincidence that in his role as soldier diplomat in his younger years he would have negotiated with Sir John Hawkwood. Francis Stonor Saunders points out that some critics believe that Chaucer’s Knight ( one of the characters on the Pilgrimage to Canterbury) is partly based on Hawkwood.

I have read widely of the history and literature from the fourteenth century, but I am still pleased to have read Francis Stonor Saunder’s Hawkwood. It paints a vivid and lively picture of many aspects of that time and while it does not really serve as an introduction to the period it enhances much of what has been written and would hold the interest of the more general reader. There are source notes a bibliography and an index and for me it was four star read. ( )
2 abstimmen baswood | Jan 25, 2017 |
Saunders works hard to present a popular life of a mercenary captain whose success had an influence on the Renaissance. As he was a mover in the complex world of Italian politics using Hawkwood as a centrepiece allows considerable asides on the Great schism of the Papacy and Saint Catherine of Siena, and the Visconti of Milan. This is a book worth reading though it is short on footnotes, and on the minutae of running a mercenary company. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 8, 2016 |
Hawkwood was an English soldier on leave in the continent during a caesura in the Hundred Years War. While suffering from peace, he plied his trade in Italy, which was good business all around. The city states employed mercenary companies to fight each other, and Hawkwood benefited from their constant turmoil. He would contract with Pisa to fight Milan, then Milan to fight Pisa, then against Milan again, then against the Pope, then he worked for the Pope, then he worked against the Pope again. He got money, land, and titles from every side; the ablest mercenary -- and, more importantly, businessman -- in a mercenary age.

Saunders as much as acknowledges that the first half of the book won't be interesting, because there's little known about the early part of Hawkwood's life. I suppose she didn't need to spend time telling us that part, but after all, I can't fault her when the second half is so extraordinary. ( )
  adamhindman | Feb 28, 2016 |
One thing is for sure: war is about money. Always has been and always will be. John Hawkwood was merely an excellent and unashamed practitioner of war as a revenue-generating activity. 1360, a treaty is signed and the Hundred Years War pauses, but people keep fighting, mostly English soldiers who stay in France to kill and burn and pillage because it beats going home and doing an honest day's work or dying of the plague. The soldiers coalesce into large companies who style themselves mercenaries, though instead of being paid to fight, they mostly just fight until they're paid to go away. Amongst the hordes laying waste to much of France is unassuming Essex man, John Hawkwood. They range far and wide until they finally threaten the pope, living in luxurious exile in Avignon. In sheer self-defence, the pope hires Hawkwood and tells him to go to Italy, and that's where Hawkwood goes, bringing an exciting new era of death and destruction with him.
Northern Italy is full of strong, prosperous city states like Milan, Florence and Siena, all of whom hate each other, a situation which Hawkwood coolly and calmly and ruthlessly exploits. Soon he and his men are killing peasants, raping women, burning crops, ransoming nobles and even defeating the odd army here and there, collecting vast sums from various signoria to go away and bother the other guy. Then the pope returns to Rome and tries to take charge and more people die and Hawkwood keeps raking it in.
Hawkwood, oddly enough, remains a cipher. We only know him through his actions, his clever maneuverings, his carefully controlled slaughtering and kidnapping and, oh yeah, that one really big massacre at Cesena. He left no writings behind to provide any sort of insight into his character or personality, and mostly he just kept soldiering and ransoming and robbing and threatening and killing because that's what he was good at. Instead we have walk-on parts by the likes of Chaucer, Boccaccio, Petrarch and Catherine of Siena to bring the age to life and illuminate the minds and souls of the players and the landscape they moved through: wealth, poverty, famine, plague, war, not to mention the obscene iniquity of holy mother church, outdoing all others in the atrocity stakes as it gropes for secular power, while its cardinals and prelates are ardent practitioners of the seven deadly sins.
This is a deeply interesting book, written with a cool, clear detachment that occasionally turns acerbic. It is an edifying and sobering piece of history, and if Hawkwood remains an enigma, it may be because we don't yet understand how much of history is carved out by cool, ruthless bastards doing whatever the hell they wanted.
( )
1 abstimmen Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
De overeenkomsten met Barbara Tuchman's "De Waanzinnige Veertiende Eeuw" zijn hier legio. Daar waar Tuchman die eeuw op magistrale wijze beschreef rondom het leven van Enguerrand VII de Coucy, doet Stonor Saunders dat rondom het leven van John Hawkwood, vermaard condotierre binnen de Italiaanse politieke scène. Hawkwood, wiens fresco de binnenmuur van de Santa Maria del Fiore in Firenze siert, zou model hebben gestaan voor het gezegde: "Inglese italianato è un diavolo incarnato". Maar toch: "de perceptie van Hawkwood als een vleesgeworden buitenlandse duivel verschoof geleidelijk naar de acceptatie van hem als een waardige medespeler in Italiaanse aangelegenheden" (p. 278) En die aangelegenheden met al hun steeds wisselende onderlinge twisten en bondgenootschappen, vormden natuurlijk de perfecte voedingsbodem voor een speler als Hawkwood.
Hawkwood en zijn collega's condotierri worden neergezet als nu eens opportunisten die massa's geld binnenhaalden maar ook weer uitgaven, dan weer als gewetenloze geweldenaars, als berekende politici of ook eens als bezorgde vaders. Stonor Saunders brengt een mooi opgebouwd verhaal van de (tweede helft van de) veertiende eeuw en belicht vooral de Italiaanse situatie. En in die zin vond ik haar boek (dat niet zozeer een biografie over Hawkwood is) een welkome aanvulling op het werk van Tuchman. ( )
1 abstimmen rvdm61 | Aug 2, 2015 |
Frances Stonor Saunders bok är ett förträffligt stycke populärhistoria. Den som läser skriften lär sig åtskilligt om inte bara Hawkwood utan även om senmedeltidens krig, politik, kultur och vardagsliv.
 
Den djävulske engelsmannen är en otäck, färgstark och välskriven skildring av ett senmedeltida århundrade fyllt inte bara av infernaliska händelser utan också exempel på kommersiell och konstnärlig vitalitet.
 

» Andere Autoren hinzufügen

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Saunders, Frances StonorHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Eklöf, MargaretaÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Hartmans, RobÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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In the third bay of the north aisle of the Duomo of Florence is Paolo Uccello's fresco portrait of John Hawkwood.
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UK ed.: Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman
US ed.: The Devil's Broker
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The hugely acclaimed, best-selling life of Hawkwood, one of the outstanding figures of English and European history. John Hawkwood was an Essex man who became the greatest mercenary in an age when soldiers of fortune flourished - an age that also witnessed the first stirrings of the Renaissance. When England made a peace treaty with the French in 1360, during a pause in the Hundred Years War, John Hawkwood, instead of going home, travelled south to Avignon, where the papacy was based during its exile from Rome. He and his fellow mercenaries held the pope to ransom and were paid off. Hawkwood then crossed the Alps into Italy and found himself in a promised land: he made and lost fortunes extorting money from city states like Florence, Siena, and Milan, who were fighting vicious wars between themselves and against the popes. This man of war husbanded his use of violence, but for all his caution he committed one of the most notorious massacres of his time - an atrocity that still clouds his name.

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