Free Company IV/74 1357-1410 AD
1x 3Kn (General): Sir John de Hawkwood
3x 3Kn//4 Bd
2x 3Kn//4 Bd or 3Kn//4Sp or 3Sp
1x 4Cb or 2Ps or Art
Sir John de Hawkwood (1320- 1394), was an English soldier of fortune born at Sible Hadingham near Colchester, Essex. He was the second son of Gilbert Hawkwood, a local land owner and tanner. Jean Froissart knew him as Haccoude. He is said to have distinguished himself at Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356), and was knighted by Edward III.
In the beginning of the 1360s Hawkwood had risen to be commander of the "White Company" (so called because the armor worn by them was not covered). In 1363 Hawkwood's men were part of the companies the Marquis of Montferrato hired and lead over the Alps to fight a war against Milan. Afterwards Hawkwood and his troops remained in Italy. With his "White Company" of mercenaries he became a "condottiere". The word means "contractor" in renaissance Italian. Hawkwood served the Pope and then various factions in Italy for over 30 years. In 1364, he fought for Pisa against Florence. In 1369, Hawkwood fought for Perugia against the Papal forces. In 1370, he joined Bernabò Visconti, the Duke of Milan, in his war against an alliance of cities including Pisa and Florence. In 1372, he fought for Visconti against his former master, the Marquis of Monferrato. After that, he resigned his command and the White Company moved to the service of the Pope for a time.
Under Hawkwood's command, the company gained a good reputation and he became a popular mercenary commander. He gained a nickname l'acuto, "the keen one", which gave him his Italian name, Giovanni Acuto. His success was varied, but he exploited the shifting allegiances and power politics of Italian factions for his own benefit. He married Donnina Visconti, one of the illegitimate daughters of Bernabò Visconti. They later had a son and three daughters.
John Hawkwood died in Florence on March 16-17 1394. He was buried with state honors in the Duomo. Shortly afterwards, Richard II asked for his body to be returned to his native England. Hawkwood's son also moved to England where he became an Englishman and moved to Essex. The cathedral in Florence still contains an equestrian portrait of Hawkwood by Paolo Uccello.
His Arms: Argent, on a chevron sable three escallops argent:
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