Vai alla scheda di Giovanni Acuto / John Hawkwood

“Capo di una gran compagnia di masnadieri.” PEZZANA

“El quale haveva fatte molte magnanime cose et relevate de honore et fama.” MINUTI

“Gran capitano di quella età.”CIRILLO

“Johannes Augus militiae dux Florentiae diem obiit, publicoque civitatis funere elatus est. Fuit autem genere anglicus, sed longo militia per Italiam assuetus in multisque versatus bellis, famam et gloriam rei militaris sibi praecipue comparaverant.” BRUNI

“Célebre condottiere anglais.” DURRIEU

“Uno dei miglior e più temuti capitani di quei giorni.” CECCONI

“Uno de’ migliori capitani di quell’età.” COLUCCI

“Delle sue proprietà della sua borsa Giovanni Acuto si mostra un attento amministratore, che non perde d’occhio il proprio interesse. Se c’è un’immagine che assolutamente non s’attaglia a quest’uomo è lo stereotipo del  soldataccio predatore e dissipatore di tutto ciò che riesce ad arraffare.  Al contrario, l’inglese si dimostra un oculato e parsimonioso investitore dei suoi guadagni, sempre pronto a trovar pretesti per non dover spendere e, invece, tenace e irremovibile quando si tratta di crediti da riscuotere.” BALESTRACCI

“John Hawkwood.. lived by war, and no one was more successful at it. From modest roots in England, he rose to become the premier mercenary captain of his day, achieving fame on the battle fields of Italy, where he served for more than thirty years of his career.. The portrait of John Hawkwood is on an extraordinary military leader, if not always an admirable human being. More than any other, he developed the skills of a great military strategist and inspired in his fellow soldiers an unrivaled loyalty.. He could be cruel and savage but also conciliatory. He retained a close connection with his home in England and a keen sense of his English identity. He served king Richard II as an ambassador and slowly built a patrimony in his native Essex on which he hoped to retire.. Whatever Hawkwood lacked in formal educational training and eloquence, he made up for by character. By all accounts he was an imperious man who did not suffer fools gladly. He frequently displayed contempt for the machinations of politicians.. No one sought money energerly, no one was more effective at acquiring it.. He received higher pay than any other soldier on the Florentine payroll , though his brigade was one of the smallest.. Hawkwood’s salary constituted only a part of his earnings. During the summer of 1375, Hawkwood extorted more than 200000 florins in bribes, a sum exceeded the annual revenue of whole cities, like Siena, Perugia, and Pisa. He also amassed jewels, silver plates, and expensive baubles, which deposited in Bologna, Milan, Venice, and other places. He diversified his financial portfolio. He had shares in the public debt in Florence and as one point purpotedly had more than 100000 ducati in Venice.. He was the craftiest soldier of his day. His tactics included feigned retreats , ambushes, and the dissemination of false information.. Hawkwood established the best network of spies and informers in Italy. He derived much of this information from petty nobles and exiles who owing to the fractions  nature of local politics, existed in copious numbers in the Italian countryside.. Hawkwood’s primary allegiance was and always remained to his native England. He identified with his home and always intended to return to his native Essex, to live af a landed lord off his Italian profits.. Villani called Hawkwood an “old fox” and portrayed his vulpine qualities as being native to the English race….The greatest mercenary of his day, is credited with prompting the Italian proverb “Un inglese italianato è un diavolo incarnato.””CAFERRO

“(Was) the most spectacularly successful member of a class of soldiers whose advent  brought devastation and social dislocation wherever they passed – dislocation that made the ravages of war a factor of social and economic importance at the very best comparable to the effect of plague in the later Middle Ages.” KEEN. Riportato da STONOR SAUNDERS

“Knight  or robber? Hawkwood’s career brings into sharp relief the difficulty of distinguishing between the two, of “applying any  touchstone in order to distinguish the gold from the base metal in chivalry,” which idealized the freelance fighting man and encouraged him to seek out wars.” STONOR DAUNDERS

“Hawkwood has always been heartily disliked in some quarters. Towns which he had sacked or preyed on had no reason to think highly of him. The English were so unpopular in Pont-Saint-Esprit after the sack of 1360 that there was a riot there two years later, when seven German or Flemish pilgrims were mistakenly thought to have come from England. Filippo Villani, who wrote in Florence in the 1360s, called the English who sacked Figline “cruel and bestial men who enriched themselves at our expense”. Sacchetti, who wrote at a time when Sir John became a favourite son of Florence, nevertheless criticized him bitterly in poetry and short stories. Men and women in holy orders looked at the world in biblical terms and, in the letter she wrote to him, St. Catherine of Siena accused Hawkwood of doing the Devil’s work. It is easy why later generation concluded that Sir John was the origin of the Italian proverb, “Inglese italianato, diavolo incarnato” – “an Italianized Englishman is the Devil incarnate”… He lived a long life and did not suffer a decline in later years.. He was a commoner and a younger son who left home and became a knight, whereas his elder brother and namesake – who stayed at home in Essex – always remained “Hawkwood the elder”. He served the king of England as well his Italian masters and he lived to see the daughters married, though his son was only made a knight after his death. He progressed from being captain of an English brigade to holding the highest office in the Florentine army and, like Little Meschin before him, defeated some of the greatest noblemen in Europe. Unlike Knollys in 1370 was never criticized for being promoted beyond the station. Hawkwood’s successes in Italy filled many Englishmen with deep pride – even monks, servants of God who looked at the world through the prism of religion. News of his adventures had filtered back home as early as 1369, when the coninuation of Murimuth’s chronicle records that “In that time, the Englishman Sir Hawkwood rose to prominence (floruit). He had the White Company with him, and fought now against the Church, now against the lords of Milan, and he did many extraordinary things, really marvellous things, the like of which no one had heard of before (mirabilia inaudita)”. ” COOPER

“Oriondo d’una barbarica isola, colla sua prudenza e col suo valore giunse a sì alti onori, che persino un Visconti, signor di Milano, gli fidanzò la figliuola sua, e la Repubblica Fiorentina lo colmò di ricchezze, e, lui morto, ne magnificò la memoria con una statua equestre che si vede ancor oggi nel Duomo di Firenze.” VON PLATEN

“A man with a bloody reputation for over-fulfilling his contracts.” CROWLEY

“Compie una sorta di sovvertimento nella milizia; ha perfettamente compreso che non si può continuare ad aumentare all’infinito lo spessore e la lunghezza delle corazze onde resistere alla sempre maggiore perfezione delle armi (si pensi, ad esempio, all’innovazione della spada alla francese, tagliente dai due lati, lunga e sottile). I cavalieri sempre più bardati di cotte, maglie e corazze richiedono cavalli sempre più pesanti e poco adatti alla corsa; tutti i movimenti sono impacciati ed è sufficiente una caduta per portare al disastro. Giovanni Acuto decide quindi di ridurre l’armamento individuale in funzione di una maggior leggerezza e di una più efficace manovrabilità. Ordina che i cavalieri, avvicinatisi al nemico, scendano da cavallo a piedi creando una selva di lance…Un’altra innovazione del combattimento è quella che applica l’abile condottiero britannico nei confronti di un nemico attaccante in forze; è l’evoluzione delle teorie già seguite da Castruccio Castracani. Dove il nemico abbia superiorità numerica è meglio temporeggiare, logorarne le forze con scaramucce seguite da repentine fughe e rimandare l’attacco al momento in cui le forze avversarie si trovino svantaggiate dai luoghi o stanche per quella guerra che si disperde in minutissimi rivoli e battagliole senza costrutto.” ADAR

“Era stato non soltanto un condottiero, ma anche un abile diplomatico al quale la repubblica fiorentina aveva affidato la soluzione di molte controversie.” GAZZARA

“Listed among the English army in France in the 1350s, Hawkwood was “still a poor knight who had gained nothing but his spurs” when he joined the Tard-Venus after Brétigny…He commanded the White Company..On their first appearance in Lombardy they spread terror by their fury and license, and as time went on, “nothing was more terrible to hear than the name of the English”. They gained the reputation of perfidi e scelleratissimi (perfididous and most wicked), although it was conceded “they did non roast and mutilate their victim like the Hungarians.” TUCHMAN

“Il personaggio decisivo nell’evoluzione del mercenario verso la figura del capitano di ventura fu John Hawkwood, detto Giovanni Acuto. Agli inizi della sua carriera la Compagnia bianca, di cui faceva parte e che poi comandò, si distingueva dalle altre per organizzazione, disciplina e capacità militari..La sua compagnia fu quella che si avvicinava maggiormente all’idea di buon investimento per raggiungere un fine. Solitamente rispettosa dei patti sottoscritti (o più rispettosa della concorrenza), efficace in guerra e ben commandata, era la soluzione ideale per il problema militare.” SCARDIGLI

“Tattico e prudente, sempre in movimento, che si preoccupa del consenso, usa il codice cavalleresco ed è sensibilissimo all’iniziativa strategico-diplomatica in perfetta sintonia con Firenze.” BARLOZZETTI

“Si ritrovò..a essere il capitano di ventura più richiesto in Italia, ammirato oltre che per la sua capacità di mantenere la coesione fra le sue truppe, anche per la perizia con cui manovrava gli eserciti sul campo, sapeva ottenere informazioni e liberarsi dai nemici diffondendo informazioni sbagliate. Se da un lato l’inglese si preoccupava di mantenere alta la sua reputazione di capo militare, dall’altro si rivelò degno figlio di suo padre, affinando costantemente il proprio fiuto negli affari che gli permise di accumulare così terre e benefici che lo trasformarono in uno dei maggiori possidenti del suolo italiano.” STAFFA

“The funeral, at civic expense, was one of the most splendid ever seen in Florence; the Commune almost seemed to be rejoicing that fate had prevented his loss to them. At civic expense, handsome black clothing was provided for his widow, his son and daughters and all his household. The Commune sent a hundred large wax candles, banners with the arms of the Commune, shields and a helmet crested with a golden lion clutching a red lily in its claw. The Guelf party sent twenty wax candles, a pennon with the Guelf arms, and an eagle-crested helmet. The soldiers of Hawkwood’s own guard marched with fourteen  caparisoned horses, bearing flags and pennons with his arms, his sword, his shield, and his crested helmet. The bier was richly draped with cloths of crimson velvet and gold, and displayed in the Piazza Signoria, where the funeral procession formed. All the priests in the city marched with the chief cavaliers of Florence. The bier was placed in the Baptistry, where the women wept. Then the body was carried into the Duomo for the final requiem. At the end, the sarcophagus was temporarily interred in the choir. Thus John Hawkwood, English countryman turned Italian knight, after a long and vigorous life of successful violence, received the highest honours of the Florentine state. And so impressed were the English by his name and his fame – though they never had the privilege of suffering from his sword – that like honours were accorded. King Richard II requested that his body be returned to his native soil, and in parish church a memorial was constructed.” DEISS

“Combattente valoroso, abile stratega, era soprattutto espertissimo gestore dei propri mezzi politici nel complicato teatro italiano, l’Acuto emerge come una figura dal profilo ben diverso rispetto alla torva grandezza di un Conte Lando. Non mancarono certo nella sua carriera episodi di crudeltà, e neppure i suoi più entusiasti biografi sono riusciti ad assolverlo del tutto dall’accusa di aver partecipato a massacri indiscriminati di popolazione civile; né del resto l’intelligente politica delle relazioni con i vari signori può nascondere il suo cinico desiderio di denaro e di potere, che più di una volta prevalse senza troppi scrupoli sulla fedeltà ai suoi committenti.” TANZINI

“Giovanni Acuto fu, a giudizio unanime degli storici, il maggior condottiero del suo tempo. La sua valentia di capitano era superiore a quella di tutti gli altri capitani dell’epoca. Servì sempre con onestà coloro che richiedevano i suoi servigi. Anche se la strage di Cesena è una brutta macchia sul suo nome, va ricordato che in quella crudele vicenda egli fu costretto ad obbedire ad un ordine impartitogli dall’alto, e che per parte sua si adoprò a riaparmiare come poté una parte della popolazione dell’infelice città.” MONTELLA




D. Balestracci. Le armi, i cavalli, l’oro. Giovanni Acuto e i condottieri nell’Italia del Trecento.

W. Caferro. John Hawkwood. An English mercenary in Fourteenth-Century Italy.

S. Cooper. Dir John Hawkwood. Chivalry and the art of war.

F. S. Stauners. Hawkwood. Diabolical Englishman.

J. Temple Leader – G. Marcotti. Giovanni Acuto.

E. J. Crockett. Condottiere. A knight’s tale