The second son of a minor Essex 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 go to Italy, discovered that the threat of force could be very profitable indeed. Hawkwood became the most successful mercenary leader of the time - immortalised after death by Paolo Uccello's fresco in the Duomo. This is the story of an age when everything came to have a price. But above all, Hawkwood is a brilliant illumination of one of the outstanding figures of English and European history.