A parfit gentil knyght?

Sir John Hawkwood by Uccello, Duomo, Florence
Sir John Hawkwood by Paolo Uccello, Duomo, Florence (Wikipedia Commons)

Terry Jones Chaucer’s Knight:
the Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary

Eyre Methuen 1982 (1980)

A most impressive fresco of a sculptured horseman in trompe-l’oeil perspective dominates the north aisle of Florence’s Duomo. Painted in 1436 by Uccello (best known perhaps for his painting of St George and the Dragon in London’s National Gallery) the Latin inscription indicates that it represents Ioannes Acutus Eques Britannicus Dux Aetatis Suae Cavtissimus et Rei Militaris Peritissimus Habitus Est. A rough translation informs us that this is “John Hawkwood, British knight, the most careful leader of his age and the most skilled in matters of war”. It is an extraordinary monument in an already extraordinary building and at first leaves us wondering why an Englishman from Essex is commemorated so prominently in a Tuscan cathedral. Continue reading “A parfit gentil knyght?”