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Vanderbilt scholar wins WMU's Grundler Prize

June 11, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University has awarded the prestigious Grundler Prize to a Vanderbilt University scholar for his book "John Hawkwood: An English Mercenary in 14th Century Italy."

The prize was awarded at the 43rd International Congress on Medieval Studies to William Caferro, an associate professor of history at Vanderbilt. The congress was held May 8-11 on the WMU campus. The Grundler Prize was established to honor the late Otto Grundler, former director of the WMU Medieval Institute, which sponsors the annual congress.

Published in 2006 by the Johns Hopkins University Press, Caferro's book is based on research in numerous Italian and English archives. Caferro's work chronicles the remarkable life and career of the most notorious mercenary soldier of the 14th century.

Hawkwood was born in England and served as a soldier for the English king in the Hundred Years' War, but gained his greatest fame and fortune as a commander-for-hire in the internecine wars all along the Italian peninsula. A man known for cleverness and daring, he was the most feared mercenary in Renaissance Italy. One of his employers, the city of Florence, did him the honor of granting him citizenship in life and a final resting place in death, interring him with great ceremony in their cathedral.

Beyond the life of this famous soldier, Caferro was also able to capture the political atmosphere of the Italian city-states in the later Middle Ages, during the time of Geoffrey Chaucer and Petrarch, both figures Hawkwood knew personally.

For more information or to order the book, visit www.press.jhu.edu/books.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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