Giovanni Acuto, condottiere and commander of the White Company.
"Sir" John Hawkwood, called 'Giovanni Acuto', (Essex, ca. 1320 - Florence 1394), arrived in Italy ca 1360. He learnt the soldier's craft during the Hundred Years War in France, where he fought first under Edward III and then at the command of his own company, which sacked Provence. When he came to Italy in 1360, at the head of the White Company he was first employed by the city of Pisa, then by the Viscontis of Milan, by Pope Gregory XI and lastly by Florence, where his name was Italianized into Giovanni Acuto. While at the service of Florence, John was sometimes also hired by other city-states. In fact Acuto's major success was in 1387 when he was at the hire of Padua against the Veronese. But the Florentine established such a good relationship with him that he was honored on his death with magnificent funerals, and the equestrian monument frescoed by Paolo Uccello in Santa Maria del Fiore (1436).

Hawkwood is generally considered to have been one of the first military leaders of modern times. "The White Company" was originally composed of a group of veterans of the Hundred Years War. In Italy they were known as "The English" because usually they were men who had fought in the "English" wars in France. Of course, not all were English. But the leaders of the Company were English, and among them was John Hawkwood. The Company got its epithet "White" from the shining armor that they were wearing. It was a smooth armor, quite different that those used in Italy, and the knight had a number of pages to keep it shined at all times. The fighting unit, called "lance", was composed by three people, two fighters and a page—previously unknown in Italy.