I've just finished a superb biography of Sir John Hawkwood, who started out a squire in Essex and ended up married to the daughter of the Duke of Milan and one of the most influential men in Italy. After his death the above fresco was painted in Florence Cathedral. He more or less achieved this by failing to go home after the Hundred Years' War (actual length, 116 years) and instead heading to Italy to start menacing cities with his company of mercenaries. Italian politics were so insane that this kind of worked, with Milan and Florence and Siena and the Pope (and the other Pope) all hiring and firing or otherwise capturing and ransoming him while he changed sides more often than you can count and acquired huge amounts of property and cash. It's all hugely entertaining from a distance of 600 years.
The two completely trivial things that really got me, though, were:
1 - Knights in battle were often electrocuted in their armour during thunderstorms.
2 - Popular belief at the time held that if you had sex with a menstruating woman the baby would be a leper.
Who needs fiction?