When an attempted political coup in 16th century Northern Italy fails, most of the mercenaries hired by the coup leaders disperse. Not so Martin (Rutger Hauer), who intends to rob his duplicitous former employer Arnolfini (Fernando Hillbeck). Martin is able to raise his own army by using a stolen religious artifact as a talisman. He later kidnaps Arnolfini's prospective daughter-in-law Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who saves herself from gang rape by feigning eternal devotion to her captor. Weeks of plunder and destruction follow, with a deadly plague thrown into the stew. Flesh and Blood has also been released under the title The Rose and the Sword.