This book spans the period from the Emperor Charlemagne to the Emperor Frederick II (Stupor Mundi), though as there are many references to periods and people before and after, the total span is nearly a thousand years. The author's technique is to consider a number of Italian towns and monuments and show their development and the influences which went into making them what they are. Thus there are chapters on Lombard Pavia and Muslim Palermo and other chapters which focus on a particular monument, such as Santa Maria del Monte in the Apennines. Medieval Italy was the crucible of modern western civilisation, when in the words of Gibbon "the three great nations of the world, the Greeks, the Saracens and the Franks, encountered each other on the theatre of Italy." The ultimate consequence of this encounter, enriched by the inheritage of ancient Rome and other invading peoples, was the Italian Renaissance. The early medieval history of the Italian penninsula, of the invasions of Ostrogoths, Lombards, Carolingian Franks, Arabs, Byzantine Greeks, Normans and German kings who wished to renew the Empire, together with the economic, social and cultural changes which followed the break-up of the Roman Empire, is a complex one, partly because of the chronology which is tortuous and partly because there was no single "Italy". Yet some idea of his story is essential for a full understanding of the later history of the country and especially of the Renaissance.
Second hand Hardback