The Sicilian Vespers

By Steven Runciman,

Book cover of The Sicilian Vespers: A History of the Mediterranean World in the Later Thirteenth Century

Book description

On 30 March 1282, as the bells of Palermo were ringing for Vespers, the Sicilian townsfolk, crying 'Death to the French', slaughtered the garrison and administration of their Angevin King. Seen in historical perspective it was not an especially big massacre: the revolt of the long-subjugated Sicilians might seem just…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Sicilian Vespers as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love being a historian of the early and central Middle Ages. This was a period in which the religious and political conflicts of the later Middle Ages were not yet foregone conclusions, although the faultlines of future conflicts were being laid.

The late thirteenth century, by contrast, was a time of multiple contests on many fronts: the European crusading project continued, the fallout of the conflict between Frederick II and the papacy was still roiling, and the newly powerful kings of European states were competing for influence.

Steven Runciman’s book captures the ferment of this time by focusing on…

From Sarah's list on medieval Sicily.

This is perhaps the best book by this prolific historian, because of the way in which he successfully weaves together the histories of lands right across the Mediterranean and beyond: Aragon in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and the Levant, focussing on a successful rebellion in Sicily in 1282 that permanently changed the face of the Mediterranean.

From David's list on global history before the modern era.

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