Contained in this history of the "Great Sea" are the stories of the birth of Western Civilization, the clash of warring faiths, and the rivalries of empires.
David Abulafia leads a team of eight distinguished historians in an exploration of the great facts, themes, and epochs of this region's history: the physical setting; the rivalry between Carthaginians, Greeks, and Etruscans for control of the sea routes; unification under Rome and the subsequent break up into Western Christendom, Byzantium, and Islam; the Crusades; commerce in medieval times; the Ottoman resurgence; the rivalry of European powers from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries; and the globalization of the region in the last century.
The book departs from the traditional view of Mediterranean history, which placed emphasis on the overwhelming influences of physical geography on the molding of the region's civilizations. Instead, this new interpretation regards that physical context as a staging ground for decisive action, and at center stage are human catalysts at all levels of society‹whether great kings and emperors, the sailors of medieval Amalfi, or the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. The authors do more than simply catalogue the societies that developed in the region, but also describe how these groups interacted with one another across the sea, enjoying commercial and political ties as well as sharing ideas and religious beliefs.
This richly illustrated book offers contemporary historical writing at its best and is sure to engage specialists, students, and general readers alike.
David Abulafia is professor of Mediterranean studies at the University of Cambridge, England.
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