On March 30, 1282, as the church bells of Palermo were sounding vespers, a crowd of Sicilians fell on a party of French soldiers, the enforcers of Angevin rule over the island. Within minutes the French lay dead. The Palermo revolt spread quickly across Sicily, opposed by Frankish lords and the Italian clergy, and supported by Sicilian commoners, Aragonese infiltrators, and Byzantine spies. Against a complicated multinational backdrop, the noted medieval historian Steven Runciman deftly portrays the tangled world of Mediterranean politics in the 13th century, the apex of the Middle Ages.
'History in the grand manner, though always with a light touch.' The Observer
'Runciman wrote with wonderful eloquence, but he never overwrote. His narrative flows uncluttered by needless reference notes - there are some, but they nearly all refer to primary sources. His is the supreme example of a well-stocked mind not needing to show off all his wares, nor does he empede the central story by tedious allusion to secondary sources.' Daily Telegraph