Clinging to a rugged hillside in the lush valley of Sparta lies Mistra, one of the most dramatically beautiful Byzantine cities in Greece, a place steeped in history, myth, and romance. Following the Frankish conquest of the Peloponnese in the thirteenth century, William II of Villehardouin built a great castle on a hill near Sparta that later came to be known as Mistra. Ten years later, in a battle in northern Greece, Villehardouin was defeated and captured by the Byzantine emperor. The terms for his release included giving Mistra to the Byzantine Greeks. Under their rule, the city flourished and developed into a center of learning and the arts and was a focal point for the cultural development of Europe. Sir Steven Runciman, one of the most distinguished historians of the Byzantine period, traveled to Mistra on numerous occasions and became enchanted with the place. Now published in paperback for the first time, Lost Capital of Byzantium tells the story of this once-great city—its rise and fall and its place in the history of the Peloponnese and the Byzantine empire.
Mistra is one of the most romantic of the medieval cities of Europe. Sir Steven Runciman, the most elegant of Byzantine historians, has encapsulated its history, topography and personalities in a masterpiece of compressed learning.
One comes away from this book certainly a great deal better informed--but also filled with a longing to see once again the view from the Pantanassa--and feel the centuries of violence settling into their grave.
It is a history rich with political intrigue, dynastic ambition and petty battles. It is also a history of Byzantine complexity. With the eloquence, learning and love of his subject that we have come to expect from him, Sir Steven demonstrates how Mistra is one of the tangled main roots to our golden past.
Deep learning and graceful style.
- 160 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
- Foreword by John Freely
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