The Venetian Empire: A Sea Voyage

Jan Morris

Introduced by Stella Tillyard

A maritime voyage like no other with historian and travel writer Jan Morris, in this unique illustrated edition.

Published price: US$ 74.95

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The Venetian Empire: A Sea Voyage

Jan Morris’s writing has always exuded infectious enthusiasm for her subjects, and never more so than when she writes about La Serenissima. In the late middle ages, the small city state of Venice gained unprecedented wealth and power through her maritime connections and as a by-product of the sack of Constantinople. Morris takes us on a journey through the modern-day places that were once part of Venice’s sphere of influence, whether tiny Greek islands or glittering modern cities, to explore its lingering legacy. This is an affectionate account, part travelogue, part social and political history, brought to life with her trademark wry wit and remarkable eye for detail.

Production Details

The Venetian Empire: A Sea Voyage book
  • Quarter-bound in cloth with Modigliani paper sides, printed with a wall carving of the Lion of St Mark
  • Blocked slipcase
  • Set in Bembo.
  • 208 pages
  • Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour plates
  • 3-page colour fold-out map
  • Map endpapers
  • Book size: 10" x 6¾"

Venice: La Serenissima

Venice’s great wealth was acquired almost by accident when the blind Doge, the old ‘but rascally’ Dandolo, persuaded the Fourth Crusade to divert to Byzantium in 1204. From the Sack of Constantinople precious relics and statues were carried back to Venice, but the Republic also seized greater spoils: an empire. For almost six centuries, Venice would rule a chain of islands, including the mighty Crete and Corfu as well as ports, harbours and coastal fortresses. An empire to protect her shipping, it formed the foundation for Venice’s immense wealth and power.

'We ... enjoy her human generosity, her lightness of touch ... and the surprisingly vigorous but gorgeous prose with which she recreates Venice’s imperial past'
Stella Tillyard

Jan Morris has long had a passion for Venice. Here she traces the ebb and flow of Venetian power overseas, not only as a historian but also as a traveller. By ship, dhow and ferry, Morris visits the modern day cities and islands of Venice’s former empire to immerse us in its sights and sounds. She sees Venetian frivolity in the decorated dovecotes of Tinos, hears echoes of Latin chants in Catholic monasteries on an Orthodox island, and among the coffee-smells and rumbling trucks of modern Istanbul senses a lingering trace of Venice. Mingling past and present, Morris introduces us to the flamboyant admiral Francesco Morosini who went into action accompanied by his cat, and to a modern scholar in Istanbul who visits Dandolo’s grave daily - to spit upon it. The edition is introduced by Stella Tillyard, who delights in the company of Morris, calling it ‘enchanting - incantevole, as the Italians say, which means singable as well as spellbinding and better captures the feel of her writing’.

Jan Morris (born 1926)

Jan Morris is a historian and travel writer who first made her name as a journalist, famously as the Times correspondent accompanying the British Mount Everest expedition in 1953. She has published some forty books, including Coronation Everest (1958), Venice (1960), Pax Britannica (1968), Heaven’s Command (1973), Conundrum (1974) Farewell the Trumpets (1978), Spain (1988), Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (2001), and a novel, Last Letters from Hav (2001), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Inside the book

Click here to read an extract from the book

Morris begins her history in the very centre of Venice, St Mark's Square.

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