By John Julius Norwich
John Julius Norwich's marvelous background of Venice from its origins to its eighteenth century fall. 'Lord Norwich has enjoyed and understood Venice in addition to the other Englishman has ever performed. He has placed readers of his new release extra in his debt than the other English writer' Peter Levi, The Sunday occasions.
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As we shall see, the mode of cultivation differed on each side. Finally, it is obvious that the Abruzzo, which is on the same latitude as Provence, and Sicily, which is on that of Tunisia, do not offer the same agricultural possibilities. In Sicily, the climate, plus the fact that the island was part of the Muslim world for two centuries, made it 5 55-8. Toubert (1973), 303^447, and (1976). For Montecassino, see also Loud (1994a), 20 JEAN-MARIE MARTIN possible to grow exotic plants such as citrus fruits, date-palms and sugar cane, although the last two were abandoned when Frederick II expelled the Muslims who were the only ones able to grow them.
The population continued to rise to the extent that the thirteenth century was a period of comparative overpopulation. Finally, this long period of growth was interrupted by the Black Death of 1348. In addition, one may note that, from at least the twelfth century, agricultural production grew faster than did the number of producers. 2 From this, we can safely infer the impact of technical progress, as for example, in animal harnessing and crop rotation, even though the direct evidence for this is very poor.
The crisis of the sixth and seventh centuries caused a number of these towns to disappear while the ones which survived were reduced in size and unable to exercise any specifically urban functions throughout the Dark Ages. Most episcopal sees had disappeared, even when the towns in which they were situated had survived. One notable exception must however be cited, that of Naples. A focus of resistance to the Lombards, it had preserved—and still retains—the main features of its ancient town planning, occupying all the area within its walls.
A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich