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Head of Zeus
Siena: The Life and Afterlife of a Medieval City by Jane Stevenson

An authoritative, richly illustrated history, and affectionate celebration, of Siena, one of the best-loved and most-visited cities in Italy.

Occupying a hilltop site in the midst of a vast, undulating landscape, Siena is as much a magnet for contemporary tourism as Florence. However, its proud republican past presents an intriguing contrast with its Medici-dominated northern Tuscan rival, with which it tussled for local supremacy for much of the High Middle Ages. From the twelfth century, profiting from its advantageous position on a major pilgrim route, the Republic of Siena developed into a major European power and remained an important commercial, financial and artistic centre for four centuries.

Jane Stevenson charts the changing fortunes of a city that rose to an astonishingly productive cultural heyday in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, suffered a catastrophic late medieval decline in the aftermath of the Black Death, but transcended the loss of its wider political power to enjoy a prosperous civic afterlife. Siena today enjoys a cherished position as a uniquely well-preserved medieval city, crammed with world-class art and architecture, furnished with appealing and intriguing traditions, and set in a heavenly landscape.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Modern History
13 Oct 2022 * 432pp * £9.99 * 9781801101165
'I loved this book. Its narrative is rich, tasty, dramatic and full of surprises, exactly like the astonishing Tuscan city it evokes. Jane Stevenson is not content to stand back and admire Siena's manifold beauties but dwells fascinatingly on its various contexts and after-lives, endlessly alert to the place's singularity within the wider world of Italian history, culture and experience. The whole work, lavishly illustrated, does honour to its theme'
Jonathan Keates
'Jane Stevenson has written a perfect history on this most beautiful of Italian cities'
James Stourton
'Informed history with a personal touch. An enchanting intimate and knowledgeable evocation of the history of Siena, from its Etruscan beginnings, through its medieval and renaissance glories and travails, its long rivalry with Florence, to the present-day financial shenanigans of the world's oldest bank, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena'
Paul Strathern
'In her sumptuously illustrated history of Siena, Jane Stevenson celebrates a proud, hard-working Italian city state, ruled by the church on one side and by bankers, traders and artists on the other... Siena, "one of the best-loved cities" in the world, has found an ideal chronicler in Stevenson, who brings her history up to fascism under Mussolini'

'Painstakingly researched and yet unfailingly readable' Ross King.

'An insight into one of Renaissance Italy's most glamorous courts' Catherine Fletcher.

'In a narrative matching her book's sumptious illustrations, Jane Stevenson celebrates Urbino as an essential place of pilgrimage for all lovers of Italian art and literature' Jonathan Keates.

'A fascinating account of the patrons and artists behind the creation of one of Italy's hidden treasures'
 Mary Hollingsworth
Jane Stevenson
Jane Stevenson
Jane Stevenson has taught at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, Warwick and Aberdeen, and is now a Senior Research Fellow at Campion Hall, Oxford. She is the author of Baroque Between the Wars, a study of alternative currents in the interwar arts, Edward Burra: Twentieth Century Eye and The Light of Italy: The Life and Times of Federico da Montefeltro.
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