F. Marion Crawford, The Rulers of the South

The Rulers of the South by F. Marion Crawford, which is now online at LacusCurtius, was published for the first time in 1901. It covers the history of Sicily from prehistory to the nineteenth century. The author viewed his book as “romantic history” and wrote in a pleasant, light discursive style, but it is essentially a military history, and faithfully follows its ancient sources. The title of the book, though, is well chosen: the rulers of the South are the subject matter rather than economic and social history, or art and literature. Yet even in a military and political history it’s impossible to ignore these other aspects altogether: there’s a good deal of information in this book – all the more inevitably in that, the author lived “half a life” in southern Italy, which we would easily divine even had he not told us so. He obviously loves Sicily in particular, especially Palermo, and his book gives us a very good feel for that city and some of the other towns and landmarks of the island.

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