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By David Talbot Rice

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The history in the Palaeologue age at Constantinople (i 261-1453) The Empire was reduced to little more than Constantinople, Salonica, and the lands immediately bordering the Marmora, together with a few islands in the Aegean towards the end the once proud capital was ruling little more territory than could be seen from its own walls. The days of the great emperors had passed the imperial palaces were either in ruins sad, but extremely romantic. is ; or little better furnished than the poorer houses of the past; the lavish imperial patrons, with an immensely them, were no more.

The Emperor, though impoverished, was unable to live on an economic scale, and seemed incapable of reducing an expenditure which he was no longer in a position to maintain. Historically the most important feature of this age was the gradual advance of the Turks from the East. The advance had begun at least was now accelerated, firstly by the westward pressure exerted on the Turks themselves by the Mongols, who were pushing outwards from central Asia (Hulagu sacked Baghdad in 1258), and secondly by the rise to power of a young and energetic two centuries tribe, the before, but it Ottoman, which gradually supplanted the older Seljuk The advance of the Turks was also assisted dynasties in Asia Minor.

R poct/^rn q charactc r - i tmav exemplify the idealistic j spirit the of Greek art Roman style; : may follow the more matter-of-fact canons^ may be conceived in the expressive manner of it it the Semitic world- or show fnrmal or Islamic character - yet there about the ivorv which makes non-figural is it first ornament of a Persia n beyond such factors somethin g and foremost Byzantine. It is the definition of the true nature of this quality that presents itself as one of the foremost problems that concern the art historian.

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