By 1450, all of Europe and the Mediterranean were influenced by the teachings, the economies and the intellect of Italy. Its predominance had been achieved through a long history of effort, patience and strategic victories. How had Italy, or rather a handful of Italian cities, a few men all told, succeed in acquiring and maintaining a position of dominance vis-à-vis Byzantium, Islam, and western Europe?In this fascinating and insightful study, Fernand Braudel, one of the most distinguished historians of our time, examines the many-sided phenomenon of greatness that characterized Italy during the two centuries spanning the Renaissance, Mannerism, and the Baroque-- dazzling, multicoloured Italy, whose radiance shone all over Europe. Braudel perceptively describes the extent, nature and force of Italian influence abroad, analyses the complex interaction between art, science, politics and commerce, and proposes a paradigm of Italy's extraordinary cultural flowering.This is the first English translation of Braudel's now-classic text. The volume is beautifully designed and illustrated with works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Ghirlandaio, van Eyck, Rubens, Caron, and Poussin. It is an invaluable work for students of Italian history who will find that their understanding of Italian culture has been immeasurably enriched.