Abstract

Critics have uncovered many relevant contexts to further our understanding of Romola, from fifteenth-century Florentine politics and Piero di Cosimo’s Higher Primitivism to Eliot’s quarry and Leighton’s illustrations. In this article, I look at a previously understudied context that is crucial to our understanding of Romola: the Turkish conquest of former Greek territories in the fifteenth century. I show that, in Romola, following the Turkish conquest, an amnesia surrounds all things Greek (from Tito and Baldassare to Greek churches), and I argue that this amnesia is ideologically motivated in the aftermath of the Crimean War during which Britain was an ally of the Ottomans against Greek interests. Ultimately, this insight helps us see that for Romola, artworks are the true bearers of history even in the face of ideological erasure.

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