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A Titan of the Victorian age, Lord Salisbury presided over a period of unprecedented peace. But his deeply flawed views on the Eastern Question were indirectly responsible for Turkey’s entry into the Great War, says David Barchard
One Sunday evening, late in the nineteenth century, the third Marquess of Salisbury, then both prime minister and foreign minister, beamed at a young person whom he assumed was a weekend guest about to depart from his country home.
“Have you enjoyed your time with us here at Hatfield?” Lord Salisbury asked benignly.
“Papa! I am your eldest son and I live here,” replied the young man.
Salisbury may have had trouble recognising people, but he was no figure of fun. He ran Britain for nearly a decade and a half at the zenith of its power, with consummate energy and professionalism. Andrew Roberts, in his sparkling biography of Salisbury (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999) rightly calls him a Victorian Titan.
Levnî and the Surnâme, by Esin Atıl, gives a spirited and vivid pictorial narration, from the brush of arguably the greatest of all Ottoman miniaturists, of the last great Ottoman festival. This was held in Istanbul in 1720, with all the splendour and magnificence for which the empire was famed. Christine Thomson reviews the Koçbank publication.
It was not until the sixteenth century when Catherine de’ Medici introduced spinach to France on her arrival from Florence as the bride of Henri II, that it was recognised as a food in its own right. Any dish with spinach is still ‘a la florentine’.
More cookery features
Said to be the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Damascus shows the traces of countless rulers, from the Arameans to the French. But it is the Ottomans whose influence is most clearly visible in the old city today. By Brigid Keenan. Photographs by Tim Beddow
Cornucopia was instrumental in reissuing a forgotten novel by Harold Nicolson, set in Istanbul. First published in 1921, Sweet Waters draws heavily on Nicolson’s experience as a diplomat in the city in the 1910s. It is also a highly autobiographical reworking of his courtship of Vita Sackville-West, as a new foreword by their son, Nigel Nicolson, reveals. By Aslı Aydıntaşbaş
It was only to stop a property dealer painting the selamlık blue that the Germen family acquired a Bosphorus yalı to look after. This pavilion, on a glorious stretch of the Anatolian shore, enjoys southerly views all the way to the Topkpapı and sunsets to die for. Patrica Daunt meets the latest owners of this former royal residence
These are the last great heathlands of Eastern Europe, one of the world’s rarest natural habitats. Unless they receive a last-minute reprieve, they will be bulldozed out of existence. Andrew Finkel reports on the dilemma facing the planners in Istanbul. Botanical notes by Andrew Byfield
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