Norwich gets bogged down in the political context of Europe at times, clearly displays his liberal bias in regards to what actions some popes should have taken, and doesn't define words that a general audience wouldn't know (such as "nuncio"), but this is nevertheless a good, solid history of the papacy. It reveals the popes as human figures working to gain or keep power in a perpetually shifting political landscape, struggling with spiritual, personal, and health-related difficulties.
a galloping read
i particularly enjoyed the references to historical figures that i had read about in other books... ie The Lady Queen, The Swerve
An exhaustive and exhausting study of the entire history of the popes. Be warned that it is primarily a political rather than doctrinal history. You will learn about the competing secular dynasties as well and the muddled history of the Italian peninsula. He is circumspe on the most recent popes. It was a tough slog through the middle ages but hang in.
Oh, what a depressing lineage. Well written, scholarly with an occasional wry comment to make you smile. Thank goodness for separation of church and state!
Very helpful! I was doing a project on the Investiture Contest between Pope Gregory and the Holy Roman Emperor Henry and I definetely found this book helpful when writing my paper! :)
I agree, this book can only skim the surface when tracing the linneage of St. Peter's throne. In any event it is a good introduction to what proves to be a thoroughly engrossing parcel of rogues and the ever evolving role of the papacy on the world stage. Norwich concludes this book with the words if St. Peter were alive today he would be proud of what he sees. I'm not so sure of that.
Norwich is one of my favourite historical authors. Whether it is a history of the Byzantine Emprire, or Venice in the age of the Doges, Norwich creates a accesible narrative full of colourful personages. This time he tackles the long and complex history of the Papacy, and indeed the Catholic Church as well. Not a bad overview or introduction for the casual reader. The actual history is far too complex to be thoroughly covered in 500 pages, but it is a good start.
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