David 's Reviews > Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy

Absolute Monarchs by John Julius Norwich
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Jun 13, 12

bookshelves: catholicism, church-history, history
Read on June 01, 2012

So many popes, so few pages!

If you ever wanted to learn the history of the papacy, from Peter to Benedict XVI, this book is the place to go. Norwich begins at the beginning. He is not interested in arguing for the validity of the papacy, nor does he get into much theological discussion. This is a book of history. So if the idea of reading theology bores or frightens you, then you're in luck.

If the idea of hundreds of names and dates bores and frightens you, then you are out of luck. Every pope lived in a context filled with kings and bishops and dukes and all sorts of other people. I am not sure that this is a knock at the book as the names are essential to the history. You can't talk about Pope Leo without mentioning Attila the Hun any more than you can talk about Pius XII without mentioning Hitler. That said, the names became a blur to skim over.

After reading this book you realize there were lots of great popes who truly had strong faith and wanted to help people. There were just as many, perhaps more, who were complete jerks. They were either conniving power-hungry maniacs, or inept and pompous morons or just plain arrogant. There were also many who had mistresses and children, some who were gay, others who possibly did not believe in God and possibly one who was a woman. So yeah, pretty interesting.
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message 1: by Alford (new) - added it

Alford Wayman LOL!


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