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Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  34 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
Delving into a netherworld of treachery and intrigue in Elizabethan London, John Bossy attempts to solve a centuries-old mystery: who was "Fagot," the spy working within the French embassy in London to subvert Catholic efforts to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and her government? Bossy speculates on the spy's identity in a book that makes a major contribution to the political a ...more
Paperback, 3rd Edition, 320 pages
Published August 11th 2002 by Yale University Press (first published 1991)
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Pete daPixie
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-tudor
The cover is festooned with very positive reviews. 'This is a marvelous book', New York Review of Books. 'A very real tour de force by a very clever historian', Times Literary Supplement. 'It is quite simply brilliant', Country Life. 'This book is a detective story told by a masterly historian', New Statesman.... 'I think I'm being generous with three stars', PetedaPixie.
Giordano Bruno I knew as a contemporary of Galileo, something of a scientist, who was loud and proud with his firm belief in t
...more
Diana Sandberg
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Well. Historical sleuthing, a really quite sensational discovery (or, at least, opinion) from the author about a Great Historical Figure, lots of fascinating detail. Also, lots of boring detail and a very poor notion of how to construct such a work. He almost lost me: I had read 65 pages, been given a wealth of detail that didn't seem to point to anything in particular, been given an outline of Bruno's time in England and further info that included his death, and was still wondering what any of ...more
Octavia Cade
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Epitomises the phrase "worthy but dull". It gets an extra star for the research, which is clearly extensive, but the presentation of such was so unrelentingly turgid that I'm still not altogether sure what the main proofs of the author's argument were, simply because I lost the train of nearly every thought he had. (I maintain it was in self-defence; if I had to read one more sentence about handwriting samples I would have screamed.)

This strikes me as research that might have been better present
...more
Tim Robinson
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Was renegade friar, philosopher and condemned heretic Giordano Bruno also the notorious spy "Henry Fagot", who broke the English Catholic conspiracy and sent Mary Queen of Scots to the block? For there certainly was spy in the French embassy, and a good one. He used a false name, disguised his handwriting, turned the ambassador's secretary and was never caught. The case against Bruno is entirely circumstantial, but nevertheless convincing. And even if false, it is too good a story to waste!
Lyn Elliott
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I really wanted to enjoy what sounded like fascinating historical detective work but bogged down in detail and gave up.
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John Bossy was born in 1933 and educated mainly by the Second World War, the Society of Jesus and the University of Cambridge. Since then he has lived and lectured in London and Belfast, has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and since 1979 has been Professor (lately Emeritus) of History at the University of York.
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“In trying to find out what Bruno thought of his priesthood, we now have a serious problem which we did not have before. In Venice, he told his fellow-prisoners that he was an enemy of the mass, and thought transubstantiation a ridiculous idea and the Catholic ritual bestial and blasphemous. He compared the elevation of the host to hanging somebody on a gallows, or perhaps to lifting him up on a pitchfork. He told somebody who had dreamt of going to mass that that was a terrible omen; and he performed a mock mass with Ovid's Art of Love instead of a missal. He joked about hungry priests going off from mass to a good breakfast. He spoke particularly ill of the mass as a sacrifice, and said that Abel, the archetype of the sacrificing priest, was a criminal butcher who was rightly killed by the vegetarian Cain. A phrase he used elsewhere, apparently about Christ's passion and not directly about the mass itself, seems nevertheless to express rather exactly his attitude to is: he called it 'some kind of a cabbalistic tragedy'.” 1 likes
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