The Popes: A History

The Popes: A History

Paperback

By (author) John Julius Norwich

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 528 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 198mm x 42mm | 420g
  • Publication date: 4 May 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099565870
  • ISBN 13: 9780099565871
  • Illustrations note: col. Illustrations, ports. (chiefly col.)
  • Sales rank: 21,276

Product description

John Julius Norwich examines the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter (traditionally - but by no means historically - the first Pope) to the present. Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity. One was said to have been a woman, her sex being revealed only when she improvidently gave birth to a baby during a papal procession. Almost as shocking was Formosus whose murdered corpse was exhumed, clothed in pontifical vestments, propped up on a throne and subjected to trial. From the glories of Byzantium to the decay of Rome, from the Albigensian Heresy to controversy within the Church today, The Popes is superbly written, witty and revealing.

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Author information

John Julius Norwich is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, The Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean. He has also written on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and has presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Review quote

"The stories are glorious...stuffed with monsters, absurdities, wonders and politics... the parade is endlessly interesting" Scotsman "Norwich certainly has an eye for the tiny detail that illuminates a whole character" Mail on Sunday "A highly readable book" Sunday Times "One of the most bizarre and enjoyable history books I've ever read" Daily Express "[John Julius Norwich] approaches his vast canvas with broad brush strokes, dashing off profile after profile with aplomb, flashes of wit and a formidable accumulation of detail" Financial Times

Back cover copy

'The stories are glorious...stuffed with monsters, absurdities, wonders and politics, just as you would expect from any human institution... The Popes is sharp, fun and wonderfully energetic through its many, many pages' Scotsman John Julius Norwich examines the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter (traditionally - but by no means historically - the first Pope) to the present. Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity. One was said to have been a woman, her sex being revealed only when she improvidently gave birth to a baby during a papal procession. Almost as shocking was Formosus whose murdered corpse was exhumed, clothed in pontifical vestments, propped up on a throne and subjected to trial; or John XII, of whom Gibbon wrote 'his rapes of virgins and widows had deterred the female pilgrims from visiting the shrine of St Peter'. From the glories of Byzantium to the decay of Rome, from the Albigensian Heresy to controversy within the Church today, The Popes is superbly written, witty and revealing. 'Norwich has an eye for the tiny detail that illuminates a whole character' Mail on Sunday 'To keep such a light touch, without sacrificing academic seriousness, is a distinct achievement' Independent 'John Julius Norwich approaches his vast canvas with broad brush strokes, dashing off profile after profile with aplomb, flashes of wit and a formidable accumulation of detail' Financial Times 'One of the most bizarre and enjoyable history books I've ever read' Daily Express