Trent : What Happened at the Council

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The Council of Trent (1545--1563), the Catholic Church's attempt to put its house in order in response to the Protestant Reformation, has long been praised and blamed for things it never did. Now, in this first full one-volume history in modern times, John W. O'Malley brings to life the volatile issues that pushed several Holy Roman emperors, kings and queens of France, and five popes--and all of Europe with them--repeatedly to the brink of disaster. During the council's eighteen years, war and threat of war among the key players, as well as the Ottoman Turks' onslaught against Christendom, turned the council into a perilous enterprise. Its leaders declined to make a pronouncement on war against infidels, but Trent's most glaring and ironic silence was on the authority of the papacy itself. The popes, who reigned as Italian monarchs while serving as pastors, did everything in their power to keep papal reform out of the council's hands--and their power was considerable. O'Malley shows how the council pursued its contentious parallel agenda of reforming the Church while simultaneously asserting Catholic doctrine. Like What Happened at Vatican II, O'Malley's Trent: What Happened at the Council strips mythology from historical truth while providing a clear, concise, and fascinating account of a pivotal episode in Church history. In celebration of the 450th anniversary of the council's closing, it sets the record straight about the much misunderstood failures and achievements of this critical moment in European history.

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  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 142.24 x 210.82 x 30.48mm | 544.31g
  • The Belknap Press
  • Cambridge, Mass.United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 3 halftones, 1 map
  • 0674066979
  • 9780674066977
  • 61,507

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Jesuit historian O'Malley goes beyond the myths to study what actually happened at the Council of Trent (1545-63), at which the Catholic Church codified its teachings. In clear, crisp prose, he clears up misconceptions about the Church at the time (e.g., that Catholics did not read the Bible and priests did not give sermons), shows that many ideas widely considered "Tridentine" actually arose after Trent, and corrects misconceptions: that the council mandated the Mass be in Latin, and that it established a "Tridentine" liturgy. Using the Acts of the council as his source, O'Malley gives an almost day-by-day account, putting the council's debates in political and religious context of the issues of the day, especially the counter-Reformation and the battle between Pope and princes...Making use of telling details about the very human men who made up the council, O'Malley deftly weaves the story of reformers and traditionalists, to offer an enlightening view of this most influential Church council that will appeal to those interested in church history or in the history of modern Europe. -- Augustine J. Curley Library Journal 20120915

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About John W. O'Malley

John W. O'Malley is University Professor at Georgetown University.

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