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Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy

Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy

In a chronicle that captures nearly two thousand years of inspiration and intrigue, John Julius Norwich recounts in riveting detail the histories of the most significant popes and what they meant politically, culturally, and socially to Rome and to the world. Norwich presents such popes as Innocent I, who in the fifth century successfully negotiated with Alaric the Goth, an invader civil authorities could not defeat; Leo I, who two decades later tamed (and perhaps paid off) Attila the Hun; the infamous “pornocracy”—the five libertines who were descendants or lovers of Marozia, debauched daughter of one of Rome’s most powerful families; Pope Paul III, “the greatest pontiff of the sixteenth century,” who reinterpreted the Church’s teaching and discipline; John XXIII, who in five short years starting in 1958 instituted reforms that led to Vatican II; and Benedict XVI, who is coping with today’s global priest sex scandal. Epic and compelling, Absolute Monarchs is an enthralling history from “an enchanting and satisfying raconteur” (The Washington Post).


Chapter 1. St. Peter

Chapter 2. Defenders of the City (c. 100–536)

Chapter 3. Vigilius (537–555)

Chapter 4. Gregory the Great (590–604)

Chapter 5. Leo III and Charlemagne (795–861)

Chapter 6. Pope Joan (855?–857?)

Chapter 7. Nicholas I and the Pornocracy (855–964)

Chapter 8. Schism (964–1054)

Chapter 9. Gregory VII and the Normans

Chapter 10. Innocent and Anacletus

Chapter 11. The English Pope

Chapter 12. Alexander III and Frederick Barbarossa

Chapter 13. Innocent III

Chapter 14. The End of the Hohenstaufen

Chapter 15. Avignon

Chapter 16. Laetentur Coeli!

Chapter 17. The Renaissance

Chapter 18. The Monsters

Chapter 19. The Medici Pair

Chapter 20. The Counter-Reformation

Chapter 21. Baroque Rome

Chapter 22. The Age of Reason

Chapter 23. The Jesuits and the Revolution

Chapter 24. Progress and Reaction

Chapter 25. Pio Nono

Chapter 26. Leo XIII and the First World War

Chapter 27. Pius XI and Pius XII

Chapter 28. Vatican II and After


List of Popes and Antipopes

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