NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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).
About the Author
Lady Diana Cooper was born on August 29th, 1892, daughter ostensibly of the son of the 8th Duke of Rutland, in fact of the Hon. Harry Cust. Defying all her mother's efforts to stop her, she became a nurse at Guy's Hospital during the First World War and married Alfred Duff Cooper, DSO, son of a surgeon from Norwich, who became one of the Second World War's key politicians. Her startling beauty resulted in her playing the lead in two silent films and then Max Reinhardt's The Miracle.
For the war effort, Diana converted their seaside cottage in Sussex into a small farm. In 1944, following the Liberation of Paris, the couple moved into the British Embassy, Paris. They then retired to a house at Chantilly just outside the city. After Duff's death in 1954, Diana remained there until 1960, when she
moved back to London. She died in 1986.
John Julius Norwich, the only son of Diana and Duff Cooper, is the author of histories of the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire, the Mediterranean, and, most recently, "Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy". He has also written on architecture, music, and the history plays of Shakespeare, and has presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.
“A rollicking narrative . . . [Norwich] keeps things moving at nearly beach-read pace.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A highly entertaining read . . . [John Julius] Norwich has a lightness of touch and caustic sense of humour. . . . As a lively romp through two millenniums of ecclesiastical history, [Absolute Monarchs is] well-nigh infallible.”—The Sunday Business Post
“Very readable and rewarding . . . Norwich possesses an easy grace with words, a gift for condensation and a wonderful instinct for the memorable and defining detail.”—The Plain Dealer
“Deeply researched, Norwich’s history offers a wonderful introduction to papal lives.”—Publishers Weekly
“Excellent, often surprising . . . An outstanding historical survey.”—Booklist
“[A] sweeping history . . . [a] cacophony of temporal sin.”—Los Angeles Times