With the papacy embattled in recent years, it is essential to have the perspective of one of the world's most accomplished historians. In "Absolute Monarchs," John Julius Norwich captures nearly two thousand years of inspiration and devotion, intrigue and scandal. The men (and maybe one woman) who have held this position of infallible power over millions have ranged from heroes to rogues, admirably wise to utterly decadent. Norwich, who knew two popes and had private audiences with two others, 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 brave popes as Innocent I, who in the fifth century successfully negotiated with Alaric the Goth, an invader civil authorities could not defeat, and Leo I, who two decades later tamed (and perhaps paid off) Atilla the Hun. Here, too, are the scandalous figures: Pope Joan, the mythic woman said (without any substantiation) to have been elected in 855, and the infamous "pornocracy," the five libertines who were descendants or lovers of Marozia, debauched daughter of one of Rome's most powerful families.
"Absolute Monarchs" brilliantly portrays such reformers as Pope Paul III, "the greatest pontiff of the sixteenth century," who reinterpreted the Church's teaching and discipline, and John XXIII, who in five short years starting in 1958 "opened the church to the the twentieth century," instituting reforms that led to Vatican II. Norwich brings the story to the present day with Benedict XVI, who is coping with a global priest sex scandal.
Epic and compelling, "Absolute Monarchs" is the astonishing story of some of history's most revered and reviled figures, men who still cast light and shadows on the vatican and the world today.
About the Author
John Julius Norwich is the author of The Great Cities in History as well as magisterial histories of Norman Sicily, the republic of Venice, and the Byzantine Empire. He has also written widely on architecture and music, and has presented some thirty BBC television historical documentaries.
Michael Page has been recording audiobooks since 1984 and has over two hundred titles to his credit. He has won several "AudioFile" Earphones Awards, including for "The War That Killed Achilles" by Caroline Alexander and "The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch.
"Norwich doesn't skirt controversies, ancient and present, in this broad, clear-eyed assessment." ---Kirkus