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Europe and the Faith Paperback – October 3, 1992
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Another central part of Belloc's thesis is that the Roman Empire never really "fell" to "superior" barbarian hordes as it has been presented in some textbooks. In fact, the Roman Empire absorbed all tribes who came to then for the benefits of civilization. Out of this New Barbarian Order came feudal Europe, formed by classical learning and Christianized by the Catholic church. In the Dark Ages, the faith preserved this civilization while it was under attack from the Muslims, Magyars and Vikings in succession. It was in these centuries that the seeds that would later flower in the Middle Ages and Renaissance were nurtured and protected.
Belloc concludes by showing the devestating impact (personal, economic and in government) that the Reformation had on European civilization (a thesis that he explores in greater detail in How The Reformation Happened and Characters of the Reformation). He proclaims the chief of effect of the Reformation was "the isolation of the soul" and chief by-product was a progressive sense of dispair. He then boldly states that Europe's former glory will be confined exclusively to history textbooks unless the continent returns to the Faith that shepherded and nurished its greatness.
I felt that this, like all of Belloc's books, was an excellent read that boldly defends Catholic truth and explodes many of the Protestant assumptions that are still latent in American and Northern European civilization over 80 years after the book's publication.
1. From pagan to Christian Rome during the Empire.
2. From Empire to Dark Ages.
3. From Dark Ages to Middle Ages.
4. From Middle Ages to Reformation.
Among the important themes Belloc highlights:
1. Roman tradition and influence runs deeply and continuously through European history. By so demonstrating, he debunks the myth of the "master race"--a popular theme among his intellectual contemporaries. Pity so few listened to him.
2. It was the Catholic Church that held Europe together through the centuries, the glue of our civilization. In his own words, "Europe is the church, and the Church is Europe."
I found his analysis of Empire to Dark Ages particularly helpful. Belloc makes good sense out of the period's confusingly intertwined barbarian and Roman influences and its complex political and military dynamics. Bottom line: the Roman Empire was never conquered from without; in reality, it changed gradually but profoundly from within, all the while retaining its vital social and spiritual roots.
Belloc's review of the Reformation, especially Britain's leading role in destroying the Unity of Faith, makes for sad, surprising and sobering reading even today. (For a much fuller and yet more moving treatment, read Belloc's "How the Reformation Happened.")
For Belloc, the European ideal came during the Middle Ages, when people were unified in faith and hungered for truth more than riches. By his day, Europe had reached new lows of disunity, sophistry, and capitalist greed. Belloc was one of the few prominent thinkers to see these evils early on and predict their awful consequences. Although his subject was history, I think Belloc was writing with an eye to the future, in the hope that we might understand the errors of our past and correct them before too late.
The main thesis is that in contrary to mainstream Protestant and anticlerical historians in the beginning of 20th century when Christianity was acknowledged as a factor deteriorating the glorious Roman Empire, the contrary must be said. The Christianity had the central role in transferring the high moral and cultural values of the Old, already very decaying Empire into the future. The new religion of the gospel refused all that was the decadent and fruitless in Roman culture but it rescued much of it's precious knowledge, positive elements, vitality and potentiality for future expansion, elements which would perish due to the fall of the empire. According to Belloc the main fault of modern historians not recognising this, is their lack of understanding for Christianity as well as an anti-Catholic bias among many of them. Belloc points out an oversimplification done by the scholars on the importance of the barbarian tribes affecting the Empire and their impact on the culture of it.
The next important conclusion Belloc draws from his genial analysis is that the barbarian hordes, which were believed to affect so much the dissolution of the Roman Empire where de facto "romanised" and dominated completely themselves by the Roman culture. The cause of the fall of the Empire is not to be sought in the first hand in the infiltration of these barbarians, mostly German and Slavic tribes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I can't say enough about this man and his writings. Since the moment that I read the first book I purchased of his I fell in love with his no holds barred take no prisoners style. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jacob Rubio
Hilaire Belloc, the French-born English Catholic writer of the early 20th century, contends here that Europe is declining because it has turned away from the ancient Catholic... Read morePublished on November 14, 2013 by Transcendental Thomist
Have you ever wondered what happened to Ancient Rome? Belloc argues that 'Rome' still exists in the sub-conscience of Europeans. Read morePublished on March 18, 2013 by Mr E
Masterful history book. Shows how the Catholic Church built European civilization. Belloc is a very learned man and is a great writerPublished on December 31, 2012 by Mr. W
This 2010 General Books edition of the Belloc classic is terrible quality, with enough typographical errors to make it unreadable. Read morePublished on May 20, 2010 by Caesar Warrington
The identity "Europe is the faith and the faith is Europe" encapsulates this narrative, which reveals the combined threads comprising the tapestry of European national and... Read morePublished on July 30, 2008 by scrivener
Hilaire Belloc's EUROPE AND THE FAITH is a concise historical account of how the Catholic Church authorities and teachers helped save European Civilization through two "Dark Ages"... Read morePublished on August 4, 2006 by James E. Egolf
Throughout Hilaire Belloc's wonderful essay, he returns to his thesis: The Faith is Europe. And Europe is the Faith. Read morePublished on September 12, 2005 by Michael Tozer