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How the Reformation Happened Paperback – May 1, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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About the Author

Hilaire Belloc was born at St. Cloud, France, in 1870. He and his family moved to England upon his father s death, where he took first-class honors in history at Balliol College in Oxford, graduating in 1895. It has been stated that his desire was to rewrite the Catholic history of both France and England. He wrote hundreds of books on the subjects of history, economics, and military science, as well as novels and poetry. His works include The Great Heresies, Europe and the Faith, Survivals and New Arrivals, The Path to Rome, Characters of the Reformation, and How the Reformation Happened.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: TAN Books and Publishers; Reprint edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895554658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895554659
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Read history books, my son, there is the true philosophy to be found." Napoleon to his son
In my reading of history books there is a pre-Hilaire Belloc period and a post-Hilaire Belloc period. This is because what Belloc writes and how he writes it is so novel, refreshing, clear and shocking that you simply cannot be the same man after reading his works.
Don't expect a book full of quotes and references to primary sources with an imposing bibliography at the back. There isn't a single quote or reference to a primary or secondary source in any of the books by Belloc that I've read.
Briefly, you will have to take Belloc's word for it that things really happened the way he says they did. The man doesn't really put forward arguments, he simply states his case. And it works! For some, specially people who don't have a conservative mindset or who take methodology very seriously, this will probably be considered a major flaw and they will dismiss Belloc's works as mere propaganda but I didn't bother: I was completely absorbed by his quick and fascinating narrative and mind-blowing historical analysis.
Belloc is not a historian who likes to recreate a historical period by giving the reader a wealth of details about clothing, dietary habits and what not. No, his view is a tend thousand feet view: the main events, the underlying causes, the far-reaching consequences. Everything is said with utmost clarity and almost bluntly: the Reformation was a catastrophe for European civilization and its main driving force was rapacity.
In How the Reformation Happened, Belloc covers the whole period from immediately before AD 1517, when Luther published his theses, to the reign of Louis XIV.
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This is a brief but sweeping overview of the Reformation, concentrating mainly on the political and social forces at work during the whole period. Although Belloc was an ardent Catholic, he is surprisingly balanced in his analysis; for instance he pulls no punches when critiquing the shortcomings of the Church, and is quite mild in his assessment of Martin Luther. (Belloc is most venomous toward the British upper classes, who so shamelessly exploited the Church, Elizabeth, and the common people merely to increase their personal wealth and solidify their political position. His analysis is undoubtedly contrary to mainstream English history, but is compellingly supported by the facts.) Belloc's greatest strength is his ability to distill general principles and underlying causes from the tidal wave of political and social upheaval that was pouring across Europe. Thus the book is a fantastic starting point for a study of the Reformation. Although it is short on details (especially military details) it provides a very clear context.
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Format: Paperback
Two things I can say about Hilaire Belloc; he doesn't take sides where right and wrong are concerned, and he doesn't pull any punches. He just tells it like it was.
The author, rightly so, refuses to put the blame on just a few reformers, and he also refuses to exonerate Holy Mother Church's role in this. Reading this book made me feel like he was saying, "Everyone we can find who is responsible will be held responsible, whether protestant or Catholic."
To sum up (and this is explained more fully in chapter 9), the author puts the causes of the Reformation as thus:
1) A "special, personal hatred of the Faith" that has existed even as far back as Calvary;
2) The revolt was originally and essentially a protest against the spiritual power of the clergy and the financial power of the Church's heirarchy;
3) The movement was provoked by the very corrupt condition into which the official Church had fallen, notably the Papal court;
4) A new doctrine of unquestioned right in Princes to absolute rule, helped by the weakening of the Papacy (Popes leaving Rome, rival anti-popes); and
5) The ability to get stinking rich by the looting of Church property.
A good book showing that arguments in doctrine had nearly nothing to do with the first few decades of the revolt; that the revolt was nearly purely political, and after the looting of the monasteries began, the revolt was further fueled by the chance for extreme wealth and power.
Another great job by a great author. Five stars.
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By A Customer on March 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
The usual and "accepted" explanation of the Protestant Reformation, says the author, makes sense only if the reader is ignorant of the Catholic Church and its history. This is a much-needed "true view showing how Christendom suffered "shipwreck" in the Protestant Revolt against Christ and His Catholic Church. He traces the struggle, blow by blow, from the Advent of the Disaster, to the opening of the "floodgates" with Luther in 1517, through the "English Accident" and Calvin. He then shows the spiritual, military, political and financial struggles of this conflict among the French, English, Scottish, Dutch and German, describing how by 1648 the battle to keep Christendom united and in the Catholic Faith had failed of exhaustion, ending in a divided Europe, with the Protestant rebellion settling down to permanent possession of certain previously Catholic areas of Europe. No educated person can ignore this presentation of the facts of history. This is history as it happened!
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