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The Bad Popes (Sutton History Classics) Paperback – October 25, 2003
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Chamberlin briefly goes back to the pagan traditions of Ancient Rome and then to Christophorous' forgery of The Donation of Constantine to establish the point where temporal powers transferred from the emperor to the pope. For example, in 755 A.D. the King of Franks believed in the veracity of the Donation and gave Pope Stephen the keys to 20 cities foreshadowing the Papal states and the pope in the role of feudal lord (p. 17). Such power magnified the attraction of the office and sparked the interest in some of the more greedy and power-hungry candidates to the Papacy. The most interesting story of this period is when Pope Stephen VII had the corpse of Pope Formosus dragged from its tomb to be put on trial (p. 19)
The book divides into six sections and features seven "bad popes" with some information on their predecessors who do not seem that much better.Read more ›
For Protestants this book will afirm the importance of speaking out against corruption.
For Catholics, this book will remind the reader of a dark period of history when corruption fractured the church to the very core.
For both. This is a history book. It is easy to read. It is not a book that attacks the Catholic church or lifts up Protestantism. Catholics and Protestant agree that there have been both good and bad popes. Both agree that these were among the worst. Both agree that the reformation was partially caused by both sides. This should not be viewed as a book that takes sides between churches.
This book moves quickly and firmly through the history of six 'Bad Popes' but, more interestingly to me, illustrates the evolution of the Catholic Church from roughly AD 900 - AD 1530, especially in the context of european power politics of this era.
The author's style is very readable. His vocabulary is advanced although not pendantic and his descriptions colorful without being obscene.
Rather than being a catalogue of shocking infobits or factoids as other 'bad pope' books have been, Chamberlin does a good job telling the narrative of each pope's life in the context of their situation and times. He steers and even keel between anti-catholic propaganda and pro-papal fanaticism and overall left me feeling like I had a pretty good image of 'how it really was'.
This was NOT a book of which I flipped to the back half way through to check how many pages were left. I enjoyed picking it up and avoided putting it down. It is the first title I have read from this author, but hopefully will not be the last.
Yet, if one is a faithful Catholic, one would say that this is all just appearances - that they were REALLY the representative of Christ on Earth only they didn't act like it. It seems they never asked that ubiquitous question, "What would Jesus do?" It is hard to select the "worst" one...what is more awful - to massacre your opponent or to commit adultry on the throne? To lead a slaughter of "infidels" or join with Earthly political powers. Urban is a real winner, my candidate for Bad Pope of the Millenium but others are also listed.
This is not, by the way, an anti-Catholic tirade. If anything, the Church can claim to be truly divinely blessed for having survived these creatures.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have not read "The Bad Popes" yet but thirty-five years ago I bought a book in New York titled "The Seven Bad Popes" by an ex-Jesuit Priest named Malachi Martin. Read morePublished on March 25, 2011 by Jose
Sex, sin, greed, a bit of the 'ol ultra-violence, and that's just before 1400! Read The Bad Popes and learn of historical figures such as Marozia and her sister Theodora, the Roman... Read morePublished on December 9, 2010 by Scott Rawlings
As Jesus had predicted in his weeds with wheat parable (Matt 13:24-30), many weeds were scattered in the wheatfield of His church over the centuries. Read morePublished on January 24, 2008 by Stratiotes Doxha Theon
The popes covered in this book showed virtually no interest in spiritual matters but a great deal of interest in power, wealth, and carnal pleasures. Read morePublished on January 11, 2007 by chcjrbone
Whether or not you believe in the pope as the vicar of Christ, it is clear from history that his seat on Earth has been one of the world's most powerful thrones for many centuries. Read morePublished on May 28, 2004 by Brian Hulett
Interesting, funny, entertaining - this book has everything. I loved this book.Published on May 14, 2004