- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (April 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300094051
- ISBN-13: 978-0300094053
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,241,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Bishop's Tale: Mathias Hovius Among His Flock in Seventeenth-Century Flanders Paperback – April 1, 2002
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"An elegantly written and absorbing microhistory... It brings to mind The Return of Martin Guerre and The Cheese and the Worms." Carlos M. N. Eire "The most amazing book since Johan Huizinga's Waning of the Middle Ages." Heiko Oberman "The history book of the year - and perhaps simply the book of the year." Russell Hittinger, Weekly Standard "The stories entertain as they educate, offering a close-up of day-to-day Catholicism, village life, and the bawdy humour generated by human frailty and feistiness. A Bishop's Tale is an historical feast." Debra Bendis, Christian Century "Practically every page is as encrusted with detail as a jewelled medieval reliquary." Michael Joseph Gross, Boston Globe "An extraordinary work of historical biography." Amazon.com (2000 Editor's Choice)
From the Back Cover
"Truly remarkable. . . . A daring attempt to bring history alive. . . . [E]legantly written and absorbing. . . . [R]eads very much like a good novel." Carlos M. N. Eire "An extraordinary work of historical biography."Amazon.com (2000 Editor's Choice) "Riviting . . . on the level of Natalie Davis, Steven Ozment, and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie."Choice "It reads like a novel . . . an absolute delight."The Expository Times "The characters alone . . . make this book an absolute delight . . . elegantly written . . . engrossing."Catholic Herald
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Yet, despite all the book's cleverness, I grew increasingly uncomfortable while reading. Harline and Put have written a book on religious life in late 16th/early 17th century Europe. Still, I have not read much about religion. In fact, in this book, religion comes out as a very mechanical thing. We read about cardinals, nuncios, priests, rituals, processions, pilgrimages etc. But we do not get a glimpse of what it could have meant to *be* a Christian in this particular time in history. We do not read how Hovius (could have) *lived* his religion. We get no sense at all of a religious feeling which - unlike today - must have been overly present everywhere. Instead, the narrative is littered with much misplaced irony on the nature of christianity or even religion. Harline and Put consider the Catholic Church as nothing more than a big bureaucracy. Hovius, travelling around his bishopric, is portrayed as the 16/17th century version of a district area manager of Coca Cola, trying to reach his production quota for next year, and fighting to protect his market share against competitors. The book is a product of the 21st century. It might easily be used as a leadership guideline, to be read by management consultants and managers.