Pope's Legion: The Multinational Fighting Force That Defended the Vatican from 1860 to 1870

Pope's Legion: The Multinational Fighting Force That Defended the Vatican from 1860 to 1870

by Charles A. Coulombe
     
 

With Arthurian grandeur the Papal Zouaves marched into Italy in the mid-nineteenth century, summoned by the Pope under siege as the Wars of the Risorgimento raged. Motivated by wanderlust, a sense of duty and the call of faith, some 20,000 Catholic men from around the world rallied to Vatican City to defend her gates against Sardinian marauders. Volunteers came

Overview

With Arthurian grandeur the Papal Zouaves marched into Italy in the mid-nineteenth century, summoned by the Pope under siege as the Wars of the Risorgimento raged. Motivated by wanderlust, a sense of duty and the call of faith, some 20,000 Catholic men from around the world rallied to Vatican City to defend her gates against Sardinian marauders. Volunteers came from France, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Austria, and many other countries, including the United States. The battles that ensued lasted over 10 years, among a shifting array of allies and enemies and are among history’s most fascinating yet largely overlooked episodes. Napoleon, Pius IX, and Bismarck all make appearances in the story, but at the center were the Zouaves—steeped in a knightly code of honor, and unflinching in battle as any modern warrior—as the Church they vowed to defend to the death teetered at the brink of destruction.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Passionately argued rehabilitation of Pius IX's international regiment of Zouaves, by Catholic journalist Coulombe (Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes, 2003, etc.). In 1860, the Papal States were isolated and beleaguered by the growing movement for Italian unification, led from Sardinia by King Victor Emmanuel II's prime minister, Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, and his frequent tool and occasional opponent, Giuseppe Garibaldi. Resolving to resist being ousted (again) from Rome, Pope Pius IX sent out a call across the Catholic world for volunteers to become "Swords around the Cross." The reaction was swift. General Lamoriciere, a devout Catholic who had gained glory for France in the conquest of Algeria 30 years before, organized and commanded the Zouaves, named after one of North Africa's fierce-fighting Berber tribes. The papal forces comprised members of the French and Roman nobility, Belgian, Irish, Swiss and even American volunteers. (Some "irreconcilable Confederates" arrived after the Civil War, finding comfort in another gallant lost cause.) Vastly outnumbered by the Sardinians, many of whom were seasoned veterans of the recent Crimean and Franco-Austrian wars, the spirited Papal Zouaves nonetheless gave valiant resistance over the next ten years, at Castelfidardo in 1860 and against Garibaldi's onslaught on Rome in 1867. Coulombe does an expedient job of wading through the military details necessary to fully depict this tangled resolution of the "Roman question." He portrays the crusading Zouaves as indomitable spirits, noting that they went on to fight in France and Spain, even to evangelize in the interior of Africa. Their kind of militancy has fallen into disfavor inrecent years, but Coulombe does his best to revive the brand for a new generation. An unabashedly admiring tribute to men of fighting faith. First printing of 25,000. Agent: Jake Elwell/Harold Ober Associates

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780230600584
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan
Publication date:
09/02/2008
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
3 Months

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Meet the Author

Charles A. Coulombe is a historian and commentator in both Catholic and secular arenas. Commended by Pope John Paul II for his book Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes, he provided narration for ABC News during the funeral of John Paul II and the election and installation of Benedict XVI. He is the author several books including a five-volume history of the United States for Catholic readers. Former Contributing Editor of the National Catholic Register, Coulombe won the Christian Law Institute's Christ King Journalism Award in 1992. He lives in Los Angeles.

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