The Catholic Popes in a Nutshell Volume 3: The Coming of Age

The Catholic Popes in a Nutshell Volume 3: The Coming of Age

by Bill McCann


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In this, the third of the series on the history of the Catholic Popes, we come to a very important epoch in the history of the Catholic Church, spanning the entire 7th. and 8th. centuries and the reigns of thirty two popes. It begins in 604 with the election of Pope Sabinian and ends with the reign of Leo III who died in 816.
The culmination of the epoch was the crowning of Charlemagne as the Holy Roman Emperor by Leo III on Christmas Day in 800. From that day, the Catholic Church emerged onto the world stage as a temporal, as well as a spiritual, power that was to play a decisive role in the shaping of European culture and civilisation for centuries to come.
Neither Leo nor Charlemagne will have been aware of this. It is the tragedy of human history that those who make the most significant contributions to the advance of civilisation die without knowing the real greatness or far-reaching consequences of their own achievements.
The Introductory Essay traces the rise and fall of the Kingdom of the Lombards in northern Italy. The Lombards played an important part in the politics of the Italian peninsula during our period and were hostile or favourable to the papacy, depending on the politics and the personalities involved.
The concluding essay traces the rise and fall of the Empires of Islam, which began to emerge in our period. This religion also played an important part in the future development of Europe and continues to influence events on that continent today.
Western civilisation and culture are, of course, European civilisation and culture, and, the Catholic Church is a European Church at heart. Its centre has always been at Rome, the city it has done so much to build and beautify - and protect from outright destruction during the last dark days of the Second World War.
The influence of this Church on the development of European history was unquestionably immense. It was the influence of the Catholic Church that dragged Europe from the age of lawless and barbaric tribes into the regulated and more humane age of the kingdoms of Europe. It was Irish Catholic monks who preserved the writings, the learning and the teachings of the ancient Greeks and the Romans during the turbulent, frightening and almost catastrophic centuries of the so-called Dark Ages.
Without the Catholic Church the glories of Western Thought, of Literature, of Art, of Architecture, and of Music would have been impossible. Through her direct participation, indirect inspiration and, most especially, liberal patronage she bequeathed us those things that we now treasure as signifiers of an educated and cultural man. Without these we would not today be able to enjoy the visual masterpieces of Michelangelo or Caravaggio or Leonardo da Vinci, for example, nor could we enjoy the Masses of Haydn and Mozart, Handel's Messiah or the Requiems of Faure, Brahms, Berlioz or Verdi, to give but a very few examples of the huge musical debt European Culture owes to the Catholic Church.
Of course, the Catholic Church is a human institution and, like all human institutions, she has suffered, and suffers yet, from the whole kaleidoscope of human frailties, foibles and failings. To expect anything else would be unrealistic. If those frailties, foibles and failings are to be found in the men who nurtured, developed and governed the Catholic Church, then so too are the faith, fidelity and fearlessness without which no human undertaking can survive. Of those men, the most conspicuous have been the 266 Popes who have led the Catholic Church from its beginning in 32 to the present day.
It is with the lives and the deaths, the triumphs and the failures, the manipulations and the machinations, the sanctity and the hypocrisy of those 266 men that the present series of little books will deal. With them, and through them, we can distil into a nutshell the whole panorama of the development of the European moral, political and cultural order on which our modern Western world is built.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781530244027
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 02/26/2016
Pages: 182
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Born and educated in Ireland, Bill McCann has worked as a research chemist, archaeologist, project manager, departmental manager, geophysicist, company director, historical adviser and technical writer. He is currently working as a university lecturer in China. (In between that lot, he had great fun as a barman, dishwasher, hotel cook, movie house manager, taxi-cab dispatcher, hotel/bar stock controller and opinion survey interviewer.)
Driven by a passionate curiosity and intense wanderlust, he has travelled widely and explored the cultures of many lands and peoples.
He is a devoted bibliophile who has been an avid reader since the age of seven and continues to build his personal library which currently contains about 4,000 volumes on a range of subjects, including, Literature, Art, Music, Theatre, all the natural Sciences, Philosophy, Politics, Language, Mythology and, of course, History.
The Nutshell Books project aims to distil the essence of the epochs, milestones, and personalities that made and shaped world history into a format more amenable and accessible to the denizens of the electronic age.
He sees no sense in the notion of retirement and has every intention of avoiding the grave for as long as possible.

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