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The Bad Popes (Sutton History Classics) [Paperback]

By Russell Chamberlin (Author)
Our Price $ 11.04  
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Item Number 150091  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.43" Width: 5.04" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   0.57 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 31, 2003
Publisher   Sutton Publishing
ISBN  0750933372  
EAN  9780750933377  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The Roman Catholic Church has been in existence for two millennia and this institutional longevity is all the more remarkable given that a number of its leaders were, frankly, bad.

Buy The Bad Popes (Sutton History Classics) by Russell Chamberlin from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780750933377 & 0750933372

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
How did sheep survive among such wolves?  Jan 24, 2008
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. The centuries spanning the development of western European nations, were a particularly productive time for those weeds in the papacy. It is a sad period of church history but one that cannot be ignored. The estimate on how much those centuries had to do with the rupture of the reformation cannot be overlooked. Leading up to the reformation was a period of emphasis on personal sanctify - due, undoubtedly, as a backlash against the abuses recounted in this book. That the papacy was often filled by such disreputable characters as these has oft been used as an indictment of the Roman Catholic church or of Christianity in general. But the other side of the coin is that despite this long night of corrupt leadership, the church emerged still triumphant and with a papacy still intact. Some would claim this to be one of the great miracles of the church; and it is indeed difficult, in light of these facts, to dispute that claim. That so many ravenous wolves would find their way in among the sheep is not at all surprising. That the sheep still survive is hardly short of miraculous. What Mr. Chamberlin conveys is not an anti-Catholic or anti-Christian polemic but simply the facts of history without bias revealing an incredible and deeply dark period of Church history. An immensely readable and enjoyable study.
Nothing spiritual about the papacy  Jan 11, 2007
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. A term that appears over and over again is simony: the act of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferment, ecclesiastical pardons, or other things regarded as sacred or spiritual. The popes routinely sold membership in the cardinalate as a means of raising cash. In order to maintain a family's position in the College of Cardinals, the pope would sometimes appoint teenage boys from his extended family. During this period, the pope could marry and have children which he then attempted to ensure would succeed him to the pontificate. Some popes had numerous illegitimate children who under normal circumstances would be outcasts, but the pope could issue a decree legitimizing their birth.

Did you know that due to the utter ineptness of Pope Clement VII, Rome was sacked by the Catholic emperor Charles in 1527? The pillaging and rape ended only when the numerous dead bodies brought on the plague, which affected inhabitant and invader alike. In addition, the utter destruction of the country resulted in famine, and looters, laden with gold, were starving. They eventually left Rome to find food.

It's not hard to understand the appeal of Lutheranism after reading about the wild debauchery that was going on in Rome at that time.

Although the modern-day Catholic Church, still one of the richest institutions around, has cleaned up its act in comparison to what it was doing for centuries, this well-written book reminds us that there is nothing spiritual about that institution.
Enjoyable, Engrossing and Informative  Nov 15, 2005
I enjoy historical biographies etc. but would consider myself a reader of 'lighter' material (fantasy etc.). I picked up this book as a curiosity expecting little, but found myself taken in by it.

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.
The "dark side" of the Papacy  May 17, 2005
This book retells the lives of 7 "bad" Popes, in the estimation of the author. There are one or two on this list who don't necessarily qualify as "bad", but perhaps "misguided", or just plain "incompetent". The nomenclature, however, belongs to the author, and I will not quibble with his choices. That having been said, I will admit that this book reveals a side of the papacy that is somewhat unknown to the average person today. It's general knowledge that there were sone Popes unworthy of their high position, but that's about all most people really know. This book goes into extensive detail about the Popes on the author's list, and it does an excellent job of pointing out exactly what, in his estimation, were their failings. When viewed in the light of the recent papal conclave which elected Benedict XVI, those early elections, influenced by the Roman mob, political considerations, family connections and outright bribery, it's amazing that the Church survived at all! This is a cautionary tale for everyone interested in the history of the Church and its rulers, and will certainly remove the "rose colored glasses" from the faces of a lot of people.
"We cannot serve God & Mammon at the same time"---de' Mussi  May 6, 2005
I picked up The Bad Popes because of its intriguing title. Its cover artwork (my copy has a different, more appealing cover than the one advertised here) and style reminded me of another book with an equally intriguing title also reprinted by Barnes & Noble Books: The Medieval Underworld by Andrew McCall. McCall's work, although interesting and well researched, was very difficult to read. I anticipated Chamberlin's work, first published in 1969, to pose a similar challenge. I was pleasantly surprised. The Bad Popes is sophisticated and scholarly as is Medieval Underworld, but it is much more accessible. I have almost no background knowledge of the topic, but was able to follow along relatively well. It is clearly written, not burdened with details, and even on occasion offers some humor and wit.

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. The first section entitled The House of Theophylact covers two popes as well as the senatrix of Rome Marozia and the legend of "Pope Joan." The first pope covered is John XII (955-63) whose biggest crime in Roman eyes was that he gave land to his mistress, but he was also involved with other crimes and would end up being killed by a man who caught John in bed with his wife. Pope Benedict IX (1032-1046) flat out sold the Papacy. I found that the political intrigue surrounding the selection of the popes to be as, if not more, interesting than the events during each pope's reign.

The next five sections each feature one "bad pope." First, Benedict VIII (1294-1303) who was so horrible that Dante had him dragged through all three chapters of the Divine Comedy only to be viciously condemned at the end. Urban VI (1378-89) earned several conspiracy plots against him by the cardinals. When several of his conspirators were tortured, Urban complained that he did not hear enough screaming (p. 153). Nepotism was one of Alexander VI's greatest faults. He reduced the Papacy to his own family and earned such hatred that, upon his death, his corpse lay unattended and swelled to the point where it could barley fit in the coffin (p. 204). Pope Leo X (1513-21) ushered in a "Golden Age" but it was only seen as that by the Papacy because of his free spending. One ceremony cost 1/7 of the reserves left by the previous pope (p. 218). Clement VII is the last pope covered. He, like Leo X, was a member of the legendary Medici family. Centuries of messy politics caught up with him and Rome was caught between France, Spain, and a rising group of German mercenaries known as the landsknecht. Rome fell and the Romans suffered five months of agony at the hands of their conquerors (277). It is amazing how much happened during the seemingly short reigns of these popes. The book ends abruptly. A chapter putting the centuries of "bad popes" into context with information on the behavior of Popes since the Reformation would have been useful, as would a map. The book includes four sections of illustrations and family trees. I recommend this book to anyone intrigued by the title even if one is only slightly interested in the subject due to its accessible, well-written style and its reasonable price.

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