Characters of the Reformation
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2017
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One of the most fascinating books ever written by the great Catholic historian Belloc, he presents in bold colors the 23 principal characters of the Protestant Reformation, focusing primarily on those figures concerned with the events in England, analyzing their strengths, mistakes, motives and deeds which changed the course of history.
Among the characters he examines are Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, St. Thomas More, Mary Tudor, Thomas Cromwell, William Cecil, Mary Stuart, Cardinal Richelieu and many more. Belloc illustrates how the motives of the Protestant leaders were rarely religious in nature, but usually political or economic. He underscores the fact that European Christendom was once a single united entity, under the authority of the Catholic Church, each country viewing itself as a single "province" of the whole.
Many of Europe's Princes resented the power that the Bishop of Rome held in their own lands. The Reformation, aided by the rise of Nationalism, was a means for the nobles of Europe to shake off Papal authority and rule their territory independently. It also gave European monarchs control over the Church and all of its property in their realm, including the taxes that would normally be sent to Rome.
The nobles grew rich by confiscating the wealth of the Church, and resisted reconciliation if that meant returning the wealth to its rightful owner. In subsequent generations, the fear of this possibility gave the noble classes an incentive to remain in the Protestant camp. Belloc warns that this breakup of Christendom may still destroy our Christian civilization.
Even those who think they do not like history will be unable to put this book down as it brings history vividly to life. As usual, Belloc's historical perspective offers timeless wisdom and insight rarely seen in modern times.
"Hearing the stories of those who played instrumental roles in the divisions caused by the Reformation can open us up to a better understanding of why these divisions occurred and how the unity that our Lord prayed for can be reestablished."
-- Marcus Grodi, EWTN TV Host, The Journey Home, from the Foreword
"You can't understand where we are now without understanding the dramatic events that took place during the Reformation. That's why you should let Hilaire Belloc be your guide to the fascinating stories of the men and the women--both saints and sinners--who played such crucial roles in shaping our world today."
--Jimmy Akin, Author, A Daily Defense: 365 Days to Becoming a Better Apologist
"Anybody seeking a sane perspective on the Reformation--particularly as the tragedy (and the redemptive work of God) in the lives of men and women on both sides of the conflict --simply must have a copy of Belloc's great classic."
-- Mark P. Shea, Author, By What Authority: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition
"This is more than a chronicle of events. This is the story of hearts and minds intertwined and divided, set against one another by things sometimes within the characters' control and sometimes not. It is vintage Belloc."
--Karl Keating, Author, Catholicism and Fundamentalism
"One of the keys to understanding the dizzying landscape of Protestantism today is to go back to its founders. Belloc does just that in this classic book."
--Devin Rose, Author, The Protestant's Dilemma
Hilaire Belloc was an Anglo-French writer and historian. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, sailor, satirist, man of letters, soldier and political activist. His Catholic faith had a strong impact on his works. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man. Belloc became a naturalised British subject in 1902, while retaining his French citizenship. Belloc wrote on myriad subjects, from warfare to poetry to the many current topics of his day. He has been called one of the Big Four of Edwardian Letters, along with H.G.Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and G. K. Chesterton, all of whom debated with each other into the 1930s.
This is an important read for any modern person as the Protestant Revolution has done much to create the problems that we are currently experiencing in the West. Understanding it better will help us to battle these heresies.