Europe and the Faith
Publisher: Cavalier Books
Publication Date: January 18, 2018
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"You have been told 'Christianity (a word, by the way, quite un- historical) crept into Rome as she declined, and hastened that decline.' That is bad history. Rather accept this phrase and retain it: 'The Faith is that which Rome accepted in her maturity; nor was the Faith the cause of her decline, but rather the conservator of all that could be conserved."
"In the next period--the Dark Ages--the Catholic proceeds to see Europe saved against a universal attack of the Mohammedan, the Hun, the Scandinavian: he notes that the fierceness of the attack was such that anything save something divinely instituted would have broken down. The Mohammedan came within three days' march of Tours, the Mongol was seen from the walls of Tournus on the Sâone: right in France. The Scandinavian savage poured into the mouths of all the rivers of Gaul, and almost overwhelmed the whole island of Britain. There was nothing left of Europe but a central core."
"Nevertheless Europe survived. In the refloresence which followed that dark time--in the Middle Ages--the Catholic notes not hypotheses but documents and facts; he sees the Parliaments arising not from some imaginary 'Teutonic' root--a figment of the academies--but from the very real and present great monastic orders, in Spain, in Britain, in Gaul--never outside the old limits of Christendom. He sees the Gothic architecture spring high, spontaneous and autochthonic, first in the territory of Paris and thence spread outwards in a ring to the Scotch Highlands and to the Rhine. He sees the new Universities, a product of the soul of Europe, re-awakened--he sees the marvelous new civilization of the Middle Ages rising as a transformation of the old Roman society, a transformation wholly from within, and motived by the Faith."
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.
Unique in this volume is Belloc's account of Roman decline, which he shows was a transition, not a collapse. Really pretty brilliant; much more convincing that Gibbon's (e.g.) narrative. His description of England's Catholicism during the Dark Ages is compelling as well. His narrative of the English Reformation he tells better elsewhere
Hilaire Belloc's Europe and the Faith isn't your average high school European history textbook. Belloc doesn't use the hard dates in this book nor goes beyond the Protestant Reformation and English Reformation. But, he does make clear his intention: to go through history as someone would have experienced it, which means this book relies on the Catholic Faith. Never in my life have I just gotten something than this book, regardless of the language used by Belloc being as old as my parents house (they're both from the 1920's). The history Belloc writes is so much simpler yet deeply richer than any history class I've taken in my life. This book is worth much more than its weight in gold and the reason for it is due in large part to the Catholic Faith.
Growing up, I loved history and when I learned about Rome, I was just in love. Like God had crafted my imagination to such that Rome at some point felt natural and right. So it came as a huge surprise that Belloc says that not only did Rome not die but Rome is still alive and all thanks to the Faith. Honestly, if I could only explain my life to show God's existence. Anyhow, thanks to Belloc my dream from childhood about the Glory of Rome and the chance, however slight, to reunite the Roman Empire makes me gush like a baby once more. The fact Belloc can make me feel this way earns a great review anyday.
I loved this book! It was excellent! From this book alone, I have learned so much in how far society has fallen from Christ.