The Pope Who Would Be King
The Pulitzer-winning author of The Pope and Mussolini, takes on a central, untold story of the Papacy, the revolution that stripped the Pope of political power and signaled the birth of modern Europe.The longest-reigning pope, Pope Pius IX, also oversaw one of the greatest periods of tumult and transition in Church history. When Pius IX was elected, the pope was still a king as well as a spiritual leader, welcomed by the citizens of the Papal States who hoped he might bring in modern reforms, such as a constitutional government, after the repressive rule of Pope Gregory XVI. In the first year of his rule, Pius IX tried to please his subjects with incremental changes while holding onto absolute authority he believed was divinely ordained. But, as the revolutionary spirit of 1848 swept through Europe, the Pope found he could not have it both ways. By the end of his rule, the Papacy--and Europe--had completely transformed. In The Pope Who Would Be King, David Kertzer tells the story of the revolution that spelled the end of the papacy as an earthly rule and the birth of modern Europe.

The Pope Who Would Be King Details

TitleThe Pope Who Would Be King
Author
ReleaseApr 24th, 2018
PublisherRandom House
ISBN-139780812989915
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Religion, European History, Biography

The Pope Who Would Be King Review

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    January 1, 1970
    Netgalley #28Many thanks to David Kertzer, Random House, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.RTC
  • Bob H
    January 1, 1970
    This is a well-researched, well-written and unexpectedly gripping account of the reign of Pius IX, the last pope to govern central Italy as a secular -- and absolute -- monarch. The narrative mostly focuses on the first tumultuous years of his papacy, from his election in 1846, through his well-meaning beginnings amid an antiquated government of reactionary cardinals, to the chaos of 1848. That revolutionary year -- much as the Arab Spring was in our time -- shook government after government acr This is a well-researched, well-written and unexpectedly gripping account of the reign of Pius IX, the last pope to govern central Italy as a secular -- and absolute -- monarch. The narrative mostly focuses on the first tumultuous years of his papacy, from his election in 1846, through his well-meaning beginnings amid an antiquated government of reactionary cardinals, to the chaos of 1848. That revolutionary year -- much as the Arab Spring was in our time -- shook government after government across Europe, and it would arrive in Rome in the form of a Roman Republic and a people sick of theocratic rule, and Pius IX would dither and then flee to the Kingdom of Naples.It's an exciting story, mainly about the momentous and violent period 1848-49, mostly in Rome and the revolution and siege of the Eternal City. (The book, no spoiler, does sketch his subsequent reign and his being chased into the Vatican for good in 1870 by an army of reunified Italy).Pius IX, to be fair, had a weak hand to play, with few resources in the Papal States and a weak army, with the surrounding powers -- Kingdom of Naples, Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the new post-revolutionary French Second Republic -- themselves feeling compelled to intervene to save, or capture, the papacy to suit their own interests as much as the Catholic cause. Nonetheless, Pius IX -- "Pio Nono" -- comes off at times as conflicted, feckless, even irrelevant; his first move in exile in Gaeta is not to rally an army but to draft an encyclical about the Immaculate Conception.Other, vivid characters come into the story: his villainous secretary of state, Cardinal Antonelli; the operatic Kings, Ferdinand in Naples and Charles Albert of Sardinia; the heroic, tragic revolutionaries Mazzini, Garibaldi, Ugo Bassi, and Ciceruacchio. We see the leaders of another 1848-vintage republic, the French president Louis Napoleon, his ambassador de Lesseps, and his foreign minister Alexis de Tocqueville (yes, the author of Democracy in America), intervene and find themselves at war with the Roman Republic. We see a fledgling democracy go down under a war between Sardinia and Austria -- herself beset by revolution -- in the north, and under bloody siege in Rome itself. It's a vast canvas and a compelling story, played out over less than two years in the 1848-1850 period. It shows a pivotal time that established that, if the pope had no divine right to govern a state, then neither, as the author points out, did kings. Highest recommendation.
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  • Rama
    January 1, 1970
    The tumultuous life of Pope Pius IX Here is an opportunity to study the life of Pope Pius IX and take a journey through the history of Roman Catholic Church that paved the way for modern Europe. Following the death of Pope Gregory XVI (1831–46), the political climate within Italy was turning its tide against Catholic Church’s autocracy. The church was steeped in a factional division between conservatives and liberals. The conservatives favored the hardline stances and papal absolutism of the pre The tumultuous life of Pope Pius IX Here is an opportunity to study the life of Pope Pius IX and take a journey through the history of Roman Catholic Church that paved the way for modern Europe. Following the death of Pope Gregory XVI (1831–46), the political climate within Italy was turning its tide against Catholic Church’s autocracy. The church was steeped in a factional division between conservatives and liberals. The conservatives favored the hardline stances and papal absolutism of the previous pontificate, while liberals supported reforms. In this book, author David Kertzer chronicles the tumultuous life of Pope Pius IX and the fate of Catholic Church in progressive Europe. Majority of the inhabitants of Papal states during this time did not like the church’s abuses. Majority of them wanted to live free from its clutches. Jews found themselves in the confines of poverty, abuse, and antisemitism in the slums of Rome. Life for them was beyond unbearable. Worst of all was that they lived in fear that their children may be taken from them forcibly, baptized under Roman Laws, and they would be raised as a Catholics. During earlier years, the election of Pope Pius IX created much enthusiasm in Europe. But soon it faded as French revolution dominated the continent’s political arena. The separation of church and state was becoming increasingly popular. Consequently, Pope’s influence on people was decreasing. But Pope Pius did not shirk, he wanted more control within Europe and at the same time he expected Roman Catholics to have freedom in Russia and the Ottoman Empire. He also fought against anti-Catholic sentiments in Italy and Germany. When Pope’s life was threatened and became dangerous; he was guarded in seclusion by French forces. But after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), the Papal States lost its protector in Emperor Napoleon III and came under control Italian rulers. But until this time, Pope Pius IX was a Sovereign Ruler of the Papal States and expected to be treated as a King. During his reign, the Pontiff made full use of his spiritual arsenal and warned that Catholics must not believe in freedom of religion, or freedom of speech or freedom press. He summoned the world’s bishops and cardinals, and addressing the conference, he condemned the godless forces that emerged from French revolution. He proclaimed that he alone would find spiritual solutions for people. Many modern-day Christian conservatives blame the hippie culture and X-generation for turning away from God. Pope Pius IX felt the same way during his leadership. But in its absolutism, the separation of church and state is less meaningful as religions like Islam is making inroads and introducing its political ideology through teachings of its books and Sharia Laws. The state-of-affairs in the Middle East and other Islamic countries demonstrate how clergy have cleverly taken control of its masses by intimidating their governments.
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  • Geoffrey
    January 1, 1970
    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)To say I went in knowing close to nothing about the subject matter would definitely be an understatement. Not only that, I wasn't sure what to face after several attempted and eventually aborted forays into reading further into 1848 Revolutions-era Europe, where each time I became far too bogged down in a sheer volume of details. Thankfully, Kertzer does not make the same mistake that I've seen other writers make. F (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)To say I went in knowing close to nothing about the subject matter would definitely be an understatement. Not only that, I wasn't sure what to face after several attempted and eventually aborted forays into reading further into 1848 Revolutions-era Europe, where each time I became far too bogged down in a sheer volume of details. Thankfully, Kertzer does not make the same mistake that I've seen other writers make. Far from it, he has crafted not merely an excellently readable history that makes this tumultuous period of Europe comprehensible to those unfamiliar with the era, but a gripping history as well that one will find difficult to put down.
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    Big thanks to Goodreads for me winning this advanced copy!I love finding a history book about subject I didn't even know I needed to know about. Now I'm all gung ho to read up some more papal histories. This had great writing that was easy to read and kept me involved in the story. The 90-odd pages of notes and references tells me that maybe a little bit of research was used in the making. Maybe.
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  • Ann Green
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating book that is historically accurate and well written by Professor David Kertzer, Professor of Social Science at Brown University. For a fresh perspective on this time in history and the role of Pope Pius IX, this is a must read. Thanks for the win of this fascinating book the introduction to this author. I will definitely look for other books authored by Professor Kertzer!
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  • Joe McMahon
    January 1, 1970
    This book demonstrates the value of closely-focused history. The author has chosen to explore what happened in 1848 and 1849 when Pope Pius IX fled Rome and sought safety at Gaeta in the Kingdom of Naples. "The Pope Who Would Be King," admirably includes what happened before and after those years, but by carefully relating the events in the first few years of Pius's pontificate, he gets into the factors (crafty advisors, fears, religious convictions) that sent Pius on his cranky path.A run throu This book demonstrates the value of closely-focused history. The author has chosen to explore what happened in 1848 and 1849 when Pope Pius IX fled Rome and sought safety at Gaeta in the Kingdom of Naples. "The Pope Who Would Be King," admirably includes what happened before and after those years, but by carefully relating the events in the first few years of Pius's pontificate, he gets into the factors (crafty advisors, fears, religious convictions) that sent Pius on his cranky path.A run through internet blogs and reviews will quickly show that Pius still has admirers who fault "modernism" and the achievements of the Enlightenment. This sentence on page 62 puzzles me: "The Dutch ambassador, longtime deacon of the foreign diplomatic corps in Rome, shared Minto's view." Deacon? Did some speech recognition system write "deacon" instead of "dean"? Does this error say something about editorial skills?
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  • Daniel Kukwa
    January 1, 1970
    It surprises me that it has taken this long for a book to emerge about the demise of the Papal States, in the context of Italian unification & the post-1848 revolutions in Europe. It doesn't disappoint: it is straightforward, informative, and plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy. A solid work about a rather forgotten historical event.
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  • Cristie Underwood
    January 1, 1970
    Well written and researched account of the reign of Pope Pius IX. I am not Catholic, but love biographies, but was not expecting much from this. I became immersed in it due to the detail provided by the writer. It was not written just for those that are Catholic.
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  • Zine B. Smith
    January 1, 1970
    This is likely one of the best history texts that I have ever read. The author paints such a clear picture of the events and people involved that it read like a novel. Though I knew the outcome of the events I still had hope and anticipation for the conclusion. Very well done. I highly recommend.
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  • PWRL
    January 1, 1970
    A
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Recommended by Gerry Geboski
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