Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Dark History: The Popes by Brenda Ralph Lewis

Publisher: Metro Books
Pub. Date: March 2009
ISBN-13: 9781435102101
Pages: 256
Ratings: 5 out of 5
Summary: The pope is considered to be the sucessor of Saint Peter and the leader of the Catholic Church. Throughout the centuries, there have been good popes...and unfortunately some bad ones too. In this book, Brenda Ralph Lewis tells us the some the pontiffs' immoral and scandalous deeds from bribery, nepotism, sexual affairs, and even mass murders.
Review: Just when I thought Ms. Lewis was through amazing me with her other book A Dark History: The Kings and Queens of Europe, here's another book that trumped it. In A Dark History: The Popes, readers are introduced to the most shocking and controversial stories of the papal history.
Just to name a few, readers are introduced to John XII (955 - 964) who ran a brothel in the Vatican. It was said that he drank toasts to the Devil when drunk. If you think that's not shocking enough, how about Alexander VI, (1492 - 1503) who had eight children with his mistresses?(Yes, you read right...mistresses as in plural.) Just as Hitler was responisble for killing six million Jews during WWII, Innocent III was responsible for killing a million Cathars whom he believed were heretics. I guess he's not so innocent after all.
Readers will also be interested in the chapter called The Galileo Affair. Galileo defied the church teachings by saying that the earth orbited around the sun and not the other way around. He was accused of heresy and therefore was found guilty during his Inquisition. He was almost 70 years old.
This book also has plenty of illustrations and pictures. Some pictures were gruesome enough to make my skin crawl. This book was also well-researched. I learned so much. I believed that Ms. Lewis outdid herself.
Recommendation: If you're in the mood to get creeeped out or just reading some weird history, you will not be disappointed if you get this book.


  1. This sounds fantastic! I am so into historical fiction right now. Thanks for reviewing this - I had not even heard of it.

  2. Hi Helen! Like you, I've always been fascinated by the papacy. I guess I can't help it since I'm Catholic and I went to Catholic school. We were always taught so many things about the pope, which made me wonder how one person can have so much on his shoulders.

  3. @bookjourney: You should also check out Ms. Lewis' A Dark History The Kings and Queens of Europe. It's an amazing book.

    @Peter: That makes two of us. I am Catholic as well and went to a Catholic university. One of the things mentioned in this book was that popes had so much power back then that some nobles did anything and everything to get rid of them and replace them with someone whom they can control.