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THE TITLE selected for this book pretty exactly, I trust, expresses its character and defines its limits. I do not profess to write the history of the Roman Church; I do not profess to write a minute and detailed history of the popes: but I do profess to tell with some fullness and comprehensiveness the story of the popedom, to follow it from its origin to the present time through all its changes, revolutions, triumphs and disasters, to linger over its most striking personages and its most important passages, to set it forth in its twofold character as a spiritual and a secular power, and to consider its relations to other powers, its place in history, and its part in the great drama of human affairs.
While striving after strict accuracy in the statement of facts and perfect fairness in the estimate of character, I lay no claim to the impartiality of religious indifference. While in no wise blind, I trust, to intellectual greatness or moral worth in a pope, I look upon the popedom as the supreme corruption of Christianity. Disbelievers in the divine origin and the divine authority of the Christian religion may regard the papacy with feelings of mingled complacency and dislike, as an institution serviceable and beneficent in ages past though worn out and pernicious now. But every earnest believer in Christianity as the full and final revelation of God, must look upon the popedom either as the perfection or as the nethermost
degradation thereof. It was more at home in those dark. ages of which it was the creature; it may have done less harm then, it may have put forth some social restraint and held brute force in some check. But it was as much a spiritual corruption in the eleventh as in the sixteenth or the nineteenth century. Circumstances have rendered it more or less formidable, more or less pernicious; but it has remained throughout the supreme corruption of Christianity; and as such I deal with it throughout this volume.
The Italian events of 1859 and 1860 concentrated around the popedom those historical studies which form the chief employment and delight of my life. A disquisition on the Italian aspects of the papal history gradually expanded into the present volume, which, commenced at the beginning of 1860, was finished at the end of 1862. Subsequent events have required the addition of a few sentences to two or three of the chapters. I have as much as possible gone to the original and contemporaneous, especially the Roman Catholic sources of information; and I have to thank the authorities of the Bodleian Library for the months of delightful research which I enjoyed there.
The present somewhat heedless and relaxed mood of English Protestantism, as well as the deadly peril of Italian Popery, has stirred me to the production of this volume. I put it forth with the earnest hope and prayer that Italy may be rid ere long of that papacy which has wrought her such shame and evil, and that England may ever cleave to that Protestantism which has ministered so mightily to her greatness and glory, to her freedom and felicity.
The Franks, their Prominence, Conquests and Connection with the Papacy.-Exchange
Hostile Powers and favourable Influences which surrounded the Papacy at the Acces-