"THE want of a history of the popes of Rome, at once complete, concise, and at the same time written in a popular style, has long been felt as a desideratum in our language. That void is supplied in the following work. At this juncture, when the 'struggle of the church of Rome for future power has been transferred from the shores of Europe to our own land, it seemed desirable that such a book should be placed within the reach of all."
This work opens to our view a clear exposition of the public history and private practices of the men, who, from the position of simple pastors of a single church, advanced their authority, step by step, until they became not only the ecclesiastical, but in fact the temporal lords of Christendom. It treats with comprehensive minuteness of their onward march to greatness from their first usurpations over the surrounding churches, until, in the zenith of their pride and power, they trampled emperors and kings beneath their feet, absolved nations from allegiance, took away and bestowed kingdoms, and parcelled out a world to whom they would. The craft of the first Leo — the steady perseverance of the early popes in their settled policy of aggrandizement — the bold daring of Hildebrand, the monk of Cluny, the master spirit of his age — the public infamy and private debaucheries of Borgia — the reckless audacity of the Farnese, and the voluptuous licentiousness and philosophical atheism of the tenth Leo, are painted by a master's hand. The actors in the scenes recounted, live and move and have a being, as they pass in review before us." Quoted from the translator's "Preface."