SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
James Baresel

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January 23, 2020
Alonso Berruguete: First Sculptor of Renaissance Spain By CD Dickerson III Yale, 244pp, £40/$55 Given Alonso Berruguete’s artistic education in Italy at the height of the Renaissance and his subsequent influence in his native Spain, it would not be surprising if this book was merely another tribute to the style and international impact of the
November 14, 2019
The Borgias: Power and Fortune By Paul Strathern Atlantic Books, 400pp, £25/$28.95 The dubious distinction of serving as the stereotypical exemplars of Renaissance ecclesial corruption is held by the Borgias, a family as infamous as any in Renaissance Italy for its embrace of that era’s mixture of neo-classical learning and aesthetics with the depths of
October 03, 2019
Eternal Light by Catherine Shotick D Giles, 82pp, £20/$25 In the 19th century artistic movements attempted to revive styles associated with the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. They embraced long-neglected techniques and even rediscovered ones which had been lost to human memory for centuries. But it was also a time in which artists, particularly in
September 05, 2019
The Two Powers By Brett Edward Whalen University of Pennsylvania Press, 328pp, £70/$80 Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) may not be among the most forgotten of the vicars of Christ, but neither is he remembered as well as might be expected for a pope who had such a decisive impact on the life of the Church.
August 08, 2019
The writings of Catholic convert Russell Kirk exert no more than a marginal influence outside of limited circles, which is a common cause for lament among the best contemporary American political thinkers and social critics. I share this view. But I would add that at least the accomplishments of the self-described “Bohemian Tory” as a
August 01, 2019
Emperor: A New Life of Charles V By Geoffrey Parker Yale, 760pp, £25/$35 Early 16th-century demographics can lead one to wonder how Protestantism managed to establish itself not just as a major religion but also one with considerable political power. Outside northern Germany almost every institution holding significant political power opposed both formal separation from
April 18, 2019
Sir Christopher Wren By Paul Rabbitts Shire Publications, 96pp, £9.99/$14 Displaying a typically Victorian aversion to the classicising aesthetics of 17th- and 18th-century architecture, Anthony Trollope once attempted to satirise English Palladian and English Baroque styles by saying that they would be called Italian despite the fact that they did not look like anything found
March 28, 2019
Ten Caesars By Barry Strauss Simon and Schuster, 432pp, £20/$28 One is naturally disposed to be defensive of “Western civilisation”, in part because the term is often used as a euphemism for civilisations influenced by Christianity, in part because such alternatives as Sharia law are unappealing, and partly because of increasing hostility to the social
March 14, 2019
Storm of the Sea by Matthew R Bahar Oxford University Press, 320pp, £22.99/$35 It was 1715 and a tribal people were preparing to assist in restoring Britain’s exiled Royal House of Stuart, sharpening tomahawks, covering themselves in war paint and raising sails on ships built to the highest technical standards of the day. No, I
February 28, 2019
The Roman Army and the New Testament By Christopher Zeichmann Fortress Academic, 208pp, £60/$80 Few phrases are as cringe-inducing as “the historical Jesus”, with its implication that there is an alternative, mythical Jesus created by those wishing to deny the historical accuracy of the New Testament, orthodox Christology and the supernatural generally. Defence of the
January 31, 2019
Treasures of Westminster Abbey By Tony Trowles Scala Art, 176pp, £16.99/$25 Walking into once Catholic churches appropriated by other religious bodies tends to produce the sense that “we were robbed”, but there are not many that I would be more interested in seeing restored to Catholic ownership than Westminster Abbey. This is a point on
December 06, 2018
Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou By Amy License, Pen and Sword Books, 256pp, £19.99/$35 During my days as an undergraduate, a professor of history under whom I was studying once summarised the standards of medieval chivalry as “pagan warrior codes with a Christian veneer”. It would be hard to find a summary of any