I find "A History of Christendom" so wildly entertaining, informative, and inspiring that I'm reading it again! I highly recommend it.

Real talk I got a bit misty-eyed at certain points in the first two books. So many interesting quotes in their as well. One I noted was a passage from a letter Martin Bucer wrote to John Calvin where he complains about Charles V

The Emperor delights in superstitious nonsense which is only fit for old wives. He repeats long prayers daily on his knees. He tells his beads, lying on the ground with his eyes fixed on an image of the Virgin. He is now openly striving against Christ.

Another funny passage about John VIII's letter to the emperor about recognizing Photius as Patriarch and Photius' desire of the Pope to drop all criticism against him.

Since, despite all his troubles, there was no way of inducing a man with so strong a sense of duty and loyalty to his predecessors as Pope John VIII to go this far, Photius, with startling and shameless audacity, simply rewrote the Pope's letters to make them say what they wanted to say... The Pope's actual words, in the latin of his letter to emperor Basil, were:

Knowing that the Patriarch Ignatius has departed this life and having considered all the circumstances mentioned in your letters, we decree that Photius may be forgiven whatever he is known to have done in that past, although he usurped functions that were forbidden him without reference to our See; and we decree this without prejudice to the apostolic statues or rules of the Holy Fathers: rather do we act on the strength of those rules and their manifest authority

This, in sharp contrast, is what Photius has the Pope say in a Greek "translation" of this same letter:

We also, by the authority of the Prince of the Apostles, Peter, announce to you with our entire Holy Church, and through you to your dear confreres and co-ministers, the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, and the other bishops and priests and to the whole Church of Constantinople, that we agree and consent with you, or rather with God [at this point Photius seems to have some difficulty distinguishing between himself and God], to your request... Accept that man [Photius] without hesitation. Let no one seek pretexts for refusal in the decisions of the iniquitous synods that met against him; let no one - as many simple people think they can do - appreal to the decrees of our blessed predecessors, Nicholas and Hadrian, for they never credited what was alleged against the very saintly Photius. Let no one use your signatures against him as pretext to sever communion with him or with you. Everything is over, everything repudiated, everything annuled and whatever was done against him has lost all validity.

As for the Pope's demand for an apology from Photius, it simply disappeared. Every mention of it or reference to it was carefully excised from the documents.

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