Finished reading The Shaping of France. Pretty happy with it. All my reservations stated below continued, and of course it was just dreadful to read such an agnostic account of Joan of Arc — what a spoilsport! But as a nice clear, readable telling of the kings and battles of medieval France-in-progress, it did the trick. Great introduction to military history for people who don’t really do military history, but want to understand some of the big picture. For all its faults, I think reading this one is a good starting point, or re-freshing point, before diving deeper into any particular topic covering medieval France or England. (For example: 1215.)
I’m not sure whether it makes Hillaire Belloc squirm or chuckle, but I think his Characters of the Reformation is a natural follow-on to The Shaping of France. Similar type of work, though the author’s historical lense now switches from ardently-atheist-mode to ardently-catholic-mode. Belloc’s character-by-character approach is a little more disjointed and difficult to follow, but in exchange you get a slightly more intense look at each individual. Likewise, Asimov is the more goes-down-like-popcorn story-teller, but I think Belloc is selling meatier ideas. (And it was very refreshing to read an account of the reformation from an unabashedly-catholic perspective. Just because you never do. No doubt a bit of bias in there, but bias worth discovering for change.) As far as historical-documentation goes, they are twins.
My only regret on these two: I really wish I had read The Shaping of France before Characters of the Reformation, because the one really sets you up to understand the other.
Next on my to-do list: Getting my notes done on my medieval-france honkin’ big pile of library books before they have to go back at the end of the week. In between taking girls to the Nutcracker, cooking for Thanksgiving, attending Thanksgiving, hosting Thanksgiving, and maybe doing other fun stuff. And then cleaning of my desk, haha.
Return to The Catholic Conspiracy