Format Hardcover
Publication Date 09/05/23
ISBN 9781639365210
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 448

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City of Echoes

A New History of Rome, Its Popes, and Its People

Jessica Wärnberg

From a bold new historian comes a vibrant history of Rome as seen through its most influential persona throughout the centuries: the pope.

Rome is a city of echoes, where the voice of the people has chimed and clashed with the words of princes, emperors, and insurgents across the centuries. In this authoritative new history, Jessica Wärnberg tells the story of Rome’s longest standing figurehead and interlocutor—the pope—revealing how his presence over the centuries has transformed the fate of the city of Rome.

Emerging as the anonymous leader of a marginal cult in the humblest quarters of the city, the pope began as the pastor of a maligned and largely foreign flock. Less than 300 years later, he sat enthroned in a lofty, heavily gilt basilica, a religious leader endorsed (and financed) by the emperor himself. Eventually, the Roman pontiff would supplant even the emperors as de facto ruler of Rome and pre-eminent leader of the Christian world. By the nineteenth century, it would take an army to wrest the city from the pontiff’s grip.

As the first-ever account of how the popes’ presence has shaped the history of Rome, City of Echoes not only illuminates the lives of the remarkable (and unremarkable) men who have sat on the throne of Saint Peter, but also reveals the bold and curious actions of the men, women, and children who have shaped the city with them, from antiquity to today. In doing so, the book tells the history of Rome as it has never been told before.

During the course of this fascinating story, City of Echoes also answers a compelling question: how did a man—and institution—whose authority rested on the blood and bones of martyrs defeat emperors, revolutionaries, and fascists to give Rome its most enduring identity?

Jessica Wärnberg is a historian of the religious and political history of Europe, focusing on the History of Art (Courtauld Institute), Cultural and Intellectual History (Warburg Institute), and Modern History, in which she holds a PhD from the University of St Andrews, Scotland). In Rome, Jessica has worked extensively in the archives of the Vatican, the Jesuits, and the Holy Office of the Inquisition. She has written about popes, princes, inquisitors, and the Jesuits for History Today and the Catholic Herald. Jessica has received multiple recognitions for her work, including fellowships at the British School at Rome (British Academy), the Society for Renaissance Studies, and election as a Permanent Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She now lives in London.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“Wärnberg provides a worthwhile account examining the many “layers of legend” about this ancient city. Wärnberg is at her best during the Renaissance period, when “the papacy and the Church had become a state-like institution: organized, largely self-sufficient, and recognized by political powers.” Wärnberg’s mildly upbeat conclusion affirms that both Rome and the papacy remain inextricably entwined despite their diminished roles and that recent popes have exerted a positive influence. A useful resource for students of Christian history and papal aficionados.” Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Jessica Wärnberg's City of Echoes:
"Wärnberg is brilliant." Dan Snow, historian and podcast host
“A tremendous, engrossing, and illuminating history of papal Rome. City of Echoes is a must-read for everyone with an interest in the Eternal City.” Angus Robertson, author of Crossroads of Civilization: A History of Vienna
"Serious, exactingly-researched history, with all the gripping intensity of a rattling good yarn. Filled with intriguing and unexpected facts, City of Echoes conjures up some superb images. Jessica Wärnburg shows us how the truth can be be even more exciting than any Dan Brown yarn.” Paul Strathern, author of The Borgias, The Medici, and The Other Renaissance
"City of Echoes is a sweeping journey through the intertwined history of the city of Rome and the popes from the earliest Christian times till today. It's wonderfully readable and thoroughly enjoyable.” Philip Freeman, author of Hannibal, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar
"Jessica Wärnberg’s pleasurably informative account allows us to hear some gloriously clear historical and religious resonances of Rome from St. Peter to the present day. It leads us on a sparkling journey through the intertwined evolution of the Eternal City and the papacy that is a joy on the architectural, human, and divine levels.” Stephen P. Kershaw, author of The Harvest of War and The Enemies of Rome