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Lord Acton
Publisher: Yale University Press | ISBN: 0300079567 | edition 2000 | PDF | 576 pages | 2.12 mb

This is the first full-length biography of this remarkable man, making full use of archival and published materials about him. Placing Acton in the context of Catholic politics in Britain (which made him something of an outsider), it offers a wonderful life-and-times picture. Acton was born at Naples in 1834 and died at Tegernsee in Germany in 1902. Roland Hill's book covers Acton's upbringing and education in Italy, France, England, and Germany, his activities as Member of Parliament, his work as editor and owner of Liberal Catholic journals, his opposition to the doctrine of papal infallibility at the Vatican Council of 1869 to 1870, and his lifelong preoccupation with the history of freedom. Through his friendship with Prime Minister Gladstone, Acton was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, where he transformed historical study and planned the Cambridge Modern History series. The enigmatic Acton was of course held in the highest esteem for his great learning and ideas on politics, religion, and the development of institutions and views fostering human freedom. Knocking Acton as a pompous Victorian has been a pastime of a new generation of young British historians. This approach is to try and understand the enigmatic personality in its personal, emotional, and intellectual pre-occupations and to get thus at the man and his ideas.

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