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New Medieval Books: City of Echoes

City of Echoes: A New History of Rome, Its Popes, and Its People

By Jessica Wärnberg

Pegasus Books
ISBN: 978-1-63936-521-0

This book intertwines the history of Rome and the history of the Papacy, to show how each influenced the other and the legacy they created together. About half the book deals with the medieval period.


In words, deeds and travertine stone, over some twenty centuries, the city of Rome and the popes have become inextricably intertwined. Streets crowded with Baroque churches and punctuated with dimly lit shrines, the smiling face of a recent pontiff hanging behind the till of a bar – even today, the visual result of the union is so complete that it appears to be preordained. Layers of legend – whether black or golden – also cloud our view. This book illuminates its evolution over nearly 2000 years. Tracing the history of Rome, its people and popes in conversation with one another, it tells stories with a symbolism that echoes into our own day. Ancient heiresses swap their fortunes for hair shirts. Ethiopian diplomats roar with laughter in the palaces of cardinals. The son of a hosteler rises up to rule Rome, aping emperors and popes, only to become a bloated, tyrannical disappointment. As modernity dawns, men and women from all over the globe travel to the city, shooting from behind barricades of mattresses to defend treasured ideals. Unpicking narratives familiar and strange, we can illuminate the lives of those who walked Rome’s streets to reveal how the city developed its most enduring identity.


Who is this book for?

Aimed at the general reader, the book covers close to 2,000 years of history and moves along at a quick pace. If you are interested in either the Papacy or Rome, this well-written book will offer a solid introduction. While medieval scholars might not find too much new in the work, the lengthy End Notes and Bibliography section can be a helpful aid.

The author:

Jessica Wärnberg is a historian focusing on the early modern era and the Roman Catholic church. This is her second book, and has penned many articles both for academic and mainstream audiences. You can learn more about Jessica on her personal website or follow her on X/Twitter.


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