A.B. Stanford, 1990. M.A., Harvard 1994, Ph.D. 2000.
Professor of History, DeSales University.
Originally from California, Brennan Pursell went to college at Stanford University and obtained his AB in History in 1990. After graduation, he devoted two years to work and travel in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, until he went to Harvard for graduate training in European history, where he received his Ph.D. in 2000.
For his dissertation he worked in
archives in Germany, Austria, Spain, England, and several other European
countries. His scholarly articles and book reviews have appeared in History,
The Historical Journal, The Sixteenth Century Journal, The Court
Historian, German Studies Review, the Royal Historical Society's
Camden Fifth Series, the American Historical Review, LOGOS: a
Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, Catholic Social Science Review,
and other publications.
His first book, The Winter King: Frederick V of the Palatinate and the
Coming of the Thirty Years' War, appeared in 2003. In March 2008, he
published Benedict of Bavaria: an Intimate Portrait of the Pope and His
Homeland. Promoting this work has led to appearances on CNN, EWTN, and
other television stations, in addition to 80 radio outlets, and interviews with
over a dozen major American newspapers. In 2011, he is publishing two new
books: a historical novel, The Spanish Match (Sophia Institute Press),
and History in His Hands: A Christian Narrative of Western Civilization
(Crossroad Publishing Company).
A member of the DeSales University faculty since 2001, he teaches courses on European history ancient to modern. He also leads travel-study hybrid courses to Germany and Austria for DeSales students. He lives with his wife, a Bavarian pianist, and three children in Allentown. His favorite hobbies are singing, playing the viola, gardening, and making weak attempts to stay in shape.
For his interview with Marcus Grodi on EWTN, click here.
For a series of five video interviews with Brennan about his work at DeSales University, see Our Story at DSU.
A Soaring Affirmation of
God’s Role in Human Affairs
“There is no other book that I could recommend as highly as an introduction to a Catholic view of human history.”
--Christopher Shannon, Christendom College
Most professional historians write history as though God either does not exist or doesn’t matter. History in His Hands offers a radically different approach. Brennan Pursell, Harvard-trained historian and author of Benedict of Bavaria, shows how God’s directing hand ensures that history—and each person in history—has significance. We can discover the difference that God’s presence makes in several key issues in human history: time, space, war and peace, wealth and poverty, and human love and hatred.
As we discover that all of us share an identity as God’s creation, Dr. Pursell also challenges us to cease thinking in terms of radically distinct historical periods, whether ancient, medieval, or modern, and recognize how all people who have ever lived are part of the same story.
Finally, Dr. Pursell invites us to recognize how, for all the achievements of our own day, we remain as flawed as ever, and in need of recognizing God as the source of our existence and the shaper of our destinies.
“History in His Hands is a refreshing tour through familiar territory from an unfamiliar perspective.—Fr. John Bartunek, author of The Better Part
In 1623 Charles, heir to the throne of England, dons a disguise, secretly crosses the Channel, rides on horseback across France, and sneaks into Madrid, capital of Protestant England’s proud Catholic enemy, Spain.
His mission? To find and woo the lovely María, sister of the King of Spain, and accomplish by marriage what decades of war have failed to do: bring peace to the two embittered nations.
Charles meets María and in the ensuing months, though intrigues and murders stalk them, they share a growing attraction, leaving but one obstacle: María won’t compromise her Catholic Faith.
Returning to England with María as his wife will unite the kingdoms but could destroy the monarchy: outraged at the prospect of a Catholic queen, Charles’s Puritan subjects may rise up and take from him not merely the throne, but even his life . . . and María’s . . . plunging all of Europe into warfare greater than any seen before.From detailed historical records of this love’s gambit on which the fate of nations actually turned, author Brennan Pursell has crafted a moving novel of faith, danger, courage, and hope, a tale in which the love of two young people --- Prince Charles of England and Princess María of Spain --- comes close to healing one of history’s gravest wounds.
This biography of Pope Benedict XVI is based on the interviews, personal testimonies, articles, and reliable books (mostly available only in German) written by the people who grew up, studied, and worked with him. These individuals know him better than any Vatican journalist. Brennan visited nearly all the sites associated with the Pope’s early life, the towns and churches where he lived, learned, and worshiped. The result is an accurate, truly intimate portrait of the man.
Benedict of Bavaria attracted major media attention when the Pope visited the USA in the spring of 2008. Brennan gave more than 90 interviews with TV, radio, and print venues. He was quoted on the front page of The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Congressman Charles Dent of Pennsylvania presented the book on the floor of the House of Representatives on behalf of his constituent.
Visit Brennan's Newsroom at Maximus Media Group.
The Winter King: Frederick V of the Palatinate and the Coming of the Thirty Years' War (Ashgate, 2003)
Elector Palatinate Frederick V - the Winter King - would be an insignificant figure in the history of Europe were it not for the tremendous conflagration that he helped to ignite. Frederick’s conflict with Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II over the throne of Bohemia plunged Europe into thirty years of savage violence, fiery devastation, and terrible privation during the first half of the seventeenth century.
More than simply a biographical study of Frederick, The Winter King provides a fresh and compelling study into the causes of the Thirty Years’ War. Examining the early stages of the war through the locus of Frederick, it reconciles the forces of confession, conscience and constitutionalism that affected Frederick’s decision making at critical junctures throughout the crisis. By placing constitutionalism rather than religion at the centre of events, it offers a subtle yet convincing new account of the conflict.
Drawing on political and personal correspondence, backed up with a wealth of archival and secondary sources, Dr Pursell presents Frederick’s choices and alternatives and interprets his words and responses to them. Considering the war from Frederick’s perspective he argues convincingly that the war is best understood not simply as a struggle between Protestant and Catholic powers, but rather as an extended constitutional conflict, entwining religious and political factors, fought within the Holy Roman Empire.