Books by Helena Fyfe Thonemann



confessor to the last of the habsburg

Paperback;150 pages; 12 illustrations; a compilation from published and unpublished sources. It is available from any good bookshop, priced at 12.99. e.g. Blackwells. It is also available from Amazon, and by emailing my brother.

Georg Tonneman (Tnneman), from Westphalia, Germany, arrived in Vienna in 1694, and speedily became known at the Habsburg court for his legal expertise. By 1701 he was appointed a tutor to Joseph von Lothringen. In 1705 he left Vienna for Barcelona, as the new Confessor to the Archduke Charles, claimant to the Spanish crown. For the remainder of his long life, he would be at Charles' side, accompanying him back to Austria in 1711, when Charles unexpectedly assumed the mantle of the Empire. Both men died in 1740. Charles was succeeded by his daughter Maria Theresa (1740-80). His granddaughter was Marie-Antoinette of France.

The importance of Tnneman has been noted, but is perhaps not yet fully recognised. In 1699 the Elector of Brandenburg wrote that "an uncommon Jesuit has prevailed in the courts". E. Vehse wrote, in 1856, of  "the influential confessor to Charles VI", and, in 1948, A.J.P. Taylor wrote that "the alliance of the dynasty and the Jesuits saved the Habsburgs, and defeated Protestantism in Central Europe".

The confessor's portrait (detail of face) on the front cover of the book was painted in 1738, to commemorate his Golden Jubilee as priest, and includes a portrait-medallion of Charles VI. (The copyright for the image is held by the Paderborn Museum)

Alan Palmer's endorsement.

The author was educated at Headington School, Oxford, and at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. Tonneman is, of course, her ancestor.


educated circles and their mode of reasoning helena fyfe thonemann

The reason for re-publishing Charles Gore's famous essay of 1889, with Professor Huxley's comments, is because many have heard of it, and few have read it. Hopefully Huxley's own copy, with his penciled annotations to critical paragraphs in Part iii, will add vivacity to a seminal, but closely argued, work. Huxley was only interested in Gore's treatment of inspiration in the Old and New Testaments. Huxley's copy of "Lux Mundi" ("The Light of the World") strayed from his main library, given to Imperial College, London, and only resurfaced in 1997, in a second-hand bookshop in Oxford. "Lux Mundi: - Essay VIII - The Holy Spirit and Inspiration" - In the closing years of the nineteenth century a collection of essays was published, under the editorship of Charles Gore, titled "Lux Mundi". ("The Light of the World"). These studies faced the problems of the new ideas in science and critical biblical analysis head on. Their answer was a closely argued, confident, liberal catholic viewpoint, which resulted in controversy and commendation amongst their contemporaries. Gore, first principal of Pusey House, Oxford, at the time (1889), contributed an essay "The Holy Spirit and Inspiration" in which he questioned the literal historical accuracy of the old Testament, blithely explained that it did not matter anyway, accepted the validity of much of the scientific debate in biology over the origins of man, and threw in, as if in afterthought, the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth, if truly human, cannot have been omniscient in His earthly life. This last thesis provoked outrage, which hurt the young devout Oxford scholar. It was probably the reason he never moved much further in explicit criticism of the traditional theology, although careful reading of his main works leaves little doubt that he laid the groundwork for serious revision of accepted views. Many have very little time for what they see as the interminable finesse of shifting Anglican arguments and apologies. For the Lux Mundi School, this is a mark of the church's vitality, not her demise - living debate and true progress being only possible in the hearts and minds of the living. The ability to evolve, to adapt to changing circumstances, to surrender imperfect thoughts for wiser, is a mark of strength not weakness. And so to the vexed question of the authority and credibility of the Bible. In his Preface to the tenth edition of "Lux Mundi", Gore cites Huxley directly: "Professor Huxley's article alluded to above is a somewhat melancholy example of a mode of reasoning which one had hoped had vanished from educated circles for ever - that, namely which regards Christianity as a 'religion of a book', in such sense that it is supposed to propose for men's acceptance a volume to be received in all its parts as on the same level, and in the same sense, Divine. On the contrary, Christianity is a religion of a Person..." This comment prompted Huxley's acidic reply in draft, which he titled "Educated Circles and their mode of Reasoning", which he must have intended to publish, but others entered the fray before him. He was the older man by far, and perhaps he had had enough of the battle. Nonetheless, he took Gore's essay seriously, carefully marking in pencil the paragraphs he considered noteworthy. Most of his copy of the book remained uncut. His handwritten draft essay is here reproduced for the first time, in edited form. The compiler read Philosophy and Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. She is Anglican by upbringing. She has also published "Confessor to the last of the Habsburgs: an Introduction to Charles VI's Jesuit Confessor" (Vitus Georg Tonneman).