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Pope Adrian IV

Pope Adrian IVAKA Nicholas Breakspear

Born: c. 1100
Birthplace: St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England
Died: 1-Sep-1159
Location of death: Anagni, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Roman Catholic Pope, 1154-59

Adrian IV, born Nicholas Breakspear, Roman Catholic Pope from 1154 to 1159, the only Englishman who has occupied the papal chair, was born before AD 1100 at Langley near St. Albans in Hertfordshire. His father was Robert, a priest of the diocese of Bath, who entered a monastery and left the boy to his own resources. Nicholas went to Paris and finally became a monk in the cloister of St. Rufus near Arles. He rose to be prior and in 1137 was unanimously elected abbot. His reforming zeal led to the lodging of complaints against him at Rome; but these merely attracted to him the favorable attention of Eugenius III, who created him cardinal bishop of Albano. From 1152 to 1154 Nicholas was in Scandinavia as legate, organizing the affairs of the new Norwegian archbishopric of Trondhjem, and making arrangements which resulted in the recognition of Uppsala as seat of the Swedish metropolitan in 1164. As a compensation for territory thus withdrawn the Danish archbishop of Lund was made legate and perpetual vicar and given the title of primate of Denmark and Sweden. On his return Nicholas was received with great honor by Anastasius IV, and on the death of the latter was elected pope on the 4th of December 1154.

Adrian at once endeavored to compass the overthrow of Arnold of Brescia, the leader of anti-papal sentiment in Rome. Disorders ending with the murder of a cardinal led him shortly before Palm Sunday 1155 to take the previously unheard-of step of putting Rome under the interdict. The senate thereupon exiled Arnold, and the pope, with the impolitic cooperation of Frederick I Barbarossa, was instrumental in procuring his execution. Adrian crowned the emperor at St. Peter's on the 18th of June 1155, a ceremony which so incensed the Romans that the pope had to leave the city promptly, not returning until November 1156. With the aid of dissatisfied barons, Adrian brought William I of Sicily into dire straits; but a change in the fortunes of war led to a settlement (June 1156) not advantageous to the papacy and displeasing to the emperor. At the diet of Besanšon in October 1157, the legates presented to Barbarossa a letter from Adrian which alluded to the beneficia conferred upon the emperor, and the German chancellor translated this beneficia in the feudal sense, implying vassalage. In the storm which ensued the legates were glad to escape with their lives, and the incident at length closed with a letter from the pope, declaring that by beneficium he meant merely bonum factum, a good deed. This breach subsequently became wider, and Adrian was about to excommunicate the emperor when he died at Anagnia on the 1st of September 1159.

A controversy exists concerning an embassy sent by King Henry II of England to Adrian in 1155. According to the elaborate investigation of Thatcher, the facts seem to be as follows. Henry asked for permission to invade and subjugate Ireland, in order to gain absolute ownership of that isle. Unwilling to grant a request counter to the papal claim (based on the forged Donation of Constantine) to dominion over the islands of the sea, Adrian made Henry a conciliatory proposal, namely, that the king should become hereditary feudal possessor of Ireland while recognizing the pope as overlord. This compromise did not satisfy Henry, so the matter dropped; Henry's subsequent title to Ireland rested on conquest, not on papal concession, and was therefore absolute. The much-discussed bull Laudabiliter, is, however, not genuine.

Father: Robert Breakspear (priest)

    Roman Catholic Pope 4-Dec-1154 to 1-Sep-1159
    Roman Catholic Cardinal
    Roman Catholic Bishop


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