Pope Adrian IV

1101-1159

Adrian IV, born Nicholas Breakspear, is the only English pope. Though little is known for certain of his learly life, it is probable that he was born in Hertfordshire and educated at St Albans Abbey school. He joined the abbey of St Rufus near Arles, and rose to become abbot, a post in which he made a name for himself as a reformer. He was named Cardinal of Albano in 1149 and papal legate in Scandinavia. On the death of Pope Anastasius in 1154, Breakspear was elected pope and took the name Adrian IV.

Pope Adrian IV is rembered as a vigorous defender of papal supremacy over temporal rulers, a stance that brought him into conflict with the Emperor Frederick I. In 1155 he gave Henry II support for the latter's invasion of Ireland. By the terms of a papal bull entitled Laudabiliter, Adrian authorized Henry to invade and rule Ireland with the blessing of the Church with the aim of reforming the Irish church and instructing its people in proper (Catholic) worship. Though the Bull was issued in 1155 Henry did not actually launch an invasion until 1169.

Adrian IV died in 1159, traditionally after choking on a fly, but more likely as a result of an infection brought on by tonsillitis.

Time period(s): Medieval


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Prehistory - Roman Britain - Dark Ages - Medieval Britain - The Tudor Era - The Stuarts - Georgian Britain - The Victorian Age

History of England - History of Wales - London History



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