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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Pope Adrian IV

Pope Adrian IV (c. 1100 – 1159) was born Nicholas Breakspear at Breakspear Farm in the parish of Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire. He was elected pope on December 4, 1154, the only Englishman ever to have occupied the papal chair.

His reign was challenged by such serious difficulties that he wished aloud to his friend John of Salisbury that he had never left England. A dispute with Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor was happening when Adrian died. (The Emperor was about to be excommunicated).

Adrian's most controversial act was a bull that allowed Henry II of England to annex Ireland to his kingdom. He urged Henry to invade Ireland to bring its church under the Roman system and to conduct a general reform of governance and society throughout the island. That decision left an aftertaste of bitterness that lingers to this day, more than 800 years later. The pope based his authority on the Donation of Constantine, which was later shown to be a forgery.



Adrian IV was rumored to have died choking on a fly in his wine. The truth is he was probably suffering from quinsy - an abscess next to his tonsils.

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