Pope Adrian I

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Pope Adrian (c. 700 – December 25, 795) was pope from February 1, 772 to December 25, 795. He was the son of Theodore, a Roman nobleman.

Soon after his accession, the territory ruled by the popes was invaded by Desiderius, king of the Lombards, and Adrian found it necessary to invoke the aid of the Frankish king Charlemagne, who entered Italy with a large army, besieged Desiderius in his capital of Pavia, took that town, banished the Lombard king to the abbey of Corbie in France and, in an innovative gesture, took the title 'King of the Lombards' himself. The pope, whose expectations had been aroused, had to content himself with some additions to the duchy of Rome, and to the Exarchate of Ravenna, and the Pentapolis in the Marches, which consisted of the "five cities" on the Adriatic coast from Rimini to Ancona with the coastal plain as far as the mountains. He celebrated the occasion by striking the earliest papal coin,[1] and in a mark of the direction the mediaeval papacy was to take, no longer dated his documents by the Emperor in the east, but by the reign of Charles, king of the Franks.[2]

A mark of such newly settled conditions in the Duchy of Rome is the Domusculta Capracorum, the central villa on the Roman plan that Adrian assembled from a nucleus of his inherited estates and acquisitions from neighbors in the countryside north of Veii. The villa is documented in Liber Pontificalis but its site was not rediscovered until the 1960s, when excavations revealed the structures on a gently rounded hill that was only marginally capable of self-defense but fully self-sufficient, with its own grain mill, smithies and tile-kilns, for a mixed economy of grains and vineyards, olives, vegetable gardens and piggery. In the tenth century, villages were carved out of Adrian's Capracorum estate: Campagnano mentioned first in 1076, Formello mentioned in 1027, Mazzano in 945, and Stabia (modern Faleria) in 998.[3]


Foreign relations

In his contest with the Eastern Roman Empire and the Lombard dukes of Benevento, Adrian remained faithful to the Frankish alliance, and the friendly relations between pope and king were not disturbed by the difference which arose between them on the question of the veneration of images, to which Charlemagne and the bishops in France were strongly opposed, while Adrian favoured the views of the Eastern Church, and approved the decree of the second council of Nicaea (787), confirming the practice and excommunicating the iconoclasts. It was in connection with this controversy that the Libri Carolini were written, to which Adrian replied by letter, anathematizing all who refused to venerate the images of Jesus, or the Virgin Mary, or saints. Notwithstanding this, a synod, held at Frankfurt in 794, anew condemned the practice, and the dispute remained unsettled at Adrian's death.

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