Pope Adrian IV

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c. 1100

Pope Adrian IV (c. 1100 – 1 September 1159),[1] born Nicholas Breakspear or Breakspeare, was Pope from 1154 to 1159.

Adrian IV is the only Englishman who has occupied the papal chair.[2][3] It is generally believed that Nicholas Breakspear was born at Breakspear Farm[4][5][6][7] in the parish of Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire and received his early education at the Abbey School, St Albans (St Albans School).


Early life

His father was Robert, who later became a monk at St Albans.[8] Nicholas himself, however, was refused admission to the monastery, being told by the abbot to 'wait to go on with his schooling so that he might be considered more suitable' (Abbey chronicles). In the event, he did not wait and went instead to Paris and finally became a canon regular of the cloister of St. Rufus monastery near Arles. He rose to be prior and soon thereafter was unanimously elected abbot.[3] This election has been traditionally dated to 1137,[3] but evidence from the abbey's chronicles suggests it occurred about 1145.[9]

His reforming zeal as abbot led to the lodging of complaints against him at Rome; but these merely attracted to him the favourable attention of Pope Eugene III (1145–1153), who created him Cardinal Bishop of Albano in December 1149.[10]

From 1152 to 1154 Nicholas was in Scandinavia as papal legate, organising the affairs of the new Norwegian Archbishopric of Nidaros (now Trondheim). This led him to create the Diocese at Hamar, and, according to tradition, to form Cathedral schools in Norway's bishopric cities. These schools were to have a lasting effect on Norwegian Catholic spirituality and history, even after King Christian III of Denmark ordered the Reformation in his kingdom. A late example include Scandinvaia's most creative and forceful Counter-Reformation figure, the Jesuit Laurentius Nicolai Norvegicus, born as Laurids Nielsen after the Reformation, who attended Oslo Cathedral School in his youth.[11] (Today, despite the prestigious prefix Cathedral, these schools have no formal Church ties.) Nicholas made arrangements which resulted in the recognition of Gamla Uppsala (later moved to 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 As a compensation for territory thus withdrawn, the Danish archbishop of Lund was made legate and perpetual vicar and given the title of primate of Denmark and Sweden.

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