Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pope Adrian IV

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Britain today - the first ever Papal state visit. You can find plenty of coverage of here and here. There has only be one Pope, however, who actually came from Britain. He was Pope Adrian IV (c1100-1159), who was born in Hertfordshire as Nicholas Breakspeare. He was initially refused admission to join a monastery but eventually joined an abbey in France and worked his way to the top, becoming Pope in 1154. His time as Pope was marked by a power struggle with the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, and a close relationship with English King Henry II. It is possible that he suggested that Henry should invade Ireland in order to bring it under papal control. Traditionally he died in 1159 after choking on a fly in his wine, but is more likely to have been tonsilitis!

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