Biography of English Pope Adrian IV Part 2

About the Roman Catholic Pope Adrian IV, biography and history of the only English Pope.


ADRIAN IV (1100?-1159), English pope

A republic had been established in Rome, ruled by 56 senators under Arnold of Brescia, a former canon who had been excommunicated by Eugenius III. Arnold's doctrine of separating the Church from civil affairs was especially repugnant to the new pope, who was determined to assert all the rights of his position including that of worldly sovereign. Unable to act against Arnold at once, Adrian waited until an attack on a cardinal in a street brawl demonstrated the apparent failure of the republican government. On the last day of Lent in 1155 Adrian placed the city of Rome, the heart of the Catholic Church, under an interdict which declared it to be unholy. By Easter, Arnold had been ousted from the city, not because the interdict meant inevitable damnation for the Romans, but because it effectively stopped the pilgrim trade during the holiest--and most lucrative--season of the year.

The truce between pope and republicans was an uneasy one. Adrian thought that the new German king, Frederick Barbarossa--who had invaded northern Italy in his attempt to form an empire--might become an ally, a dangerous thought since Frederick considered himself Charlemagne's successor and therefore the lawful possessor of Rome. Frederick agreed to capture Arnold of Brescia in return for being crowned Holy Roman Emperor, and he proceeded to Sutra, where Adrian had gone to escape Roman unrest.

Their meeting on June 7, 1155, was marked by a clash of wills that was to become characteristic. It was the custom for a king to serve as the pope's groom and help him dismount from his horse, thus acknowledging papal superiority; this Frederick refused to do. The standoff lasted two days, until Frederick finally yielded. Satisfied that he had made his point, Adrian secretly crowned Frederick Holy Roman Emperor at St. Peter's on the morning of June 18. When the republicans found out, street fighting erupted, and the pope and the new emperor--who both claimed ownership of Rome--were forced by its citizens to flee the city. Meanwhile, Arnold of Brescia had been captured by Frederick's troops. Frederick had him hanged and cremated, and had his ashes flung into the Tiber.

Adrian had mistakenly assumed that papal recognition of his empire would encourage a grateful Frederick to move against William I, the excommunicated Norman who had inherited the crown of Sicily and was terrorizing southern Italy. But malaria, scanty foraging, and the Italian heat forced Frederick to withdraw to the north. Although Byzantine Emperor Manuel I joined with Adrian against William, their combined armies were defeated at Benevento. The 1156 Treaty of Benevento settled the Norman-papal dispute, conceding to William the kingship of Sicily and parts of southern Italy. In return William acknowledged himself the pope's vassal, vowing to pay tribute and send troops to defend the pope.

You Are Here: Trivia-Library Home » Footnote People in History of the World » Biography of English Pope Adrian IV Part 2
« Biography of English Pope Adrian IV Part 1Biography of English Pope Adrian IV Part 3 »
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ - By printing, downloading, or using you agree to our full terms. Review the full terms at the following URL: /disclaimer.htm