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Pope Adrian IV An Historical Sketch   By:

Pope Adrian IV An Historical Sketch by Richard Raby

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POPE ADRIAN IV.

AN HISTORICAL SKETCH.

BY RICHARD RABY.

LONDON: THOMAS RICHARDSON AND SON, 172, FLEET STREET; 9, CAPEL STREET, DUBLIN; AND DERBY. 1849.

I. PREFACE.

The following sketch was written to supply what its author felt persuaded could not fail to interest his fellow Catholics in England; namely, some account of the only English Pope who ever reigned.

In it he does not pretend to any novelty of research; but simply to present a connected narrative of such events in the history of Pope Adrian IV. as have hitherto lain broken and concealed in old chronicles, or been slightly touched for the most part in an incidental way by modern writers.

In the course of his sketch, the author has ventured to take part with Pope Adrian in some acts of his, which it is commonly the mode to condemn. Should his opinions in so doing not be deemed sound, he yet hopes that at least the spirit which inspired them in other words, the spirit to promote the cause of practical rather than theoretical policy, as also of public order and legitimate authority, will deserve commendation.

For the rest, the striking similarity between the difficulties which Pius IX. in our day has to contend with, and those which Pope Adrian had to encounter in the twelfth century, should only lend the more interest to his story.

R. R.

Munich, May, 1849.

POPE ADRIAN IV. AN HISTORICAL SKETCH. I.

THE information, which has come down to us respecting the early life of the only Englishman, who ever sat on the papal throne, is so defective and scanty, as easily to be comprised in a few paragraphs.

Nicholas Breakspere was born near St. Albans, most probably about the close of the 11th century. His father was a clergyman, who became a monk in the monastery of that city, while his son was yet a boy. Owing to extreme poverty, Nicholas could not pay for his education, and was obliged to attend the school of the monks on charity. [1] This circumstance would seem to have put his father so painfully to the blush, that he took an unnatural dislike to his son; whom he shortly compelled by his threats and reproaches to flee the neighbourhood in a state of utter destitution.

Thus cruelly cast on the world, Nicholas to settle the church in those remote countries, where it had been planted about 150 years. The circumstances which led to this legation were as follows:[2] originally the three kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, were spiritually subject to the archbishop of Hamburg, whose province was then the most extensive in Christendom. In the year 1102, Denmark succeeded, after much protracted agitation of the question, in obtaining from Pope Paschal II., a metropolitan see of its own, which was founded at Lund; and to whose authority Sweden and Norway were transferred. The same feeling of national independence, which had procured this boon for Denmark, was not long before it began to work in those kingdoms also; and the more so as the Danish supremacy was asserted over them with much greater rigour than had formerly been that of Hamburg, and was otherwise repugnant to them, as emanating from a power with which they stood in far closer political relations, and more constant rivalry than with Germany. After some indirect preliminary steps in the business, which do not seem to have forwarded it, the kings of Sweden and Norway sent ambassadors to Pope Eugenius III., to request for their states the same privilege which his predecessor had granted to Denmark; and which he himself had just extended to Ireland, in the erection of the four archbishoprics of that country. The arrival of these ambassadors at Rome happened a year before the elevation of the abbot of St. Rufus to the see of Albano. The pope promised to accede to their request. It was in fulfilment of this promise that Nicholas Breakspere was sent into the north. Doubtless, the circumstance of his being an Englishman had weight in his selection; as, in consequence of that circumstance, he would be viewed as far more likely to possess a correct knowledge of the character and government peculiar to northern nations than an Italian... Continue reading book >>




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