Hadrian IV

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Wroclaw Bull from 1155

Hadrian IV (also Adrian IV , * as Nicholas Breakspear between 1100 and 1120 in St Albans , Hertfordshire , England ; †  September 1, 1159 in Anagni ) was the only Pope of English origin in church history from 1154 until his death .

Live and act

Breakspear received a theological training in France and later (around 1145) became abbot of the canons of St. Rufus near Avignon . Eugene III. appointed him in 1149 Cardinal Bishop of Albano . From 1152 to 1154 he was a papal legate in Scandinavia, where he established the Archdiocese of Nidaros (today: Trondheim). At the Synod of Linköping in 1153, as a legacy, he laid the foundation for a Swedish church that was close to the Roman one. On December 4, 1154 he was elected Pope and enthroned the next day .

First, the Pope imposed an interdict on Rome , after Arnold von Brescia and the opposition of the urban Roman nobility already during the pontificate of Pope Eugene III. Was declared a republic in 1146 . In Rome there was a desire for freedom, which was opposed by national-absolutist thinking with the Pope and the German King Friedrich I Barbarossa . Hadrian IV demanded in return for the imperial coronation, as in the Treaty of Constance in March 1153 between Pope Eugene III. and Frederick Barbarossa agreed that the emperor should defend the Pope against the insurgent Roman Senate, Byzantine and Norman claims of property in Italy. Without papal consent, the emperor should not make peace with Normans and Romans and restore papal rule over the Roman church.

Because of the interdict, Arnold von Brescia fled Rome to Tuscany in 1154 , where he fell into the hands of the German king on the way to his imperial coronation in Rome. As a token of his goodwill, Friedrich Barbarossa handed the founder of the Roman Republic over to the Pope, who condemned Arnold of Brescia as a heretic and hanged in June 1155.

On June 18, 1155, the Pope crowned King Friedrich Barbarossa in the Alt-St. Peter to the emperor. Immediately after the coronation, there was an uprising among the urban Roman population who wanted to imprison the Pope. The emperor and the pope placed themselves under the protection of the imperial army, which camped on the Neronian meadows by the city wall of Rome. Imperial and papal troops fought against the rebellious Romans until late at night. In the bitter fighting, the emperor's troops ultimately retained the upper hand. Nevertheless, contrary to the Constance Treaty, Friedrich Barbarossa did not take action against the city population and did not restore the rule of the Pope over the city. After disputes broke out between the Italian naval powers Genoa and Pisa , the naval support required for a campaign against the Normans in Sicily was not provided. Due to the refusal of the princes to take part in a war against Sicily, the emperor stopped his campaign against Sicily. Hadrian was only able to return to Rome in the third year of his pontificate.

The Pope waged a war against the Norman King William I of Sicily , because he saw his rule over Rome and the territory of the Papal States claimed by him, the Patrimony of Peter , threatened. With Byzantine help, the Apulian uprising spread more and more. The Normans fought successfully against the Byzantines and took back Brindisi , which had recently been conquered . In view of this development, Hadrian IV brokered a thirty-year peace between Byzantium and Sicily and concluded the Treaty of Benevento with the Normans in June 1156 , in which the Pope finally recognized William as king. In return, the king confirmed the pope's sovereignty over his state. In the years that followed, the Normans proved themselves as the pope's secular protective power, especially in the conflict with the city of Rome, and thus questioned the emperor's position. The Treaty of Benevento thus represented an important step in the process of separating imperial and papal rule from one another.

But finally Hadrian came into conflict with Emperor Friedrich: At the Diet of Besançon in October 1157, the papal chancellor and legate Rolando Bandinelli, together with Bernhard von San Clemente, brought the emperor a letter that was largely written by the papal chancellor. In this, the imperial dignity was referred to as the papal beneficium , which actually means "beneficence" , but was translated more sharply as " fiefdom " by Friedrichs Chancellor, the later Archbishop of Cologne Rainald von Dassel . The emperor was outraged. He insisted on the prerogatives of the empire. But even the papal legates did not contradict the tightened translation, on the contrary: Rolando Bandinelli poured with his statement “By whom does the emperor hold his office if not from the Pope?” (A quo ergo habet, si a domno papa non habet imperium ?) add fuel to the fire. It came to a scandal and the present Count Palatine Otto I. von Wittelsbach even threatened Bandinelli with the sword. On Friedrich's instructions, however, the legates were granted safe conduct for their journey home.

Friedrich Barbarossa rejected the pope's claim to power with the support of the German bishops. For fear of a renewed investiture controversy and a schism , the Pope had to give in by declaring the term beneficium as a benefit ( bonum factum ) and not as a fiefdom ( feudum ). But between the emperor and the pope there was only an armistice, no peace; the mistrust remained. In November 1158, Emperor Friedrich restored the dominance of imperial Italy, threatened by the northern Italian cities, on the Roncal fields . As a result, the Pope, who was involved in the tensions, saw the Papal State threatened, especially since the Norman Empire in the south posed a threat to the Papal State. Hadrian was about to excommunicate the emperor when he allegedly choked to death by a fly in his wine in Anagni on September 1, 1159. The more likely cause of death was probably a peritonsillar abscess .

In 1155 the Pope wrote a declaration that was decisive for Ireland in the Bull Laudabiliter . However, the authenticity of this bull is disputed. He then encouraged the English King Henry II to conquer the island. Sixteen years later Heinrich had conquered the island. With the approval, the Pope also linked Rome's fiefdoms over Ireland.

Cameo from Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral depicting Pope Hadrian IV from the 18th century

In 1172 a letter from Hadrian's successor, Alexander III. , Henry's rule over Ireland has been confirmed.


Web links

Commons : Hadrian IV.  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Jacques Le Goff (Ed.): Fischer Weltgeschichte , Volume 11: Das Hochmittelalter , Frankfurt am Main, 2005, p. 122.
  2. Werner Ohnsorge : Friedrich Barbarossa's Byzantium Policy and the 'Treason' of Henry the Lion , in: German Archives for Research into the Middle Ages 6 (1943) 118–149.
  3. ^ Gesta Friderici III, 10 . In: MGH | Scriptores rerum Germ | 46 | 177
  4. ^ Alfred Tarleton: Nicholas Breakspear , London 1896, Chapter IX, p. 153.
predecessor Office successor
Anastasius IV Pope
Alexander III
Pietro Papareschi Bishop of Albano
Gualterio II of Albano