Adrian IV (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Adrian IV served as Vatican diplomat to Scandinavia and later established policies and direction that led the medieval papacy to its thirteenth century zenith of power.
Few details are available on the early years of Nicholas Breakspear, or Brekespere, who later became Pope Adrian IV. He was born early in the twelfth century in Hertfordshire, England, where his father, Robert, was a younger son of a landed family with no hope of receiving an inheritance. A man of meager resources, Robert married and had two sons. Discouraged by his struggles to live, and with the consent of his wife, he entered the monastery of St. Albans to become a monk. Although this practice was by no means common, there were a number of such examples in the medieval church. Robert hoped that his son Nicholas might join him in the cloister as a student and a future cleric.
At his first request for admission to the abbey, Nicholas was refused, the abbot suggesting that he be patient, continue his studies, and make himself a worthy candidate. The reasons for the early rejection are unclear, but Robert berated his son for his failure, and they became estranged. Breakspear left England shortly afterward to search for a more congenial atmosphere in France. He achieved considerable success in his studies at Paris, wandered for a period after their completion in the area of Montpellier, studied at Arles, and finally...
(The entire section is 1877 words.)
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