Adrian, the name of several popes. I. Born at Rome, succeeded Stephen IV. in 772, died Dec. 25, 795. Desiderius, king of the Lombards, having invaded the provinces which Pepin had presented to the Roman see, Adrian solicited the assistance of Charlemagne, who entered Italy, and overthrew the power of the Lombards in 774. In return the Frankish conqueror received from Adrian the title of king of Italy and patrician of Rome. In 791 Rome was inundated by the Tiber, when Adrian distributed provisions in boats. He also rebuilt the fortifications of Rome.
II. Born at Rome, succeeded Nicholas I. in 867, and died in 872. He had been married, but left his wife to live in celibacy. During his pontificate the schism between the Greek and Latin churches was begun by the secession of Photius, patriarch of Constantinople.
III. Born at Rome, was made pope in 884, and died in 885, on his way to the diet at Worms.
IV. Nicholas Breakspear, the only Englishman who ever filled the papal chair, became pope in 1154, and died in September, 1159. He is said to have left England as a beggar, became a monk and afterward abbot of St. Rufus in Rome, and was made cardinal bishop of Albano by Eugenius III., who sent him as his apostle or legate to Norway and Denmark. On the death of Anastasius IV. he was, much against his will, elected pope. Rome was at this time in a state of great confusion, resulting from the reformatory preaching of Arnold of Brescia. Immediately after his election he placed Rome under interdict, prohibited all religious services, and banished Arnold, who was subsequently surrendered on Adrian's demand by Frederick Barbarossa, and tried and executed at Rome. Shortly afterward Adrian crowned Frederick emperor of Germany; but some trilling dispute occurring as to the forms to be observed in the ceremony, a general conflict took place between the Roman and German troops, in which many lives were lost.
Adrian afterward became involved in numerous quarrels with Frederick, which was the origin of that bitter enmity between the papal see and the Hohenstaufens, which ended only with the fell of the latter.
V. A Genoese, succeeded Innocent V. in 1276, and died five weeks after his election.
VI. Son of an obscure mechanic of Utrecht named Boeijens, born in 1459. died Sept. 24, 1523. He was known only by the name of Adrian, was educated at Louvain. and became professor of theology there and vice chancellor of the university. Maximilian I. chose him as preceptor of his grandson (Charles V.), and subsequently sent him as ambassador to Spain, where he became bishop of Tortosa. After the death of King Ferdinand (1516) he shared the regency with Cardinal Ximenes, and in 1517 was made cardinal. On the departure of Charles V. for Germany in 1519 Adrian was left sole governor, and showed remarkable feebleness in his treatment of a powerful insurrection (war of the communities, or of the holy league) caused by oppressive taxes, and especially by the excessive favors showered upon the Flemings, but which was finally suppressed by a council appointed by Charles V. He was elected pope in 1522, as successor of Leo X., and entered Rome Aug. 31. The simplicity which he introduced at the papal court, contrasted with the magnificence of his predecessor, excited contempt and discontent among the people; while his ecclesiastical reforms, and Lis humility in acknowledging the errors of the papacy while dealing with the schism of Luther, were very distasteful to the clergy.
He was the author of several pious works, in one of which, published after his accession, though written previously, he held that a pope might err even in matters of faith.