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AN ENGLISHMAN, A LOCAL MAN AND THE ONLY EVER ENGLISH POPE


Reflections on the life of Nicholas Breakspear W


ith the help of the Abbots Langley Historical Society we discover more about


the village‟s most famous son. The only ever Englishman to become pope - Nicholas Breakspear. Nicholas Breakspear was born in the year


1100, at Bedmond Farm in the parish of Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire. Presumably after the death of his wife, his


father, Robert Breakspear, became a monk of St Albans Abbey. When Nicholas was about 18 years old, he too


applied to enter St Albans Abbey. However, he was refused admission on the grounds that he had had too little schooling to qualify for entrance. Undeterred by this refusal, Nicholas went


abroad to study. He went briefly to St Denys in Paris, then to other places and finally came to Avignon. Here in 1130 he became a monk in the Augustinian Abbey of St Rufus. He was elected Abbot in 1137 and came to the


notice of the Pope, Eugenius III. Recognising his qualities, the Pope made him Bishop and Cardinal and sent him on a mission to war-torn Scandinavia. Nicholas restored peace and order to the local churches and monasteries and set up two new archbishoprics. After four years, now widely recognised as a


man of integrity and strength, he returned to Rome to find that Eugenius III had died and had been succeeded by Anastasius IV, a quiet, peaceful old man of ninety. Within the year Anastasius too was dead, and in November 1154 Nicholas found himself


Nicholas Breakspear became Pope Adrian IV in 1154.


unanimously elected Pope. He took the name Adrian IV. He had a number of dealings with the emperor


Frederic Barbarossa and the English King Henry II. Nicholas Breakspear, Pope Adrian IV, died on September 1st 1159. For more information on historical figures and


events visit the Abbots Langley Historical Society‟s website www.allhs.btinternet.co.uk


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