Pope Adrian IV - An Historical Sketch
by Richard Raby
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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.


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.

Taking England in his way, the Cardinal legate passed thence into Norway; where he landed in June of the year above-mentioned. The country was then governed by three brothers, named Sigurd, Inge, and Eystein, sons of the late King Harrold Gille. Between the first two, a serious quarrel happened to rage. For a Norwegian nobleman having murdered the brother of Sigurd's favourite concubine, and then entered the service of Inge, the latter shielded his client against the punishment which Sigurd sought to inflict.

Before entering on the affairs of the Church, the Cardinal Legate saw that this quarrel must first be settled. Of the three brothers, Inge seems to have stood the highest in the esteem of all classes in the state, by reason of his benevolence, and other virtues. With him the cardinal took part, and compelled Sigurd, together with Eystein,—who seems also to have meddled in the dispute against Inge,—to agree to a reconciliation. At the same time, he visited with ecclesiastical censures the former two, for various crimes, of which they had been guilty in other respects.

On the settlement of this quarrel, he proceeded at once to the special business of his legation,—the erection of an archbishopric for the kingdom. This he decided to fix at Nidrosia, or Nidaros, the capital of the province, over which Sigurd in those days ruled, and corresponding to the city and district of Drontheim now. The selection of Nidrosia was made chiefly out of honor to St. Olaff, whose relics reposed in its church.

Here, he invested John, Bishop of Stavanger, with the Pallium; and subjected to his jurisdiction the sees of Apsloe, Bergen, and Stavanger, those of the small Norwegian colonies, of the Orcades, Hebrides, and Furo Isles, and that of Gaard in Greenland. The Shetland and western isles of Scotland, with the Isle of Man, and a new bishopric which the cardinal founded at Hammer in Norway,—and in which he installed Arnold, at that time expelled the see of Gaard,—were also included in the province of Nidrosia. The bishop of Sodor and Man, as well as the bishops of the Shetland and western isles, had till this time been suffragans of the see of York, but obeyed the authority of Nidrosia for the next 200 years; after which, the Norwegian primate lost his rights over those islands, which returned under their first jurisdiction. The greater part of the other sees had already, directly, or indirectly, acknowledged the authority of the bishops of Nidrosia, while the rest had bowed to the supremacy of Hamburg. [3]

The possession of a metropolitan see of their own spread such satisfaction among the people of Norway, that no mark of respect seemed too great for the immediate dispenser of the boon; and under this feeling, they allowed the Cardinal Legate to introduce various regulations into the country beyond what his powers entitled him to do, and even to reform their civil institutions. Thus there is every reason to assume,—though positive historical evidence is wanting,—that he bound the Norwegian Church to the payment of Peter's pence to the Holy See. He also effected extensive reforms as regards the celibacy of the clergy; but, in spite of his great influence, does not seem to have been able to carry them so far as he could have wished. Various rites and ceremonies of religion, into which abuses had crept, were purged by him. Moreover, he placed the public peace on a surer footing than it was before, by means of a law which he procured to be passed, forbidding all private persons to appear armed in the streets; while to the king alone was reserved the right of a body guard of twelve men. [4] Snorrow relates, that no foreigner ever came to Norway, who gained so much public honor and deference among the people as Nicholas Breakspere. On his departure he was loaded with presents, and promised perpetual friendship to the country. When he became pope, he kept his promise, and invariably treated all Norwegians who visited Rome during his reign with extraordinary attention. He also sent into Norway, architects and other artists from England, to build the cathedral and convent of the new see of Hammer. On his death the nation honored his memory as that of a saint.

Having finished the business of his legation to Norway, Nicholas Breakspere next passed into Sweden. His first proceeding in this kingdom was to hold a synod at Lingkopin; to fix on a see for the new archbishopric about to be created. But the members, consisting of the heads of the clergy of Sweden and Gothland, could not agree on the point, as, out of a spirit of provincial rivalry, the one party claimed the honor for Upsala, and the other for Skara. Finding that the dispute was too hot to be soon settled, the Cardinal Legate consecrated St. Henry of Upsala bishop of that city, introduced various new regulations respecting the celibacy of the clergy and the payment of Peter's pence to the pope; and then took his departure for Denmark on his way to Rome. The pallium which was destined for the new primate of Sweden, he deposited, until the difficulties in the way of the election of that dignitary should be removed, with Eskill, Archbishop of Lund, who received him in the most honorable and cordial manner, notwithstanding that by his agency the authority of the Danish Church was so seriously curtailed. The Cardinal Legate would seem to have sought by this act of confidence to soothe the soreness, which Eskill must naturally have felt at seeing his honors so shorn. The primate of Lund was also informed that he should still continue to preserve the title of Primate of Sweden, with the right of consecrating and investing with the pallium the future archbishops of that kingdom. Farther, he was promised, as some compensation for what he had lost, the grant of a right from the Holy See of annexing to his archiepiscopal dignity the style of "Legati nati Apostolicis Sedis" in the three kingdoms. [5] During the stay of Nicholas Breakspere in Denmark, it happened that John, a younger son of Swercus, King of Sweden and Gothland, and a prince whose radically bad character had been totally ruined by a neglected education, carried off by violence, and dishonored the wife of his eldest brother Charles, together with her widowed sister,—princesses of unsullied fame, and nearly related to Sweno III., at that time, king of Denmark. This atrocity naturally excited a deep resentment against its author, at home and abroad: and roused Sweno to resolve on invading Sweden and Gothland with all his forces, in revenge of so insulting an outrage; a resolution in which he grew all the more fixed, by the recollection that Swercus himself had formerly injured Nicholas, a predecessor of Sweno on the throne, by perfidiously seducing, and marrying his intended bride—an injury all the bitterer, as Nicholas never could retaliate it, by reason of domestic broils with his own people.

The Cardinal Legate no sooner became aware of this gathering storm, than he sought to avert its outbreak; and repaired to King Sweno, with whom he remonstrated against the projected war, not only on religious, but prudential grounds; depicting to him the many serious obstacles by sea and land which must be surmounted before any advantage could be won; and reminding him, "that if the spider, by disembowelling herself, as least, caught the flies she gave chace to, yet the Danes could only expect to run the certain peril of their lives in their proposed campaign." [6] The cardinal's interference in this instance in behalf of peace, seems not to have been crowned with the same success, as in Norway. King Sweno, a proud and obstinate man, lent a respectful, but callous ear to his arguments; and was equally impervious to the efforts of the ambassadors, whom Swercus also sent to prevent hostilities.

The events of the war which followed brought condign punishment to each party: for Prince John, on being directed by his father to levy troops for the defence of the state, was massacred in a popular riot as the odious cause of the public dangers; and Sweno, on his invasion of Sweden, having been inveigled by the wily tactics of Swercus—who feigned to retire before him—to push his expedition beyond its original destination as far as Finland, was there surprised by a rising of the natives, who destroyed the flower of his army; while he himself escaped with difficulty into Denmark, covered with shame, at so ignoble and fatal a defeat. Not long afterwards, Sweno was murdered in his bed by two of his chief nobles, who had long cherished disloyal feelings towards their king; and, at last, entered into a treasonable correspondence with Swercus. The end of the latter proved eventually not less tragical. In the mean time, Nicholas Breakspere had quitted the country, and returned to Rome. On his arrival he found Pope Eugenius dead, and succeeded by Anastasius IV., an old man of ninety. Anastasius, who reigned little more than a year, among other acts, confirmed, by a bull addressed to John, Archbishop of Nidrosia, all that the English legate had done in Norway, with the exception, however, of that concession to the primate of Lund, by which the latter was to enjoy the right of investing the new archbishops of Norway and Sweden with the pallium. This right, Anastasius reserved to the Holy See. The venerable pontiff died shortly afterwards, December 2nd, 1154.

On the following day the conclave met in St. Peter's church, and elected the cardinal bishop of Albano to the vacant throne; in which he was solemnly installed on the morrow, and took the name of Adrian IV.—thus giving not the least striking among many examples in the dynasty of the popes, of an exaltation from the meanest station in society to one the sublimest in dignity, and most awful in responsibility that exists under heaven.

[1] Guillelmus Neubrigensis, de rebus Anglicis, lib. 2. cap. 6. 8.

[2] Munter, Kirchengeschichte V. Danemark und Norwegen. Buch 2. tom. 2.

[3] Munter, ibid.

[4] Torfaeus, Hist. Rer. Norweg. pars. 3. lib. 9. cap. 12.

[5] Munter, &c., ibid.

[6] Joannes Magnus, Hist. Gott. lib. 18. cap. 17.


At the moment, Adrian IV. took his seat behind the helm of Peter's bark, the winds and waves raged furiously against her, nor ceased to do so, during the whole time that he steered her course. That time, though short, was yet long enough to prove him a skilful and fearless pilot,—as much so as the very foremost of his predecessors or successors, who have acquired greater fame than he, simply because a more protracted term of office enabled them to carry out to completer results than he could do, designs in no wise loftier than Adrian's; and, in so doing, to unveil before the world more fully than was permitted to him, characters not, therefore, nobler or more richly endowed than his.

The first difficulty with which the English pope had to grapple, on his accession to power, was the refractory spirit of the citizens of Rome, among whom Arnold of Brescia had, some time before, stirred up the republican mania.

Arnold was a native of the city, indicated by his surname, and was born there most likely about the year 1105. His was one of those proud and ambitious natures, in which imagination and enthusiasm are mixed up in far greater proportions, than judgment and sobriety. From his childhood he developed shining parts and an ardor for study, calculated to elicit their full force. To pursue his studies with as little interruption as possible, he adopted, while yet a boy, the clerical habit, and not long afterwards obtained minor orders. [1]

In those days, events were passing, at home and abroad, well adapted to excite all that extravagance, which was to be expected from a character like his. In Italy, it was the era of the spread of those republican principles, which were at last fought out so heroically and through such perils by the cities of Lombardy, against local barons and transalpine emperors; in Europe, at large, it was the era of the bloom of intellectual chivalry, whose seat was Paris, whose foremost champion, Abailard. But it was also the era of a wide-spread demoralization of the clergy, among whom simony and concubinage were the order of the day; and, consequently, every other disorder which naturally follows in the wake of those two capital vices. In the midst of such a complicated state of things, requiring so much steadiness of eye to view it properly, so as not to be misled,—on the one hand by a false admiration, and on the other by a false disgust,—the youth Arnold devoured the pages of Livy; and imbibed from him, as well as from other Roman classics, those principles of heathen republicanism, which he subsequently sought to restore to practice, in the metropolis of Christendom, with such fatal results to society and himself.

On the completion of his studies at home, he repaired, thirsting for deeper draughts of knowledge, to Paris; and became one of the most devoted scholars of Abailard; whose rationalist invasions of the domain of theological doctrine,—by which the supreme authority of the Church in matters of faith was threatened,—accorded with Arnold's tone of mind. In fact, he soon arrived, by the line of argument which the lessons of his master and his own feelings led him to adopt, at the firm persuasion that he alone had hit upon the true plan for reforming, not only the political, but the religious abuses of the age; and, moreover, that none but he could carry that plan out. Under this hallucination, which the fumes of pagan principles of statesmanship and rationalist principles of Christianity, fermenting together, had hatched in his brain, he returned, after a few years' stay at Paris, to Brescia; not failing to visit, at his passage of the Alps, the Waldenses, and other sects, with whose tenets he secretly sympathized.

On his arrival at Brescia, he opened his career by a series of pulpit philippics against the temporal government of the Prince Bishop, and the immoral lives of the clergy. With fiery eloquence, that told all the more by reason of the sanctity of the preacher's exterior—a precaution which he took so well that even St. Bernard admitted its success—Arnold opposed the doctrines and practice of Holy Writ to the vices and luxuries which he denounced; affirming that the corruption of the Church was caused by her having overstepped the boundaries of her domain. That she had done so, was proved, he said, by the wealth and political power which she had acquired, contrary to the spirit and example of apostolic times; to whose simplicity she must return if she was to be reformed as she ought to be, and as, for the good of society, it was indispensable she should be. Of course, this line of argument received all that applause which it never fails to do whenever urged. For the reformation of the Church, by reducing her to the poverty of the apostolic ages, involves,—besides such purely spiritual advantages as are set forth at large in the plan,—others of a material kind, which, if not usually paraded with the first, are not the less kept steadily in view. For instance, that those who carry out the reforms in question will be sure to get well paid for their pains; seeing that the transaction necessarily passes so much money and goods through their fingers, as well to private, as public profit. And, then, there is the secret satisfaction naturally felt above all by the rich and lax, at seeing the clergy, by means of this very reformation, deprived of much formidable influence—such as wealth always bestows on its possessors—and which is surely as necessary to the Church as to any other public corporation, to the end that she may carry out efficiently the affairs of her vast mission; keep up her dignity amid an irreverent world; shield her oppressed; relieve her poor members, and strike respect into powerful sinners, who would not only scorn but trample on her too, if she had nothing but words to oppose to blows.

In consequence of Arnold's sermons—preached not only at Brescia, but also in other towns of Lombardy,—and which, besides their virulent censure of the existing abuses in Church and State, broached opinions contrary to orthodox faith, especially in regard to infant baptism, and the sacrament of the Eucharist,—an insurrection broke out against the Prince Bishop Manfred, in the year 1138, and lasted through the next.

Manfred made a vigorous stand to begin with; then seemed on the point of giving way, when an unexpected event turned the scales in his favour. This was the calling by Pope Innocent II., in the year 1139, of all the bishops and abbots of the Church to an oecumenical council at Rome, to condemn the memory of his late rival, the anti-pope Anacletus II. Among the rest, the Bishop Manfred and the abbots of Brescia appeared; and did not fail to seize the opportunity of denouncing the actions and opinions of Arnold to the pope and the curia. The proper course was forthwith taken; the proceedings of so pernicious a disturber of the public peace were condemned; himself warned to hold his tongue in future, and banished out of Italy under an oath not to return thither, without an express papal permission.

Arnold now betook himself again into France; and smarting with wounded pride and ambition, vindictively espoused the party of his old master Abailard, just then embroiled in his famous dispute with St. Bernard. For the abbot of Clairvaux had found out that it would never do to allow that honest, but mistaken man to go on spreading his views any longer unopposed, if the orthodox faith was to be preserved intact in Christendom; and so, after more than once privately warning him of his errors to no purpose, accepted a challenge which Abailard at last vauntingly sent him to a public disputation. This disputation came off at the Synod of Sens, A. D. 1140, and resulted in the total defeat of the philosopher by the monk. But Abailard appealed from the synod to the pope; whereupon the synod suspended its farther measures, and advised the Holy See through St. Bernard of what had transpired. In doing so, the latter took care to expose the fatal consequences to revealed religion involved in Abailard's opinions, and, in one of his letters on this subject, stated the case thus: "That inasmuch as Abailard is prepared to explain everything by means of reason, he combats as well Faith as Reason: for, what is so contrary to Reason, as to wish to go beyond the limits of Reason by means of Reason? and, what more contrary to Faith, than to be unwilling to believe that which one is unable to reach by means of Reason?"

Abailard fared no better at Rome than at Sens. His defeat was ratified by that authority from which there is no appeal. Moreover, he was commanded to desist from holding any more lectures; and all persons who should obstinately maintain his errors were excommunicated. Foremost among these was Arnold of Brescia, who scorned to imitate Abailard's submission to the authority of the Church, and blamed his penitential retreat at Clugny, where he shortly died an edifying death.

St. Bernard,—who had previously formed an ill opinion of Arnold from the reports which preceded him out of Italy,—no sooner saw him at Sens actively interested for Abailard, than he penetrated the entire duplicity of his character; at the same time that he felt fully alive to the damage, which the victory just won over error might yet suffer from a man so able and resolute. Wherefore, as it was not his custom to serve the cause of truth by halves, the saint resolved to include the scholar with the master in his denunciations to the pope; who, at his instance, ordered that Arnold too, as well as Abailard, should be incarcerated in a convent. But the crafty Italian managed to elude his doom by a timely flight; and after running many dangers by reason of the keen chace which St. Bernard gave him, found a safe retreat at Zurich.

In that age Zurich, by reason of the trade of Germany and Italy passing through it, was the most flourishing town of Switzerland. Trading communities are commonly as fond of novelty in opinion as in wares. Zurich verified this assertion in many ways; for, owing to its free government, its proximity to the republics of Lombardy, and to the settlements of the Waldenses in the Alps, the place swarmed with that motley tribe of political and religious dreamers which Liberty is ever doomed to tolerate in her train. Of course, Arnold had his clique among the rest. His reception by the citizens was enthusiastic; a public situation was given to him; and he resided in the city for the next six years. During that interval, he confined his activity to Zurich and the cantons bordering it. In these he propagated his doctrines with success, and seems to have been forgotten by the public of France and Italy. No doubt, he may be viewed as having helped to pave the way for Zwingli in the 16th, and Strauss in the 19th,—both of whom, like Arnold, spread the poison of their ideas from Zurich.

In the meantime, events were transpiring at Rome which were destined to call Arnold from his retreat, and produce him again on the great stage of the world in a part more important than ever. These were the attempts of the Romans to restore their ancient republic on the ruins of the papal government. These attempts were not peculiar to the 12th century, but had been made in preceding ages, invariably to no other purpose than anarchy to the city, and scandal to the world. Indeed, there seems always to have been a party at Rome whose adherents, more pagan than Christian in their hearts, perversely mistook the destiny of the city; and far from viewing its new spiritual empire as nobler than its old material one, held the former as something meanly inferior to the latter; wholly blind to the fact that the senate and emperors had been merely types of the hierarchy and the popes, and that in these, and not in those, God had decreed, from the time of Romulus himself, the true power and majesty of Rome should eventually reside. This party then,—who viewed the pope as the Jews viewed our Saviour, whom they would not accept as their Messias, but reviled him as an impostor because he possessed no worldly-power; this party it was that, at the end of the 8th century, treated Leo III. with such impious cruelty in their first recorded attempt to overthrow the papal government; that in the 10th century not only dethroned, but imprisoned and murdered, by the hands of the consul Crescentius, Benedict VI., and plunged the state into such disorders as to render necessary the bloody but just intervention of Otho III. Emperor of Germany, who delivered the Holy See from the oppression and indignities which overwhelmed it. About the middle of the 12th century, the example of the cities of Lombardy, roused to their struggle for freedom to a great degree by the eloquence of Arnold of Brescia, again awoke the republican faction at Rome; where other elements of lawlessness unhappily existed in the papal schism which then raged, and in which the anti-pope Anacletus drove from the Holy See Innocent II., the lawful pope. On the death of Anacletus and the return of Innocent, the sentence of the council, above mentioned, against Arnold of Brescia, still more embittered the revolutionary spirits of the city, worked up to wild enthusiasm by the temporary presence of that arch-demagogue on the spot to defend his cause. At last the pope's conduct to the citizens of Tivoli burst the storm of rebellion over his head.

During the late schism, Tivoli had sided with Anacletus, and on his death still refused to acknowledge Innocent. A Roman army was accordingly marched out to reduce the place to obedience, but was defeated by a sudden sally of the besieged. A fresh army which was shortly raised behaved better, and Tivoli was reduced. Burning with shame at the disgraceful failure of their first attempt, the Romans clamoured for the total destruction of a hated rival and the dispersion of its inhabitants. But the pope, satisfied with the triumph of his authority, would lend no countenance to so guilty a severity, and concluded with his chastised children a fatherly peace. For thus checking the bad passions of his subjects, he incurred their displeasure; whereupon, the republican leaders, perceiving their opportunity seized it at once, and, by their virulent denunciations to the mob of the pretended tyranny of priests, soon stirred up an insurrection; and got the citizens to hold a congress in the Capitol, at which the papal government was declared at an end, and the ancient republic restored. Innocent strove to counteract this revolution, and called a synod at the Lateran; before which he protested against any right of the laity to interfere with his government, much less to alter it. But his efforts were vain; and he took his ill-fortune so much to heart that he sickened and died of grief.

Celestine II., his successor, had, as papal legate in France, formerly befriended Arnold of Brescia: a circumstance that could not fail to make him popular, and conduce to give effect to his efforts at conciliation; so that he completely succeeded in allaying the revolutionary storm during his short reign, which his death terminated in the spring of the following year.

Under Lucius II., who was next elected to the papal throne, the public disorders burst forth again in an aggravated degree. Lucius deeply offended the Romans by seeking to secure himself against their fickle loyalty in an alliance with Roger, the Norman king of Sicily. In resentment of this proceeding, the newly elected senate first caused the strongholds of the Frangipani, and of other adherents of the papal party within the city, to be demolished, and then sent an embassy to Conrad III. of Germany to invite him to come and assume the imperial crown under their auspices, and act as counter-check to the king of Sicily. But Conrad, mistrusting the high-flown letter containing the invitation, and feeling moreover little sympathy with rebels against the pope, declined it.

Hereupon, Lucius thought it the proper time to strike a blow towards recovering his authority. To this end he marshalled his cardinals and other dignitaries in all their pomp; put himself at their head, and, escorted by an armed array of lay partisans, set out for Rome with the intention of besieging the Capitol.

At first the people, awed by so solemn and resolute an appearance of the Supreme Pontiff, showed signs if not of helping, at least, of not resisting his attempt. But the agents of the senate, actively at work among the crowd, succeeded in dissipating this fatal apathy, and in rousing, in its stead, so furious a spirit of hostility, that the result announced itself in a sacrilegious shower of stones, which rained cruelly on the heads of the priestly host, wholly scattering it, and hitting the pope himself on the temples; who shortly died from the effects of the contusion. This catastrophe happened January 25th, 1145.

The next day the dispersed cardinals came together again in St. Caesarius' church, and set the thorny tiara on the head of a stranger to their order. This was the abbot of the Cistercian convent of St. Anastasius in Rome, formerly a monk under St. Bernard at Clairvaux. He took the name of Eugenius III. He bore the reputation of a mild and conciliating man; which fact would probably weigh all the more with the conclave under existing circumstances, from the recollection of Celestine II., whose gentleness had tamed what it appeared sternness could not subdue.

But Eugenius now showed that he was not wanting in one set of qualities, because it had hitherto served his purpose to display another. For, rather than recognize the new senate, which the republican party wished to make him do, he quitted the city overnight with all his suite; went through the ceremony of his installation at the convent of Forsa; and then retired to Viterbo.

Here he resided some months, and vainly endeavoured through St. Bernard's agency to induce the Emperor Conrad to arm in his behalf. At last, losing all patience at the lengths to which the Romans—encouraged by his absence—had begun to carry things, he levied at Tivoli, and other well affected places, recruits in his service, took himself the command, and marched to attack his rebellious subjects.

His expedition was crowned with success; the republicans were humbled, and sued for peace. This was granted to them on the conditions, that for the future the pope should nominate the senators; that his Prefect should be restored and their Patrician abolished. Eugenius then held his triumphant entry into Rome amid demonstrations of enthusiastic loyalty, and celebrated there the Christmas of 1145. But it was not long before the clouds of disaffection gathered again as blackly as ever, and discharged such a tempest, on the refusal of Eugenius to give up Tivoli to the implacable hatred of the Romans, that he was forced to flee over the Tiber, amid a volley of darts and stones, hurled after him by the mob. Such in fact were the straits to which the unfortunate pontiff was now reduced, that he at length found it expedient to pass into France.

It was at this juncture (A. D. 1142,) that Arnold of Brescia received an invitation from the Roman senate, now wholly rid as it would seem of its great foe, to visit the eternal city, and lend his aid in completing, as far as possible, the restoration of the old republic.

Such a golden opportunity of realizing the dearest dream of his ambition was irresistible. He accepted the invitation at once; and glowing with the thought of shortly reviving in his own person a Roman tribune of the ancient stamp, he crossed the Alps at the head of a fanatical rabble of Swiss, whom, under the hopes of sharing the glories of the expedition, he had seduced to follow him as a guard amid its perils.

At his passage through Lombardy, where his name was so popular, new bands joined his march. On reaching Rome, he and his men were received in triumph. The citizens, when they heard him in his speeches, set off by quotations from Livy and St. Paul, style them "Quirites," when they heard him give his florid descriptions of the greatness of the ancient republic, and launch his thunders of denunciation at the disgrace of priestly rule, set no bounds to their enthusiasm, but forthwith invested the orator with dictatorial powers. No sooner was this done, than the indefatigable demagogue began his political reforms. These comprised, among the rest, laws for restoring the equestrian rank, and the tribunes of the people; for more strictly excluding the pope from all part in the government; and for reducing to the narrowest limits the prerogatives of the German emperors, as the first step towards shaking off their yoke entirely.

At the end of three years, Pope Eugenius returned to Italy, and addressed a letter from Brescia, in July 1148, to the Roman clergy, warning them against the proceedings of Arnold, whom he denounced as a "schismatic," and as the "main tool of the arch enemy of mankind;" calling on them to desist from abetting rebellion, and to return under the obedience of their lawful Superior: otherwise to incur excommunication.

But neither this letter of Eugenius, nor three successive attempts made by him in the course of the next four years,—at one time by negotiation, at another by arms,—to enter his capital, availed his purpose. At last, a fourth attempt towards the end of 1152, by means of a treaty, under which he agreed to acknowledge the power of the senate, succeeded.

Nevertheless he did not cease to suffer, during the short remainder of his reign, bitter mortifications from the insolence of the senate, and the dictator, Arnold of Brescia, who continued to reside in Rome in all his greatness, and shortly before the pontiff's death in 1153, aware of his repugnance to the republic, and alarmed at his growing favour with the people, defied him openly, by increasing the number of the senators, from fifty to a hundred, and by giving them as presidents, two consuls after the ancient plan, instead of the patrician till then in use.

It was for Eugenius III. that his old preceptor, St. Bernard, composed at his disciple's request, his famous book "de Consideratione;" in which the subject handled is, on the duties of a pope; and in which is given such a graphic description of the degenerate character of the Romans, as also of the Roman clergy in that age. The following extract will not be out of place here:

"What is so well known to the world as the license and pride of the Romans? They are a people opposed to peace, and ever given to sedition; wild and hard to deal with from all time; who only know how to obey when they can no longer resist; who possess understanding, only that they may do evil by it, not to do good. Detested by heaven and earth, they have impiously outraged both. They are criminals before God, profaners of his sanctuary, rebels against themselves, enviers of their neighbours, monsters towards those who do not belong to them. They love no one, and are beloved by no one. They strive after the show of being feared by all, while in fact they themselves fear every body. They cannot endure any submission; but yet know not how to rule. They are false to their superiors, and oppress their subjects. They are shameless in their demands, and reject petitions with a haughty front. With blustering and impatience they press for presents, and are thankless when they have received them. They are great talkers with the tongue, but helpless creatures when it comes to act. They are spendthrifts in promises, niggards in the performance; the most crawling sycophants, and the most venomous slanderers; who feign the most honest simplicity, and are the most malicious of deceivers." [2]

[1] Niccolini, Vita di Arnaldo da Brescia. (Prefixed to his tragedy.) Francke, Arnold von Brescia und Seine Zeit.

[2] De Consideratione, lib. iv. cap. 2. (Cited by Francke, page 190.)


Such were the depraved spirits, and such the ignoble tyranny, which oppressed the Holy See on the demise of Eugenius III.; an oppression which, if its violence seemed to slumber during the short career of Anastasius IV., whose patriarchal age and paternal goodness to the poor in a famine which desolated the country under his pontificate, commanded respect and won all hearts, yet woke up again with fresh vigour on the accession of his successor, the English Pope Adrian IV.

Adrian, however, was as well by nature as by the experience of his past life, a character not likely to be daunted by the threatening prospect before him; and behaved with such courage and decision, as for the time to confound his rebellious subjects, and reduce them to obedience. For when, on his assumption of the tiara, the senate,—which by this time seems to have arrived at the last pitch of insolence, under the training of Arnold of Brescia,—made a formal proposition to the new pope, to renounce once for all his right to the government of the state; he no sooner heard it than he sternly rejected it, and drove the deputation through whom it came with ignominy out of his presence. Hereupon the mob, worked upon by the orators and other agents of the republic, flew to arms, and led by Arnold of Brescia himself,—who had been fetched out of the country on purpose,—gave in to every disorder; and, among other excesses, murdered Cardinal Gerard, a well known adherent of the pope, as he was passing along the Via Sacra to an audience. Adrian declared this atrocity tantamount to high treason, and at once resolved to punish it by striking a blow such as till his time had not been struck at Rome at all. This was to lay the city under an interdict. No calamity in the middle ages was more dreaded, more cruelly felt by society, than an interdict. This naturally arose out of that profound religious faith, which in those times pervaded all classes of men alike, in the midst of the greatest crimes and disorders. The interdict, which Pope Adrian thus fulminated against Rome, lasted from Palm Sunday till Maunday Thursday. It will not be uninteresting here to briefly describe an interdict. It was usually announced at midnight by the funeral toll of the church bells; whereupon the entire clergy might presently be seen issuing forth, in silent procession, by torch light, to put up a last prayer of deprecation before the altars for the guilty community. Then the consecrated bread, that remained over, was burnt; the crucifixes and other sacred images were veiled up; the relics of the saints carried down into the crypts. Every memento of holy cheerfulness and peace was withdrawn from view. Lastly, a papal legate ascended the steps of the high altar, arrayed in penitential vestment, and formally proclaimed the interdict. From that moment divine service ceased in all the churches; their doors were locked up; and only in the bare porch might the priest, dressed in mourning, exhort his flock to repentance. Rites in their nature joyful, which could not be dispensed with, were invested in sorrowful attributes: so that baptism could only be administered in secret; and marriage celebrated before a tomb instead of an altar. The administration of confession and communion was forbidden. To the dying man alone might the viaticum, which the priest had first consecrated in the gloom and solitude of the morning dawn, be given; but extreme unction and burial in holy ground were denied him. Moreover, the interdict, as may naturally be supposed, seriously affected the worldly, as well as religious cares of society: so that trade suffered, and even the proprieties of men's personal appearance fell into neglect.

At first, the Romans seemed as if they would not flinch under the novel and terrible blow dealt at them. But this was a passing bravado. They soon began to feel uneasy, and then horrified at the cessation of the divine offices, and the refusal of the sacraments in Holy Week,—a season of all others when the most lukewarm piety bestirs itself. The consequence was, that they assembled tumultuously before the Capitol, where the seriate was sitting; and demanded that measures should be directly taken to bring about such an arrangement with the pope as would relieve the city from the interdict.

Negotiations were accordingly entered upon by that body with Adrian at Viterbo; whither he had retired to wait the issue of events. To the overtures made, he answered that he was ready to come into them, provided the senate would first banish Arnold of Brescia out of Rome, abolish the republic, and, together with the citizens, return to their duty. After much hesitation, and some attempts to procure a modification of such sweeping terms,—attempts which the inflexibility of the pope entirely frustrated,—those terms were accepted. On their completion, Adrian revoked the interdict, held his triumphant entry into Rome, and celebrated in the church of St. John Lateran, with great pomp and jubilee, his coronation.

In the meantime Frederic Barbarossa, who had succeeded his uncle Conrad III. on the German throne two years before, and had lately undertaken his first expedition into Italy to restore his fallen power in that country, and suppress its newly roused spirit of freedom, was advancing, flushed with his conquest of Tortona, and his coronation as king of Lombardy, at Pavia, with his army towards Rome, where he proposed to give the last finish to his brilliant successes, by receiving the crown of empire from the pope. Frederic and Adrian had both sent forward ambassadors to each other, who crossed on the road without knowing it: the king, to treat about the imperial crown; the pope, to sound the intentions of a visitor, who was approaching in such warlike array. The papal envoys encountered Frederic at St. Quirico, in Tuscany; and, on being told that he meant nothing hostile to the rights of the Church,—but, on the contrary, that he was ready to act as her champion, and, therefore, came simply to ask the imperial crown,—they promised the pope's acquiescence in his views, provided, among other services required of him, he would procure the delivery of Arnold of Brescia into the hands of justice.

This was all the more insisted upon, as that indefatigable demagogue, having, after his banishment, obtained the protection of certain counts of the Campagna, still continued to exercise from his place of refuge the most pernicious influence over the popular mind in Rome.

Frederic readily undertook to do a service, which agreed as well with his personal feeling as with his policy. For Arnold of Brescia, on the election of the Duke of Swabia to the German throne, had written him a letter, inviting him to come and receive the imperial crown from the senate in contempt of the pope, but couched in such arrogant and fanatical terms, as highly to incense the king, who refused to listen to it; whereupon, Arnold aggravated his offence, by announcing that he would persuade the Romans to choose an emperor of their own, and throw up their allegiance to foreign ones.

The plan which Frederic took to seize Arnold, was, first of all, to send a body of troops to waylay and capture one of the chiefs of the lawless counts of the Campagna, who had been mainly instrumental in liberating the arch-republican out of the hands of the papal officers, into which he had shortly fallen before at Oriculum; and then to threaten the speedy execution of the prisoner, unless Arnold were given up as a ransom. This plan succeeded. The other Campagnian counts, frightened at the resolute conduct of Frederic, and trembling at the consequences of his further anger, if the ransom demanded were not given, soon brought their client, whose revolutionary doctrines so much promoted those disorders by which they thrived, to the feet of the king, and received back their brother in exchange. Arnold was forthwith remanded in chains to Rome, there to await the arrival of Frederic, who intended to have the culprit tried before his own tribunal.

But Peter, the prefect of Rome, and commandant of the Castle of St. Angelo, a devoted servant of the pope, into whose custody Arnold was delivered, fearful lest his prisoner should escape by means of a popular riot,—as he had once done before in the same circumstances,—resolved to execute him on his own account; and, without waiting forfurther instructions either from Frederic or Adrian, but secretly abetted by several cardinals on the spot, had the unhappy man led out early on the morning of the 18th of June, 1155, before the popular or people's gate; where he was fastened to a cross projecting from the midst of a pile of faggots, which, being fired, soon enveloped their victim in the flames. His cries and the tumult of the execution roused the citizens, dwelling hard by, from their beds, who presently ran up lamenting and furious to the rescue; but, in vain; as they were thrust back on all sides by the soldiers who kept the ground. Nevertheless, such was the infatuated reverence which the people manifested for their late tribune, that it was found expedient after his execution to throw his ashes into the Tiber, to prevent them being enshrined as holy relics. Arnold of Brescia was about fifty years old, when he thus met his fate.

However shocking such cruel executions as he suffered may be to the more enlightened benevolence, or more sensual refinement of the present day; yet, from the point of view of the middle ages,—that the visible punishment of a crime should be commensurate with, and, as it were, symbolise its moral enormity,—there can be no doubt but that in the present case the criminal received only what he deserved. Few men ever did worse mischief to society in their day, than Arnold of Brescia. Private ambition was his ruling passion, and his hopes of gratifying it were set on the realization of dreams and fancies, engendered of an unbridled imagination, which an admixture of mysticism further distempered. A false scandal which he took at the discrepancy between the lives and doctrines of the clergy, in his time widely corrupted, heightened by his Pharisaical pride,—which a bodily temperament, naturally disinclined to sensual excess, inflated all the more—as, by means of such bodily temperament, he was enabled with so little merit of his own, to keep up an exterior severity of demeanour closely resembling a holy asceticism,—led him at last to confound the abuse of religion with religion itself; and, under the further influence of his insatiable thirst for notoriety, to broach schismatical views, and then a plan of ecclesiastical as well as political reform for the world, of which, he persuaded himself, he was marked out to be the apostle.

That reform, as we have seen, was simply the return of society, politically, under the republican institutions of pagan Rome; and, spiritually under the religious government of the apostolic ages. A fanatic of this description, endowed in an extraordinary manner with eloquence to announce his views, and with boldness and energy to pursue the career of carrying them out,—as was Arnold of Brescia's case,—may well be imagined to have seduced the multitude, at all times giddy,—but in his day oppressed and shocked by many gross abuses,—in the way he did; and so to have elicited the stern hostility of the constituted authorities in church and state, who, naturally perceiving in the progress of such a man only "confusion worse confounded," and ruin to the temporal and eternal interests of society, were in duty bound to eradicate the evil before it was too late, and, in doing so, not to shun harsh means where gentle ones failed; but, if words proved fruitless, to use the sword. The obstinacy, the infatuated obstinacy of Arnold of Brescia in the face of so many warnings, as from time to time were given to him, plainly proved that he was incorrigible; and that, therefore, as it was no more possible for society to prosper, as it should do, while he continued to infect it with his wild theories, than for the bodily health to nourish while eaten into by a cancer, to extirpate him, like it, was the only course left,—a course which thus became morally as much a duty in his case, as it would physically become so in that.


In the mean time, much had still to be negotiated between Frederic and Adrian, before the latter felt satisfied to confer on the former the imperial crown. Adrian was too well acquainted with the character of Barbarossa, not to feel it a paramount duty to require every guarantee, before adding to the power and greatness of a man who, like him, thirsted for universal sway, under which not only the State, but the Church also should bend; and who, in pursuit of his object allowed no barrier, which he could throw down by fair means or by foul, to stand against him. Thus it was that, although in his present transactions with the pope, he made plenty of fair promises, he yet would not pledge his word to them, lest by doing so he should commit his plans of future ambition; plans which, though he felt he should not hesitate to save, if driven to it at the cost of his honor, he yet would prefer to forward, if possible, without so mortifying an alternative. But, when after all his pains he found out that the pope was not to be thrown off his guard, and that the transcendent stake at issue was not to be won, except by confirming his word with an oath, he submitted to take it; and, so, swore on the gospels and on the cross, before his own and the papal ambassadors in his camp near Viterbo, that he would neither injure the pope nor his cardinals; but would protect their persons and rights against all aggression. [1]

Hereupon, Adrian felt confidence enough to leave Nepi, and repair to meet Frederic at Sutri; to which spot the latter had, in the mean time, advanced his camp. As Adrian drew near, he was encountered by a splendid deputation of German princes and bishops, who conducted him to the royal tent. As soon as the pope appeared before it, Frederic,—who was waiting to receive him,—courteously advanced to assist his Holiness in dismounting from his horse; but did not offer to render the ancient homage, usual on such an occasion, of holding the pope's stirrup. In vain did Adrian keep his seat in expectation that this homage, would be paid; the king persisted in avoiding what his pride could not brook. Terrified at such a bad omen, the cardinals of the papal suite took to flight, and sought safety in the neighbouring fortress of Castellano; leaving their lord to confront alone the danger which seemed to threaten him. But Adrian retained his courage and coolness intact. Alighting from his horse, he quietly sat down in the episcopal chair, which had been prepared for him, and suffered Frederic to approach and kiss his feet; but, when the king rose up to receive the papal kiss of peace in return, Adrian refused it, and told him that he would not give it, until the homage, due from the temporal to the spiritual power, had been paid in full.

As Frederic denied, in vindication of his behaviour, the authenticity of the homage in question, a hot controversy ensued between the parties at issue; in which the king turned a deaf ear to every argument and example that was adduced to prove his error, seeking to evade their force, now by sophistical, now by threatening representations, until the pope, disgusted at his disingenuous conduct, and tired out with a dispute, which had lasted over the next day, to no purpose, cut it short by abruptly quitting the camp. Hereupon the king, perceiving that he must again offer sacrifice to his policy, suffered the prelates, who surrounded him, and till this critical moment had so vainly sought to convince him of the justice of the pope's cause, to overrule him; and then set out for Nepi, whither Adrian had returned. On his arrival, he no sooner beheld Adrian coming forth to meet him, than, advancing reverently on foot, he held the pontiff's stirrup; who, on touching the ground, directly enfolded the king in his arms, amid the cheers of the spectators of both parties.

All these proceedings,—and the latter one, in particular,—have been held up, by many writers, as setting in the strongest light the arrogance and tyranny of the church in the middle ages. From our point of view, at this day, for estimating the relative importance of Church and State, no doubt, the result of the dispute between Adrian and Frederic was wrong; because it ought to have proved diametrically the reverse to be right. In the 12th century, however, the profound conviction of Christendom was this: that the pope literally represented on earth, in the character of vicar or vicegerent, our Saviour in heaven; and, as it may be taken for granted, that, were the Redeemer to reappear among men now, as he appeared 1800 years ago, the proudest monarch of Christendom, in the 19th century, persuaded of the fact, would,—whether catholic or protestant,—certainly not hesitate to show this honor to our Divine Lord, on receiving his visit: so the sovereigns of the middle ages did actually deem it right and honorable to pay that homage to Christ, in the person of the pope, in whom they acknowledged, from the bottom of their souls, our Lord's Regent on earth, and as such their immeasurable Superior. In requiring Frederic Barbarossa to pay him the typical homage of holding his stirrup, Adrian did plainly nothing but what was entirely in accordance with the spirit of the age, and, at the same time, with traditional usage, as then received by Christian princes. [2] But Frederic did do what was contrary to both in his refusal; and that, too, while professing to be imbued with the very faith out of which the homage in question sprang. Thus, it is no wonder that Adrian should view such an inconsistency as most inauspicious for the liberties of the church,—with which those of society were then so closely bound up,—and should, therefore, feel it imperative to pursue a line of conduct, which at first glance may appear so arrogantly exacting; but which, found, on closer examination, to have involved the assertion of the most sacred interests against a man, who was known to respect none in promotion of his ends, assumes a character calculated rather to conciliate our approval than to confirm our censure.

As soon as the friendly relations between the pope and the king had been thus far restored, they set out, for Rome, to celebrate the coronation.

In the mean time, the senate, though deeply offended at not having been consulted on so momentous an affair, sent forward an embassy to congratulate Frederic as he drew near. This it did in fulsome and arrogant terms, informing him, moreover, that the 'Queen of the world'—as the city was styled by the orator,—felt graciously disposed to confer on him, of her own good pleasure, the diadem of empire, if he, on his part, would promise to abolish the papal government, restore the ancient Republic, and make a present of 5000 silver crowns to the officers of the state. But Frederic no sooner perceived this drift of the speech,—whose tone from the beginning had greatly irritated him,—than he cut it short by an outburst of indignant sarcasm on men, who, sunk to the lowest pitch of national degeneracy, yet thought to beard with the shadow of their past, the substance of his present greatness, and to dictate terms to a prince, who came not as their servant but as their master. After having delivered himself further in the same caustic style, he asked them what answer they had to give; and, on being informed that they could give none till they had reported their reception to the senate, he haughtily bid them begone and do so.

Aware that such conduct would highly incense the Romans, and very likely urge them to revenge it by throwing obstacles in the way of his coronation, Frederic consulted the pope as to what had best be done; who advised him to send without delay a body of picked troops to occupy St. Peter's, and the Leontine quarter of the city, in which that church stood, promising that the papal guards on the spot should support the movement.

Frederic accordingly despatched during the night 1000 men on this service, which they successfully performed.

The next morning, June 18th, 1155, by sun-rise, he himself set out, preceded by the pope, for the city, and passed into it by the golden gate, before which his whole army in compact and resplendent array, drew up. At St. Peter's he was received by the pope, who, surrounded by his cardinals and prelates, awaited the king's arrival on the steps of the great door. The pontifical high mass was then sung, and, on its termination, Frederic, enthroned amidst the princes and dignitaries of the empire, was solemnly crowned Emperor by the hands of the Pope, the whole congregation bursting out, at so stirring and eventful a spectacle, into acclamations of joy and triumph. [3]

In the mean time, a squadron of imperial troops took possession of the bridge near the Castle of Crescentius—now St. Angelo—over which the road into the heart of the town led; and, by so doing, shut out the ill disposed citizens on the right bank of the Tiber, from interrupting the ceremony. When all was over at St. Peter's, Frederic issued out of the church with the crown on his head, and mounting his horse, while his suite continued on foot, rode back through the' golden gate, to celebrate in his tent, erected against the city walls, the coronation banquet.

As to Pope Adrian, he retired to his palace near St. Peter's. So far everything had turned out well. But a new scene was now to be acted. For as the emperor and his soldiers, divested of their armour on account of the great heat, were carousing under the cool shade of their tents, in honor of the day, their toasts and songs were suddenly interrupted by the alarm that the Romans had risen, and were advancing over the Tiber to attack the camp.

The truth was, that the senate and citizens, exasperated beyond measure at Frederic's treatment of their ambassadors, and at his superior generalship in occupying the city and effecting his coronation in their teeth, had met at the Capitol while he was at St. Peter's; and passed the resolution not to let so mortifying a day pass over without striking a blow in revenge.

Wherefore, as soon as the coronation was finished, and the scene clear, the furious populace burst over the Tiber; and, after first butchering what few German soldiers still lingered imprudently at St. Peter's, rushed on to the grand attack.

Frederic no sooner heard this unwelcome news, than he started from table, gave the word to arm, and sallied out to encounter the enemy. The battle that ensued was maintained on both sides with unflinching courage and varied fortunes: now the Romans drove the Germans beyond their lines; now the Germans pursued the Romans into the heart of the city. Such was the hatred which each party felt against the other, that not only the men but the women joined in the struggle. When it had thus lasted till sunset, victory declared for the Germans. The Romans fled on all sides with a loss of more than 1000 killed or drowned, and 200 captured. The emperor, as Otto of Frisingen asserts, [4] had the extraordinary good fortune to lose in such an obstinate and bitter combat only two men,—one killed and one made prisoner. "Such!" cried Frederic, as he beheld the defeat of the enemy, and recollected the terms of the senate the day before, "Such, O! Rome, is the price which thy Prince pays for thy crown; such the way in which we Germans buy our empire!" [5]

On the morrow he turned over his prisoners to Peter, the prefect of Rome; who executed some, as notorious ringleaders, on the spot; and allowed others to ransom themselves at exorbitant rates. Indeed, that stern functionary would have put the whole of them to death, had not Adrian, in whose breast this unfortunate outbreak had produced the liveliest regret, interfered in their behalf, so that it was reluctantly resolved to set them free.

Notwithstanding his victory, as no market for provisions could be opened for his army, by reason of the animosity of the Roman peasantry, Frederic was obliged to raise his camp, and seek a more friendly and fruitful neighbourhood, where the soldiers might enjoy repose after so trying a campaign. The spot he removed to was near Tivoli. Here he halted for several days, and received a visit in his quarters from Pope Adrian, who kept with the emperor the feast of SS. Peter and Paul. Both sovereigns appeared at high mass on this occasion wearing their insignia of state. After the service, Adrian solemnly absolved the emperor's troops from all guilt which the slaughter they had made of the Romans in the late conflict might appear to lay them under; the maxim adopted being that "he who fights out of obedience to his prince against the enemy of the state, must not be deemed a murderer but an avenger." [6]

And yet Frederic did not hesitate to seize an opportunity which now offered of breaking his oaths, and of repaying the pope's good offices by invading his rights. For, on the citizens of Tivoli offering him, at his secret instigation, the sovereignty of their city, which belonged to the Holy See, he accepted it; and only on Adrian's determined opposition to such an usurpation, affected to restore it with reservation of his imperial prerogatives over the place;—prerogatives which he could not define, and which meant in fact nothing more than the renewal of his aggression at the next more favourable opportunity. For now the complaints of his army, worn out by fatigue, exposed, moreover, to every vexation, through the ever increasing animosity of the Italians, and hence doubly impatient to return into Germany, from which it had been absent much longer than the terms of feudal service required, obliged Frederic to think of finishing his campaign, and marching home directly, if he did not mean to be left alone in the heart of a hostile country; a predicament into which the desertion of his men was already beginning to betray him. He accordingly took the road back into Germany soon after he had made restitution to the pope as above described; and after running many perils in his progress through regions so justly hostile to him, regained his own states beyond the Alps, not so much gratified by the acquisition of the imperial crown, as embittered by what he had gone through in pursuit of it, and resolved not to delay longer than he could help a second invasion of Italy, which should compensate the mishaps and mortifications of the first.

[1] Muratori, Storia d' Italia, vol. 7. p. 135. Leipsic, 1748.

[2] Muratori, Dissertazione sopra le Antichita Italiane, dissert. 4.

[3] Otto Frisingensis, lib. 1. cap. 23.

[4] Otto Frisingensis, ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Otto Frisingensis, ibid.


While Frederic was yet fighting his way home through Italy, Adrian had to face about and confront another foe in William, the Norman king of Sicily.

William had lately succeeded his father Roger, a wise and able monarch, to whom however his son, as so commonly happens, bore no sort of resemblance; but by his incapacity and total subjection under the influence of a profligate favourite of low birth, named Wrajo, soon threw the state, which Roger had left in so prosperous a condition, into the worst disorder.

The breach between him and the pope arose out of a letter which the latter had occasion to address to the king at Salerno, in which the royal title was omitted, and that of mere lord substituted. Adrian did this because William had assumed the crown of Sicily without first asking it of the pope, who, as the feudal patron of that island by ancient compact with its Norman conquerors under Robert de Guiscard, in the time of Pope Leo IX. (A. D. 1053), justly felt his rights infringed by a proceeding which set at nought their established forms. In revenge of this pretended insult, William refused to negotiate with the ambassadors through whom it came; and, furthermore, gave orders to his chancellor Scitinius, whom he had just made viceroy of Apulia, to attack the domain of the Church, which that officer accordingly did, by laying siege to Beneventum, and devastating its territory. But as this proceeding caused a number of disaffected crown vassals of Apulia, already secretly tampered with by agents of the Greek emperor, anxious to recover his lost sway in Italy, to revolt against the Sicilian government,—many of whom in so doing marched to the relief of Beneventum,—Scitinius was soon obliged to raise the siege of that city, and turn his arms against some more vulnerable point. To this end, he passed direct into the Campagna, and there set fire to the towns of Ciparano, Barbuco, and Todi; after which, he made his retreat, demolishing by the way the walls of Aquino, and driving a crowd of monks out of their convents, which he gave up to the plunder of the soldiers.

These events had transpired while Frederic Barbarossa was yet advancing towards Rome, to demand the imperial crown, and on his arrival formed one of the heads of complaint to him on the part of the pope, who hoped to use the strong arm of the professed champion of the Church in redressing her wrongs. Frederic, indeed, expressed the warmest zeal in the pope's cause, and, none the less so, as it presented, under the appearance of a sacred duty, a prospect so inviting to his own ambition. But, as we have seen, he was reluctantly compelled by his murmuring soldiers to close his campaign and return home. He did not, however, lose sight of Sicily; which, as will be described in the sequel, gave rise to a fresh and sharper quarrel between him and the pope.

Disappointed in his hopes of assistance from Frederic, Adrian, with characteristic energy, resolved to assist himself; and rejoined to the ruffianism of William with a ban of excommunication, a proceeding which instantly decided in the pope's cause several of the most powerful nobles of Apulia, especially Robert Count of Loritelli, the king's cousin, Andrew Count of Rupi Canino, Richard Count of Aquila, and Robert Prince of Capua; men who, like the bulk of their order, were impatient to shake off the oppressive and ignominious yoke of the royal favourite Wrajo. Backed by these, who again were secretly encouraged by the court of Constantinople, Adrian followed up his ban of excommunication, by invading at the head of his troops the Terra di Lavoro, which he totally subdued, and then proceeded to Beneventum, where he fixed his head quarters.

William, who in the mean time was in Sicily, and lulled asleep to every interest under the noxious influence of Wrajo, no sooner became aware of his bad fortune across the water,—where, owing to the events just related, all his Italian possessions, with the exception of Naples, Amalfi, Sorrento, and a few other towns and castles of secondary importance, were wrested from him,—than he presently shook off his lethargy, sailed over to Salerno, and from that city sent ambassadors to the pope to negotiate a peace.

To this step he was urged all the more by finding out that Emanuel, the Greek emperor, after refusing to stand his ally at the beginning of the war, was in correspondence, through his minister Palaeologus, with Adrian; trying to procure from the latter the cession of three sea-ports of Apulia in consideration of a large sum of money, and of the promise to expel the Sicilian king from his Italian dominions. The offers which William made were, namely: to pay a sum equivalent to that tendered by Emanuel; to surrender the three sea-ports in question as an indemnification for the damage done by Scitinius; and to swear fealty to the pope as the liege lord of Sicily.

At first Adrian doubted if these terms were genuine, and sent a cardinal to Salerno, to learn the truth. On being advised that all was straightforward, he declared his readiness to accept them. But a cabal in the German interest among the cardinals now put in such a strong opposition to the pope's intention, that, taken by surprise, he dropped it, and retracted his favourable answer to William.

The truth was, a reconciliation between Adrian and William, would have seriously embarrassed Frederic Barbarossa's designs on Sicily;—to say nothing of the protection which such an event would secure to the pope against those farther aggressions on the Church, which the emperor had in view.

Driven to desperation by the final decision of the pope, William, who, with all his faults, seems still to have been capable of a rash energy when real danger stared him in the face, resolved to throw himself again on the chance of war. Collecting a formidable armament by sea and land, he invested Brundusium; which, with the exception of the citadel, had fallen into the hands of Michael Ducas, the Greek general. [1] The citadel, which could not be subdued by arms, was obliged at last to yield to famine; when, in the moment that the garrison was about to close with the terms of surrender, proposed by the enemy, William came up with his army, and obliged the Greek commander, instead of taking possession of the citadel, to face about and fight a pitched battle for the town. The struggle was obstinate and bloody: fortune often changed sides; but at last declared for the Sicilians, into whose hands Ducas himself fell.

The recovery of Brundusium, which followed this victory, seasonably placed at William's disposal a number of rich Greek captives,—whom he sent to Palermo,—much ready money and precious property, besides ships and stores.

A crowd of Apulian malcontents had also the misfortune to fall into his power; on whom he did not fail to wreak his vengeance, by executing some; blinding and maiming others; and selling the rest into slavery.

Flushed with this success, he next marched to Bari. Here he met with no resistance; but, on the contrary, an affecting appeal to his mercy in the spectacle of the citizens coming out before him, dressed in sackcloth, in token of submission. So solemn a humiliation, however, could not atone in the king's eye, for their crime in having demolished the citadel of the town, because it refused to turn disloyal, when the rebellion first broke out. To their entreaties for pardon, he sternly replied, that he should deal out strict justice to them; that as they had not spared his house, he should not spare their houses. A respite of two days only was allowed them, in which to quit their homes with their goods; upon its expiration, the entire city with its walls was reduced to a heap of ruins. Struck with terror at so cruel a vengeance, the rest of the revolted Apulian towns hastened to send in their submission; whereupon, William turned his arms at once against Beneventum; where not only the pope, but also prince Robert of Capua, and several other leaders of the rebellion resided. As the king approached, the prince of Capua, seized with terror, fled; but with so little caution as to fall into an ambush set for him by his vassal and fellow rebel, Richard Count of Fondi; who took the prince his son and daughter prisoners, and delivered them to his sovereign; by which piece of seasonable perfidy, Richard atoned for his treason, and recovered the royal favour.

As to Robert, he was shipped off to Palermo, thrown into a dungeon, where his eyes were put out. In this sad condition, however, he did not long survive, as the severity of his treatment soon brought death to his relief.

With such melancholy proofs of the mutability of worldly fortune before his eyes, and viewing, moreover, the success of his enemy as a sign of the divine disapprobation of his having been so weak as to refuse terms of peace against his better judgment, Adrian now resolved to lose no time in doing what was yet in his power towards repairing his error; and began by successfully requesting the Sicilian king, to give up farther pursuit of his vengeance against the rest of the rebel chiefs, still shut up in Beneventum, and to pardon them on condition of their quitting the kingdom. He next offered to close with those terms of peace,—the rejection of which had caused the present war,—and sent ambassadors to the king on the subject. William received them respectfully and opened negotiations with them. The pope, on his part, engaged to invest the king in feoff with the kingdom of Sicily, the duchy of Apulia, the principality of Capua, Naples, Salerno, and Malfi, with the March and with all that he claimed on this side the Marsa. The king, in return, engaged to swear fealty to the pope; to defend him against his enemies; and to pay him a fixed yearly tribute for Apulia, Calabria, and the March. These formed the principal articles of the treaty now agreed to. But there were others included, in which the king took advantage of his position as conqueror, to exact terms in favour of the secular, and to the detriment of the spiritual power in his states. By these terms, the royal right to confirm canonical elections, was extended; appeals to Rome, from Apulia were restricted; while in Sicily, they were wholly abolished, as well as the right to send legates into the island.

This peace was signed in the church of St. Marcianus near Beneventum; where, in the presence of a splendid array of nobles, and of a vast crowd of people, the king of Sicily prostrated himself in homage at the feet of the pope; who then embraced his august vassal, and invested him with feoffs of Sicily, Apulia, and Capua, by presenting him with three Standards representing those states. After all was over, the king made rich presents of plate, and precious garments to the cardinals in the suite of the pope, of whom he then took leave and returned to Palermo.

Shortly afterwards Adrian published a bull, in which the peace was confirmed.

On his way from Beneventum to Rome, he visited Orvieto; a city which had for a long time stood in open rebellion against him as its prince, but had recently returned to its duty. Here he stayed some time, and received the most loyal demonstrations from the citizens, on whom he conferred many tokens of his paternal regard. From Orvieto, he proceeded to Viterbo for the winter, and then repaired to Rome.

[1] Hugoni Fracundi. Muratori, Scrip. Rer. Italic. vol. 7. page 268.


Soon after his accession, Adrian received, among other letters of congratulation, one from Henry II. king of England, who had succeeded to his crown at the same time as the pope. This letter was as follows:—

"A sweet breath of air hath breathed in our ears, inasmuch as we learn that the news of your elevation hath scattered like a refulgent aurora, the darkness of the desolation of the Church. The Apostolic See rejoiceth in having obtained such a consolation of her widowhood. All the churches rejoice at beholding the new light arise, and hope to behold it expand to broad day. But in particular our west rejoiceth that a new light hath arisen to illuminate the globe of the earth; and that, by divine favour, the west hath restored that sun of Christianity which towards the east was set. Wherefore, most holy Father, we, sharing in the general jubilee at your honors, and celebrating with devout praise the bounties of the divine Majesty, will lay open to you our desires, confiding as we do, with filial devotion, in your paternal goodness. For, if the carnal son exposeth to his father, in confidence, his carnal desires, how much more should not the spiritual son do so with regard to his spiritual one? Assuredly, among other desires of our heart, we do not a little desire, that, as the Almighty's right arm hath chosen your most reverend person to be spiritually planted, like a tree of life in the midst of paradise, and to be transplanted from this land of ours, into his orchard, you will chiefly take care to reform, by your conduct and doctrine, all the churches, that all generations may call your land blessed through your beatitude. This, too, we thirst for with a sincere heart, that the spirit of tempests, which is wont to rage furiously about the pinnacle of honor, may never wrest you from the concern of your sanctification; lest, by reason of any deficiency in you, the deepest abyss of disgrace should succeed to the highest summit of dignity. And this we ardently long for, that, as the regulation of the Church universal belongs to you, you will take care to create such cardinals, free of reproach, as shall know how to appreciate your burthen, and be willing and competent to aid you in supporting it; not regarding ties of country, quality of birth, or extent of power; but that they love God, hate avarice, thirst after justice, and burn with the zeal of souls. Nor are we slightly affected by the desire that, as the unworthiness of ministers is detrimental above all things to the Church, you will vigilantly watch, whenever your Providence shall happen to be petitioned, touching the collation of benefices, lest any unworthy person intrude into the Patrimony of the Crucified. And seeing that the Holy Land,—blest by the origin of our redemption,—consecrated by the life and death of Christ,—a land which Christian devotion holds in particular respect,—is distracted by incursions of the infidels, and polluted by their abominations, we wish from our very soul that you would provide men, of your own devout solicitude, in its defence. And, in regard of that empire of Constantinople,—once so illustrious, now so wofully desolate,—what Christian man ought not to desire that, by your care and prudence, it may receive timely consolation? For the rest, we confide and hope in the Lord, that, as you have not failed, while rising from virtue to virtue, and from honor to honor, to shine according to the exigence of each of them, so you will not fail, now that you are called to the apogee of apostolical elevation, to illustrate and inflame the subject Church, in such a manner, as shall permit no one to hide himself from your light and heat; and that, after your death, you will leave behind such vestiges of sanctity, that your native land,—which congratulates itself on your happy beginning,—will find much more glory in the Lord, in your happier end. Finally, we request of your Paternity, with full confidence, that you will be pleased to remember us, our family, and kingdom, especially in your prayers and vows." [1]

A few months after the receipt of this letter, Adrian was visited by his renowned countryman, John of Salisbury,—afterwards bishop of Chartres,—who arrived in a diplomatic capacity, from king Henry, to procure the papal sanction to a projected conquest of Ireland, by England.

The motives to this ambitious scheme,—which William the Conqueror, and Henry I., had also entertained,—were alleged to be the civilisation of the Irish people, and the reformation of the Irish Church; both of which were represented as given over to barbaric anarchy, and the most crying abuses. And, indeed, such was the real state of civil and religious affairs in that country in the 12th century,—as will be shown lower down,—that the motives in question, derived the greatest weight from the circumstance, and induced the pope to give the sanction requested. This he did in the following brief:

"Adrian, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his most dear son in Christ, the illustrious king of the English, health and apostolical benediction.

"Thy Magnificence thinketh, praiseworthily and fruitfully, touching the propagation of thy glorious name over the earth, and the laying up a reward of eternal felicity in heaven, when, like a Catholic prince, thou dost project the extension of the boundaries of the Church, the proclamation of the Christian faith to ignorant and rude people, and the extirpation of the weeds of vice from the Lord's vineyard; and when, to the better execution hereof, thou dost request the advice and favour of the Apostolic See. In which matter, we feel confident that, as thou shalt proceed with higher counsel, and greater discretion, so thou wilt make, under the Lord's favour, the happier progress, seeing that those things usually reach a good issue, which have sprung out of an ardour for the faith and love of religion. Certainly, there can be no doubt that Ireland, as well as all the isles, which Christ the Sun of justice hath illuminated, and which have borne testimony to the Christian Faith, are subject to St. Peter, and the most Holy Roman Church. On which account, we are all the more ready to plant therein, the plantation of the Faith, and the seed which is grateful to God, as we discover on close examination it is required of us. Forasmuch, then, as thou hast signified to us, most clear son in Christ, that thou art wishful to enter the island of Ireland, to subdue that people under the laws, and to root out of it the weeds of vice, and art wishful to pay to St. Peter, a pension of one penny a-year for each house, and to preserve intact the rights of the Church in that country; we, regarding favourably, and vouchsafing to thy petition our gracious assent, hold it to be a grateful and acceptable thing, that thou shouldst enter that island, to extend the boundaries of the Church; to stem the torrent of crime; to correct morals; to introduce virtue; to augment the Christian religion; and to execute what thy mind may have found good for God's honor, and the country's prosperity. And let the people thereof receive thee honorably, and respect thee as their Lord; the rights of the Church remaining intact, and saving the pension to St. Peter and the most Holy Roman Church of one penny a-year for each house. And, shouldst thou be so fortunate as to accomplish what thou hast planned, strive to improve the Irish nation, by good morals; and act in such a manner by thyself, as well as by those whom thou shalt employ, and whom thou shalt first have proved to be trustworthy by reason of their fidelity, their opinions and conduct, that the Church may be adorned, the Christian faith extended, and everything that belongs to the honor of God, and salvation of souls, so ordered by thee in Ireland, as to qualify thee to deserve an eternal reward in heaven, and a glorious name on earth through all ages." [2]

This famous brief, by which Henry II. of England held himself divinely authorized to conquer Ireland, is strongly disapproved of by many writers, especially by Irish ones; who will not alloy it the least excuse, but overwhelm it with abusive censure. And yet the plain truth is, Adrian meant it, as he worded it, for Ireland's good.

However false the grant of Constantine the Great,—on which the claim set up for St, Peter's dominion over the islands is founded,—may have been proved in later times to be; yet it is certain that both the grant and claim in question were in the 11th, and 12th centuries firmly believed in by all orthodox christians, just as much so as that the Pope was literally our Saviour's vicar on earth, before whose powers every other had to bow. That the king of England was secretly guided by worldly motives, while ostensibly professing religious ones, was his concern and not the pope's: whose business was to weigh the merits of the case, not by reasons imputed, but by those propounded; which, if he found them, from the religious point of view of his times, sound, he was justified in accepting.

Now, there is the best evidence in cotemporary writings, especially in those of Giraldus and St. Bernard, that Ireland was, as above said, given up in the 12th century, to the worst demoralization in Church and State, that a country, not wholly pagan or savage, could be. Giraldus, who travelled in Ireland in the suite of King John, and attentively observed its condition, expresses in his work [3] written on the subject, his surprise that a nation, in which the Christian faith had been planted so far back as the days of St. Patrick, and had gone on increasing more or less ever since, should yet in his age be so ignorant in the very rudiments of religion. "A nation" as he proceeds to describe it, "filthy in the extreme, buried in vice, and of all nations the most ignorant of the rudiments of the faith." In support of this severe censure, he accuses the Irish of "despising matrimony, of being addicted to incest, of refusing to pay tithes, and of totally neglecting attendance at Church." In another place he writes, that the people in many districts continued still to be pagans, through the indifference of the clergy. St. Bernard draws a picture not less darkly shaded. In his life of St. Malachy, [4] adverting to the state of the Irish church on the promotion of that saint to the episcopacy, he describes how the new bishop soon found out that he had to do with "brutes and not with men; how that nowhere he had met with such barbarism of every sort; nowhere found a race so perverse in their morals, so savagely opposed to religious rites, so impious towards the faith, so headstrong against discipline, so barbarous towards the laws, so filthy in their habits of life; a people, Christians in name, but heathens in practice, who paid no tithes, who contracted no lawful marriages, who never confessed their sins, who had hardly any one among them to ask or give a penance, in whose churches neither the voice of the preacher nor the chorus of the chanters was ever heard."

The political was in complete harmony with the religious state of the country. Parcelled out among petty kings and chiefs, who seemed only to subsist by devouring each other, and, in the crush and tumult of their feuds, stood so thick on the ground, as hardly to have elbow room, the whole island presented one untiring round of treacheries, massacres, conflagrations and plunderings, wholesale and retail, such as is without example elsewhere in history, with no other hope, so long as left to itself, of anything but an aggravation of the evil—if that were possible. That Adrian, with such a state of things before his eyes, should readily give his sanction to a project which, however liable to be clogged by human imperfection, could not at any rate make things worse, but haply might make them better, was surely a proceeding quite consistent with the character of a wise and zealous pope; of a pope too, who lived and thought when the crusades were at their height, and who may, therefore, be very well supposed to have viewed the condition of Ireland,—once the island of saints, but now the scene of worse than pagan abominations,—as not less calculated for the efforts of holy chivalry, than Palestine.

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