Pope Adrian "Hadrianus" was pontiff at a critical time in European history. It was just 17 years after King Pepin of the Franks received an airmail letter from St. Peter commanding him to expel the Lombards from Italy.

Pope Adrian I (d. 795).
Pope from 772 to 795.

The Papal States were created in 755 when King Pepin of the Franks received an airmail letter from St. Peter commanding him to expel the Lombards from Italy.

Before that time, the Emperor at Constantinople was considered the genuine Roman Emperor.

However, they did not refer to themselves as "Holy Roman" Emperors!


Pope Leo III.
Pope from 795 to 816.

The Papacy of Adrian prepared the way for the crowning of Charlemagne as "Holy Roman" Emperor by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne did not see the incongruity of a Roman Emperor not residing at Roma.

Pope Adrian II (792872).
Pope from 867 to 872.

Adrian had a wife and daughter who lived with him in the Lateran Palace.

In 868, they were carried off and murdered by Arsenius' son Eleutherius, who had forcibly married the daughter.

Hadrian continued to persecute Saint Photius, and tried to have him labeled a heretic because of his uncompromising stand against the Filioque.


Saint Photius the Great

Like his predecessor Nicholas I, Adrian was forced to submit in temporal affairs to "Holy Roman" Emperor Louis II, who placed him under the surveillance of Arsenius, bishop of Orte, his confidential adviser, and Arsenius' nephew Anastasius, the librarian

Pope Adrian III (d. 885).
Pope for 1 year only.

Pope Adrian III was another "good Pope" became his reign lasted only 1 year!

He was succeeded by Pope Stephen V.

Stephen was following by Pope Formosus, who was exhumed after his death, and put on trial by Pope Stephen VI.


Pope Stephen V.
Pope from 885 to 891.

We know that dead men (even Popes) cannot stand trial and defend themselves, but the next Pope was convinced that his dead predecessor could stand trial, and answer certain questions about his conduct while pontiff.

Pope Adrian IV (11001159).
Pope from 1154 to 1159.

Even though the Papacy was founded by Emperor Jesus Constantine, Pope Adrian was the only English Pope.

In 1155, Pope Adrian issued a Papal Bull granting the land of Saint Patrick to King Henry II.

The assassination of Thomas Becket was the raison d'etre for the annexation of the island by King Henry II in 1171.


Thomas Becket (1120–1170). Archbishop from 1162 to 1170.

Pope Joan VII was born in Britain, but she is not officially numbered among the successors of Pope Julius I.

Pope Adrian V (12101275).
Pope for 38 days only.

1276 was an annus horribilis for the Papacy.

Pope Gregory X was sent to St. Peter that year, and he was followed in swift succession by 3 other pontiffs.

Innocent V: January 21 to June 22, 1276.

Adrian V: July 11 to August 18, 1276.

John XXI: September 8 to May 22, 1277.


Pope John XXI.
Pope from 1276 to 1277.

It could be said that they were all "good Popes" became the reigns were very short!

Pope Adrian VI (14591523).
Pope from 1522 to 1523.

In 1520, after Saint Martin Luther published On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 4 pontiffs followed in quick succession.

Pope Adrian was one of the Popes who received the poisoned chalice.

Pope Clement VII quickly followed Pope Adrian and he had to endure the Sack of Roma in 1527.


Pope Clement VII (14781534).
Pope from 1523 to 1534.

Henry had just sent a shipload of gold to Pope Clement and everything was set for the pontiff to grant the king his annulment on the ground of consanguinity. With Pope Clement as his prisoner, Charles kept the gold, and the king never obtained his annulment from Catherine of Aragon.

That debacle led to Henry divorcing Roma permanently. However, Henry had powerful enemies in his kingdom, led by Sir Thomas More, who were determined to maintain the status quo Babylonian Captivity. Henry's wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, was beheaded, and "Bloody Mary" Tudor tried desperately to undo the Reformation.


Norwich, John Julius. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy. Random House, New York, 2011.

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