Pope Hadrian IV was born Nicholas Breakspear in c.1100 in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, in the Kingdom of England. At the time in which he was appointed as the Roman Catholic pope, he was the first pope to be born in England. Nicholas schooled at the Abbey School during his childhood. Nicholas started showing prospects of being a reformist right from an early age and it was his passion as abbot that made Pope Eugene III notice him. In December 1149, Pope Eugene III made him Cardinal Bishop of Albano.
After this Nicholas was given different responsibilities in the church and tasks which he accomplished in full. He served in different positions outside Rome and later went back to Rome. He was welcomed with great honor by Pope Anastasius, on his return to Rome, as a cardinal who had performed outstandingly. When Pope Anastasius died after some time, Nicholas was elected to become pope. He was unanimously elected on the 3rd of December 1154, where he adopted the name Pope Hadrian IV. The names Hadrian IV and Adrian IV are used interchangeably.
When Pope Hadrian IV assumed office, he was faced with several challenges among them were wars and crime. At his time robbery and crime became very common and the state became very unstable. He suffered numerous conflicts with Romans who were opposed to the papal power. But with his determination, Pope Hadrian IV laid the whole Vatican City under an interdict and retired to Viterbo.
In 1155, Pope Hadrian IV and the Normans came together to invade Ireland and fight against the will of The Holy Roman emperor Frederick I. They planned to reform the general governance throughout Ireland and bring it under Christianity. In the process, Pope Hadrian IV sent a letter to the then Holy Roman Emperor, Fredrick I, who became furious over it and dismissed it. The disagreement widened and Fredrick I was just about to be debarred when Pope Hadrian IV passed away unexpectedly.
Pope Hadrian IV died on the 1st of September 1159 in Anagin and was buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. Following his death, the cardinals met on the 4th of September 1159 to elect his successor. The conclave split between the trusted friends of the late pope who supported Cardinal Rolando of Siena, and the supporters of Cardinal Ottaviano de Monticelli. At the end of the election, Cardinal Rolando was elected as the new pope and took the name Alexander I. some sources have revealed that Pope Hadrian IV died after having choked on a fly in his wine.
After his death, the late Pope Hadrian IV continues to be remembered due to the great legacy he left behind. First, he was the first Englishman to become the Roman Catholic Church Pope, and he was a very accomplished Pope. Even today, several buildings, roads and schools are named after Pope Hadrian IV.