Adrian VI, Pope
ADRIAN VI, POPE
Pontificate: Jan. 9, 1522, to Sept. 14, 1523; b. Adrian Florensz Dedal, Utrecht, March 2, 1459. He was the last non-Italian pope until the election of John Paul II in 1978. His widowed mother secured a good education for him with the Brothers of the Common Life at Zwelle and Deventer, and this enabled him to enter the University of Louvain when he was 17. There he studied and taught theology; in 1497 he became dean of St. Peter's Church, Louvain, and chancellor of the university, of which he was twice rector magnificus. One of his students published his notes on the Sententiarum Petri Lombardi (1512), and some of his disputations (Quaestiones quodlibeticae, 1515.)
In 1515 Margaret of Burgundy chose him as a member of her household, and Emperor Maximilian appointed him tutor to his grandson, the future Emperor Charles V, who remained grateful throughout his life for Adrian's religious instruction. In the same year Adrian was sent on a difficult diplomatic mission to Spain, where he became the friend of Cardinal ximÉnez of cisneros. Upon the death of Ferdinand V of Castile in 1516, he was appointed sole administrator of the kingdom until the arrival of Charles I. He was named bishop of Tortosa (1516), viceroy of Spain (1517), and inquisitor of Aragon and Navarre (1517) and Castile and Leon (1518). At the request of Emperor Charles he was created cardinal of Utrecht on June 1, 1517.
In Rome, at the death of Leo X and after turbulent deliberations, he was unanimously elected pope. He was shocked by the news, conveyed to him in Spain, but accepted the will of God and took his own name as Pope Adrian VI. As he had labored in Spain in complete ignorance of the language and customs of the country, where he was resented as a foreigner, so in Italy he was a stranger to his environment. He had little sympathy with Renaissance art and culture, though he valued the learning of the humanists, Johann eck and Juan Luis Vives, and tried to secure the support and advice of Erasmus. The difficulties he encountered in Rome were overwhelming.
The principal Catholic princes, Francis I of France and Emperor Charles V, whose help he needed, were at war with one another. In the Turkish advance, Belgrade had fallen, and the Island of Rhodes was threatened. He was the first pope to face the full impact of the Lutheran revolt, which was making rapid advances, and to deal with the pressing necessity of reform of the Church.
With confusion in the Papal States, lack of financial resources, and reluctant allies, he failed to save Christianity from disunity and from the Turks. The Island of Rhodes fell in December 1522, and the way to Hungary was open. His call for reform alienated the cardinals as well as the members of the Diet of Nuremberg (1522–23), where his "Instructio" to the German nation was ill received and unheeded. Practically alone and exhausted by the opposition on all sides, he died, only 20 months after his accession to the papacy.
Bibliography: l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages (London-St. Louis 1938–61). l. p. gachard, ed., Correspondance de Charles-Quint et d'Adrien VI (Brussels 1859). c. burman, Hadrianus VI (Utrecht 1727). e. h. j. reusens, Syntagma Doctrinae Theologicae Adriani sexti (Louvain 1862). l. e. halkin, La Réforme en Belgique sous Charles-Quint (Brussels 1957). a. mercati, ed., Dall'Archivio vaticano: … Diarii di concistori del pontificato di Adriano VI (Rome 1951). Ephemerides theological Lovanienses (Bruges 1959) 520–629 (commemorative issue on the 500th anniversary of his birth). c. a. c. von hÖfler, Papst Adrian VI (Vienna 1880). p. richard, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillat et al. (Paris 1912–) 1:628–630. w. o. o'malley, Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome (Durham, N.C. 1979). p. partner, Renaissance Rome, 1500–1559 (Berkeley 1976). Epistolae ad Principes. Leo X–Pius IV (1513–1565) ed, l. nanni (Vatican City 1993). c. l. stinger, The Renaissance in Rome (Bloomington, Ind. 1985).
[k. m. saum]