Book: Nicholas Breakspear - the Pope from England


Published by The Langley Press, ISBN 978-0-9564551-0-9 (£3.99)
Available from the publisher:  langleypress@googlemail.com, from online bookshops, and any branch of Waterstone’s.


This book is an impartial and straightforward biography of the 12th century pontiff, known as Pope Hadrian (or Adrian) IV.  The only English pope so far, Hadrian (who began life as plain Nicholas Breakspear) certainly lived in interesting times.

Breakspear’s exact birth date is unknown, but it is thought to have been around 1100.  By the time this poor monk’s son was 49 or so, he was a cardinal bishop in Italy. He was elected pope in December 1154 and died in 1159, having been pontiff for just over four and a half years. He is buried in a granite coffin under St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, with ‘Turkish slippers, dark silk robes and an emerald ring’.

With comparisons to the 21st century and references from the Bible, Simon’s book is readily accessible to the modern reader, even one without any prior historical knowledge. But I perceive there has been an awful lot of research done behind the scenes to make the book so approachable.

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