September 14

1523 Death of a Dutch pope

Pope Adrian VI, born Adriaan Florensz in Utrecht, in the Netherlands in 1459, was the last non-Italian pope for over 450 years. He was born into a humble family but received an excellent education at a school run by the Brethren of the Common Life, who were pioneering humanist teaching for lay people. He went on to the University of Leuven on a scholarship provided by the Duchess of Burgundy. He became a teacher of theology and eventually taught that subject at the university where one of his students was Erasmus.

When the Habsburg princess Margaret of Austria became Governor of the Netherlands in 1506, she chose Adrian as an adviser. He soon became tutor to her nephew Charles, the son of Emperor Maximilian, a boy who would himself become Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was employed frequently by the Habsburgs, who ruled almost half of Europe, as a diplomat. He served for a time as Regent of Spain and as head of the Spanish Inquisition.

In January, 1522 he was elected pope in the midst of the burgeoning Protestant Reformation. He condemned Luther as a heretic but his own attempts at reform were viewed with suspicion and resistance from his conservative cardinals. He died in September 1523.

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