Papal election, 1154

Papal election, 1154

The papal election of 1154 followed the death of Pope Anastasius IV and resulted in the election of Pope Adrian IV, the only Englishman to become pope.

Election of Adrian IV

Pope Anastasius IV died on December 3, 1154, at Rome, at a very advanced age. The College of Cardinals assembled in the Vatican Basilica on the next day to elect his successor.On December 4, 1154, the cardinals unanimously elected Cardinal-Bishop of Albano Nicholas Breakspeare, former legate in Scandinavia (1152-1153). [Robinson, p. 78] He took the name Adrian IV and was crowned on December 5, 1154 in the Vatican Basilica by Cardinal Odone Fattiboni, protodeacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro. He is the only English pope in history. [S. Miranda, [ Pope Adrian IV] ]


There were 33 cardinals in the Sacred College of Cardinals at the beginning of December 1154. [S. Miranda, [ Papal election of 1154] ; and J.D. Mackie, p. 29. Robinson, p. 43 says that the number of cardinals was only 27, but this number is certainly too low because as many as twenty eight cardinals subscribed the papal bulls both before and after the election of Adrian IV (Jaffé, p. 653 and 658-659), and one another (Rainaldo Colimetano) is known to have died in 1166 ( [ List of the abbots of Montecassino, no. 47] ), which — together with the elect — gives a number of a minimum of thirty cardinals still alive at the death of Anastasius IV (the remaining three were Gregorio of S. Maria in Trastevere, Giovanni Paparoni and Giordano Bobone).] One of them is known to have been absent, another one is unlikely to have attended because he was non-resident of the Roman Curia. The remaining thirty one may have participated in the election. However, several of them did not subscribe any papal bulls in November and December 1154, which may suggest their absence from the papal court at that time and puts their participation into question: [ Jaffé, p. 653 and 658-659]

Six electors were created by Pope Innocent II, five by Pope Celestine II, four by Pope Lucius II, fifteen by Pope Eugenius III and one by Pope Anastasius IV.


At least two cardinals did not participate in this election. Cardinal Giacinto Bobone Orsini is known to have been in Spain at that time; he served there as papal legate from the spring of 1154 until the end of 1155. [Robinson, p. 147; for the exact date of his appointment as legate see Jaffé, p. 656 no. 6792] Abbot Rainaldo of Montecassino is also unlikely to have attended because he was not a resident of Roman Curia: [He did not subscribed any papal bulls during his long cardinalate (1140-1166), which clearly indicates his permanent absence from the papal court (Jaffé, p. 559, 605, 609, 616, 653, 658-659). He was abbot of Montecassino from 1137 until 1166( [ List of the abbots of Montecassino, no. 47] )]



*Salvador Miranda [ Papal election of 1154]
*Ian Stuart Robinson, "The Papacy 1073-1198. Continuity and Innovation", Cambridge Univeristy Press 1990
*J.D. Mackie, "Pope Adrian IV: The Lothian Essay", London 1907
*Philipp Jaffé, "Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita Ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII", Berlin 1851

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