Mar 022019

Today is the birthday (1459) of Adriaan Florensz Boeyens who served as pope Adrian VI from 9th January 1522 until his death on 14th September 1523. He is the only Dutchman so far to become pope, and he was the last non-Italian pope until John Paul II, 455 years later. Of the six popes who took the regnal name Adrian (or Hadrianus), four were Italians, and one (Adrian IV) was the only English pope. It was, and still is, extremely rare for a pope to take his baptismal name as his regnal name.

Adriaan Florensz was born in Utrecht, which was then the capital of the prince-bishopric of Utrecht, a part of the Burgundian Netherlands in the Holy Roman Empire. He was born into modest circumstances as the son of Florens Boeyensz, also born in Utrecht, and his wife Geertruid. He had three older brothers, Jan, Cornelius, and Claes. He consistently signed with Adrianus Florentii or Adrianus de Traiecto (“Adrian of Utrecht”) in later life, suggesting that his family did not yet have a surname but used patronymics or toponyms. Adriaan was probably raised in a house on the corner of the Brandsteeg and Oude Gracht that was owned by his grandfather Boudewijn (Boeyen, for short). His father, a carpenter and probably a shipwright, died when Adriaan was 10 years old or younger. Adrian studied from a very young age under the Brethren of the Common Life, either at Zwolle or Deventer and was also a student of the Latin school (now Gymnasium Celeanum) in Zwolle.

In June 1476, he started his studies at the university of Leuven, where he pursued philosophy, theology and canon law, thanks to a scholarship granted by Margaret of York, duchess of Burgundy. In 1478 he had the title of Primus Philosophiae, as well as that of Magister Artium (that is, he took his undergraduate degree). In 1488 he was chosen by the Faculty of Arts to be their representative on the Council of the University. On 30th June 1490, he was ordained a priest. After the requisite 12 years of study, Adrian became a Doctor of Theology in 1491. He had been a teacher at the University since 1490, was chosen vice-chancellor of the university in 1493, and Dean of St. Peter’s in 1498. In the latter function he was permanent vice-chancellor of the University and de facto in charge of hiring. His lectures were published, as recreated from his students’ notes; among those who attended was the young Erasmus. Adrian offered him a professorate in 1502, but Erasmus refused.

In November 1506 Margaret of Austria, duchess of Savoy, became governor of the Habsburg Netherlands and chose Adriaan as her advisor. The next year emperor Maximilian I also appointed him as tutor to his seven-year-old grandson, and Margaret’s nephew, who in 1519 became emperor Charles V. By 1512 Adriaan was Charles’s advisor and his court obligations were so time consuming that he quit his positions at the university. In 1515, Charles sent Adriaan to Spain to convince his maternal grandfather, Ferdinand II of Aragon, that the Spanish lands should come under his rule, and not Charles’s Spanish-born younger brother Ferdinand, whom his grandfather had in mind.  Ferdinand of Aragon, and subsequently Charles V, appointed Adriaan bishop of Tortosa, which was approved by Pope Leo X in 1516. On 14th November 1516 the King commissioned him Inquisitor General of Aragon.

In his fifth Consistory for the creation of cardinals, on 1st July 1517, Pope Leo X (1513–21) named thirty-one cardinals among whom was Adrianus de Traiecto, naming him Cardinal Priest of the Basilica of Saints John and Paul on the Coelian Hill. During the minority of Charles V, Adriaan was named to serve with cardinal Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros as co-regent of Spain. After the death of Jimenez, Adriaan was appointed (14th March 1518) General of the Reunited Inquisitions of Castile and Aragon, in which capacity he acted until his departure for Rome. When Charles V left Spain for the Netherlands in 1520, he appointed cardinal Adriaan as regent of Spain, during which time he had to deal with the Revolt of the Comuneros (Castilians opposed to the rule of Charles).

In the conclave after the death of the Medici pope Leo X, Leo’s cousin, Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, was the leading candidate. With Spanish and French cardinals in a deadlock, the absent Adriaan was proposed as a compromise and on 9th January 1522 he was elected by an almost unanimous vote. Charles V was delighted upon hearing that his tutor had been elected to the papacy but soon realized that Adrian VI was determined to reign impartially. Francis I of France, who feared that Adrian would become a tool of the emperor, and had uttered threats of a schism, later relented and sent an embassy to present his homage.

Fears of a papacy located in Spain based on the strength of Adrian’s relationship with the emperor as his former tutor, and regent, proved baseless, and Adrian, having notified the College of Cardinals of his acceptance, left for Italy after six months of preparations and trying to decide which route to take, making his solemn entry into Rome on 29th August. He had forbidden elaborate decorations, and many people stayed away for fear of the plague that was raging. Pope Adrian VI was crowned at St. Peter’s Basilica on 31st August 1522, at the age of 63.

These were difficult times. Lutheranism was growing in the German states, Ottoman Turks controlled Belgrade and were threatening Hungary and Greece, the papal court was rife with corruption, and throughout Europe young princes were eager for war to expand their territories. Adrian had never been to Italy before he was elected pope and had little understanding of papal and European politics. One plan was to attack notorious abuses one by one within the church, but was hampered by his cardinals. He found, for example, that the reduction of the number of matrimonial dispensations (which brought in a lot of money) to be impossible, as the income had been farmed out for years in advance by Leo X.

Neither was Adrian successful as a peacemaker among Christian princes, whom he hoped to unite in a war against the Turks. In August 1523 he was forced into an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire, England, and Venice against France. Meanwhile, in 1522 Suleiman the Magnificent (1520–66) had conquered Rhodes.

In his reaction to the early stages of the Lutheran revolt, Adrian did not completely understand the gravity of the situation. At the Diet of Nuremberg, which opened in December 1522, he was represented by Francesco Chieregati, whose private instructions contain the frank admission that the disorder of the Church was perhaps the fault of the Roman Curia itself, and that it should be reformed. However, Adrian, as former professor and Inquisitor General, was strongly opposed to any change in doctrine and demanded that Martin Luther be punished for teaching heresy.

He made only one cardinal in the course of his pontificate, Willem van Enckevoirt, made a cardinal-priest in a consistory held on September 10, 1523. Adrian VI held no beatifications in his pontificate but canonized Saints Antoninus of Florence and Benno of Meissen on 31st May 1523. Adrian VI died in Rome on 14th September 1523, after one year, eight months and six days as pope. Most of his official papers were lost after his death. He bequeathed property in the Low Countries for the foundation of a college at the University of Leuven that became known as Pope’s College.

Een notabel boecxken van cokeryen (1514), is the first cookbook published in Dutch. The recipes are suitable for today’s post both culturally and geographically, and I have a copy of the text in Dutch. I do not, however, have much skill in modern Dutch, let alone 16th century Dutch, so first I’ll give you a sampling of what I have been struggling with for the past few hours (cleaned up somewhat):

  1. Om te maken venisoen metten soppen

Om te maken venisoen metten soppen  Neemt venisoen dan snijt in reinen eerlijcken stucken ende elc  stuck dat suldi larderen met specke Dan suldijt doen sieden in eenen pot met vleessope op dat ghijs ghecrigen cont ende eest niet moghelijc om crigen so siedet in zijns selfs sop Dan neemt rooden wijn van den alder besten dye moghe lijck es om te ghecrighen. Neempt hier toe groffels naghelen ende greyne. Dit stoot ende minghelt met veriuys ende een luttele edicx oft azijns Dyt doet nu altesamen sieden doetter alsoe veel souts inne alst be hoeft oft van noode es Dit venisoen behoort te sijn van wilden swijnen

There are a ton of footnotes that I have omitted, although I took note of their contents. Very roughly translated – very roughly – I get:

47.To make wild game with sops

To make wild game with sops. Take game and cut it in pieces. Lard each piece with speck. Boil them in a pot with meat broth if you have any, and if that is not possible boil it in its own broth [which I take to mean, use water]. Use the best red wine you can get. Take cloves and grains of paradise; crush them and mix them with verjuice and a little vinegar. Now put this all to boil together Add salt to taste. The game should be wild boar.

The word “venisoen” here is best translated as “wild game” rather than as “venison” as the final sentence suggests.  I am not sure how to translate “soppen” — “in broth” maybe?  Otherwise, it’s close to northern French cooking of the time, as would be expected given that the duchy of Burgundy controlled much of the Dutch region at various times. Could be an archaic version of bœuf bourguignon.

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