Nicholas Breakspear has been overlooked for centuries, even though his achievements outshone those of his contemporary, the martyr Thomas Becket.

Born in poverty and probably illegitimate, Breakspear rose to become the only Englishman to ascend the throne of Saint Peter, ruling over the papal states as Adrian IV. His life is not a tale of liturgy or sermons, and there are more cannons than canons, as Breakspear faced fighting in Scandinavia, the Second Crusade in Spain, and threats from Rome, Sicily, the Byzantine Emperor Comnenus and finally the German King Frederick Barbarossa. There was a papal schism on his death, while many blame him for allowing Henry II’s subjugation of Ireland in 1171. For the first time in over 100 years, R. A. J. Waddingham returns to the evidence in chronicles and medieval manuscripts to tell the whole story of Breakspear’s remarkable journey from St Albans through twelfth-century Europe.

When | Saturday 11 March 2023, 1.30-3pm 

Where | Alban Room & Online via Zoom Webinar 

Cost | £10 (£6 students)

Speaker| Adrian Waddingham, Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway College, University of London

Adrian Waddingham is a retired consulting actuary and Honorary Fellow of Royal Holloway, University of London. He was awarded a CBE in Birthday Honours of 2012 for services to pensions and actuarial professions. In 2014 Adrian served as a Sheriff of the City of London and in 2019 he completed a graduate certificate in Historical Research, with merit, at Birkbeck, University of London.

This is a joint talk hosted by Adult Learning and the Friends of St Albans Cathedral

Image: from the cover of R.A.J. Waddingham's 'Breakspear: The English Pope'.

How to Book

You can book online here using the button below, or call the Box Office on 01727 890290. Tickets will be on sale until 12noon on the day of the event. Please ensure that you provide a current email address when you book. 

Clergy and Readers in St Albans Diocese have complimentary access to our Adult Learning courses, talks, study days, and reading groups. For clergy/Reader bookings, please email [email protected] with your name and role and we will confirm your place.