Adrian, De Castello

, bishop of Bath and Wells in the reigns of Henry VII. and VIII. was descended of an obscure family at Cornetto, a small town in Tuscany; but soon distinguished himself by his learning and abilities, and procured several employments at the court of Rome. In 1448 he was appointed nuncio extraordinary to Scotland, by pope Innocent VIII. to quiet the troubles in that kingdom; but, upon his arrival in England, being informed that his presence was not necessary in Scotland, the contests there having been ended by a battle, he applied himself to execute some other commissions with which he was charged, particularly to collect the pope’s tribute, or Peter-pence, his holiness having appointed him his treasurer for that purpose. He continued some months in England, during which time he got so far into the good graces of Morton, archbishop of Canterbury, that he recommended him to the king; who appointed him his agent for English affairs at Rome; and, as a recompense for his faithful services, promoted him first to the bishoprick of Hereford, and afterwards to that of Bath and Wells. He was enthroned at Wells by his proxy Polydore Vergil, at that time the pope’s sub-collector in England, and afterwards appointed by Adrian archdeacon of Wells. Adrian let out his bishoprick to farmers, and afterwards to cardinal Wolsey, himself residing at Rome, where he built a magnificent palace, on the front of which he had the name of his benefactor Henry VII. inscribed: he left it after his decease to that prince and his successors. Alexander VI, who succeeded Innocent VIII, appointed Adrian his principal secretary, and vicar-general in spirituals and temporals; and the same pope created him a cardinal-priest, with the title of St. Chrysogonus, the 31st of May, 1503. Soon after his creation, he narrowly escaped being poisoned at a feast, to which he was invited with some other cardinals, by the pope and his son Caesar Borgia.

In the pontificate of Julius II. who succeeded Alexander, Adrian retired from Rome, having taken some disgust, or perhaps distrusting this pope, who was a declared enemy of his predecessor: nor did he return till there was a conclave held for the election of a new pope, where he probably gave his voice for Leo X. Soon after he was unfortunately privy to a conspiracy against Leo. His embarking in the plot is said to have been chiefly owing to his crediting and applying to himself the prediction of a | fortune-teller, who had assured him, “that Leo would be cut off by an unnatural death, and be succeeded by an elderly man named Adrian, of obscure birth, but fa-­mous for his learning, and whose virtue and merit alone had raised him to the highest honours of the church.” Th conspiracy being discovered, Adrian was condemned to pay 12,500 ducats, and to give a solemn promise that he would not stir out of Rome. But being either unable to pay this fine, or apprehending still farther severities, he privately withdrew from Rome; and in a consistory held the 6th of July 1518, he was declared excommunicated, and deprived of all his benefices, as well as his ecclesiastical orders. About four years before, he had been removed from his office of the pope’s collector in England, at the request of king Henry VIII, and through the instigation of cardinal Wolsey. The heads of his accusation, drawn up at Rome, were, “That he had absented himself from that city in the time of Julius II. without the pope’s leave; that he had never resided, as he ought to have done^ at the church of St. Chrysogonus, from which he had his title; that he had again withdrawn himself from Rome, and had not appeared to a legal citation; and that he had engaged in the conspiracy of cardinal Petrucci, and had signed the league of Francis Maria, duke of Urbino, against the pope.” He was at Venice when he received the news of his condemnation: what becarme of him afterwards is uncertain. Aubery says, he took refuge among the Turks in Asia; but the most common opinion is, that he was murdered by one of his servants for the sake of his wealth. Polydore Vergil tells us, there is to be seen at Riva, a village in the diocese of Trent, a Latin inscription on one Polydorus Casamicus, the pope’s janitor, written by cardinal Adrian; in which he laments his own wretched condition, extolling the happiness of his friend, whose death had put an end to his miseries. Polydore Vergil gives Adrian a high character for his uncommon learning, his exquisite^ judgment in the choice of the properest words, and the truly classical style of his writings; in which he was the first, says that author, since the age of Cicero, who revived the purity of the Latin language, and taught men to draw their knowlege from the sources of the best and most learned authors. The only works of his that are published are, 1. “De Vera | Philosophia;” 2. “De Sermone Latino et de Modis Latine loquendi,1515, Rome, fol. 1


Biog. Brit. —Saxii Onomasticon, art. Hadrian Biographic Universelle,