|Man Without Qualities|
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany became Pope Benedict XVI today (Tuesday). It has been widely reported in the English-speaking world that he is the first German pope since Victor II (1055-1057).
But is he?
Whether Victor II was the last German pope depends on how one interprets nationality - a curious issue since "Germany" as we know it did not exist in the middle ages. What did exist was the German Empire. The last non-Italian pope was Hadrian VI (1522-1523), born in Utrecht which was then part of the German Empire. In Germany, he is generally considered German, in Holland, Dutch. And, as Taranto has pointed out, according to this list, Joseph Ratzinger is the first pope since Adrian Dedal (Adrian VI's pre-pope name) whose surname ends with a consonant. (Interestingly, the list also reveals that Benedict XIV's (Nov 12, 1425-?) pre-pope surname, Bernard Garnier, also ended in a consonant - but he was an anti-pope!)
Hadrian VI's predecessor and namesake, Hadrian IV, was the only "English" pope. His pre-pope surname (he was origially named Nicholas Breakspear) also ended in a consonant - just for the record.
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