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Adrian VI tells an exciting and adventurous story that took place exactly 500 years ago in the very first years of the Reformation. Adrianus was an early European who left his mark in the Northern and Southern Netherlands, in Spain and Italy. On January 9, 1522, he was unexpectedly elected pope when he was governor of Spain. He emerged as a passionate reformer in the Vatican.
Important supporting roles in this TV film are played by Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther and Karel van Habsburg. He sent Adrianus of Utrecht to Spain in 1515 as a diplomat. There he resided as cardinal, grand inquisitor and governor of Emperor Karel V until his appointment as pope in early 1522.
The Romans have little use for this 'barbarian from the North'. Adrianus, in fact, wants to reform. He wants to end the lavish and corrupt court culture within the Vatican. His pontificate lasted barely a year and a half. On 14 September 1523, he died under suspicious circumstances. Who was this carpenter's son? How did he manage to become pope? And what did he eventually die of?