Once upon a time, there was a pope from The Netherlands: Adrian VI. Although at that time (the 15th century), The Netherlands as a country did not yet exist, he was born in the city of Utrecht, which is ofcourse in The Netherlands now. Adriaan Floriszoon Boeyens (1459-1523) was son of a carpenter, but was very intelligent and got the opportunity to study at the University of Leuven. Quickly he climbed the academic ladder, becoming professor at 30 years of age. His wisdom and pious lifestyle was spoken of across Europe, which caused him to become tutor of the young prince Charles, who was later to become Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
His friendship with the powerful prince would change his life forever. It led to him become Charles' ambassador in Spain, later cardinal and in 1520 even regent of Spain (as Charles V was hated in Spain, he could not rule there in person). In 1522 pope Leo X died unexpectantly. Leo X had lived a very extravagant and amoral life as pope and the cardinals decided the next pope should be a very different person and so Adriaan, who many people had never even heard about, was made pope.
Adrian had not been present at the conclave and did not hear of his election until two weeks later. He was not overly thrilled with his new position, but accepted out of his reverence to God and the Church. During his time in Rome he did not make himself popular. He abhorred the luxurious lifestyle of the cardinals and introduced stark cuts in his court circle. The cultural difference between the introverted Adriaan and the exuberant population of Rome during the Renaissance led to a chasm between him and the citizens of Rome. In september 1523, only 12 months after he had become pope, Adrian died. It is believed he was poisoned. After his death only cardinals from Italy were appointed pope until the election of John Paul II in 1978.
You might wonder why I choose this particular fact for my 100 things challenge. Well, as you might know, it was Open Doors day of historical monuments this weekend and in Utrecht, the house of Adriaan was open for the first time in many years. Adriaan had given instructions to build a house in 1517. Unfortunately, he never saw the house completed and did not live in the house himself. Though the current interiors of the house are all 19th century, it was a very interesting visit.