Cardella, the 18th century Italian historian, also wrote a well renowned history of some of the more reputable Cardinals of the Catholic Church (Memorie de Cardinali). His entry on Adam is fascinating in that it contains a detail of Adam's legend that is not found anywhere else! Perhaps though it is a tribute to the enduring enigma of Adam's story, that the account by Cardella contains many factual errors and creates nearly as many questions as it answers. This is also the only biographical account that mentions Adam's body being uncorrupted when the tomb was moved.
From Volume II
Adam Easton was born, according to the distinguished Auberius, Ughiello and, most reliably Godwin (in his work on the priests and cardinals of England, published in Cambridge in 1743 ) to humble parents , in the English county of Herefordshire. He was admitted to the order of St Benedict, where, having distinguished himself at the monastery of Norwich in both piety and learning, he became public professor of theology at the University of Oxford and was nominated by Richard II to be bishop of London, or according to others, of Hereford. At the request of the same monarch, he was created priest cardinal of St Cecilia.
He was suspected of conspiring against the Pope, was taken in chains to the city of Nocera in 1385, together with 5 other cardinals and cruelly tortured. The basis for this suspicion, according to Ziegelbaver in his history of the order of St Benedict, vol 1 p 186 , was certain letters written in code (a skill in which he excelled) to Charles Durazzo , king of Naples, which were intercepted by Cardinal Medesimo. The most skilled codebreakers were unable to penetrate their meaning. Some assert that he had spread rumours about the Pope's cruelty and rich living, others that he had not revealed the plot against Urban, of which he was aware . Whatever it was, one certainty is that after [despite?] various requests from the above mentioned king he was put under the supervision of an official of French nationality and stripped of his office of cardinal.
However , Boniface IX restored him to the honours he had lost and as well as holding him in high esteem, sent glowing letters in his favour to the English parliament, in which he called him a great priest, worthy of the office of officiating cardinal at the festival of the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary .This festival had been instituted by Urban to obtain through her powerful and effective intercession for the removal of the terrible schism which plagued the Church in those unhappy times. He (Adam) produced a prodigious number of works , mainly about the divine scriptures and the others included a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin, a work of such distinction that, as Ziegelbaver says in the above mentioned volume (second part, page 45) from St Girolamo to the present times, no author had rivalled it. He was able to do this with both ease and erudition because of his exceptionally high level of competence in oriental languages. Almost all the authors are agreed in writing that the subsequent Urban both understood and expressed the innocence of that Cardinal .
He did not reach old age, but ended his days gloriously in Rome in 1398 as can be read in the epitaph on his tomb in the church of St Cecilia. Whoever was writing in 1397, and amongst others Ciacciono, Padre Hippolito Marracci in his Porpora of Mary page 3 and padre Ludovico Jacob in his library of the popes, and Ziegelbaver cited above, after 20 years office as cardinal, he remained buried in the tomb to which he was entitled. Then 200 years after his death , the floor of the church was dug up on the order of Cardinal Sfondrati to create a new pavement and the confessional, as they call it of that virgin and martyr [St Cecilia], and they discovered the body of that devout cardinal, whole and uncorrupted . This is confirmed by the chronicles of the time. The body was carried , with grand ceremonial, to the left side of the aforementioned church , where one can see the ancient tomb with the statue representing the cardinal in his priestly robes, lying on the sepulchral urn . Together with a brief epitaph, there is a representation of his family crest.
It is to the great credit of this pious and learned cardinal that he is praised with sincerity by Bale and Godwin , both heterodox and implacably opposed to the religious orders. The eulogy which these two writers make of Cardinal Easton is reported in full by Ziegelbaver in part 3 of his history of the Benedictine order, page 187ff , in which he gives us an exact catalogue of the many works written by him.
Death and Legacy >