In 1276 and 1277 there were five popes and four conclaves. Pope Innocent V (Peter of Tarantaise) died on June 22, 1276 in Rome. It is said, by the brother of Mateo de Romano, in the Annales Veronenses [in Antiche croniche Veronesi I ed. C. Cipolla (Venezia 1890) p. 418], that the pope was poisoned:
Item eodem anno  die dominico VII intrante Junio, Innocencio pape quinto datum fuit venenum, et dicebatur quod rex Karolus hoc fieri fecerat, qui erat Rome, set bene evasit de ipso tosico. item eodem anno die lune VIIII exeunte Junio [June 22] mortuus est Innocentius papa quintus.
The same report crossed the Alps, where the Annales Vindoboniensis reports, more shockingly [MGH IX, 707]: Item, Innocencius V. papa a Karulo senatore Urbis perfidissime in incisione vene toxicatur, et 7. Kalendas Iunii [obviously Iulii is meant] moritur. Tunc eligitur Adrianus V. papa. Murder most foul, not just attempted murder!
Sala Malespina, in Book VI, chapter 5, of the Rerum Sicularum Libri Sex [Stephanus Baluzius Miscellaneorum VI , pp. 343-344] reports that Innocent was devictus fatalibus viribus, 'conquered by deadly forces':
Huic (Gregorio X) autem celeri provisione substituitur in honore Dominuis frater Petrus de Burgundia Episcopus Ostiensis, qui mutato Petri vocabulo, cujus adeo plenitudinem postestatis assumpserat, Innocentius V. voluit nominari. Hic volens episcopatum suum visitationis debitae praesentia honorare sedique propriae reverenter et devote sua visitatione deferre, abjecta mora Romam itinere continuo se dirigit. Tempore autem Domini Innocentii V. Rex Carolus regnum Hierosolymitanum ex concessione cujusdam Domicellae, quae filia J. quondam Regis Hierusalem dicebatur et heres, sive pretio seve amore aut permutatione seu compensatione alicujus excambii est adeptus, Regemque se Hierusalem et Siciliae postmodum titulavit. Infra sex autem menses Dominus Innocentius apud Lateranense palatium Romae fatalibus devictus viribus, diffinitiva mortis sententia, resignato vitae chirographo, cessit mundo.
Raynaldi [Baronius-Theiner 22, p. 375 no. 25], however, prints a fatuous story that Innocent was poisoned because of his 'hundred and eight propositions', ignoring completely the other statements of the chroniclers. Thomas Aquinas, OP, had written a defense of these propositions, at the order of John of Vercellae. OP, the Master General of the Dominicans [Thomas Aquinas, Opuscules de Saint Thomas d'Aquin II (Paris 1857), ix, pp. 50-91 (tr. Bandel)]; but Aquinas had been dead for some time, and the propositions were not a new or burning issue. That they were the motivating factor for the assassination of a pope is not to be believed.
Innocent V was buried in the Lateran Basilica, on July 22 [Baronius-Theiner 22, p. 374 no. 25 (Bernardus Guidonis)], and King Charles erected a magnificent porphyry tomb in his honor (now lost). Innocent had created no new cardinals during his pontificate. Pope Gregory X's regulations for the conduct of a conclave Ubi Periculum, promulgated at the Second Council of Lyons, were still in force. The papal throne was vacant for 18 days.
Fra Salimbene of Parma, the Franciscan chronicler, and friend of Cardinal Ottobono Fieschi, reports extensively on the terrible weather that began at the same time that Pope John XXI died [Chronica p. 268-269 ed. Parma, 1857].
De collegio ergo cardinalium primus fuerat, et vocatus fuit Innocentius quintus; et obiit eodem anno, quo fuit factus Papa, scilicet nona die exeunte junio. Et eodem anno, die martis exeunte junio, in vigilia sancti Johannis Baptistae [June 23] venit diluvium magnum et maximum aquarum; ita quod Crustuneum crevit sic, quod a Rivalta citra usque ad Bagnolum terra tota erat in aqua; et plures personae necatae fuerunt, sive sufficatae fuerunt et mortuae; et blada portata fuerunt de campis de loco ad locum illa occasione; et pontes destructi qui erant super praedictis fluminibus; et domus devastatae et destructae fuerunt propter inundationes aquarum, et segetes mirabiliter submersae sunt....et nec audita, nec visa fuerunt talia diluvia et tales inundationes aquarum ab antiquis non recordabantur. Et ista diluvia feurunt per totum mundum, et duraverunt istae pluviae et praedictum diluvium per totam aestatem et per totum autumnum, ita quod bene homines non potuerunt seminare....
The reports are seconded by the Chronicon de rebus in Italia gestis [ed. Huillard de Breholles, Chronicon Placentinum et Chronicon de rebus in Italia gestis (Paris 1856) p. 354]:
Eodem tempore quasi per totum mensem julii, augusti, septembris et octubris Deus tantum pluit super terram in Ytalia quod quasi omnes segetes de plano guastate sunt et perdite et timetur multum de caristia temporis in Ytalia, et propter multas aquas quasi omnes boves et vache et oves et capre mortue sunt in Ytalia.
The horrible conditions may have extended as far south as Rome. In the next year, 1277, it was reported that in Rome, the flood was so deep that the main altar in S. Maria Rotonda (the Pantheon) was covered with four feet of water [Guillaume de Nangis, Chronicon I (Paris 1843) p. 249 ed. Geraud].
.At the time of Innocent's death, there were thirteen or fourteen cardinals.
There were, therefore, thirteen or fourteen electors present at the Conclave in Rome. Ciaconius [II, 203], however, states that twelve cardinals took part in the Conclave; Panvinio states that eleven were present These sixteenth and seventeenth century scholars, however, were working with the materials available to them at the time.
King Charles I of Sicily was in Rome from January 8, 1276 (two days before Pope Gregory X died) through July 20 (after the election of Adrian V–who was never crowned), except for a brief visit to Viterbo on February 9, and to Macerata on June 5 (Durrieu, 179-180).
The conclave began on July 2, 1276 and lasted ten days. Eight votes were needed to elect a pope. No records of what took place have survived, though one may surmise that the choice was not easy or obvious. King Charles of Sicily, the Senator of Rome, acted as governor of the Conclave. His administration was exceedingly rigorous, though unfair in his favoring the French faction [Gregorovius, 474-475]. Ottobono Fieschi, who had recently helped bring an end to the civil strife in Genoa, was elected pope on July 11. He took the name Adrian V, in honor of his Deaconry by whose name he had already been known for a quarter of a century, and ruled the Church for 39 days. According to Bernardo di Guidone, nondum promotus in sacerdotem nec coronatus nec consecratus Viterbi moritur (He was never ordained priest, consecrated bishop or crowned pope.) [Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores III, 605; Novaes, 261; Montor, 47]. The Annales of Fr. Nicolas Trevet (Trivetus), OP [ed. Thomas Hog (London 1845) p. 295] state: Mortuus vero ante tempus ordinum, sacerdotium et consecrationem pontificalem est minime assecutus; unde in bulla sua non episcopum, sed electum episcopum, se vocavit.
Apparently shortly after the election, Cardinal Hubertus d'Elci (Coccinato) died [Annales Veronenses, in Antiche croniche Veronesi I ed. C. Cipolla (Venezia 1890) p. 418].
In August Pope Adrian had travelled to Viterbo, partly because of the inhospitable climate of Rome in the summer season, and partly to attend to some differences between the Church and Emperor Rudolph of Habsburg. He took up residence in the monastery of the Franciscans there. Fra Salimbene reports a period of very bad weather, at least in Lombardy and perhaps on a wider scale. In 1275 there had been extraordinary snowfall and rain [Salimbene, Chronica, p. 264]. And in 1276, there had been so much rain and record flooding that farmers were not able to sow their fields. Et ista diluvia fuerunt per totum mundum, et duraverunt ista pluvia et praedictum diluvium per totum aestatem et per totum autumnum ita quod bene homines non potuerunt seminare... et per praedictum tempus duravit pluvia per XIII menses [Salimbene, Chronica, p. 269]
The ten days which Ottobono Fieschi and the other cardinals had spent in the July Conclave under the rules of Gregory X must have had their effect; at the request of the cardinals in Consistory, while he was still at the Lateran and before the journey to Viterbo, he suspended the operation of Gregory X's constitution on conclaves, intending to make some alterations and improvements (Montor, 46). The bull is extant in which John XXI abrogates the regulations of Gregory X and mentions their suspension by Adrian V (Tomassetti, Bullarium Romanum IV, pp. 37-38). He gives personal testimony as to what happened, since he had been present:
Licet felicis recordationis Gregorius Papa praedecessor noster, pia meditatione considerans quantum sit onusta dispendiis, plenaque periculis Ecclesiae Romanae prolixa vacatio: et vigilanter intendens, super hoc de opportuno remedio providere, quandam super electione Romani Pontificis constitutionem ediderit in concilio Lugdunensi; quia tamen experientia docuit, constitutionem eandem multa intolerabilia, nonnulla obscura et propter hoc accelerationi provisionis eiusdem Ecclesiae valde damnosa, immo etiam provisionis ipsius impedimenta et dilationem ingerentia continere; piae memoriae Adrianus Papa praedecessor noster, diligenter praemissa considerans et residens in camera sua Lateranensi, in consistorio, nobis et aliis fratribus suis, de quorum numero tunc eramus, praesentibus; bonae memoriae V[icedomino de Vicedomini] Praenestino episcopo, V. [berto D' Elci] S. Eustachii diacono, et dilectis filiis G[uillaume de Bray] tit. S. marci presbytero tunc infirmitate detentis, ac S(imon Mompitié de Brie) tituli S. Caeciliae Apostolicae Sedis legato, presbytero, cardinalibus dumtaxat exceptis, constitutionem eandem, quoad omnem ipsius effectum, quidquid posset contingere, solemniter et absolute suspendit; et quamvis post eius obitum nos et dicti fratres, qui tunc supererant, et praesentes etiam in Romana Curia, suspensionem huiusmodi non solum verbis, sed litteris etiam nostro et eorundem sigillis munitis, concorditer testaremur; nonnulli tamen corda contumacia in damnatam superbiam erigentes, adhibere fidem nostro testimonio contempserunt; alias etiam infrunitis animis suggerentes huiusmodi nostro testimonio non esse credendum; quamquam insuper aliquorum habet assertio, eundem praedecessorem Adrianum in lecto aegritudinis decumbentem suspensionem revocasse praedictam; nos tamen et iidem fratres frequentes et diligentes super hoc inter nos collationes habuimus; et non solum ab iis, qui revocationis huiusmodi conscii dicebantur, sed ab aliis eiusdem praedecessoris Adriani familiaribus et aliis etiam studuimus veritatem frequentissime indagare; nec invenimus eundem praedecessorem Adrianum ad revocationem praedictam aliquatenus verbo vel literis processisse....
On his deathbed, it was said, Adrian retracted his suspension order; and there were some who disbelieved even the sworn testimony of the Cardinals that the reported event was not true. The Cardinals wrote out a formal declaration, which they all signed and sealed. Nonetheless disbelief continued. Death finally claimed Adrian V on August 18, after a reign of thirty-nine days (Other sources claim that it was August 15, after a reign of 35 days). Pope Adrian V (Fieschi) was buried in Viterbo, in the Church of S. Francesco [Fra Salimbene, Chronica, p. 269; Cristofori, 137-185].
The Brother of Mateo de Romano: Monumenti storici publicati dalla R. Deputazione Veneta di storia patria. Serie terza. Cronache e diarii, Vol. II. Antiche Cronache Veronesi (Venezia 1890), pp. 409-469 "Annales Veronenses"
Monumenta historica ad provincias Parmensem et Placentinam pertinentia. Chronica Fr. Salimbene Parmensis, Ordinis Minorum (Parmae: Petrus Fiaccadori 1857).
Onuphrio Panvinio, Epitome Pontificum Romanorum a S. Petro usque ad Paulum IIII. Gestorum (videlicet) electionisque singulorum & Conclavium compendiaria narratio (Venice: Jacob Strada 1557). Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa Tomo primo, parte secondo (Roma: Pagliarini 1792). Ludovico Antonio Muratori, Annali d' Italia Volume 18 (Firenze 1827). Giuseppe de Novaes, Elementi per la storia de' Sommi Pontefici terza edizione Volume III (Roma 1821). G. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Volume 1 (Venezia 1840) 104. Paul Durrieu, Étude sur les registres angevines du Roi Charles Ier Tome second (Paris 1888), 179-180. Francesco Cristofori, Le tombe dei pape in Viterbo (Siena 1887). F.Gregorovius, History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Volume V.2 second edition, revised (London: George Bell, 1906) 474-475. Augustin Demski, Papst Nikolaus III, Eine Monographie (Münster 1903) 34-37. Richard Sternfeld, Der Kardinal Johann Gaetan Orsini (Papst Nikolaus III.) 1244-1277 (Berlin: E. Ebering 1905) 251-263. N. Schopp, Papst Hadrian V (Heidelberg 1916) 222.
On Bernard Ayglier, OSB, abbot of Montecassino, see: Luigi Tosti, OSB, Storia della Badia di Monte-cassino Tomo III (Napoli 1843) 6-32; 65-89.
On Cardinal Orsini: Augustin Demski, Papst Nikolaus III, Eine Monographie (Münster 1903) 34-37. Richard Sternfeld, Der Kardinal Johann Gaetan Orsini (Papst Nikolaus III.) 1244-1277 (Berlin: E. Ebering 1905).
On Vicedomino de' Vicedomini, and the myth of his one-day papacy, see: F. Cristofori, Le tombe dei pape in Viterbo (Siena 1887), 185-202. Novaes, 262. Moroni Dizionario di erudizione storico ecclesiastica 32, 279-280.
Suspension of Gregory X's constitution on papal elections: Adrian V (Ottobono Fieschi) suspended the arrangements of Pope Gregory orally in a consistory: Giordano, quoted in Reynaldi, Annales Ecclesiasticae sub anno 1276. They were officially cancelled by the Bull Licet of Pope John XXI on September 30, 1276. A. Ceccaroni Il conclave (Roma 1901) 57.
On Simon de Brie and the Council of Bourges in September, 1276, see Carl Joseph von Hefele, Conciliengeschichte nach dem Quellen bearbeitet second edition Volume VI (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder 1890) 176-177.
© 2008 John Paul Adams, CSUN