March 28, 1285 —April 2, 1285

On January 22, 1284 the City of Rome drove out the forces of King Charles I of Naples, which had been garrisoning the city. Charles'  "pro-Senator", Goffredo del Dragona, was imprisoned, and the Senatorship of King Charles dissolved. The brother of Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini, Giovanni Clinthii Orsini, was appointed Captain of the city and Defensor rei (publicae) (Gregorovius, 499).  Pope Martin IV, who was in Orvieto, had no choice but to accept the fact. On April 30, 1284, he wrote to the Romans from Orvieto (Gregorovius, 500 n.1; Vitale, Storia diplomatica de' senatori di Roma  I, p. 192-199; Olivieri, Il senato romano I, p. 202):

Concedimus vobis vicarium, vel vicarios et camerarium—Joannes Cinthii sicut capitaneus super grassiae facto dumtaxat. Tolerabimus—volentes—experimento probare,—an expediat vobis in posterum, quod remaneant artium capita.

The two vicarii were Annibaldo Annibaldi, son of Pietro Annibaldi, and Pandolfo Savelli, Cardinal Savelli's brother.

Riccardo Annibaldi, who had caused such trouble with the Conclave at Viterbo, was now forced to seek pardon and do penance at the home of Cardinal Matteo Orsini. A public reconciliation of the two factions took place.

King Charles I of Naples, who had lost Sicily, finally died on January 7, 1285, freeing the Papacy from a man who had been a great help and a great plague on central Italy since 1265. Pope Martin IV, suffering from a slow fever, died in Perugia on March 28 (v. kalend. Apr.) and was buried in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo (Platina, Storia 148). The continuator of Martinus Oppaviensis' Chronicon (MGH SS XXII, 482) states that Pope Martin was stricken ill on Easter Sunday, March 25, and died on Wednesday, March 28;  he provides additional details:

Et parum post videlicet die annunciationis virginis Mari(a)e, qu(a)e fuit in die resurrectionis Domini, postquam celebrasset, solitamque refectionem cum suis capellanis sumpsisset, arripuit eum infirmitas occulta, ex qua licet se graviter pati diceret, eius phisici morbum et causam ignorantes, in eo nullum mortis indicium asserebant, die Mercurii proximo sequenti circa noctis horam quasi sextam debitum solvens condicionis human(a)e, ad Dominum, ut certis opinatur indiciis, transmigravit.... et qui scripsit h(a)ec, vidit ea.

The popular story, which draws unfriendly attention to Martin IV's gluttony, says that he died of overindulgence of eels. The executor of his Will was Cardinal Giacomo Savelli (Cardella, 302).



The Electors

.At the time of Pope Martin's death, there were eighteen cardinals (Eubel Hierarchia Catholica I second edition [1913], 10 n. 11). Panvinio (pp. 183-184) provides a list of nineteen cardinals.

Cardinals attending:

  1. Latino Malabranca Orsini, OP, Suburbicarian Bishop of Ostia e Velletri (died 1294). (Nicholas III's nephew by his sister Mabilia)
  2. Bentivenga de Bentivengi, OFM, Suburbicarian Bishop of Albano (died March 25, 1289).
  3. Ordoño Álvarez, Suburbicarian Bishop of Frascati (died December 21, 1285).
  4. Girolamo Masci d' Ascoli, OFM., Suburbicarian Bishop of Palestrina (died April 4, 1292).

  5. Ancherius Pantaleoni, nephew of Pope Urban IV, Cardinal Priest (1261) of Santa Prassede   † November 1, 1286, according to his memorial inscription in Santa Prassede (P.Fedele, Archivio della Societa romanà di storia patria 27 (1904), 31).
  6. Hugh of Evesham, Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina (died 1287).
  7. Gervais de Clinchamp (Glincamp) [diocese of Mans], son of Eudes, chevalier and seigneur de Groestel. Cardinal Priest of S. Martino in Monte, formerly canon of Paris [Duchesne, Cardinaux françois, p. 303].   (died September 1287)
  8. Comes Giusianus, Conte de Casate [Mediolanensis], Cardinal Priest of SS. Marcellinus and Petrus, formerly Archdeacon of Milan, Auditor of the Rota (under Nicolaus III)    (died April 8, 1287: Rohault, Le Latran, p. 175).  He subscribes as "Comes".
  9. Gaufridus (Geoffroy) de Barro or Barbeau, of Burgundy, Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna, formerly Dean of the Church of S. Quentin en Vermandois, Dean of the Cathedral of Nôtre Dame de Paris, and Chaplain of the Bishop of Paris.   (died 1287).

  10. Giacomo Savelli, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin (since 1261) (died April 3, 1287). [This was his eighth papal election] (Elected Pope Honorius IV)
  11. Gottifridus (Goffredo da Alatri), Cardinal Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro (died 1287).
  12. Matteo Rosso Orsini, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Portico (died September 4, 1305).
  13. Giordano Orsini, Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio. (died 1287). Brother of Pope Nicholas III
  14. Giacomo Colonna, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata. (died August 14, 1318 in Avignon.)
  15. Benedetto Caetani, seniore, Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano (died October 11, 1303).

Cardinals not attending:

  1. Gerardo Bianchi, Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina.  (died March 1, 1302). He was legate in Sicily at the time of the death of King Charles I (January 7, 1285), and was appointed administrator [Regni Ballius], along with Count Robert of Artois (Arras). Fra Salimbene of Parma speaks of him sub anno 1282 ( p. 281) as Legate in Sicily at the time of the Sicilian Vespers (1282). [Cf. letter of Martin IV to the two Bajuli, dated February 16, 1285, in Baronius-Theiner 22, sub anno 1285 no. 6-8, p. 550]
  2. Bernard de Languissel, Suburbicarian Bishop of Porto  (died September 19, 1291). Legate in northern Italy.
  3. Jean Cholet, Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia  (died 1292). Legate in France.


The circumstances of this Conclave are remarkable, if not quite unique. The pope had only been dead four days when the Conclave opened on April 1 in Perugia. The novendiales were still in progress. (Compare the Election on the death of Innocent III, which produced a new pope in 48 hours, or the scandal of 1130, which produced two popes within twelve hours)   Fra Salimbene of Parma reports (Cronaca, p. 332 Bertani; Pawlicki, p. 11 n.2):

...VII. die exeunte martio, fuit Pascha, scilicet in Annuntiatione beatae Virginis, quod ante non fuerat LXXII. annis elapsis; quod infaustum aliqui esse credebant; quod etiam post X. annos adhuc expectatur fore futurum, scilicet MCCXCV. Item eodem millesimo, in festo Resurrectionis, dominus Papa Martinus IIII. sollemniter celebravit; et sequenti quarta feria infra octavam Paschae, qua die cantatus fuit introitus ad missam Venite benedicti, ultimum diem clausit. ... et immediate post octavam Paschae scilicet secunda die intrante Aprile habuit successorem, dominum Jacobum de Sabellis de civitate romana, qui erat de numero et collegio cardinalium, et primus inter alios cardinales; qui erat senex et antiquus et plenus dierum, infirmus et podagricus et curagricam habens; et dictus est Honorius quartus. Hic, postquam factus fuit Papa, statim ivit Roman, et revocavit cardinales qui per diversas provincias in legationibus erant; et tractabat cum eis de universali pace mundi. Executor relictus fuerat testamenti Papae Martini.

The new pope himself reported in his electoral manifesto, Quis loquetur [Bullarium Romanum Turin edition 4, pp. 67-70 (May 25, 1285)], that the Conclave began on April 1, with the Mass of the Holy Spirit.  According to his statement, there was no attempt at forcible enclosure, as had happened several times at Viterbo (1270, 1281).  The scrutiny began on the next day, and Giacomo Savelli, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin, was elected on the first ballot:

prima die dictyi mensis cum fratribus nostris, de quorum numero tunc eramus, libere, nulla inclusionis coactione praeambula, quam aliquando in Ecclesiae ipsius vacationibus damnabilis praesumpsit abusus, convenimus ad tractandum de substituendi electione pastoris.  Et postquam missarum solemnia ex more in honore Sancti Spiritus celebrata, tractu aliquo habito, tandem in crastinum scrutinii via electa concorditer, factoque, ac publicato scrutinio, quod nec sequens habuit, sicut nec oportuit, nec praecedens votorum fratrum eorundem directorum in nos, eo tempore Sanctae Mariae in Cosmedin diaconum cardinalem, tanta est inventa concordia, et de unanimi eorum omnium voluntate adeo concors de nobis in Summum Pontificem electio subsecuta....

The Liber Pontificalis (ed. Duchesne II, 2, p. 465, in both the recension of Bernard Gui and of the Continuator of Martin) states that the election took place on April 2, 1285.  He reigned for two years and one day.  The Chronicon of Pietro Cantinelli (p. 54) also reports the election on April 2 of Jacobus de Sabello de Roma, qui erat cardinalis.  The continuator of Martinus Oppaviensis' Chronicon (MGH SS XXII, 482) says, somewhat inaccurately, that the election took place on the first day (concordia fratrum prima die qua convenerunt); it was actually the second day of the Conclave, on the first scrutiny.



Pope Honorius IV (Giacomo Savelli) was ordained priest, consecrated bishop and crowned pope in Rome at the Vatican Basilica on April 15, 1285 (xvii. Kal. Maii), by Cardinal Goffredo d' Alatri, the Cardinal Protodeacon, according to Panvinio (p.183).  It was contrary to canon law, however, for more than one of the major orders to be given on the same day. The date, too, is quite impossible. Documents show that the new pope was still issuing documents from Perugia on April 25, and had not yet departed for Rome.  As Pawlicki points out (p. 13), according to the entries of the dates at the end of papal documents, Pope Honorius' first regnal year ran as far as May 19, 1296, and the second began on May 20, 1296.  That would place his coronation on May 20, 1295.   His electoral manifesto is dated at St. Peter's  octavo kalendas iunii  (May 25, 1285).  The Annals of Osney Abbey state that Honorius IV was crowned on Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost (Annales Monastici IV, 304):

MCCLXXXV. In septimana Paschae obiit Nicholas Papa secundus [sic! Martinus Papa quartus!]. electus est loco ipsius Jacobus de Sabella, vir sapientissimus sed aetate decrepitus. consecratus in festo Sanctae Trinitatis proximo sequenti, et dictus est Honorius IV.

Giuseppe de Novaes (p. 10), followed of course by Gaetano Moroni (Vol. 49, p. 28), says that he was ordained on May 14, consecrated on May 15, and crowned on May 20. The continuator of Martinus Oppaviensis' Chronicon (MGH SS XXII, 482) has a slightly different version of the events—though the passage is corrupt—that he was ordained on May 19 and (consecrated and) crowned on May 20:

Die [19] mensis Maii . . . in sacerdotem est per domnum Latinum Ostiensem episcopum cardinalem promotus apud S. Petrum et ibidem die crastina dominica coronatus per eum, in altari S. Petri primitus divino misse officio celebrato.


Pope Honorius' mother was Vana (or Johanna) Aldobrandesca (Moroni, 49, 28). His father Lucas Savelli had been Senator of Rome, dying in 1266 during his term of office, as his tombstone in Santa Maria in Aracoeli attests (Forcella, Inscrizioni delle chiese I, p, 117 no. 410; cf. Pawlicki 4 n. 2):

Hic jacet d(omi)n(u)s Lucas de Sabello, pat(er) d(omi)ni P(a)p(a)e Honorii d(omi)ni Joh(ann)is et d(omi)ni Pandulfi, qui obiit dum esset Senator urbis A(nno) D(o)m(in)i MCCLXVI.

As Cardinal Savelli, Honorius had been appointed by Pope Urban IV as papal Prefect in Tuscany and as Captain of the Papal Army against Manfred (Martène, Thesaurus Novus Anecdotum II [Paris 1717], p. 84):

Sumus etiam in tractatu cum fratribus nostris, praeficiendi dilectum filium J. S. Mariae in Cosmedin diaconum cardinalem patrimonio B. Petri in Tuscia et exercitibus ecclesiae in capitaneum et rectorem.

Honorius' brother Pandolf, a man reputed for justice and severity, was Senator of Rome at the time of his election. He had taken major steps to get local brigandage under control and was exceedingly popular with the people of Rome. Honorius had been one of the six cardinals who chose the pope by compromise in 1271. The new pope took up residence on the Aventine near Santa Sabina, where he built a new palace in the family compound, from which his bulls are dated. The sources agree that he suffered from podaegra or gutta (gout), as did his brother, but in both cases the condition seems so severe that Pandolf could not get around except on crutches, and Honorius was unable to walk or even move his fingers together, except for his thumb. He had to sit while celebrating Mass, and had a special chair constructed so that, when it was time to elevate the Host, he could be turned around to the people without moving his body. The symptoms seem to be more those of severe arthritis. Nonetheless, both he and his brother were clear in mind and firm in purpose. Honorius died on April 3, 1287, Holy Thursday, apud Sanctam Sabinam, after two years and one day of rule.


Honorius IV named only one cardinal, on December 22, 1285:  Giovanni Boccamati (Boccamazza),  who became Suburbicarian Bishop of Tusculum.  He was a Roman and an adfinis of the pope. He had been made Archbishop of Monreale by Pope Nicholas III in 1278. He died in 1309. (Panvinio, 184; Eubel I, pp. 11, 38,and 348; Cardella II, 27-28; The continuator of Martinus Oppaviensis' Chronicon (MGH SS XXII), 482).



Chronicon Placentinum et Chronicon de rebus in Italia gestis (edited by J.L.A. Huillard-Bréholles (Paris: Plon 1856). Giovanni Villani, Cronica VII. 54-58.

Bartolomeo Platina, Storia delle vite de' pontefice edizione novissima Tomo Terzo (Venezia: Ferrarin 1763) 148-153. Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa Tomo primo Parte secondo (Roma: Pagliarini 1792).  Ludovico Antonio Muratori, Annali d' Italia Volume 19 (Firenze 1827), 75-78. Giuseppe de Novaes, Elementi per la storia de' Sommi Pontefici terza edizione Volume IV (Roma 1821) 3-13.   G. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Volume 49 (Venezia 1848) 28-29. Paul Durrieu, Étude sur les registres angevines du Roi Charles Ier Tome second (Paris 1888), 179-180.  Bernhard Pawlicki, Papst Honorius IV. Eine Monographie (Münster 1896). Augustin Demski, Papst Nikolaus III, Eine Monographie (Münster 1903). F. Gregorovius, History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Volume V.2 second edition, revised (London: George Bell, 1906) 500-.

Henry Richards Luard (editor), Annales Monastici. Vol. IV. Annales Monasterii de Oseneia (A. D. 1016–1347)... (London Longmans, 1869).

Martinus Oppaviensis (edited by L. Weiland): Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptorum Tomus XXII (Hannover 1872), 377-482.

June 23, 2014 1:20 PM

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