SEDE VACANTE 1287-1288

April 3, 1287 —February 22, 1288



Death of Honorius IV

The sources agree that Honorius IV (Giacomo Savelli) 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, after twenty-three months of rule. He was buried on Holy Saturday in St. Peter's Basilica, next to Nicholas III (Raynaldus, ad annum 1287 ix, citing a ms. source).

Of him Giovanni Villani (Book VII, cap. cxii; coll. 317-318) says:

Nelli anni di Christo 1287, a dì 3 d'Aprilo morì Papa Honorio là fu sepelito a grande honore. Questo Papa sostenne anzi parte Ghibellina che Guelfa, & poco adjuto o niente diede all' herede del Re Carlo alla guerra di Cilicia, onde molto montò lo stato e potere del Re Giacomo d' Araona, che se ne havea fatto coronare Re, & tutta parte Ghibellina d' Italia n'essaltò....

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 was 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 Electors

.At the time of Pope Honorius' death, there were fifteen or sixteen cardinals (Eubel Hierarchia Catholica I second edition [1913], 10 n. 11). Panvinio (pp. 183-184). In accordance with the Constitution of Gregory X, the Cardinals assembled at the deceased Pope's residence near Santa Sabina. An alternate version, which can be traced back to Abbot Trithemius in his Chronica (Hirslaugiensis), has it that the election took place in Perugia (Antonius Felix Mattheus in his edition of Hieronymus Rubeus' Life of Nicholas IV, p. 17 n.1). That locality cannot be made to agree with the story that the Cardinals had personally pressured Cardinal Girolamo Masci to accept the Papacy in part because Girolamo had stayed in Rome while everyone else had fled.

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. Girolamo Masci d' Ascoli, OFM., Suburbicarian Bishop of Palestrina (died April 4, 1292). Former Cardinal Priest of S. Pudenziana.
  4. Bernard de Languissel, Suburbicarian Bishop of Porto. Legate in northern Italy.  He was made protector of the Heremiti S. Augustini on June 30, 1288 [Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 170, p. 27]    (died September 19, 1291)
  5. Gerardo Bianchi, Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina. (died March 1, 1302). Legate and Regent in Sicily.
  6. Giovanni Boccamati (Boccamazza), Suburbicarian Bishop of Tusculum (Frascati). Former Legate in France, 1287? [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 582, p. 116]

  7. Hugh of Evesham, Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina (died 1287).
  8. Gervais de Clinchamp (Glincamp), Cardinal Priest of S. Martini (died September 1287)
  9. ? Comes [Conte Casate], Cardinal Priest of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro (dead by April 8, 1287: Rohault, Le Latran, p. 175).
  10. Geoffroy de Bar, Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna (died 1287).

  11. 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. Archpriest of the Liberian Basilica. (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. Jean Cholet, Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia (died 1292). Legate in France. [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV I p. 3-4 no. 6 (March 5, 1288); no. 315 p. 59 (September 20, 1288)]

 


Conclave

The circumstances under which the Conclave was held are mentioned by the newly elected Nicholas IV himself in his electoral manifesto, Judicia Dei abyssus [Raynaldus, sub anno 1288, v; p. 27; Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV I p. 1-3 no. 1 (February 23, 1288)]:

Felicis siquidem recordationis Honorio Papa IV., praedecessore nostro, ut Domino placuit, ab hac luce subtracto, ejusque corpore cum exequiarum solmnitate debita tumuilo, nos tunc, ut praetangitur, episcopus Penestrinus cum fratribus nostris aliis in curia Romana praesentibus, in papatio S. Sabina de Urbe, in quo praedecessor ipse resederat, concordi voluntate convenimus, substitutioni Romani Pontificis soliciti vacaturi. Circa quod licet impedimenta varia, et praecipue diversarum et prolixarum infirmitatum angustia, quae quamplures de ipsorum fratrum collegio vexavere diutius, et —proh dolor !— nonnullos etiam subtraxerunt, aliquamdiu conatibus nostris obstiterint; demum tamen in I. Dominica praesentis quadragesima, nobis et reliquis fratribus tempore ipso praesentibus convenientibus in palatio supradicto, electa concorditer via scrutinii, et uno tantum facto publicatoque scrutinio, illo qui concordiam in sublimibus fuit facit, ut supponit devota credulitas assistente tanta finaliter in votis eorundem fratrum est inventa concordia, quod de ipsorum omnium unanimi voluntate ad conscendendam Petri cathedram secuta est de humilitate nostra concors electio et communis; fratribus ipsis instantibus importune, ut electioni consentiremus eidem.

Deaths and Withdrawals

The Chronicon of Pietro Cantinelli (p. 57 Torraca) records the deaths of a number of cardinals in the year 1287:

Eodem anno infrascripti cardinales Rom(a)e de hac vita decesserunt: dominus Guittofredus de Alatro, dominus Ugo de Anglia, dominus Gervasius de Parixio, dominus Iordanus de Ursinis, dominus decanus parixiensis, dominus Ancerius de Francia...Eodem anno factus est papa dominus Ieronimus de Asculi cardinalis romanus, qui erat de ordine fratrum Minorum beati Francisci, et fuis [sic!] electus die XXII februarii, et vocatus fuit dominuis Nicholaus papa quartus ... Eodem anno dominus Comes cardinalis obiit in civitate romana.

The decanus Parisiensis was Geoffrey de Bar, Cardinal Priest of Santa Susanna, whose titulus was given in commendam to Cardinal Benedetto Caetani on March 8, 1288 (Eubel I, p. 10 and p. 48 n.1).   Ancher Pantaleon, Cardinal Priest of Santa Prassede, predeceased Pope Honorius, dying on November 1, 1286.  Comes Casate, Cardinal Priest of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro was dead by April 8, 1287, as his funerary inscription in the Lateran Basilica indicates (Rohault, Le Latran, p. 175, Planche XXVIII; in translation only):

En l' an du Seigneur 1287 au 8e jour d'avril, le seigneur Jacques des Colonna, cardinal de Sainte-Marie in via lata, pour l' âme du seigneur Comte cardinal fit faire cette chapelle avec l'autel et tout le reste.

Natif de Milan, le Comte repose dans cette tombe, prêtre et cardinal. Qu'elle vienne à toi la splendeur d' en haut. Cher aux Lombards, issu de leur propre nation, illustre dans ta patrie, né d'un noble sang, tu portais avec sagesse et courage l'étendard de la Justice. Large envers les pauvres, lent pour tout ce qui est mauvais, grand dans le conseil, doux, dévoué comme l'agneau, ouvrant rarement la main aux présents, tu mourus juste; doué de tant de vertus pourquoi as-tu si vite été ravi par la mort? cette mort que pleurent Milan et la Curie romaine. Ah! pour que ces pleurs ne soient pas vaines, je le demande, que tous prient pour toi!

The original (metrical) Latin text gives a somewhat different impression from Rohault's translation (Galletti III, p. cccclxiii, no. 20):


latere dextero: ad altare Deiparae dicatum: latere sinistro:
+ ANNO
DOMINI
MCCLXXX
VII
MENSE
APRIL'
DIE
VIII
+ DE • MEDIOLANO • COMES • HOC • REQVIESCIT • IN • ANTRO
PRESBITER • ET • CARDO • VENIAT • TIBI • SPLENDOR • AB • ALTO
LOMBARDIS • CARVS • IPSORVM • GENERE • CREATVS
DE • PATRIA • CLARVS • DE • MAGNO • SANGVINE • NATVS
TV • SAPIENS • PECTVS • IVRIS • VEXILLA • FEREBAS
SIMPLEX • ET • RECTVS • FAVSTV (sic) • POMPAQ • CAREBAS
PAVPERIBVS • LARGVS • AD • PRAVA • PER • OMNIA • TARDVS
CONSILIO • MAGNVS • MITES • DEVOTVS • ET • AGNVS
MVNERIS • ACCEPTOR • RARVS • TV • IVSTVS • OBIISTI
NEMINIS • ILLECTOR • CVR • SIC • CITO • MORTE • RVISTI
HINC • MEDIOLANVM • ROMANA • Q • CVRIA • PLORET
NE • FLEAT • IN • VANVM • PRO • TE • ROGO • QVILIBET • ORET
+ DOMINVS
IACOBVS • DE
COLVMPNA
CARD • SCE • M •
IN • VIALATA
PRO • ANIMA
DNI • COMITIS
CARD' • FECIT
FIERI • HANC
CAPELLAM
CVM • ALTARI
ET • OMNIBVS

 

Many have taken April 8 to be the day of his death. But the inscription, in which the date formula is on the side of the altar and separate from the Elogium, would appear to be parallel with the other side of the altar, which is a dedicatory statement. The date formula, then, seems to indicate that April 8 is the date of the dedication of a memorial chapel, probably also that of the funeral. Comes de Casate died before that date, perhaps only a day or two before. April 8 is a terminus ante quem. The Annales Veronenses (p. 433), however, written by the brother of Matthew de Romano, do state that Comes de Casate died in April: item eodem anno [M.CC.LXXXVIII] de mense aprilis mortuus est dominus Comes de Mediolano Cardinalis. It is a well-known fact that cardinals and popes prepared their tombs well in advance of need, and the chapel may have stood ready to receive the body of Cardinal Casate..

Ptolemy (Tolomeo) of Lucca (Historia Ecclesiastica Book 24, chapter 9) records that the Cardinals were enclosed in the Pope's palace at Santa Sabina for a long time without being able to agree on a pope. During this time a plague broke out, during which six of the cardinals died, and caused the rest to return to their own houses. The only cardinal to remain in Conclave was Cardinal Girolamo Masci d' Ascoli, OFM, the Bishop of Palestrina, quia in profunda aestate semper habuit prunas copiosas in aula sua, et in camera, et in aliis officinis. (see: Muratori, Annali d' Italia 19, 96.) The text of Ptolemy is quoted by Piatti (p. 323, with errors):

Li Cardinali si rinchiusero nel palazzo di Santa Sabina; ma perchè questo luogo era di poca salute nell'Estate, molti di essi s'infermarono, e ne morirono sei o sette, tra quali Giordano Orsini, il Conte di Milano, Ugone d' Inghilterra, Gervasio d' Angers, Decano di Pisa, ed il Signore Antonio. Il perchè tutti partirono alle proprie abitazioni tornando.

Piatti invents a "Signore Antonio" in his Italian translation because he does not know of Cardinal Ancher (Pantaleone). In Tolomeo's Latin (which still does not know the name Ancherus) the text reads:

multi Cardinales infirmati sunt ibidem, et mortui circa sex, vel septem, inter quos fuit Dominus Jordanus de Ursinis, Dominus Comes de Mediolano, Dominus Ugo Anglicus, Dominus Gervasius Andegavensis, et Decanus Pisanus, et Dominus Anteis.

Tolomeo is certainly exaggerating when he attributes the break-up of the Conclave to the deaths of six or seven Cardinals. Two in his list were certainly dead before the Conclave began, let alone "l' Estate", and by adding a seventh he is going beyond the facts. Nor did they die within a short time of each other. Giovanni Villani's Chronica (Book VII, cap. cxviii; coll. 317-318), makes a basic statement about the election. Pope Nicholas IV was elected on the Feast of St. Peter's Chair, February 22::

Nelli anni di Christo 1287 [1288 did not begin until March 25], il dì della Cattedra Santi Petri, fu eletto Papa Niccola Quarto d'Ascoli della Marca. Questi havea nome Girolamo, & fu Frate Minore, & per sua bontà e scienza fu fatto Ministro generale de l'Ordine, anzi che fosse ad altra dignità; poi fu Cardinale, poi Papa & sedette quattro anni, & un mese, & VIII dì; e dopo la sua morte vaco la Chiesa II anni, & III mesi.

Platina (Historia , p. 228) discusses the Conclave briefly at the end of the life of Honorius IV, getting Cardinal Ancherus' name almost correctly, and noting that the Conclave was held at the Pope's residence near Santa Sabina:

Adeo vero aulicos amavit [Honorius], ut quotannis, aestate praesertim, Tibur proficisceretur vitandi aestus urbani caussa, unde multae aegritudines oriuntur. Mortuo autem Honorio, decem mensibus sedes tum vacat. Nam cum apud sanctam Sabinam conclave haberetur, multi Cardinales repentina aegritudine fiunt correpti, quorum de numero moritur Iordanes Ursinus Comes Mediolanensis, Hugo Anglicus, Gervasius Andegavensis, Decanus Parisiensis et Antherus vir insignis. Hanc ob rem soluto conclavi, in aliud tempus magis salubre rem ipsam rejiciunt, maxime vero cum terraemotus ipsi, qui tum permagni fuere, religionem quandam iniecerint quo minus tum quidam id fieret.

How remarkable that Gregory X's regulations for the Conclave, only fifteen years old, were being abrogated again.

One event is known from the time before the Cardinals dispersed in fear of the plague. Raynaldus reports (sub anno 1287, x; from a ms. source) that the people of Perugia, who had made an attack on a castle in the Diocese of Nuceria, in disobedience of the instructions of the Praeses of the duchy of Spoleto and in violation of the rights of the Roman Church, were ordered by the Sacred College of Cardinals to desist from their operations::

Vacante Sede, Perusini arcem prope Gualdum Nucerinae diocesis, contemptis censuris quas ducatus Spoletani praeses incusserat, excitarunt; quo facto, cum non parum Romanae ecclesiae jura invaderent, Sacer Cardinalium Senatus coeptis eos desistere jussit.

Election of Cardinal Girolamo

Girolamo Masci d' Ascoli, OFM., Suburbicarian Bishop of Palestrina, was elected on February 22, 1288. It was the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. He took the name Nicholas IV in memory of Nicholas III. He was the first Franciscan friar to become Pope.

Cardinal Girolamo had refused election to the Papal Throne before he was finally prevailed upon to accept. This story, according to Piatti (p. 324) can be found in the Annali of a 14th century Augustinian canon named Enrico (Heinrich) of Rebdorf (Chevalier, Repertoire des sources historiques du Moyen Age I, 2097). Enrico wrote (Freher I, 605):

Nicolaus IV. de ordine fratrum Minorum, Doctor Theologiae, anno Domini MCCLXXXVI electus sedit annis V. & bis electus cum lacrymis resignavit, tertio compulsus ab omnibus Cardinalibus acquievit.

This is not quite in accord with Pope Nicholas' own first encyclical, written on February 23 from the Lateran, announcing his election. Nicholas pleaded his unworthiness at great length, as well as the aweful difficulty of the position of Supreme Pontiff, and "eorumdem fratrum importunitate diversarum excusationum obicem opponendo qua potuimus reluctatione restitimus, aperte negantes electioni praemissae praestare consensum, et tam ipsi quam iuri nobis ea quaesito renuintiantes expresse (Raynaldus, sub anno 1288, vii; p. 28).

Nonetheless the Cardinals persisted:

Verum fratres iidem nostrae resistentiae instantius obviantes, electione nihilominus repetita concordi, ut ei sonsentiremus, et institere ferventius, et in virtute obedientiae injuxerunt.

(in Piatti's translation, 324-325):

Alla importunita dei Fratelli che non esaudirono le nostre scuse, abbiamo fatto resistenza con quanto vigore potemmo, costantemente negando di prestare il nostro assenso alla fatta elezione, e tanto ad essi quanto al diritto prestatoci colla elezione abbiamo solennemente rinunziato. Ma eglino con maggior vigore alla nostra resistenza opponendosi con replicata elezione noi promossero e ci costrinsero di prestare l'assenso, ed in virtu di santa obbedienza cel comandarona ....

This appears to state that there were two votes, not three, as Heinrich of Rebdorf would have it. The first was on February 15, the second Sunday in Lent. That vote received a solemn renunciation. It took an additional week to convince Cardinal Girolamo of the wisdom of his election (Raynaldus, viii), which was then taken to an additional scrutiny:

ne sub obedientia nutriti diutius eam contemnere pertinaciter et mundi graviter guerrarum multiplicatione divulsi, Terraeque Sanctae quasi omni auxilio destitutae pericula differendo provisionem Ecclesiae negligere censeremur; tandem acquievimus eorundem fratrum instantiae, ipsorum urgente praecepto; collaque debilia jugo submisimus apostolicae servitutis, praestantes electioni, ut praemittitur, iteratae consensum, anxiato et humiliato spiritu supplicando, ut ille qui nos jugem idem subire concessit, sic ad ipsum portandum debilitatem nostram robore fulciat, etc.

This second election, the one of February 22, he finally agreed to.

Coronation

Nicholas IV, aged 65, was crowned on February 24, 1288 (a.d. vi Kal. Mar.), two days (biduo post) after his election, at St. Peter's, by Goffredo da Alatri, Cardinal Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro, the Cardinal Protodeacon (Panvinio, 185; Antonius Felix Mattheus, p. 54 n. 1; Novaes, 14-15). On the same day, VII. Kalend. Martii, Nicholas wrote from the Lateran to the King of England, Edward I, Iudicia Dei abyssus (Schedario Baumgarten II, 4205, from the Public Records Office, London; full text in Raynaldus sub anno 1288, iii ff.).

Eubel (Hierarchia Catholica I, 11), however, accepts an alternate tradition that he was elected on February 15 and crowned on February 22. It appears, to take just one example in the continuation of Matthew Paris' chronicle by Matthew of Westminster called the Flores Historiarum (Luard p. 68):

Anno gratiae MCCLXXXVIIIo, Quintodecimo die mensis Februarii frater Jeronimus de ordine fratrum Minorum, sed presbiter cardinalis, in summum pontificem consecratur, et Nicholas Papa quartus vocatur. Hic peritus in Graeca lingua partier fuerat et Latina. Graecorum ductor et interpres extitit in ultimum consilium Lugdunense.

This opinion is fully treated by Antonius Felix Mattheus in his edition of Hieronymus Rubeus' Life of Nicholas IV (pp. 15-20). It derives from Nicholas' own inaugural encyclical letter, where he states that he was elected unanimously by scrutiny of the Cardinals on the Second Sunday of Quadragesima (February 15). But that was the first election, which he refused. The second election, which he accepted, took place on February 22. Gregorovius (p. 508, citing no sources) is made to say in English translation that "He was elected on the return of the cardinals to the Aventine in the winter, but was not consecrated until February 22, 1288." This is a mistranslation of the German (p. 485): "Als die Cardinäle im Winter auf den Aventin zurückgekehrt waren, wählten sie ihn, doch erst am 22.Februar 1288 zum Papst." Gregorius, in fact, endorses the date of February 22 for the election of Nicholas IV. See also J. D. Mansi's note in Raynaldi (p. 26).

One of Nicholas IV's most important acts, as far as the College of Cardinals was concerned, was the bull  Caelestis Altitudo   (July 18, 1289), in which he agreed to split papal income into two parts, assigning the other part to the College of Cardinals, to be shared equally.  This finally put the Camera Cardinalium on a regular financial footing.

 


 

Bibliography

Ernest Langlois (editor), Les registres de Nicolas IV Tome Premier (Paris: Albert Fontemoing 1905) [BEFAR, 2 série, v].

Francesco Torraca (editor), Petri Cantinelli Chronicon (Città di Castello 1902) [Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, XXVIII pars II]. 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" Giovanni Villani, Ioannis Villani Florentini Historia Universalis (ed. Giovanni Battista Recanati (Milan 1728) [Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, Tomus Decimustertius]. Enrico (Hainricus Rebdorfius): Marquardi Freheri Rerum Germanicarum Scriptores editio tertia (curante Burcardo Gotthelffio Struvio) Tomus Primus (Argentorati: sumptibus Ioannis Reinholdi Dulsseckerii 1717), pp. 598-644.

Odoricus Raynaldus [Rainaldi], Annales Ecclesiastici ab anno MCXCVIII. ubi desint Cardinalis Baronius, auctore Odorico Raynaldi. Accedunt in hac Editione notae chronologicae, criticae, historicae... auctore Joanne Dominico Mansi Lucensi   Tomus Quartus [Volume XXIII] (Lucca: Leonardo Venturini 1749), sub anno 1287 no. ix (p. 21); sub anno 1288 no. i (p. 26).

Bartolomeo Platina, Historia B. Platinae de vitis pontificum Romanorum ...cui etiam nunc accessit supplementum... per Onuphrium [Panvinium]... et deinde per Antonium Cicarellam (Cologne: Cholini 1626). Bartolomeo Platina, Storia delle vite de' pontefice edizione novissima Tomo Terzo (Venezia: Ferrarin 1763) 148-153. Antonius Felix Matthaeus, Nicolai IV. Pont. Max. Vita, ex codicibus Vaticanis cum observationibus et dissertationibus [per Hieronymum Rubeum composita] (Pisis: Augustinus Pizzoro, 1766). Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa Tomo primo Parte secondo (Roma: Pagliarini 1792). Giuseppe Piatti, Storia critico-cronologica de' Romani Pontefici E de' Generali e Provinciali Concilj Tomo settimo (Poli 1767).  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) 11-15.   G. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Volume 48 (Venezia 1848) 10-11.

Bernhard Pawlicki, Papst Honorius IV. Eine Monographie (Münster 1896). Otto Schiff, Studien zur Geschichte Papst Nikolaus' IV. (Berlin 1897). 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) 507-510.

Henry Richards Luard (editor), Annales Monastici. Vol. IV. Annales Monasterii de Oseneia (A. D. 1016–1347)... (London Longmans, 1869). Henry Richards Luard (editor), Flores Historiarum Vol. III. A.D. 1265 to A. D. 1326 (London: HM Stationery Office/Eyre & Spottswoodie 1890).

G. Rohault de Fleury, Le Latranau Moyen Age (Paris: Morel 1877). Pietro Luigi Galletti, Inscriptiones Romanae Infimae Aevi Romae Exstantes Tomus Tertius (Romae: Typis Generosi Salomonj Bibliopolae, MDCCLX).

 

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