Nicholas IV died in Rome on Holy Saturday, April 4, 1292, in the Patriarchal residence at the Liberian Basilica (Santa Maria Maggiore) (Raynaldus, sub anno 1292, xvii). He was interred in Santa Maria Maggiore. Twelve cardinals attended the funeral, six Romans, four Italians, two French (Raynaldus, sub anno 1292, xviii; cf. Muratori, p. 615-616 and 621). Cardinal Latino Orsini presided. The poem of Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi, grand-nephew of Pope Nicholas III and Subdeacon of the Holy Roman Church in the reign of Nicholas IV (Muratori, 615; Cardella, II 52), on the subject of Pope Celestine V, (Muratori, p. 620, lines 12-23) presents the picture:
Concerning Nicholas IV the chronicler Giovanni Villani writes (Book VII, chapter 150; col. 341): Questi fu buono huomo, et di santa vita, et fu dell' Ordine de' Frati Minori, ma molto favoreggiò i Ghibbelini. The papal chair was vacant for two years, three months and two days (Panvinio, Epitome 188).
.At the time of Pope Nicholas' death, there were twelve living cardinals. The number is incontestable. It comes from the Subdeacon of the Holy Roman Church, Giacopo Caetani Stefaneschi, who was present at the events (Muratori RIS, 615). A complete list is also contained in the Electoral Announcement made by the Cardinals on July 5 (Raynaldus, sub anno 1294, vi; Acta Sanctorum Maii Vol. 4, 426 C-E). Eubel, Hierarchia catholica I, p. 11, n. 10, lists eleven cardinals, omitting Jean Cholet, who died during the Sede Vacante.
A subscription list of February 29, 1292, gives a list of eleven Cardinals who were in Rome at S. Maria Maggiore thirty-five days before Nicholas IV died [Registres de Nicolaus IV III, 6862]; only Benedetto Caetani, tituli S. Silvestri et Martini, is absent:
All twelve are mentioned, however, in a subscription list of February 5, 1292 [Registres de Nicolaus IV III, 6542]
Bernard Guidonis states that Nicholas IV created two cardinals in his first year: Hugo de Bilonno, OP [Hughes de Billon], Cardinal Priest, and Mattheus de Acqua Sparta, Minister General of the Franciscans, who was named Bishop of Porto. The creation took place on the Vigil of Pentecost (May 16, 1288). The statement is true, but hardly complete. The anonymous Milanese manuscript life of Nicholas IV, printed by Muratori (RIS p. 613 n. 1), lists: Neapolionem [Orsini], Petrum de Columna [Colonna],Generalem Minorum Fratrem Mattheum de Acqua Sparta, Fratrem Hugonem Magistrum in Theologia Ordinis Praedicatorum. The name of Petrus Peregrossus of Milan is omitted. Nicholas had also created Bernardus Calliensis as Bishop of Palestrina, but he had died in 1291 [Eubel I second edition, p. 11; Cardella II, 30-31]. Lorenzo Cardella (Volume II, pp. 39-40) lists three names of no authenticity whatever: Teobaldo Stampense, Benizio de' Nardi, and Pietro Barelio. These and others are named by Alfonso Chacon [Ciacconius], OP, who is of doubtful authority and often demonstrably wrong in naming many more cardinals than ever were; one of these phantom cardinals was already named by Panvinio.
Panvinio states that Nichols IV had created seven cardinals, among them the phantom cardinal Theobaldus Anglus, Cardinal Priest of Santa Sabina, a title already being held by Hughes de Billon; and also Simon the Cluniac monk, who was actually promoted by Celestine V; Panvinio includes Matteo Rosso Orsini as a promotion to Bishop of Sabina; but he does not include Bernardus Calliensis, Bishop of Palestrina, at all. Panvinio also gives a list of cardinals who participated in the election of Celestine V, to the number of fourteen (Epitome, 188-189). But his list needs correction. He gives the name of Bentivenga de Bentivengis, Cardinal Bishop of Albano and Prior Episcoporum, who had already died in 1289. He lists Hugh of Evesham, Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina, who had died in 1287. He names Geoffroy de Bar, Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna, who had likewise died in 1287. He lists a certain Simon (the Cluniac monk who was actually made a cardinal by Celestine V in 1294), whom he makes Cardinal Priest of S. Balbina. He makes Matteo Rosso Orsini the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina, a post he never held and which was held in 1292 by Cardinal Bianchi; there was a Matthew who was a Suburbicarian Bishop, but that was Matthew of Acquasparta. Altogether an unsatisfactory performance for Panvinio.
The Conclave ought to have begun by mid-April at the latest. There were two parties among the Cardinals, one led by Matteo Rosso Orsini, the other by Giacopo Colonna. Giovanni Villani writes (Book VII, chapter 150; col. 341): vaco la Chiesa per discordia de' Cardinali 18 mesi (sic), che l'una parte voleva Papa a petitione del Re Carlo , onde era capo Messer Matteo Rosso delli Orsini; della contraria parte era capo Messer Jacopo de' Colonnesi. As Cardinal Stefaneschi puts it (line 200 ff., Muratori RIS, p. 622):
Once again, the Cardinals chose to ignore the explicit instructions in the Conclave Constitution of Gregory X. They could not be brought to agree on the place in which they would hold the Conclave. Cardinal Latino Orsini tried his best to bring a conclave together, first at Santa Maria Maggiore, then at Nicholas' Palace at Santa Sabina, then at Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Each effort failed. Rome was plunged into civil war between the Orsini and the Colonna. There was a contested election for Senator of Rome. Though the Roman cardinals remained in the city, therefore, they were split in their loyalties and unwilling to entrust their safety to each other. Other cardinals dispersed instead of assembling. Benedetto Caetani, claiming a long-standing illness, returned to Agnani, his home town. Hugues de Billon and three other cardinals retired to Reate. On August 2, Cardinal Cholet died, leaving only eleven electors. Only in September, 1292, after the summer heat had dissipated, Caetani, Matthew of Acquasparta, and Bianchi returned to the city. But still there was no conclave. In 1293, anarchy continued in Rome. Senators (Agapitus Colonna and Ursus Orsini) were elected around Easter, obviously an attempt to end the bloodshed by appointing one senator from each faction; but they died in office. Cardinals Hughes and Matthew returned to Reate . Caetani went off by himself to Viterbo. Only three of the Roman cardinals ultimately remained in the city (Stefaneschi, in Muratore RIS, p. 616 col. 1). There began to be a real fear of schism.
In October, 1293, two neutral senators were appointed, Peter Stefaneschi (father of the future poet and Cardinal) and Oddo of San Eustachio. The cardinals finally decided, negotiating through intermediaries, to meet at Perugia on the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist (October 23). Virtually the whole of the winter passed, however, without any progress toward finding a successor to Nicholas IV. Then Charles II of Sicily, who was returning from French territory, and his eldest son Charles Martel of Hungary, who was coming up from Apulia by way of Capua and Rome to meet his father, came to Perugia to see the Cardinals in conclave. King Charles exhorted the cardinals toward a quick election, to which Cardinal Latino Orsini made a formal response. At some point, Charles and Cardinal Benedetto Caetani exchanged words with one another (as Jordanus reports, quoted by Reynaldus sub anno 1293, ii, p. 126):
Rex Carolus de Provinica veniens per Perusiam transit: ad eligendum Pontificem Cardinales precibus inducit. Dura quoque verba cum domino Benedicto Gaitani habuit; nihil tamen profecit.
Dom Luigi Tosti (p. 59, following Platina and Cardinal Stefaneschi) spins a circumstantial and perfervid narrative:
The Cardinals had prepared extravagant honors for [King Charles]. Two of them, Napoleon Orsini and Peter Colonna, with a numerous escort went out of the city to meet him; and the others received him at the doors of the Church, and made him sit down among them in the conclave. Nay more, the first seat was given to Charles, King of Naples, placing him between the first two Cardinal Bishops; the second seat was given to his son between the first two Cardinal Deacons. An unbecoming session and full of danger. They were bound by the chains of discord, and they had desired to be bound also by those of a prince. Charles made a speech to the cardinals, exhorting them to elect a pope quickly; Cardinal Latino replied for them. All these proceedings Gaetani beheld and heard with great displeasure, and indignation. For a princely layman to be seated in the first place among the papal electors in the sacred councils was an intrusion into affairs which the Church holds most dear and which she would not allow a profane hand to touch; and the presence of a king among prelates, already weakened by dissensions, was a lessening of their liberty. Nor is it to be believed that that speech of the king advising a quick election was prompted by love for the Church and religion. He sesired to see a pope elected, yet he wanted one according to his own liking and who would further his own interests and this action was not a suppression of discord but rather a fomenter of it, and an impertinence. In fact he was sharply rebuked by Gaetani, who himself in a violent manner had tried to compel the electors to bring the affair to a termination. We know not whether it was from these rebukes, or from others which Gaetani gave him for his impertinent intrusion, arose those sharp words which passed between Gaetani and the King.
Regrettably, Tosti is applying the ideology of the 19th century to circumstances of the 13th. King Charles' own father had sat down with the cardinals during the Conclave of 1268-1270 and harangued them about electing a pope. So had the Emperor Fredrick II. Fredrick had even threatened them and destroyed their personal property in order to encourage them to do their canonical job. Tosti makes reference to Bartolomeo Platina for his facts, but all that Platina says (Latin edittion of 1568, edited by Onuphrio Panvinio, p. 243) is:
Haec autem incommoda Carolus secundus rex Neapolitanus prospiciens, e Narbonensi provincia Perusium veniens, cardinales ipsos saepius ad concordiam et electionem pontificis adhortatus est. Nec id quidem facere destitisset vir insignis, nisi acriter reprehensus a Benedicto Caetano patria Anagnino, quod instando acerbe nimium, ipsis cardinalibus vim afferre videretur; quorum suffragia libera esse deberent.
Platina's specific mention of Ptolemaeus of Lucca six sentences later makes clear what his source of information is. In the Venetian edition of 1763 (p. 161 n), the text of Platina is supplemented with a note containing material derived from Cardinal Stefaneschi and from Muratori's Annali (Vol. XIX, p. 137), who in turn derives his material from Ptolemy of Lucca and the Cronica Senense. It is mostly the poem of Cardinal Stefaneschi (I. viii, 380-424, p. 625-626) which is embellished by Dom Luigi Tosti:
Now when one considers what Stefaneschi says, it is quite unlikely that King Charles participated in a Conclave Consistory. Tosti declines to translate the line Applausere jocis, vultu, risuque, loquela, which would seem to indicate that what was going on was a reception, not a consistory. And his view that everyone was angry is contradicted by Stefaneschi's words. The anger is found in Ptolemy of Lucca. In any event, perhaps the next day, perhaps a few days after his appearance, Charles made his farewell and departed for Apulia.
The Sede Vacante had been in progress for two years and three months. The six Roman cardinals had the majority of the eleven votes, but they would never agree on one of their own number on either side as Pope. At the same time, together they could block the election of any of the non-Roman cardinals. The non-Romans, as it happened, had no cause or personality to rally around. The good will and obedience of the vassals of the Church was beginning to slip. Orvieto was meditating the acquisition of Volsnii (Bolsena). The Sacred College had to write to the magistrates of Viterbo on May 28 from Perugia not to attempt to profit from the bad example of Orvieto by assisting or encouraging them, or attempt to seize property of the Church on their own (Raynaldus, sub anno 1294, i). It was now the first week of July of 1294. A younger brother of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini had died at the end of June. During a meeting of the cardinals in Perugia, Cardinal Boccamati and Cardinal Latino Orsini made casual mention of some visions they had heard about. Cardinal Caetani asked whether they were talking about a vision received by Brother Peter, the hermit of Mount Murrone near Sulmone (who had received approval for his little religious group from Pope Gregory X at the Council of Lyons). Latino Orsini replied in the affirmative, and Brother Peter became the subject of discussion (Muratori, 139). Suddenly and unanimously, on July 5, the Cardinals elected Peter Murrone pope. Raynaldus quotes the remarkable electoral announcement (sub anno 1294, vi; Acta Sanctorum Maii Vol. 4, 426 C-E; Matthei, Summa Constitutionum Summorum Pontificium, p. 38):
Nos miseratione divina Frater Latinus Ostiensis, Gerardus Sabinensis, Joannes Tusculanus, et Frater Matthaeus Portuensis episcopi; Hugo tit. S. Sabinae, Petrus tit. S. Marci et Benedictus tit. S. Martini presbyteri; Matthaeus S. Mariae in porticu, Jacobus S. Mariae in Via Lata, Neapoleo S. Adriani et Petrus S. Eustachii, diaconi Cardinales, notum facimus quod anno Domini MCCXCIV mense julii, die lunae, v. mensis ejusdem Apostolica sede per obitum felicis recordationis Nicolai Papae IV. vacante, post diversos tractatus diversis temporibus habitos per nos super electione summi Pontificis, quibus non accessit effectus, in communi consistorio solito more convenimus, absente venerabili fratre nostro Petro tit S. Marci presbytero supradicto, qui erat in hospitio suo infirmitate seu debilitate detentus; demum inter nos ex insperato seu improviso de venerabili ac religioso patre Fratre Petro de Murrhone ordinis S. Benedicti, celebris sanctitatis viro, habita mentiones, omnes, qui tunc praesentes eramus in consistorio suprdicto, ad personam ejus intentae considerationis intuitum dirigentes, in ipsum quasi divinitus inspirati, non sine lacrymarum effusione, nullo prorsus discordante consensimus: et venerabiles fratres nostros dominos Johannem episcopum Tusculan., Hugonem et Jacobum praelibatos ad praefatum Petrum presbyterum Cardinalem transmissus ad perscrutandum super huiusmodi negotio votum suum; qui ejusdem fratris Petri audito nomine, devote consensit similiter in eundem, prout iidem Cardinales ad eum trasmissi, sicut praemittitur, in nostra praesentia retulerunt: nosque volentes efficacius procedere in hac parte, praedicto eligendi suo et omnium nostrum nomine memoratum Fratrem Petrum de Murrhone in ecclesiae Romanae Pontificem et pastorem plenam, et liberam viva voce concessimus potestatem. Qui potestate ipsa recepta, nobis praesentibus, ut praemittetur, eam illico effaciter adimplevit, eundem suo et nostro nomine ex potestate sibi tradita in Romanum Pontificem eligendo; ac nos, electionem de dicto Fratre Petro factam per eundem episcopum Ostiensem ratam habentes eundem Fratrem Petrum de Murrhone, licet absentem, devote recipimus in nostrum et ejusdem Romanae Ecclesiae episcopum et pastorem. In cujus rei testimonium et evidentiam pleniorem praesentem scripturam fieri fecimus, nostrisque muniri sigillis et subscriptionibus roborari. Actum Perusii anno, monse, et die praedictis.
The notice of his election was carried to Brother Peter by the Archbishop of Lyons (Beraldus de Got), the bishops of Orvieto (Francesco Monaldeschi) and Portuensis (Oporto? Julianus Mendez?), and two Apostolic notaries (Raynaldus, sub anno 1294, vii). They were accompanied by Cardinal Pietro Colonna, who was pressing to be the first to bring the news (Stefaneschi, II.ii.3, lines 222-228, in Muratori RIS, pp. 628-629):
Peter accepted his election, though the exact date is unknown.
The Cardinals wished the new Pope to come to Perugia so that he could be crowned by the Cardinal Protodeacon in their presence. Celestine admits in a letter to King Charles on October 22 (Raynaldus, s.a. 1294, xvii; p. 154 col. 1) that several cardinals were afraid to enter the territories of King Charles at that time because they feared being kept there and denied the free election of a future pope. Charles had had to swear an oath through his procurator at the Papal Curia that he would not impede the cardinals from coming and going freely in his domains. But Charles II, who, like his father, had long been Peter's protector, insisted that Pope Celestine be crowned in the King's domains. Celestine had reached Aquila from his hermitage, when he was joined by two cardinals who had rushed to his side on their own initiative, not at the order of the Sacred College (Stefaneschi, Book III.i.5, 135-139 Muratori, 634):
Hugues de Billon and Napoleone Orsini had come, of course, in their own interests. Hugh convinced the new Pope to appoint one of his friends to the Cardinalate (but he was disappointed when the first promotion of cardinals took place to find that his friend's name had not been included). Orsini was there, of course, because Pietro Colonna was already with the Pope and plotting the future management of the Pope with King Charles of Sicily.
On August 10 (or July 29) Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini died. He had been instrumental in managing the Conclave of 1292-1294, and bore considerable responsibility for foisting upon the Church a thoroughly incompetent octogenarian recluse as Pope. Celestine is stated to have been 86 at the time of his death (Anonymous of Paris 5375, p. 183).
Celestine V was crowned in the city of Aquila in Apulia in the Church of Santa Maria di Colle Maggio on the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29). Ptolemy of Lucca says that 200,000 persons were present.
On September 18, Celestine created twelve new cardinals, two of whom were members of his own religious community (Tommaso d' Ocre and Francesco Ronci), three of whom were Benedictines, and seven of whom were French. He also made King Charles' Chancellor, Guglielmo Longhi, a Cardinal Deacon. The College of Cardinals were greatly offended that they had not been consulted on the nominations, as tradition required. Stefaneschi accuses King Charles II of having arranged the entire promotion list to his own satisfaction, in order to control the Papacy. The charge is repeated by Giovanni Villani, who writes (Book VIII, chapter 6; col. 341): a petitione et per consiglio del Re Carlo di Puglia. Ptolemy of Lucca says (Raynaldus, sub anno 1264, xvi; p. 153);
Fecit autem post hoc ad petitionem Regis unam magnam ordinationem Cardinalium, inter quos tres fuerunt de regno, videlicet dominus Landulphus de Neapoli, unus de ordine suo, qui vocatus est dominus Thomas, tertius fuit autem archiepiscopus Beneventanus, qui ante fuerat abbas Montiscassini: fecit et cancellarium Regis dominum Guillelmum de Pergamo, fecit et dominum Joannem Monachi et archiepiscopum Lugdunensem, ac archiepiscopum Bituricensem, primus vocatus dominus Beraldus de Glocho, et factus est Albanensis, secundus factus est Penestrinus.
It was expected that the Pope would return immediately to Rome, but Charles influenced Celestine to take up residence in his kingdom. According to the Anonymous of Paris ms. 5375 (p. 172), et sic de mense octobri tota curia romana iter arripuit Neapolitanum. The Pope took up residence in Naples (November 5, 1294), where he lived in the Castel Nuovo. Made aware repeatedly of his deficiencies, he resigned the papacy on December 13, 1294.
Giovanni Villani, Ioannis Villani Florentini Historia Universalis (ed. Giovanni Battista Recanati (Milan 1728) [Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, Tomus Decimustertius]. "Annales Georgii Stellae," in Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores 17 (Milano 1730), 945-1021.
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).
Bernard Guidone, "Vita Nicolai Papae IV", in Ludovicus Antonius Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores Tomus Tertius (Milan 1723), 612-613. Bernard Guidone, "Vita Coelestini Papae V," in Muratori, 669-670. Bernard Guidone, "Vita Bonifacii VIII," in Muratori, 670-672. Bernard Guidonis [Gui], OP, of Royères in the Limousin, Bishop of Lodève (ca. 1261—1331): U. Chevalier, Repertoire I, 1919-1920. Cardinal Giacomo Caetani Stefaneschi, "Vita Coelestini Papae V Opus Metricum," in Muratori, 613-641.
Bartolomeo Platina, Historia B. Platinae de vitis pontificum Romanorum ... longe quam antea emendatior, doctissimarumque adnotationum Onuphrii Panvinii accessione nunc illustrior reddita... (Colonia: apud Maternum Cholinum MDLXVIII). 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. Pierre Dupuy, Histoire du differend d' entre le Pape Bonfiace VIII et Philippes le Bel Roy de France (Paris 1655). 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) 341-352. Ludovico Antonio Muratori, Annali d' Italia Volume 19 (Firenze 1827), 137-143.
Acta Sanctorum Maii Vol. IV, coll. 422-426. Celidonio, J., Vita di S. Pietro del Morrone Celestino V, scritta su documenti coevi (Sulmona 1896). "St. Pierre Celestin et ses premiers biographes," Analecta Bollandiana XVI (Bruxelles 1897) 365-487.
Anonymous of Paris 5375 (Auctor Coaevus): published in Analecta Bollandiana IX (1890) 147-200. [The Anonymous states (p. 186): "nos vero illa narramus miracula, quae nobis per Domnum Thomam de Roca Morici et per Fratrum Nicolaum de Marsi hoc modo reperta sunt.Quando idem pater sanctus de mundo migravit, venerabilis pater Domnus Thomas cardinalis suas nobis litteras dignatus est mittere...." ]
Johann Peter Kirsch, Die FInanzverwaltung des Kardinalkollegiums im XIII. und XIV. Jahrhundert (Münster 1895). A. Paravicini Bagliani, Cardinali di curia e "familiae" cardinalizie I (Padova: Antenore 1972).
Louis [Luigi] Tosti [OSB], History of Pope Boniface VIII and his times (tr. E. J. Donnelly) (New York 1911; original edition in Italian, 1846). Otto Schiff, Studien zur Geschichte Papst Nikolaus' IV. (Berlin 1897). Heinrich Finke, Aus den Tagen Bonifaz VIII (Münster: Aschendorff 1902). F. Gregorovius, History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Volume V.2 second edition, revised (London: George Bell, 1906), Book X, chapter 5, pp. 515-525. T.S.R. Boase, Boniface VIII (London 1933). Antonio Corvi, Il processo di Bonifazio VIII. Studio critico (Roma 1948).
A. Huyskens, "Das Kapitel von S. Peter in Rom unter dem Einflusse der Orsini (1276-1342)," Historisches Jahrbuch 27 (1906) 266-290.
© 2010 John Paul Adams, CSUN