SEDE VACANTE 1292-1294

April 4, 1292 —July 5, 1294

Death of Nicholas IV

Nicholas IV died in Rome on Holy Saturday, April 4, 1292, in the Patriarchal residence at the Liberian Basilica (Santa Maria Maggiore) [Baronius-Raynaldus, sub anno 1292, xvii]. He was interred in Santa Maria Maggiore. Twelve cardinals attended the funeral, six Romans, four Italians, two French [Baronius-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:

Ergo ubi confectum senio mors aequa recepit
In sua jura Patrem Nicolaum, nomine quartum,
Romanae sponsum Ecclesiae; de more solutis
exequiis, dignum reputans veneranda Senatus
Congeries tractare novo de Praeside, sacras
Indixit libare preces: quas ipse Latinus,
Ordine Pontificum primus, virtute coruscans,
Et generis titulis radiatus, fudit ad aram
Virgineam, psallente choro. Mox omnibus una
Seclusis Patribus, succenso pectore fatur;
Quis poterit stellas fulgentes jungere Coelo

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).


The Electors

.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.  The Annales Jacobi Aureae [MGH SS 18, 340] also state that there were twelve cardinals.

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.

Cardinals attending:

  1. Latino Frangipani Malabranca, OP [Romanus] (son of Angelo Malabranca; Nicholas III's nephew by his sister Mabilia Orsini. She was sister of the Matteo Rosso Orsini 'di Montegiordano', who was Roman Senator in 1279), Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Velletri. He had been deputed by Nicholas to manage the elections for Senator in August, 1278 (Kaltenbrunner, Actenstücke 120; Posse 916), and then, in September, been appointed Legate for Tuscany and the Romagna [ Actenstücke 131; Posse 931; his instructions: Actenstücke 145], a post which he exercised throughout the reign. In October 1278, he arranged peace in Florence and the Romandiola [Giovanni Villani Cronica VII. lvi]. But it is reported that he fled in the wake of the earthquake of May 1, 1279, which was centered in the neighborhood of Ancona [Fra Salimbene, Chronica p. 273-274 ed. Parma 1857].  Bologna and the people of the Romandiola were frightened into making a peace, arranged by Cardinal Latino [Potthast 21588 (May 29, 1279)].  He also excommunicated the people of Parma for turning on the Dominicans in the city because they burned a woman at the stake [Fra Salimbene, Chronica p. 273-274 ed. Parma 1857].  He died on August 9, 1294 ["Note Necrologiche di S. Sabina," in P. Egidi, Necrologie e libri affini della provincia Romana (Roma 1908), p. 296; Santa Sabina was a Dominican convent].   He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294  [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].
  2. Gerardo Bianchi [of Gainaco, a village in the Diocese of Parma], Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina.  Cardinal Priest of Santi XII Apostoli, Cardinal Bishop of Sabina on March 23 or April 12, 1281. d. 1302.  Doctor in laws (Parma). Protonotary Apostolic. 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).  He was still Legate and Regent under Honorius IV [Potthast 22499 (July 15, 1286)].   Legate in Sicily-South Italy (Trani, Messana), 1288-1289 [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 406, p. 72; 617-618; 706-707 (March 19, 1281); Potthast 22630 (April 1, 1288)]   (died March 1, 1302).  He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292 [Potthast 23946 (May 28, 1294; Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].
  3. Giovanni Boccamati (Boccamazza) [Romanus], a relative of Pope Honorius IV.  Suburbicarian Bishop of Tusculum (Frascati).   Chaplain of Pope Nicholas III.  Canon of the Vatican Basilica (before 1278).  Archbishop of Monreale and Administrator of Monreale (1278-1286) [R. Pirro, Sicilia sacra  I (Panormi 1733), 463], by appointment of Nicholas III [Registres de Nicolas III, no. 120, pp. 38-39].  It was Cardinal Boccamazza who delivered the news of the Sicilian Vespers to King Charles I  [V. D'Avino, Cenni storici sulle chiese arcivescovili, vescovili e prelatizie (nullius) del Regno delle Due Sicilie (Napoli 1848), 359].  Former Legate in Germany, Bohemia and Hungary, May 31,1286, with powers to absolve former supporters of Conrad and Conradin  [Potthast 22498 ((June 14, 1286); Eubel, Hierarchia catholica I, p. 11 n.2].  On July 22, 1287, during the Sede Vacante, he was at Cambrai, where he issued orders for Dacia and Suecia [Potthast 22598].  On September 21, 1287, he was at Clairvaux [Potthast 22599], and he was still there on November 8, when he wrote to the Archbishop of Uppsala, Sweden (Suecia) [Potthast 22601],  and December 6, 1287, when he wrote to the Dominicans of Hungary and Poland [Potthast 22602].   He wrote from Novaevallis on December 14, to all of the clergy in his Legation for the benefit of the Cistercians [Potthast 22603].  He was certainly back at the Curia in Rome on April 22, 1288, two months after the election of Nicholas IV  [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 582, p. 116].  He subscribed on September 3, 1288 at Reate [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 243, p. 40].  He died on August 10, 1309.    He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Potthast 23946 (May 28, 1294); Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].  
  4. Matteo d'Acquasparta, OFM, of the Diocese of Todi, Suburbicarian Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina (died 1302). [Cardella II, 28-30] Tudertinus  He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292 [Potthast 23946 (May 28, 1294)]. He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294  [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].

  5. Hugues Aiscelin (Seguin) de Billon, OP, of the Diocese of Clermont [Auvergne], Cardinal Priest of S. Sabina  (from 1288; he died on December 28, 1297 as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, and Chamberlain of the College of Cardinals, 1295-1297) [Eubel I, second edition, p. 46; Cardella II, 31-32; Kirsch, p. 44].  Under Nicholas IV, he was an examiner of episcopal and abbatial elections, as well as an Auditor of causes [e.g. Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 3222].  He had graduated  Doctor of Theology, and was appointed Lector in Theology at the Dominican house of S. Sabina in Rome.  He was apparently also named Magister Sacri Palatii, perhaps by Martin IV [Catalano, De magistro sacri palatii apostolici, p. 62-63].   His brother, Magister Aegidius, Provost of Clairmont, was named Archbishop of Narbonne (1290-1311) on November 25, 1290 by Nicholas IV [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 3724, 4963-4969].     Arvernus    He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].  [Roy, Nouvelle histoire des cardinaux françois IV (Paris 1787), no. 12]
  6. Benedetto Caetani, of Agnani, Cardinal Priest of S. Silvestri et Martini [Eubel I second edition, p. 47] (died October 11, 1303). [Cardella II, 26]   Campanus    He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].
          In a speech given in Consistory by Caetani as pope, in 1302, he claimed to have always been a French partisan: Prima est quod nunquam volumus respondere iuxta stultitiam suam, quia in quantum in nobis est, volumus esse in pace, et in amore cum Rege [Philippo], quia semper dileximus regnum et illos de regno, et sciunt multi qui hic sunt, quod ego semper quandiu fui in Cardinalatu fui Gallicus, ita quod frequenter fuit mihi impropertatum a fratribus meis Romanis, a quodam qui est mortuus, et etiam ab alio qui est iuxta me, quod eram pro Gallicis et contra Romanos, dicebant enim quia semper alii Cardinales Campani fuerant cum Romanis.... [Pierre Dupuy, Histoire du différend d'entre le Pape Boniface VIII. et Philippes le Bel, Roy de France (Paris 1655), p. 78;  H. Finke, Aus den Tagen Bonifaz VIII, p. 12]
  7. Pietro Peregrosso, of Milan, Cardinal Priest of S. Marco, formerly Cardinal Deacon of S. Georgio in Velabro (created 1288) (died August 1, 1295). [Cardella II, 32-33] Chamberlain of the College of Cardinals (Kirsch, p. 44).    He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].

  8. Matteo Rosso Orsini, a Roman, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Porticu (died September 4, 1305).  Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica.  On April 25, 1288, he was granted the Canonicate and Prebendary of Lincoln cathedral, which had been vacated by the death of Pietro Savelli [Potthast, 22679].  On May 28, 1288, Cardinal Matthew was sent to Perugia with Cardinal Benedetto of S. Nicolai in Carcere to redress injuries done to Foligno [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 584, 591-593, p. 117-118].  Protector of the Ordo Minorum [Potthast 22703].  Protector of the Monastery of S. Clare in Assisi and the Order of Poor Clares [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 626-630, 648; Potthast  22722, 22741, 23836 (September 28, 1291)]. Master of the Hospital of S. Spiritu in Sassia in the Borgo [Potthast 23664 (May 10, 1291)       He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].
  9. Giacopo Colonna, a Roman, son of Giordano Colonna, Signore di Colonna, Monteporzio, Zagarolo, Gallicano e Palestrina; and Francesca, daughter of Paolo Conti.  Brother of Giovanni Colonna, Senatore di Roma, 1279-1280.  Uncle of Cardinal Pietro Colonna and Stefano Colonna.    Archdeacon of Pisa.  Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata (March 12, 1278; deposed May 10, 1297; restored February 2, 1306),  with S. Marcello in commendam.   Archpriest of the Liberian Basilica [Archivio della Società romana di storia patria 30 (1907), no. 79-81, p. 133-134 (July 30, 1288; August 11, 1288);  Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 632, p. 128 (August 11, 1288); Potthast 22770].   He died August 14, 1318, in Avignon.      He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].
  10. Napoleone Orsini, a Roman, Cardinal Deacon of S. Adriano (died 1342). Nephew of Pope Nicholas III. [Cardella II, 33-37]      He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].
  11. Pietro Colonna, a Roman, son of Giovanni Colonna, Signore di Colonna, Monteporzio, Zagarolo e Palestrina; Nephew of Cardinal Giacomo Colonna [Cardella II, 37-38]; brother of Agapito Colonna, Stefano Colonna, and Sciarra Colonna.   Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio (from 1288 to 1326).  He does not subscribe until September 3, 1288 [Eubel I, 11], but on August 27, 1288, he obtains an indult [Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV, I, no. 302, p. 57].  Canon of Padua.   Deposed May 10, 1297, restored February 2, 1305. Archpriest of the Liberian Basilica (S. Maria Maggiore) from February 7, 1306.    He was undoubtedly present for the Conclave of 1292-1294 [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  Potthast p. 1915 (July 5, 1294)].

Cardinals not present at the Election:

  1. Jean Cholet, Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia, died  of fever on August 2, 1293, during the Sede Vacante, when a Conclave had not yet assembled [Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1292, no. 20 p. 124]: unoque e patribus Gallo febribus deficiente [cf. A. Molinier & A. Lognon, Obituaires de la province de Sens Tome I (Diocese de Sens) (Paris 1902) p. 341, 228, under August 1; and p. 341, under July 30].  Legate in France, ending in 1290, by September 16.  See Potthast 22529 (November 10, 1286);  Potthast 22550 (January 9, 1287); Potthast 22593 (ca. March 15, 1287); Potthast 22597 (undated);  Langlois, Registres de Nicolas IV I p. 3-4 no. 6 (March 5, 1288); no. 315 p. 59 (September 20, 1288); no. 2261 (S. Maria Maggiore, October 7, 1289: J. tituli S. Cecilie presbyter cardinalis, ejusdem sedis legatus);  no. 3264 (Orvieto,  September 24, 1290: Dilecto filio J. tituli Sancte Cecilie presbyter cardinali);  no. 3273 (Orvieto, September 16, 1290); no. 3793 (Orvieto, December 13, 1290; tunc in Franciae, Aragonie, Majoricarum regnis apostolicae sedis legati);   Registres de Nicolas IV  III,  no. 4060 (Orvieto, February 2, 1291: tunc in partibus illis apostolicae sedis legato);  Registres de Nicolas IV  III,  no. 4562 (Orvieto, March 6, 1291:  tunc in illis partibus apostolicae sedis legati);  no. 4659 (Orvieto, March 20, 1291: tunc in illis partibus apostolicae sedis legatus); no. 4859 (Orvieto, April 26, 1291: tunc in Franciae, Aragonie, Majoricarum regnis apostolicae sedis legati);   no. 5114 (Orvieto, May 6, 1291: tunc in illis partibus apostolicae sedis legati); no. 5067 (Orvieto, May 22, 1291); no. 6094 (Orvieto, August 18, 1291); no. 6140 (October 3, 1291: tunc legato Franciae et nonnullis aliis partibus); no. 6941 (S. Maria Maggiore,  March 23, 1292) ]


Starting a Conclave

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):

Consiliis aderant multi; vox prima loquendi
Est data Levitae, sacro de fonte Matheus
Cui nomen, Rubeusque color cognomen avitum
Quod sibi dant homines, genuit quem nobilis Ursae
Progenies; Romana Domus, veterataque magnis
Facibus in Clero, pompasque experta Senatus
Bellorumque, manu grandi stipata parentum;
Cardineos Apices, nec non fastigia dudum
Papatus iterata tenens; nunc lumine divi
Levitae radiat, ceu sideris inclyta proles
In delubra dei ....

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, 1293, 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 Baronius-Reynaldus sub anno 1293, ii, p. 126):

Rex Carolus de Provincia 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:

... Nam clara ies ubi lampade solis
Illuxit, theatrum subeuntes turba Senatus
Levitas geminos mittunt non longius Urbe
Regis in occursum. Series diffusa caparum
Hos sequitur, ceu turba duces, mandante Senatu.
Praecedunt Laici; crescit distensa sequela
Elistaea suas variatis vestibus hastas
Cursibus in festis Equites effringere jussit:
Caetera Communis complere Palatia Patrum
Turba, moram firmans: decet hanc servare quietem,
Dum vacat heu! Sedes: Papae nam pondera gestant
Hos siquidem viridi susceptos gramine sulci.
En duo Levitae fortiri corpora Regum,
Alterutro comitante suum, majore parentem,
Atque minore fatum illo, passim moenibus Urbis
Deducunt; quoad alta domus plateasque subintrant.
Ast sacer interna praestolans parte theatri
Hinc Coetus processit iter, longamque per aulam
Egreditur, qua parte domus fastigia parvum
Extendunt scalae spatium, quod sedibus instat.
Tunc inibi veteri stantes ex ordine Patres
Oscula condonant Regi Regique minori,
Cui primum vidisse datum est (id) temporis omnes
Cardineus proceres: aulaeque sedilibus ambos
Constituunt, dextraque patrem, laevaque minorem;
Pontificum patrem medium, mediumque secundum
Inter Levitas primos: paulumque morati,
Applausere jocis, vultu, risuque, loquela,
Et nutu sibimet Reges Patresque, fideli
Assistente manu, cupiendum visere morem.

Inde domum Reges comites habuere
Priores Levitas. Non longa dies, et tendere cursum
Parthenopem decrevit Herus (sic!): sed primitus omnem
Alloquitur Coetum, Sparagi sermone profatus,
Rex Pater: et precibus rogitans spiramine sacro
Afflari, populoque Dei Pastore quietem
Imponi. Responsa Duci digesta Latinus
Attulit, et placido diffudit verba lepore.
Post, lapsu celeri spatio, Rex mane secuto
Visere supremum Coetum: dictoque, Valete,
Corripuit gressum, comitatus ab ordine Patrum
Usque foras Urbem: redeire in tecta Parentes,
Mens quibus adversa est: quamvis per plura sequendum
Consilium visum est varias requirere formas
Ut sibi concordes, animo factisque placerent.

Now when one considers what Stefaneschi says, it is quite unlikely that King Charles participated in a Conclave Congregation. 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 an electoral meeting. 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.

Election of Pietro Murrone

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 [Baronius-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 Monday, July 5, 1294, the Cardinals elected Peter Murrone pope. Raynaldus quotes the remarkable electoral announcement (Baronius-Raynaldus sub anno 1294, vi; Baronius-Theiner 23, sub anno 1294, no. 6, p. 131;  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 supradicto, 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, bearing the date of July 11, 1294, 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 [Baronius-Raynaldus, sub anno 1294, vii; Baronius-Theiner, sub anno 1294, no. 7, pp. 131-132]. There must have been some difficulty in locating him, and persuading him to come down from his hermitage, as far as Aquila.  Ptolemy wrote that he attempted to flee, along with a disciple, Roberto Salentino, but that the crowds of people impeded his escape.  Among them was Charles Martel, "King of Hungary" and heir of King Charles I of Sicily.  Aquila was, after all, in his father's domain.  The legates 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):

Jungere se his comitem, non missus ab ordine toto
Venerat; et cautus properabat ut omnia tentet
Ipse Petrus Levita Sacer Cardoque Columnae
Stirpe fatus; (gratumque sibi haud sic laude refertum
Post data legatis consensu nuntia Fratrum
Maturare viam quemquam nisi primitius illi
Jussa ferant) en testis adest , dum curritur altis.

Peter accepted his election, though the exact date is unknown.  He does, however, sign a document as pope at Aquila, on August 17, 1294, suscepti a nobis apostolatus officii a(nn)o 1.   He was not yet crowned, hence the unusal datum.


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):

Cum veniens Aquilam Senior visisset, Hugonem
Scilicet Alvernum, ac Ursino stipite natum
Levitam; rubris jussit depromere missos
Cardinibus senium, morulaeque retexere causas,
dum calet aestivum tempus.

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).


Coronation of Pope Celestine V (imaginary painting)
The Coronation of Celestine V


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, 1294). Ptolemy of Lucca says that 200,000 persons were present.

On September 3, 1294, though, the new Pope wrote to the King of England [Rymer, Foedera II (London 1708), 654-655; Potthast 23957]:

Mirabilia Dei judicia, quorum scrutationes abyssus sunt, multa tremenda pariter et stupenda mortalibus, sic in altum se erigunt, sic intellectum tenuem nostrae imbecillitatis excedunt, quod, cum sit super omnes terrae terminos lumen ejus, ad contemplandam altitudinem divitiarum sapientiae, atque scientiae suae immensae, nec comprehensiones humanae sufficiunt, nec comprehensiones humanae sufficiunt, nec depressi sensus nostrae humilis fragilitatis attingunt.


Ipse quidem, terribilis in consiliis, super filios hominum dominatur in virtute sua in aeternum:  Et, cum sit spectator omnium, cunctorum praescius, visionisque ejus praesens semper aeternitas, sic cum nostrorum actuun futura qualitate concurrit, ut cuncta suaviter disponat recto judicio, et creata singula arbitrio moderetur aeterno.


Ipse coelos, terram creavit et maria ac, pro soliditate firmissima, sacrosanctam Romanam Ecclesiam supra petram fidei soliditate firmavit; illud ei tribuens, in apostolicae protectionis fortitudine, fundamentum ut quamvis, sanctibus ventis, fluctuare videatur; interdum ingruentibus tamen, fluctibus nequeat procellosae tempestatis emergi: Licet enim, vel crebra decedentium mutatione pastorum, in varias fluctuationes frequenter inciderit; vel per mundanae malignitatis incursus, persecutionibus gravibus fuerit fatigata frequentius, nunquam tamen eam caelestis consilii altitudo deseruit, quo minus robur ipsius in qualibet tribulatione proficeret, et inde obtineret spei suae gaudium, unde receperat fidei firmamentum.


Piae siquidem recordationis Nicolao Papa quarto, Praedecessore nostro, debitum naturae solvente, ejusque corpore honorificentia debita ecclesiasticae tradito sepulturae, habitus est a fratribus nostris de futuri Pastoris substitutuone tractatus; in quo successive (proch dolor!)  Ipsa Romana ecclesia, per non modica spatia temporum, viduitatis incomoda deploravit:


Sed benignus  sapientiae spiritus, in ipsis vespertinis angustiis, rigans montes de superioribus suis,  eorumdem fratrum corda disparia pia inspiratione praeveniens, subito et celeriter conjunxit in unum; illud momento quasi, perficiens, ad quod diffusi temporis spatium fructum debitum non adduxit.


Ipsi namque fratres denuo de sola providentia summi Patris, et ejus permissione mirabili, in humilitatem nostram omnes unanimiter concordantes: Nos, tunc fratrem Petrum de Murrone, ordinis Sancti Benedicti, ad summi Apostolatus apicem evocarunt; nobis decretum evocationis hujusmodi per speciales eorum nuntios destinantes.


Quanquam autem tanti oneris moles, nostris debilibus importabilis humeris, illius utpote, qui in humili statu positus, et solitudine heremi longissimis educatus temporibus, mundanorum negotiorum cura deposita elegeramus semper, pro tutiori consilio, in domo Domini solitarius abici, nostram insufficientiam stupore nimirum tremendae discussionis invaderet,


Considerantes tamen quod prolixior mora in subrogatione pastoris, trahebat ecclesiae ac gregi dominico periculosum per universa mundi climata nocumentum: Et ne vocationi divinae resisteree videremur; demum dconfidentes in illo qui facit fortem ex debili: Balbutientibus eloquentiam tribuit:  Exurgit benignus in occursum timentium, et implorantium nomen suum:  In semitis suis clementer dirigit et perficit gressus hominis: Ac sperantes in eo qui nunquam deserit inconsultos: Et a quo vocationem nostram hujusmodi processisse fideliter supponimus, et humiliter confitemur;


Impositum nobis onus ipsum assumpsimus, ac in eo divinae miser4icordiae nostrum subjecimus imperfectum; sperantes quod ipsa benignius in beneplacito suo diriget actus nostros ad sui laudem et gloriam, exaltationem ipsius matris ecclesiae, ac statum prosperum fidei Christianae, nec nos, inexpertum et humilem, in tam grandis, dispositione sua, maris altitudine positum derelinquet, a fluctuationibus non adjutum.


Excellentiam itaque Regiam monemus, rogamus et hortamur attente, ac obsecramus in filio Dei Patris, quatinus recognoscens a domino tibi traditam potestatem, sic in semitis mandatorum suorum ambules, et in conspectu ejus linees vias tuas, quod per cultum justitiae, religionis amorem, et observantiam aequitatis, aeterno patri gratum te praebeas, et, per tuum utile regnantis ministerium, firmetur thronus praesidentis in solio, pax et tranquillitas subditis tuis proveniant, et vicinis gentibus quies placida, per prespasionem quandam fructuosae alluvionis, accedat.


Nos enim, qui ad personam, domumque Regiam sic affectu praecipuo, et zelo internae caritatis afficimur, quod vehementer appetimus, et oramus te in actibus tuis proficere laudandis exemplis, et com Dei beneplacito crescere continuis incrementis, affectum tibi sincerae benignitatis expandimus, et sinum caritatis solidae aperimus, proponentes, in quibus cum Deo poterimus, Regio honori deferre, ac tua et Regni tui comodo, pro quibus ad nos cum securitate recurrere poteris, in promptitudine paternae benivolentiae promovere.


Dat. Aquilae 3. Non. Septembris, Pontificatus nostri anno primo.

On September 18, 1294, 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.  Peter Herde, Colestin V (1294) (Peter vom Morone): Der Engelpapa (Stuttgart, 1981).

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...." ]

Actenstücke: A. Fanta, F. Kaltenbrunner, E.v. Ottenthal (editors), Actenstücke zur Geschichte des Deutschen Reiches unter den Königen Rudolf I. und Albrecht I. (Wien 1889).

Paolo Pietropaoli,  "Il Conclave di Perugia e l'elezione di Pier Celestino," Celestino V ed il VI centenario della sua Incornazione (Aquila 1894), 97-114.

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).   Peter Herder, "Das Kardinalskollegium und der Feldzug vom Orvieto im Val del Lago (1294),"   in Erwin Gatz (editor), Romische Kurie. Kirchiliche Finanzen. Vatikanisches Archiv. Studien zu Ehren von Hermann Hoberg (Roma: Universita Gregoriana Editrice 1979), 325-376.   

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.  Jochen Johrendt, Die Diener des Apostelfürsten: das Kapitel von St. Peter im Vatikan (11.-13. Jahrhundert) (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2011), pp. 186, 451-452.



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