Sede Vacante 1389

October 15, 1389—November 2, 1389

[Roman Obedience]


In June of 1384, angered at the disrespect shown him by King Charles III of Naples (Charles of Durazzo) and the people of the Kingdom, Urban VI retreated to the town of Nocera, which belonged to his nephew, Francesco Butillus. The death of King Charles' competitor for the throne of Naples, Louis Duke of Anjou, in September 1384, made Charles' opposition to Urban and his ambitions much easier.  Urban, in fact, was plotting to replace Charles III with his nephew Butillus—an ambition which was, on the face of it, insane.  The College of Cardinals, moreover, were appalled at the behavior of Urban, and began to consider action against him. Cardinal Bartholomaeus Mezzavacca ( who was still at Naples with the Curia) along with several other cardinals employed Bartholomaeus of Placentia to engage in enquiries as to what could be done if a pope were insane (a report of which was read by Theoderic of Nyem)

quod si papa esset mente captus aut nimis negligens vel inutilis ad regendum vel adeo inniteretur suo sensui, quod per eius factum periclitaretur iniversalis ecclesia, vel esset effrenis, ita quod absque consilio cardinalium pro libito voluntatis omnia facere vellet, nunquid liceret ipsis cardinalibus super hoc universali ecclesie providere sibique deputare ydoneum curatorem vel aliquos ydoneos curatores ad eorundem cardinalium eleccionem, iuxta cuius seu quorum consilia seu racionis dictamen ipse papa expedire singula ecclesie maiora negocia teneretur....

Mezzavacca also sought the opinions of Masters of Theology and several Doctores in utroque iure.   The Sicilian Chronicle (Theoderic de Nyem, ed Erler, p. 78 n. 1) relates that the cardinals conferred with King Charles, Queen Margaret, Mezzavacca, and Villanucio (Prefect of provisions of Naples).  Gobelinus Persona, in his Cosmidromius (VI. 78) states that the plan was to capture Urban, convict him of heresy, depose him, and burn him at the stake.

But Urban was warned by Cardinal Tommaso Orsini, and he immediately, on January 11, 1385, ordered the arrest of six cardinals. The Cardinals, Joannes de Amelia, Gentilis de Sangro, Adam de Eston, Ludovicus Donati, Bartholomaeus de Cucurno, and Martinus de Judice (Theoderic of Nyem I. 42, pp. 77-79 Erler), were let down into a cistern, where they languished until they were carried along with Urban in his flight to Genoa. (Five of them were finally killed in December of 1386 on Urban's orders). King Charles and Queen Margaret were excommunicated (Gobelinus Persona, Cosmidromius VI. 78, p. 101 ed. Jansen)

In July of 1385, while Urban VI was at Nocera (Luceriae), there appears to have been serious talk again about deposing him. The Cardinals who were in Naples met with King Charles, according to Theoderic de Nyem (I. 55, pp. 99-100 Erler), and plotted the capture and deposition of Urban:

Interim eciam quod duravit huiusmodi guerra inter regem Karolum et papam predictos, non dabatur licentia curialibus ipsis, qui tunc erant in Neapoli, ut abinde per mare vel terram recedere possent, et huiusmodi causa fuit, quia rex, et qui cum ipso erant cardinales prefati, credebant, quod uitque dictum castrum Lucerie per eiusdem regis Karoli gentes facile vi caperetur sicque ipse Urbanus et sui complices, qui secum erant in eodem castro, ad manus ipsius regis infallibiliter devenirent, quo peracto forsan ad eleccionem novi summi pontificis ipsi curiales essent processuri, sed si interim ipsi curiales recederent, dicti novi pontificis curia non valeret. Sed postquam dictus Urbanus cum suis curialibus et aliis, qui secum erant in ipso castro, abinde recesserunt, ut prefertur, rex et cardinales secum existentes predicti ex hoc plurumum doluerunt timentes indubie, quid ipse Urbanus contra eos postea prout fecit, omnia mala possetenus attemptarent.

A letter survives, written by five cardinals—Pileus de Prata, Lucas Radulfucii, Poncellus Orsini, Bartholomaeus Mezzavacca and Landulphus Marramaldus—at some point after the arrest, imprisonment and torture of the six cardinals began; in this letter they announced to the Clergy of Rome that they had removed themselves from the Obedience of Urban VI and were calling for his removal from the Papal chair as an heretic. Four of the five were deprived of their cardinalates.   This brought the number of deposed cardinals to ten.  "Urban VI" seems to have had difficulty from beginning to end of his pontificate in keeping the loyalty of his closest advisors.

In a demonstration of extreme displeasure at Urban's greed and lack of scruple in satisfying it,  King Richard II,  at the urging of Parliament, on October 10, 1389, forbade the collection of untraditional and unapproved subsidies imposed on the Clergy of England by Urban to satisfy his need for money, ad usum suum [Rymer Foedera VII (London 1709) p. 644-645].  The King's orders were imposed on all the bishops of England, as well as the Papal Nuncio and Collector, Jacobus Dardani, and other collectors of papal revenue in England.   This action, as it turned out, took place only five days before the death of "Urban VI".  The English were, of course, supporters of Urban, considering that the French were supporters of Pope Clement VII.


Death of Urban VI

Theoderic of Nyem ( I. 69; pp. 120-121 Erler) reports that Urban VI had an accident around the Eve of the Assumption (August 14), 1389. He had been staying at Perugia, but left the city on August 8, 1389, intending to head for Rome, and then to move in the direction of the Kingdom of Naples. On the road to Narnia, some ten miles from Perugia, he suffered a fall:

Sed postquam pervenerat ad spacium XXmm miliarium vel circiter a Perusio, mula, super quam sedebat, cespitans ad terram cum pontifice cecidit vehementer, quo casu precipiti dictus Urbanus in diversis partibus corporis lesus non potuit ulterius equitare, et ad eandem civitatem, quam exiverat, redire nolebat, sed se versus Tiburtum ultra Romam in eodem vehiculo portari fecit. Qui cum prope esset iuxta pontem super flumen, quod labitur per Tiburtum, recta via, qua de ipsa urbe ityur ad Tiburtum, et illic tunc pernoctare vellet, multi Romani ad eum venierunt obnixe rogantes quod sibi ad sedem suam redire placere.

Urban was unwilling to agree to go to Rome (he had not been there for more than five years), and his party were ordered to make for Ferentino, since Urban still intended to enter the kingdom of Naples. But his money ran out and he was unable to pay his guard, and so at the beginning of September he arrived in Rome and took to his bed. There were the usual rumors that he had been poisoned (Sozomen, Specimen Historiae, column 1140).

Urban VI (Bartholomeo Prignano) died in Rome, in the Papal Palace at St. Peter's, on October 15, 1389.   Next day, xvii kal. Novembris, the papal Chancery issued a series of announcements to each of the potentates of Europe and to the archbishops of the Church, sealed by the three Cardinals who were senior in each order, stating "hesterna die judicio divino et naturali cursu labilis vitae transitus felicis recordationis domini Urbani papae VI..." [Baronius-Theiner, sub anno 1389, x, p 490, prints the copy sent to Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia]. Urban was buried on the day after his death, October 16, in a modest tomb in the Chapel of S. Andrew in St. Peter's Basilica (Gobelinus, Cosmidromius cap. 81; p. 126 ed. Jansen; Dollinger, anonymous Conclave report, 361):

Anno pontificatus sui duodecimo Urbanus iste Romae obiit et in capella sancti Andreae apud sanctum Petrum sepultus est; ad cuius sepulchrum dum postea veneram, et videns corpus eius non mausoleo, sed communi sepulchro reconditum, infrascrptos vers confeci .... Postea tamen corpus eius in ecclesiam sancti Petri translatum honorificentiori sepulchro traditum est.




Tomb of Urban Vi, Vatican
Tomb of Urban VI (St. Peter's)

The Annales Forolivienses provided an epitaph for Urban VI  [Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores XXII, column 196]:

Fuit enim vir pessimus, crudelis et scandalosus absque consilio Cardinalium, cuius dolis scismata incoepere in Ecclesia Christi.


"He was the worst sort of man, a cause of scandal, and unwilling to take the advice of his Cardinals. Thanks to his tricks, the Schism began in Christ's Church."




College of Cardinals

Every one of the Cardinals who had participated in the events of April, 1378, had refused to recognize Urban VI or had deserted him. Most of the Curia Romana, too, followed the Cardinals when they elected Robert of Geneva as Clement VII on September 20, 1378. The only cardinals of the "Roman Obedience", therefore, were cardinals who had been created (but not yet killed or deposed) by Urban. A list of the thirteen cardinals who attended the Conclave is given by Konrad Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica editio altera (1913), p. 25, n. 7. Cf. Souchon I, p. 44 n.1. Onuphrio Panvinio (Epitome, pp. 261-262) also lists thirteen cardinals. The anonymous conclave narrative ( Döllinger, p. 361), however, is quite certain, and quite wrong, that there were fourteen cardinals in attendance after Cardinal Bontempi arrived on October 27. Souchon I, 42 n. 1; 44 n. 1.

Panvinio includes as a cardinal who was not in attendance Elziarius (de Sabrano), who died in 1380 [He is certainly referring to the Cardinal Reatinus, Bartholomaeus Mezzavaca, who had been deprived by Urban VI in 1383]. Panvinio also includes Pileus de Prata, who had left the allegiance of Urban VI in June, 1387, and was a supporter of Pope Clement VII. Also named as not attending was Petrus, Bishop of Palencia, of unknown titulus; there was a Petrus Sancius who was Bishop of Palencia in Spain (1396-1403), but he was never a Cardinal; there was no "Petrus" currently in Urban VI's College of Cardinals.

Nine votes were needed for a "canonical" election.


Cardinals attending:
  1. Francesco Moricotti (Prignani Butillo), of Naples, Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina. "Pisanus" Vice-Chancellor S. R. E. Nephew of Urban VI.  He was Treasurer of Salisbury [Rymer, Foedera VII, p. 406 (August 4, 1383);  Bliss-Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers IV, 383 (July 14,1391)].   [died February 6, 1394].

  2. Andrea Bontempi, of Perugia, Cardinal Priest in the title of SS. Marcellino e Pietro. Chancellor of Hereford, after the deposition of Cardinal Atgerius (Lagier) [Rymer Foedera VII, 284 (April 18, 1381)].  Archdeacon of Berks in the diocese of Salisbury, at the time of his death, but contested [Bliss-Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers V, 85 (July , 25,1397), 178 (November 25, 1397)]; subsequently provided to Cardinal Christopher de Maronibus of S. Ciriaco (1389-1404), and still contested.  [died July 16, 1390]   [Legate in the Romagna, he arrived late, on October 27, 1389]
  3. Poncello Orsini, Roman, Cardinal Priest in the title of S. Clemente.  Archdeacon of Leicester (hindered and disputed) up to his death [Bliss-Twomley V, 66 (September 23, 1397)]   [died February 2 (or 11), 1395] [Cardella II, 278].  "Aversanus"
  4. Perinus [or Pietro] Tomacelli (aged somewhere between 30 and 45: Souchon I, 48 n. 2), Neapolitan, Cardinal Priest in the title of S. Anastasia. [He is called Perrinus de Thomacellis by Pedro de Luna (Pope Benedict XIII) in a letter of 1408: Döllinger, Beiträge II, 361].  He was Treasurer of Salisbury and Archdeacon of Dorchester in the Church of Salisbury [Rymer Foedera VII, 258 (June 3, 1380)]. He was confirmed in the Prebendary of Coryngham in the Church of Lincoln by Richard II [Rymer, Foedera VII, p. 258 (June 3, 1380); p. 427 (May 14, 1384)].  He also held the Prebend of Gilyngham in the Monastery of Shafton and the Prebend of South Neuton in the Monastery of Winton in the Diocese of Salisbury   [Rymer, Foedera VII, p. 571 (March 20, 1388)].  On November 24, 1388, he was also confirmed as Prebendary of Sutton in the Church of Lincoln on provision of Urban VI  [Rymer, Foedera VII, p. 609].   "Neapolitanus"  [died October 1, 1404]
  5. Angelo Acciaioli (aged 40), of Florence, son of Jacobus Acciaioli and Bartholomea de Ricasolis. Cardinal Priest in the title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso (1384-1397), and subsequently Cardinal Bishop of Ostia (1397-1408).  Canon of Patras.  Bishop of Rapolla, in the Kingdom of Naples (1375-1383). Archbishop of Florence (1383-1385).  Archdeacon of Exeter, attested in 1402 [Bliss-Twemlow Calendar of Papal Registers IV, 315].  Dean of Salisbury. from November, 1390; he resigned in 1391 [Bliss-Twemlow Calendar of Papal Registers IV, p. 335 (November , 1390); p. 401 (July 30, 1391)]; p. 315 (June 15, 1402)].  In 1402 he was Apostolic Legate in Hungary   [died at Pisa, May 31, 1408].    "Florentinus" [Cardella II, 296-298]
  6. Francesco Carbone, O.Cist. [Monopolitanus],   He became Bishop of Monopoli after the deposition of his predecessor (a supporter of Clement VII) by Urban VI, who then promoted him to the Cardinalate on December 17, 1384 as Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna (1384-1392).  He was then promoted Cardinal Bishop of Sabina (1392-1405).  Major Penitentiarius, to 1405 [Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers VI, p. 239].   He died June 18, 1405.  [Eubel I, p. 25; Antonio Petri, p. 976].  Bishop of Kildare, to 1404, originally appointed by Boniface IX, after 1389 [Twemlow VI, p. 6 (November 11, 1404)].  Canon of York and Prebend of Strensall (from 1388 to 1405), and Archdeacon of West-Riding in the diocese of York (from 1384) [Twemlow, VI, p. 2 (July 16, 1405); p. 239 (April 13, 1412); pp. 474-475]; Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae III, 215, 133].  Abbot in commendam of S. Peter ad aram, Naples [Twemlow, VI, p. 2 (July 16, 1405)].  He died on June 18, 1405.   [Cardella II, 297-299]
  7. Stefano Pelosii, a Roman, Cardinal Priest in the title of S. Marcello (1382/4—1396). [died April 24, 1396] "Tudertinus"    He had been one of the assistants of the Custodian of the scandalous Conclave of April, 1378, in Rome, and he followed the Obedience of "Urban VI".   In England, which sided with Bartolomeo Prignano, Stefano was granted the Prebend of the Benedictine Monastery of Wilton in the Church of Salisbury, and the Prebendary of South Newton in the diocese of Salisbury [Rymer, Foedera VII, p. 619 (May 15, 1389)].  He was also provided to the Deanery of Chichester, but he never took possession [Bliss-Twemlow V, 209 (July 19, 1399)].  He was a canon of the Vatican Basilica [Muentz and Frotheringham, Archivio della Società romana di storia patria  6 (1883), 64]. He was Archpriest of the Liberian Basilica, where he was buried [V. Forcella  Inscrizione delle chiese di Roma XI, p. 19, no. 27]. He died on died April 24, 1396 [or April 29, according to Ciaconius:  XXIV vs. XXIX].

  8. Tommaso Orsini, Romanus, of the Manupello branch (owners of Narnia, Amelia and Terni), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Domnica.  Vicar of the Patrimony of S. Peter  [Cardella II, 292-293; F. Savio, "Le tre famiglie Orsini di Monterotondo, di Marino, e di Manoppello,"  Bolletino della societa unbra di storia patria 2 (1896), 89-112;    D. Benucci, "Ancora gli Orsini,"  Bolletino della societa unbra di storia patria 2 (1896)  549].  Cardinal Tommaso had also been Dean of Salisbury at the time of his death [Bliss-Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers IV, p. 335-336 (November 2, 1390); cf. Le Neve Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae II, 615].    [died July 10, 1390]
  9. Marinus Vulcani [Marino Bulcani], Neapolitan, born in Amalfi, consanguineus of Urban VI.  Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria Nuova (1384-1394).  Abbot and Subdeacon S.R.E. before his creation. Camerlengo S.R.E. [Cardella II, 303-304;  Augustin Theiner, Codex diplomaticus dominii temporalis S. Sedis  Tome troisième (Rome 1862), p. 1, no. 1; Bliss, Calendar of Papal Registers  IV, p. 265 (November 28, 1386); 282 (March 14, 1392)].  Archdeacon of Durham, in the reign of "Urban VI", contested  [Bliss-Twemlow Calendar V, 165-166 (November 15, 1397)].    [died August 8, 1394]. His testimony about the incidents of 1378 is quoted by Reynaldus in his continuation of Baronius' Annales Ecclesiastici, sub anno 1378 no. 2 [Baronius-Theiner pp. 284-285]; it is tendentious, to say the least.
  10. Francesco Renzio, of Alise (Kingdom of Sicily), Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio.  Nephew of Cardinal Marino Bulcani, relative of Urban VI [Cardella II, 304]. Protonotary Apostolic. Vicar Apostolic in the Provincia di Terra de Lavoro. Canon of the Cathedral of Florence  [died September 26 (or 27), 1390]
  11. Raynaldus [Rinaldo] Brancaccio, Neapolitan, Cardinal Deacon of SS. Vito e Modesto. Canon and Prebend of Lincoln [Brampton Prebend], from 1389;  Canon and Prebend of Coringham in the Diocese of Lincoln, since 1389  [Bliss-Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers IV, p. 383-384 (April 13, 1391); Le Neve Fasti, II, 116].  Prebend of Beckingham in St. Mary's, Diocese of Southwell [Bliss-Twemlow IV, 480 (August 21, 1394)].   [died October 1427]
  12. Ludovico Fieschi, of Genoa, Cardinal Deacon of S. Adriano. Bishop of Vercelli [died April 3, 1423]. Former Auditor of the Rota
  13. Angelo d'Anna de Sommariva, OSB.Cam., Neapolitan, Cardinal Deacon of S. Lucia in Septisolio     "Cardinal of Lodi".    [died July 21, 1428]. [Cardella II, 306-307]

Cardinals not attending:
  1. Philippe d'Alençon de Valois (aged 58/59), Nephew of King Philip de Valois [Eubel I, 23 and n. 12, 36, 38 and n. 8; François Duchesne, Cardinaux François (1660), ch. clxxii, pp. 718-720; Cardella II, 249-252], and consanguineus of King Richard II of England.  Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and Santa Rufina (1388-1397).  Archdeacon of Exeter, in office before May 3, 1380, and held until his death in 1397 [Rymer Foedera VII, 253;  Bliss-Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers IV, 336   (March 15, 1390); Le Neve I, 394].  He was granted the Archdeaconry of Suffolk, vacated by the death of Cardinal Elziarius de Sabrano on August 25, 1380 [Rymer Foedera VII, p. 321 (August 4, 1381)].  Legate in Germany; he returned to the Curia on March 4, 1390.    He died on August 16, 1397, and was buried in S. Maria in Trastevere.  His epitaph: V. Forcella, Inscrizione delle chiese di Roma   2, p. 340 no. 1044 (the correct reading of the date is 'one thousand and four hundred, less three').
  2. Valentinus Quinquecliensis [Bálint Alsáni, or de Alsán] (aged ca. 59), Hungarian, Cardinal Priest in the title of SS. IV Coronati  [Baronius Theiner, sub anno 1404, no. 10, p. 115; cf. Eubel I, p. 24, p. 41, and 46 n. 1; Cardella IV, p. 288].   Doctor Decretorum.  Pro-Chancellor of King Lodovico of Hungary, ca. 1376.  Bishop of Pécs (1383-1408).  Named royal ambassador to Venice in 1381; brought to Hungary the relics of S. Paul the Hermit.  Created cardinal , on the nomination of the King of Hungary.   Legate in Hungary.  He first appeared at the Curia in 1407 [died November 19, 1408]   [Michael Szvorényi, Purpura pannonica (Agriae 1811), pp. 7-9].

  3. Bartholomaeus Mezzavacca [Bolognese], Cardinal Priest in the title of S. Marcello (1378-1383)    Doctor in utroque iure. Doctor legum apprime eruditus.   Auditor of the Rota.  Bishop of Ostuni in Sardinia (1374-1378).  Bishop of Reate (1378).     In March of 1382, he was sent as Legate along with Cardinal Ludovico Donati to congratulate the new King, Charles III (Charles of Durazzo, the adopted heir of Queen Johanna), and to promote the interests of Urban VI's nephew, Francesco Butillus. The Cardinals made no effort to carry out the latter instructions.  On May 22, 1382, Queen Johanna of Naples died.   Mezzavaca, after examining the situation, apparently had come to the conclusion that Charles III would be a better ruler than Urban's nephew.  Urban decided to invade Naples.  Cardinal Mezzavacca was deprived of the dignity of Cardinal on October 15, 1383, apparently making him ineligible to attend the Conclave of 1389.  In Naples Urban's behavior was so erratic that Mezzavacca began consultations to see whether Urban could be deposed canonically.  Urban treated Mezzavacca's behavior as treasonous.  he was restored by Boniface IX as the Cardinal of SS. Silvestro e Martino (since S. Marcello had been given to Stephanus Pelosii) on December 18, 1389.   [Eubel I, 23.  He died July 29. 1396].  He was buried in the Liberian Basilica, where his tombstone states that he died on June 20—at least according to Ciaconius [V. Forcella  Inscrizione delle chiese di Roma  XI, p. 19, no. 26].    "Reatinus".
  4. Adam Eston, OSB  [English, Hertford],  Cardinal Priest in the title of S. Cecilia. [Ciacconius I, 1032, says that he participated in the Conclave of 1389—yet another of his multitudinous mistakes].
            Monk of Norwich. Member of Gloucester College, Oxford, ca. 1355-1366, and Prior studentium in 1366.   He was Professor of Theology [D.D. 1363-1364].  But he was neither Bishop of Hereford nor Administrator of the See of London; it was Cardinal William Courtney who was from Hereford and was Bishop of London (and it is said he refused the dignity of cardinal)   [Cardella II, 283-285 and 309; Eubel I, 24].  Ciaconius-Olduin states [II, 648, citing mss. in the Vatican Library on the Great Schism] that Adam Eston gave a deposition in 1379, while still just a Benedictine monk, as to the events around the (uncanonical) election of Urban VI.   His responses were discussed with Cardinal Guillaume de Agrifolio, who was the object of some of Eston's remarks [Gayet, Le grand schisme d'Occident Les Origines volume 2 (Paris-Florence-Berlin 1889), "Pièces justificatives", pp. 70-71]; other responses were discussed with Cardinal Pietro Corsini [Gayet, p. 60].  That would indicate that he was in Rome by early in 1378, in the reign of Gregory XI, and that after the Conclaves of 1378 he was a partisan of Urban VI.  Eston was created cardinal on December 21, 1381.  The reason why is a mystery.  W.A. Pantin [The English Church in the 14th Century (Cambridge 1955), 178] points out that Eston's   Defensorium  was probably written between 1376 and 1378, and was dedicated to Urban VI; "it was perhaps partly as a reward for this that Easton was made a cardinal" [an argument post hoc, ergo propter hoc]. Pantin also points out that only the Prologue and Book I, out of six books, survive, and that "it is possible that the whole work was never completed."  If so, Urban must have been terribly impressed by being offered an uncompleted work, written in the reign of his hated predecessor.  Pantin's conjecture is not compelling.
          "Urban VI" provided Cardinal Eston as Dean of York on March 7, 1382 [Le Neve Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae III, 123].  But Cardinal Eston was apparently a participant in the conspiracy of the cardinals to deal with the apparent insanity of Urban, and was arrested on January 11, 1385.  On June 5, 1385, he was deprived of the Deanery of York.  Reginald Lane Poole [in the Dictionary of National Biography 16 (1888), p. 334] states, on the authority of a manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, that  Eston wrote a letter or tract  'de sua calamitate'  to the monks of his order, who moved Richard II to intervene on his behalf. The entire congregation of [Benedictine] monks in England also wrote to " Urban VI", according to John Bale. 
          Cardinal Eston had been degraded from the dignity of the Cardinalate by "Urban VI" in 1385, and was therefore ineligible to participate in the Conclave of 1389. On December 18, 1389, the new pope of the Roman obedience, "Boniface IX", restored his cardinalate.  Boniface even wrote to the Magnum Concilium Regis Angliae (The Royal Council), on March 1, 1391, to commend Cardinal Eston [Bliss-Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers IV, p. 279], and to ask them to use their influence with the King to ensure that Cardinal Eston continue to have his benefices and the income from them; Boniface asserts that "Urban VI" did not deprive Eston of his benefices when he degraded him from the Cardinalate.  But Eston had been deprived of the Deanery of York less than five months after his arrest by "Urban VI".  King Richard is unlikely to have deprived Eston, since he intervened in aid of him; and the clergy of York, led by Eston's friend Archbishop William Wickwane (d. August 26/27, 1385), were favorable to the Cardinal and, it seems, somewhat resistant to Urban [Bliss & Twemlow, Calendar of Papal Registers IV, p. 262 (March 14, 1381)].  Either Boniface's remark is made out of ignorance, or it is a diplomatic lie.  On November 2, 1390,  Cardinal Eston was provided with a Canonry and the Precentorship of Lisbon, as well as the Canonry and Prebend of Aylesbury in the Diocese of Lincoln [Bliss-Twemlow IV, 335].  He also held the office of Canon and Prebend of St. Martin Cedoseyta in the Church of Coimbra at his death [Bliss-Twemlow V, 84 (October 2, 1397)].   He was also Rector of Somersham in the diocese of Lincoln, held at his death; and Rector of Hecham in Suffolk, held at his death [Bliss-Twemlow V, 79, 80; 338] as well as Archdeacon of Dorset (after 1388) in the diocese of Salisbury, held at the time of his death [Bliss-Twemlow V, 82 (September 19, 1397)].  In September, 1396, Cardinal Eston was granted the Benedictine priory of St. Agnes Ferrara [Bliss, Calendar of Papal Registers IV, p. 536-537].  He died on August 15, 1398 [his memorial inscription in S. Cecilia in Trastevere: Vincenzo Forcella, Inscrizioni delle chiese di Roma II (Roma 1873), p. 23 no. 75;  M. Ziegelbauer, Historia rei literariae Ordinis Sancti Benedicti III (Augustae Vindelicorum 1754), 185-188, puts his death on October 15—though his work is filled with many mistakes, insisting for example that Eston was made a cardinal by Gregory XI].
          A list of Cardinal Eston's works is contained in the manuscript of John Bale's mid-16th century Index Britanniae Scriptorum [Anecdota Oxoniensia 9 (Oxford 1902), pp. 4-6 (edited by Reginald Lane Poole)]. He was skilled in Hebrew and translated the Bible into Latin directly from the Hebrew.  It is said that his works numbered more than twenty [Ziegelbauer, 186].
          The memorial inscription in S. Cecilia seems to state that Adam Eston was Perpetual Administrator of the Diocese of London (according to Forcella, following the ancient tradition), which is impossible, since there were no vacancies in the See in Eston's time. In fact Bishop William Courtney of London (1375-1381) was translated to Canterbury, and his successor Robert de Braybroke, Bishop of London, was named Chancellor of England on September 9, 1381 [T.D. Hardy, A Catalogue of the Lords Chancellors, etc. (London 1843), pp. 43-44; cf. Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae II, 293; cf. Stubbs, Registrum sacrum Anglicanum 2nd ed. p. 79].  Courtney's successor, Robert de Braybroke, held the see of London until 1404. There was, therefore, no gap in the See of London in Cardinal Eston's time which would require an administrator.   A perpetual administrator would not be out of place, however, in one of the French dioceses which were actually in the domain of Pope Clement VII—perhaps St. Pol de Leon (Leonensis).  The memorial inscription in S. Cecilia actually reads:  LEONDINENSIS.
  5. Landolfo Maramaldo, Neapolitan, Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano [died 1415]. Protector of the Carmelites. Archbishop of Bari (1378-1384), but he was unable to take possession, since Queen Johanna of Naples adhered to the papacy of Pope Clement VII.  He was appointed by "Urban VI" to compose the differences between the Malatesta and the Dukes of Urbino, at which he was successful.  He was then sent to the Kingdom of Naples in aid of King Ladislaus.   He was, however, deposed along with Pileus de Prato (who went over to Pope Clement VII in 1387) by "Urban VI", allegedly as supporters of Charles III of Naples; he was therefore ineligible to participate in the Conclave of the Roman obedience of 1389. He was rehabilitated in the Roman obedience by Boniface IX on December 18, 1389.  Archdeacon of Dublin (from 1392), he resigned the office to Boniface IX  in 1395 [Bliss-Twemlow, Calendar   IV, 504 (September 6, 1395);  V, 595 (May 4, 1403); Henry Cotton, Fasti Ecclesiae Hibernicae II (Dublin 1848), 92-93; 128]   He was called "Barensis" [Cardella II, 290-291].  On May 20, 1415 he gave a deposition at Konstanz accusing Pope John XXIII of simony [Finke, Acta concilii Constanciensis IV (Münster 1928), pp. 867-870].  He died at the Ecumenical Council of Constance on October 16, 1415.


tomb of Cardinal Adam Eston
Tomb of Cardinal Adam Eston,
S. Cecilia in Trastevere



The Cardinals met daily during the Novendiales, dispatching such Church business as the apostolic Constitutions allowed. It is known that they wrote letters, on October 16 and 18 to the city of Corneto, urging them to remain faithful to the Roman obedience (Souchon 44 and n. 2; from Theiner, Codex diplomaticus dominii temporalis sanctae sedis II, 658ff.).



The Conclave began on October 25, at the conclusion of the Novendiales, in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican (Döllinger Conclave; Eubel I, 25 n. 7). The Custodian of the Conclave was Cosimo Gentile de' Migliorati, the Vice-Camerlengo (Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores III. 2, 832).

One narration of the election is provided by Theoderic de Nyem (Dietrich of Niem), Book II, Chapter VI (p. 129 ed. Erler):

Defuncto eodem igitu Urbano, ut prefertur, in urbe in eodem pallacio apostolico prope dictam basilicam principis apostolorum et eius corpore tradito sepulturae cardinales de ipsius obediencia tam illi, qui in Roman presentes, quam alii, qui tunc in propinquis provinciis erant, pro celebranda eleccione futuri poontificis in eadem urbe invicem convenientes dictum Petrum de Thomacellis in papam, postquam multis diebus insimul remanserunt in conclavi, eligerunt. Quo electo, infra horam prandii publicabatur eius eleccio, et statim concurrentibus illic ad dictum pallacium multis Romanis ac curialibus ad maius altare predictum in eodem basilica principis apostolorum more solito trahebatur. Quo facto cum ad pallacium rediret, obviantibus et congratulantibus sibi pluribus, omnibus una sentencia respondit dicens: "Gaudium meum gaudium vestrum est."

Theoderic provides no information whatever as to what happened inside the Conclave.

According to an anonymous Conclave narrative recorded by Panvinio and published by J.J.J. Dollinger, it was discovered after the first scrutiny that there was going to be a major problem. It appeared that Cardinal Acciaioli, a member of the very rich Florentine banking family, had been attempting to engage in simoniacal transactions with most of the cardinals. Some were promised large sums of money, others were offered large benefices in exchange for their votes. Somehow news of what was going on reached outside the sealed conclave and came to the ears of the Roman Officiales. The Senators, Bandarenses and Capita Regionum went to the Cardinals and threatened them with death if they failed to produce an honest election (Echoes of the election of 1378 are unmistakable):

Qua simonia perventa ad audientiam Romanorum, Senatores cum Banderensibus et Capitibus Regionum venerunt catervatim ad cardinales, dicentes, "Nisi feceritis veram electionem sine fraude, nos interficiemus omnes vos."

There would have been difficulties, even without the revelation of Cardinal Acciaioli's scandalous misbehavior. Six of the Cardinals (according to the anonymous Conclave narrative) were committed to Cardinal Poncius Orsini, and six had been won over by Acciaioli. Since nine votes were needed to elect, and only five to veto a candidate, there appeared to be a stalemate. It was Cardinal Carbone, a Neapolitan, who suggested another candidate, his fellow Neapolitan, Perinus Tomacelli. Swift agreement was reached.

Perinus (Pietro) Tomacelli was elected on November 2, 1389; he was in his thirties. Theoderic of Nyem [II. 39], however, says that he was around forty when elected to the papacy. Sozomen (Muratori XVI, 1140) states that he was thirty-three:

Bonifacius Papa IX. die II. Novembris Romae Papa eligitur, qui tunc tertium et trigesimum annum agebat, et licet iuvenis et non nimium eruditus; tamen quia Neapolitanus erat et satis mitis et gratiosus, sua electio laudata fuit.


The New Pope

Pope Boniface IXPerinus Tomacelli, according to the Annales Forolivienses (Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores XXII, 204), was unlearned and easily led: "indoctus fuit, pulcher et magnus corpore, robustus, benignus, et precibus aliorum faciliter condescens." His known to have studied the liberal arts, and to have been proficient in Rhetoric, but he did not study in any of the higher faculties: Philosophy, Theology, Medicine or Law. Theoderic of Nyem (de scismate II. 6, p. 130 Erler), however, adds that he did not know how to write and that he sang badly: "nesciens scribere, eciam male cantabat." What is probably meant is that he could not write in the style expected from a high-ranking prelate of the Roman church, and his Gregorian chant was substandard. The reasons for his being selected by Urban VI to be a cardinal, on December 21, 1381 (seven years earlier, when he was between twenty-three and thirty-three), are not easily discerned, unless it was that he was cute and agreeable. Nor are the reasons obvious that induced a two-thirds majority of the Cardinals at the Conclave to believe him to be worthy of the Throne of Peter. His family were Neapolitan Patricians, related to the Cibo of Genoa; his mother was a Filomarino. As a youth he was made Canon of the Cathedral of Naples. When he was introduced to Urban in Rome, he is said to have liked Tomacelli's modest bearing and appointed him a Protonotary Apostolic and then Cardinal Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro, all allegedly within fifteen days of his arrival in the Eternal City. He was soon promoted to Cardinal Priest of S. Anastasia and Archpriest of the Lateran Basilica (Novaes, Elementi IV, 252), again without obvious qualifications or achievements  [his portrait, from S. Giovanni Laterano, at right].


Boniface IX was consecrated, by the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, Francesco Maricotti, and crowned by the Protodeacon, Cardinal Tomasso Orsini, on November 9 (Eubel I, 25), or on the Feast of St. Martin, November 11 (according to the anonymous Conclave narrative). The procession to the Lateran Basilica for the ceremony of the possessio was much dampened by a continuous downpour  [Theoderic of Nyem II. 6, p. 130 Erler].


Pope Clement VII immediately excommunicated Boniface IX. [Baronius-Raynaldi, sub anno 1389, no. 14].





Theodericus de Nyem [Dietrich Niem] [ca. 1338/1348—1418]:   Georg Erler (editor), Theoderici de Nyem de scismate libri tres   (Lipsiae 1890). Georg Erler, Dietrich von Nieheim [Thoedericus de Nyem]. Sein Leben und seine Schriften (Leipzig: Alfons Dürr 1887).

Gobelinus:   Cosmidromius Gobelini Person ed. Max Jansen (Munster i. W.: Aschendorff 1900)

Ludovicus Antonius Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores Tomus Tertius (Milan 1723), 830-832; 1115.

Sozomen Pistoriensis (xv. century): Ludovicus Antonius Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores Tomus Decimussextus (Mediolani 1730) 1059-1198.

Raynaldi: Caesaris S. R. E. Cardinalis Baronii, Od. Raynaldi et Jac. Laderchii Annales Ecclesiastici   Tomus septimus (Lucca: Typis Leonardi Venturini 1752) [Baronius-Raynaldi]. Caesaris S. R. E. Cardinalis Baronii, Od. Raynaldi et Jac. Laderchii Annales Ecclesiastici denuo excusi et ad nostra usque tempora perducti ab Augusto Theiner Tomus Vigesimus sextus 1356-1396 (Barri-Ducis: Ludovicus Guerin 1872) [Baronius-Theiner]

Johannes J. J. Döllinger (unter der Leitung von), Beiträge zur politischen, kirchlichen, und cultur- Geschichte der sechs letzten Jahrhunderte III. Band (Regensburg: Georg Joseph Manz 1882), pp. 361-362: "Conclave, quo Bonifacius IX. papa creatus est" (Vat. Cod. Lat. Monac. 150, fol. 46)

Martin Souchon, Die Papstwahlen von Bonifaz VIII bis Urban VI (Braunschweig: Benno Goeritz 1888), I 21-51; II, 266-270.     F. Gregorovius, History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Volume VI. 2 second edition, revised (London: George Bell, 1906) [Book XII, chapters 3-4], pp. 536-545. L. Zanuto, Il Pontificato di Bonifacio IX (Udine 1904).   Wallace St. Clair Baddeley, Charles III of Naples and Urban VI (London: Heinemann 1894).

P. Stacul, Il cardinale Pileo da Prata (Roma 1957).



August 6, 2015 9:22 AM

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