The Cardinal Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church was Cardinal Ludovico Scarampi Mezzarota Trevisano. He was born in Padua in 1401, of "low and obscure lineage", where he studied medicine and natural science, obtaining a doctorate from the University of Padua in 1425. His early successes in papal service were in the military sphere. It is said that he was one of Pope Eugenius' many physicians [Gaetano Marini, Degli archiatri ponttifici Volume primo (Roma 1784), xxix, 142-143 ]. In 1435 he was appointed Bishop of Trau, and in 1437 he became Archbishop of Florence. He was appointed Patriarch of Aquileia in 1439. In 1440 he was created Cardinal with the titulus of San Lorenzo in Damaso. He was again successful in the military sphere in 1440, aiding the Papacy and Florence against Niccolò Piccinino the captain of the Lombard League. As Legate of the March of Ancona he freed the March of Ancona from the clutches of Francesco Sforza. In the last months of Pope Eugenius' life he was in charge of all of the castelli and fortified places under papal control. He was named admiral of the papal fleet in 1455, and fought the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean (1455-1459), on account of which he did not participate in the Conclave of 1458. He was promoted Cardinal Bishop of Albano in 1465, and died in that year in Rome. He was buried in his titular church. [Cardella III, 95-98; Moroni, Dizionario storico-ecclesiastica 45, 12-14]
The Marshal of the Holy Roman Church and Guardian of the Conclave was Pandolfo Savelli. (G. Moroni, Dizionario storico-ecclesiastica 42, 279-280; G. Bourgin, 216 and n.8). He was the son of Giovanni Battista Savelli, who, in his Will (October 11, 1445), calls himself della Santita di Nostro SIgnore il Papa e della corte di Roma marescalco. Pandolfo died during the Pontificate of Paul II (1464-1471).
Pope Nicholas had long suffered from gout. In his last illness, in March of 1455, it became necessary to appoint a committee to carry on the regular functions of papal government. Niccolò della Tuccia (p. 253 Orioli) says,
A 10 di marzo stava il papa infermo, e peggiorò assai.... Il papa tuttavia peggiorava di sua infirmit à, specie di gotta, e venne tanto manco, che perdè tutte le forze naturali. Poi gli useì una postema sotto le orecchie, e fe capo. Onde vedenosi lui in pericolo di morte, fece venire a se tutti li cardinali, e fe loro un bel parlamento.... Et in quel punto elesse 4 cardinali che dovessero governar la sedia apostolica. Il primo fu il cardinal Colonna; 2. il cardinal di S. Marco [Barbo], nepote di papa Eugenio; 3. il cardinal di Fermo [Capranica]; 4 il cardinal di Bologna [Calandrini] fratello del papa; et a loro se assegnare obbedienza da tutti li castellani della chiesa e del Castel S. Angelo. Ancora se capitano di tutte le genti della chiesa il cardinal di S. Lorenzo in Damaso, Patriarca d' Aquileia e Camerlengo del papa [Scarampi], e fello legato della sedia apostolica.
On March 11, 1455, the Peace (agreed upon by Milan and Venice on April 9, 1454, to which Florence acceeded on August 30, and finally King Alfonso on January 26, 1455) among the King of Aragon and Naples, the Florentines, the Venetians , the Duke of Milan (Visconti) and Count Francesco Sforza —called the League of Lodi— was announced in Rome. Cardinal Capranica had been instrumental in getting Alfonso to agree to the treaty. Pope Nicholas V died on March 24, 1455, at hour V of the night (Tuccia; Stefano Infessura, p. 59 Tommasini; Paolo di Benedetto di Cola dello Maestro, p. 101, makes it March 25). He had ruled the Church for eight years and nineteen days. The Holy See was vacant for fourteen days.
The Florentines were already worried. They, of course, placed no trust in a treaty or a league. They feared both the ambitions of the Duke of Milan and the aggressive attitude of King Alfonso of Naples, whose agreement to the Peace was both late and reluctant. On March 14, the Florentine government, which knew of the Pope's condition, was already putting itself in a defensive position (Pastor, Acta Inedita , p. 40 n. 26; Petruccelli, 263-264). Petruccelli quotes a set of instructions which were given to Roberto de Martelli, the Florentine agent who was dispatched to Rome on March 28, four days after the death of Pope Nicholas. He was to speak to all the cardinals, urging them to select a man who would preserve and strengthen the Peace (Petruccelli, 264-265, from a ms. in the archives of the X di Balia).
The Bishop of Novara (Bartolomeo de Vicecomitibus: Eubel I, 372) wrote to Francesco Sforza on April 1, 145 that the greater part of the Sacred College were content with Cardinal Colonna. But the long dying of the Pope gave Cardinal Orsini time to arrange his plans with the government of Venice and with King Alfonso [ portrait at right ], and it was now a question of Cardinal Barbo or Cardinal Scarampi, the Camerlengo. With the support of the King, the Orsini faction had five votes. The problem was to choose between Orsini's two candidates. The wrong choice could do much damage to Sforza (Petruccelli, 265-266) .
The Diarium Camerale (Bourgin 291) provides a list of the fifteen cardinals who participated in the Conclave of 1455. There were twenty-one cardinals in all. A list of the Cardinals, present and absent is given by Onuphrio Panvinio, who lists nineteen cardinals—fifteen present and four absent. He omits Pierre de Foix and Dénes Szécsi (Epitome, 317-318). Another list is provided by one of the participants, in a letter to Francesco Sforza on April 4 (Petruccelli, 267). Cardinal Zbigniew Oleśnicy (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of S. Prisca, Bishop of Kraków, died on April 1, 1455, during the Sede Vacante. In 1449, Nicholas V had formally ended the schism by admitting the Former Felix V and three of his anti-cardinals into the Sacred College (Eubel II, 11), but Felix and two of the cardinals had died before Nicholas V. Ten votes were needed to elect.
The Conclave opened on Friday, April 4, 1455, which was Good Friday. It was the eleventh day after the death of Nicholas V. The anonymous Conclavist who is the source of Gregorio Leti in Conclavi de' pontefici romani (1667), p. 40, states that the Cardinal Dean celebrated the usual Mass of the Holy Spirit before the cardinals entered in procession into Conclave, a usual phrase found in all conclave narrations. But this is not possible. It was Good Friday, and on that day there is no Mass celebrated anywhere. Is Leti himself making the material up? The Diarium Camerale (cited below) seems more accurate in stating that the Adoration of the Cross took place before the entry of the cardinals, which is completely appropriate to the day. A Mass of the Holy Spirit was celebrated on Holy Thursday, according to the Bishop of Novara (Petruccellii, 267), and another was celebrated on Saturday.
The diarium camerale provides important information (Bourgin, 291; Eubel II, 11 n.9):
Anno ut supra , die vero quarta pr(a)edicti mensis [aprilis], hora decima octava vel circa, que fuit dies veneris, sexta feria majoris ebdomad(a)e, osculato ligno crucis, que fuit .xj. a die obitus fe(licis) re(cordationis) Nicolai pap(a)e quinti, cujus exequi(a)e precedenti die proximo fuerant complet(a)e, R(everendissi)mi in Christo patres domini domini cardinales infrascripti intraverunt conclave in palatio apostolico apud S(anc)tum Petrum pro futuro pontific(a)e eligendo, videlicet: Flisco, Ruthenus, Nicaenus, S. Sixti, Aquilegiensis, Firmanus, Valentinensis, Ilerdensis, Ursinus, Avinionensis, Bononeiensis, Metensis, S(anc)ti Marci, Columna, S(anc)ti Angeli.
The author of Conclavi de' pontefici romani (p. 41) indicates that there were several parties among the Cardinals (which is not surprising), that ambassadors and agents from various princes and powers were negotiating with the Cardinals (which is not surprising), and that several Cardinals had hopes of becoming pope (which is not surprising)—spinning a narrative in the absence of facts. There were two inconclusive scrutinies ( Saturday April 5 and Sunday April 6?). Bessarion had some support (he says, deriving his information from Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini). The Bolognese Roberto Sanseverino wrote to the Duke of Milan on April 17 that the Bolognese ambassador had informed him that Cardinal Bessarion [ portrait at left ] had eight votes, and that it seemed on Sunday and Monday that he would be pope (Petruccelli, 269). Cardinal Alain de Coëtivy, the Cardinal of Avignon, however, is said to have put an end to it with a speech (at the scrutiny on Monday April 7?),
Concederemo noi dunque alla Chiesa santa Latina un' huomo Greco? e porremo nell' eccelso loco del Ponteficato un' huomo Neofito? e chi vi fa certi che la conversione sua sia verra? Sarrà nostro Pastore quello, che poco tempo fà oppugnava la fede Cattholica? E possibile, che la Chiesa nostra Latina sia posta in tale necessità, che in essa non si trovi un' huomo degno, et atto per reggere, e governare la Gregge di Dio? Illustrissimi Signori svegliatevi, e non permettete un tanto scandalo nella Chiesa di Christo, per che tale elettione io non approvo, come anco tutti li altre che alle parole mie prestarrano fede, mai non consentiranno che tale persona sia eletta in Vicario di Christo, et habbia à governare la Grege sua con tanto sospetto, e pericolo di tutto il Christianismo.
This inflammatory rhetoric may have been intended (or so the Conclavist claims) to advance Coëtivy's own chances, but it had the opposite effect. It seems unlikely, however, that Coëtivy could really have considered himself 'papabile', especially when compared with Colonna, Capranica, Carvajal and Torquemada. The suggestion that he might have been clearing the way for another, however, may have merit. Jean Nicolas Jager (Histoire de l' Eglise Catholique en France Tome 13 , 497) suggests that he was working in the interest of a fellow Frenchman, Cardinal d'Estouteville [This was true in the next Conclave, the one of 1458]. But, though this makes Coëtivy seem very patriotic in the French cause, it does not ring true. While one can see some cardinals exercising a prejudice against the Greeks, it does not follow that they would then vote for a Frenchman, and an absent one at that.
In the night between Monday and Tuesday, Cardinal Scarampi and Cardinal de Coëtivy engaged in active politicking (Sanseverino wrote to the Duke of Milan: Petruccelli, 269). Bessarion's support withered (see Vast, 219-221). But Scarampi, at least, was certainly working in the interests of King Alfonso. Alfonso wished to pursue his war with Genoa, and he wanted a pope who would not interfere. That Cardinal Borgia was seventy-six years old was not an impediment in the minds of many who were looking to the (not too distant) future. That, however, may be a modern and cynical observation. The feeling at the moment of Calixtus' election was one of great elation, because Calixtus was avid to launch a new Crusade against the Turks [Baronius-Theiner 29, sub anno 1455, nos. 18-19, p. 27]
Cardinal Alfonso Borja was elected on Tuesday, April 8, 1455 (Diarium camerale: Bourgin 291):
Anno pr(a)edicto, die vero martis octava dicti mensis, circa horam quintadecimam, R(everendissi)mus in Christo pater et dominus, dominus Alfonsus t(ituli) S(anc)torum quatuor Coronatorum, pr(a)efatus cardinalis Valentinus, assumptus fuit ad summi apicem apostolatus, et vocatus Calixtus tertius et associatus de conclave, quod factum fuit in cappella parva palatii, usque ad altare S(anc)ti Petri et reductus in palatium cum omnibus cardinalibus.
On April 14, Robert Sanseverino wrote from Bologna to the Duke of Milan that it was through the activities of the King of Aragon that Calixtus III had been elected (Petruccelli, 268).
On Sunday, April 20, 1455 (xii Kal. Maij), the Solemn Mass was celebrated in the Vatican Basilica by the Pope himself. The Epistle was sung by Cardinal Barbo and the Gospel by Cardinal Prospero Colonna. Calixtus III (Borja) was crowned after a solemn Mass on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica , by Cardinal Prospero Colonna, the Cardinal Protodeacon [Niccolò della Tuccia (p. 257] .
Finita la messa, venne il papa fuori di s. Pietro, ove in capo delle scale era fatto un palco di tavole, et eravi una sedia in mezzo: et il papa con tutti li cardinali vestito di bianco, salirno su detto palco, et in detta sedia si pose il papa a sedere con una mitra in testa. Poi si fe' innanzi il cardinal Colonna, e levolli di testa detta mitra, e poseli il regno con tre corone come si usa, e cantorno certe orationi. Poi discesero tutti da detto palco, e montorno a cavallo....
A procession, with the Pope on a white horse, accompanied by fourteen cardinals and more than eighty bishops, all vested in white, immediately proceeded to the Lateran Basilica. They were accompanied by the Conservatori of Rome, thirteen confaloni [bandarenses], and the caporioni. Along the way, the Pope came upon the Jewish comminity of Rome, who presented him a copy of the Torah [Niccolò della Tuccia, p. 257] :
Essendo gionto il papa presso a Montegiordano sotto un bel solicchio se li ferno innanzi li giudei, e posero in mano del papa le loro leggi. Il papa lesse un poco, e poi disse ch'erano bone, e loro l'intendevano male, e gettole via.
As the cavalcade reached the Lateran, a fight suddenly broke out between the followers of Count Averso of Tagliacozzo (an Orsini through his mother) and a retainer of Napoleone Orsini, the brother of Cardinal Orsini [Niccolò della Tuccia, p. 258]:
poi cavalcò et andossene a s. Giovanni, e nel smontare hebbe di novo gran stretta, e corse gran pericolo, e fulli tolto il solicchio e la cavalcatura. Li cardinali pigliorno il papa e lo misero in s. Giovanni, Fu in quel viaggio fatta una questione, che un huomo d'arme del conte Averso uccise un huomo di'arme di Napolione Orsino; e quelli di Napolione uccisero quelle del conte Averso. Per lo che le genti di Napolione titti s'armorno coll'Orsini, et andorno a casa del conte Averso, e miserla a saccomanno, e tolserli 7 cavalli che ci trovorno. Detto conte stava a s. Giovanni col patriarca, e dui suoi figlioli e suoi famigli, e mai non si mosse. Il cardinale Orsino fratello di Napolione, il conte di Tagliacozzo, e il prefetto, cioe Francesco Orsino, e tutti l' altri signori Orsini s' adoprorno a pacificare detto rumore.
Bartholomeo Sacho gives a somewhat different version, in his "Calisti Papae III vita" [Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores III. 2, 963; Gregorovius VII. 1, pp. 150-151, presents a somewhat different story, but without references]:
At vero dum Pontifex ipse de more in Basilica Lateranensi coronaretur, duo milites, quorum alter sub comite Averso, alter sub Neapolione Ursino diversarum partium ducibus militabat, de adolescente armigero contendentes, ita se mutuis vulneribus confecere, ut uterque statim perierit. Hanc ob rem Neapolio factionem Ursinam ad arma convocans, aedes ubi Comes Aversus divertere consueverat diripuit, aberat tum Comes. Ad Lateranum itaque iturus Neapolio, ut Comitem adoriretur, aegre a Latino fratre, et a Camerario Pontificis retentus est. Non poterat certe sine magna urbis calamitate eo proficisci Neapolio, cum tota Columnensium factio, quae Comiti favebat, jam in armis esset. Miserat et ad utrunque Pontifex Iohannem Baruncellum et Lelium Valle Advocatos Concistoriales, qui pacem inter eos componerent, atque hoc modo auctoritate Pontificis sedata sunt omnia, non tamen vetus simultas inter eos sublata est.
The Pope was finally enthroned (Diarium Camerale: Bourgin 291). He stayed the night at S. Giovanni, rather than return, as was the custom, to the Vatican [Niccolò della Tuccia, p. 258].
Niccolò della Tuccia, Cronaca de' principali fatti d' Italia dall' anno 1417 al 1468 (edited by Francesco Orioli) (Roma 1852). Bartolommeo Platina, Historia B. Platinae de vitis Pontificum Romanorum...que ad Paulum II Venetum ... doctissimarumque annotationum Onuphrii Panvinii (Cologne: apud Maternum Cholinum 1568), 294-295. Bartolommeo Platina, Historia B. Platinae de vitis pontificum Romanorum ...cui etiam nunc accessit supplementum... per Onuphrium [Panvinium]... et deinde per Antonium Cicarellam (Cologne: Cholini 1600) 295-307. [Gregorio Leti], Conclavi de' pontefici romani (1667) 39-43. Bartolommeo Platina ed altri autori, Storia delle vite de' pontifici Tomo Terzo ( Venezia: Domenico Ferrarin 1765) 358-373. Onuphrio Panvinio, Epitome Pontificum Romanorum a S. Petro usque ad Paulum IIII. Gestorum (videlicet) electionisque singulorum & Conclavium compendiaria narratio (Venice: Jacob Strada 1557) 298-306; 311-312. [Gregorio Leti], Conclavi de' pontefici romani (1667), 29-37. Dominico Giorgi, Vita Nicolai Quinti Pont. Max.(Roma: Palearini 1742) 162-164. Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Ecclesia Tomo III (Roma: Pagliarini 1793) 1-107. Stefano Infessura, Diario della citta di Roma (a cura di Oreste Tommasini) (Roma 1890). Ludovicus Pastor, Acta inedita hsitoriam pontificum Romanorum praesertim saec. XV, XVI, XVII illustrantia (Freiburg im Breisgau 1904).
Antonius Panormitanus, Alphonsi Arragonis Regis dicta et facta memorabilia, in Johannes Gerhardus Meuschenius, Vitae Summorum Dignitate et Eruditione Virorum Tomus II (Coburgii: apud Jo. Georgium Steinmarckium 1736). 1-27.
G. Constant, "Les maîtres de cérémonies du XVIe siècle: leurs Diaires ," Mélanges de l' École français de Rome 23 (1903), 161-229; 319-344. Mario Pelaez, "Il memoriale di Paolo di Benedetto di Cola dello Maestro dello Rione di Ponte, " Archivio della Societa romana di storia patria 16 (1893), 41-130.
F. Petruccelli della Gattina, Histoire diplomatique des conclaves Volume I (Paris: 1864), 263-269. Francesco Cancellieri, Notizie istoriche delle stagioni e de' siti in cui sono stati tenuti i conclavi nella città di Roma... (Roma 1823) 12-14. J. C. Georg Voigt, Enea Silvio de' Piccolomini als Papst Pius der Zweite, und sein Zeitalter Erster Band (Berlin:Georg Reimer 1856) 381-411. J. B. Sägmüller, Die Papstwahlen und die Staaten von 1447 bis 1555 (Tübingen: H. Laupp 1890). Ferdinand Gregorovius, The History of Rome in the Middle Ages (translated from the fourth German edition by A. Hamilton) Volume 7 part 1 [Book XIII, Chapter 1] (London 1900) 97-99; 101-108. Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes (tr. R.F. Kerr) third edition, Volume I (St. Louis 1906); Volume II (St. Louis 1908), 3-26. On Count Everso and the fight with the Orsini: Vittorina Sora, "I conti di Anguillara dalla loro origine alla 1465. Everso conte di Anguillara" Archivio della r. Società romana di storia patria 30 (1907), 53-118.
Erwin Gatz (editor), Die Bischöfe des Heiligen Römischen Reiches, 1448 bis 1648 : ein biographisches Lexikon. (Berlin : Duncker & Humbolt, 1996).
On Cardinal Domenico Capranica, see J.-B. Christophe, Histoire de la papauté pendant le XVe siècle Tome premier (Paris 1863) 93-96; 116-119. William Cornwallis Cartwright, On the Constitution of Papal Conclaves (Edinburgh 1878) 125-129. P. A. Kirsch, "Die reservatio in petto bei der Cardinalscreation," Archiv für katholisches Kirchenrecht 81 (1901) 421-432. E. Carusi, "La Legazione del card. D. Capranica ad Alfonso di Aragona (Napoli, 29 luglio – 7 agosto, 1453)," Archivio della r. Società romana di storia patria 28 (1905), 473-481. On Cardinal Pierre de Foix: F. de Grailly, "Révolte des Avignonais et des Comtadins contre le Pape Eugène IV et leur soumission par le Légat Pierre de Foix (1433)," Mémoires de l' Académie de.Vaucluse 16 (1897) 324-343.
On Cardinal Bessarion: Henri Vast, Le Cardinal Bessarion (1403-1472) (Paris 1878). On Cardinal d'Estouteville, Marguerite Mollier, Le cardinal Guillaume d' Estouteville et le Grand VIcariat de Pontoise (Paris: Plon 1906).
On Cardinal Nicolaus von Cusa, K. Grube, Historisches Jahrbuch 1(Münster 1880), 393-412.
On Cardinal Pierre de Foix: Francois Baron, Le cardinal Pierre de Foix, le vieux (1386-1464) (Amiens: Yvert & Tellier, 1920).
On Francesco Sforza's career, see: Giovanni Benadduci, Della signoria di Francesco Sforza nella Marca, e peculiarmente in Tolentino (Tolentino 1892). The chronicles of the city of Fermo are also of interest, especially for the career of Cardinal Capranica as Legate of the Marches: Marco Tabarrini (editor), Cronache della città di Fermo (Firenze 1870 [Documenti di storia Italiana, Tomo IV].
Selections from records of the Apostolic Chamber referring to French cardinals contain a number of important entries: G. Bourgin, "Les cardinaux français et le diaire caméral de 1439-1486," Mélanges d' archeologie et d' histoire 24 (1904), 277-318.