Raffaele Sansoni Galeotti Riario (May 3, 1461-July 9, 1521) was born at Savona, the son of Antonio Sansoni and of Pope Sixtus IV's sister Violentina. On December 10, 1477, while engaged in the study of law at the University of Pisa, he was created Cardinal Deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro by his uncle Pope Sixtus (1471-1484). He was 17. He was suspected of having had some connection with the Pazzi conspiracy, April 1478, through his uncle Count Girolamo Riario and Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa. Although he was arrested and imprisoned, his uncle the Pope had him freed and brought to Rome, where he was officially rehabilitated in consistory. Iin 1483 he became Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, a post he held until his death in 1521. He was loaded with benefices by Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII (1484-1492), including the administration and income of sixteen rich bishoprics (including eventually Imola, Tréguier in France, Salamanca, Osima, Cuença , Viterbo , and Taranto); he was also Abbot of Monte Cassino and of Cava.
Under Alexander VI, however, he was in disfavor. The greed for power and property on the part of the Borgia family made the Riarios a major target. Alexander's son Cesare coveted the holdings of the Riario family, and seized the city of Forlì and also Imola. Riario fled to France and took up his bishopric of Tréguier. On his return in September of 1503 he was appointed Bishop of Albano (in November, 1503) and was consecrated bishop on April 9, 1504 by Pope Julius II personally (another nephew of Sixtus IV). In 1507 he was promoted to the bishopric of Sabina, and on July 7, 1508, became Apostolic Administrator of Arezzo. Julius II made him Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, Porto, and Velletri on September 22, 1508. . He participated in five conclaves, including the conclaves of 1484, 1492, 1503 that elected Pius III and the one that elected Julius II, and that of 1513.
In 1517, he was involved in the conspiracy of Cardinal Alfonso Petrucci against the life of Pope Leo X (also involving Cardinals Soderini and Sauli) and was arrested (May 29) and incarcerated in the Castel S. Angelo (De Grassis, p. 48). Trials were held. The ambassadors of England, France and Spain interceded. The College of Cardinals intervened on his behalf when it appeared that he might be stripped of all of his benefices, degraded from the cardinalate, and condemned to death. On July 24, he was released from confinement and brought to the Vatican; after he swore an oath, he was admitted to the presence of the Pope (De Grassis, p. 57). After he confessed to the Pope in a lengthy speech and begged pardon, which the Pope was pleased to grant, with a huge fine, whose value changed repeatedly, and the confiscation of his palace at S. Lorenzo in Damaso (the Cancelleria). He was restored to the bishopric of Ostia at Christmas, 1518, and his fine was cancelled. He died in 'retirement' in Naples.
Paris de Grassis, Papal Master of Ceremonies, records his death in 1521 (p. 86):
Die nona julii mortuus est cardinalis Sancti Georgii, Raphael Riarius Savonensis, decanus colegii et episcopus ostiensis, qui cum esset aetatis suae anno decimonono creatus est a Sixto cardinalis, demum in vicesimo secundo camerarius in quo mansit annos viginti novem, et sic anno sexagesimoprimo vel circa obiit Neapoli. . . .
Though only twenty-three at the time of the death of Sixtus IV, Raffaele Riario attended the conclave of 1484.
The Dean of the College of Cardinals in 1484 was Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (1443-1513), nephew of the late pope and second cousin of the Cardinal Camerlengo. He would be elected Pope Julius II in the conclave of 1503.
Pope Sixtus IV died on the evening of August 12, 1484, according to the Diary kept by Giovanni Burchard, the Papal Master of Ceremonies (Burchard, 3G 9T):.
Feria quinta, 12 mensis augusti, inter horam quartam et quintam noctis, vel circa, Romae in palatio apostolico apud Sanctum Petrum in superiori camera una, supra curiam ante bibliothecam respondente, obiit sanctissimus in Christe pater et dominus noster, Dominus Sixtus divina providentia Papa quartus....
It is difficult to imagine and to overestimate the degree of fury that was unleashed against the nephews, friends and hangers-on of Sixtus IV. Indeed every Ligurian in Rome was in danger of his life. Stefano Infessura, the Senatorial secretary, a bitter enemy of the Riario family, was particularly overjoyed at the death of his enemy (Infessura, 155-160):
ita quod tam ex primo dolore, quam ex novissimo infirmatus est febre, iacuitque in lecto, et obmutuit, visusque fuit exanimis per aliquod spatium. deinde reversus, inflato gutture, duodecima die augusti, videlicet die iovis, et quinta hora noctis mortuus est Sixtus. In quo felicissimo die Deus ipse Omnipotens ostendit potentiam suam super terram, liberavit populum Christianum de manu talis impissimi et iniquissimi regis, cui nullus Dei timor, nullus regendi populi Christiani amor, nulla charitatis et dilectionis affectio, sed solum voluptas inhonesta, avaritia, pompa seu vanagloria semper et continue praecipue viguit et in consideratione fuit.
Hic, ut fertur vulgo, et experientia demonstravit, puerorum amator et sodomita fuit.... [this abuse continues for five more pages. Nepotism was the real crime, plus avarice and financial profligacy.]
In the morning, a mob attacked and completely sacked the palace of the dead pope's favorite nephew, Count Girolamo, who was in the field with the army at the seige of the Colonna stronghold of Paliano (Pontano, 38):
Alli 13 andò tutta Roma in arme et erano di molte collette per Roma, e fu messa a sacco la casa del conte Hieronimo, guasto tutto lo giardino, e levato fino alle porte et finestre, furno sachigiati li navilii et magazini a Ripa, quali erano de Genovesi, fuorono rubbate de molte cariche di robba quale se portavano da una casa ad un'altra per salvarle, e certi giovini et Spagnoli li levavano con dire che erano robbe de Genovesi...
Count Girolamo's wife Caterina managed to escape to the Castel S. Angelo, where she commandeered the fortress from the commander of the guard, and made herself safe until her husband could return. The granaries along the Tiber and two Genoese ships loaded with wine were plundered. Stefano Infessura gives the luirid details (Diario, pp. 161-164) The Genoese Hospital was destroyed. Several cardinals met at the palace of Cardinal Riario, the Chamberlain, but their efforts to restore order in Rome were futile (Pastor, 230). On the evening of the 14th Girolamo arrived on the north side of Rome, but was ordered by the cardinals, who feared the influence of a papal nephew with an army on a free election, to remain at Ponte Molle (Milvian Bridge), but he instead joined his wife in the Castel S. Angelo. Cardinal Colonna and his supporters also returned to the city, and Girolamo Riario thought it wise to remove himself to safety with his Orsini supporters at Isola (Infessura, p. 165).
On the 17th, the first of the public novendiales masses was sung by the Vice-Chancellor, Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. Only eleven cardinals attended. The Colonna faction complained that security was lax and their lives in danger, and they refused to attend the ceremonies of the novendiales (Pontano, 39). Cardinals della Rovere (San Pietro in Vincola), Cibo (Malfetta), Savelli, Colonna and Nardini (Milano) were not present.
On the 18th, the Franciscan Cardinal Gabriele Rangone (Bishop of Agria) arrived, raising the number of cardinals present to 13. On the 19th Cardinal Maccone appeared, on the 20th Jorge da Costa (Lisbon) (Pontano, 39).
On the 22nd, the Conservatori of Rome, led by the First Conservator Vangelista de Renzo Martino, and some 200 Roman citizens met with all the cardinals in the sacristy of St. Peter's to speak about the disorders in Rome and to promise that, if the many men in arms did not guarantee the security of the cardinals so that they could elect a pope, the people of Rome themselves would do so.
On the 23rd of August the cardinals decided to begin the conclave the next day, but on the 24th it proved impossible. There was a riot in the Piazza della Rotonda , and several houses were attacked by partisans of the Colonna (Burchard, 11G 18T; Infessura, 168). Security arrangements were made for the entrances to the Vatican Palace, however, and an altar was prepared for the singing of the Mass of the Holy Spirit on the 25th. On the 25th a truce was finally agreed to among the warring factions in Rome: Girolamo relinquished control over the Castel S. Angelo (for the sum of 4000 ducats), the Orsini retired to Viterbo, and the Colonna to Latium (Infessura, 166-167; Pontano, 40-41). On the morning of the 25th, the Mass of the Holy Spirit was sung in the presence of twenty-four cardinals by the Cardinal of San Marco, Marco Cardinal Barbo (Burchard, 25T). In the afternoon of the 25th the cardinals finally entered the Conclave. Burchard (p. 15, 27-29T) provides the names of all of the cardinals and their conclavisti. The Cardinals were Borgia, Oliviero Caraffa, Marco Barbo, Giuliano della Rovere, G.-B. Zeno, Stefano Nardini, Giovanni Arcimboldi, G.-B. Cibò, Philibert Ugonetti (Hugonet of Macon), Giovanni Michaeli (Michiel), Jorge da Costa, Girolamo Basso della Rovere, Gabriele Rangoni, Domenico della Rovere, Juan de Aragon, Pietro Foscari, Giovanni de' Conti, Juan de Margarit, Giovanni Schiaffinati, Francesco Piccolomini, Raffaele Riario, G.-B. Savelli, Giovanni Colonna, G.-B. Orsini, and Ascanio Maria Sforza Visconti. Seven cardinals did not participate. A similar list is provided by the archives of the Ceremonial Congregation (Bourgin, 314). Both lists contain twenty-five names. After lunch, the cardinals and the conclavisti met separately to make necessary arrangements for the details of the conclave.
On the 26th of August, after mass, celebrated by the Cardinal of S. Marco, Cardinal Barbo, the Cardinals met and began discussions; their main concern was the preparation of documents to be signed by all cardinals, granting extraordinary privileges to the cardinals and circumscribing the powers of the papacy (Burchard, p. 16G) On the next day the cardinals continued their discussions, and finally produced two documents, one for the cardinals themselves to agree to, and one for the new pope to sign, which Burchard quotes in their entirety (Burchard, pp. 17-28G). Had they been carried out, the Church would have been ruled by a self-perpetuating, aristocratic, board of directors, with the Pope as a tightly circumscribed chairman.
On Saturday the 28th , after several cardinals celebrated mass, the Cardinals and the other conclavisti signed the electoral capitulations which had been prepared (Burchard, 17-28G). Cardinal Piccolomini, was the scrutator. Voting began with the Cardinal Vice-Chancellor Borgia, followed by the Cardinal of Naples, Cardinal Carafa (Burchard, p. 29G) When the votes were counted no cardinal had more than ten votes, seventeen being needed to elect. Cardinal Barbo received ten votes. Then in the afternoon, the matter of Cardinal Sforza was raised; he had been named a cardinal at the end of Sixtus IV's life, but the ceremonies of the opening and closing his mouth had not been completed. The issue was whether he was entitled to vote, and the cardinals decided in the affirmative (Burchard, p. 30G):
Fuit his diebus a nonnulis dubitatum, an R.D. Cardinalis Ascanius qui post obitum fel. rec, Sixti Papae quarti, Cardinalis ad Urbem venit, et cui postmodum os apertum non erat, in electionem futuri Pontificis votum dare deberet, cum non esset illa ceremonia de oris aperitione, quae in novis cardinalibus observatur, in eo consumata. Tandem fuit per RR. DD. cardinales conclusum, quod cum non sit praefato Cardinali Ascanio os clausum, possit liber electioni interesse, et in ea votum dare, et ea observata fuisse in aliis. Si autem praefato Ascanio Cardinali per fel. rec. Sixtum papam quartum os clausum fuisset, et tempore clausurae antequam idem Sixtus eidem os aperuisset, ipse Sixtus diem extremam clausisset, quod tunc, propter oris huiusmodi clausuram, non potuisset praefatus Cardinalis Ascanius in electione praedicta votum dare.
A rumor went about on the evening of the 28th (Saturday) that Cardinal Barbo, the Cardinal of St. Mark, had been elected pope, but the rumor was disproved when the evening meals of the cardinals were delivered (Pontano, 42).
Infessura (pp. 170-171) claims to have the inside information of how the election of the new pope came about. On Saturday evening (he says) Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere said to Cardinal Barbo, who at that time had eleven votes, that, if he would promise his house to Cardinal d' Aragona (son of King Ferdinand), that he would get him three more votes to make fourteen; but Barbo replied that he certainly would not do it, for, if he did do it, the election would not be canonical. Likewise, his house was better fortified than the Castel S. Angelo, and if he did that, it would perhaps be a cause of disturbance to the city and all Christendom, because the King (Ferdinand) could easily come there and make himself master of the City and disturb the order of the Church. Then he went to Cardinal Borgia, the Vice-Chancellor, and asked him if he wanted to make a pope in accordance with their votes. And he consented, so long as he could frustrate the election of Barbo, whom he hated. Then, overnight as the cardinals were sleeping in their cells, della Rovere and Borgia spoke with each of the cardinals (except de' Conti, Barbo, Carafa, da Costa, Piccolomini, de Margarit, and some say Zeno) telling them that if they gave their votes to Cibò, they would receive many benefits. In the morning those who had been sleeping were summoned and told that they had make a pope. "Who?" they asked. "The Bishop of Molfetta," they replied. "How?" "Last night, while you were sleeping, we all agreed." The seven, seeing that there were already eighteen or nineteen votes for Cibò, they went along. It was only the next day that it was discovered all the promises that Cibò had made to get elected. (Infessura provides a list of the simoniacal grants):
Cardinal Savelli: possession of the fortress called Monticelli on part of the Island
Cardinal Colonna: the fortress of Ceprano, the Legateship of the Patrimony, 25,000 ducats for
restoration of his burned out palace and contents, and the first available benefice worth a
minimum of 7,000 ducats.
Cardinal Orsini: the Legateship of the Marches and the castle at Cerveteri
Cardinal Ugonetti: the castle at Capranica and the Bishopric of Avignon
Cardinal d' Aragona: Pontecorvo, and the new pope's old palace at S. Lorenzo in Lucina
Cardinal Schiaffinati: the palace of S. Giovanni della Magliana and all of its outbuildings
Cardinal Nardini: the office of Archpriest of the Lateran Basilica, and the Legateship of Avignon
Cardinal della Rovere: the town of Fano, and five other neighboring properties; and the promise
to make his brother Captain General of the Church
On Sunday, August 29, after private masses and a Mass of the Holy Spirit by the Sacristan, voting began again. It was known that Cardinal Cibò (also called Cardinal Molfetta) would be elected because his conclavists, unlike the rest, did not repair to the chapel, but went to the Cardinal's cell to take care of their property. When the vote was taken (Burchard says he knows nothing about an accessio) Cardinal Giovanni Battista Cibò was elected unanimously; he was fifty-two years old.
Cardinal Cibò was crowned as Innocent VIII on September 12 (Burchard, 75-83 T), and took possession of the Lateran Basilica on the same day (Burchard, 83-90 T).
Gaspare Pontano, Il diario romano di Gaspare Pontano (a cura di Diomede Toni) (Citta di Castello 1908) [Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, Raccolta degli storici italiani dal cinquecento al millecinquecento, Tomo III, Parte II, fascicolo 67] pp. 37-42.
Achille Gennarelli (editor), Johannis Burchardi Argentinensis ... Diarium ... (Firenze 1854), 3-33. L. Thuasne (editor), Johannis Burchardi Argentinensis . . . Diarium sive Rerum Urbanum commentarii Volume I (Paris 1883) pp. 9-62. Stefano Infessura, Diario della citta di Roma (a cura di Oreste Tommasini) (Roma 1890) 155- . Gaetano Moroni Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica 36 (Venezia 1846) 6. Ludwig Pastor, The History of the Popes (edited R. K. Kerr) second edition Volume 5 (London: Kegan Paul 1902) 227-248. 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 4] (London 1900) 283-290. J.-P. Christophe, Histoire de la papauté pendent le XVe siècle (Paris 1863) Volume II, pp. 285-305; 586-587 (letter of Pier Filippo Pandolfini to Lorenzo de' Medici). G. Bourgin, "Les cardinaux français et le diaire caméral de 1439-1486," Mélanges d' archéologie et d' histoire 24 (1904) 277-318.
Joannes Baptista Gattico, Acta Selecta Caeremonialia Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae ex variis mss. codicibus et diariis saeculi xv. xvi. xvii. Tomus I (Romae 1753)
On Cardinal Riario: Angelo Poliziano, "La congiura de' Pazzi," Prose volgari inedite et poesie latine e greche edite e inedite (edited by Isidoro del Lungo) (Firenze 1867), p. 94. Niccolò Machiavelli, History of Florence Book VIII, chapter 1. G. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica 57 (Venezia 1852). Charles Berton, Dictionnaire des cardinaux (1857) p. 1445. Erich Frantz, Sixtus IV und die Republik Florenz (Regensburg 1880) 197-230, especially 207 (highly favorable to Sixtus and the Riarios).