October 18, 1503—November 1, 1503

Sixtus IV and his nephews
Platina is the kneeling figure,
Raffaele Riario is in blue, the future Julius II in the center.
and Pope Sixtus IV seated at the right.

No coins or medals were issued for the Sede Vacante.

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. He was named Chancellor of the Church [Cardella III, 210; accoreding to Moroni 57, 171, he was named Vice-Chancellor], and in 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 [1479], Viterbo [1498], 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. Giuliano della Rovere, too, was in exile in France, filling the post of Legate to Avignon. On his return in September of 1503 Raffaele was appointed Bishop of Albano (in November, 1503) and was consecrated bishop on April 9, 1504 by the new Pope Julius II personally (Giuliano della Rovere, 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.

Paris de Grassis, Papal Master of Ceremonies of Leo X, 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. . . .


Pituricchio's portrait of Cardinal Oliviero Carafa

The Dean of the College of Cardinals in 1503 was Cardinal Oliviero Carafa (1430-1511), who had been made a cardinal by Pope Paul II in 1467. He was now 72. He became Suburbicarian Bishop of Albano in 1476, and in 1483 transferred to the Bishopric of Sabina. He participated in the conclaves of 1484 and 1492. After the Conclave of 1492, he was elected Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals in the place of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who had been elected Pope Alexander VI. Since the see of Ostia was already being held by Giuliano della Rovere, he did not become Bishop of Ostia, the traditional prerogative of the Dean of the Sacred College. He had been named Administrator of the see of Naples just two weeks before the death of Pope Alexander VI. Julius II thoughtfully transferred the See of Ostia to Cardinal Carafa in a Consistory on November 29, 1503.


Death of Pope Pius III

On September 27, the new pope underwent an operation which required two incisions on his ulcerous leg. His surgeon, Ludovico Minatensis, was naturally blamed for the lack of success and called an imperitus chirurgus.   Antonio Giustinian, the Venetian Orator before the Holy See, remarks in his letter of the 28th (Dispacci, 212), "Al Papa sono stati fatti due tagli alla gamba con molto dolore." On Thursday the 28th of September, 1503, Pius informed Giovanni Burchard that he wished to be ordained a priest on Saturday and consecrated a bishop on Sunday, by the Cardinal of St. Petri ad Vincula (Rovere), who was Bishop of Ostia and had the right to consecrate a new pope by tradition; he was to be assisted by the Bishops of Savona (Galeazzo della Rovere) and Spoleto (Francesco Eruli). and so Burchard informed Cardinal della Rovere (Burchard, 280).

Cardinal Francesco Todeschini-Piccolomini was ordained a priest on Saturday, September 30, and consecrated bishop on October 1, though special arrangements had to be made so that he could be seated throughout the ceremonies, due to his ulcerous leg which was causing him severe problems. He was crowned as Pope Pius III on October 8 by Cardinal Raffaele Riario, the Cardinal Protodeacon (Burchard, 282-284, Panvinio, 362).

There were complaints that the pope was receiving improper treatments from his doctors. Sigismondo Tizio (in Piccolomini, p. 123) remarked:

Placuit interea medicis qui pontificem curabant, altero iam perforato crure, potionem pigmentariam, quam medicinam vocant, a Pio esse summendam; nec defuere qui medelam huiusmodi compositam reiiciendam putarent. Verum medentes custodientesque, nec non summentem pisum, fata ipsa ita disponebant inpellebantque ut longaeva iam Picolhomineorum felicitas repentino termineretur momento....

The Orator of Ferrara, Beltrando Costabili, noted as well that on October 11 and 12 the Pope was subjecting himself to one long audience after another not taking care of himself, despite the fact that he was taking medicine (Piccolomini, p. 123 n. 1; Pastor, History of the Popes, VI, p. 621). Burchard noted that Pius took medicina mala again on October 12.

On the night between the 13th and 14th of October, according to Giustinian (240) "el Pontifice ha abuto un parosismo de febre assai notabile.... Questo parosismo ha continuato con freddo e caldo tutto ozi con vomito e pasion di stomaco; el qual, durando, over rinfrescadosi, sarà con grandissimo pericolo di Soa Santità, considerata l' etade, la mala valitudine e poca prosperità sua. Next day, at midday, he wrote (243), "heri sera tornò il parosismo, non così grande como fo la notte avanti, pur con qualche accidente cattivo, zoè rigor e tremor e sonno, la furia del quale durò fino alle 5 ore di notte, poi commenzò a declinar. Though it diminished in intensity, the fever continued without remission and the pope became weaker and weaker.

Giustinian was summoned in the middle of the night between the 17th and 18th by Cardinal Carafa, and informed that the Pope had died some two hours earlier (Dispacci, 253, written October 18, ante diem). Pope Pius III had reigned for twenty-six days.

Participants in the Conclave

The College of Cardinals was the same as that in September, absent Cardinal Piccolomini, and with the addition of Cardinals d'Este and Isvalies—a total of thirty-eight (complete list in Burchard, 295-296):
  1. Oliviero Carafa, Neapolitanus, Bishop of Sabina, Dean of the Sacred College
  2. Giulio della Rovere, S. Pietro in vinculis, Bishop of Ostia, Major Penitentiary
  3. Jorge da Costa, Ulixiponensis, Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina
  4. Geronimo Basso della Rovere, Rencanatensis, Bishop of Tusculum
  5. Lorenzo Cibo, Beneventanus, Bishop of Palestrina.
  6. Antoniotto Pallavicini, Santa Prassede or Auriensis, Bishop of Albano

  7. Giovanni Antonio de S. Giorgio, Alexandrinus, Cardinal Priest of SS. Nereus and Achilles
  8. Bernardino Carvajal, Carthaginiensis, Cardinal Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
  9. Juan de Castro, Agrigentinus, Cardinal Priest of Sta. Prisca
  10. Domenico Grimani, Aquilegiensis, Cardinal Priest of San Marco
  11. Georges d' Amboise, Rothomagensis (Rouen), Cardinal Priest of S. Sisto
  12. Jaime Serra, Arborecensis, Cardinal Priest of S. Clemente
  13. Pietro Isavlies of Messana, Rhegiensis, Cardinal Priest of S. Crisogono
  14. Francisco Borgia, Cosentinus, Cardinal Priest of Sta. Caecilia
  15. Juan Vera, Salernitanus, Cardinal Priest of Sta. Balbina
  16. Ludovico Podocatar, Caputaquensis, Cardinal Priest of Sta. Agatha
  17. Antonio Truvulzio, Comensis or Cumanus, Cardinal Priest of Sta. Anastasia
  18. Giovanni Ferrero, Bononiensis, Cardinal Priest of S. Vitale
  19. Juan Castellar, Tranensis, Monreale, Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere
  20. Francisco Remolino, Perusinus, Surrentinus, Cardinal Priest of SS. Giovanni e Paolo
  21. Francesco Soderini, Volaterranus, Cardinal Priest of Sta Susanna
  22. Niccolo Fieschi, Foroliviensis, Cardinal Priest of S. Nicolaus inter imagines
  23. Francesco de Sprats (des Prades), Legionensis, Batoniensis, Cardinal Priest of S. Sergio e Bacco
  24. Adriano Castello, Cornetanus, Cardinal Priest of S. Crisogono
  25. Jaime Casanova, Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano Rotondo in Monte Coelio

  26. Raffaele Riario, S. Georgii, Cardinal Deacon of S. Georgio in Velabro, Cardinal Camerlengo
  27. Giovanni Colonna, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Aquiro
  28. Ascanio Maria Sforza Visconti, Cardinal Deacon of SS. Vito e Modesto in Macello, Vice-Chancellor
  29. Giovanni de' Medici, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Dominica
  30. Alessandro Farnese, Cardinal Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano
  31. Federico Sanseverino, Cardinal Deacon of S. Teodoro
  32. Hippolytus d'Este, Cardinal Deacon of Sta Lucia in Silica, Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica
  33. Giuliano Cesarini, Asculanus, Cardinal Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria, Archpriest of the Liberian Basilica
  34. Ludovico (Luis) de Aragona, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin
  35. Amanieu d' Albret, Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicolaus in Carcere Tulliano
  36. Ludovicus (Pedro Luis) Borgia(-Llançol), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata
  37. Marco Cornaro, Cornelius, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Porticu
  38. Francisco Lloris (Hiloris), Heluensis, Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria Nova


The Cardinals who were supporters of Duke Cesare were greatly suspected and were in total fear of the Orsini and Bernardino Alviano. The Spanish Ambassador, Francisco de Royas, who had an agreement with the Orisini dating from October 13, was worried about the Orsini keeping their promises and leaving the Duke and the Spanish in peace. The Orsini were demanding that the Duke stay in his palazzo during the entire period of the Sede Vacante. (Giustinian, 257) The Cardinals pointed out that their authority extended only to managing the Conclave, not to protecting the Duke, and that they had no authority to satisfy any of the demands of the Orsini (Giustinian, 257).

The Orsini were said to be favoring three candidates for the Papal throne, Carafa, Della Rovere, and Riario—all of whom would mean disaster for the Spanish cause. But if the Spanish had to choose one of the three, it would be Della Rovere. Giustinian also remarks that Carafa had some support, but there was the suspicion that he was a partisan of the French. At the moment nobody was talking about Amboise, or Ascanio Sforza, or Colonna (Giustinian, 254). The streets were filled not only with the Orsini and their partisans, but also Giampaolo Baglioni on the side of the French.

On Saturday, October 21, the Tiber was in flood. Several clerics, including Burchard, had trouble getting to the Vatican; the water began to recede, however, before Mass began. The first of the novendiales was celebrated with a Mass by Cardinal Della Rovere, in which fifteen cardinals took part, including Costa, Geronimo Basso della Rovere, Pallavicini, San Georgio, Carvajal, Castro, Grimani, Cesarini, Farnese, and d'Albret. The French and Spanish cardinals did not want to come to the service, alleging fear of Paul of Perugia and the Orsini, who were lurking in the Borgo. (Burchard, 287).

On Sunday, October 22, Cardinal San Giorgio celebrated the Mass, at which fourteen cardinals were present. Carafa, Geronimo Basso della Rovere, Pallavicini, Carvajal, Castro, Ludovico Podacatoro, Ferrero, Fieschi, Riario, Medici, Cesarini, Farnese, Cornaro, and Grimani.

On the 23rd, Cardinal Carvajal said the Mass, with seven cardinals in attendance; after mass, four others joined them.

On Tuesday the 24th, the Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Juan de Castro, with seven other cardinals in attendance: Carafa, San Giorgio, Carvajal, Podacataro, Ferrero, Sanseverino and Cesarini. After Mass, but in time for the absolutions, arrived Della Rovere, Grimani, Trivulzio and Colonna.; last of all came Medici. Cardinal Pietro Isavlies returned from his legateship in Hungary, though he was not formally received by the cardinals.

On October 25 there were fourteen cardinals present at the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Grimani.

Cardinal Jaime Serra celebrated the Mass on October 27, with seventeen cardinals in attendance.

On the 28th, Cardinal Francisco Borgia celebrated the Mass, assisted by nineteen cardinals. The meeting to revise the Electoral Capitulations did not take place, because Cardinal Carvajal could not be present. Late that night Cardinal D'Este arrived in Rome.

On Sunday, October 29, the Mass was said by Cardinal Pallavicini, at which twenty-four cardinals were present. Room assignments were drawn for the conclave cells. (Burchard, 291-292) After Mass there was a meeting at which the Electoral Capitulations were finalized which would be sworn to once the Conclave had begun. It was decided that the opening ceremonies of the Conclave would be held on Tuesday, October 31. The presence was demanded of the various officials who would have a role to play, including the Ambassador of the Emperor (Luca Raynaldi), the Ambassadors of the King of France (Roger de Grammont and Louis de Trans), the Ambassador of the King of England (Sylvester de Gigliis, Bishop of Worcester [1499-1521]), the Ambassador of Ferrara (Bertrando Costabili), the Ambassador of the King of Spain (Francisco de Royas), and the Ambassador of Venice (Antonio Giustinian) (Burchard, 292-293).

Portrait of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere

Also, on the 29th, Burchard notes that Cardinal Della Rovere came to the Apostolic Palace with Duke Caesare of Valentino and his cardinals, and that they entered into an agreement in which Della Rovere, after he was elected Pope, would name Duke Cesare as Gonfaloniere of the Holy Roman Church and Captain General, and that they would leave each other in possession of their properties. The Spanish cardinals swore to give their votes to Della Rovere (Burchard, 293).


On October 31, the Mass of the Holy Spirit was sung by Cardinal di San Giorgio. There were thirty-three cardinals assisting at the Mass. Absent were Cibo, Riario, Casanova, and d'Este. After the service was concluded, the participants went in procession to the Capella Maior, sang the Veni Creator, and were led in prayers by Cardinal Carafa, the Dean of the Sacred College. Afterwards the Cardinals retired to their cells for lunch. Later in the day the Conclave area was sealed and the Cardinals and participants took their oaths, the Cardinals began (but did not complete) the signing of the several pages on which the copies of the Electoral Capitulations would be written. Early in the evening, the Cardinals decided that Cardinal Della Rovere would be pope, and they all went to his cell (with the exception of San Giorgio) saying "Proficiat de papatu." Burchard was present (Burchard, 294), and was promised a bishopric, a mule, a cappa and a rochet by Della Rovere.

Election of Cardinal Della Rovere

On the morning of All Saints' Day, the Sacristan of the Conclave, Monsignor Ventura, the Bishop of Massana, said the Mass of the Holy Spirit, at which all thirty-eight cardinals were present. Afterwards, all of the Cardinals subscribed to the Electoral Capitulations (text in Burchard, 295-298 n. 1), and Burchard administered the oath, beginning with Carafa. After the witnesses to the Capitulations oath had notarized the documents, the scrutiny began. Cardinal della Rovere received all of the first-choice votes except his own (he voted for Amboise, Riario and Carafa) and Amboise's. Amboise voted for Carafa and Da Costa. Amboise himself received second-place votes from Aragona, Fieschi and Ascanio Sforza. De Sprats received one third-place vote, from Ascanio Sforza. The result, therefore, was 36 votes for Della Rovere, one vote for Carafa, and one vote for Amboise. (Burchard, 298-299)

Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere was elected pope on November 1, 1503. When he was presented the Fisherman's Ring which had belonged to Pius III by Cardinal Carafa, he placed on his finger another one which he had already had made in anticipation of his election (Burchard, 304). He signed three of the capitula, and Burchard witnessed them; but the new Pope would not sign any of the requests for favors which were being made to him. At the conclusion of the subscription, Cardinal Riario, the Cardinal Protodeacon, opened a little window, showed a cross, and announced, "Papam habemus!". After donning the papal robes, Julius was carried in his sedia gestatoria to the Vatican Basilica, where a Te Deum was sung and he received the public obeisance of the cardinals. Finally, he gave the papal blessing.

On November 3, Duke Caesare, deserted by the Spanish and insecure in his refuge at Nepi, was allowed by the Pope to move to Rome and into the Papal Palace again; was given rooms directly above the Pope's. On the night of the 19th he left Rome and moved to Ostia, intending to go to France.

Scheduling the date of his coronation was not an easy matter for Burchard. First, Julius announced He was crowned as Pope Julius II on November 18, and that he would take possession of the Laterian Basilica on the 19th (Burchard, 304). Then he decided on the 19th for St. Peter's and the 26th for the Lateran (Burchard, 305). Then the coronation was put off until the 26th and the Lateran until the Feast of St. Andrew.

On Sunday, November 26, after a solemn Mass, Julius II was crowned on the steps in front of the Vatican Basilica by the new Cardinal Protodeacon, Raffaele Riario, who had succeeded Pius III in that honor. In a consistory on November 29, the Pope moved Cardinal Carafa from the see of Sabina to that of Ostia, and Cardinal Cibo from the see of Palestrina to the see of Sabina. He also moved Cardinal Riario from the post of Cardinal Protodeacon to the see of Albano. Four new cardinals were named (the closing and opening of the mouth, and the assignment of tituli was performed on December 8):

  1. François Guillaume de Clermont, Bishop of Narbonne, nephew of Cardinal d' Amboise: Cardinal Priest of S. Adriano
  2. Juan de Zúñiga [Estunica], Archbishop of Seville, ex-Grand Master of the Order of Alcantara (d. July 25, 1504)
  3. Galeotto Franciotto della Rovere, Bishop of Lucca, the Pope's nephew: Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in vinculis (d. 1508)
  4. Clemente della Rovere, OFM, Mimatensis, the Pope's nephew: Cardinal Priest of SS XII Apostolorum

The Pope took possession of the Lateran Basilica on December 5, 1503.




L. Thuasne (editor), Johannis Burchardi Argentinensis . . . Diarium sive Rerum Urbanum commentarii Volume III (Paris 1883) pp 238-315 [There is a gap in the manuscripts between February 22 and August 12, 1503]. Stefano Infessura, Diario della citta di Roma (a cura di Oreste Tommasini) (Roma 1890) 276-282. Marino Sanuto (ed. Federico Stefani), I diarii di Marino Sanuto Tomo V (Venezia 1881). Onuphrio Panvinio, Epitome Pontificum Romanorum a S. Petro usque ad Paulum IIII. Gestorum (videlicet) electionisque singulorum & Conclavium compendiaria narratio (Venice: Jacob Strada 1557). Pasquale Villari (editor), Dispacci di Antonio Giustinian Ambasciatore Veneto in Roma dal 1502 al 1505 Volume II (Firenze 1876). Sigismundo Tizio: Paolo Piccolomini, "Il pontificato di Pio III, secondo la testimonianza di una fonte contemporanea," Archivio storico italiano 32 (1903),102-138.

F. Petruccelli della Gattina, Histoire diplomatique des conclaves Volume I (Paris 1864) 435-456 [contains translations of the dispatches of the ambassador of Modena. Bertrando Costabili]. 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 6 (London: Kegan Paul 1902) 185-231. Ferdinand Gregorovius, The History of Rome in the Middle Ages (translated from the fourth German edition by A. Hamilton) Volume 8 part 1 [Book XIV, Chapter 1] (London 1902) 1-15.

Valeria Novembri and Carlo Prezzolini (editors), Francesco Tedeschini Piccolomini: Papa Peio III: Atti della Giornata di studi, Sarteano, 13 dicembre 2003 (Le Balze 2005).

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).

On Cardinal Caraffa, the Dean: Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa Tomo Terzo (Roma 1793) 159-163.

November 15, 2013 6:52 AM
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