GUIDO ASCANIO CARDINAL SFORZA (1518-1564) was the son of Bosio Sforza, Conte di Santa Fiora e Cotignola, and Costanza Farnese, the legitimized daughter of Alessandro Farnese (Pope Paul III). He became Cardinal at the age of sixteen on December 18, 1534, in his grandfather's first Consistory. He was named Bishop of Parma (1535-1560), and became Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church in 1537 at the age of 19. It was a post he held until his death on October 6, 1564. He served as Legate of Bologna and the Romagna ( from 1537), and was Papal Legate in Hungary in 1540. He presided over the Interregnum of 1549-50, the two interregna of 1555, and that of 1559.
The Dean of the Sacred College was Giovanni Domenico Cardinal de Cupis (1493-1553) He was the son of Pope Julius II's former mistress, Lucrezia, and thus the half-brother of Felice della Rovere Orsini, Julius' daughter. A cardinal since 1517, he had been participating in conclaves since 1521-1522. He became Dean of the Sacred College in 1537. He was a close friend of St. Ignatius Loyola. [ His stemma at right ]
The security of the Conclave was placed by the Sacred College in the hands of Niccolò Orsini, with five hundred troops in addition to the Swiss Guard. The city itself, and the defense of the Vatican were placed in the care of Orazio Farnese, nephew of the deceased pope and Prefect of the City of Rome, with four thousand soldiers. These special arrangements were made necessary by the revolt of Ascanio Colonna against the papal government.
The Maestro di Ceremonie was Msgr. Giovanni Francesco Firmano. His diary from 1529 to 1565 survives in manuscripts.
The death of Pope Paul III had been anticipated for quite some time.
Who were the French supporting? According to Florentine sources in Rome (Averardo Serristori), Henri II was supporting Salviati, Ridolfi and Trani [de Cupis]. According to Florentine sources in in Paris (Amerigo Benci, who got his information from Queen Catherine), the French wanted Ridolfi and then Ferrara [d'Este]. According to the conclavist of Cardinal Juan Álvarez de Toledo (Buonanni), who was reading the Cardinal's private exchanges with the Emperor Charles V, Cardinal de Guise had been instructed to support the Cardinal de Lorraine, then the Cardinal de Tournon, and any other French cardinals; failing those, he was to work for Salviati, Ridolfi or de Cupis. [Petruccelli II, 25-26]. One thing was clear: Henri II did not want Cardinal Reginald Pole to be Pope [Ribier II, 258 (December 3, 1549)].
Severely depressed by the treachery of his own family and by the fall of Parma to Emperor Charles V, Pope Paul III suddenly contracted a fever. The Acta Consistorialia report [Eubel III, 20 n. 2]:
1549 Nov. 10 die dominica in aurora Paulus pp. III febre continua et catarrho correputs, diem supremum obiit.
The French Ambassador in Rome, M. d' Ursé, immediately reported to King Henri [November 7, 1549: Ribier II, 252]:
Mercredy au soir sixiesme de ce mois a dix-neuf heures, tomba subitement un catharre au Pape qui le mist en tels termes que pue esperoient de sa gurison, et soudain le Cardinal Farnese, avant que personne en sceust rien, depesche quatre courriers .... pour vous dire que je pense plustost la briefve fin du Pape, qu'autrement, et pour la haste ou je suis, je ne puis vous dire tout ce que je suis deliberé de faire; car advenant le vacant du Papat, je veux bien vous asseurer, Sire, que je n' espargneray ny peine ny hazard pour servir vostre Majesté. Cependant il seroit necessaire que Messieurs les Cardinaux fussent icy: car il ny en a que deux François qui sont Armagnac et Meudon: le Cardinal Farnese s' est impatronise du Chasteau Sainct Ange, auquel il a mis pour luy le sieur Storre Baillon, avec cent hommes, et dit-on de plus qu'il fait son pouvoir pour faire entrer le Duc Octavio dans Parme....
Cardinal Farnese took care to close the highways and bridges and secure the Castel S. Angelo. He sent couriers to Naples, Venice, Bologna and Tuscany. This crisis finally took the Pope's life four days later, on November 10, 1549, aged eighty-one. Rome, surprisingly, did not immediately erupt in violence. The French Ambassador reported on November 19 [Ribier II, 252-254]:
apres la mort du Pape, qui fut le 10. de ce mois, l'on craignoit un grand trouble en cette ville, et pensoit-on, tant pour la haine que l'on porte au nom de Farnese, comme pour les querelles et divisions particulieres, ou par les Imperiaux, ou Colonnois, il deust avoir émotion fort grade entre ces Seigneurs, mais l' ordre y a esté mis si dextrement, et les gens de guerre de si bonne heure, que vivant le Pape, il n'y avoit point telle tranquillite a Rome, comme celle qui y est de present; et ne se sont monstrez les Colonnois, sinon en quelque petite ville de leur Patrimoine qu'ils ont reprise
Cardinal Du Bellay's residence was entered by soldiers, but without violence. D'Ursé went on the same day to the Congregation of Cardinals, where the influence of the Spanish Ambassador was already in evidence. He nonetheless received a friendly hearing.
There were fifty-four cardinals at the time of the pope's death. A list of the Cardinals is given by Eubel III, p. 31 n. 1: forty-eight cardinals entered Conclave on November 29, 1549, and they were later joined by three others. Two cardinals died during the Conclave (Ennio Filonardi and Nicolò Ridolfi), and two others (Marcello Cervini and Philippe de la Chambre) did not participate in the final vote, since illness forced them to leave the Conclave. A list of all of the cardinals is given by Onuphrio Panvinio (pp. 416-417).
The Novendiales, which should have begun on the second day after the Pope's death, were a long time in beginning. The Acta Consistorialia report [Eubel III, p. 20 n. 2]:
pro quo defuncto exequiae inchoatae sunt 1549 Nov. 19, oratione funebri per Romul. Amaseum habita, et finitae Nov. 28.
The Conclave had been due to begin on November 19, but the three French cardinals in Rome requested additional time for their associates to arrive. The late start of the Novendiales made the delay possible. It also gave plenty of extra time for ambassadors to communicate with their sovereigns and for Cardinals to receive instructions from their patrons. Bernardino della Croce had demanded entrance and a vote, having been named a Cardinal by Paul III in a secret consistory, but his claim was rejected (Cartwright, 129-130). The Conclave finally opened on Thursday, November 29, 1549 [D'Ursé to Henri II (December 6, 1549): Ribier II, 254]. During the first week, twenty-eight votes were required for a canonical election [Ribier II, 254], implying an attendance at the time of 40 to 42 cardinals; eventually, as more electors arrived, thirty-two votes were needed to elect, 46 to 48 cardinals. In the final vote, 47 cardinals participated.
Novaes says that there were three factions, the Imperialists, the French, and the Farnesiani; and that the most likely soggetti papabili were Cardinals Pole, Sfondrati, Carpi and Ridolfi (who died on the night of January 31). The first week of the Conclave was taken up with the business of drawing up Electoral Capitulations. The first scrutiny did not take place until Tuesday, December 4. Reginald Cardinal Pole (Archbishop of Canterbury), the favorite of the Imperial party, received 26 votes, two short of election (The French Ambassador, d'Ursé, reported that it was 22 votes). At that point the number of votes needed for a canonical election was 28.
When the French Ambassador heard of the results of the first scrutiny, he immediately presented himself at the Gate of the Conclave. He spoke with the Master of Ceremonies (probably Giovanni Francesco Firmano), who was the outside Guardian of the Gate, and informed him that he had news that the French Cardinals, who had not yet appeared, had embarked at Marseille and had travelled as far as the Island of Corsica, where they were detained by bad weather and by the locals, who wanted to assure themselves as to who the travellers were and where they were going. The Ambassador requested that the Cardinals postpone the next ballot until the end of the week to give the French Cardinals time to join the Conclave. He also threatened that, if the Cardinals insisted on proceeding with the election, he would lodge an official Protest in the name of the King of France and claim that the Election was invalid. His story of the journey of the Cardinals was in fact a lie, and his threat to reject an election a bluff. The Ambassador, in truth, had not heard of the Cardinals since they had left Moulins. Likewise, he had no present intention to attempt to invalidate the Election, though he had heard that the Cardinal of Trent, Cristoforo Madruzzo, had instructions from the Emperor to enter a Protest if the wrong person were elected pope. The Master of Ceremonies summoned the Committee of Cardinals who handled communications with the outside to come to the door. Two hours later, d'Ursé returned and the six Cardinals on the Committee appeared and demanded to see the Ambassador's Instructions, which he handed over to the Dean, Cardinal de Cupis. They listened to him repeat his message and his threat, but the Dean would only agree to transmit the Ambassador's message to the entire College; later they would give him a reply. D'Ursé believed that the Cardinals would not agree or reply, because they were eager to make Cardinal Pole pope. [Ribier II, 234-236]
An attempt was, in fact, made that evening to proclaim Cardinal Pole "by adoration", but the Cardinal himself resisted. Cardinal Carafa, the Grand Inquisitor (since 1542) began to put it about that Cardinal Pole was touched by Lutheranism, in an effort to diminish his chances (De Leva, 72-76). In the second scrutiny Pole received 25, in the third 22 with two accessions, in the fourth 22 with three accessions, in the fifth 23, and in the sixth 21.
The next contestant was Cardinal Juan Alvarez de Toledo (Bishop of Burgos), the father of the Duke of Alba, Viceroy of Naples. He was one of those favored by Charles V and Cosimo II, but he could not get French or Farnese votes. He reached as high as twenty-six votes (De Leva, 77), but could not break through.
On December 12, five absent French cardinals finally arrived: de Guise, du Bellay, Vendome, Chastillon and Tournon [Ribier II, 257-258]. In the scrutiny of December 13, Pole got only one more vote (none of them French), and Alvarez 18. French orders were obviously to exclude Pole by their votes. The King of France, Henri II, favored his long-standing personal friend, Cardinal Ippolito d'Este II, but that was an impossibility. The other French choices were Guise, Ridolfi, Salviati and Cervini. (De Leva, 77-78). Cardinal Alessandro Farnese was promoting Cardinal Marcello Cervini, but the Imperial forces blocked him. The French were promoting Giovanni Salviati (Bishop of Porto) and Ridolfo Pio de Carpi. It gradually became apparent that one side would continue to exclude the candidates of the others, and so a compromise began to be sought.
On December 16, Cardinal Filonardo left the conclave because of illness; three days later he was dead. On the 22nd, Cardinal Cervini left, suffering from the quartan fever. On December 28, the number needed to elect stood at 33 [Guise to Henri II (December 28, 1549): Ribier II, p. 260], of a total at the time of 49 or 50 cardinals.
On December 29 several more French Cardinals arrived, the Cardinal de Boulogne and the Cardinal d'Amboise [D'Ursé to Henri II (January 20, 1150) Ribier II, 258]
On January 15, Cardinal Giovanni Morone, the Bishop of Modena, who had been born in Milan and served as Legate in Bologna from 1542-1548, emerged with 24 votes and two accessions. But this was as far as his candidacy got. Cardinal Ridolfi was carried out and died at his palace on January 31 (De Leva, 89). In a brief note to King Henri II on February 2, Ambassador d'Ursé remarked that, when they opened the body of Cardinal Ridolfi, it was discovered that he had been poisoned [Ribier II, p. 263]:
Cependant je vous diray que depuis le trespas du Cardinal Ridolphi, on l'a fait ouvrir, et trouvé manifestement qu'il estoit empoisonné, vous avez perdu, Sire, un bon et fidele serviteur.
As these events were transpiring in the Conclave, King Henri was writing to the Cardinal de Guise [Ribier II, 261-262 (January 25, 1550)], under pressure from his aunt's husband, Ercole II, the Duke of Ferrara (Cardinal d'Este's brother). Ferrara was using all of his influence through the King of France to have a candidate of his own, "Brusquet", supported for the Papacy. Henri agreed to use his French votes to support this candidate, who was agreed to be a good man for the French cause and was in any event one of the candidates that the French were already promoting—but only if the campaigns for "Fourfoulou" and "Rigolieres" did not succeed.
There were really two possibilities, Cervini (who was firmly in favor of Cardinal Pole) and del Monte. Del Monte belonged to the Farnese faction, and was believed to be friendly toward the French; the Imperial party, therefore, found him obnoxious. Cardinal de Guise, too, had a number of negative observations to make about him, including his temper and his scandalous private life, and did his best to oppose the candidacy.
Nonetheless, on February 7, 1550, in the evening, Cardinal Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, aged sixty-three, was elected (in the Roman reckoning it was already Saturday, February 8). In the final vote, forty-six cardinals participated; two cardinals [Trani and Naples] did not participate due to illness, nor did they participate in the Coronation [Diary of Angelo Massarello, in Gattico I, p. 391]. After the election, Cardinal de Guise was compelled to request the assistance of Cardinal Sforza in making his peace with the new Pope (Cardinalismo, 177)..
Julius III, was crowned on February 22, 1550, by Cardinal Innocenzo Cibò, the Cardinal Protodeacon [Diary of Angelo Massarello, Master of Ceremonies]. Forty-two cardinals participated; four did not do so. Cristoforo Madruzzo of Trent had already set off for home, while Carpi, da Silva, and Charles de Lorraine-Guise were in Rome but ill. The Pope intended to take part in the possessio ceremonies at the Lateran on March 14, 1550. But after the procession set out from the Vatican, the weather turned worse and rain drove Julius to seek shelter at S. Maria sopra Minerva; when the rain did not let up, he decided to spend the night in the monastery with the monks, and the next morning he celebrated a Pontifical Solemn Mass in the Minerva [Diary of Angelo Massarello, Master of Ceremonies]. Julius III finally took possession of his cathedral, the Lateran Basilica, on June 24.
A copious list of primary sources is given by Anton Pieper, Die päpstlichen Legaten und Nuntien in Deutschland, Frankreich und Spanien I. Theil (Munster 1897) 1-2.
Joannes Baptista Gattico, Acta Selecta Caeremonialia Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae ex variis mss. codicibus et diariis saeculi xv. xvi. xvii. Tomus I (Romae 1753).
Angelo Massarelli, "De Pontificatu Julii III," in J. J. Döllinger, Sammlung von Urkunden zur Geschichte des Concils von Trient I (Nördlingen 1876), 259-326 [Massarelli, Doctor in utroque iure, was secretary of the Council of Trent from 1545-1549, under the direction of Cardinal Cervini, and then papal secretary and chamberlain to Julius III; he was Bishop of Telese from December 15, 1557 to his death on July 17, 1566].
Guillaume Ribier, Lettres et mémoires d' État des Roys, Princes, Ambassadeurs et autres Ministres sous les règnes de François Ier, Henry II et François II Tome II (Blois 1666).
Onuphrio Panvinio, Epitome Pontificum Romanorum a S. Petro usque ad Paulum IIII gestorum (videlicet) electionisque singulorum & Conclavium compendiaria narratio (Venice: Impensis Iacobi Strada, 1557).
Francesco Maria Cardinal Sforza Pallavicino, S. J., Istoria del Concilio di Trento Book XI, chapter vi [Opere edite ed inedite del Cardinale Sforza Pallavicino, ordinata e pubblicata da Ottavio Gigli, Tomo XIII (Roma 1846) pp. 67-72]. [Gregorio Leti], Il Cardinalismo di Santa Chiesa Parte Terza (1668), 170-178.
Giuseppe de Novaes, Elementi della storia de' Sommi Pontefici third edition Volume 7 (Roma 1822) pp. 61-64. Gaetano Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Volume 15 (Venezia 1842) p. 286; Volume 21 (Venezia 1843), p. 241; Volume 31 (Venezia 1845) p. 164. A. F. Artaud de Montor, Histoire des souverains pontifes Romains Volume IV (Paris 1851), pp. 148-151. L. F. Bungener, History of the Council of Trent (New York: Harper 1855), 203-208. F. Petruccelli della Gattina, Histoire diplomatique des conclaves Second Volume (Paris 1864) 23-64. For the Imperial viewpoint see: Giuseppe de Leva, "La elezione di Papa Giulio III," Rivista storica italiana 1 (1884) 22-38. Giuseppe de Leva, Storia documentata di Carlo V in correlazione all' Italia Volume V (Bologna 1894) pp. 69-92. G. Constant, "Une rivalité Franco-Allemande en conclave: L' élection de Jules III," Revue hebdomadaire (18 février 1922) 333. F. J. Baumgartner, "Henry II and the Papal Conclave of 1549," Sixteen Century Journal 16. 3 (1985) 301-314.
Martin Haile, The Life of Reginald Pole (New York 1910) 356-364. W. C. Cartwright, On the Constitution of Papal Conclaves (Edinburgh 1878).
John Paul Adams, CSUN