SEDE VACANTE 1590


August 27, 1590—September 15, 1590

September 27, 1590—December 5, 1590






Coins: Berman, p. 119 #1393-1407
from Rome (AV, AG), Fano (AR, billon), Macerata (AR, billon) and Montalto (billon)



ENRICO CARDINAL CAETANI (1550-1599), of a distinguished Roman family, was born on August 6, 1550, nephew of Cardinal Niccolò Caetani. He obtained a doctorate in canon and civil law from the University of Perugia. He was Patriarch of Alexandria (1585), and had served as Legate in Bologna (1585-87), and Nuncio to France and to Poland. He was created Cardinal by Sixtus V on December 18, 1585, and was sent to France as Legatus a latere (1589-1590) to deal with the crisis over the struggle for the French throne Henri (IV) de Bourbon had been excommunicated in 1585 (and again in 1591). One of the members of his suite was Roberto Bellarmin, SJ. Despite instructions from the Pope to maintain a balance among the competing interests, which included Philip II of Spain (who was proposing his son as a candidate for the French throne), Caetani joined the Duc de Mayenne and the Holy League in proclaiming the Cardinal de Bourbon as King Charles X. Unfortunately, the Duc was defeated at the Battle of Ivry, and the Cardinal died shortly thereafter (1589). With Henri de Bourbon besieging Paris, Caetani was recalled to Rome. He did not reach Rome in time for the Conclave of September, 1590. He had been named Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church on October 26, 1587, and presided over the second Interregnum of 1590, the Interregna of 1591 and 1592. He died on December 13, 1599.

The Dean of the Sacred College since March 2, 1589, was Giovanni Cardinal Serbelloni (aged 71). He was born in Milan, a nephew of Pope Pius IV (whose mother was a Serbelloni), and was the first cardinal created when Pius became pope. He was named Bishop of Foligno in 1557. The new pope, his uncle, immediately translated him to the Bishopric of Novara. On January 31, 1560 he was named Cardinal Priest in the title of S. Giorgio in Velabro to which he added the titulus of S. Maria degli Angeli in 1565. He chose to move to S. Pietro in Vincoli and then almost immediately to S. Clemente in 1565. In 1570 he moved to S. Angelo in Pescheria, and in 1577 to S. Maria in Trastevere. In 1578 he became Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina, and shortly thereafter Bishop of Palestrina. He was promoted to the See of Frascati in 1583, and Porto and Santa Rufina in 1587. He died in 1591.

The Governor of the conclaves was Msgr.Ottavio Bandini, the Prefect of the Borgo [Eubel III, p. 53 n. 1]. He was born in Florence (October 25, 1558), and educated at Florence, Paris, Salamanca and Pisa (where he obtained a law degree). He served as a lawyer and administrator in the Papal States from 1572. Sixtus V made him governor of Fermo, and he became Archbishop of Fermo in 1595. Bandini was named Cardinal priest of S. Sabina on June 21, 1596. In 1598 the Cardinal was sent to Picenum as legate to restore order in the face of brigands. In 1621 he was promoted to be Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina, which he exchanged for Porto and Santa Rufina in 1624. He became Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals and Bishop of Ostia on September 7, 1626. He died in Rome on August 1, 1629 at the age of 72. He participated in the two Conclaves of 1605, and those of 1621 and 1623.



Death of Pope Sixtus

Portrait by Bernini of Cardinal ALessandro Damasceni Peretti Lorenzo Priuli, the Venetian Ambassador before the Holy See, wrote in 1586,  "The taste for accumulating money derails his projects....As a Cardinal, he suffered a bit from 'the gravel' (kidney stones).   If his thought patterns and his anger don't agitate him, he will live a long time. But he preoccupies himself with many projects, he is passionate, he worries, he gets enraged to the point that his hands tremble.... Of the sixty living Cardinals [in 1586] scarcely a one loves him. They fear him and they regard him." (Alberi, Le relazioni, 297-329, especially 308; Petruccelli II, 263, 264). Priuli's successor, Giovanni Gritti, wrote on May 15, 1589 (Alberi, Le relazioni, 333-348; Petruccelli, 265), "The Holy See now lies entirely in the hands of Cardinal Montalto, a young man of seventeen years [bust at left].... Sixtus doesn't get along well with the Emperor ... and he is on very bad terms with the King of France. He esteems and likes the King of Spain, but the King is not satisfied with him, due to a letter written by the Pope, who was angry about the Pragmatic Sanction, and called the King a heretic and schismatic.... He is on good terms with the other princes, especially the Duke of Savoy.... He likes the Duke of Ferrara very much.... " (Alberi, Le relazioni, 345; Petruccelli, 266)   He held the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando I, in great esteem, because, Ferdinando de' Medici—who had been a Cardinal in 1585— had been instrumental in making him Pope (Alberi, Le relazioni, 345).

On August 24, it was reported by the Roman agent of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Giovanni Niccolini (son of Agnolo Niccolini, who had been envoy of Cosimo I to Pope Paul III), that the Pope was ill with a continuous fever, a fact which was also passed on by Cardinal Girolamo Della Rovere, Archbishop of Turin, to the Duke of Savoy on the same day; he noted that the Pope had given up wine and fruit and was putting himself in the hands of his doctors, a resolve that lasted exactly one day. Sixtus' Chief Physician (archiatros) was Antonio Porti, who had written a book de peste. The progress of the Pope's fever (malaria, probably) from August 21 to August 25 is detailed by the Venetian agent, Alberto Badoer, in a dispatch of August 25.   Pope Sixtus V (Peretti) died on August 27, 1590, near sunset, of malarial fever, his condition exacerbated by repeated angry discussions with the Spanish Ambassador, the Count-Duke of Olivares. At the papal bedside were twenty-seven of his thirty-three creature, including the Major Penetentiary, Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini. The Pope received Extreme Unction, but was unable to receive the Holy Communion. (Platina, 203-204)

Upon the news of his death, Sixtus' subjects rioted, and tore down the statue of their master which had been erected on the Capitoline, and passed a law, which was inscribed on marble and placed in a Hall of the Campidoglio, against putting up a statue of a pope while he was alive. (Platina, 205; dispatch of the Venetian agent, Alberto Badoer, August 27, 1590). He was entombed in the Liberian Basilica (S. Maria Maggiore), in the Sistine Chapel which he had constructed.

The Views of the Powers

Three months before the Pope died, Giovanni Gritti, in his address to the Venetian Senate at the conclusion of his Roman embassy, remarked that the sogggetti papabili were Paleotto (Bishop of Sabina), Castagna (San Marcello), Como (Galli, Bishop of Frascati), Gian Girolamo Albano (aged 86), and several others. Those who showed the most favor to Venice were Santa Croce (Andreas von Austria, Bishop of Brixen), Cremona (Sfondrati), Albano, Federico Cornaro (Bishop of Padua), and Verona (Agostino Valieri).

Cardinal Charles II de Bourbon

In France, King Henri III had taken measures against the family of the Guise. On Christmas Eve, 1588, Cardinal Louis de Guise, the brother of Duke Henri de Guise, leader of the League (who had been killed on orders of the King) was executed. Catherine de Medicis had died on January 5, 1589 of pleurisy. Her son Henri III carried on, with the support of his cousin Henri de Navarre, to whom he had deeded the Crown on his death. The two Henris were engaged in a war led by the Guise family—not for the first time. When Henri III Valois died on August 2, assassinated by a Dominican friar, the throne passed to the other Henri, Henri de Bourbon. The French were now ruled by an excommunicated heretic, Henri IV, who could expect nothing good from Rome, no matter who became pope. Sixtus V had supported the right-wing Catholic League led by the Guises, and had encouraged both the King of Spain and the Duke of Savoy to make war on France in the interest of the League. When Henri III died, the League proclaimed the Cardinal Charles de Bourbon, uncle of Henri IV, as King of France, Charles X [portrait at right]. But Henri of Navarre won the war against the Cardinal and the Duke de Mayenne at the Battle of Ivry, and seized the persons of the Cardinal and the Archbishop of Lyons, Pierre d' Espinac. Sixtus V was compelled to begin an adjustment of policy, attempting to come to some sort of understanding with Henri IV (Platina, 194). This only outraged the League members and the King of Spain. (Hübner, 291-316). The Count-Duke of Olivares repeatedly harangued the old and ill Pope about his volta face and the damage which was being done to Catholicism and to his master, King Philip. Neither side was sad to see Sixtus die.

Cardinal della Rovere, Archbishop of Turin, wrote to the Duke of Savoy, "Olivares is asking me why there is no Ambassador of France here. I told him that the ambassadorship is vacant, not only because of the absence of the ambassador, but because they have no king in France (Archives of Turin, Petruccelli, II, 278)

Sixtus had also been acting friendly toward Queen Elizabeth of England, in the hope, apparently, of enticing her back to the True Faith and restoring Church income. The execution of Mary de Guise, Queen of Scots, in 1587 had been a blow. In the wake of the Spanish Armada of the summer of 1588, and the accession of Henry of Navarre in France, Elizabeth and Protestantism had only become stronger. Sixtus' attempts at rapprochement only enraged King Philip the more against the old Pope. He sent the Duke of Sessa as his ambassador to reinforce the Count-Duke of Olivares in Rome.

The Grand Duke of Tuscany was also very interested in the election in Rome. Ferdinand I de' Medici had been a cardinal himself before succeeding to the duchy, and he knew personally all of the cardinals. Several of his subjects were to be participants in the Conclave, and he had been treating with King Philip of Spain in both their interests, or so he said. He had sent a messenger to King Philip, assuring the King of his loyalty, and willingness to work with the royal agents for Philip's candidates, with the exception of Cardinal Facchinetti (Santi Quattro). He said the same things to the Spanish ambassadors in Rome, Olivares and Sessa. He was also closely cooperating with Cardinal Montalto, the late Pope's nipote.   A letter (August 31) from the Marquis Muti, ambassador of Savoy, however, noted that Castagna was making a lot of noise, and that he was being supported by the Duke of Florence, though Cardinal Montalto believed he could exclude him. Likewise, Florence (he said) could scarcely stand Como. The ambassador himself kept pushing Della Rovere, but he admitted that the entire College was against him, as they were against any of the creature of Sixtus V. In his view, the papabili were: the elder Colonna, Como, Castagna, Santi Quattro, Cremona, Lancelotti, Santa Severina, Albano, San Giorgio, Pinelli, Aldobrandino, Camerino and Paleotto (Petruccelli, 279-80). In a confidential letter of September 5 to his agent Nicolini in Rome, however, the Grand Duke repeated the instructions he had given another agent, Vinta, to whom he had given his instructions for the Conclave: exclusion for Como, exclusion for Santi Quattro, exclusion for Della Rovere; if somebody excludes Mondovi, don't move. If Mondovi pushes himself forward using the Duke's name, disavow him (Petruccelli, 283). Vinta had spoken with Cardinal Montalto, who had agreed to the Grand Duke's instructions, but who was uncertain as to Ferdinando's recommendation of Cardinal Castagna. He needed, he said, time to reflect. He feared that Castagna was "too Spanish" (Petruccelli, 284) .

According to Duke Ferdinando's ambassador to the Emperor Rudolph II, Curzio de Pichena, who had heard from the Nuncio that the Emperor had written to Cardinal Spinola in order to coordinate his own preferences with those of Philip II, the Emperor was supporting the Cardinal of Austria, Madruzzo, the two Gonzagas, and San Marcello (Castagna). (Petruccelli, 280)

The Cardinals

A list of the Cardinals is given by Konrad Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica III, p 53 n. 1. A computation of the Cardinals who participated in the Conclave of 1590 is given by Alberi (Le relazioni, 293-296, and 349). There were sixty-seven cardinals: seven were French, four Spanish, two Germans, two Poles, and the rest Italian.

Cardinals attending:

  1. Giovanni Serbelloni (aged 71), Suburbicarian Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, Dean of the Sacred College (died March 18, 1591)
  2. Alfonso Gesualdo (aged 50), Suburbicarian Bishop of Porto and Santa Rufina (died 1603) Vice-Dean (according to Giovanni Paolo Mucantio, the Master of Ceremonies: Gattico I, p. 339).
  3. Iñigo de Aragona (aged 55 or 56), Suburbicarian Bishop of Frascati (died 1600)
  4. Marc' Antonio Colonna, Suburbicarian Bishop of Palestrina (died 1597)
  5. Tolomeo Galli (aged 63), "Como", Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina, (d. 1607)
  6. Gabriele Paleotti (aged 68), Suburbicarian Bishop of Albano (d. 1597)

  7. Girolamo Simoncelli (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of S. Prisca (died 1605) Administrator of Orvieto. "Sanseverino"
  8. Marco d' Altemps [Markus Sittich von Hohenems] (aged 57), nephew of Pius IV, Cardinal Priest of S. Giorgio in Velabro (d. 1595)
  9. Nicolas de Pellevé (aged 75), Cardinal Priest of S. Prassede (died 1594) Archbishop of Sens.
  10. Luigi Madruzzi (aged 58), nephew of Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzi, Cardinal Priest of S. Onofrio (d. 1600) Bishop of Trent.
  11. Michele Bonnelli, OP (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina, Cardinal Vicar of Rome, grand nephew and Nipote of Pius V, (d. 1598) "Alessandrino"
  12. Antonio Carafa (aged 52), Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni e Paolo (died January 31, 1591)
  13. Giulio Antonio Santorio (aged 57), Cardinal Priest of S. Bartolommeo all' Isola (died 1602)
  14. Girolamo Rusticucci (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Susanna, former Bishop of Sinigaglia (died 1603). Vicar General of Rome
  15. Gian Girolamo Albani (aged 86), Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni a Porta Latina (died April 15, 1591)
  16. Pedro de Deza (aged 70), Cardinal Priest of S. Girolamo dei Schiavoni/Croati (died 1600); Professor of Law at Salamanca. Grand Inquisitor
  17. Giovanni Gonzaga (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Alessio (died December 23, 1591).Knight of S. John of Gerusalem
  18. Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti (aged 71), Cardinal Priest of SS. Quattro Coronati (died December 30, 1591) Pope Innocent IX
  19. Gianbattista Castagna (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello (died September 21, 1590) Doctor in utroque iure, Bologna   Pope Urban VII
  20. Alessandro de' Medici (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni e Paolo (died 1605) "Cardinal of Florence" Fiorenza
  21. Niccolò Sfondrati (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia (died October 16, 1591) Bishop of Cremona, Pope Gregory XIV
  22. Giulio Canani (aged 66), Cardinal Priest of S. Anastasia (d. 1592) Bishop of Modena; Doctor in utroque iure, Ferrara
  23. Agostino Valier (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Marco (died 1606); Bishop of Verona
  24. Antonmaria Salviati (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Pace (died 1602)
  25. Vincenzo Lauro (aged 67) Cardinal Priest of S. Clemente (died 1592) Bishop of Mondovi
  26. Simeone Tagliavia d' Aragona (aged 40), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria degli Angeli (died 1604) "Terranova" [Cardella, V, 218-219]
  27. Filippo Spinola (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Sabina (died 1593)
  28. Scipione Lancelotti (aged 63), Cardinal Priest of S. Salvatore in Lauro (died 1598) Doctor in utroque iure
  29. Giovanni Battista Castrucci (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Aracoeli (died 1595) Archbishop of Chieti
  30. Federico Cornaro (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano Rotondo (died 1590) Bishop of Padua [died on October 4, just before the second conclave]
  31. Domenico Pinello (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Crisogono (died 1611) Professor of Law at Padua; Archpriest of S. Maria Maggiore
  32. Ippolito Aldobrandini (aged 54), Cardinal Priest of S. Pancrazio (died 1605); Major Penitentiary; elected Pope Clement VIII
  33. Girolamo della Rovere (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in vincoli (died January 25, 1592; not February 7) Archbishop of Turin
  34. Girolamo Bernerio, OP (aged 50), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria sopra Minerva (died 1611) Bishop of Ascoli
  35. Antonio Maria Galli (37), Cardinal Priest of S. Agnese in Agone (died 1620) Bishop of Perugia to 1591, then Osimo; "Cardinal Perusinensis"
  36. Costanzo da Sarnano, OFM Conv. (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio (died 1595)
  37. Benedetto Giustiniano (aged 36), Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello (died 1621) Doctor of law, Genoa
  38. William Allen (aged 58), Cardinal Priest of SS. Silvestro e Martino (died 1594) In 1591, Vatican Librarian, on the death of Antonio Carafa.
  39. Scipione Gonzaga (aged 47), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria del Popolo (died 1593) Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
  40. Antonmaria Sauli (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano al Monte Celio (died 1623) former Bishop of Genoa
  41. Giovanni Palotta (aged 42) [of Caldarola in the Diocese of Camerinum], Cardinal Priest of S. Matteo in Merulana (died 1620) former Archbishop of Cosenza, Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica. Papal Datary
  42. Juan Hurtado de Mendoza (aged 42), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere (died January 6 or 8, 1592).
  43. Giovanni Francesco Morosini (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Via (died 1596) Bishop of Brescia
  44. Mariano Pierbenedetti (aged 52) Cardinal Priest of SS. Marcellino e Pietro (died 1611) "Camerino"
  45. Gregorio Petrocchini (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Agostino (died 1612) "Montelbero"

  46. Francesco Sforza di Santa Fiora (aged 28), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata (died 1624) Grand-nephew of Pope Paul III.
  47. Paolo Emilio Sfondrati (aged 30), Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia (died 1618) Cardinal nipote of Gregory XIV
  48. Alessandro Damasceni Peretti (aged 19), Cardinal Deacon of S. Lorenzo in Damaso (died 1623); Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, grand-nephew of Sixtus V "Montalto"
  49. Girolamo Mattei (aged 43), Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio (died 1603) Doctor in utroque iure, Bologna
  50. Ascanio Colonna (aged 30), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin (died 1608). Knight of Malta, Doctor in utroque iure, Alcalá
  51. Federico Borromeo (aged 26), Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano (died 1631) Doctor of Law, Pavia
  52. Agostino Cusani (aged 48), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Panisperna (died 1598); Doctor in utroque iure
  53. Francesco Bourbon del Monte Santa Maria (aged 41), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Domnica (died 1627) Doctor of law
  54. Guido Pepoli (aged 30), Cardinal Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano (died 1599) Doctor in utroque iure, Siena

Cardinals not attending:

  1. Andreas von Austria (aged 31) Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria Nova (died 1621) nephew of Emperor Charles V and also of Emperor Ferdinand I.
  2. Albrecht von Austria (aged 29), Cardinal Deacon (of S. Croce in Gerusalemme), son of Emperor Maximilian II (died 1621) Viceroy of Portugal 1585-1595
  3. Gaspar de Quiroga y Vila (aged 78) Cardinal Priest of S. Balbina (died 1594) Archbishop of Toledo
  4. Hughes de Loubenx de Verdalle (aged 59), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Portico (died 1595) Grand Master of the Sovereign order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (1582-1595).
  5. François de Joyeuse (aged 28), Cardinal Priest of Sma. Trinità al Monte (died 1615) Archbishop of Toulouse, Protector of France
  6. Jerzy Radzvil (Radziwill) (aged 34), Cardinal Priest of S. Sisto (died 1600) Bishop of Krakow
  7. Andreas Bathóry (aged 24), Cardinal Deacon of S. Adriano (died 1599) nephew of king Stephen Bathory of Poland
  8. Rodrigo de Castro Osorio (aged 67) Cardinal Priest of SS. XII Apostoli (died 1600) Archbishop of Seville
  9. Charles de Bourbon de Vendome (aged 28), Cardinal Deacon without a deaconry (died 1594) Archbishop-elect of Rouen (never ordained, never consecrated)
  10. Enrico Caetani (aged 40), Cardinal Priest of S. Pudenziana (died 1599) Doctor in utroque iure, Perugia; Patriarch of Alexandria, Cardinal Camerlengo Legate in France
  11. Charles de Lorraine-Vaudemont (aged 23), Cardinal Deacon of S. Agata in Suburra (died 1607)
  12. Philippe de Lenoncourt (aged 63), Cardinal Priest of S. Onofrio (died 1592)
  13. Pierre de Gondi (aged 58), Cardinal Priest of S. Silvestro in Capite (died 1616) Bishop of Paris

The September Conclave

The Conclave opened on September 7, with the Mass of the Holy Spirit being sung by Cardinal Alfonso Gesualdo, the sub-Dean of the College of Cardinals, in St. Peter's Basilica in the Chapel of Sixtus IV. The new regulations of Gregory XIII allowed the Cardinals, however many were present at the enclosing of the Conclave, to proceed to an election without consideration of those who had not arrived. This caused the cardinals to put aside their customary leisurely attitude toward appearing and being enclosed. There were forty-eight cardinals participating that day. In the evening, they assembled in the Pauline Chapel and did the necessary business to see to a smooth operation of the Conclave. The officers of the Conclave and the various attendants and staff were sworn in. After the meeting, the three senior members of the orders of cardinals, Cardinal Gesualdo, Cardinal Michele Bonelli and Cardinal Francesco Sforza, conducted an examination of the credentials of the various Conclavists. The Ambassadors of the various Catholic governments stayed in the Conclave area, engaging in conversations and negotiations with the Cardinals until midnight. A number of them had been recommending Cardinal Giambattista Castagna (aged 69), Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello, and the buzz in the Conclave that night was about his prospects. Castagna had already been noted as a soggetto papabile by the Venetian Ambassador, Lorenzo Priuli, four years earlier (Alberi, Le relazione, 322). Another soggetto of discussion was Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna (aged 67), the Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina, though the Spanish were known to be hostile to his candidacy. It is said that the late Pope Sixtus V had believed and stated that the Cardinal of S. Marcello would be his successor.

The cardinals were, as always, divided into factions. Cardinal Montalto, nephew of the dead pope, a young man of only nineteen years, led the creature of Sixtus V. He usually listened to the advice of Cardinals Giustiniani, Camerino (Pierbenedetti) and Aldobrandino, in addition to that of his aunt Camilla Peretti. His aunt Camilla was inclined toward Cardinal Colonna's candidacy, and so was Montalto. Cardinal Sforza led those of Gregory XIII, and Cardinal Ascanio Colonna a group of twelve cardinals who adhered to his own cause (Leti, 206). Montalto and Ascanio Colonna were continually working for the candidacy of Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna, and Sforza and Cardinal Carlo Borromeo and a few of Borromeo's adherents opposed him. The Spanish too, though few in number, did not support Colonna. Montalto and Colonna commanded the largest bloc of votes, but not the thirty-two (on the first scrutiny) or thirty-six needed to elect a pope (once all fifty-four cardinals who attended had arrived).

Portrait by Moroni of Cardinal Ludovico Madruzzo

On the next day, Saturday, September 8, the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Masses were said in the Sistine Chapel, one of which was attended by the Dean of the Sacred College, even though he was said to be quite aged and ill. Joannes Paulus Mucanzio, Master of Ceremonies, remarked in his Diary [J. Catalano, Sacrarum Caeremoniarum sive Rituum Ecclesiasticorum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Libri Tres (Romae 1750), 61]:

die viij Septembris Cardinalis Gesualdus supplens vices Cardinalis S. Georgii Decani adhuc convalescentis et debilis propter infirmitatem, in dicto Sacello Paulino celebravit Missam lectam de Spiritu Sancto, in qua praebuit omnibus Cardinalibus, fere, inquam, nam hac die nonnulli Cardinales Presbyteri devotionis causa propter Festum Nativitatis B. Mariae Virginis celebraverunt in Sacello Sixti IV. in quo ultra altare solitum, quatuor alia altaria ad commoditatem et usum Reverendissimorum Dominorum Cardinalium et Conclavistarum celebrare volentium erecta fuerunt.

Afterwards, in the Capella Paolina, a scrutiny in the was held, but without a conclusive result. Later in the day Cardinal Ludovico Madruzzo (portrait at left) arrived from Trent and was received into the Conclave. Cardinal Madruzzo had brought with him the list of candidates acceptable to King Philip II of Spain (Sanseverino, Paleotti, Madruzzi, Como, Colonna, SS. Quattro and Cremona), and it is probably not accidental that one of them, the Cardinal of Como, Tolomeo Galli (aged 63), began to receive votes. Galli(o) had been the Private Secretary of Pius IV, and Gregory XIII's secretary of State. His candidacy was also supported by Cardinal Alessandrino (Michele Bonelli)—at least until Cardinal Montalto (Alessandro Peretti) declared himself publicly to be against Galli. The Florentines were also under instructions to exclude him. Alessandrino and his faction deserted Galli, and his candidacy was finished. (Histoire des Conclaves, 202; Petruccelli, 287). The next soggetto to be proposed was Cardinal Aldobrandini, but he was not acceptable to the Spanish, and his candidacy got nowhere. The rest of the day was occupied by a review by the Master of Ceremonies of all of the conclavists, who had to appear personally before him.

On Sunday, September 9, a second scrutiny took place. The Cardinal of Cremona, Niccolò Sfondrati, arrived during the reading of the votes and was allowed to enter the Paoline Chapel. Also present were Cardinals Albano and Cornaro, who had not taken part in the first scrutiny because of illness. All three read the papal bulls on conclaves and took the usual oaths. In the evening Cardinal Scipio Gonzaga entered the Conclave.

On Monday, September 10, Cardinal Madruzzo informed Cardinal Altemps and Cardinal Sforza (the leader of the creature of Gregory XIII) that one of the cardinals favored by the Spanish Crown was the Cardinal of Santi Quattro, Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti, one of the Inquisitors General at the Holy Office. But when they began to canvass for support for him, it was revealed that the Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cardinal Montalto (Alessandro Peretti) were against him, and so the proposal was abandoned. On the same day other names were making the rounds. Among them was Cardinal Sanseverino, Girolamo Simoncelli (aged 68), who attracted attention simply because Cardinal Madruzzo, King Philip's representative, had spoken well of him, but in his case it was the Grand Duke of Tuscany again and Cardinal Alessandrino who were found to be opposed to him. Later, the Cardinals assembled to receive the Cardinal of Pavia, Ippolito de' Rossi, who had entered the Conclave..

On Tuesday, the 11th of September, the third scrutiny took place. Although Cardinal Peretti and Cardinal Sforza continued to promote the candidacy of Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna with all the vigor at their command, there was no positive result. Nor did the balloting on Wednesday make any progress in finding a pope, despite the increasingly vocal frustration of Cardinal Sforza.

On Thursday, September 13th, the the sixth day, some of the cardinals attempted to place the tiara on the head of Marcantonio Colonna, amid scenes of wild excitement and tumult, but they did not succeed in their plan to press for election by "acclamation".  This ended Colonna's chances, and Sforza was forced to look for another candidate. Among the creature of Gregory XIII, of whom Sforza was the leader, stood Gianbattista Castagna (aged 68). Castagna had been vigorously supported by the Grand Duke of Tuscany as his first choice for many months.

On Friday, the 14th, at the scrutiny, Cardinal Castagna received twenty votes (Leti, 207, says 25 votes). The size of his support was taken as a sign that it was only a matter of time until his candidacy would be successful. Cardinal Montalto made public remarks in favor of Castagna. Castagna was very acceptable to the Spanish. He was well known in Spain, where he had been Nuncio, and he had baptised King Philip's eldest daughter.

In the morning of September 15, first by acclamation and then by a scrutiny, which was of course unanimous, Giambattista Cardinal Castagna, the governor of Bologna and Consultor of the Holy Roman Inquisition, was elected. It was decided to keep the election secret for some hours to allow the cardinals who were ill to be carried comfortably to their residences, and to allow the Conclavists to remove the property of the other cardinals to avoid the traditional sacking. In the afternoon, the new Pope was carried in procession to St. Peter's, where he received the hommage of the Cardinals in public. He then bestowed his Apostolic Blessing on the joyful crowds which had gathered. Later in the day, at the Vatican Palace, the Pope gave 2000 ducats to the Cardinal of Sens, Nicolas de Pellevé, who had spent all of his money on getting to the Conclave and had nothing now to live on; he also gave 1000 ducats to Cardinal Allen (founder of the seminaries at Douai and at Rheims, and one of the founders of the English College in Rome) for similar reasons. (Conclavi de' Pontifici Romani, 399;Histoire des Conclaves, 207-208)

Death of Pope Urban

Urban VII contracted a fever on the third day of his pontificate. He died of this malarial fever on September 27, without having been crowned and without having been installed on his episcopal throne in the Lateran Basilica.

 


The Second Conclave

The second Interregnum lasted from September 27 to December 5, a period of two months and seven days. Urban VII had created no cardinals, and therefore the Sacred College was substantially the same (except for the death of Cardinal Cornaro on October 4, 1590). Fifty-two of the sixty-five cardinals entered conclave on October 8. Two others arrived after the conclave began. Andreas of Austria was present, and, as Cardinal Protodeacon, crowned the new Pope. Cardinal Enrico Caetani, the Cardinal Camerlengo, had returned from his Legateship in France.

The second Conclave of 1590 was a very different affair from the first one. The Cardinals had subdivided into at least seven factions (Leti, 208). Individual wounds from the previous conclave had not yet had time to heal. All of the plans of the previous conclave had been dashed, but there had been insufficient time for either cardinals or courts to reassess their positions or candidacies or receive instructions from their governments. Of necessity, therefore, the Second Conclave of 1590 would be a reapplication of the plans for the First Conclave. But consensus would be much harder to achieve. Hardly anyone, Cardinal or conclavist, was able to estimate accurately each soggetto's chances (Histoire des conclaves, 211). It should be noted that the process of the accessio was not in use at this time.

Portrait  of King Philip II of Spain

The Spanish Ambassador, the Count-Duke of Olivares, was working hard for a personal friend of his, Cardinal Sanseverino (Girolamo Simoncelli, aged 68), who, as he declared, was King Philip's first choice. In the first Conclave King Philip [portrait at right] had sent a list, including the names of Sanseverino, Paleotti, Madruzzi, Como, Colonna, SS. Quattro and Cremona. But Simoncelli had always been vocal against the Spanish pretensions in Naples and Sicily as well as Ravenna. On the other hand, Simoncelli was thought to have the influence to bring the French cardinals to do what the king desired, or so the King believed. Simoncelli, the grand-nephew of Julius III and the last of his creations, had been a cardinal for 37 years and this was his eighth Conclave. He had been Bishop of Orvieto for eight years and subsequently Apostolic Administrator, and was noted for being unabitious for fame, promotion, or power. (Cardella, IV, 336-337). Cardinal Francesco del Monte, the leader of the Florentine faction, believed he could go along with Sanseverino's candidacy, since he already had the support of five or six creature of Sixtus V and there appeared to be other votes available in addition to the Spanish. When he was consulted, the Grand Duke wrote back to Monte that he thought Sanseverino better than any of the other candidates of King Philip—a change of position from the previous Conclave, and perhaps intended to prove to King Philip that the Grand Duke really was his friend. Monte was thus obliged to declare his support of Simoncelli openly. But there were difficulties. Cardinal Altemps was against Sanseverino, as were Sforza (The creature of Gregory XIII, now fourteen in number, were under his leadership), the two Colonnas, Alessandrino (Bonelli, leader of the creature of Pius V) and several of the Spanish faction. The cardinals perceived the weakness of Sanseverino's actual support and gave his candidacy little heed.   Instead Olivares (and Madruzzo, inside the Conclave) turned their efforts toward the Cardinal of Cremona. (Histoire des conclaves, 214-216)

Once the Grand Duke was appraised of the collapse of Sanseverino's candidacy. he too turned his attention to Sfondrati, the Cardinal of Cremona, as much because he was being proposed by Altemps as because he could see nothing standing in the way of Cremona's chances. He would have the Spanish votes, the thirteen creature of Gregory XIII, Altemps and his party, and even perhaps Cardinal Montalto and his votes. The Duke of Mantua, however, hearing that Cremona was being touted, wrote to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, asking him not to extend his favor to Cremona, but to give him an exclusiva. Mantua had opposed Cremona in the previous conclave as well. Mantua also wrote to Candinal Montalto in exactly the same way. Montalto, whose brother, Don Michaele Peretti (aged 13), was a subject of the Grand Duke as Marquis of Incisa, was anxious to preserve the good will of the Grand Duke, and therefore agreed to oppose Cremona as well. Without the Florentines and the twenty-four creature of Sixtus V, Cremon's chances decreased greatly. (Conclavi, 414-415).

Cardinal Vincenzo Lauro

Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna had great hopes going into the Conclave for his own candidacy, and he believed he had committments from enough cardinals to make him pope in quick order. He had Montalto on his side, and was one of the seven cardinals who had the approval of the Spanish King. But the scrutiny proved that his hopes and his promised votes were illusory (those of Sens and Allen in particular). It was the opposition of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo, Markus Altemps, Iñigo de Aragona, and Francesco Sforza, along with Sens, Allen and Carafa, which brought together sufficient votes to provide an exclusiva. A surprising number of those votes came from the faction of Montalto (Histoire des conclaves, 242), indicating that he was having trouble keeping his faction together.

With Colonna's hopes gone, Montalto and Sforza turned their efforts toward Cardinal VIncenzo Lauro, Bishop of Mondovi, aged 67 [portrait at left]. Mondovi had degrees both in theology and medicine, and served his early apprenticeship with Cardinals Parisio, Gaddi, François de Tournon and Ippolito d' Este. His long career as a diplomat had brought him many acquaintances and friends (to say nothing of patients) among the royalty of Europe. He had been physician to the Duke of Savoy. He had a reputation for being observant and shrewd. He was a friend of Ignatius Loyola and of Camillo de Lellis, founder of the Hospital of the Incurabili. (Cardella, V, 204-210). Some, however, including Montalto, thought that he was too friendly with Luxembourg and the other French ministers. (Petruccelli, 284). Lauro would have made an excellent compromise candidate, but the beginning of the Conclave was not the right strategic time to bring him forward. A major miscalculation had taken place. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, moreover, had issued an instruction for his exclusion. Mondovi, besides, was not one of the cardinals who had been recommended by King Philip, and that might have played a part in his inability to attract votes (Conclavi, 420-421).

At the same time, the friends of Cardinal Aldobrandini (aged 54) decided to put him forward, but his candidacy attracted no enthusiasm. When Aldobrandini failed, Cardinal Gian Girolamo Albano suddenly became a subject of discussion. He had been a cardinal for twenty years, and was a distinguished canonist, with a quartet of important books to his credit. But he was eighty-six years of age, and he was infirm and frequently confined to bed for long periods of time. Those who were talking about him were no doubt counting on a short pontificate, during which they could seek new instructions and mend broken alliances. Albano himself realized that his time was past, and did not enter the competition. (He died on April 15, 1591.) (Leti, Cardinalismo 209)

During the next three weeks scrutinies were held, but there were no developments, except suggesting new names and excluding them in the vote. Then the name of the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Girolamo della Rovere, aged 62, was proposed (Cardella, V, 247-248). He was a learned and honest man, and politically astute. He was a famous bibliophile, but his record of achievement was thin. His candidacy was dropped.   In the midst of these twistings and turnings, the Spanish faction repeatedly tried to advance the candidacy of Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, the Cardinal Bishop of Albano. He had been on the list of cardinals acceptable to King Philip which had been supplied by Cardinal Madruzzo at the first conclave. Paleotti was 68 in October, and had been a cardinal for 25 years. He had been a professor of Law at Bologna and a canonical consultant at the Council of Trent. A successful Bishop of Bologna since 1566, he had been active in implementing the Tridentine reforms. He had been the only Cardinal who opposed Pius V in Consistory on the raising of a tax to support the wars of religion in France. Sixtus V had appointed him Prefect of the Congregation on Rites, and Gregory XIII had placed him in the Congregation of the Index (Cardella, V, 102-109). But the first time a scrutiny was held with Paleotti as a candidate, he received only seventeen votes—to the great mortification of the Spanish faction. Obviously, the silent veto was being applied (Leti, Cardinalismo 210-211). Such vetos, using the ballot (One only needed one-third plus one of the votes being cast), were a strategic maneuver to reduce the field of candidates and improve the chances of one's own candidate; they do not necessarily reflect badly on the intrinsic merits of the victim.

Next it was the turn of Cardinal Santi Quattro (Facchinetti), a great theologian, politician and courtier, but he too, despite his merits (He was elected Pope Innocent IX at the next Conclave), failed to make a showing.

Cardinal Montalto (Peretti: nephew of Pope Sixtus V) began to promote the candidacy of Scipio Cardinal Gonzaga (aged 47), but the latter firmly discouraged him. Then finally, it was time for Cardinal Madruzzo to speak with Cardinal Montalto. On December 4, Montalto, who had collected twenty-six votes into his faction (thirty-six votes were needed to elect), had his attention drected again to the name of the Cardinal of Cremona, Niccolo Sfondrati, one of the cardinals of Gregory XIII, as someone who might attract some votes from the Spanish and from the Sforza faction. (Leti, Cardinalismo 211-212). Like Paleotti he had been consecrated by Carlo Borromeo, participated in the Council of Trent, been a member of the Congregation of the Index, and administered his diocese with a reforming zeal (Cardella, V, 189-191).

Next morning, Cardinal Sforza was among those who called at Sfondrati's cell and escorted him to the Paoline Chapel. Late in the afternoon of December 5, Cardinal Sfondrati was elected with all 53 votes of the cardinals. The election had been viva voce. Gregory XIV (Sfondrati) was crowned on December 8, and took possession of the Lateran on December 13. He died ten months later, on October 16, 1591.

 


 

Bibliography

Conclavi de' Pontifici Romani (Cologne 1692) Volume 1 [augmented edition, by Gregorio Leti], 380-403; 403-513.     Histoire des conclaves depuis Clément V, jusqu' à présent [Innocent XII], augmentée... (Cologne: 1694) {translation of the Conclavi de' Pontefici Romani, by Vanel], 199-211 (conclave of Urban VII); 211-272 (conclave of Gregory XIV).

Joannes Baptista Gattico, Acta Selecta Caeremonialia Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae ex variis mss. codicibus et diariis saeculi xv. xvi. xvii. Tomus I (Romae 1753). [diary of Joannes Paulus Mucantio, pp. 339-340]

Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa Tomo Quinto (Roma 1793). Bartolommeo Platina ed altri autori, Storia delle vite de' pontifici Tomo Quarto ( Venezia: Domenico Ferrarin 1765): Sixtus V, pp. 163 -206; Urban VII, pp.207-215; Gregorio XIV, pp. 216-227.

Eugenio Alberi (editor), Le relazioni degli ambasciatori veneti al senato Volume X (Serie ii, Tomo IV) (Firenze 1857).

Abel Desjardins (editor), Négotiations diplomatiques de la France avec la Toscane Tome V (Paris: Imprimérie nationale 1875) [dispatches of Giovanni Niccolini, Florentine resident minister in Rome from 1588 to 1611].

For details of the conclaves of 1590, see: Gregorio Leti, Il Cardinalismo di Santa Chiesa Parte terza (Roma 1668), 206-212. Giuseppe de Novaes, Elementi della storia de' sommi pontefici da San Pietro sino al ... Pio Papa VII   third edition, Volume 8 (Roma 1822) 229-233; and 235-236. L. Ranke, History of the Popes. Their Church and State II (tr. E. Fowler) (New York 1901), Book VI, section 4, pp.151-157; Alexis François Artaud de Montor, Histoire des souverains pontifes romains V (Paris 1851), pp. 11-16, and pp. 17-19. F. Petruccelli della Gattina, Histoire diplomatique des conclaves Second Volume (Paris 1864) 275-339. Paul Herre, Papsttum und Papstwahl im Zeitalter Philipps II. (Leipzig: Teubner 1907) 412-543.

Augustinus Brunus, "Vita Gabrielis Palaeoti S. R. E. Cardinalis, Episcopi Sabinensis, archiepiscopi Bononiensis," E. Martène-U. Durand, Veterorum scriptorum et monumentorum...amplissima collectio Tomus VI (Paris 1729), 1385-1438. Paolo Prodi, Il cardinale Gabriele Paleotti (1522-1597) 2 volumes (Roma: edizioni di storia e letteratura, 1959, 1967).

Baron (Graf) Joseph Alexander Hübner, Sixte-Quint   2 volumes, second edition (Paris 1882),


November 2, 2012 8:46 PM

© 2009 John Paul Adams, CSUN
john.p.adams@csun.edu

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
Valid CSS!

| Home | | Papal Portraits Home | | Medals Bibliography | | List of Conclaves | | Conclave Bibliography |