SEDE • VACANTE
Shield with coat of arms, upon the Cross of the Knights of St. John, surmounted by clerical hat, with six tassels on each side (signifying episcopal status)
"L' origine de tant de médailles remonte à l'époque où le conclave se tenait toujours au palais du Vatican, et où l'on interdisait à tout le monde, pendant tout le temps de sa durée, l'entrée de la cité Léonine, c'est-à-dire du quartier appelé le Borgo. Alors tous ceux qui, soit pour leurs affaires, soit pour tout autre motif, devaient se rendre dans ce quartier du Borgo, étaient arretés en tête du pont Saint-Ange ou de tout autre pont communiquant avec le Vatican; on ne laissait passer que ceux qui étaient porteurs d'une médaille expressément frappée pendant la vacance du siége au nom de l'un des personnages nommés ci-dessus."
X. Barbier de Montault, Le Conclave (Roma 1878) 19
ANNIBALE CARDINAL ALBANI (1682-1751), was born at Urbino on August 15, 1682. His uncle became Pope Clement XI in 1700 (dying on March 19, 1721). He was created Cardinal Deacon on December 23, 1711, being appointed to the Deaconry of S. Eustachio on March 2, 1712. He became Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica in 1712, where he had long been a Canon, and was promoted to be Cardinal Priest of S. Clemente in March, 1722, for which he was finally ordained a priest in October. He was appointed Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church on March 29, 1719, a post he held until 1747. He became bishop of Sabina on July 24, 1730, and was translated to Porto and Sta. Rufina in 1743. From 1719 he was director of the English hospital of St. John in Jerusalem.
The Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals was Sebastiano Antonio Tanara. He had been Nuncio in Cologne (1687) , Portugal (1690) and Vienna (1692-1695). He became Cardinal Bishop of Frascati in 1715 and Cardinal Bishop of Porto and Velletri and Dean of the Sacred College on March 3, 1721, less than three weeks before the death of the pope.
The Governor of the Conclave was Msgr. Bartolomeo Ruspoli. He was born in Rome on August 29, 1697, the eldest son of Francesco Maria Ruspoli, Prince of Cerveteri. He was named secretary of Memorials by Innocent XIII (dei Conti, his maternal grand-uncle), and subsequently Protonotary Apostolic participant. Under Benedict XIII he became Secretary of the S.C. de Propaganda Fide. In 1725 he took minor orders, and on October 2, 1730 was named a Cardinal Deacon of SS. Cosmas and Damian by Clement XII (1730-1740) in his second consistory. In 1731 he became Grand Prior in Rome of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. He died in Rome on May 21, 1741.
This was the first conclave in which a Chigi served as Marshal of the Holy Roman Church. The family of the Savelli, who had been hereditary Marshals for centuries, beginning with the Conclave of 1288 (Cancelliere, 4-5), had died out in 1712. Pope Clement XI, in a brief of March 23, 1712, transferred the honor to Prince Augusto Chigi, Prince Farnese. In a brief of September 1, 1740, Pope Benedict XIV granted Prince Augusto's son Prince Augustino (d. 1769) the rights of coadjutor to his father. Augustino's son Prince Sigismondo obtained the succession from Clement XIV. Pius VI suspended the right in 1791, but two years later transferred the right to Prince Augustino, son of Prince Sigismondo. The hereditary succession in the office was not tampered with thereafter until 1968, when the office was abolished by Paul VI. [Josephus Catalanus, Sacrarum Caeremoniarum sive rituum ecclesiasticorum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae libri tres, ab Augustino Patricio ordinati, et a Marcello Corcyrensi Archiepiscopo primum editi, nunc vero tandem in duos tomos distributi, ac innumeris pene mendis purgati, et commentariis aucti Tomus I (Romae 1750), 18-20: Barbier de Montault, 9-10].
The Secretary of the Sacred College of Cardinals was Dominico Riveras, canon of the Vatican Basilica.
Pope Clement XI (Albani) died on March 19, 1721, at the age of 72.
There were sixty-eight cardinals at the time of the death of Pope Clement. Only fourteen survived from earlier reigns. The creature of Innocent X were Orsini and Marescotti. The only surviving creatura of Innocent XI was Cardinal Pamphili. Alexander VIII's creature were Ottoboni, Del Giudice, Imperiali, Barberini, and Altieri. Clement IX's creature were: Tanara, Boncompagni, Sacripante, Cornaro, Paolucci, and Noailles. An official list of Cardinals and their Conclavists is provided in an attachment to the motu proprio Nos Volentes of Innocent XIII of May 18, 1721 [Bullarium Romanum Turin edition (1871), ii, pp. 869-875].
The Conclave of 1721 began on March 31. There were sixty eight living cardinals, fifty-four of whom had been named by Clement XI. On April 1, twenty-eight cardinals were in conclave. By April 9, forty cardinals were in attendance, and the number eventually rose to fifty-five, though four of them (the Portuguese da Cunha and Pereira, and the Spanish Belluga and Borgia) who arrived in the neighborhood of Rome, and were there for some days, did not enter conclave until the day after the successful election of Cardinal dei Conti. Two cardinals (de Noailles and Alberoni) were invited to the Conclave, even though they were excommunicated; Noailles had been leading the opposition in France to the papal Bull Unigenitus, which condemned Jansenist propositions. Alberoni, the deposed First Minister of Spain, appeared on April 8. His entry into the Conclave was opposed by Cardinal Acquaviva and by the King of Spain, but without effect (Processione, 294). On April 28 Cardinal Paracciani left the conclave due to illness, which claimed him on the next day.
The cardinals were divided into four factions: the Zelanti, the French, the Austrian, and the followers of Cardinal Albani, the Cardinal-Nephew. Albani's group amounted to only eight to ten, a surprise considering the number of creature there were of the late pope.(Petruccelli, 4-5). The Imperial party counted some twenty members, enough to prevent the election of any unacceptable candidate, or so it seemed in advance of the conclave (Petruccelli, 5). The Emperor Charles VI dispatched Count Franz Ferdinand Kinski to be his Ambassador Extraordinary to the Conclave, with instructions in favor of Gozzadini, Tanari, Pignatelli and (with reservations) Conti (Petruccelli, 8). Cardinal Albani was offered a pension of 25,000 florins. To be avoided were Corsini, Zondanari and (above all) Paolucci and Cornaro. The French government, in particular Abbe Dubois, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, was represented by Armand Gaston Cardinal de Rohan, Bishop of Strasbourg and Grand Almoner of France (who had left Paris for Rome on February 26). The French Chargé d' affaires in Rome was Pierre-François Laffitau, SJ, Bishop of Sisteron [Gallia christiana novissima II, p. 776], who was Dubois' intermediary with Cardinal Gualtiero (Boutry 19-20, Jobez, 288). Both were well aware that Dubois' greatest desire was to be named a cardinal. Pope Clement and his nephew, Cardinal Albani, had often been importuned on the subject, and had failed to make a commitment. On the 14th of March, however, five days before the pope died, he wrote to Bishop Laffitau that he had been looking for the right moment, amidst the pope's sufferings, to get a committment, but that the pope was in a delirious condition (Jobe, 292). The Portuguese ambassador in Rome was working in favor of Cardinal Michelangelo dei Conti (Petruccelli, 12, n.1). The Jesuits, however, were working against him, having been offended by some of Conti's actions when he was Nuncio in Lisbon (Petruccelli, 12, from a dispatch of Giacobazzi, April 12).
The Marquis Giacobazzi, the agent of the Duke of Modena in Rome, noted (in dispatches of March 26 and March 29) that there were ten papabili: Cardinals Paolucci, Fieschi, Corsini, Parracciani, Conti, Tanari, Gozzadini, Buoncompagni, Cornaro and Barbadigo. In his view, Conti and Gozzadini were the most probable (Petruccelli, 5-7). Cardinal Giorgio Cornaro, Bishop of Padua, was favored by the French, the Genoese, the Venetians, and some of the Zelanti, and for that reason he was also opposed by the Imperialists, who did not desire a Venetian on the papal throne as a potential obstruction to their designs in the Po Valley (Petruccelli, 8). The Duke of Parma was promoting Cardinal Giacomo Buoncompagni, the Archbishop of Bologna (Petruccelli, 10).
The earliest real candidate, though, was Cardinal Fabrizio Paolucci [portrait at left], the late Pope Clement's Secretary of State. In the first scrutiny, on April 1, 1721, with twenty-eight cardinals present, after the accessio Cardinal Paolucci had fourteen votes; five more and he would be pope. At that point Cardinal Althan remarked in a loud voice that, if the cardinals would listen to what Cardinal [Alvaro] Cienfuegos [, SJ,] had to say, he probably had instructions from the Emperor to communicate. Cardinal Cienfuegos, of course, had nothing that he dared to communicate viva voce inside the Conclave hall. Althan was attempting to invoke a veto without having to actually declare one. The great powers (the Emperor, the King of France, and the King of Spain) each claimed the right to "exclude" a candidate who was hostile to their interests. In Italy, Naples, Savoy and the Grand Duke of Tuscany also tried to claim the 'right" from time to time —with little success. Though this 'right' was enshrined nowhere in Canon Law or Apostolic Constitutions, it was nevertheless allowed by the cardinals as a 'custom', one which they submitted to in consideration of the realities of politics. But a Power could only use the 'right' once, and against one candidate. Althan was attempting to get the Spanish to use their veto, so that he could preserve his freedom of action for a later moment. Uproar ensured immediately. (Petruccelli, 11, from dispatches of Giacobazzi, Bartolomei and De Gubernatis) All of the agents of the crowns immediately wrote home for additional instructions, and began delaying tactics until responses should arrive.
Paolucci appeared to be winning the second scrutiny; but during the reading of the votes, after he had obtained the two-thirds needed, but before a result of the vote was announced by the Scrutators, the Veto (exclusiva) was pronounced against him by Michael Cardinal Althan, the Imperial representative inside the Conclave. Imperial instructions had been given Count Kinsky to see to it that Paolucci was not elected. With that very fact staring him in the face, Althan had been driven to use the obnoxious 'right' (Montor, 330; Wahrmund, 216-218).
Abbé Tencin Cardinal Althan
On March 19, Archbishop Dubois had written to the Bishop of Sisteron, Laffitau, in Rome (Sevelinges 38-39):
Dans la malheureuse conjoncture où nous sommes, le principal soin doit consister à mettre en oeuvre et a fixer M. le cardinal Albani dans le dessein qu'il a formé avec vous, de s'unir à la France dans le conclave. S'il persiste dans cette résolution, Son Altesse Royale [Philippe d' Orléans] consent à toutes les conditions que vous avez proposeés en sa faveur et pour sa famille. Don Carlo, son frère, a déjà reçu le titre de cousin; mais pour ôter tout doute, on continue à le lui donner dans les lettres que je vous envoie. M. le cardinal de Rohan à été chargé des lettres de protection pour M. le cardinal Albani et pour Don Carlo, son frère. J'envoie a M. le cardinal de Rohan une lettre de crédit de 30,000 écus romains, payable à son ordre, pour tirer M. le cardinal Albani de l'embarras où il se trouve....
MM. les cardinaux de Bissi, de Polignac et de Mailly vont partir, et feront toute la diligence possible. M. le cardinal Acquaviva a ordre, du roi d'Espagne, de s'unir avec les cardinaux français, et de se concerter avec eux. M. le cardinal Bentivoglio suivra les ordres et les influences de l'Espagne....
On March 27, in a separate but not unrelated matter, the French and Spanish entered into a defensive alliance, thanks in part to the good offices of the Duke of Parma. (Sevelinges 44-45)
When Cardinal Wolfgang Schrottembach (Bishop of Olomouc) and (on April 8) Cardinal Giulio Alberoni arrived, additional complications were introduced. Schrottembach let it be known that the Imperial Court did not favor a Florentine pope. Vienna was looking to the future, when the Grand Duchy of Tuscany would become vacant by the death of the last Medici. They expected to have an Austrian Grand Duke, and they did not want a revived republican Florence, or even a Florence reasserting her independence. This affected the hopes of Cardinal Corsini. (Petruccelli, 12-13, from dispatches of April 5 and 12 from De Gubernatis). Alberoni (former Ambassador of the Duke of Parma in Spain, where he arranged the marriage of Elisabeth Farnese of Parma to King Philip V and became Prime Minister, from which he was expelled in December, 1719) had enemies to work against as well: Paolucci, Acquaviva, Imperiali and Albani. He was still under the cloud of excommunication, and had grudges against both Venice and the Emperor, to say nothing of France and Dubois.
By the 9th of April, forty cardinals were in attendance.(Montor, 329).
The Queen of Portugal, Maria Anna of Austria, who had employed the services of Cardinal Conti as confessor and advisor when he was Nuncio in Portugal (1698-1706), had been using her influence with the Emperor Charles in Conti's favor. Convinced by her assurances, the Emperor and Count Kinski decided to revise their attitude to Conti, and sent word to Cardinal Althan to support his candidacy (Petruccelli, 14-15, from dispatches of de Gubernatis to the King of Sardinia on April 26 and 29).
On April 22, Rohan wrote to Dubois on the subject of a memorial containing half a dozen major points which had been agreed upon with the previous pope to the advantage of France, but were now in an uncertain state. Eager that the same positions should be adopted by the new pope, Rohan had been discussing them with Cardinals Albani, Gualtierio and Imperiali. The memorial "a été communiqué aussi au cardinal Conti et pareilement approuvé par lui; c'est ce qui m' a été confié sous le plus grand secret." (Sevelinges 59-61). In a dispatch of May 3, Giacobazzi wrote to the Duke of Modena that it was believed that Conti was committed in writing to giving Dubois the red hat (Petruccelli, 9 n.1).
On May 4, the French Cardinal Henri de Thiard de Bissy and his conclavist, the Abbé Pierre de Tencin [Bullarium Romanum, p. 871], entered the Conclave. The Cardinal had instructions of his own from Abbé Dubois (Boutry, 26-28). Tencin, who also had instructions, immediately got in touch with the secretary and conclavist of Cardinal Conti, Father Matteo Scaglione [Bullarium Romanum, p. 870] (who became Secretary of Briefs to Princes when his master became pope). Archbishop Dubois himself wrote of Tencin: "M. l'abbé de Tencin, qui accompagne M. le cardinal de Bissi, a été au conclave où le pape qui vient de mourir fut elu. C'est l' homme du monde qui m'a témoigné toujours le plus d'amitié, et qui est le plus ardent pour tout ce qui me regarde; vous pouvez lui parler en toute confiance (Sevelinges 51).
On May 5, the Bishop of Sisteron wrote (Sevelinges 75-80):
...J'e trouvai que M. le cardinal de Rohan avait déjà obtenu deux assurances de celiu qui agit au-dedans du conclave, au nom du cardinal Conti: l'une que M. l'archêveque de Cambrai aurait le chapeau; l'autre qu'il aurait un des trois qui vaqueront au moment que le pape sera élu, et qu'il aurait sans attendre la vacance d'aucun autre. Il n'y avait plus qu'à signer l'écrit qui parte ces conditions, et M. le cardinal de Rohan en cepère toujours la signature. Une seule difficulté en arrêtait la conclusion: le cardinal Conti ne voulait signer cet écrit, que lorsque nous aurions delivré au roi d'Angleterre [James III, the Old Pretender, the 'Chevalier de Saint Georges'] la promesse en bonne forme de lui faire payer les anciennes pensions qu'il percevait de la France....
Cardinal Althan insisted that the Conclave await the entry of Cardinals Damian Hugo Schönbrunn (Bishop of Speyer) and Thomas Philip Wallrad d'Hénin-Liétard d'Alsace-Boussu de Chimay (Bishop of Malines), who were already in Rome. On May 7, they presented themselves, along with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Solern, S.J., who had left the Conclave earlier (Petruccelli, 17; others suggest that Soleri did not return.).
On May 7, Cardinal Rohan wrote to King Louis XV, "Je crois pouvoir annoncer à Votre Majesté l' exécution de ses ordres; M. Le Cardinal Conti sera élu pape demain et c'est à vous qu'il devra une grande partie de son exaltation." (Boutry, 32-33) That very day, according to Cardinal Polignac, Cardinal Conti undertook in writing to provide Abbe Dubois with his red hat (Boutry, 34-35) Whether this was simony or not is a matter for learned canonists. In a letter of May 8, the Bishop of Sisteron adds some detail, "Je me rendis au conclave avant-hier au soir dans la nuit. M. le cardinal de Rohan m'y apprit d'abord qu'il avait fini; qu'il n'avait plus rien à désirer du cardinal Conti, et qu'il allait le surlendemain proceder à son election. Je vis le cardinal Albani, qui me dit absolument la même chose."
Finally, on May 8, Michelangelo Cardinal dei Conti, Bishop of Viterbo, son of Carlo, Duke of Poli, was elected with all the votes except his own (he voted for the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Tanara), In truth, once he passed the required two-thirds majority, the rest of the cardinals 'acceded' to him. He took the name Innocent XIII. The coronation, performed by Benedetto Cardinal Pamfili, the Cardinal Protodeacon, took place on May 18 in the Vatican Basilica. On Sunday, November 16, 1721, the new pope took possession of the Lateran Basilica.
Guillaume Dubois was created Cardinal on July 16, 1721. Pierre Guérin de Tencin had to wait until February 23, 1739 for his hat.
See: Ferdinando Petruccelli della Gattina Histoire diplomatique des conclaves Volume IV (Bruxelles 1864), 1-20. Cf. Giuseppe de Novaes, Elementi della storia de' Sommi Pontefici third edition Volume 13 (Roma 1822), 7-9. G. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Vol. XIV (Venezia 1842) 60-61. Alexis François Artaud de Montor, Histoire des souverains Pontifes Romains, Volume VI (Paris 1851), pp. 329-332. Max von Meyer, Die Papstwahl Innocenz XIII, nach Original-Quellen (Wien 1874). For Ruspoli, Dictionnaire des Cardinaux col. 1485-1486.
M. de Sevelinges. Memoirs secrets et correspondence inédite du Cardinal Dubois Tome II (Paris: Pillet 1815). Alphonse Jobez, La France sous Louis XV Tome II (Paris: Didier 1865) 288-298. Maurice Boutry, Une créature du Cardinal Dubois: Intrigues et missions du Cardinal de Tencin deuxième édition (Paris 1903). P. Bliard, Dubois, cardinal et premier ministre (Paris: Lethielleux 1901). On Cardinal Alberoni, see Charles Bertin, Dictionnaire des Cardinaux (1858) 205-208; and S. Harcourt-Smith, Cardinal of Spain: The Life and Strange Career of Alberoni (1944). Alfonso Professione, Il ministero in Spagna e il processo del Cardinale Giulio Alberoni (Torino 1897) 293-295. For the career of Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini, see Luigi Passerini, Genealogia e storia della Famiglia Corsini (Firenze: M. Cellini 1858) 157-172.
DeGubernatis: Conte M. de Gubernatis, the Count of Bauzone (son of Count Giovanni Marcello De Gubernatis), Ambassador of the Duke of Savoy (soon to be King of Sardinia), Victor Amadeus II, in Rome. See Domenico Carutti, Storia della diplomazia della Corte di Savoia III (Torino: Bocca 1875-1880)
Graf Kinski: J. E. Folkmann, Die gefürstete Linie des uralten und edlen Geschlechtes Kinsky (Prag 1861) 52-53.
X. Barbier de Montault, Le conclave et le pape (Paris 1878). Francesco Cancellieri, Notizie storiche delle stagioni e di siti diversi in cui sono stati tenuti i conclavi . . . (Roma 1823).
Characas, L. A., Roma trionfante nel glorioso Possessio preso il giorno di Dominica 16 Novembre 1721, dalla Santità di N.S. Papa Innocenzo XIII, romano della nobilissima fameglia Conti . . . (Roma 1721)
Ludwig Wahrmund , Das Ausschliessungs-recht (jus exclusivae) der katholischen Staaten Österreich, Frankreich und Spanien bei den Papstwahlen (Wien: Holder 1888).
©John Paul Adams, CSUN