(March 19, 1721—May 8, 1721)

Annibale Card. Albani, engraved portrait    Cardinal Tanara, Dean
Cardinal. Albani                                                                       Cardinal Tanara

Coat of Arms of  Msgr. Bartolomeo Ruspoli Æ


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)

Shield with inscription

Ornamental shield, with inscription:


"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 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. He was also a member of the Arcadian Academy.

The Masters of Ceremonies were Msgr. Giustiniano Chiapponi of Parma, Giovanni Battista Gambarucci, Venanzio Filippo Piersanti, Francesco Bolza, and Ignacio Reali. Msgr. Chiapponi died in the Conclave on April 15, 1721, and was succeeded as First Master of Ceremonies by Msgr. Gambarucci.   Msgr. Gambarucci was a member of the Arcadian Academy, as was Cardinal Orsini (since 1686).


Death of Pope Clement

On March 14, Pope Clement XI (Albani) was already ill.  The French Chargè in Rome, the Bishop of Sisteron, who was attempting to get the Pope and his nephew to make a committment to raising the French First Minister to the Cardinalate, noted that the Pope was in a delirious condition and nothing could be accomplished (Jobe, 292).

On March 16, 1721, which was Quadragesima Sunday, Pope Clement XI (Albani) did not participate as usual in the Services.  He nevertheless celebrated Mass in his private chapel in the Quirinale Palace.  He put off to another day taking some medicines provided by Monsignor Paoli to keep him healthy, since he suffered from changes in the seasons.  He was also suffering pains in his thorax and had troubles in breathing from the cold air in his rooms where his books were along with the registries of his writings.

On Monday the 17th, he celebrated Mass privately again, and then gave several audiences to various prelates, including the Archbishop of Ravenna, Geronimo Crispi (1720-1746) [Gams, 718].  Around midday the Pope was stricken with an extraordinary chill, which was followed by a strong attack of fever that caused him to take to his bed. His pulse was slow, and he coughed up a thick liquid streaked with blood.  That night he was unable to sleep, and suffered some mental disorder (qualche alienazione di mente).  

On Tuesday, the fever was even more violent and the pulse irregular; the sputum was foamy and mixed with blood, indicating a problem in the lungs.  When the Pope was informed of the seriousness of his condition, Cardinals Paolucci and Albani, the papal nephews, had the papal confessor, the Master of the Sacred Palace, frater Gregorio Sellari, OP, summoned. The Pope made his confession and his Profession of Faith and received Holy Communion at 20:00 hours.  Cardinal Albani, Don Carlo and the Pope's nephews then arrived and the Pope told them that his attention was entirely directed to eternal affairs.  He declined to receive various cardinals who were making for the papal palace. He apologized to Cardinal Paolucci, the Major Penitentiary, for not having consulted him during his pontificate.  The "King of England", James Francis Edward Stuart, the "Old Pretender",   attempted to get in to see the dying pope,  sending a message to Cardinal Albani to smooth his way;  but Albani replied that, in the dangerous state of the pope's condition, he did not consider a visit possible. Extreme Unction was administered by the Papal Sacristan, Msgr. Niccolo Agostino degli Abbati Olivieri, Bishop of Porfirio, at the third hour of the night. Prayers and the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament were ordered in the churches of Rome.  The Pope was still alive and still had the use of his faculties.

On Wednesday the 19th. the "King of England" was on his way to the Quirinal to present himself in person to provide new evidence of his devotion to the Pontiff. At the same moment, the Pope's fever returned with great force.  He slowly lost the ability to speak,  his eyes clouded over, and little by little his respiration diminished.  Cardinal Paoluzzo and Msgr. Sellari renewed the prayers for the dying, and, at twelve forty-five in the early afternoon, Clement XI died. He was 71 years, 7 months and 27 days old.  He had reigned for 20 years, 3 months, and 26 days.

Cardinal Albani, the Cardinal Chamberlain, escorted by the Clerics of the Apostolic Camera, was admitted into the chamber where the body lay, and he performed the ceremony of recognition and absolution (no mention of a silver hammer, or calling aloud the name of the deceased). Also present were Cardinals Altieri (Dean of the Sacred College), Molari, Colonna, Ricci, Cavalieri, Negroni, Palaggi, Sardini, and Sacripanti.  Monsignor Rasponi Pro-Maestro di Camera, presented Cardinal Albani with the Fisherman's Ring.  The Notary Secretary of the Apostolic Camera read the two documents, the recognition of the body and the Rogito, as well as the statement of the surrender of the Fisherman's Ring.  Cardinal Albani retired to the antechanber, descended the Scala Regia, entered his carriage, and was driven in procession, accompanied by the Swiss Guard under the leadership of Captain Corrado Phiffer von Altishoffen to his Palace at Quattro Fontane.  The bell of the Campidoglio began the funeral knell, informing the People of Rome that their master and pastor was dead.

On Thursday, the 20th, around 21:00 hours, the body was opened and examined by the doctors, prelimary to the enbalming.  The autopsy indicated a problem on the left side of the thorax, where there was stagnant blood and the beginning of gangrene [Relazioni, p. 18]

furono ritrovate le viscere dell' infimo ventre di buona costituzione. Ma nel medio ventre, ò sia torace apparve il grave danno ne' polmoni, e particolarmente dal sinistro lato ove il sangue stagnante aveva cominciata cancrena. Nel centro superiore il cervello fù riconosciuto d' ottima struttura, con la sola osservazione di alquanto di linfa attraversata nella violenza del male.

The rest of the day the body was placed on view in the Consistorial Hall, where the Penitentiaries of the Vatican Basilica continuously recited prayers for the Deceased. Numbers of people were admitted to view the body and kiss the feet. At the second hour of the night the body was taken in a torchlight procession, organized by Msgr. Venanzio Filippo Piersanti, one of the Masters of Ceremonies, from the Quirinal to the Vatican Palace, where it was placed in the Sistine Chapel.  The procession was viewed by the 'King and Queen (Maria Clementina Sobieska) of England" from the balcony of Princess Orsini.  At the Sistine Chapel, the Penitentiaries vested the body in pontifical papal vestments and placed on a funeral bier surrounded by torches, and Absolution was given. 

The same evening the First Consistory took place in the Hall of Parchments.  Present were Cardinal Bishops Tanara (the Dean), Giudice, Paulucci,  and Barberini; Cardinal Priests Corsini, Aquaviva, Gualtieri, Vallemani, Paracciani, Fabroni, Priuli, Conti, Zondodari, Corradini, Tolomei, Scotto, Nicolò Spinola, S. Agnese [Giorgio Spinola], d'Althan, and Salerno; Cardinal Deacons Panfilj, Imperiali, Altieri, Colonna, Albani, and Olivieri—a total of twenty-six.  The Fisherman's Ring was defaced and the leaden seals of the Apostolic Camera broken.  Monsignor Alessandro Falconieri, Auditor of the Rota and Vice-Chamberlain, was confirmed in his post as Governor of Rome.  Monsignor Bartolomeo Ruspoli was named Governor of the Conclave and Governor of the Borgo.  Cardinals Barberini, Corsini, Altieri and Albani were named to oversee the construction of the Conclave area.  Abbot Giovanni VIcenzo Lucchesini, Secretary of Latin Letters, was assigned the honor of giving the Funeral Oration, and Camillo Mari, Bishop of Aleria, was assigned to give the Oration pro pontifice eligendo.

After the Congregation, the Cardinals participated in the procession which transferred the body of Clement XI to the Vatican Basilica.

The Cardinals

There were sixty-eight cardinals at the time of the death of Pope Clement [a list is given in Diario delle novità di Roma in tempo di Sede Vacante Num 7. 8. in data di 23 e 26 Aprile 1721]. 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  21 (1871), pp. 869-875].

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.

Cardinals attending:

  1. Sebastiano Antonio Tanara (aged 70), Suburbicarian Bishop of Ostia e Velletri (since March 3) , Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals.  former Nuncio in Portugal and in Austria [Cardinal Fulvio Astalli, Bishop of Ostia e Velletri, had died on January 14, 1721, aged 66]. Tanara was of a Bolognese senatorial family, and his brother, the Marchese Tanara, was Ambassador of Bologna before the Holy See from 1691-1710.  He died on May 4, 1724, at the age of 74.  His funeral inscription is in S. Maria della Vittoria [V. Forcella, Inscrizioni delle chiese di Roma  XI, p. 70 no. 138].
  2. Vincenzo Maria Orsini de Gravina, OP (aged 72), 12th Duca di Gravina, 3rd Principe di Solofra, 3rd Principe di Galluccio, Conte di Muro Lucano e Signore di Vallata, Nobile Romano and Patrizio Napoletano (1658-1667; he renounced his titles to become a Dominican monk);  eldest son of Ferdinando III Duke of Gravina, and Giovanna daughter of Carlo Frangipani della Tolfa, duca di Grumo.  Suburbicarian Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina   Archbishop (and then Administrator) of Benevento (1686-1730)  (died as Bishop of Rome on February 21, 1730)
  3. Francesco del Giudice (aged 73), Suburbicarian Bishop of Frascati (Tusculum)   (died October 10, 1725)
  4. Fabrizio Paolucci de Calboli (aged 70), Suburbicarian Bishop of Albano    (died June 12, 1726)
  5. Francesco Pignatelli, Theat. (aged 69), Suburbicarian Bishop of Sabina   (died December 5, 1734). Archbishop of Naples.
  6. Francesco Barberini (aged 58), Suburbicarian Bishop of Palestrina   (died August 17, 1738)

  7. Giacomo Boncompagni (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Via (died March 24, 1731). Archbishop of Bologna (1690-1731).
  8. Giuseppe Sacripante (aged 79), Cardinal Priest of S. Prassede (died January 4, 1727) .
  9. Giorgio Cornaro (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of SS. XII Apostoli (died August 10, 1722). Bishop of Padua.
  10. Lorenzo Corsini (aged 68), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in Vincoli.(died February 6, 1740) Doctor in utroque iure, Pisa.
  11. Francesco Acquaviva d'Aragona (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia (died January 9, 1725) Doctor in utroque iure, Fermo. Protector of Spain.
  12. Tommaso Ruffo (aged 57). Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere (died February 16, 1753) Doctor in utroque iure, Rome La Sapienza. Bishop of Ferrara .
  13. Orazio Filippo Spada (aged 61), Cardinal Priest of S. Onofrio (died June 28, 1724). Doctor in utroque iure, Rome La Sapienza.. Bishop of Osimo.
  14. Filippo Antonio Gualterio (aged 61), Cardinal Priest of S. Crisogono (died April 21, 1728). Doctor in utroque iure, Fermo. Protector of England.
  15. Giuseppe Vallemani (aged 72), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria degli Angeli (died December 15, 1725). Doctor in utroque iure, Macerata.
  16. Giandomenico Paracciani (aged 74), Cardinal Priest of S. Anastasia (Died May 9, 1721). Vicar-General of Rome [left the Conclave due to illness, and died the day after the election of Cardinal Conti].]
  17. Carlo Fabroni (aged 69), Cardinal Priest of S. Agostino (died September 19, 1727).
  18. Pietro Priuli (aged 52), Cardinal Priest of S. Marco (died January 22, 1728). Bishop of Bergamo.
  19. Michelangelo Conti (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of SS. Quirico e Giulitta. Nuncio in Switzerland (1695-1698); Nuncio in Portugal (1698-1709; Bishop of Osimo (1709-1712); Bishop of Viterbo (1712-1719).   (died as Bishop of Rome on March 7, 1724).
  20. Ulisse Giuseppe Gozzadini (aged 70), Cardinal Priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme (died March 20, 1728). Doctorates in utroque iure, Bologna. Professor of Law at Bologna. Archbishop-Bishop of Imola.
  21. Luigi Pico della Mirandola (aged 52), Cardinal Priest of S. Silvestro in Capite (died August 10, 1743). Doctor in utroque iure. Archbishop-Bishop of Senigaglia
  22. Gianantonio Davia (De Via) (aged 60), Cardinal Priest of S. Callisto (died January 11, 1740). Doctor in utroque iure, Bologna. Archbishop-Bishop of Rimini.
  23. Agostino Cusani (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria del Popolo (died December 27, 1730). Doctor in utroque iure, Pavia. Archbishop-Bishop of Pavia..
  24. Giulio Piazza (aged 58), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Panisperna (died April 23, 1726). Doctor in utroque iure. Archbishop-Bishop of Faenza.
  25. Antonio Zondadari (aged 55), Cardinal Priest of S. Balbina (died November 23, 1737). Doctor in utroque iure, Siena
  26. Giovanni Battista Bussi (aged 64), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Ara Coeli (died December 23, 1726). Doctor in utroque iure, Rome La Sapienza. Archbishop-Bishop of Ancona (1710-1726).
  27. Pier Marcelino Corradini (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni a Porta Latina (died February 8, 1743).
  28. Armand-Gaston de Rohan-Soubise (aged 46), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died July 16, 1749). Doctor of Theology, Paris Sorbonne. Bishop of Strasbourg
  29. Wolfgang Hannibal von Schrattenbach (aged 60), Cardinal Priest of S. Marcello (died July 22, 1738). Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Theology. Rome La Sapienza. Bishop of Olomouc. Councillor of Emperor Charles VI. Regent of Naples.
  30. Giovanni Battista Tolomei, SJ (aged 67), Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano al Monte Celio (died January 19, 1726)
  31. Benedetto Odescacalchi Erba (aged 41), Cardinal Priest of SS. Nereo ed Achilleo (died December 13, 1740). Doctor in utroque iure, Pavia. Archbishop of Milan. Grand-nephew of Innocent XI.
  32. Henri Thiard de Bissy (aged 63), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died July 26, 1737). Doctor of Theology, Paris. Bishop of Meaux, France. [He arrived in Rome on April 27].
  33. Innico Caracciolo (aged 78), Cardinal Priest of S. Tommaso in Parione (died September 6, 1730). Doctor in utroque iure, Rome La Sapienza. Bishop of Aversa.
  34. Bernardino Scotti (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio (died November 16, 1726).  He had been Auditor to Cardinal Ottoboni, the nephew of Alexander VIII. Previously Auditor of the Rota.   [He finally entered Conclave on April 12, suffering from a cold and incapacitated by gout]
  35. Niccolò Caracciolo (aged 62) [Neapolitanus], Cardinal Priest of S. Martino ai Monti). Doctor in utroque iure (Naples); then he attended the Seminario Romano.  Governor of Perugia (1699). . Archbishop of Capua (1713-1728).  (died February 7, 1728)
  36. Giovanni Battista Patrizi (aged 62) [Romanus, son of Marchese Patrizi and Virginia Corsini. Cardinal Priest of Ss. Quattro Coronati . Doctorates in Philosophy, Law, and Theology, Siena. Legate in Ferrara.  Previous to his cardinalate, he had been Thesaurius Generalis of the Apostolic Camera (1707-1715). Titular Archbishop of Sebasteia (1702-1715). Voting member of the Sacred Roman Rota.   Member of the Governate of the Borgo. (died July 31, 1727).    He entered Conclave on April 4.
  37. Nicolò Spinola (aged 62) [Genoa], son of Giovanni Domenico, Conte di Pezzuola. Cardinal Priest of S. Sisto (died April 12, 1735). Titular Archbishop of Thebes.  Cleric of the Apostolic Chamber under Innocent XII.   Doctor in utroque iure (Rome La Sapienza).
  38. Giberto Bartolomeo Borromeo (aged 49), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Bonifacio ed Alessio.  Bishop of Novara (1717-1740), and titular Latin Patriarch of Antioch Syriae (1711-1717 and in commendam to 1740).  Praepositus cubiculae of Clement XI.  Protonotarius Apostolicus de numero participantium After the death of Clement XI, he retired to his diocese, which he administered, and collected books.  (died January 22, 1740).
  39. Emericus (Imre) Csácky (aged 48), His family claimed descent from an 8th century king of the Huns; his father Estvan was Regiae Curiae Judex in Hungary. Cardinal Priest without titulus (died August 28, 1732). Archbishop of Kalocsa and Bács in Hungary (1710-1732) [Gams, 372], previously bishop of Varadinum (Nagy-Várad) (1702), Abbot of Waradin (Várad);   Canon of Eger. Educated at the Collegium Romanum [Gams, 382]
  40. Giorgio Spinola (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Agnese fuori le mura (died January 17, 1739).  Former Apostolic Nuncio in Vienna. Nuncio to Poland (1710). Nuncio to the Duke of Florence.   Former Governor of Viterbo (1699), and before that Centumcellae. Doctor in utroque iure, Rome La Sapienza.[Secretary of State May 10, 1721— March 7, 1724]
  41. Cornelio Bentivoglio (aged 53), Cardinal Priest of S. Girolamo dei Croati (died December 30, 1732). Doctor in utroque iure (Ferrara). Legate in the Romagna.
  42. Thomas Philip Wallrad d'Hénin-Liétard d'Alsace-Boussu de Chimay (aged 41), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died January 5, 1759). Doctor in Theology, Doctor in Philosophy (Rome Gregorian). Archbishop of Mechlin [arrived on May 7]
  43. Gianfrancesco Barbarigo (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro (died January 26, 1730). Doctor in utroque iure (Pavia). Bishop of Brescia.
  44. Michael Althan (aged 38), Cardinal Priest of S. Sabina (died June 20, 1734). Doctor in Canon Law, Doctor in Theology (Prague). Bishop of Vác. Privy Councillor of the Emperor.
  45. Giovanni Battista Salerni, SJ (aged 49), Cardinal-Priest of S. Prisca (died January 30, 1729) Professor of Theology, Professor of Canon Law at the Collegio Germanico [left the Conclave, due to illness, but apparently returned on May 7]
  46. Álvaro Cienfuegos Villazón, SJ (aged 64), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died August 19, 1739). Professor of Theology, Salamanca. Bishop of Catania.

  47. Benedetto Pamphili, O.S.Io.Hieros.(aged 67), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata (died March 22, 1730). Librarian of the Holy Roman Church
  48. Pietro Ottoboni (aged 53), Cardinal Deacon of S. Lorenzo in Damaso (died February 29, 1740). Vice-Chancellor.
  49. Giuseppe Renato Imperiali (aged 69), Cardinal Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro (died January 15, 1737)
  50. Lorenzo Altieri (aged 49), Cardinal Deacon of S. Agata alla Suburra (died August 3, 1741).
  51. Carlo Colonna (aged 55), Cardinal Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria (died July 8, 1739).
  52. Annibale Albani (aged 38), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin (died October 21, 1751). Nephew of Clement XI. Cardinal Camerlengo..
  53. Curzio d'Origo (aged 60), Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio, Legate in Bologna  (died March 18, 1737). .
  54. Damian Hugo Philipp von Schönborn Bushein (aged 44), Cardinal Deacon without deaconry (died August 19, 1743). Bishop of Speyer. [arrived on May 7]
  55. Fabio Olivieri (aged 62), Cardinal Deacon of Ss. Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia (died February 9, 1738).
  56. Giulio Alberoni (aged 56), Cardinal Deacon without deaconry (died June 26, 1752). Bishop of Malaga..

Cardinals not attending:

  1. Galeazzo Marescotti (aged 93), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina (died July 3, 1726) . Doctor in utroque iure.
  2. Louis-Antoine de Noailles (aged 69), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria sopra Minerva (died May 4, 1729). Archbishop of Paris
  3. Lorenzo Fieschi (aged 78), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Pace (died May 1, 1726). Archbishop of Genoa. Doctor in utroque iure (Rome La Sapienza). He sent word, which was public in Rome on April 5, that he was excusing himself due to old age.
  4. Christian August von Sachsen-Zeitz [Ágost Keresztély] (aged 54), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died August 23, 1725). Bishop of Györ. Supreme Chancellor of Hungary. Imperial Councillor.
  5. Nuno da Cunha e Attaíde (aged 56), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died December 3, 1750). Privy Councillor of King John V of Portugal [arrived in Rome just after the election]
  6. Melchior de Polignac (aged 59), Cardinal Deacon without deaconry (died November 20, 1741)..
  7. Carlo Maria Marini (aged 54), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Aquiro (died January 16, 1747).
  8. Léon Potier de Gesvres (aged 64), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died November 12, 1744). Doctor of Law, Paris Sorbonne. Archbishop of Bourges
  9. François de Mailly (63), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died September 13, 1721). Doctor of Law, Paris Sorbonne. Archbishop of Reims
  10. Luis Antonio Belluga y Moncada (aged 58), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died February 22, 1743). Doctor in Theology, Sevilla. Bishop of Cartagena
  11. José Pereira de la Cerda (aged 58), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died September 28, 1738). Doctor in utroque iure, Coimbra. Professor of Theology at Coimbra. Bishop of Faro
  12. Carlos de Borja-Centelles y Ponce de León (aged 57), Cardinal Priest without titulus (died August 8, 1733). Doctor in utroque iure, Alcala. Patriarch of the West Indies.


Opening of the Conclave

etching of Cardinal  Alvaro Cienfuegos

The Conclave of 1721 began on Sunday, March 31. There were sixty eight living cardinals, fifty-four of whom had been named by Clement XI.  The Mass of the Holy Spirit was sung by Cardinal Tanara, the Dean, in the Chapel of the Choir of the Vatican Basilica, in the presence of twenty-six other cardinals and the "King and Queen of England".  The Oration pro pontifice eligendo was pronounced by Msgr. Camillo Mari, Bishop of Aleria.  The Cardinals then proceeded to the Apostolic Palace and gathered in the Paoline Chapel.  There they heard the reading of the various Apostolic Constitutions regulating the Conclave, and took their individual oaths to observe their terms.  The ceremonies concluded, and some cardinals returned to their palaces, others stayed on in the Vatican. At the sixth hour of the Evening (around 9:00 p.m.) they assembled again and the Conclave was enclosed. 

Cardinal Marescotti, who was 93 years of age, was in Rome but did not enter Conclave, though he intended to be present toward the end.  Cardinal Scotti, who was ill, also did not enter.  His problem was diagnosed as gout (podagra) and a kidney condition (He was finally well enough to enter on April 12).   Later that night Cardinal de Rohan arrived and was escorted to the palazzo of the Duca d' Altemps. Cardinal Bentivoglio, the Legate of the Romagna also arrived in Rome.  They both entered the Conclave on the morning of April 2.

On the morning of April 1, and every morning thereafter, there was a procession of secular and religious clergy from S. Lorenzo in Damaso to the Vatican, where the Mass of the Holy Spirit was offered at the stairs that led to the Conclave.  On April 1, twenty-eight cardinals were in conclave. Cardinal Pico della Mirandola arrived in Rome in the evening.

On Thursday morning, April 3, Cardinal Spada entered Conclave, and that evening Cardinal Pico della Mirandola as well.  On Friday April 4,  Cardinals Buoncompagni, Patrizi, and Origi entered Conclave.  Cardinal Tommaso Ruffo and Cardinal Ulisse Gozzadini arrived in Rome on April 5 and entered Conclave together late in the afternoon of Sunday, April 6.  Cardinal Giovanni Francesco Barbarigo arrived from Brescia on Sunday evening and entered Conclave late in the afternoon of Monday, April 7.  Next day Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, the deposed First Minister of Spain, who had arrived the previous day, entered Conclave during the day; His entry into the Conclave was opposed by Cardinal Acquaviva and by the King of Spain, but without effect (Processione, 294). Later, on the 8th, just at sunset, Cardinal Giulio Piazza joined the Cardinals. By April 9, forty cardinals were in attendance.

No scrutinies took place during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday on April 6 to Easter on April 13.  This was a pious excuse, of course.  The fact was that on Palm Sunday the Conclave contained a bare majority of the total number of cardinals, thirty seven, and no convincing election by a two-thirds majority of only 25 cardinals could take place.  Next day, the 14th, Cardinal Scotto entered, but Cardinal Salerni exited.  On the 15th in the evening Cardinal Odescalchi entered Rome, and on the 16th joined the Conclave.  Cardinal Caraccioli arrived in Rome on April 17, and entered Conclave on the evening of the 19th.  Cardinal Orsini entered on the 18th. On the same day Cardinal Cienfuegos arrived in Rome (he entered Conclave on Sunday, April 20, in the late afternoon), and on the 19th Cardinal Cornaro arrived and entered.  On Saturday the 19th, in the afternoon, Cardinal Caraccioli also entered Conclave.  The number of cardinals now stood at 46.

Cardinal Cusano arrived in Rome on April 20, and on April 24 he entered Conclave.   On Tuesday the 23rd, Cardinals Davia and Schrattenbach entered Conclave.   As of April 24, there were 49 cardinals in Conclave, requiring 33 votes to elect a pope. But that was still less than half of the living Cardinals. On April 28 Cardinal Paracciani left the Conclave, but on the 29th Cardinal Henri Thiard de Bissy entered, keeping the number of electors at 49. On the afternoon of May 2, Cardinal Emericus Csácky arrived in Rome. The Cardinal of Alsace appeared in Rome on May 5, and Schonborn on May 6.

The number eventually rose to fifty-five, though four Cardinals —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. On April 28 Cardinal Paracciani left the conclave due to illness, which claimed him on the next day.


Factions and Candidates

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, Tanara, 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, Tanara, 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).



Card. Fabrizio PaolucciThe 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.





Imperial Veto

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).

Cardinal Tencin  engraving of Michael Cardinal Althan
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).

Imperial Support for Conti

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). Kinsky himself was dispatched as Ambassador Extraordinary.  He arrived in Rome on Sunday, April 27, and presented his credentials to the College of Cardinals on Wednesday, April 30.

French Negotiations

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 Sunday, 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 celui 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 Salerno, S.J., who had left the Conclave earlier (Diario delle novita di Roma in tempo di Sede Vacante, Num. 11, pp. 3-4; Petruccelli, 17; others suggest that Salerni did not return.). The number of Cardinals present stood at 55, and 37 votes were needed for a canonical election.

On May 7, Cardinal Rohan wrote to King Louis XV,  "Je crois pouvoir annoncer à Vôtre 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 Thursday, 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 Conti 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.  The ceremonies are described in a contemporary pamphlet, Esattisima Relazione della solenne Cavalcata fatta del Palazzo Vaticano alla Basilica Lateranense e di tutte le cerimonie octorse in occasione del possesso preso dalla Santita di N. Sig. Papa Innocenzo XIII. (Roma: Marcello Silvestri 1721).


Guillaume Dubois was created Cardinal on July 16, 1721.   Pierre Guérin de Tencin had to wait until February 23, 1739 for his hat.

Cardinal Guillaume Dubois
Cardinal Dubois




Relazione della morte del Sommo Pontefice Clemente Undecimo (Venetia: Appresso Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.]. Diario delle novita di Roma in tempo di Sede Vacante, Num. 2. In data delli 2 Aprile 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.];   Num. 3 in data delli 5 Aprile 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.];  Num 4. in data delli 9 Aprile 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.];  Num. 5. 6.  in data di 16 e 19 Aprile 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.];  Num 7. 8. in data di 23 e 26 Aprile 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.];  Num. 9. 10. in data di 30 Aprile e 3 Maggio 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.];  Num. 11. a data di 10 Maggio (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.];  Num. 12. 13 in data di 14 & 17 Maggio (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.]; Num. 14. in data di 18 Maggio 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.]; Num, 15 in data di 18 [actually 24] Maggio 1721 (Venezia: Angelo Geremia 1721) [24 pp.].

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).

P. Paul, Le Cardinal Melchior de Polignac (Paris, 1922).

Giovan Mario Crescimbeni, Le vite degli Arcadi illustri  Parte prima (Roma: Antonio de' Rossi 1708); Parte Seconda (1710); Parte Terza (1714); Parte Quarta (1727); Parte Quinta (1750).


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