February 6, 1740—August 17 , 1740

Annibale Card. Albani, engraved portrait
Cardinal Annibale Albani

Arms of Card. Albani AV zecchino


Shield with the Coat of Arms of Annibale Card. Albani, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (1719-1747), upon the Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, crossed keys above, surmounted by Cardinal's hat with six tassels on each side; the Ombrellone over all. The Holy Spirt surrounded by rays of light above all.
The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, with tongues of fire


Figure, seated on a cloud, holding the Keys in right hand and a church in his left.

Berman, p. 179 #2713.

Arms of Card. Albani AG grosso


Shield with the Coat of Arms of Annibale Card. Albani, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (1719-1747), upon the Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, crossed keys above, surmounted by Cardinal's hat with six tassels on each side; the Ombrellone over all.
The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, with tongues of fire


The Holy Spirit, surrounded by rays and tongues of fire (Pentecost).

Berman, p. 179 #2719.

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). Annibale 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 this post he was finally ordained a priest in October of the same year. 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.

Pietro Cardinal Ottoboni was the Dean of the Sacred College and Bishop of Ostia and Velletri He left the conclave on February 25 and died of his illness on the 29th.

The Prefect of the Apostolic Palaces and Governor of the Conclave was Don Girolamo Colonna di Sciarra (1708-1763), a Roman noble, the younger brother of Cardinal Prospero Colonna. Their father was the 4th Prince of Carbognano. Don Girolamo was created Cardinal on September 9, 1743, and received the Diaconate of S. Angelo in Pescheria on December 2. He became Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church in 1753. He was Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church from 1756 until his death.

Arms of Prince Girolamo Colonna AE


The Arms of Prince Girolamo Colonna on a baroque-style shield, surmounted by a clerical hat with six tassels on each side.
Sede Vacante 18740 titles of  Prince Colonna


Inscription of Prince Girolamo Colonna, Prefect of the Sacred Apostolic Palaces and Governor of the Conclaveh, 1740.

Mazio-Jencius, 901.
Spink —.


"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.

The Treasurer General of the Holy Roman Church and Prefect of the Castel Saint' Angelo was Monsignor Mario Bolognetti.

The Marshal of the Holy Roman Church was Prince Augusto Chigi.


Death of Clement XII

dual portraits of Clement XII and his Nephew, Neri CorsiniPope Clement XII Corsini had been blind since 1732, and was often bedridden. Government was in the hands of his nephew, Neri Maria Cardinal Corsini (r.), who was not particularly competent. The papacy managed to offend the Emperor Charles VI, Philip V of Spain, and the government in Naples. Clement died on February 6, 1740, at 9:30 a.m., lucid to the end. The Conclave of 1740 was a long and contentious one. There were 68 cardinals at the death of Clement XII, though four of them died during the Sede Vacante.


Leaders and Favorites

At the opening of the Conclave, on February 18, 1740, there were thirty-two cardinals in attendance. Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, the Dean of the Sacred College, sang the Mass of the Holy Spirit in St. Peter's (De Brosses, Lettre LI, p. 417). The 'Zelanti' were led by Cardinals Ruffo and Petra. (Cardinal Ruffo's conclavist was Father Giovanni Angelo Braschi, the future pope Pius VI.) Cardinal Niccolò del Giudice (born at Naples) was the head of the Imperial interest, along with Cardinal Sigismund Kollonitz of Vienna. The Emperor did not want a Spanish-leaning pope, and the Spanish did not want an Imperialist. Cardinal Pierre de Tencin represented the French inside the conclave, and the Duc de Saint-Aignan was the French Ambassador (though he was just reassigned to be governor of Burgundy); both were in touch with Cardinal Fleury at Versailles and with the Foreign Minister Jean-Jacques Amelot de Chaillon (1737-1744), but they were struggling with each other over influence and credit. The early favorite was Cardinal Ottoboni, the Dean of the Sacred College (nephew of Pope Alexander VIII), but his death on February 28 ended his chances. It also ended the chances for an early election, since Ottoboni's votes had to find other candidates, and there were many, with no obvious alternative.



A list (imperfect) of the Cardinals who were present at the Election of Benedict XIV (Lambertini) is given in the "Conclave in cui fu eletto Papa il signore Cardinale Prospero Lambertini da Bologna, detto poi Benedetto XIV" (from a ms. in the library the Counts Malvezzi de' Medici in Bologna), printed in F.S. Kraus (editor), Briefe Benedikts XIV an den Canonicus Pier Francesco Peggio in Bologna (1729-1758) [Lettere di Benedetto XIV al Canonico Pier Francesco Peggi Bolognese]  zweite Ausgabe [secondo edizione] (Freiburg [Frioburgo] i. B. 1888),  at pp. 171-173.  Four cardinals died during the Sede Vacante of 1740 (Ottoboni, Altieri, Porzia and Cenci).


Cardinals attending:

  1. Pietro Ottoboni (aged 72) [Venice], Bishop of Ostia e Velletri (1738-1740), Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, Secretary of the S.C. of the Holy Office  (died during the Sede Vacante, February 29, 1740). Grand-nephew of Pope Alexander VIII.
  2. Tommaso Ruffo (aged 76) [Naples], Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina (1738-1740), Sub-Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. Doctor in utroque iure (Sapienza, Rome). Died February 16, 1753.
  3. Annibale Albani (aged 57) [Urbino], Cardinal Bishop of Sabina (1730–1743), previously Cardinal Priest of S. Clemente (1722–1730). Died October 21, 1751.  Camerlengo
  4. Giambattista Altieri (aged 67), Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina (1739–1740), previously Cardinal Priest of S. Matteo in Merulana (1724–1739). (died during the Sede Vacante, on March 12).
  5. Lodovico Pico della Mirandola (aged 71), Cardinal Bishop of Albano (1731–1740), previously Cardinal Priest of S. Prassede (1728–1731).  Died .
  6. Pier Marcellino Corradini (aged 82), Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum (Frascati) (1734–1743).  Died February 8, 1743.

  7. Armand-Gaston-Maximilien de Rohan (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of Sma. Trinità al Monte Pincio (1721–1749).  Bishop of Strasbourg (1704–1749).  Died July 16, 1749.
  8. Thomas Philippe Wallrad d'Hénin-Liétard d'Alsace-Boussu de Chimay (aged 60), Cardinal Priest of S. Balbina (1733–1752).  Archbishop of Mechlin (1715-1759).
  9. Luis Antonio Belluga y Moncada, Orat. (aged 77) [Spanish], Cardinal Priest of S. Prassede (1738–1743). Died February 22, 1743.
  10. Vincenzo Petra (aged ), Cardinal Priest of S. Pietro in Vincoli (1737–1740). Major Penitentiary (1730–1747).  Died March 21, 1747.
  11. Niccolò Coscia (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Domnica pro hac vice Title (1725–1755).  Died February 8, 1755.
  12. Angelo Maria Quirini, O.S.B.Cas. (aged 60) [Venice], Cardinal Priest of S. Marco (1728–1743).  Bishop of Brescia (1727-1755).  S.R.E. Bibliothecarius and Archivist (1730-1755).  Editor of the letters of Cardinal Reginald Pole.
  13. Francesco Antonio Finy (aged 71), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere (1738–1740).  Died April 5, 1743.
  14. Prospero Lambertini (aged 65) [Bologna], Cardinal Priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme (1728–1740).  Archbishop of Bologna (1731–1754).  Died as Bishop of Rome on May 3, 1758.
  15. Niccolò Maria Lercari (aged 64) [Genoa], Cardinal Priest of SS. Giovanni e Paolo (1726–1743).  Secretary of State of His Holiness (1726-1757).
  16. Sigismund von Kollonitsch (aged 63), Cardinal Priest of SS. Marcellino e Pietro (1730–1740). Archbishop of Vienna (1722-1751).   He was responsible for ghettoizing the Jews of Vienna.  Died April 12, 1751.
  17. Philip Ludwig von Sinzendorf (aged 40),  Cardinal Priest of S. Maria sopra Minerva (1730–1747).  Bishop of Wroclaw (1732-1747) Bishop of Györ (1726-1732). Died September 28, 1747.
  18. Vincenzo Ludvico Gotti, OP (aged 75), Cardinal Priest of S. Sisto (1738–1742).  Died September 18, 1742.
  19. Leandro Porzia, OSB.Cas. (aged 66), Cardinal Priest of S. Callisto (1728–1740). Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Index (1740). Former Bishop of Bergamo (1728-1730). (left the Conclave, and died during the Sede Vacante, on June 6, 1740)
  20. Pierluigi Carafa (aged 63), iuniore [Naples]   Died December 15, 1755.
  21. Giuseppe Accoramboni (aged 67), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Traspontina (1728-1740).  Died March 21, 1747.
  22. Camillo Cibò (aged 59), [Massa di Carrara, Diocese of Luni], brother of the Duke of Massa. Cardinal Priest of S. Maria del Popolo (1731–1741).  Patriarch of Constantinople (1718-1729).  Died January 12, 1743.
  23. Francesco Borghese (aged 43) [Romanus], Cardinal Priest of S. Silvestro in Capite (1732–1743). Died June 21, 1759.
  24. Carlo Vincenzo Ferreri, OP (aged 58), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Via (1729–1742)   Bishop of Vercelli (1729–1742)  Died December 9, 1742.
  25. Bartolomeo Massei (aged 77), Cardinal Priest of S. Agostino (1731–1745).   Archbishop-Bishop of Ancona e Umana (1731–1745).  Died November 20, 1745.
  26. Vincenzo Bichi (aged 72), Cardinal Priest of S. Lorenzo in Panisperna (1737–1740). Former Nuncio in Switzerland, then in Portugal.  Died February 11, 1750.
  27. Giuseppe Firrao (aged 69) [Naples], Cardinal Priest of S. Tommaso in Parione (1731–1740).  Former Bishop of Aversa (1730-1734).  Died October 24, 1744.
  28. Antonio Saverio Gentili (aged 59), Cardinal Priest of S. Stefano al Monte Celio (1731–1747). Datary of His Holiness (1731–1740).  Died March 13, 1753.
  29. Giovanni Antonio Guadagni, OCD (aged 65), Cardinal Priest of S. Martino ai Monti (1731–1750).  Former Bishop of Arezzo (1724-1732). Vicar General for the city of Rome (1732–1759).   Died January 15, 1759.
  30. Troiano Acquaviva d'Aragona (aged 44),  Cardinal Priest of S. Cecilia (1733–1747).   Archbishop of Monreale (1739–1747).  Died March 20, 1747.
  31. Domenico Riviera (aged 68) [Urbino], Cardinal Priest of SS. Quirico e Giulitta (1733–1741).  Died November 2, 1752.
  32. Marcello Passeri (aged 62), Cardinal Priest of S. Maria in Ara Coeli (1733–1741)  Died September 25, 1741.
  33. Pompeio Aldrovandi (aged 71), Cardinal Priest of S. Eusebio (1734–1752).  Archbishop-Bishop of Montefiascone e Corneto (1734–1752). Former Dean of the Sacred Roman Rota (1726–1734).  Died January 6, 1752.
  34. Serafino Cenci (aged 64 [Romanus]), Cardinal Priest of S. Agnese fuori le mura (1735–1740). Archbishop of Benevento (1733–1740). Died June 24, 1740, during the Conclave.
  35. Pietro Maria Pieri, OSM (aged 63),  Cardinal Priest of S. Giovanni a Porta Latina (1734–1743).  Died January 27, 1743. [The Conclave narrative claims that he did not enter the Conclave:  Kraus, p. 172].
  36. Giuseppe Spinelli (aged 46), Cardinal Priest of S. Pudenziana (1735–1752).  Archbishop of Naples (1734-1754).  Died April 12, 1763.
  37. Henri-Osvald de la Tour d'Auvergne de Bouillon (aged 68) [France], Cardinal Priest without titulus.  Archbishop of Vienne (1722-1745)
  38. Raniero D'Elci (aged 70),  Cardinal Priest of S. Sabina (1738–1747).  Archbishop of Ferrara (1738-1740). Died June 22, 1761.
  39. Domenico Passionei (aged 57) [Fossombrone], Cardinal Priest of S. Bernardo alle Terme (1738–1755).  Nuncio in Switzerland (1721-1730), and in Austria-Hungary (1730-1738).  Died July 5, 1761.
  40. Silvio Valenti Gonzaga (aged 50) [Mantua], Cardinal Priest without titulus. Legate in Bologna. Doctor in utroque iure (Ferrara). Died August 28, 1756.
  41. Gaetano Stampa (aged 72) [Milanese], Cardinal Priest without titulus. Archbishop of Milan (1737-1742). Nuncio in Venice (1720-1735).   Died December 23, 1742.
  42. Pierre-Guérin de Tencin (aged 59) [French], Cardinal Priest of SS. Nereo ed Achilleo (1739–1758). Archbishop of Embrun (1724-1740).

  43. Carlo Maria Marini (aged 73) [Genoa], Cardinal Deacon of S. Agata alla Suburra (1739–1741), previously of SS. Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia (1738–1739), and of S. Maria in Aquiro (1716–1738).  Died January 16, 1747
  44. Alessandro Albani, O.S.Io.Hieros (aged 47) [Urbino], Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin (1722–1741).  Died December 11, 1779.
  45. Niccolò del Giudice (aged 80), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria ad Martyres (1725–1743), previously Prefect of the Apostolic Palaces.
  46. Neri Maria Corsini (aged 55), Cardinal Deacon of S. Eustachio (1737–1770). Prefect of Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (1733–1770).
  47. Bartolomeo Ruspoli (aged 42), Cardinal Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano (1730–1741).  He had been Governor of the Borgo and Governor of the Conclave of 1721. Died May 21, 1741.
  48. Agapito Mosca (aged 62), Cardinal Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro (1732–1743).  Died August 21, 1760.
  49. Giovanni Battista Spinola (aged 60), Cardinal Deacon of S. Cesareo in Palatio (1733–1743).  Died August 20, 1752.
  50. Giacomo Lanfredini (aged 59), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Portico (1734–1741).  Died May 16, 1741.
  51. Carlo Rezzonico (aged 47), Cardinal Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere (1738–1747).  Died February 2, 1769 as Bishop of Rome.
  52. Marcellino Corio (aged 75), Cardinal Deacon of S. Adriano al Foro (1739–1742).
  53. Prospero Colonna (aged 77) [Romanus], Cardinal Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria (1739–1743).
  54. Carlo Maria Sacripante (aged 50), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria in Aquiro (1739–1741). Died November 4, 1758.

Cardinals not attending

  1. Lorenzo Altieri (aged 69) [Rome], Cardinal Deacon of Maria in Via Lata (1730-1741).  Died August 3, 1741.  Cousin of Clement X
  2. Nuño da Cunha e Ataíde (aged 75) [Portugal], Cardinal Priest of S. Anastasia (1721–1750).  Died  December 3, 1750.
  3. Melchior de Polignac (aged 78)  [France], Cardinal Priest of S. Maria degli Angeli (1725–1741).  Died November 20, 1741.
  4. Benedetto Erba-Odescalchi (aged 60) [Comasco], Cardinal Priest of SS. XII Apostoli (1725–1740). Died December 13, 1740.
  5. Giulio Alberoni (aged 76), Cardinal Priest of S. Crisogono (1728–1740).  Made Governor of the Romagna by Innocent XII in 1735. Died June 26, 1752.
  6. Léon Potier de Gesvres (aged 83) [France], Cardinal Priest with no Title assigned (1719–1744).  Died November 12, 1744.
  7. Damian Hugo Philipp von Schönborn (aged 63) [German-Austrian], Cardinal Priest of S. Maria della Pace (1726–1743).  Bishop of Speyer (1719-1743) and Coadjutor Bishop of Konstanz (1723-1740), succeeded on July 12, 1740.  Died August 19, 1743.
  8. André Hercule de Fleury (aged 87), Cardinal Priest with no titulus (1726–1743).  First Minister of State, France.  Died January 29, 1743.
  9. João da Mota e Silva (aged 54) [Portugal], Cardinal Priest without titulus
  10. Luis Antonio Jaime de Borbón y Farnesio (aged 13), Cardinal Deacon of S. Maria della Scala (1735–1754).   Infante of Spain.  Died August 7, 1785.
  11. Joseph Dominicus von Lamberg (aged 60), Cardinal Priest without titulus. Bishop of Passau (1723–1761).
  12. Tomás de Almeida (aged 69),  Cardinal Priest without titulus (1737–1754).  Patriarch of Lisbon [Portugal].  Died February 27, 1754.
  13. Gaspar de Molina y Oviedo, OESA. (aged 61) [Spain], Cardinal Priest with no titulus (1737–1744). Bishop of Málaga (1734-1744).
  14. Jan Aleksander Lipski (aged 50?) [Poland], Cardinal Priest with no titulus (1737–1746).  Bishop of Krákow (1732-1746).


Factions and Rivalries

According to Boutry (176-177), the conclave began with two large factions, the younger cardinals and the older cardinals. Neither was confident enough to begin putting forth serious candidates (soggetti). Tencin believed it to be his task to keep Cardinals Albani (the Camerlengo) and Acquaviva (the leader of the Spanish faction) together, so that the Camerlengo could influence the actions of Cardinal Neri Corsini, the Papal Nephew. Tencin had remarked some time earlier in a letter to Louis XV that Corsini had enough supporters to exclude anyone he chose, and that he would also be necessary to someone who wanted to be elected (Boutry, 180). Secret French instructions to Tencin recommended Cardinals Bartolomeo Massei (Bishop of Ancona, former Nuncio to France), then Spinola, followed by Corio (of Milan, Governor of Rome), Sacripanti and Aldrovandi. Those cardinals to be excluded were Ruffo, Coscia, Petra, Mosca, Gentile, and Passerini (Boutry, 180-181). But Cardinal Fleury had also given instructions not to employ the formal exclusiva, .despite Tencin's judgment that it should be used on Ruffo or Gentile.

Cardinal Troiano Acquaviva d'Aragona, the representative of the Neapolitan Bourbons and the Spanish Crown (Novaes, 8), kept his own counsel during the proceedings, and declined to cooperate with the designs of the French and the Spanish Bourbons. He did, however, provide the ultimate resolution.

Corsini promoted his soggeti, one after the other. Spinola had his chance, and Porzia, and Ruffo (a favorite of the Zelanti), and Cenci, none of whom made any great impression. But with each attempt, Corsini lost more of his influence with the other cardinals. But finally the more recent cardinals promoted the candidacy of Cardinal Corio, the Governor of Rome. He managed to reach twenty-six votes, but the assistance of Cardinal Acquaviva was not (as expected) forthcoming, and his candidacy was suspended (Boutry, 212).


Late Arrivals

On March 13, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Altieri, the Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina died. Cardinal Lambertini (of Bologna, Bishop of Ancona) entered the conclave on March 5; Cardinal Kollnitz (Vienna), Mosca and Lanfredini (Vicar General of Rome) entered on March 8; D'Elci (Ferrara) on March 20; Marini (Legate in the Romagna) on the 21st; Rohan (Strasbourg) on the 23rd; Lercari, Belluga and de la Tour d'Auvergne (Vienne) by the 27th; followed by Cenci (Benevento). Zinzendorff (Breslau) and Valenti Gonzaga (Legate in Bologna) appear in the voting lists on April 18, and Cibò (Patriarch of Constantinople) on the 20th. Cardinal Zinzendorff had been in Rome for well over a month, suffering from gout, but according to a report of Cardinal Ferrero to the King of Sardinia on April 16 (Petruccelli, 118-119), he would not enter into conclave until the conclave allowed him to bring live pigs into the restricted area. The entrails of a freshly slaughtered pig were part of the prescription for his treatment. Zinzendorff swore that he would not enter conclave until the day the pope was to be elected. He finally gave in on April 23.



March and April passed, with no movement on any front. Personal mutual dislike of Tencin and Cardinal Acquaviva made it difficult to unite the French and Spanish factions. Cardinal Corsini himself, who was finding the conclave to be extremely trying, since he was without his female friends and luxuries, was bored and irascible, and easily fell prey to Cardinal Tencin's manipulations (dispatch of 'Walton', April 24 and May 1; Petruccelli, 120-121), as well as to the advice of his friends Alessandro Albani and Domenico Riviera Petruccelli, 120-121). At the end of May there were 55 cardinals in the conclave, of whom 44 were Italians. Thirty-seven votes were needed to elect. Cardinal Serafino Cenci died on June 24. Two others, Cardinals Lorenzo Altieri and Leandro di Porzia, left the Conclave because of illness.

Various names were put forward. Cardinal Domenico Riviera (of Urbino, a curial cardinal) reached seventeen votes at one point, but nobody really wanted him as pope, since his morals were not entirely blameless. Cardinal Corradini, one of the 'old cardinals' (a creature of Clement XI from 1712), explained to Tencin that the only cardinal in the Corsini faction who was in the least acceptable to the Clementine and Benedictine creatures was Cardinal Antonio Gentili (a Roman, the Papal Datary) (Boutry, 202) Unfortunately, Gentili was among the 'unacceptable' cardinals, as enumerated by Fleury, and so Tencin, who had been against Gentili but was now considering him seriously, had to write to Fleury for revised instructions. In the meantime, Tencin would stall.

In mid-June an agreement between Acquaviva and Lambertini produced the name of Cardinal Giuseppe Firrao (a Neapolitan, Bishop of Aversa). Corradini and Annibale Albani offered 24 votes. Tencin was approached and agreed to supply his votes. This might make 48 votes. Cardinal del Giudice was approached to find out what the Imperial faction would do; he asked for 48 hours to think about it. During the night del Giudice met with Tencin and told him to stop supporting someone who was disfavored by the Emperor. Tencin withdrew from his committment. Firrao's chances were ruined (Petruccelli, 126-127, quoting a letter of Cardinal Corsini to Paluzzi, intended for the eyes of the Duke of Modena).

Then, at the suggestion of Tencin to Corsini, perhaps as many as fifteen voters put forward Cardinal Pier Marcello Corradini himself, but his age (82) was against him. This was not a real candidacy, in fact, but a ruse of Tencin, to get Cardinal Acquaviva to use his Spanish veto (Petruccelli, 123-124).


Card. Pompeio Aldrovandi

Aldrovandi versus Lanfredini

By the first of July a group of thirty-one voters, including both Spanish and French interests, led by Cardinal Corsini, coalesced around Cardinal Pompeio Aldrovandi of Bologna, Bishop of Montefiascone and Corneto (left). But Cardinal Albani, the Camerlengo, a personal enemy of Corsini. led another faction of around twenty votes, which pressed for Cardinal Giacomo de Lanfredini (of Florence, a curial cardinal). Albani and Aldrovandi had a long-standing distaste for each other, but an attempt to patch it up failed. (Petruccelli, 128). They excluded each other.  

Cardinal Aldrovandini hovered at around 31 votes for six weeks. On August 11, he reached 33 votes, but could not find the one vote needed to make himself pope. Tencin complained that they would be in the conclave for ten years. Corradini replied that he would not last ten years, but would live long enough to defeat Aldrovandi. (Petruccelli, 129) On August 16, Aldrovandi wrote to Cardinal Corsini, asking him to withdraw his name from further consideration.

The Election of Lambertini

The Camerlengo, seeing Aldrovandi and Corsini so close to victory in July and early August, had demanded that Del Giudice give serious consideration to the possibility of Lambertini, to which he finally agreed. Del Giudice spoke to Rohan (Petruccelli, 130). On the day after his birthday, the Camerlengo had a conversation with Cardinal Kollowitz in which he remarked that, if the Corsini party would drop Aldrovandi, then there might be a way through, and that if the crowns wanted to propose Lambertini, a number of his cardinals might be willing. Acquaviva, Del Giudice and Rohan were consulted and they agreed. Corsini was consulted, but he remained stubbornly against Lambertini. But several of his cardinals were willing to switch. Finally, however, he accepted the inevitability of the candidacy and informed his voters; some thought that a virtual veto should be attempted, but Corsini did not have the energy or determination for such a move. When Lambertini was told of the frantic negotiations, he was astonished, suspecting that another Bolognese was about to be hung. Finally, realizing that the discussions were serious, he returned to his cell, where Corsini and Tencin briefed him on what was happening. Soon the other cardinals joined them, to kiss Lambertini's hand. The next day he was elected pope. (Petruccelli, 131-132)

Another version of events has it that, after many weeks of inconclusive balloting, in the heat of the Roman summer, with masses in Roman churches 'for the election of a Pope', and a three-day service to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Conclave, one of the electors, Cardinal Troiano Acquaviva di Aragon, proposed his old friend Cardinal Lambertini, the archbishop of Bologna.

Fifty-one cardinals participated in the final ballot on August 17; fifty voted for Lambertini (this was the result after the accessio, of course), while he voted for Aldrovandi. After the election ceremonies were concluded, he went to the cell of Cardinal Corsini, where he ate and gave audience. He offered the position of Secretary of State to Cardinal Corsini, who refused. He then appointed Cardinal Valenti Gonzaga.(Petruccelli, 132). Fr. Augustin Theiner [Histoire du Pontificat de Clement XIV Volume 1 (Paris: 1852), 241] translates the entry of the Secretary of the Conclave in the volume of scrutinies:

Dans la matinée du 17 août 1740, a été élu à l' unanimité des suffrages le cardinal Prosper Lambertini, archevèque de Bologne, sa patrie, lequel, par vénération pour la mémoire de son prédécesseur, Benoit XIII, a pris le nom de Benoit.  L' inattendue unanimité qui l' a porté sans aucune négocation préalable, si ce n' est celle de quelques heures, après le scrutin du soir, la veille de son election, et le changement decisif et instantane opere en sa faveur, de tant de cardinaux qui jusqu' alors avaient toujours vote pour Aldobrandi, demontrent clairement qu' on n' arrive point a la papaute par les efforts des hommes; mais que c'est le Saint-Esprit seul qui, quand il lui plait, inspire aux electeurs la connaissance de sa divine volonte, et leur indique, au moment qui convient a sa sagesse, l' homme qu'il avait, dans sa mysterieuse providence, choisi poour cette sublime dignite.  Ce conclave dura six mois, et le nombre des cardinaux qui prirent part a l' election montait a cinquante.

The Secretary's mystification is due, no doubt, to the discretion with which the final negotiations were carried on, by the principals and not by agents, and without the interference of the Courts.


The election of Prospero Lorenzo Cardinal Lambertini (Pope Benedict XIV) came as a surprise, it is said. He was crowned in the Vatican Basilica on August 22, 1740, by Cardinal Carlo Maria Marini, the Cardinal Protodeacon; and on April 30, 1741 he took possession of the Lateran Basilica.



"Conclave in cui fu eletto Papa il signore Cardinale Prospero Lambertini da Bologna, detto poi Benedetto XIV," in Francesco Saverio Kraus (editor), Lettere di Benedetto XIV al canonico Pier Francesco Peggi Bolognese (Friburgo i B. 1888),151-173.   Kraus notes the existence of another Conclave narrative, in the Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, öhne Zweifel von Tencin herrührend" (p. xix, n. 3).


Mario Guarnacci,  Vitae et Res Gestae Pontificum Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalium a Clemente X usque ad Clementem XII  Tomus secundus (Romae 1751). P. Paul, Le Cardinal Melchior de Polignac (Paris, 1922).


For the Conclave of 1740, see Giuseppe de Novaes, Elementi della storia de' sommi pontefici da San Pietro sino al ... Pio Papa VII   third edition, Volume 14 (Roma 1822) 6-9. G. Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Vol. 5 (Venezia 1840) 22. Président Charles De Brosses, L' Italie il y a Cent Ans (edited by R. Colomb) Volume II (Paris 1836), Lettres LI, LII, pp. 395-443 (he correctly divined that the winner would be Lambertini). F. Petruccelli della Gattina Histoire diplomatique des Conclaves IV (Paris 1866) 108-133. Maurice Boutry, Une créature du Cardinal Dubois: Intrigues et missions du Cardinal de Tencin deuxième edition (Paris 1902) 166-238.  Also see T. Adolphus Trollope, The Papal Conclaves, as the were and as they are (London 1876) pp. 378-388, for an entirely different account, written mostly from French sources, with an English Protestant point of view.  F. Tagell, Relació de la mort de Climent XII i de l'elecció de Benet XIV (1740)   (Barcelona 1971).


On Cardinal Alberoni, see Charles Bertin, Dictionnaire des Cardinaux (1858) 205-208.  Alfonso Professione, Il ministero in Spagna e il processo del Cardinale Giulio Alberoni (Torino: Clausen 1897) 293-295.  Italo Raulich, "Il cardinale Alberoni e la Repubblica di San Marino,"  Archivio storico italiano 39 (Firenze 1907), 352-395.  P. Castagnoli, Il cardinale Giulio Alberoni   vols. I-III (Piacenza-Roma 1929-32).  S. Harcourt-Smith, Cardinal of Spain: The Life and Strange Career of Alberoni (1944)


Ludwig Wahrmund, Das Ausschliessungs-recht (jus exclusivae) der katholischen Staaten Österreich, Frankreich und Spanien bei den Papstwahlen (Wien: Holder 1888) 227-228.


L. Dollot, "Conclaves et diplomatie française au XVIIIe siècle," RHD (1961), 124—135.


November 22, 2014 8:38 PM

© 2008, 2009 John Paul Adams, CSUN

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
Valid CSS!

| Home | | Papal Portraits Home | | Medals Bibliography | | Other Conclaves | | Conclave Bibliography |