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SEDE • VACAN | TE • MDCCLXIX
Shield with the Coat of Arms of Carlo Card. Rezzonico, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, crossed keys above, surmounted by Cardinal's hat with six tassels on each side; the Ombrellone over all.
CARLO CARDINAL DELLA TORRE REZZONICO, iuniore (1724-1799), nephew of Pope Clement XIII (1758-1769), who ordained him as a priest. He was made Referendary of the Tribune of the Apostolic Segnatura in 1751. After his uncle became pope, he was immediately named Cardinal Deacon (September 11, 1758) and Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (1758-1763). He was named Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church on January 24, 1763, a post which he held until his death on January 26, 1799. At the time of the Conclave of 1769, he was forty years old. In the new reign (Clement XIV) in 1773 he became Cardinal Bishop of Sabina, exchanging it for Porto and Santa Rufina in 1776. He was Archpriest of the Lateran and Secretary of the Roman Inquisition.
The Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals was Cardinal Carlo Cavalchini, Bishop of Ostia and Velletri, the Datary of Pope Clement XIII. He had nearly been elected pope in 1758, but had been vetoed by the French Court (Wahrmund, 228-229; cf. 326-327), a veto which was finally withdrawn by the Duc de Choiseul on March 4, 1769 (Montor, p. 218).
SEDE • VA | CANTE
Shield with the Coat of Arms of Msgr. Antonio Casale surmounted by a clerical hat with six tassels on each side.
Monsignor Antonio Casali, Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church and the Governor of Rome. He became a cardinal in 1770.
The Treasurer General of the Apostolic Chamber (Reverendae Camerae Apostolicae Thesaurius Generalis) was Msgr. Giovanni Angelo Braschi (the future Pope Pius VI).
The Prefect of the Apostolic Palaces and the Governor of the Conclave was Monsignor Giovanni Battista Rezzonico, the brother of Cardinal Carlo Rezzonico, the Camerlengo.
Pope Clement XIII died on February 2, 1769, at the age of 75, harassed to the end by the demands of the ministers of Naples, Spain, and France. His body was interred on February 7. The conclave began on February 15. The sede vacante was to last for three months and sixteen days.
The main issue at the conclave was the demand of a number of European states for the dissolution of the Society of Jesus. Benedict XIV (1740-1758) had already responded to complaints from Portugal by ordering an investigation of the Jesuits by the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Saldhana. In 1759 the Portuguese Prime Minister the Conte de Pombal sequestered Jesuit assets and deported the members of the Society to the Papal States. The new Pope, Clement XIII Rezzonico, protested repeatedly, but France joined the attack, abolishing the Society by royal decree (December 1, 1764). In 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from Spain, Naples, and Sicily and, in 1768 from Parma. In January, 1769, these powers made a formal demand for the dissolution of the Society. In a letter to the Pope dated January 18, the Marquis d' Aubeville, the French Ambassador in Rome since 1763, made the major point (Ravignan I, 231; Theiner I, 164-165):
But Clement died of a stroke during the night of February 2/3, the day before a Consistory which had been called to discuss the subject.
The Conclave was seriously divided by the joint campaign of the Bourbon monarchs to achieve their goals. Even before the death of Clement XIII, various ambassadors and their courts were compiling lists of acceptable and unacceptable candidates. At the beginning of 1764, the first secretary at the French Embassy, the Chevalier de la Houze, indicated in a dispatch that he was most inclined toward Cardinals Conti (of Camerino, former secretary of the SC on Good Government), Monti e Caprara (of Bologna, former Governor of Rome and Vice-Chamberlain), Guglielmi (of Jesi, former secretary of the SC of Bishops and Regulars) and Fantuzzi (of Ravenna, former auditor of causes of the Apostolic Palace); among those he thought should be excluded were Cavalchini (of Tortona, Dean of the Sacred College), Castelli (of Milan, Prefect of the Congregation de propaganda fide), De Rossi (a Roman, Prefect of the SC de Concilio), Torregiani (of Florence, the Secretary of State) Buonacorsi (Macerata), and Antonelli (Pergola).
In a document written on August 29, 1765, d' Aubeville, the French Ambassador, analyzing the various cardinals, indicated strong negative opinions on Rezzonico, Castelli, De Rossi, Antonelli and Buonaccorsi. The French Court favored Cardinals Galli, Conti, Durini and Ganganelli. (Theiner, 194-195). Aubeville believed that there was a faction gathered around Cardinal Rezzonico, the Cardinal nipote, which included Torregiani, Castelli, Buonaccorsi and Boschi, and that the two Cardinals Albani, Cardinal Chigi and Cardinal Fantuzzi would adhere to this party.
The Neapolitan Court intimated that there were eleven 'good' cardinals: Antonio Sersale (Archbishop of Naples), Cavalchini (the Dean), Neri Corsini, Conti, Durini (of Milan, Bishop of Pavia, former ambassador to France), Ganganelli, Pirelli (a Neapolitan patrician), Negroni, Branciforte (of Palermo, the presidente of Urbino, former ambassador to Venice), Caracciolo, and Andrea Corsini. The 'pessimi' included Torregiani, Castelli, Buonacorsi, Chigi, Boschi and Rezzonico. Another fifteen cardinals were designated 'cattivi' (Theiner, 229).
The Conclave did not settle down to business for a considerable time, since the Powers demanded a sufficient interval so that their cardinals, suitably advised, could be present in Rome. On February 15, the opening day, there were only twenty-seven cardinals in attendance, out of a total of fifty-seven. In a dispatch of that date, Aubeville informed Choiseul that the general of the Jesuits, Father Leonardo Ricci, had visited all of the cardinals, with the exception of Cardinal Domenico Orsini d' Aragona (the Ambassador of Naples, who had refused to receive him) (Theiner, 210; Saint-Priest, 84-85). In fact, as Cardinal Bernis, one of the French agents inside the Conclave, admitted, three-quarters of the cardinals were on the side of the Jesuits. Also present in Rome were the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, and his brother, the Emperor Joseph II (arrived on March 6 and March 15), who demanded entrance to the Conclave, despite the clearest constitutional prohibitions against such an intrusion; nonetheless, they had their way.
In the first half of March, instructions finally arrived from Spain for Cardinal Orsini as to the ranking of cardinals according to their desirability. Among the 'good' cardinals, the Spanish listed Sersale, Cavalchini, Neri Corsini, Conti, Durini, Ganganelli, Pirelli, Negroni, Branciforte, Caraccioli, and Andrea Corsini (Ravignan, 552).
On April 19, Aubeville wrote to Choiseul, "Je juge par bien de choses que le Cardinal Ganganelli a de l' esprit, de connaissances, et même une caractère décidé. Mais il a peur de son ombre, il crainte la moindre communication apparente avec les Français. Il vit tout seul dans sa cellule... On le craint, et en général on ne l' aime pas.' (Montor 219-220) On April 23, Count Ernst von Kaunitz, the Ambassador Extraordinary of Joseph II and Maria Theresa arrived in Rome, and on the 27th he appeared before the Cardinals to make his formal oration. (Vita di Clemente XIV, 26). Likewise, on April 27, the Spanish cardinals de Solis (Seville) and de la Cerda (Toledo) entered conclave. Cardinal de Solis, it was said, brought a plan, sanctioned by the Court of Spain, that would require any candidate who hoped to be elected, to enter into the most solemn promise to bring about the destruction of the Jesuits. According to Father Theiner (I, 211), they began immediately to cast their votes for Cardinal Ganganelli. In addition, de Solis' conclavist, Aguirre, had begun to circulate among the cardinals with remarks hostile to Cardinal Fantucci (Montor, 231). By April 30, the number of cardinals had risen to forty-six. The zelanti, in opposition to the Courts, were promoting Cardinals Pozzobonelli (who, as it happened, was the agent of the Empire inside the Conclave) and Colonna (Ravignan, 264). Cardinal Bernis wrote to Choiseul on May 3 that the French interest had at least eighteen votes, and perhaps four other doubtful ones, to exclude any candidate. (Montor, 227).
A. Theiner provides a list of the votes between April 27 and May 18.
On May 17, a conversation took place between Cardinal Ganganelli and the conclavist of Cardinal Bernis, Abbé Deshaises. (Masson, 107-108). This was the last stage in an effort to pin down Ganganelli as to his attitude toward the suppression of the Jesuits. The Spanish were insistant that no one could become pope without a specific committment. Whether this was given in writing, as some allege, or perhaps by word of mouth, or whether there ever was a specific committment by Ganganelli, is a highly controversial point.
Lorenzo Cardinal Ganganelli, a Franciscan, son of a physician and a professional theologian, educated by the Jesuits, but who had managed to offend neither side and yet had made no binding promises, was finally elected as a compromise (Clement XIV) on May 19, 1769. The vote was unanimous, his own vote going to Cardinal Rezzonico, the only vote Rezzonico received at the entire conclave. On May 28, the new pope was consecrated a bishop by the Sub-Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Federico Lanté della Rovere. The coronation took place in St. Peter's Basilica on June 4, 1769, the tiara being placed on the pope's head by Cardinal Alessandro Albani, the Cardinal Proto-deacon. On November 26, Pope Clement XIV took possession of his cathedral church, the Lateran Basilica. He dissolved the Society of Jesus on August 16, 1773
See: Ragguaglio delle funzioni e cerimonie che si sono pratticate nella basilica di San Pietro per la coronazione seguita il giorno 4 Giugno 1769 del nuovo Sommo Pontefice Clemente XIV (Roma: Ansillioni MDCCLXIX). [B. Platina], Storia delle vite de' pontefice: Vita di Clemente XIV (Venezia: Presso Domenico Ferrarin 1775). Gaetano Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica Volume 14 (Venezia 1842) 83-86. F. Artaud de Montor, Histoire des souverains pontifes romains Volume VII (Paris 1851) 215-257 Agostino Theiner, Storia del pontificato di Clemente XIV Volume I (Milan 1853) 173-280. Frédéric Masson, Le Cardinal de Bernis, depuis son ministère (Paris 1884) 77-112. David Silvagni, La corte e la società romana nei secoli XVIII e XIX Volume primo, seconda edizione (Firenze 1882) 147-188. Giovanni Sforza, "Il conclave di Papa Ganganelli e la soppressione de' Gesuiti: da documenti inediti del R. Archivio di Stato in Lucca," Archivio storico italiano 5a serie 20 (Firenze 1897), 286-315; Fredrik Nielsen, The History of the Papacy in the XIX Century (tr. A. J. Mason) Volume I (London 1906) 57-64.
The instructions of the Court of Madrid are summarized in: Xavier de Ravignan, Clément XIII et Clément XIV (Paris 1854) 552-555.
J. M. S. Daurignac, History of the Society of Jesus (tr. J. Clements) (Cincinnati 1865) 168-171. Xavier de Ravignan, SJ, Clément XIII et Clément XIV 2 volumes (Paris 1854), I, 237-2 ; II, 364-372. Alexis de Saint-Priest, Histoire de la chute des Jésuites au XVIIIe siècle (1730-1782) (Paris 1846) 68-105.
Ludwig Wahrmund, Das Ausschliessungs-recht (jus exclusivae) der katholischen Staaten Österreich, Frankreich und Spanien bei den Papstwahlen (Wien 1888) 228-230; 326-327.
On the Cavalcade and the ceremonies attendant upon the Possession of the Lateran, see David Silvagni, La corte e la società romana nei secoli XVIII e XIX Volume Primo seconda edizione (Firenze 1882), 3-24.
© 2009 John Paul Adams, CSUN