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Papal conclave, 1447

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Roma-Santa Maria sopra Minerva

Santa Maria sopra Minerva, the site of the conclave

The papal conclave, 1447 elected Pope Nicholas V to succeed Pope Eugene IV in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.


Eugene IV had died on February 23, 1447.[1] The cardinals entered conclave early on March 4, after waiting the full nine days proscribed by Ubi periculum.[2] Of the twenty-four cardinals living, all but one had been created cardinal by Eugene IV, and only eighteen were present in Rome for the conclave.[2] The conclave, like its predecessor which had elected Eugene IV, was held in the dormitory of the Dominican monks of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, even though many members of the College of Cardinals would have preferred to relocate to the Vatican.[1]

Several Roman barons, most prominent among them Gio Baptista Savelli, insisted for a time on being able to vote in the conclave (although perhaps they only wished to remain present); the Savelli family had been granted the right to guard the conclave by Pope Gregory X, but Gio Baptista wished for the first time to carry out this duty from inside the conclave; the barons were eventually expelled.[1]

Prospero Colonna, a cardinal-nephew, the Protodeacon of the Sacred College, and the final living creature of Pope Martin V, was regarded as the leading papabile at the start of the conclave.[1] Colonna received 10 votes (two short of the requisite supermajority) on the first scrutiny; the other 8 votes went to Domenico Capranica.[3] The next day the adherents of Colonna continued to vote for him, while the other eight attempted to peel away votes (unsuccessfully) by switching their choice to others, including the non-cardinal archbishops of Benevento and Florence.[3] Colonna had the support of the French cardinals and those who were impressed with the clout he carried with the various Italian city-states, but did not have the support of the Roman public (who would have preferred Niccolo d'Acciapaccio) due to Colonna's use of extrajudicial violence during his uncle's papacy.[3]

On March 6, after the first of the two daily scrutinies, during which Colonna again received 10 votes, Capranica addressed the conclave, reminding them of the various dangers facing the church, including the armies of the Alfonso, King of Aragon, which were sailing towards Italy, the (now unopposed) reign of Antipope Felix V, Duke of Savoy, as well as a certain "Count Francis"—imploring two more cardinal to throw their support to Colonna.[4] According to Trollope, the cardinals term for Colonna as "mansuetto agnello" (mild as a lamb) would have been viewed as ironic, given that Colonna had carried off much of the papal treasure on the death of Martin V with the help of his noble relatives, and had for a time been excommunicated by Eugene IV prior to his disgorgement.[5]

Tommaso Parentucelli rose following this speech, and Giovanni Berardi (thinking that his colleague was about to give the election to Colonna) interrupted him and asked for a delay.[6] At this point Lodovico Trevisan, angered at Berardi's blocking of Colonna asked whom Berardi wished to see elected instead.[6] Before he could respond, Parentucelli (misinterpreting, perhaps purposefully, his words) declared that he "too" was willing to give his vote to whomever the choice of Berardi was.[7] "Then, I give my vote for you!" Berardi exclaimed, a move which Trevisan felt obliged to follow.[7] One after another the cardinals threw their support to Parentucelli, with the eleventh vote coming from "Cardinal Marino", and the decisive twelfth vote coming from the "Cardinal of San Sisto".[8]


The eighteen electors were:

  • Domenico Capranica (23 July 1423) — Cardinal-Priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme; commendatario of S. Maria in Via Lata; administrator of the see of Fermo; Cardinal-protector of the Teutonic Order
  • Bessarion (18 December 1439) — Cardinal-Priest of SS. XII Apostoli; titular archbishop of Nicea and Tebe
  • Juan de Torquemada, O.P. (18 December 1439) — Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere


  • Isidore of Kiev (18 December 1439) — Cardinal-Priest of SS. Marcellino e Pietro; titular archbishop of Kiev


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Paolo di Benedetto di Cola dello Maestro records: "in nelli 1447 a dì 23 di febraro e fu uno iovedi a dimane, doi hore nanzi die, morio lo nostro pastore, cioè papa Eugenio quarto, e fu sotterrato in S. Pietro denanzi all' uscio della sacrestia in terra; a cui Dio l'abia misericordia." Mario Pelaez, "Il memoriale di Paolo di Benedetto di Cola dello Maestro dello Rione di Ponte, " Archivio della Società romana di storia patria 16 (1893), 94. Trollope is incorrect in his dating.
  2. 2.0 2.1 So the Diarium camerale: Exequis fe(licis) re(cordationis) Domini Eugenii pap(a)e .iiij. complectis die sabbati quarta mensis marcii anni predicti, quae fuit decima ab obitu dicti domini Eugenii, hora vesperorum, R(everendissi)mi in Christo patres et domini Domini cardinales infrascripti intraverunt conclave in ecclesia S(ancta)e Mari(a)e de Mirenda [sic] de Urbe pro futuro pontifice eligendo, videlicet: Venetiarum, Tarentinus, Capuanus, Flisco, Nicenus, Portugalensis, Morinensis, Estoutevilla, S(anc)ti Sixti, Aquilegensis, Firmanus Valentinensis, Mediolanensis, S(anc)t(a)e Sabin(a)e, Boneniensis novi pape electus, Columpa, S(anc)t(a)e Mari(a)e nov(a)e, S(anc)ti Angeli. See G. Bourgin, "Les cardinaux français et le diaire caméral de 1439-1486," Mélanges d' archeologie et d' histoire 24 (1904), 286. cf. Trollope, 1876, p. 134, who is incorrect. .
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Trollope, 1876, p. 136.
  4. Trollope, 1876, p. 137.
  5. Trollope, 1876, p. 138.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Trollope, 1876, p. 139.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Trollope, 1876, p. 140.
  8. Trollope, 1876, p. 141.


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