The papal conclave from August 26-29, 1484 elected Pope Innocent VIII after the death of Pope Sixtus IV.

The election

At the death of Sixtus IV, the conclave of cardinals that met to elect his successor numbered thirty-two surviving cardinals, a greater number than at any time since the close of the twelfth century, excepting perhaps for the multiplied rival cardinalatial colleges of the Great Schism (1378–1417).

The immediate context of the election was the nearly unprecedented packing of the College of Cardinals by Sixtus IV, not only in terms of overall size, but also in terms of cardinal-nephews and crown cardinals.[1] As a result, nearly all of the non-Venetian cardinals supported the continuation of Sixtus IV's policies of isolation towards the Republic of Venice, specifically the Peace of Bagnolo.[1] However, the two factions of cardinals differed over whether the church ought to prioritize the continuation of the Italian League or should prioritize papal power (especially vis-a-vis Naples) over the preservation of the peace.[1] Cardinal Borja lead the first faction and Cardinal della Rovere the second; these factions were roughly aligned with the Orsini and Colonna families, respectively.[1]

The conclave was carried out by the largest non-schismatic College since the eleventh century.[1] Because of an intense dispute between the Colonna and Orsini, the city of Rome was marked more far more civil unrest during the sede vacante than was to be expected historically; as a result, Cardinal Barbo bribed Girolamo Riario 8000 ducats to withdrawal from the city for the duration of the conclave.[1]

Cardinal electors

Elector Nationality Order Title Elevated Elevator Notes
Rodrigo Borja Spanish Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina, administrator of Valencia Dean of the College of Cardinals; future Pope Alexander VI; cardinal-nephew
Giuliano della Rovere Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Ostia e Velletri, bishop of Bologna, administrator of Avignon Future Pope Julius II; cardinal-nephew
Oliviero Carafa Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Albano
Marco Barbo Venetian Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Palestrina, patriarch of Aquileia Cardinal-nephew
Giovanni Battista Zeno Venetian Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Frascati Cardinal-nephew
Giovanni Michiel Venetian Cardinal-priest Title of S. Marcello Cardinal-nephew
Stefano Nardini Cardinal-priest Title of S. Maria in Trastevere, archbishop of Milan
Giovanni Battista Cibo Cardinal-priest Title of S. Cecilia, bishop of Molfetta Elected Pope Innocent VIII
Giovanni Arcimboldo Cardinal-priest Title of S. Prassede, bishop of Novara
Philibert Hugonet French Cardinal-priest Title of Ss. Giovanni e Paulo, bishop of Macon
Jorge da Costa, O.Cist. Portuguese Cardinal-priest Title of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro, archbishop of Lisbon
Girolamo Basso della Rovere Cardinal-priest Title of S. Crisogono, bishop of Recanati Cardinal-nephew
Pietro Foscari Cardinal-priest Title of S. Nicola fra le Immagini
Giovanni Vincenzo Acquaviva d'Aragona Neapolitan Cardinal-priest Title of S. Sabina
Raffaele Riario Cardinal-priest Title of S. Lorenzo in Damaso Cardinal-nephew
Domenico della Rovere Cardinal-priest Title of S. Clemente, archbishop of Turin Cardinal-nephew
Giovanni Conti Cardinal-priest Title of Ss. Nereo ed Achilleo, archbishop of Conza
Juan Margarit i Pau Spanish Cardinal-priest Title of S. Vitale, bishop of Gerona
Giovanni Giacomo Sclafenati Cardinal-priest Title of S. Stefano al Monte Celio, bishop of Parma
Francesco Todeschini-Piccolomini Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Eustachio, bishop of Siena Future Pope Pius III
Gabriele Rangone, O.Min.Obs. Cardinal-deacon Deacon of Ss. Sergio e Bacco, bishop of Agrigento
Giovanni Battista Savelli Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano
Giovanni Colonna Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Maria in Aquiro
Giovanni Battista Orsini Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Maria Nuova
Ascanio Sforza Cardinal-deacon Deacon of Ss. Vito e Modesto

Absentee cardinals

Elector Nationality Order Title Elevated Elevator Notes
Luis Juan del Milà Spanish Cardinal-priest Title of Ss. IV Coronati, bishop of Lérida
Thomas Bourchier English Cardinal-priest Title of S. Ciriaco, archbishop of Canterbury
Jean Balue French Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Albano, bishop of Angers
Pedro González de Mendoza Spanish Cardinal-priest Title of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, archbishop of Sevilla and administrator of Sigùenza
Charles II, Duke of Bourbon French Cardinal-priest Title of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti, archbishop of Lyon
Pierre de Foix, le jeune French Cardinal-deacon Deacon of Ss. Cosma e Damiano, bishop of Vannes
Paolo Fregoso Genoese Cardinal-priest Title of S. Anastasia, archbishop of Genoa


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Burkle-Young, Francis A. 1998. "The election of Pope Innocent VIII (1484)".

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