The Papal conclave of January 10 – January 30, 1592 was the papal conclave that elected Pope Clement VIII in succession to Pope Innocent IX.

Death of Innocent IX

Pope Innocent IX died on December 30, 1591 only two months into his pontificate. This created the fourth sede vacante in the one and half years since the death of Pope Sixtus V, [1]. No similar situation had occurred since 1276–1277.

List of participants

Fifty four out of the sixty four cardinals participated in this conclave[2]:

  • Pedro de Deza (February 21, 1578) - Cardinal-Priest of S. Girolamo degli Schiavoni
  • Scipione Lancelotti (December 12, 1583) - Cardinal-Priest of S. Salvatore in Lauro; Secretary of the Apostolic Briefs
  • Girolamo Bernerio, O.P. (November 16, 1586) - Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria sopra Minerva; Bishop of Ascoli-Piceno; Cardinal-protector of the Order of Servites
  • Benedetto Giustiniani (November 16, 1586) - Cardinal-Priest of S. Marcello; Prefect of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Grace; Legate in Marche; Vice-protector of the Kingdom of France
  • William Allen (August 7, 1587) – Cardinal-Priest of S. Silvestro a Martino ai Monti
  • Agostino Cusani (December 14, 1588) – Cardinal-Priest of S. Lorenzo in Pansiperna
  • Paolo Emilio Sfondrati (December 19, 1590) – Cardinal-Priest of S. Cecilia; Legate a latere in Bologna and Romagna; Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice
  • Girolamo Matei (November 16, 1586) - Cardinal-Deacon of S. Eustachio; Prefect of the S.C. of the Tridentine Council
  • Ascanio Colonna (November 16, 1586) – Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin
  • Federico Borromeo (December 18, 1587) – Cardinal-Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano
  • Guido Pepoli (December 20, 1589) – Cardinal-Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano
  • Flaminio Piatti (March 6, 1591) – Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Domnica

Twenty three electors were created by Sixtus V, thirteen by Gregory XIII, seven by Pius IV, five by Gregory XIV, four by Pius V, one by Innocent IX and one by Pope Julius III.


Ten cardinals were absent[2]:

Five of these were created by Gregory XIII, four by Sixtus V and one by Innocent IX.

Divisions in the Sacred College and the main candidates

The Sacred College of Cardinals was divided into several factions. The strongest of them was the Spanish faction with Madruzzo as unofficial leader. They supported the interests of king Philip II of Spain. Their candidate was Giulio Antonio Santori, head of the Roman Inquisition, called Cardinal S. Severina. His candidature was supported also by the "Sixtine" party, which included the old favourites and circle of Pope Sixtus V; their leader was Sixtus's cardinal-nephew, Alessandro Peretti de Montalto, Vice-Chancellor of the Church. Montalto supported Santori as a tactical manoeuvre and his real candidate was Aldobrandini. There was also a numerous group of cardinals that openly opposed Santori. Most of them were the old circles of Gregory XIII and Pius IV and their leaders were Sforza, Hohenems and Marcantonio Colonna[3].

Since in the last two conclaves the candidates supported by Spain had won, it was generally thought that also this time only pro-Spanish papabile had any prospects of winning the election. Besides Santori, only Madruzzo, Tolomeo Gallio, Paleotti, Marco Antonio Colonna and Aldobrandini were acceptable to Spain and it seemed clear that the new Pope would be one of them.[4]

The conclave

The conclave began on January 10, 1592. The next morning Madruzzo and Montalto together with their adherents tried to elect Santori by acclamation, but their plan had failed due to strong opposition from Hohenems and his party. Afterwards the normal voting procedures were followed. Every day a vote took place, with the following results[4]:

Clement VIII mosaic

Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini was elected Pope Clement VIII.

January 11 – Santori – 28, Aldobrandini - 11

January 12 – Santori – 23, Aldobrandini - 18

January 13 – Santori – 23, Aldobrandini - 18

January 14 – Santori – 24, Aldobrandini - 9

January 15 – Santori – 21, Aldobrandini - 13

January 16 – Santori – 22, Aldobrandini - 13

January 17 – Santori – 23, Aldobrandini - 13

January 18 – ?

January 19 – Santori – 23, Aldobrandini - 12

January 20 – Santori – 22, Aldobrandini - 15

January 21 – Santori – 23, Aldobrandini - 17

January 22 – Santori – 23, Aldobrandini - 12

January 23 – Madruzzo – 21, Santori – 18

January 24 – Santori – 18, Aldobrandini and Madruzzo – 16 each

January 25 – Santori i Aldobrandini – po 19

January 26 – Santori – 18, Madruzzo - 16

January 27 – Santori – 21, Madruzzo – 16

January 28 – Aldobrandini – 17, Santori and Madruzzo – 15 each

January 29 – Santori – 17, Aldobrandini – 16

Santori received the greatest number of votes in almost each ballot, but was not able to secure the required majority of two thirds and support for him gradually diminished. Eventually on January 29 Cardinal Montalto decided to switch to support the candidature of Ippolito Aldobrandini and was able to secure significant votes for him. Madruzzo then accepted that the opposition against him was too strong and switched to Ippolito Aldobrandini as more acceptable than Santori. This was the decisive moment of this conclave[3].

Election of Clement VIII

On January 30, 1592 Cardinal Ippolito Aldobrandini was unanimously elected to the papacy and took the name of Clement VIII[4]. On February 2 he was consecrated to the episcopate by Cardinal Alfonso Gesualdo, bishop of Ostia e Velletri and dean of the College of Cardinals. Seven days later he was solemnly crowned by Francesco Sforza di Santa Fiore, deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata[5].


  1. who died on August 27, 1590. He was then succeeded by Urban VII (September 15 – September 27, 1590), Gregory XIV (December 5, 1590 – October 16, 1591) and Innocent IX (October 29 – December 30, 1591), so the papal conclave of January 1592 was the fourth in only seventeen months.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Salvador Miranda: list of participants of the papal conclave of 1592
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Triple Crown
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Vatican History
  5. Salvadro Miranda: Cardinal Ippolio Aldobrandini (Pope Clement VIII)


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