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The death of Pope Gregory XVI on 1 June 1846 triggered the Papal conclave of 1846. Fifty of the sixty-two members of the College of Cardinals assembled in the Quirinal Palace, one of the papal palaces in Rome and the seat of two earlier 19th century conclaves. The conclave began on 14 June and had to elect a pope who would not only be head of the Catholic Church but also the head of state and government of the Papal States, the extensive lands around Rome and Northern Italy which the Catholic Church governed.
Conclave divided over how to rule the Papal States
It was the issue of the government of the Papal States that was to prove central to the 1846 conclave. The College of Cardinals was split into two factions. The conservatives wished to see a continuation of papal absolutism in the governance of the Papal States, a continuation of the hardline policies of Pope Gregory XVI and his infamous right-wing Secretary of State, Luigi Emmanuele Nicolo Cardinal Lambruschini, while the liberals wished for some measure of moderate reform and favored two candidates in Cardinal Tomasso Pasquale Gizzi and Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferreti.
Lambruschini received a majority of the votes in the early ballots, but failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority. On the fourth ballot the liberal candidate, Giovanni Maria Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti, the Archbishop (personal title) of Imola, achieved that requirement and was elected, receiving four more than the required two-thirds majority. He took the name Pope Pius IX (known also as Pio Nono).
Failed attempt to veto Ferretti
As with other conclaves up to and including the 1903 conclave, various Catholic monarchs claimed a right to veto a cardinal who might be elected, forcing the cardinals to pick someone else. Emperor Ferdinand of Austria had charged Karl Kajetan Cardinal Gaisruck, the Archbishop of Milan (then part of the empire's territory), with vetoing the liberal Ferretti. However Gaisruck arrived too late to the conclave. By the time he got there Ferretti had been elected, had accepted the papacy and had been proclaimed publicly.
Pope Pius IX was crowned with the Papal tiara on 21 June 1846. He became the longest reigning pope since Saint Peter, sitting on the papal throne for nearly 32 years. Initially a liberal, following a shortlived deposition and the proclamation of the Roman Republic, Pius was returned to power by troops from the French Second Republic and became a conservative reactionary.
In 1870 the remaining territories of the Papal States were seized by Victor Emmanuel II, King of Italy. Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, with the former papal palace, the Quirinal, becoming the King's palace. Pius IX withdrew in protest to the Vatican where he lived as a self-proclaimed "Prisoner in the Vatican". He died in 1878.
- Dates of conclave: June 14 - June 16 1846
- Arrived late or Absent, included:
- Present included:
- Ludovico Cardinal Micara, Dean of the College of Cardinals
- Carlo Cardinal Oppizzoni, Archbishop of Bologna
- Chiarissimo Cardinal Falconnieri-Mellini, Archbishop of Ravenna
- Cosimo Cardinal Corsi, Archbishop of Pisa
- Sisto Riario Cardinal Sforza, Archbishop of Naples
- Luigi Ciacchi, cardinal of the Roman Church
- Paolo Polidori, Cardinal, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Council, Titular archbishop of Tarsus
- Historic features of 1846 Conclave:
- Last of 3 conclaves to be held in the Quirinal Palace and last held outside the Vatican
- election of pope who would have the second-longest reign in papal history
- last conclave held during the existence of the Papal States
- Apparent victory for liberals and apparent rejection of previous pope's policies
- failed attempt by Austrian emperor to exercise a veto
- last conclave made up exclusively of cardinals from continental Europe
|Number of ballots||4|
|Veto used||failed attempt by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria|
|DECEASED POPE||GREGORY XVI (1831-1846)|
|NEW POPE||PIUS IX (1846-1878)|