Papal conclave of April 1555 (April 5 – April 9) was a papal conclave convoked after the death of Pope Julius III. Elected as his successor Cardinal Marcello Cervini, who took the name of Marcellus II, being the last pope in the history who retained his baptismal name.

List of participants

Pope Julius III died on March 23, 1555. Thirty seven out of fifty seven cardinals participated in the election of his successor[1]:

  • Federico Cesi (December 19, 1544) – Cardinal-Priest of S. Prisca; Administrator of Cremona; Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
  • Tiberio Crispi (December 19, 1544) – Cardinal-Priest of S. S. Agata alla Suburra; Administrator of Amalfi
  • Giovanni Angelo Medici (April 8, 1549) – Cardinal-Priest of S. Stefano in Monte Celio; Bishop of Cassano al Ionio; Governor of Campagna e Marittima; Prefect of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Grace
  • Giovanni Ricci (November 20, 1551) – Cardinal-Priest of S. Vitale, Gervasio e Protasio

Fifteen electors were created by Julius III, twenty by Pope Paul III, one by Pope Clement VII and one by Leo X.

Absentee cardinals

Twenty cardinals were absent[1]:

  • Reginald Pole (December 22, 1536) – Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin; Papal Legate in England
  • Louis I de Guise (December 22, 1553) – Cardinal-Deacon of [no deaconry assigned]; Administrator of Albi

Thirteen were created by Paul III, four by Clement VII, two by Julius III and one by Leo X.

Divisions in the Sacred College

College of Cardinals was divided into three parties[2]:

The election of Pope Marcellus II

The Cardinals present in Rome entered the conclave on April 5. Initially, they prepared and subscribed the conclave capitulation, which obliged elect to maintain neutrality in the European conflicts and forbade him conducting wars against christian princes[3]. In spite of the existed divisions, cardinals quickly achieved consensus. On April 9 at 11 p.m.[4] they elected by acclamation[5] Cardinal Marcello Cervini. He was proposed by French faction[6], but obtained also the support of the Imperial cardinals (e.g. Madruzzo[3]) despite the expressed wishes of Charles V against Cervini’s election[7].

On April 10 in the morning a formal scrutiny took place to confirm the election. Cervini received all votes except of his own, which he gave to Gian Pietro Carafa[3]. He retained his baptismal name, adding to it only an ordinal number (Marcellus II). On that same day, he was consecrated bishop of Rome by Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa, bishop of Ostia e Velletri and Dean of the College of Cardinals, and crowned by Cardinal Francesco Pisani, Protodeacon of S. Marco[4].


  1. 1.0 1.1 This is according to an account of this conclave in German onVatican History and to O. Panvinio, p. 424-425. Salvador Miranda: list of participants of the conclave of April 1555 indicates that all cardinals participated in this conclave except Pietro Tagliavia de Aragonia and Louis I de Guise. The list of the electors and absentees is presented according to Panvinio, p. 424-425.
  2. Valérie Pirie: The Triple Crown: the election of Paul IV Although that link concerns the next conclave held in May 1555, the informations about parties existed in the Sacred College are correct also for the conclave of April 1555.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Vatican History
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cardinal Marcello Cervini (Pope Marcellus II by S. Miranda
  5. Bautz Biografisch-Bibliografiches Kirchenlexikon: Marcellus II
  6. The Triple Crown
  7. The Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Marcellus II


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