Papal conclave, 1655

Papal conclave
January–April 1655

Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
Dates and location
18 January – 7 April 1655
Apostolic Palace, Papal States
Key officials
Dean Carlo de' Medici
Sub-Dean Francesco Barberini
Camerlengo Antonio Barberini
Protopriest Luigi Capponi
Protodeacon Giangiacomo Teodoro Trivulzio
Vetoed Giulio Cesare Sacchetti
Elected Pope
Fabio Chigi
(Name taken: Alexander VII)
Pope Innocent X who died 7 January 1655.

The Papal conclave of 1655 was the papal conclave of Cardinals called on the death of Pope Innocent X. The conclave elected Fabio Chigi, who took office as Alexander VII.


At the death of Pope Innocent X, the cardinals of the College once again took to their respective sides in the French-Spanish conflict for control of the Church.

Francesco Barberini once again sided with the Spanish while his brother, Antonio Barberini, again sided with the French. The third Barberini brother, Don Taddeo Barberini (Prince of Palestrina), had died while the three were in exile in France at Pope Innocent X's orders. There they had lived under the protection of Cardinal Mazarin but they returned to Rome after reconciling with the Pamphili and allying with Innocent X's closest advisor, Olimpia Maidalchini. Papal nepotism of the era was so rife that the two Barberini brothers entered the conclave alongside Girolamo Colonna (Taddeo's brother-in-law), Carlo Barberini (Taddeo's son), Rinaldo d'Este (brother of Francesco d'Este; married to Taddeo's daughter) and Camillo Astalli-Pamphili (Donna Olimpia's bumbling nephew).

Despite myriad family connections, the College of Cardinals was fractured into support for dozens of candidates. Giulio Cesare Sacchetti was, as he had been at the 1644 conclave, put forward by the French delegation but his nomination was vetoed by the Spanish.

Though Fabio Chigi was not the Spanish nominee, those cardinals who stood in support of Spain had no particular objection to him. With their candidate excluded, the French delegation, too, found themselves with no real objection to Chigi. Helped along by the independent voice of the Squadrone Volante, the cardinals settled on Chigi. Only Olimpia Maidalchini was left to be convinced. Facing a horde of bored, trouble-making young cardinals, the older cardinals aligned to turn Donna Olimpia to their cause and convinced her to withdraw any objection to Chigi.

On 7 April 1655, Fabio Chigi was elected Pope and took the throne as Pope Alexander VII.

Participating cardinals

Absent cardinals


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