Papal conclave, 1667

Papal conclave
June 1667

Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
Dates and location
2–20 June 1667
Apostolic Palace, Papal States
Key officials
Dean Francesco Barberini
Sub-Dean Marzio Ginetti
Camerlengo Antonio Barberini
Protopriest Ernst Adalbert von Harrach
Protodeacon Rinaldo d'Este
Elected Pope
Giulio Rospigliosi
(Name taken: Clement IX)

The Papal conclave, 1667 (June 2–20, 1667) to determine the successor to the departed Pope Alexander VII resulted in the election of cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi, who took the name of Clement IX.

Death of Alexander VII

Pope Alexander VII died on May 22, 1667, at the age of 68. At the time of his death, there were 70 cardinals in the Sacred College, but two of them died during sede vacante, and another four were entirely absent, leaving the number of 64 participants.[1][2]

Divisions among cardinals

The College of Cardinals was divided into several factions. The strongest of them was the party of Flavio Chigi, cardinal-nephew of Pope Alexander VII, which grouped 24 of his creatures. Another influential person was dean of the College, Francesco Barberini, who was leader of the group of old cardinals created by his uncle Urban VIII. Small but important because of the possibility of using the right of exclusion were the factions of the so-called "Crown-Cardinals", of Spain and France. They represented the respective interests of Charles II of Spain and Louis XIV of France.

The French party was instructed to work for the election of cardinal Secretary of State Giulio Rospigliosi. They thought that Rospigliosi, as former nuncio in Madrid, would be also acceptable for Spain. France had in Rome a clever and active ambassador in the duc de Chaulnes, who had replaced the duc de Créqui at Palazzo Farnese in 1665 and closely cooperated with Cardinal de Retz, the main representative of France in the Sacred College.[3]

Unlike France, Spain placed its interests in the hand of the incompetent ambassador Marquis Astorga. He allied himself with cardinal Chigi, although initially Cardinal Dean Barberini tried to obtain Spanish support for his own candidature[3]

Several cardinals, particularly those created by Innocent X, were unaligned. Some of them formed a group called the Squadrone Volante ("Flying Squad"), connected neither with papal nephews nor Catholic monarchs.[4]

The conclave

Sixty-one cardinals thus entered the conclave in the Vatican on June 2. In the following eight days they were joined by three more cardinals.[1]

Initially Flavio Chigi, supported by the Spanish party, proposed to elect cardinal Scipione d'Elci,[4] but was not able to secure for him the required majority of two thirds. Meanwhile, cardinal Retz and his two Italian colleagues d'Este and Grimaldi suggested to the leader of the Spanish party, Ernst Adalbert von Harrach, the candidature of Rospigliosi. The Cardinal Secretary of State was viewed in Spain as a friend, so it was not a difficult task to convince Harrach to vote for him and to break the alliance with Chigi. Cardinal Chigi was furious at Spain’s defection, but was not able to counteract it. The alliance between the representatives of two major Catholic powers proved decisive.[3]

On June 20, 1667 Cardinal Giulio Rospigliosi was elected to the papacy, receiving all votes except those of his own and of Neri Corsini, who voted for Flavio Chigi.[4] He accepted his election and took the name of Clement IX. Six days later he was solemnly crowned on the steps of the patriarchal Vatican Basilica by Cardinal Rinaldo d'Este, protodeacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano.[5]

List of participants

16 electors were creatures of Urban VIII, 20 of Innocent X and 28 of Alexander VII.


Four cardinals, all created by Alexander VII, did not participate in this conclave:[1][2]


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