Papal conclave, 1689

Papal conclave
August–October 1689

Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
Dates and location
23 August – 6 October 1689
Apostolic Palace, Papal States
Key officials
Dean Alder Cibo
Sub-Dean Pietro Vito Ottoboni
Camerlengo Paluzzo Paluzzi Altieri degli Albertoni
Protopriest Carlo Barberini
Protodeacon Francesco Maidalchini
Elected Pope
Pietro Vito Ottoboni
(Name taken: Alexander VIII)
Pope Innocent XI who died 12 August 1689

The Papal Conclave of 1689 was convened after the death of Pope Innocent XI. It led to the election of Pietro Vito Ottoboni as Pope Alexander VIII.[1][2]


The death of a number of 17th century conclave power brokers during the 1660s and 1670s (Cardinal Mazarin in 1661, Giulio Cesare Sacchetti in 1663, Antonio Barberini in 1671, Francesco Barberini in 1679) led to a distinct lack of leadership at the start of the 1689 conclave.[3]

Francesco Maria de' Medici took charge of the Spanish contingent while Rinaldo d'Este led the French factions. King Louis XIV of France planned to send Charles d'Albert d'Ailly, Duke of Chaulnes, who was to take the French cardinals to Marseille where they would meet a fleet of twenty six galleys which would convey the cardinals and their entourages to Rome.

The journey was considerably more complicated than planned. Anne Jules de Noailles, Duke of Noailles, ordered the fleet to open fire on a small English and Dutch merchant fleet but d'Albert contradicted the orders leading to an argument between the two. Eventually the fleet made it to Civitavecchia where they were met by Medici and were welcomed to Rome. The arrival of the French contingent meant the conclave set about electing a new Pope.

Medici cleverly proposed Gregorio Barbarigo but never intended to have him elected. Having tested the waters for the election of a Venetian, he put forward Pietro Vito Ottoboni. D'Este, who disliked Ottoboni, attempted to be equally clever; he jumped forward to support his nomination hoping (as he was leading the French delegation) that this would immediately draw a veto from the Spanish. But the plan failed and, realising he had lost, d'Este appealed to d'Albert for help. But the ambassador thought highly of Ottoboni and had already told Louis XIV that he supported the Venetian cardinal's nomination.

On 6 October 1689, Ottoboni was elected and took the papal throne as Pope Alexander VIII.

Participating cardinals

Absent cardinals


  1. Baumgartner, Frederic J. 2003. Behind Locked Doors: A History of the Papal Elections. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-29463-8
  2. S. Miranda: Papal Conclave, 1689
  3. The Triple Crown: An Account of the Papal Conclaves by Valérie Pirie.
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