Papal conclave, 1700

Papal conclave
October–November 1700

Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
Dates and location
9 October – 23 November 1700
Apostolic Palace, Papal States
Key officials
Dean Emmanuel Théodose de La Tour d'Auvergne
Sub-Dean Nicolò Acciaioli
Camerlengo Giambattista Spinola
Protopriest Carlo Barberini
Protodeacon Benedetto Pamphili
Vetoed Galeazzo Marescotti
Elected Pope
Giovanni Francesco Albani
(Name taken: Clement XI)

The conclave of 1700 was a papal conclave convened following the death of Pope Innocent XII. It ended in the election of Pope Clement XI.


One of Innocent XII's last acts as pope was linked to the Spanish succession. The Habsburg Charles II of Spain was dying at this time and had no children. At Charles' request, Innocent advised that the throne pass to Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV of France, due to the close kinship between Louis and Charles. Philip succeeding to the Spanish throne was seen as a threat to the balance of power by other European nations, leading to the War of the Spanish Succession.

The succession was not welcomed by the Austrian Habsburgs, with Leopold I immediately announcing that he would not accept Philip's claim to the throne of Spain and thus hinting that he not only intended to resort to war but also to ensure the Spanish throne passed to a Habsburg claimant. With continent-wide war looming, Innocent died and the papacy became vacant. The conclave recognised that it could get bogged down in conflict between pro-Empire and pro-French candidates in the college of cardinals and paralyzed by a long series of votes - it thus took a shortcut.


Early days

The conclave opened on 9 October, with Galeazzo Marescotti as the main candidate - he was a former apostolic nuncio in Austria, Poland and Spain. However, his chances of being elected fell due to France's veto. Other likely candidates included Carlo Barberini, Leandro Colloredo, Bandino Panciatichi, Giambattista Spinola, Marcello Durazzo, Jacopo Antonio Morigia and Niccolò Acciaiuoli.


During the night between 19 and 20 November 1700, news reached Rome of Charles II's death. This news caused a sudden change of tack on all sides - fear of war led to reconciliation between the conclave's factions and the almost-unanimous election of cardinal Giovanni Francesco Albani. Albani was a fine diplomat known for his skills as a peacemaker who had been made a cardinal ten years earlier, but his election came only a day after his ordination as priest and a few hours after he celebrated his first mass. After the conclave had arrived at the two-thirds majority needed for election, Albani was ordained a bishop and assumed the name of Clement XI.

In fiction

The 1700 conclave forms the background for the 2006 Italian novel "Secretum" by Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti.


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