Papal election, 1198

The papal election of January 8, 1198 was convoked after the death of Pope Celestine III; it ended with the election of Cardinal Lotario dei Conti di Segni, who took the name Innocent III. In this election for the first time the new pope was elected per scrutinium.[1]

A fragment of the Septizodium, where the election was held.

Death of Celestine III

Pope Celestine III had been elected to the papacy in 1191 at the age of 85. In spite of his very advanced age, his pontificate lasted almost seven years. On Christmas Day, 1197 the 91-year-old Pope expressed the wish to abdicate the papacy on condition that his close collaborator Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo would be elected the new pope.[2] The cardinals rejected the suggestion as inconsistent with the rule that papal elections must be free ones.[3] Shortly thereafter, on January 8, 1198, Celestine III died and the cardinals present at his deathbed immediately started proceedings for the election of his successor.

List of participants

At the death of Celestine III there were 29 cardinals in the Sacred College.[4] However, no more than 21 were present at Rome:[5]

Elector Cardinalatial title Elevated Elevator Notes
Ottaviano di Paoli Bishop of Ostia e Velletri December 18, 1182 Lucius III He consecrated new pope to the priesthood and episcopate
Pietro Gallocia Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina 1188 Clement III
Soffredo Priest of S. Prassede December 18, 1182 Lucius III
Pietro Diana Priest of S. Cecilia March 16, 1185 Lucius III
Giordano di Ceccano, O.Cist. Priest of S. Pudenziana March 12, 1188 Clement III
Giovanni da Viterbo Priest of S. Clemente and bishop of Viterbo e Toscanella May 1189 Clement III
Guido Papareschi Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere September 22, 1190 Clement III
Giovanni di Salerno, O.S.B.Cas. Priest of S. Stefano in Monte Celio September 22, 1190 Clement III Elected Pope but declined
Cinzio Cenci Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina September 22, 1190 Clement III
Ugo Bobone Priest of SS. Silvestro e Martino September 22, 1190 Clement III Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica
Giovanni di San Paolo Priest of S. Prisca February 20, 1193 Celestine III Celestine III tried to designate him as his successor
Graziano da Pisa Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano March 4, 1178 Alexander III Protodeacon; he crowned the new pope
Gerardo Allucingoli Deacon of S. Adriano December 18, 1182 Lucius III Cardinal-nephew
Gregorio de San Apostolo Deacon of S. Maria in Portico March 12, 1188 Clement III
Gregorio Crescenzi Deacon of S. Maria in Aquiro March 12, 1188 Clement III
Gregorio Carelli Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro September 22, 1190 Clement III
Lotario dei Conti di Segni Deacon of SS. Sergio e Bacco September 22, 1190 Clement III Cardinal-nephew; elected Pope Innocent III
Gregorio Boboni Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria September 22, 1190 Clement III
Niccolò Scolari Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin September 22, 1190 Clement III Cardinal-nephew
Bobo Deacon of S. Teodoro February 20, 1193 Celestine III Cardinal-nephew
Cencio Deacon of S. Lucia in Silice and Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church February 20, 1193 Celestine III Acting papal chancellor; future Pope Honorius III (1216-1227); possibly of Savelli family

Four electors were created by Celestine III, five by Lucius III, one by Alexander III and the remaining thirteen by Clement III.


At least eight cardinals were absent:

Elector Cardinalatial title Elevated Elevator Notes
Konrad von Wittelsbach Bishop of Sabina and Archbishop of Mainz December 18, 1165 Alexander III Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals; papal legate in the Holy Land; external cardinal
Guillaume aux Blanches Mains Priest of S. Sabina and Archbishop of Reims March 1179 Alexander III Protopriest; Minister of State of the Kingdom of France; external cardinal
Ruggiero di San Severino Priest of S. Eusebio and Archbishop of Benevento Circa 1178-1180 Alexander III External cardinal
Pandolfo da Lucca Priest of SS. XII Apostoli December 18, 1182 Lucius III Papal legate in Tuscany
Adelardo Cattaneo S.R.E. cardinalis and bishop of Verona March 16, 1185 Lucius III Resigned the titular church of S. Marcello after the election to the see of Verona in 1188; external cardinal
Bernardo, C.R.S.F. Priest of S. Pietro in Vincoli March 12, 1188 Clement III Papal legate in Tuscany and Lombardy
Roffredo dell'Isola, O.S.B.Cas. Priest of SS. Marcellino e Pietro 1188 Clement III Abbot of Montecassino; ; external cardinal
Peter of Capua Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata February 20, 1193 Celestine III He was legate in Bohemia and Poland in 1197. At the death of Celestine III he had already finished this mission but was unable to reach Rome before the election

Election of Pope Innocent III

On the same day that Celestine III had died the cardinals assembled in Septizonium in the voluntary enclosure.[6] For the first time the electors voted by scrutiny (per scrutinium). Some cardinals were elected scrutineers; they counted the votes, recorded the result and announced it to the rest of the Sacred College.[7] In the first scrutiny Cardinal Giovanni di Salerno received the greatest number of votes (ten), but declared that he would not accept the election to the pontificate.[8] In the second scrutiny the cardinals united their votes[9] in favor of 37-year-old Cardinal Lotario dei Conti di Segni, deacon of SS. Sergio e Bacco, who was the youngest of all the cardinals.[10] He accepted his election and took the name Innocent III, maybe as a reference to his predecessor Innocent II (1130-1143), who had succeeded in asserting the Papacy's authority over the emperor (in contrast with Celestine III's recent policy).[11] .

On February 22, 1198 the new pope was ordained to the priesthood and consecrated to the episcopate by Cardinal Ottaviano di Paoli, bishop of Ostia e Velletri, and solemnly crowned by Cardinal Graziano da Pisa, protodeacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano.[12]


  1. A. Piazzoni, p. 177
  2. The Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Innocent III
  3. T. Greenwood, p. 358
  4. Number according to W. Maleczek, p. 241. K. Eubel, p. 3, note 1; and T. Greenwood, p. 358, give the number of only 28, but Eubel omitted Ruggiero of S. Eusebio, and Greenwood does not provide the list at all
  5. Reconstruction is based on the biographical data of the cardinals in: W. Maleczek, Papst und Kardinalskolleg von 1191 bis 1216, Wien 1984. This author, p. 354, suggests even the lower number of electors (19 or 20), but without indicating which cardinals were absent. T. Greenwood, p. 358, says that at least five out of twenty eight cardinals were absent
  6. For this reason, some authors consider this election as the first papal conclave (A. Piazzoni, p. 176, note 2), but the formal procedures of the conclave would not be developed until the papal election, 1268–1271, and were first implemented in the papal conclave, January 1276
  7. A. Piazzoni, p. 177. Piazzoni cites for this statement two anonymous contemporary sources: Oratio pro eligendo pontifice and Gesta Innocentii papae. However, according to T. Greenwood, p. 299, there is some evidence suggesting that similar procedure might have been already used in the papal election, 1191, but the source that he cited is brief and ambiguous, and is insufficient to ascertain it.
  8. W. Maleczek, p. 108
  9. Unanimity of the election: Smith, p. 12
  10. S. Miranda Cardinal Lotario dei Conti di Segni.
  11. See Julien Théry-Astruc, "Introduction", in Innocent III et le Midi (Cahiers de Fanjeaux, 50), Toulouse, Privat, 2015, p.11-35, at p. 13-14
  12. S. Miranda Cardinal Lotario dei Conti di Segni.


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