Papal election, 1287–88
1287 – 1288
Coat of arms during the vacancy of the Holy See
|Dates and location|
|4 April 1287 – 22 February 1288
Corte Savella, Aventine Hill
|Dean||Bentivenga da Bentivengi|
|Protodeacon||Goffredo da Alatri
Matteo Orsini Rosso
(Name taken: Nicholas IV)
The papal election from April 4, 1287 to February 22, 1288 was the deadliest papal election in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, with six (or five) of the sixteen (or fifteen) cardinal electors perishing during the deliberations. Eventually, the cardinals elected Girolamo Masci, O.Min. as Pope Nicholas IV, almost a year after the death of Pope Honorius IV, who died on April 3, 1287. Nicholas IV was the first Franciscan pope.
The cardinals' deaths are usually attributed to malaria. After the deaths of the six cardinals, the remaining electors—with the exception of Masci—left Rome and reassembled on February 15. Upon finding that Masci had remained at Santa Sabina in Rome the reassembled cardinals immediately elected him, but he refused until he was re-elected on February 22. It was thought at the time that Masci had survived by keeping a fire burning in his room to "purify" the pestilential vapors, or mal aria thought to cause the disease.
The election was held near Santa Sabina on Aventine Hill in the Savelli palace, Corte Savella, which Honorius IV had built and used as the de facto papal residence. According to Smith, Nicholas IV was, like his predecessor, "an undisguised partisan of the French interest" and "another example of the dishonest use of spiritual authority for political ends, by releasing Charles II of Naples from an inconvenient oath to Alfonso III of Aragon".
Cardinal electors 
|Bentivenga da Bentivengi, O.F.M.||Acquasparta||Cardinal-bishop||Bishop of Albano||March 12, 1278||Nicholas III||Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals; Grand penitentiary|
|Latino Malabranca Orsini, O.P.||Roman||Cardinal-bishop||Bishop of Ostia e Velletri||March 12, 1278||Nicholas III||Inquisitor General of the Papal Inquisition; Cardinal-nephew|
|Bernard de Languissel||French||Cardinal-bishop||Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina||April 12, 1281||Martin IV|
|Giovanni Boccamazza||Roman||Cardinal-bishop||Bishop of Frascati||December 22, 1285||Honorius IV||Cardinal-nephew|
|Gerardo Bianchi||Parma||Cardinal-bishop||Bishop of Sabina||March 12, 1278||Nicholas III||Some sources indicate that he was absent|
|Girolamo Masci, O.F.M.||Ascoli||Cardinal-bishop||Bishop of Palestrina||March 12, 1278||Nicholas III||Elected Pope Nicholas IV|
|Jean Cholet||French||Cardinal-priest||Title of S. Cecilia||April 12, 1281||Martin IV||Protopriest|
|Matteo Orsini Rosso||Roman||Cardinal-deacon||Deacon of S. Maria in Portico||May 22, 1262||Urban IV||Protodeacon after the death of Goffredo da Alatri; archpriest of the Vatican Basilica; cardinal-protector of the Order of Franciscans|
|Giacomo Colonna||Roman||Cardinal-deacon||Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata||March 12, 1278||Nicholas III||Archpriest of the Liberian Basilica|
|Benedetto Caetani, seniore||Anagni||Cardinal-deacon||Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano||April 12, 1281||Martin IV||Future Pope Boniface VIII|
|Goffredo da Alatri†||Alatri||Cardinal-deacon||Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro||December 17, 1261||Urban IV||Protodeacon; Died in 1287, possibly during the sede vacante after April 3, 1287|
|Giordano Orsini†||Roman||Cardinal-deacon||Deacon of S. Eustachio||March 12, 1278||Nicholas III||Died during the sede vacante on September 8, 1287|
|Hugh of Evesham†||English||Cardinal-priest||Title of S. Lorenzo in Lucina||April 12, 1281||Martin IV||Died during the sede vacante on September 4, 1287|
|Gervais Jeancolet de Clinchamp†||French||Cardinal-priest||Title of Ss. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti||April 12, 1281||Martin IV||Died during the sede vacante on September 15, 1287|
|Glusiano de Casate†||Milanese||Cardinal-priest||Title of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro||April 12, 1281||Martin IV||Died during the sede vacante on April 8, 1287|
|Geoffroy de Bar†||French||Cardinal-priest||Title of S. Susanna||April 12, 1281||Martin IV||Died during the sede vacante on August 21, 1287|
- Miranda, Salvador. 1998. "Papal elections and conclaves of the 13th Century (1216-1294)."
- Smith, 1892, p. 93.
- Bagliani and Peterson, 2000, p. 176.
- Darras et al. (1898: 413) instead attribute them to the Black Death, though in fact this was not to reach Europe for another 60 years.
- "Pope Nicholas IV" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
- Brooke, 2006, p. 440.
- Walsh, 2003, p. 88.
- According to Dizionario biografico dei Parmigiani he served as papal legate in the Kingdom of Sicily from 1282 until 1289 and did not participate in the papal elections in 1285 and 1287-88. S. Miranda in biographical entry of Gerardo Bianchi says that he participated in this election but gives this information with a question mark.
- Exact date of his death is unknown. S. Miranda in the biographical entry of this cardinal says that he died before the death of Honorius IV on April 3, 1287 but in the notes to the papal election of 1287-88 includes him among cardinals who died during sede vacante
- Bagliani, Agostino Paravincini, and Peterson, David S. 2000. The Pope's Body. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226034372.
- Brooke, Rosalind B. 2006. The Image of St Francis: Responses to Sainthood in the Thirteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521782910.
- Darras, J. E., Spalding, M. J., and White, Charles Ignatius. 1898. A General History of the Catholic Church. P. J. Kennedy.
- Smith, Philip. 1892. The History of the Christian Church. Harper & Bros.
- Walsh, Michael J. 2003. The Conclave: A Sometimes Secret and Occasionally Bloody History of Papal Elections. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 158051135X.