Giulio Cesare Sacchetti

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Cardinal Giulio Cesare Sacchetti, Pietro da Cortona, 1626

Giulio Cesare Sacchetti (1586 – 28 June 1663) was an Italian Catholic Cardinal and was twice unsuccessfully nominated by France for election as Pope.

Early life[edit]

Sacchetti was born in 1586,[1] the second surviving son of Giovanni Battista Sacchetti and Francesca Altoviti, both Florentine patricians who had moved to Rome in the late sixteenth century. Giulio was the uncle of Cardinal Urbano Sacchetti.

Sacchetti's father was a trading partner of the Barberini family of Pope Urban VIII and the two families became close.[2] Sacchetti's elder brother, Marcello Sacchetti, became papal treasurer to Pope Urban VIII and a prominent patron of the arts until his death in 1629.

Educated at the University of Perugia and the University of Pisa, Sacchetti was ordained in 1623 and elected Bishop of Gravina. His ties to the new pope saw him become a cardinal only three years later.

Elevation to cardinal[edit]

Sacchetti was papal nuncio to Madrid from 1624-6 and was elevated to cardinal on 19 January 1626, named as Cardinal-Priest of Santa Susanna. He was appointed as papal legate to Ferrara from 1627 to 1631[3] and to Bologna from 1637 until 1640.

He held a number of senior positions within the Holy See including Prefect of the Sacred Consulta of Religious Immunity, the Sacred Consulta of Rites and the Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature of Justice. From 1641 to 1642 he was appointed Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals.[4]

In 1652 he was appointed Cardinal Bishop of Frascati, a position he held until 1655 when he was appointed Cardinal Bishop of Sabina.[5]

He was appointed to the special council assembled to fight the plague in the papal states and was Prefect of the Tridentine Council from 1661 until his death.

Papal conclaves[edit]

Main article: Papal conclave, 1644

Sacchetti was presented by Antonio Barberini, at the instruction of Cardinal Mazarin) the French first minister, as the French nomination for the papacy at the papal conclave of 1644. So certain of victory was Sacchetti's brother Matteo, that he threw open the doors of his cellar and began giving away wine in celebration shouting, "Viva Papa Sacchetti!" (Long live Pope Sacchetti!).[2] Contemporary John Bargrave suggested Matteo's certainty stemmed from the fact that the Barberini (two of whom were cardinals and nephews of the previous Pope Urban VIII) had started referring to him as Your Eminence; a title reserved for cardinals, suggesting his brother's elevation to the papacy (and thus his own to the cardinalate) was imminent.

However, Sacchetti was not a popular choice with the people of Rome who were afraid he would pursue Barberini policies and practices if elected. To this end they devised a rhyming ditty expressing: 'Don't make Sacchetti pope or Rome will fall to pieces'.[6] Spain, fearing he would be pro-French, vetoed his nomination via its representative Cardinal Gil de Albornoz. The conclave instead elected Giovanni Battista Pamphili, who took the papal throne as Pope Innocent X. Mazarin attempted to use the French veto against Pamphili, who apparently favoured the Spanish, but it arrived too late.[7]

Despite his close association with the Barberini, who suffered under Innocent X, Giulio Sacchetti's career continued to flourish.

When Innocent X died, Sacchetti was again presented as the French candidate at the papal conclave of 1655 but when it became apparent that he did not have a majority, he asked Mazarin to give his support to Fabio Chigi, who was duly elected and took the name of Alexander VII.[8]

Death and burial[edit]

Sacchetti died 28 June 1663 in Rome and was buried at the Florentine church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome.

Episcopal succession[edit]

While bishop, he was the principal consecrator of:[9]


  1. ^ Some sources suggest he was born in 1587.
  2. ^ a b Pope Alexander the Seventh and the College of Cardinals by John Bargrave, edited by James Craigie Robertson (reprint; 2009)
  3. ^ Zirpolo, L.H. Ave Papa, Ave Papabile (2005) 98
  4. ^ S. Miranda: Giulio Cesare Sacchetti
  5. ^ Catholic Hierarchy: Sacchetti
  6. ^ Non fate Papa Sacchetti, se non Rome sara a pezzetti Zirpolo (2005),98
  7. ^ Zirpolo Lilian H. 'Climbing the social, political, and financial ladders: the rise of the Sacchetti in seventeenth-century Rome', The Seventeenth Century, Vol. XII, 2, Autumn 1997, 151–171, p 159
  8. ^ Ave Papa/Ave Papabile: the Sacchetti family, their art patronage, and political aspirations by Lilian H. Zirpolo (2005), 99, note 8
  9. ^ "Giulio Cesare Cardinal Sacchetti" David M. Cheney. Retrieved March 21, 2016
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Scipione Cobelluzzi
Cardinal Priest of Santa Suzanna
Succeeded by
Giovanni Battista Spada
Preceded by
Federico Baldissera Bartolomeo Cornaro
Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Succeeded by
Giandomenico Spinola
Preceded by
Carlo de' Medici
Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati
Succeeded by
Antonio Barberini
Preceded by
Bernardino Spada
Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina
Succeeded by
Marzio Ginetti