Papal election, 1254

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The papal election of 8–12 December 1254 took place after the death of Pope Innocent IV and ended with the choice of Pope Alexander IV, his successor.

Frederick II and Innocent IV[edit]

Innocent IV (Fieschi), who was elected on June 25, 1243, after a vacancy that had lasted more than nineteen months, undertook as his most important task the destruction of Frederick II, who had been excommunicated by his predecessor Gregory IX (Ugo dei Conti di Segni) on March 20, 1239, and by numerous other cardinals and bishops. He was compelled to flee from Rome on June 7, 1244; he reached Genoa on July 7, suffering from a fever and dysentery. There he remained until October, 1244, when he crossed the Alps, reaching Lyons at the end of November. There he remained, living in exile, until the middle of April of 1251. He held a church council at Lyons in 1245, with some 150 bishops, a disappointing number, and issued an order deposing Frederick from the Imperial throne, and his son Conrad as well.[1] Louis IX of France attempted to mediate a peace, but was unsuccessful. Both parties wanted blood. There was even an assassination attempt against the life of Frederick, led by Tibaldo Francesco, a former Podestà of Parma, who had been promised the Crown of Sicily (Only the Pope can invest a person with the fief of Sicily). When Frederick discovered the plot, 150 people were executed. In May, 1246, a new King of the Romans was elected in opposition to Frederick with the active support of the Pope, Henry Raspe Landgraf of Thurungia. Henry managed to defeat Conrad in battle at Nidda in August of 1246, but death prevented him from following up on his success. A new emperor, William of Holland, was likewise elected, in October of 1247, but he was defeated by Conrad in 1250. Frederick's best friend, Peter de la Vigne, was accused of attempting to assassinate Frederick through poison; he was tried and blinded, but before he could be confined for life (or worse), he committed suicide (1249). Frederick insisted that the moving force behind the plot had been the Pope. While campaigning in Italy, Frederick died of dysentery on December 13, 1250.[2] He left the crown of Sicily, his initial inheritance, to his son Conrad IV, and, failing him, to his son Henry; or, if Henry was unavailable, in the last event to his legitimized son Manfred. Pope Innocent was impelled to eject the Hohenstaufen, and offered to Richard of Cornwall, the brother of King Henry III of England, both before and after the death of Conrad, and then to Charles d'Anjou, the brother of Louis IX of France.

Next April, Innocent began his homeward journey, by sea from Marseille to Genoa; he spent the summer in Lombardy, and arrived in Bologna in mid-October, 1251. He reached Perugia at the beginning of November, 1251, where he resided until the end of April, 1253, when he moved to Assisi. He left Assisi at the beginning of October, 1253, and finally reached Rome by October 12. He stayed at the Lateran, until the end of April, 1254, when he returned to Assisi for the rest of the Spring. He travelled next to Anagni, arriving by June 2, where he stayed until October 8, when he made a visit to Montecassino, Capua and Naples. He died in Naples on December 7, 1254.

But Innocent IV had not returned to Italy in 1251, to enjoy the peace and happiness consequent on the death of the Church's great enemy. The Church had been seriously damaged during the war between Frederick and Gregory IX and then Frederick and Innocent IV. Already in 1246, if Matthew of Paris is to be believed,[3] there was a confrontation between Innocent and Cardinal Johannes Toletanus, who was defending the English who were refusing to pay the Pope's exhorbitant tax demands, even under threat of interdict:

"May God forgive you your wrath, Lord, if I may speak frankly, you should try to control your wild temper, since the times are so bad. The Holy Land has difficulties; the Greek Church is moving away from us; Frederick, who is equal to or more powerful than any Christian prince, opposes us. You and we, who are the support of the Church, are driven from the seat of the papacy, from Rome, and even from Italy. Hungary, with its great territory, awaits its destruction at the hands of the Turk. Germany is torn with civil war. Spain is raging to the length of cutting out the tongues of bishops. France, already impoverished by us, is conspiring against us. England, frequently troubled by our injuries, now at length wounded by our blows and injured by our spurs, like Balaam's ass speaks and protests and complains that its burden is intolerable and that its injury is beyond remedy. We, like the Jews, hated by all, provoke all to hate us."

Innocent had a major reconstructive task ahead of him, to recover the lands and goods of the Church, and to reinvigorate the hierarchy in Lombardy, Tuscany and the Kingdom of Naples. It would have to be pressed forward in the face of the opposition of Frederick's sons.

Cardinals, 1254[edit]

Pope Innocent IV had created fifteen cardinals during his reign; six died while he was still Pope. Three cardinals survived from previous reigns.

Elector Origins Order Title Date of creation by Pope Notes
Rinaldo Conti de Segni Anagni Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Ostia e Velletri September 18, 1227 Gregory IX elected Pope Pope Alexander IV[4] (1254-1261)
Stephanus de Vancsa (Istvan Bancsa) Hungary Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Palestrina May 28, 1244 Innocent IV
Giovanni of Toledo English Cardinal-priest S. Lorenzo in Lucina May 28, 1244 Innocent IV A supporter of Henry III of England; served sixty years in the Roman Curia.[5]
Hughes de Saint-Cher, OP Vienne, Dauphiné Cardinal-priest Title of Santa Sabina on the Aventine May 28, 1244 Innocent IV Legate in Germany, 1253
Aegidius (Gil Torres) Spain Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Cosma e Damiano December, 1216 Honorius III He died in 1254 or 1255[6]
Riccardo Annibaldi Roman Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria 1237 Gregory IX Rector of Campagna and Marittima;[7] nephew of Cardinal Rinaldo Conti de Segni
Octavianus (Ottaviano) Ubaldini Florence Cardinal-deacon Deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata May 28, 1244 Innocent IV Archbishop of Bologna (1240-1244), Cardinal (1244-1273); Legate in Lombardy and Romagna from 1247 to 1251.[8]
Giovanni Gaetano Orsini Rome Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Niccolo in Carcere May 28, 1244 Innocent IV future Pope Nicholas III (1277-1280)
Guglielmo Fieschi Genoa Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Eustachio May 28, 1244 Innocent IV nephew of Innocent IV. Legate in Sicily against King Manfred, by whom he was defeated af Foggia on December 2, 1254.[9]
Ottobono Fieschi Genoa Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Adriano December, 1251 Innocent IV Archpriest of S. Maria Maggiore

Cardinals not attending[edit]

Elector Origins Order Title Date of creation by Pope Notes
Odo (Eudes) of Châteauroux (Castro Radulfi), O.Cist. Diocese of Bourges, France Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Tusculum (Frascati) May 28, 1244 Innocent IV He was with Louis IX of France on Crusade; the King returned on July 11, 1254.[10]
Pietro Capocci Rome Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Giorgio ad velum aureum May 28, 1244 Innocent IV Legate in Germany; he was sent to the German princes with an introduction from Innocent dated April 17, 1254 [11]


  1. ^ Ferdinand Gregorovius, History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages Volume 5, part 1 (London 1906), pp. 244-255. Charles Joseph Hefele, Histoire des conciles (French translation by H. Leclerq, from the second revised German edition) Volume V, part 2 (Paris 1913), pp. 1612-1694.
  2. ^ Ferdinand Gregorovius, History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages Volume 5, part 1 (London 1906), pp. 255-272.
  3. ^ Matthew of Paris, Chronica majora, Volume IV, p. 579 (ed. H. Luard). Aiden Gasquet, Henry III and the Church (London 1905), p. 268. The Pope had demanded a subsidy of half of the annual income of each ecclesiastical person and institution in England. King Henry forbade the bishops to consent.
  4. ^ S. Andreotta, "La famiglia di Alessandro IV e l'abbazia di Subiaco," Atti e Memorie della Società Tiburtina di Storia ed Arte 35 (1962) 63-126; 36 (1963) 5-87.
  5. ^ Hermann Grauert, "Meister Johann von Toledo," Stizungsberichte der philosophisch-philologischen und der historischen Klasse. königl. bayer. Akademie der Wissenschaften 1901 (München 1902) 111-325.
  6. ^ Conradus Eubel, Hierarchia catholica I editio altera (Monasterii 1913), p. 5. Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, Cardinali di curia e "familiae" cardinalizie. Dal 1227 al 1254, I, 16, notes that on August 6, 1255, he is mentioned as deceased.
  7. ^ Agostino Theiner, Codex diplomaticus dominii temporalis S. Sedis I (Rome 1861), p. 116, no. cciii (Anagni, October 2, 1243). Francis Roth, OESA, "Il Cardinale Riccardo Annibaldi, Primo Prottetore dell' Ordine Agostiniano," Augustiniana 2 (1952) 26-60.
  8. ^ Guido Levi, "Il Cardinale Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, secondo il suo carteggio ed altri documenti," Archivio della Società Romana di storia patria 14 (1891), 231-303.
  9. ^ E. Berger, Registres d' Innocent IV 3 (Paris 1897), nos. 8062, 8316 -8344 (September 2-17, 1254); no. 8172 (October 23, 1254); nos. 8190, 8195, 8201-8202 (November 9-13, 1254).
  10. ^ Matthew of Paris, Chronica majora, Vol. 5, p. 453 (ed. H. Luard).
  11. ^ Augustinus Theiner (editor), Caesaris S. R. E. Cardinalis Baronii Annales Ecclesiastici 21 (Bar-le-Duc 1870), under the year 1254, no. 34, p. 463; E. Berger (ed.), Registres d' Innocent IV, nos. 7762-7774.


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