Papal election, 1261

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The papal election of 1261 (26 May – 29 August) took place after the death of Pope Alexander IV on 25 May and chose Pope Urban IV as his successor. Since Pope Alexander had been resident in Viterbo since the first week of May 1261, the meeting of the cardinals to elect his successor took place in the Episcopal Palace at Viterbo, which was next to the Cathedral of S. Lorenzo.[1] The actual date of the beginning of the Electoral Meeting (there were, as yet, no Conclaves) is unknown. If the canon of Pope Boniface III (A.D. 607) were still in effect (and there is no reason to think that it was not), then the Election could not begin until the third day after the Pope's burial.[2]


Alexander IV had unwisely continued to pursue the policy of hostility against the Hohenstaufen dynasty which had been begun by Pope Gregory IX. In 1261 the claimant was Conradin, King of Sicily since 1254, but he had been supplanted by his uncle and guardian, Manfred. This was not to the liking of Pope Alexander, who claimed the overlordship of south Italy and Sicily and the guardianship over young Conradin. Immediately on his accession Alexander excommunicated Manfred. Manfred had himself crowned King of Sicily at Palermo on August 10, 1258.

Cardinals, 1261[edit]

Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261), sensitive to charges of nepotism made against his predecessor, Innocent IV (Fieschi), had appointed no cardinals at all.[3] Two cardinals besides Alexander himself had died since the last Election in 1254 (Aegidius (Gil Torres) and Guilelmo Fieschi); otherwise the electors were the same.

Elector Origins Order Title Date of creation by Pope Notes
Otto (Eudes or Odo of Chateauroux, Castro Radulfi), O.Cist. Diocese of Bourges, France Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Tusculum (Frascati) 28 May 1244 Innocent IV on 8 July 1255 he was appointed to the Committee to judge Joachim de Fiore.[4]
John of Toledo
(John Tolet)
English Cardinal-priest Bishop of Porto 28 May 1244 Innocent IV A supporter of Henry III of England; served sixty years in the Roman Curia
Stephanus de Vancsa
(Istvan Bancsa)
Hungary Cardinal-bishop Bishop of Palestrina December 1251 Innocent IV Archbishop of Strigonia (Esztergom) (1243-1254)
Hughes de Saint-Cher, OP Vienne, Dauphiné Cardinal-priest Title of Santa Sabina on the Aventine 28 May 1244 Innocent IV Legate in Germany, 1253
Riccardo Annibaldi Roman Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria 1237 Gregory IX Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica.
Ottaviano degli Ubaldini Florence Cardinal-deacon Deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata 28 May 1244 Innocent IV Apostolic Legate in the Kingdom of Sicily, from January 1255.
Giovanni Gaetano Orsini Rome Cardinal-deacon Deacon of S. Niccolo in Carcere 28 May 1244 Innocent IV Alexander IV assigned him the tituli of S. Crisogono and S. Maria in Trastevere in commendam on 22 June 1259 [5] future Pope Nicholas III (1277-1280)
Ottobono Fieschi Genoa Cardinal-deacon Deacon of Archpriest of S. Adriano December 1251 Innocent IV Archpriest of S. Maria Maggiore. Archdeacon of Reims.[6]


  1. ^ Cristofori, pp.217-275, and, for the tomb of Alexander IV, pp. 277-285.
  2. ^ Liber Pontificalis ('Doings of the Popes'), in Monumenta Germaniae Historica Scriptorum Vol. 5 (Hannover: Impensiis Bibliopolae Aulici Hanniani, 1844), p. 164 (ed. T. Mommsen)
  3. ^ Annales Sancti Justinae Patavini in G. Pertz (Editor), Monumenta Germaniae Historica Scriptorum Volume XIX, p. 181): Iste toto tempore sui regiminis nullum constituit cardinalem; nam cum quidam de cardinalibus edificare Syon in sanguinibus affectaret, quidam vero vellent viros ydoneos promovere, ipse licet haberet plenitudinem potestatis, timore tamen scandali neutram partem voluit exaudire. Sede Vacante of 1261 (Dr. J. P. Adams).
  4. ^ B. Hauréau Quelques lettres d' Innocent IV (Paris 1874) (Extrait from Notices et Manuscrits XXIV.2), 48-79.
  5. ^ Otto Posse, Analecta Vaticana (Oeniponti: Libraria Academica Wagneriana, 1878), #166.
  6. ^ Bourel, Registres d' Alexandre IV, p. 171, no. 562; p. 233, no. 761.


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