The 1758 papal conclave (May 15 – July 6), convoked after the death of Pope Benedict XIV, elected Cardinal Carlo Rezzonico of Venice, who took the name Clement XIII.

Papal conclave
May–July 1758
Dates and location
15 May – 6 July 1758
Apostolic Palace, Papal States
Key officials
DeanRainiero d'Elci
Sub-deanGiovanni Antonio Guadagni
CamerlengoHenry Benedict Stuart
ProtopriestThomas-Philipp d'Alcase
ProtodeaconAlessandro Albani
VetoedCarlo Alberto Guidoboni Cavalchini
Elected pope
Carlo della Torre di Rezzonico
Name taken: Clement XIII
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1769 →

The conclave


Divisions among cardinals


College of Cardinals was divided into several factions, which initially formed two blocs:[1]

Many cardinals created by Benedict XIV (called "Juniors") did not belong to any faction, but majority of them aligned themselves with "Union of Crowns", particularly with Spanish protector Portocarrero.

During the conclave, however, these two groups mixed with each other. Near the end of the conclave, on the one side there was the Imperial faction together with Zelanti, and on the other side Anziani, together with the Bourbon faction (defending the interests of the Bourbon crowns).

Because of the absence of the political representatives of the main Catholic courts the ambassadors of France and the Empire asked the electors for delay voting until their arrival. This demand was rejected before the conclave began.

The beginning and the early candidates


Only twenty-seven cardinals entered the conclave on May 15.[3] Eighteen more cardinals arrived in Rome by June 29. In the meantime, however, Cardinal Bardi had to leave the conclave due to illness.

No serious candidates were proposed in the early ballots. In the first scrutiny on May 16 the greatest number of votes (eight in the ballot and three more in the accessus) were received Dean of the College of Cardinals Rainiero d'Elci, who was 88 years old.[4] It does not mean, however, that no efforts to obtain the support for the candidates were made by the leaders present in the conclave. In particular Corsini worked vigorously for the election of Giuseppe Spinelli, leader of the Zelanti, but met with the strong opposition of Orsini, Cardinal Protector of the Kingdom of Naples. The protector of Spain, Portocarrero, also rejected Spinelli, and was able to join many of the "Juniors" to his party. Finally, the candidature of Spinelli had to be withdrawn.[5]

The first candidate with serious chances for election was Alberico Archinto, Secretary of State and Vice-Chancellor of the deceased pope. He had a strong support both among Zelanti and some of the "Crown-Cardinals", but the faction of Corsini did not agree to support him and produced as counter-candidate Marcello Crescenzi. Eventually, as had occurred many times before and later, the candidatures of Archinto and Crescenzi eliminated each other.[5]

The arrival of the French cardinals and their exclusion against Cavalchini


Gradually, the representatives of royal courts arrived in Rome with instructions from their monarchs. On June 4 entered Cardinal Luynes with the instructions of Louis XV of France. Five days later he officially announced the nomination of Cardinal Prospero Colonna di Sciarra to the post of Protector of France.[6] But the Imperial Cardinal von Rodt was still awaited.

During the next days the new candidate Carlo Alberto Guidobono Cavalchini, received still more votes, promoted by Corsini and Portocarrero working together. On June 19 he obtained twenty-one votes, on June 21 twenty-six, and in the evening of June 22 as many as twenty-eight out of forty-three, which meant that he was only one vote short of being elected. But after that ballot Cardinal Luynes informed the Dean of the Sacred College Rainiero d’Elci of the official veto of the King of France against Cavalchini. France opposed Cavalchini because of his support of the beatification of Robert Bellarmine and in the matters connected with the anti-Jansenist bull Unigenitus.[7] The exclusion met with strong protests, but Cavalchini himself said, "It is a manifest proof that God deems me unworthy to fill the functions of his vicar upon earth".[8]

After the collapse of Cavalchini's candidacy, Portocarrero advanced as a new candidate Paolucci, but he was rejected by French, who – together with the faction of Corsini, voted again for Crescenzi.[9]

The arrival of Cardinal von Rodt


The arrival of Cardinal von Rodt on June 29 with the instructions of the Imperial Court was the turning point of the conclave. He initially tried to achieve an agreement with the French, but having failed, he turned toward the Zelanti faction. Direct negotiations between von Rodt and Spinelli resulted in the proposal for election of the Venetian Cardinal Carlo Rezzonico, bishop of Padua. On July 6 in the morning the bishop of Padua received eight votes in the ballot and four additional in the accessus. Portocarrero, Albani and the French cardinals initially opposed, but finally agreed for him. After the consultations of French Cardinals with ambassador Laon it became clear that Rezzonico would be elected to the Papacy.[10]

The election of Pope Clement XIII


On July 6 in the evening Carlo Rezzonico was elected Pope, receiving thirty-one votes out of forty-four, one more than the required majority of two-thirds. The remaining thirteen (including his own) fell to Cardinal Dean Rainiero d'Elci.[8] Rezzonico accepted his election and took the name of Clement XIII, in honour of Pope Clement XII, who had elevated him to the cardinalate in 1737.[11] He was crowned on July 16 in the loggia of the patriarchal Vatican Basilica by protodeacon Alessandro Albani.[12]

List of participants


Pope Benedict XIV died on May 3, 1758. Forty-five out of fifty-five Cardinals participated in the subsequent conclave. Only forty-four, however, voted in the final ballot, because Cardinal Bardi left the conclave because of illness on June 24:[13]

Thirty five electors were created by Benedict XIV, eight by Clement XII, one by Benedict XIII (Borghese) and Innocent XIII (A. Albani).



Ten cardinals were entirely absent from this conclave:[13]

All the absentees were creatures of Benedict XIV, except d'Alsace, who was created by Clement XI, and Lamberg, who was appointed by Clement XII.


  1. ^ L. Pastor, p. 146
  2. ^ a b c Adams, John Paul. "Sede Vacante 1758", Sede Vacante, California State University, Northridge, September 29, 2015
  3. ^ L. Pastor, p. 149
  4. ^ L. Pastor, p. 149-150
  5. ^ a b Pastor, p. 150.
  6. ^ L. Pastor, p. 151
  7. ^ L. Pastor, p. 152-153
  8. ^ a b "Papal Library". Archived from the original on 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  9. ^ L. Pastor, p. 154-155
  10. ^ L. Pastor, p. 155
  11. ^ L. Pastor, p. 156
  12. ^ S. Miranda: Cardinal Carlo Rezzonico (Pope Clement XIII)
  13. ^ a b List of participants of the papal conclave of 1758 (by Salvador Miranda).
  14. ^ Left the conclave on June 24 because of illness and did not participate in the final ballot