1830–1831 papal conclave

The 1830–31 papal conclave, was held commencing 14 December 1830 after the death of Pope Pius VIII. It did not conclude until the 2 February 1831 election of Cardinal Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari as Pope Gregory XVI.

Papal conclave
Dates and location
14 December 1830 – 2 February 1831
Quirinal Palace, Papal States
Key officials
DeanBartolomeo Pacca
Sub-deanPietro Francesco Galleffi
CamerlengoPietro Francesco Galleffi
ProtopriestLuigi Ruffo-Scilla
ProtodeaconGiuseppe Albani
VetoedGiacomo Giustiniani
Elected pope
Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari
Name taken: Gregory XVI
Gregory XVI.jpg
← 1829
1846 →


Pope Pius VIII died on Thursday, November 30, 1830, at the age of sixty-nine. On December 11, the Governor of Rome, Msgr. Benedetto Cappelletti, informed the cardinals that there was a conspiracy in Rome involving the Bonaparte nephews of Cardinal Joseph Fesch. One in custody had been released to the Russian minister, since his mother was the Russian-born Catharina of Württemberg. Fesch refused to ask his nephews to leave Rome.[1] A paper bomb exploded under the windows of the conclave.[2] The conclave opened in an atmosphere of high tension.


When the conclave convened on December 14, some 45 of the 54 living cardinals participated; eight of whom were not Italian.[2] Bartolomeo Pacca presided as Dean of the Sacred College.

Initially the chief candidates included Emmanuele De Gregorio and Bartolomeo Pacca, who had been papabili in the 1829 conclave, plus Giacomo Giustiniani, who was a long-serving papal diplomat but who was vetoed by King Ferdinand VII. Giustiniani had served as nuncio at Madrid and provoked the hostility of the Prime Minister in ecclesiastical matters,[3] and Queen Christina regarding the succession.[2]

From the first day of the scrutiny, which was the 15th, up to the 27th, the votes were fairly evenly divided between De Gregorio and Pacca. However, it became clear eventually that neither of the unvetoed papabili could gain the support of two-thirds of the cardinals, and with Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich wanting a very strong Pope to hold firm against the flood of revolution haunting Europe at the time of the conclave, Giuseppe Albani, who led the Austrian faction and supported Pacca,[1] intervened. He proposed Vincenzo Macchi, former nuncio in Paris, as his candidate, but few of the other cardinals saw Macchi as suitable for the papacy. Cardinal Joachim-Jean-Xavier d'Isoard was instructed by King Louis-Philippe of France to place a veto against the election of Macchi if necessary.[4] Cardinal Tommaso Bernetti, who vied with Albani for the position of Secretary of State, threw his support to De Gregorio.

Cappellari appeared as an alternative to both De Gregorio and Macchi only when the conclave was well-advanced, but even though Albani worked against him, Cappellari eventually took the lead and won the election.

No conclave since has lasted as long as a week, but at the time no conclave since 1667 had lasted fewer than three weeks. The conclave took eighty-three ballots to deliver a two-thirds majority to a candidate, whereas no conclave since has taken more than fourteen.

Cappellari, then a Camaldolese priest and prefect of the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide, was also the last Pope not a bishop when elected.[5]


  1. ^ a b Adams, John Paul. "Sede Vacante 1830-1831", California State University Northridge
  2. ^ a b c Silvagni, David. "The Election of Gregory XVI", Rome, Its Princes, Priests and People, vol. 3, (Fanny McLaughlin, tr.), E. Stock, 1887  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ Murphy, John Nicholas. The Chair of Peter, Burns and Oates, 1886, p. 616  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "Miranda, Salvador. "Conclave of December 14, 1830 to February 2, 1831", Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Florida International University". Archived from the original on January 11, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Some of the History of Conclaves", Zenit, March 11, 2013
Duration 50 days
Number of ballots 83
Electors 45
Veto used by Ferdinand VII of Spain
against Giacomo Giustiniani