December 1187 papal election

The December 1187 papal election (held on 19 December) was convoked after the death of Pope Gregory VIII. It resulted in the election of Cardinal Paolo Scolari, who took the name of Clement III.

Papal election
December 1187
Dates and location
19 December 1187
Key officials
DeanKonrad von Wittelsbach
CamerlengoMelior le Maitre
ProtopriestGiovanni Conti da Anagni
ProtodeaconGiacinto Bobone Orsini
Elected pope
Paolo Scolari
Name taken: Clement III
SpeculumGrandmontis (Pope Clement III).jpg
1191 →

Verona and FerraraEdit

Alberto di Morra, as papal chancellor, had followed Pope Lucius III in his flight from the Roman campagna, to seek aid from the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in Verona. Negotiations between the two quickly broke down, and the pope and his court found themselves trapped in Verona by a hostile emperor. Frederick besieged the pope in Verona, forbidding appeals to the pope from anyone in his domains, and obstructing appeals from elsewhere. Anyone apprehended in an attempt to reach the papal curia or returning from it was imprisoned and subjected to torture.[1] Lucius died during the siege on 25 November 1185. His successor was Humbertus Crivelli, the Archbishop of Milan and Cardinal of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, " a violent and unyielding spirit, and a strong opponent of Frederick (Barbarossa)," in the words of Ferdinand Gregorovius. He took the name Urban III, and maintained all of the uncompromising policies of Lucius III.[2] Urban III continued the hostilities with the emperor, offering no concessions, and finally arriving at the decision to excommunicate him. He was deterred only by the urgent pleas of the people of Verona. Urban and the cardinals who were besieged with him were able to escape from Verona in the last weeks of September 1187, taking refuge in Ferrara. Urban died there on 20 October 1187.[3]

On the following day thirteen cardinals who had been present in Ferrara began the proceedings to elect his successor.[4] The cardinals were aware that the papal chancellor, Albert di Morra, was in great favor with the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, because he was a member of the imperial party in the curia, and because he reported to the emperor all the confidential activities of the Roman curia.[5] On 21 October 1187 he was unanimously elected pope and took the name Gregory VIII.

Pope Gregory immediately began to reverse the anti-imperial policies of his predecessors. He announced that King Henry would be given an imperial coronation. The emperor Frederick immediately cancelled his blockade of the papal curia, and announced that Pope Gregory and his curia were free to go wherever they wished. Henry ordered Leo de Monumento, the Roman consul, and the German Count Anselm to conduct the pope safely to wherever he wished to go.[6] Gregory travelled to Bologna (18–20 November 1187), Modena (22 November), Reggio Emilia (24 November), Parma (26–29 November), Lucca (7–9 December), and finally Pisa (10–17 December).[7]


At the death of Gregory VIII there were probably only 20 cardinals.[8] Basing on the countersigning of the papal bulls in December 1187[9] it is possible to establish that at least 9 cardinals[10] were present at Pisa at the death of Gregory VIII:

Elector Place of birth Title Elevated Elevator Notes
Paolo Scolari Rome Bishop of Palestrina 21 September 1179 Alexander III Archpriest of the patriarchal Liberian Basilica; elected Pope Clement III
Thibaud, O.S.B.Cluny France Bishop of Ostia e Velletri 1184 Lucius III
Laborans de Pontormo Pontormo Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere September 1173 Alexander III
Melior, O.S.B.Vall.[11] Pisa Priest of SS. Giovanni e Paolo 16 March 1185 Lucius III Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church
Giacinto Bobone Rome Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin 22 December 1144 Lucius II[12] Protodeacon; legate in Spain, 1188;[13]
future Pope Celestine III (1191-1198)
Graziano da Pisa Pisa Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano 4 March 1178 Alexander III
Ottaviano di Paoli Rome Deacon of SS. Sergio e Bacco 18 December 1182 Lucius III Future bishop of Ostia e Velletri (1189-1206)
Pietro Diana Piacenza Deacon of S. Nicola in Carcere 16 March 1185 Lucius III
Radulfus Nigellus probably France Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro 16 March 1185 Lucius III

Five electors were created by Pope Lucius III, three by Pope Alexander III, one by Pope Lucius II.

Absentee cardinalsEdit

Probably eleven cardinals were absent:

Elector Place of birth Cardinalatial title Elevated Elevator Notes
Konrad von Wittelsbach Bavaria Bishop of Sabina
and Archbishop of Mainz
18 December 1165 Alexander III prior cardinalium;
Henri de Marsiac, O.Cist. Château de Marcy, France Bishop of Albano March 1179 Alexander III Papal legate in Germany[14]
Joannes Anagninus (Giovanni dei Conti di Anagni) Anagni Priest of S. Marco 1158/1159 Adrian IV Protopriest
Ruggiero di San Severino San Severino Priest of S. Eusebio
and Archbishop of Benevento
Ca. 1178-1180 Alexander III
Guillaume aux Blanches Mains France Priest of S. Sabina
and Archbishop of Reims
March 1179 Alexander III Minister of State of the Kingdom of France
Albino, C.R.S.F. Gaeta (?) Priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme 18 December 1182 Lucius III Future bishop of Albano (1189-1197)
Pandolfo Lucca Priest of SS. XII Apostoli 18 December 1182 Lucius III
Adelardo Cattaneo Verona Priest of S. Marcello 16 March 1185 Lucius III Future bishop of Verona (1188-1214)
Soffredo Pistoia Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata 18 December 1182 Lucius III Papal legate in France
Bobo Rome Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria 18 December 1182 Lucius III Papal legate in France
Gerardo Lucca Deacon of S. Adriano 18 December 1182 Lucius III Papal Vicar

Seven absentees were created by Lucius III, three by Alexander III, and one by Adrian IV.

Death of Gregory VIII and election of Pope Clement IIIEdit

Pope Gregory VIII died at Pisa of a brief illness, said to have been a fever lasting eight days, on 17 December 1187.[15] He had been pope only one month and twenty-seven days.

Two days later the cardinals assembled in the cathedral of Pisa, and began proceedings to elect his successor.[16] Cardinal Pietro Scolari had to be carried to the cathedral from the Hospitium Sancti Pauli de ripa Arni.[17] The election was celebrated in the presence of the Consul of Rome, Leo de Monumento.[18] The cardinals unanimously elected Cardinal Paolo Scolari, bishop of Palestrina, on 19 December 1187, the Saturday after the Feast of S. Barbara. He accepted his election and took the name Clement III.[19] On 20 December, he was solemnly crowned by protodeacon Giacinto Bobone Orsini,[20]

Immediate arrangements were begun for a return to Rome. Without delay Pope Clement sent his legates to the Roman people, in order to formulate a firm peace between him and them.[21] Orders were issued to the papal chamberlain, Cencius Camerarius, to receive the oaths of office of the ostiarii of the Lateran palace, which was carried out on 22 January; the also issued instructions for their service.[22] On 26 January 1188, Pope Clement was in Siena, and by 11 February 1188 he returned to Rome and was resident at the Lateran.[23][24]


  1. ^ Gervase of Canterbury and the "Gesta Trevirorum", in: Watterich II, p. 668.
  2. ^ F. Gregorovius, The History of Rome in the Middle Ages Vol. IV, part 2 (London: George Bell 1896), pp. 610-612.
  3. ^ Jaffé, pp. 527-528.
  4. ^ J.P. Migne (ed.), Patrologiae Latinae Collectio, Tomus CCII (Paris 1855), p. 1537, Pope Gregory VIII, in his electoral message, Inter Divinae Dispentionis: "Praedecessore siquidem nostro Urbano XIII Kal. Novemb. in bona confessione viam universae carnis ingresso, et tradito solemniter sepulturae, convenimus sequenti die in unum, et missa in honorem Sancti Spiritus, sicut moris est, celebrata, processimus seorsum in unum locum, nos episcopi, presbyteri et diaconi canonibus, et, postpositis diversis ecclesiasticis negotiis, et praecipue calamitatis Orientalis Ecclesiae, quae diebus illis audita fuerat, ad electionem pontificis visum est procedendum, ne, si forte dilationem acciperet, detrimentum ex tarditate per diversas partes Christiano populo proveniret."
  5. ^ Gervase of Canterbury, "Chronica", in: William Stubbs (ed.), p. 388: "Sciebant enim cardinales quod idem Albertus multam imperatoris haberet gratiam, eo quod, ipsius semper fovens partem, eidem omnia Romanae curiae revelaret secreta."
  6. ^ "Annales Romani", in: Watterich II, pp. 691-692.
  7. ^ Jaffé, pp. 532-534.
  8. ^ I.S. Robinson, p. 44 and 87; Kartusch, p. 31.
  9. ^ Jaffé, Regesta..., p. 528, 535-536. The papal court, however, was peripatetic, and it may well be that some of the cardinals and their entourages needed to travel a day or two, or even more, behind the pope, in order to find accommodation and services. Subscriptions, therefore, are more than usually unreliable.
  10. ^ I.S. Robinson, p. 44. J.P. Migne Patrologiae Latinae Collectio Tomus CCII (Paris 1854), p. 1564 (11 December 1187).
  11. ^ Benedictines of S. Maur, Histoire littéraire de la France, Volume 15 (Paris: Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, Firmin-Didot, 1820), pp. 314-319.
  12. ^ See: Lorenzo Cardella, Memorie storiche de'Cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa I. 2 (Roma: Pagliarini 1792), p. 49, for a wide variety of opinions as to which pope created Giacinto a cardinal.
  13. ^ Roger of Hoveden, in: W. Stubbs (ed.), Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene Vol. II (London: Longmans 1869), p. 333.
  14. ^ Cardinal Henri was still in Germany in 1188, and was present in the imperial court on 27 March 1188. Watterich II, pp. 694-697.
  15. ^ Nicholas of Amiens (in Latin), in: Watterich II, p. 692, with note 4.
  16. ^ Jaffé, p. 536.
  17. ^ "Breviarium Historiae Pisanae", in Watterich II, p. 692.
  18. ^ According to A. Piazzoni, p. 175, in a first round of voting Cardinal Thibaud of Ostia was elected but declined. No other authority reports such an occurrence.
  19. ^ Jaffé, p. 536. Watterich II, p. 692.
  20. ^ "Cronica de Mailros", quoted by Watterich II, p. 693. Gregorovius IV 2, p. 616.
  21. ^ Roger de Hoveden, quoted by Watterich II, p. 699 (in Latin). The treaty was signed on 31 May 1188. Gregorovius IV. 2, p. 617-619. Caesar Baronius, Annales Ecclesiastici (in Latin) (ed. Augustinus Theiner) Vol 19 (Bar-le-Duc: L. Guerin 1869), pp. 572-574.
  22. ^ Paul Fabre and Louis Duchesne, Le Liber Censuum de l'Église romaine (in Latin) (Paris: E. Thorin 1901), pp. 419-420. Watterich II, p. 693, note 3.
  23. ^ Watterich II, p. 693. quoting the "Annales Romani".
  24. ^ S. Miranda Cardinal Paolo Scolari Archived 2012-08-29 at the Wayback Machine


  • Gregorovius, Ferdinand (1896). The History of Rome in the Middle Ages Vol. IV, part 2. London: George Bell 1896.
  • Jaffé, Philipp (1888). Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita Ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Vol. II. Leipzig.
  • Kartusch, Elfriede (1948). Das Kardinalskollegium in der Zeit von 1181–1227. Wien.
  • Piazzoni, Ambrogio (2003). Historia wyboru papieży. Kraków: Wyd. M. ISBN 8372216487.
  • Robinson, Ian Stuart (1990). The Papacy, 1073–1198: Continuity and Innovation. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521264987.
  • Watterich, J. B. M. (1862). Pontificum Romanorum qui fuerunt inde ab exeunte saeculo IX usque ad finem saeculi XIII vitae: ab aequalibus conscriptae (in Latin). Vol. Tomus II. Leipzig: G. Engelmann.