Papal election, 1181: Wikis


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The papal election of 1181 followed the death of Pope Alexander III and resulted in the election of Pope Lucius III. This was the first papal election celebrated in accordance with the decree Licet de Vitenda, promulgated in the Third Lateran Council in 1179, which established that the pope is elected by the majority of two thirds votes.


Licet de Vitanda

The double papal election, 1159 which resulted in the election of Pope Alexander III and Antipope Victor IV (1159-1164), created a schism in the Catholic Church that lasted almost twenty years (until 1178). The schism was a result of the rules concerning the papal elections, which required the unanimity among the electors for the valid election. In 1159 the cardinals were unable to achieve compromise and divided into two parties, and each of them elected their own pope. In August 1178 Antipope Callixtus III, the successor of Victor IV, finally submitted to Alexander III[1]. In the following year Alexander III celebrated the Third Lateran Council, which promulgated the decree Licet de Vitanda. To avoid the schism in the future the decree established, that the pope is elected with the majority of two thirds, if the unanimity can not be achieved[2]. It confirmed also that the cardinals are the sole electors of the pope[3]. Both these rules are still in force today.

The decree Licet de Vitanda was very successful – from 1179 there was no antipope for almost 150 years (until 1328)[4].

Election of Lucius III

Pope Alexander III died on August 30, 1181 in Civita Castellana[5]. Two days later, on September 1, 1181, the cardinals assembled at Rome (probably at Lateran or Vatican Basilica) and unanimously elected the senior member of the Sacred College, Cardinal Ubaldo of Lucca, Bishop of Ostia and Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals. He took the name Lucius III. On September 6, 1181 he was crowned by Cardinal Teodino of Porto at Velletri[6].


There were probably 27 cardinals in the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1181[7]. Based on the examination of the subscriptions of the papal bulls in 1181[8] and the available data about the external missions of the cardinals it is possible to establish that no more than 19 cardinals participated in the election:

Elector Place of birth Cardinalatial title Elevated Elevator Notes
Ubaldo Allucingoli Lucca Bishop of Ostia December 16, 1138 Innocent II Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Teodino de Arrone Arrone Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina December 18, 1165 Alexander III
Paolo Scolari Rome Bishop of Palestrina September 21, 1179 Alexander III Archpriest of the patriarchal Liberian Basilica; future Pope Clement III (1187-1191)
Alberto di Morra, Can.Reg. Benevento Priest of S. Lorenzo in Lucina and Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church December 21, 1156 Adrian IV Protopriest; future Pope Gregory VIII (1187)
Giovanni Conti da Anagni Anagni Priest of S. Marco 1158/1159 Adrian IV Future bishop of Palestrina (1190-1196)
Cinzio Capellus Rome (?) Priest of S. Cecilia March 14, 1158 Adrian IV
Pietro de Bono, Can.Reg. Rome Priest of S. Susanna March 18, 1166 Alexander III
Uguccione Pierleoni Rome Priest of S. Clemente March 2, 1173 Alexander III Relative of Antipope Anacletus II (1130—1138)
Laborante de Panormo Pontormo near Florence Priest of S. Maria in Trastevere September 21, 1173 Alexander III
Viviano Orvieto (?) Priest of S. Stefano in Monte Celio March 7, 1175 Alexander III
Ardoino da Piacenza, Can.Reg. Piacenza Priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme June 2, 1178 Alexander III
Matthieu d’Anjou Angers Priest of S. Marcello December 22, 1178 Alexander III
Giacinto Bobone Rome Deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin December 22, 1144 Lucius II Protodeacon; future Pope Celestine III (1191-1198)
Ardicio de Rivoltela Rivoltella near Cremona Deacon of S. Teodoro December 21, 1156 Adrian IV
Rainiero da Pavia Pavia Deacon of S. Giorgio in Velabro June 6, 1175 Alexander III
Matteo, Can.Reg. Unknown (possibly Rome) Deacon of S. Maria Nuova March 4, 1178 Alexander III
Graziano da Pisa Pisa Deacon of SS. Sergio e Bacco March 4, 1178 Alexander III Nephew of Pope Eugene III
Rainier Unknown Deacon of S. Adriano September 22, 1178 Alexander III
Giovanni Unknown Deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria September 22, 1178 Alexander III

Thirteen electors were created by Pope Alexander III, four by Pope Adrian IV, one by Pope Innocent II and one by Lucius II.

Absentee cardinals

Elector Place of birth Cardinalatial title Elevated Elevator Notes
Konrad von Wittelsbach Bavaria Bishop of Sabina and Archbishop of Salzburg December 18, 1165 Alexander III Subdean of the Sacred College of Cardinals; external cardinal [9]
Henri de Marsiac, O.Cist. Château de Marcy, France Bishop of Albano March 1179 Aleksander III Papal legate in France[10]
Pietro da Pavia, Can.Reg. Pavia or France Bishop of Tusculum September 21, 1173 Aleksander III Papal legate in France and Germany; archbishop-elect of Bourges[11]
Giovanni da Napoli, Can.Reg. Naples Priest of S. Anastasia September 21, 1150 Eugenius III Papal legate in Constantinople[12]
Ruggiero di San Severino, O.S.B.Cas. San Severino Priest of S. Eusebio and Archbishop of Benevento Circa 1178-1180 Alexander III External cardinal[13]
Guillaume aux Blanches Mains France Priest of S. Sabina and Archbishop of Reims March 1179 Alexander III External cardinal [14]
Simeone Borelli, O.S.B.Cas. Campagna Deacon of S. Maria in Domnica Circa 1157 Adrian IV Abbot of Subiaco (external cardinal)[15]
Leonato de Manoppello, O.S.B. Manoppello (?) Deacon of the Holy Roman Church March 21, 1170 Alexander III Abbot of S. Clemente in Casauria; external cardinal[16]


  1. ^ Antipope Innocent III, elected in September 1179 and deposed in January 1180, was of little importance; cf. Jaffé, p. 431
  2. ^ Robinson, pp. 84-85
  3. ^ Robinson, pp. 40-41
  4. ^ The Catholic Encyclopedia. List of the popes
  5. ^ Jaffé, p. 418
  6. ^ Jaffé, p. 432; Regesta Imperii: Abteilung IV. Band 4, 1 – Papstregesten 1181–1184, no. 1
  7. ^ Reconstruction of the Sacred College is based on Brixius, p. 26 note 8. Brixius listed only 25 cardinals, but two additional are mentioned by Ganzer, pp. 102-104 no. 42 and pp. 119-121 no. 48
  8. ^ Jaffé, pp. 145-146 and 431-432; Regesta Imperii – Liste der Kardinalsunterschriften unter Lucius III.
  9. ^ Ganzer, pp. 104-114 no. 43
  10. ^ Robinson, pp. 165 and 242; he did not subscribe any papal bulls between December 8, 1179 and November 20, 1182. Jaffé, p. 145; Regesta Imperii – Liste der Kardinalsunterschriften unter Lucius III.
  11. ^ Ganzer, pp. 123-125 no. 50
  12. ^ Brixius, pp. 55-56 no. 15; he did not subscribe any papal bulls after July 3, 1179.
  13. ^ Ganzer, pp. 129-131 no. 52
  14. ^ Ganzer, pp. 125-129 no. 51
  15. ^ Ganzer, pp.102-104 no. 42
  16. ^ Ganzer, pp. 119-121 no. 48


  • Ian Stuart Robinson (1990). The Papacy 1073–1198. Continuity and Innovation. Cambridge Medieval Textbooks. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521319226.  
  • Brixius, Johannes Matthias (1912) (in German). Die Mitglieder des Kardinalkollegiums von 1130-1181. Berlin: R. Trenkel.  
  • Ganzer, Klaus (1963) (in German). Die Entwicklung des auswärtigen Kardinalats im hohen Mittelalter. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Kardinalkollegiums vom 11.bis 13. Jahrhundert. Bibliothek des Deutschen Historischen Instituts in Rom. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.  


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