The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

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15th Century
(1404-1503)

Numerical summary of the cardinals and pseudocardinals created by the 11 popes and the 5 antipopes of this century.


Innocent VII (1404-1406) - 11 cardinals
Gregory XII (1406-1415) - 13 cardinals
[Antipope] Alexander V (1409-1410) - did not create any pseudocardinals
[Antipope] John XXIII (1410-1415) - 18 pseudocardinals
Martin V (1417-1431) - 17 cardinals
[Antipope] Clement VIII (1423-1429) - 2 pseudocardinals
[Antipope] Benedict XIV (1425-1430?) - did not create any pseudocardinals
Eugenius IV (1431-1447) - 27 cardinals
[Antipope] Felix V (1439-1449) - 25 pseudocardinals
Nicholas V (1447-1455) - 11 cardinals
Callistus III (1455-1458) - 9 cardinals
Pius II (1458-1464) - 12 cardinals
Paul II (1464-1471) - 12 cardinals
Sixtus IV (1471-1484) - 34 cardinals
Innocent VIII (1484-1492) - 8 cardinals
Alexander VI (1492-1503) - 43 cardinals
Total: 199 cardinals and 45 pseudocardinals

Source: Hierarchia catholica medii aevi sive Summorum Pontificum, S.R.E. cardinalium ecclesiarum antistitum series. Edited by Guilelmus van Gulik, Conradus Eubel, Ludovicus Schmitz-Kallenberg, Remigius Ritzler, and Pirminus Sefrin. 8 vols. Munich: Librariae Regensbergianae, 1913-1978. Reprint edition: Padua: Il Messaggero di S. Antonio, 1960-1982, vol. I, pp.13-26; vol. II, pp. 5-25.

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Non-cardinals in the conclave, decree, Ecumenical Council of Constance, session 40, October 30, 1417.

The council fathers ordered that, for this time only, 6 representatives from each of the 5 nations, England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy, joined the cardinals of all obediences in the election of the new pope to put an end to the Western Schism. Two-thirds of each of the two groups were necessary for a valid election.

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First cardinals "in pectore", Martin V (1417-1431).

Source: Pastor, Ludovico. Historia de los Papas en la época del Renacimiento hasta la elección de Pío VII. 40 vols. Buenos Aires; Barcelona: Ediciones G. Gili, 1948-, pp. 400-401, y nn. 2, 3 y 1.

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In eminenti, bull, October 26, 1431, Eugenius IV (1431-1447).

Decreed that the cardinals did not get their title and rights until they received their insignias and that not until the ceremony of the opening of their lips had taken place they could take part in the papal election. This constitution was abrogated by St. Pius V in 1571.

Source: Pastor, Ludovico. Historia de los Papas desde fines de la Edad Media. Segunda edición corregida. Tomo I. Historia de los Papas en la época del Renacimiento hasta la elección de Pío II (Martín V, Eugenio IV, Nicolao V, Calixto III). Vol. I. Martín V y Eugenio IV. Buenos Aires: Ediciones G. Gili, S.A., 1948, pp. 401-402.

Eugène IV dans la bulle, In eminenti, déclare que la nomination faite dans le consistoire secret, n'a d'effet qu'aprés que l'élu a regu les insignes du cardinalat, et que jusque-l` il ne peut ni s'appeler cardinal ni voter pour l'ilection du Souverain Pontife. Aujourd'hui, cependant, on regarde comme cardinaux, et jouissant de tous leurs droits, ceux qui sont proclamés par le Pape; parce que, dit le cardinal de Luca, la tradition des insignes, la formalité de fermer et d'ouvrir la bouche, etc., sont de pures cérémonies qui ne touchent point à la substance du cardinalat. Un décret de Pie V [Janvier 26, 1571] a confirmé la pratique actuelle, qui a trouvi son application dans les élections des Papes Léon XI, Innocent X et Clément X.

Source: Dictionnaire des cardinaux, contenant des notions générales sur le cardinalat, la nomenclature complète, par ordre alphabètique, des cardinaux de tous les temps et de tous les pays; la même nomenclature par ordre chronologique; les détails biographiques essentiels sur tous les cardinaux sans exception; de longues études sur les cardinaux célèbres, qui, en si grand nombre, ont rempli un rôle supériér dans l'Église, dans la politique ou dans les lettres; par M. L'abbé G. B., publié par M. L'abbé Migne, éditeur de la Bibliothéque Universelle du Clergé ou Des Cours Complets sur chaque branche de la science religieuse. Tome unique. S'imprime et se vend chez J.-P. Migne, éditeur, aux ateliers catholiques, rue d'Amboise, au petit-Montrouge, barrier d'enfer de Paris, 1857. Republished in 1969 by Gregg International Publishers Limited, Westmead, Franborough, Hants, England. Printed in offset by Anton Hain KG, Meisenheim/Glam, Western Germany, p. 19-20.

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De numero et qualitate cardinalium, decree, Ecumenical Council of Basle, session 23, March 26, 1436.

It decided that cardinals should be chosen from all Christian regions, as far as this could be done commodiously. No one nation was to have more than one-third of the cardinals, and no one city or diocese more than one cardinal. Nephews of a pope or of a living cardinal were not to enter the College. The total size of the body should not exceed 24; but one or 2 might be added to this maximum because of some great need or utility to the Church; and these could be chosen from the Greeks, once these united with Rome. Elections of new cardinals must have the written consent of the majority of the Sacred College.

The final decree differed in important respects from earlier proposals. No mention was made of the minimum or maximum number of cardinals that each of the 4 principal "nations" must have. Left open was the question of England's constituting the fifth principal "nation". Gone was the insitence on the right of "nations" to select their own cardinals; and the demand that cardinals serve as legates of their own "nation".

With the collapse of Basle, however, this whole reform attempt was undermined. The long, bitter conflict between Eugene IV (1431-1447) and the Council meant that the decree on the Sacred College remained a dead letter, as far as Rome was concerned. Reform of the College was not on the agenda of the continuation of Basel at Ferrara and Florence (1438-1442).

Source: Broderick, John F. "The Sacred College of Cardinals: size and geographical composition (1099-1986"), Archivum Historiae Pontificiae, (1986), pp. 7-71), p. 42.

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Non mediocri, epistle, 1441?, Eugenius IV (1431-1447).

A dispute concerning precedence arose between Henry Chichele, archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal John Kemp, archbishop of York. The former presented his case to Pope Eugenius IV, who responded with this letter. In the document, which date has not been possible to ascertain, Eugenius determined that the cardinals by virtue of their office have precedence over all other ecclesiastics, including patriarchs, archbishops and bishops in the hierarchy of the Church. This document is of first-class importance in the definition of the office of cardinal.

Source: Ullmann, Walter. "Eugenius IV, Cardinal Kemp, and Archbishop Chichele." Medieval studies presented to Aubrey Gwynn. Edited by J.A. Watt et al. Dublin: Three Candles, 1961, pp. 359-383.

Text: Bullarum diplomatum et privilegiorum Sanctorum Romanorum Pontificum Taurinenses editio. 25 vols.; Turin: Seb. Franco et Henrico Dalmazzo editoribus, 1857-1872), III, 21-24.

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Red biretta, red skull-cap (calotte or zucchetto), red cloak or mantle, bestowed upon the cardinals, 1464, Paul II (1464-1471).

Source: Hynes, Harry G. The privileges of cardinals. Commentary with historical notes. Washington: Catholic University of America, 1945, p. 22 and 22-23, n. 5.

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