Table of all approval-elected Popes 1294-1621

Help filling in the blank spots in this table (or correcting errors) will be appreciated. Especially appreciated will be reports of ballot-totals. We attempt to provide stories about all the pope-elections and their balloting on this separate page and our conclusions from them summarized here; the system used to elect them and how it came about is described here.

YEAR#Voters (#factions)Election Duration (days)Result
1621512Gregory XV by "adoration."
160559-61 (4)22Paul V
160560-6219Leo XI. Ballot approval-counts include: 62+three candidates with majority support each (including Tosca with 38)+23 for 5 of the top candidates.
15925221Clement VIII. Ballot approval-counts: 62+34+30+others. Two factions. Another account has these peak votes for Clement's top rivals: Santori=28, Madruzzo=21.
159156-572Innocent IX. Got 23 votes on first and 28 on second ballot, growing with time as he negotiated for more votes, until he eventually gained the necessary 2/3 supermajority.
15905228Gregory XIV (unanimous or nearly)
159053 or 549Urban VII
1585424Sixtus V "unanimously"
1572532Gregory XIII (unanimous)
15665323Pius V. (Unanimous.) Later declared a saint.
155944-47112Pius IV by almost-unanimity. A large number of factionalist candidates got majority support but not enough to be elected; finally Medici who was a rich non-factionalist acquired enough votes to be two short; then got over that hump with promises and a 300,000-scudi bribe. Thereupon he was near-unanimously elected.
155544-4611Paul IV by "adoration." In the first two ballots, first Pole and then Morone were two votes shy of election; then an attempt to elect Este fell short. When the factions of King Henry II and Farnese realized they could not get their way they switched to electing Carafa by "adoration" and the attempt succeeded. His wrath was greatly feared, inspiring a unanimous vote. Later as Paul IV he created the Inquisition and had his chief rival Morone jailed for heresy, and tried unsuccessfully to do the same to Pole.
155536-398Marcellus II by "adoration"
154949-5171Julius III. Approval counts achieved by the top 5 candidates were 32, 26 or 27, 26, 24, 18, unknown tallies for others.
1534333Paul III
152335-3950Clement VII. The final ballot's approval-counts were 23, 15-16, 10, 9, 7, and 4 or fewer for others.
15223914Adrian VI (almost unanimous vote). Later declared a saint.
151331 or 32 / 252 / 5Leo X. An early ballot was 14+8+7+7+6+6+2+1 where the 1 was for the eventual winner.
1503381-2Julius II in a rapid and highly simonized election. Paid substantial bribes and offered many promises of ecclesiastical advancement (not all of which he kept). As Pope, he turned around and declared simony to be illegal. (Later declared a saint.)
1503377Pius III
1492236Alexander VI. First ballot: 9+7+5+0. Second ballot: 9+8+7+5. (The red votes are for the eventual winner.) The fourth ballot was "unanimous" thanks to massive simony.
1484254Innocent VIII.
1471183Sixtus IV
1464194Paul II elected in 1st ballot by 14
1458184Pius II
1455155Callixtus III
1447183Nicholas V
1439121Antipope Felix V
1431132Eugene IV
142511Antipope Benedict XIV
142331Antipope Clement VIII
141723+304Martin V (healing the "great schism")
140614 or 1513Gregory XII.
1406174Second Pisan antipope "John XXIII"
14062311-12Pisan antipope "Alexander V"
140497?Innocent VII
1384213Avignon antipope "Benedict XIII"
1389139Boniface IX
137815-16 (13 voting)1First Avignon antipope "Clement VII"
1378163Urban VI. Conclavists fled Rome in fear for lives after election; later declared election void and elected "antipope" Clement VII, triggering "great schism."
1370191Gregory XI
136220 (3)6Urban V
135225-283Innocent VI
1342173Clement VI (unanimous)
1334248Benedict XII elected on 1st ballot
1314-131623-24 (3)months (but 2-year interregnum)John XXII
13051511 monthsClement V
1305172Benedict XI
1294221Boniface VIII.


Evidently there were two kinds of elections: the essentially uncontested ones where the vote was supposedly (or it was pretended to be) unanimous, and the contested ones. Presumably the voting system was essentially irrelevant in most or all of the uncontested elections. In the contested elections it was not true that the approval voting was "plurality style" since even during the 1500s, two centuries after approval voting was enacted, the number of approvals exceeded the number of voters by a factor of 1.23 to 2.45 (or more; in some cases I do not have all counts hence am underestimating). This fact would seem to refute the fears of some that approval voting would, after enough time elapsed for the voters to become familiar with it, "degenerate" into plurality voting. (Actually, even in the short unanimous elections, there may well have been great approval of other candidates, although in those cases it is unlikely this information would have "leaked.")

As far as "two party domination" is concerned, there were often powerful factions, but the number of them was not necessarily "two." Sometimes it was 1, 2, or 3, in roughly descending order of frequency, but 2 and 3 were comparably common. Unfortunately there is no clear definition of a "faction" and their number thus grows the sharper your eyesight. Thus the Colomer-McLean paper on page 19 claims "six or seven" factions was a "normal occurrence."


Pope Leo XIII opened the Vatican Archives to scholars around the world (whether Catholic or not) in about 1900.

Frederic J. Baumgartner: Behind locked doors, a history of the Papal Elections, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Michael Walsh: The Conclave, a sometimes secret and occasionally bloody history of papal elections, Sheed & Ward, Lanham MD 2003.

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