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Pope Clement XI

Clement XI
Papacy began 23 November 1700
Papacy ended 19 March 1721
Predecessor Innocent XII
Successor Innocent XIII
Ordination September 1700
Consecration 30 November 1700
by Emmanuel-Theódose de la Tour d’Auvergne de Bouillon
Created Cardinal 13 February 1690
by Alexander VIII
Personal details
Birth name Giovanni Francesco Albani
Born (1649-07-23)23 July 1649
Urbino, Papal States
Died 19 March 1721(1721-03-19) (aged 71)
Rome, Papal States
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Other popes named Clement

Pope Clement XI (Latin: Clemens XI; 23 July 1649 – 19 March 1721), born Giovanni Francesco Albani, was Pope from 23 November 1700 to his death in 1721.

Clement XI was a patron of the arts and of science. He was also a great benefactor of the Vatican Library, his interest in archaeology is credited with saving much of Rome’s antiquity. In fact, he authorized excavations of the Roman catacombs. He was of Italian and Albanian origin.[1]


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
  • Pontificate 2
    • Election to the papacy 2.1
    • Chinese Rites controversies 2.2
  • Death and burial 3
  • Construction activity and patronage 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


Early life

Giovanni Francesco Albani was born in Urbino, Italy. His mother Elena (1630-1698) was Italian, descended from the noble Mosca family of Pesaro, while his father Carlo Albani (1623-1684) descended from the noble Albani family that had established itself in Urbino from northern Albania in the 15th century.[2] During his reign as a pope the famous Illyricum Sacrum was commissioned, and today it is one of the main sources of the field of Albanology, with over 5,000 pages divided in several volumes written by Daniele Farlati and Dom. Coletti.

He was governor of Rieti and Urbino, and was created Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Aquiro by Pope Alexander VIII. He succeeded as pope on 23 November 1700.

Medal depicting Clement XI.


Election to the papacy

After the death of Pope Innocent XII, a conclave was convoked to elect a successor. Albani was regarded as a fine diplomat known for his skills as a peacemaker and so was unanimously elected pope on 23 November 1700.

But his election came only a day after his ordination as priest and a few hours after he celebrated his first mass. After the conclave had arrived at the two-thirds majority needed for election, Albani was ordained a bishop and assumed the pontifical name of "Clement XI".

Papal styles of
Pope Clement XI
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

Soon after his accession, the War of Spanish Succession broke out.

The younger Albani.

Despite initially holding an ambiguous neutrality, Clement was later forced to name Charles, Archduke of Austria, as King of Spain, since the imperial army had conquered much of northern Italy and was threatening Rome itself (January 1709).

By the Treaty of Utrecht that concluded the War, the Papal States lost their suzerainty over the Farnese Duchy of Parma and Piacenza in favour of Austria, and lost Comacchio as well. It was a blow from which the declining prestige of the Papal States would never recover.

In 1713 the bull Unigenitus was published greatly disturbing the peace of the Gallican (French) church. The bull, which was produced with the contribution of Gregorio Selleri, a lector at the College of Saint Thomas, the future Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum,[3] fostered the condemnation of Jansenism by condemning 101 propositions from the works of Quesnel as heretical and as identical with propositions already condemned in the writings of Jansen.

The resistance of many French ecclesiastics and the refusal of the French parlements to register the bull led to controversies extending through the greater part of the 18th century. Because the local governments did not officially receive the bull, it was not, technically, in force in those areas – an example of the interference of states in religious affairs common before the 20th century.

During his time as pope, Clement XI made a concerted effort to acquire Christian manuscripts in Syriac from Egypt and other places in the Middle East, greatly expanding the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana's collection of Syriac works.[4] Clement XI also was key in the decision to allow cats back into Christian homes after they were seen as overtly Pagan symbols.

Chinese Rites controversies

Another important decision of Clement XI was in regard to the Chinese Rites controversy: the Jesuit missionaries were forbidden to take part in honors paid to Confucius or the ancestors of the Emperors of China, which Clement XI identified as "idolatrous and barbaric", and to accommodate Christian language to pagan ideas under plea of conciliating the heathen.

Death and burial

Clement XI died in Rome on 19 March 1721 and was buried in the pavement of St. Peter's Basilica.

Construction activity and patronage

The tomb of Pope Clement XI.

Pope Clement shunned nepotism. His nephew Annibale was appointed a cardinal, but only through personal merit.

As a builder, Clement XI had a famous sundial added in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri and had an obelisk erected in the Piazza della Rotonda in front of the Pantheon, and a river port built on the Tiber River.

He established a committee, overseen by his favourite artists, Carlo Maratta and Carlo Fontana, to commission statuary of the apostles to complete the decoration of San Giovanni in Laterano. He also founded a painting and sculpting academy in the Campidoglio.

He also enriched the Vatican library with numerous Oriental codices and patronaged the first archaeological excavations in the Roman catacombs. In his native Urbino he restored numerous edifices and founded a public library.

See also


  1. ^ ..."a silver portrait of Pope Clement XI – who belonged to the Albani family, so was traditionally of Albanian origin."
  2. ^ Herbermann, Charles George; Knights of Columbus; Catholic Truth Committee (1913). The Catholic Encyclopedia. The New York Public Library: Robert Appleton Company. p. 255. Retrieved 05/12/2010. 
  3. ^ "Accessed 2-5-2012". Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  4. ^ Heal, Kristian S. (1 2005). "Vatican Syriac Manuscripts: Volume 1". HUGOYE: JOURNAL OF SYRIAC STUDIES 8 (1). Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  • "Pope Clement XI" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
  • Rendina, Claudio (1983). I papi. Storia e segreti. Rome: Netwon & Compton. pp. 586–588. 
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Innocent XII
23 November 1700 – 19 March 1721
Succeeded by
Innocent XIII
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