SKULLDUGGERY IN THE PAPAL ELECTION OF 1559

In 45 years of buying and selling historical documents, autographs, and quality memorabilia, a few stellar items come to mind:  a lengthy letter with great content of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini; pastoral letter of St. Carlo Cardinal Borromeo; and many other treasures. At the top of the list has to be our most recent acquisition: a 1559 letter from Guidobaldo II Della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, written to the all-powerful Cardinal Carafa in Rome. The gist of the letter was a request by the Duke that Cardinal Carafa consider his maternal uncle, Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga, to become the next pope instead of his father-in-law Cardinal Farnese. This is, hands down, one of the rarest such religious documents we have ever acquired.

The papal conclave of 1559 was one of the longest such deliberations of the church at the time. Not only was there considerable maneuvering for position by various cardinals (Carafa, Farnese, Ghislieri) but several temporal rules wanted to put forth their own candidates for less than spiritual considerations.

In order to properly safeguard this precious manuscript against future damage, we commissioned the firm of David Ashley Studios, Denver, to prepare a custom portfolio. The frontispiece bears the coat of arms of Guidobaldo II, Duke of Urbino, and a gilt, letterset title plate.  The interior of the folder features folders for preservation not only of the lengthy manscript but also watercolor giclee portraits of the key historical figures mentioned in the letter:  Della Rovere, Carafa, and Gonzaga.