The history of the peculiar papal elections, now called conclaves, is sodden with corruption, and is one of the most amazing volumes in historical religious literature yet to be fully revealed. Church records reveal centuries of scandalous bargaining between cardinals eligible to vote for the next pontiff, sometimes even before the dying pope had finally expired. Money flew from the hand of one cardinal to that of another, promises were made, gold was offered and votes were brought with a brazenness which would seem incredible if it were not true. For centuries the conclaves were bargaining places where the papacy was bought or sold to the highest bidder. Cardinals, and therefore possible popes, thus became the predictable financial pawns in the sacrilegious game in which simony, corruption and blatant inducements were principal factors (‘Historia Ecclesiastica’; also, MS. 151. 1181). In addition to cardinals buying and selling their votes, agents of princes, kings and emperors penetrated openly into the conclaves with offers of large sums of money or real estate to induce cardinals to vote for the candidate preferred by the royal bribers, with the result that very often popes were elected according to the value of the enticements offered to the voters.
Conclaves sodden with corruption
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"It has come, I know now, and taken for granted by many persons, that Christianity is not so much as a subject of inquiry, but it is, now at length, discovered to be fictitious".