Papacy

Sede Vacante, 1823

Muntoni 3; Berman 3246, PCGS graded MS-64

Rome. SEDE VACANTE MDCCCXXIII, canopy and crossed keys over shield; radiant dove above. Reverse: APOSTOLORVM PRINCEPS, St. Peter standing facing on cloud, raising hand in benediction and holding keys; B in exergue.

From September 2 to September 28, 1823, the Throne of St. Peter was vacant while the College of Cardinals met in conclave to elect the successor to Pope Pius VII. The cardinals were divided into two main factions, the zelanti, who adopted a strongly reactionary stance in the aftermath of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and the politicani, who were more moderate and open to a conciliatory attitude towards the new ideologies of the age. In the end, the zelanti candidate Annibale della Genga was elected as Pope Leo XII. His reactionary character was not attractive to the politicani faction, but he was accepted in part due to the fact that he seemed ill and close to death. The health of Leo XII subsequently improved and he went on to reign for six years as an unpopularly conservative and controversial pope.