Alternative History

Born Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro, Polizzi Generosa, Sicily, August 17, 1843.

He was a linguist, who gained much experience in Papal foreign affairs but managed to arouse the hostility of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, Francis Joseph I through his pro-French policy.

Following the death of Pope Leo XIII Rampolla took the lead in the ensuing Conclave. Just before what was expected to be the last vote, Cardinal Jan Puzyna de Kosielsko, Prince-Archbishop of Kraków, announced that he was conveying the veto of Francis Joseph I, King-Emperor of Austria-Hungary. Francis Joseph disagreed with Rampolla's position toward France - which reflected Leo XIII's attempt to reconcile church and state in France.

The cardinals were thrown into confusion: however, after much debate, and an initial swing, in the next vote, to Giuseppe Sarto, it was decided to override this secular intrusion into matters spiritual, and Rampolla was duly elected Benedict XV. The veto was promptly abolished, and Benedict appointed Puzyna de Kosielsko to a role within the Vatican to protect him from any action by Francis Joseph, while issuing him with a severe reprimand.

Benedict had been in ill-health for a long time, and his term of office was short and marked by little notable activity, beyond tentative steps toward reconciliation with Francis Joseph, the situation being rectified during the reigns of their respective successors. He was succeeded by Cardinal Giuseppe Sarto as Pius X, who gave a prominent role to his predecessor's sometime secretary, Giacomo della Chiesa - who was to succeed him in turn.