Frederick II, Duke of Mantua

Frederick II, Duke of Mantua

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Federico II of Gonzaga was the ruler of the Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 city of Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

 (first as Marquis, later as Duke) from 1519 until his death. He was also Marquis of Montferrat from 1536.


He was a son of his predecessor Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua
Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua
Francesco II Gonzaga was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua from 1484 until his death.-Biography:Gonzaga was born in Mantua, the son of Marquess Federico I Gonzaga. He had a career as a condottiero acting as Venice's commander from 1489 to 1498...

 and Isabella d'Este
Isabella d'Este
Isabella d'Este was Marchesa of Mantua and one of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance as a major cultural and political figure. She was a patron of the arts as well as a leader of fashion, whose innovative style of dressing was copied by women throughout Italy and at the French court...

. Educated at the French and Papal courts, he inherited the Marquisate from his father in 1519, initially under the regency of his mother and his uncles Sigismondo
Sigismondo Gonzaga
Sigismondo Gonzaga was an Italian cardinal. He was the third son of Federico I Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua....

 and Giovanni Gonzaga
Giovanni Gonzaga
Giovanni Gonzaga was an Italian nobleman of the House of Gonzaga, born at Mantua.He was the youngest child of Federico I Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua. In 1494 he married to Laura Bentivoglio, daughter of Giovanni II Bentivoglio, de facto lord of Bologna...

. He received the imperial investiture from emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 on April 7, 1521.

Despite his poor military experience, Pope Leo X named him Gonfalonier
Gonfalonier of the Church
The Gonfalonier of the Church or Papal Gonfalonier was a military and political office of the Papal States. Originating from the use of the Papal banner during combat, the office later became largely ceremonial and political...

 and Captain General of the Church
Captain General of the Church
The Captain General of the Church was the de facto commander-in-chief of the papal armed forces during the Middle Ages. The post was usually conferred on an Italian noble with a professional military reputation or a relative of the pope...

 (commander in chief of the Papal Army), though a clause allowed Frederick to avoid fighting against the Empire, to which Mantua has been always traditional ally. Frederick therefore did not intervene when the Imperial troops passed through his lands in 1527, indirectly causing the subsequent Sack of Rome
Sack of Rome (1527)
The Sack of Rome on 6 May 1527 was a military event carried out by the mutinous troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in Rome, then part of the Papal States...


Frederick had signed a marriage contract with the heir to the Marquisate of Monteferrat
Rulers of Montferrat
The Marquises and Dukes of Montferrat were the rulers of a territory in Piedmont south of the Po and east of Turin called Montferrat. The March of Montferrat was created by Berengar II of Italy in 950 during a redistribution of power in the northwest of his kingdom. It was originally named after...

, Maria Palaeologina, with the aim of acquiring that land; its marquess Boniface IV of Montferrat was in poor health. But when Boniface seemed to recover, he set up an alleged plot on the part of Maria against Frederick's mistress, Isabella Boschetti
Isabella Boschetti
Isabella Boschetti or Boschetto was a Manutan noblewoman and lover of Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. She was nicknamed 'La bella Boschetta' .-Life:...

: this was sufficient to have the Pope cancel the nuptial contract. Frederick then signed another marriage contract with Charles V's third cousin, Julia of Aragon. In lieu of this move, in 1530 he was granted the ducal title, whereby their dynasty became Dukes of Mantua. However, when Boniface died by a fall from horse on March 25 of that year, Frederick paid 50,000 ducats to Charles in exchange of the annulment of the contract, and pushed the pope to return him to former marriage promise. When Maria also died, he was able to marry her sister Margaret on November 16, 1531. At the death of the last legitimate male heir of the Palaiologos
Palaiologos , often latinized as Palaeologus, was a Byzantine Greek noble family, which produced the last ruling dynasty of the Byzantine Empire. After the Fourth Crusade, members of the family fled to the neighboring Empire of Nicaea, where Michael VIII Palaiologos became co-emperor in 1259,...

 family, Giovanni Giorgio (1533), the marquisate of Montferrat passed to the Gonzaga, who held it until the 18th century.

Frederick commissioned the Palazzo Te, designed and decorated by Giulio Romano
Giulio Romano
Giulio Romano was an Italian painter and architect. A pupil of Raphael, his stylistic deviations from high Renaissance classicism help define the 16th-century style known as Mannerism...

, as his summer palace just outside of Mantua.

Having suffered long from syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

, which he had inherited from his father, he died in 1540 at his villa at Marmirolo
Marmirolo is a comune in the Province of Mantua in the Italian region Lombardy, located about 130 km east of Milan and about 7 km northwest of Mantua...

. His son Francesco briefly held the title of 2nd Duke of Mantua before dying in his teens; the second son, Gugliemo, became 3rd Duke of Mantua as well as Duke of Montferrat and carried on the line.

Family and issue

Frederick and Margaret were parents to seven children:
  • Eleonora Gonzaga.
  • Anna Gonzaga.
  • Francesco III Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (March 10, 1533 - February 22, 1550).
  • Isabella Gonzaga. Married Francesco Ferdinando d'Ávalos
    Francesco Ferdinando d'Ávalos
    Francesco Ferdinando d’Ávalos d'Aquino, 5th marquis of Pescara and of Vasto was commander in chief of the Spanish army in Lombardy and Piedmont, governor of the State of Milan and viceroy of Sicily ....

  • Guglielmo I of Gonzaga (April 24, 1538 - August 14, 1587). Married Archduchess Eleanor of Austria
  • Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
    Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
    Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers was an Italian-French dignitary and diplomat in France. He was the third child of Frederick II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and Margaret Palaeologina.-Life account:...

     (October 22, 1539 - October 23, 1595). Father of Charles I, Duke of Mantua
    Charles I, Duke of Mantua
    Charles Gonzaga was Duke of Mantua and Duke of Montferrat from 1627 until his death. He was also Duke of Rethel and Nevers, as well as Prince of Arches.-Biography:...

  • Federico, Cardinal Gonzaga (1540 - February 21, 1565).

External links