House of Gonzaga

House of Gonzaga

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The Gonzaga family ruled Mantua
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...

 in Northern Italy
Italy
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...

 from 1328 to 1708.

History


In 1433, Gianfrancesco I assumed the title of Marquis
Marquis
Marquis is a French and Scottish title of nobility. The English equivalent is Marquess, while in German, it is Markgraf.It may also refer to:Persons:...

 of Mantua
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...

, and in 1530 Federico II (1500–1540) received the title of Duke
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

 of Mantua. In 1531, the family acquired the Duchy of Monferrato through marriage. Through maternal ancestors, the Gonzagas inherited also the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 ancestry of the Paleologus, that earlier ruling family of Montferrat
Montferrat
Montferrat is part of the region of Piedmont in Northern Italy. It comprises roughly the modern provinces of Alessandria and Asti. Montferrat is one of the most important wine districts of Italy...

.

A cadet branch of the Mantua Gonzagas became Dukes of Nevers
Nevers
Nevers is a commune in – and the administrative capital of – the Nièvre department in the Bourgogne region in central France...

 and Rethel
Counts and dukes of Rethel
This is a list of counts and dukes of Rethel. The first counts of Rethel ruled independently, before the county passed first to the Counts of Nevers, then to the Counts of Flanders, and finally to the Dukes of Burgundy. In 1405 the County became part of the Peerage of France, and in 1581 it was...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 when Luigi (Louis) di Gonzaga, a younger son of Duke Federico II and Margherita Paleologa, married the heiress. The Gonzaga-Nevers later came to rule Mantua again, when Louis' son Charles (Carlo) inherited Mantua and Montferrat, triggering the War of the Mantuan Succession
War of the Mantuan Succession
The War of the Mantuan Succession was a peripheral part of the Thirty Years' War. Its casus belli was the extinction of the direct male line of the House of Gonzaga in December 1627. Brothers Francesco IV , Ferdinando and Vincenzo II , the last three dukes of Gonzaga, had all died leaving no...

.

Another cadet branch were first sovereign Counts, later Dukes of Guastalla. They descended from Ferrante
Ferrante Gonzaga
Ferrante I Gonzaga was an Italian condottiero, a member of the House of Gonzaga and the founder of the branch of the Gonzaga of Guastalla.-Biography:...

, a younger son of Duke Francesco II
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...

 of Mantua (1484–1519). Ferrante's grandson, Ferrante II
Ferrante II Gonzaga
Ferrante II Gonzaga was Count of Guastalla and since 1621 Duke of Guastalla.He was the son of Cesare I Gonzaga, Count of Guastalla and Duke of Amalfi and Camilla Borromeo. He succeeded his father in 1575...

, also played a role in the War of the Mantuan Succession
War of the Mantuan Succession
The War of the Mantuan Succession was a peripheral part of the Thirty Years' War. Its casus belli was the extinction of the direct male line of the House of Gonzaga in December 1627. Brothers Francesco IV , Ferdinando and Vincenzo II , the last three dukes of Gonzaga, had all died leaving no...

. A further cadet branch was that of Sabbioneta
Sabbioneta
Sabbioneta is a town and comune in the province of Mantua, Lombardy region, northern Italy. It is situated about 30 km north of Parma, not far from the northern bank of the Po River...

, founded by Gianfrancesco
Gianfrancesco Gonzaga (1446-1496)
Gianfrancesco Gonzaga was the third son of Ludovico II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and Barbara of Brandenburg. He was the first count of Sabbioneta from 1479 until his death, originating the Gonzaga-Sabbioneta line.-Biography:...

, son of Ludovico II.

Marie Louise Gonzaga, daughter of prince Charles Gonzaga-Nevers, was a Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 queen consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 from 1645 to her death in 1667.

Two daughters of the house, both confusingly named Eleanor Gonzaga, became Holy Roman Empresses, by marrying Emperors Ferdinand II of Germany and Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand III was Holy Roman Emperor from 15 February 1637 until his death, as well as King of Hungary and Croatia, King of Bohemia and Archduke of Austria.-Life:...

, respectively. From the latter Empress Eleanor, the today heirs of the Gonzaga descend, as explained in family tree leading to Leopold, Duke of Lorraine
Leopold, Duke of Lorraine
Leopold , surnamed the Good, was Duke of Lorraine and Bar from 1690 to his death.-Early life:Leopold Joseph Charles Dominique Agapet Hyacinthe was the son of Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, and his wife Eleonora Maria Josefa of Austria, a half-sister of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor.At the time of...

.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga
Aloysius Gonzaga
- Early life :Aloysius Gonzaga was born at his family's castle in Castiglione delle Stiviere, between Brescia and Mantova in northern Italy in what was then part of the Papal States. He was a member of the illustrious House of Gonzaga...

 was a member of a junior branch of this family.

The House of Gonzaga is the inspiration for the play-within-the-play in Shakespeare's Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

. In Act 3, scene 2, they act out a play called The Murder of Gonzago (or The Mousetrap).

Gonzaga rule continued in Mantua until 1708 and in Guastalla and in Sabbioneta until 1746. Both ruling lines became extinct, and the headship of the House of Gonzaga passed to the Vescovato line, descended from Giovanni, a son of Federico I Gonzaga
Federico I Gonzaga
Federico I Gonzaga was marquess of Mantua from 1478 to 1484, as well as a condottiero.-Biography:Federico was born in Mantua in 1441, son of Ludovico II and Barbara of Brandenburg...

. The line continues today.

Family tree


The branches of the Gonzaga family, showing Marquesses and (subsequently) Dukes of Mantua in bold, Dukes of Nevers and Rethel in italics and the Guastalla line to the right.

External links