Vincenzo II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
He was the son of Duke Vincent I and Eleonora de' Medici and inherited the duchy at the death of his elder brother Ferdinand, receiving the imperial investiture on February 8, 1627. He had also received a cardinalate on Ferdinando's succession, but had dismissed it in 1616 to be able to marry his relative Isabella Gonzaga, daughter of Alfonso Gonzaga, Count of Novellara.
Conscious of his unstable health, the childless Vincenzo set up a descendance for his lands through the marriage of his niece Mary (daughter of the former Duke Francis IV) with Charles of Nevers' son Charles of Gonzaga-Nevers. The elder Charles was a cousin of his father. Vincent died on the marriage day of Mary and Charles.
Vincenzo I Gonzaga was a member of the chivalry equestrian order of Toson d'Oro. He had been given the honour of being part of this order of knighthood by the Grand Master Philip the second, King of Spain in 1589 after paying the enormous amount of 300,000 golden scudos. Not yet happy with that, he decided to fund his own equestrian order named "of the Redeemer" or " del Preziosissimo Lateral Sangue di Cristo", after the relic of the Holy Blood of Christ kept in Mantua . He took this decision,during the luxurious celebrations organized during the wedding between his first born son and heir and the infanta of the Savoy family. That new equestrian order was to represent the spirit of brotherhood. Its distinctive feature was a collar with golden medals chained one to the other. The medals showed two symbols alternatively: one medal showed the device of the melting pot surrounded by flames, where some golden bars were being melted while the other was decorated by the letters D.P., initial letters of the motto DOMINE PROBASTI ET COGNOVISTI ME taken from Psalm 138. There was a pendant hanging from the collar, too. It was a golden medal showing two angels holding a reliquary with three drops of Christ's blood in it. The medal had the motto NIHIL ISTO TRISTE RECEPTO on it.
The members of this equestrian order used to wear vivid red outfits, wide in shape and long to the ground. The dress was then topped by a coat in the same colour with little flames scattered all lover thus making their attire very remarkable and striking.
Today the Head of House Maffei Gonzaga is Prince Luca Maffei Gonzaga and he is Grand Master of the Order of the Redeemer.
- Coniglio, Giuseppe (1967). I Gonzaga. Varese: Dall'Oglio.
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