Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua

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Federico II Gonzaga
Tizian - Portrait of Federico II Gonzaga - circa 1525.jpg
Marquis of Mantua
Reign3 April 1519 – 25 March 1530
PredecessorFrancesco II
Duke of Mantua
Reign25 March 1530 – 28 June 1540
SuccessorFrancesco III
Marquis of Montferrat
Reign30 April 1533 – 28 June 1540
PredecessorJohn George
SuccessorFrancesco III
Born(1500-05-17)17 May 1500
Mantua, Margravate of Mantua
Died28 August 1540(1540-08-28) (aged 40)
Marmirolo, Duchy of Mantua
SpouseMargaret Paleologina
IssueFrancesco III Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Isabella Gonzaga
Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
Federico Gonzaga (cardinal)
FatherFrancesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua
MotherIsabella d'Este

Federico II of Gonzaga (17 May 1500 – 28 August 1540) was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua (first as Marquis, later as Duke) from 1519 until his death. He was also Marquis of Montferrat from 1536.


Portrait of Federico II (age 10) soon after becoming a hostage, by Francesco Francia

Federico was son of Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and Isabella d'Este.[1] Due to the turbulent politics of the time, from the age of ten, he spent three years as a hostage in Rome under Pope Julius II.[2] From 1515 to 1517, Federico was the hostage of King Francis I of France, to ensure Gonzaga assistance in Italy.[2]

On 3 April 1519, Federico succeeded his father as Marquis of Mantua,[3] initially under the regency of his mother and his uncles Sigismondo and Giovanni Gonzaga. He received the imperial investiture from emperor Charles V on 7 April 1521. Pope Leo X named him Captain General of the Church (commander in chief of the Papal Army) in July 1521, and he fought against the French at Parma in 1521 and at Piacenza in 1522.[3]

Federico signed a marriage contract with the heir to the Marquisate of Monteferrat, Maria Palaeologina, with the aim of acquiring that land.[4] In 1528, however, in exchange for two prisoners, Pope Clement VII voided the marriage contract.[4]

Federico then signed another marriage contract with Charles V's third cousin, Julia of Aragon.[4] In lieu of this move, in 1530 he was granted the ducal title, whereby their dynasty became Dukes of Mantua.[5] However, when Boniface died by a fall from horse on 25 March of that year, Federico paid 50,000 ducats to Charles in exchange for the annulment of the contract, and pushed the pope for the restoration of his earlier marriage agreement. When Maria also died, he was able to marry her sister Margaret on 3 October 1531.[4] At the death of the last legitimate male heir of the Palaiologos family, Giovanni Giorgio (1533), the marquisate of Montferrat passed to the Gonzaga, who held it until the 18th century.

Like his parents, he was a patron of the arts; he commissioned the Palazzo Te, designed and decorated by Giulio Romano, as his summer palace just outside Mantua.[6] Romano spent 16 years as court artist under Federico's patronage. He also bought and commissioned several paintings from Titian, and had his portrait painted by both Titian and Raphael.

Federico suffered long from syphilis, like his father.[7] He died on 28 June 1540 at his villa at Marmirolo.[7] 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[edit]

Coat of arms of Federigo II

Federico and Margaret were parents to seven children:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hickson 2016, p. 87.
  2. ^ a b Murphy 2007, p. 159.
  3. ^ a b de Pins 2007, p. 267.
  4. ^ a b c d Fenlon 1980, p. 48.
  5. ^ de Pins 2007, p. 268.
  6. ^ Cockram 2013, p. 58.
  7. ^ a b Hickson 2016, p. 101.
  8. ^ a b c Parrott 1997, p. 22.
  9. ^ Hickson 2016, p. 127.


  • Cockram, Sarah D. P. (2013). Isabella d'Este and Francesco Gonzaga: power sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781409448310. OCLC 855504802.
  • Fenlon, Iain (1980). Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press.
  • Hickson, Sally Anne (2016). Women, Art and Architectural Patronage in Renaissance Mantua: Matrons, Mystics, and Monasteries. Routledge.
  • Murphy, Paul V. (2007). Ruling Peacefully: Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga and Patrician Reform in Sixteenth-Century Italy. Catholic University of America Press.
  • Parrott, David (1997). "The Mantuan Succession, 1627–31: A Sovereignty Dispute in Early Modern Europe". The English Historical Review. Oxford Academic. CXII, Issue 445, February (445): 20–65. doi:10.1093/ehr/CXII.445.20.
  • de Pins, Jean (2007). Letters and Letter Fragments. Librairie Droz S.A.

External links[edit]

Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Born: 17 May 1500 28 August
Regnal titles
Preceded by Marquis of Mantua
Elevated to Duke
New title Duke of Mantua
Succeeded by
Spanish occupation
Title last held by
John George Palaeologus
Marquess of Montferrat