Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua

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Not to be confused with his son Cardinal Federico Gonzaga (1540–65).
Federico II Gonzaga
Tizian 063.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
Died28 August 1540(1540-08-28) (aged 40)
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 (May 17, 1500 – August 28, 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.


Federico II soon after becoming a hostage, by Francesco Francia

He was a son of his predecessor Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and Isabella d'Este. Federico Gonzaga was crowned Marquis Mantua on 3 April 1519,[1] initially under the regency of his mother and his uncles Sigismondo and Giovanni Gonzaga. He received the imperial investiture from emperor Charles V on April 7, 1521.

Despite his poor military experience, Pope Leo X named him Gonfalonier and Captain General of the Church (commander in chief of the Papal Army), though a clause allowed Frederick to avoid fighting against the Empire, to which Mantua had always traditionally been an ally. Frederick therefore did not intervene when the Imperial troops passed through his lands in 1527, indirectly causing the subsequent Sack of Rome.

Frederick had a pleasure palace built in Mantua, the Palazzo del Te. The architect chosen for this task was Giulio Romano who became the Court Artist.[2] p.58.

Frederick had signed a marriage contract with the heir to the Marquisate of Monteferrat, 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: 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 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 November 16, 1531. 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.

Frederick commissioned the Palazzo Te, designed and decorated by Giulio Romano, as his summer palace just outside Mantua.

Having suffered long from syphilis, which he had inherited from his father, he died in 1540 at his villa at Marmirolo. 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

Frederick and Margaret were parents to seven children:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cronaca universale della città di Mantova. Volume II
  2. ^ P., Cockram, Sarah D. (2013). Isabella d'Este and Francesco Gonzaga : power sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781409448310. OCLC 855504802.


  • Coniglio, Giuseppe (1967). I Gonzaga. Varese: Dall'Oglio.
  • Bignotti, Lorenzo (1984). La Zecca di Mantova e Casale (Gonzaga). Mantua: Grigoli.

External links[edit]

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