Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua

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Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Vincenzo I Gonzaga nel giorno dell’incoronazione.jpg
Vincenzo I Gonzaga in Coronation Robes (1587)
Duke of Mantua and Montferrat
Reign 1587– 1612
22 Sept 1587
Predecessor Guglielmo Gonzaga
Successor Francesco IV Gonzaga
Successor Francesco IV Gonzaga
Spouse Margherita Farnese
Eleonora de' Medici
Full name
Vincenzo Gonzaga
House House of Gonzaga
Father Guglielmo Gonzaga
Mother Eleanor of Austria
Born (1562-09-21)21 September 1562
Died 9 February 1612(1612-02-09) (aged 49)
Burial 9 February 1612
Basilica of Sant'Andrea

Vincenzo Gonzaga (21 September 1562 – 9 February 1612) was ruler of the Duchy of Mantua and the Duchy of Montferrat from 1587 to 1612.

Vincent Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua by Frans Pourbus the Younger (1602–1612) private collection in Rome.


He was a son of Guglielmo X Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and Archduchess Eleanor of Austria. His maternal grandparents were Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. Duke Vincenzo was one of the most representative men of his time, one of the great Renaissance princes: under his lordship Mantua became a center of the arts in Italy. Character completely opposite to that of his father, who always had little sympathy for him, Vincent was noted for his generosity, for his excesses, and love for the lap of luxury. Vincent loved also devote to partying with beautiful ladies and night excursions in the company of friends, which often ended in brawls. In one of these, on July 3, 1582, accompanied by a courtier vicious and scrounger, detested by his father, had to struggle with t young Scottish scientist, James Crichton, said "Crichton", held in high regard by his father instead of Vincent, who had made the director preferred. Vincenzo hated in turn the Crichton and the clash ended in a double murder: Chrichton killed Lanzoni and Vincenzo in turn killed Chrichton. Begged forgiveness to his father, furious over the killing of his adviser, Vincenzo was acquitted. In the 1590 Duke Sort building an arsenal in the port chain, building that will serve to benefit the defense of the state of Mantua, during the first part of his duchy of Mantua now financed by the taxes of the citizens a wide operation police domains Gonzaga against the gangs of criminals. In the same year the Duke vincenzo allocates 25,109 Ducat for the costs of the state and to increase services in the countryside of Mantua.

Vincenzo was a major patron of the arts and sciences, and turned Mantua into a vibrant cultural center. In 1587 Vincent was crowned the fourth Duke of Mantua, with a glitzy ceremony in which were present the highest authority of the duchy to pay homage to the new Duke of Mantua: he then moves with a ride through the city streets.[1] Vincenzo employed the composer Claudio Monteverdi and the painter Peter Paul Rubens. In 1590 Monteverdi became a viol-player and cantor in the music chapel of Vincenzo; in 1602 Vincenzo appointed him master of music on the death of Benedetto Pallavicino. Vincenzo was also a friend of the poet Torquato Tasso. A small book published in Verona in 1589 describes how a comic actor named Valerini in the service of Vincenzo imagines an ideal gallery of art, in which statues of the most important art collectors are featured rather than the work of the artists themselves. Vincenzo was described as a colossus who would dominate the entire ideal gallery, called the Celestial Gallery of Minerva.[2]

The astronomer Giovanni Antonio Magini also served as tutor to Vincenzo's sons, Francesco and Ferdinando.

Magini's life’s work was the preparation of the Atlante geografico d'Italia (Geographic Atlas of Italy), printed posthumously by Magini’s son in 1620. This was intended to include maps of each Italian region with exact nomenclature and historical notes. A major project, its production (begun in 1594) proved. Vincenzo, to whom the atlas is dedicated, assisted him with this project and allowed for maps of the various states of Italy to be brought to Magini.

During the winter of 1603–1604, Galileo visited the Mantuan court in an effort to obtain a position there, and was offered a salary, but could not agree on the terms with Vincenzo, who instead presented Galileo with a gold chain and two silver dishes.

Vincenzo's spendthrift habits are considered to have accelerated Mantua's economic and cultural decline.

Vincenzo was rumored to have been impotent and he is said to have sent a secret expedition to the New World in order to obtain a legendary aphrodisiac.[1]

On 20 July 1588, Emperor Rudolf II granted Vincenzo the right to an escutcheon of Austria, surmounted by an archducal coronet. Vincenzo created the Order of the Redemptor (or of the Most Precious Blood), approved by Pope Paul V, on 25 May 1608.[3]


Eleonora de' Medici.

Vincenzo married Margherita Farnese in 1581; their marriage was childless and they divorced. On 29 April 1584 he married his first cousin Eleonora de' Medici, the daughter of Francesco I de' Medici and Joanna of Austria.

Vincenzo and Eleonora's marriage produced six children. They were:[4]




  • Bellonci, Maria (1956). A Prince of Mantua: The Life and Times of Vincenzo Gonzaga. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 
  • Brinton, Selwyn (1927). The Gonzaga. Lords of Mantua. London: Methuen. 
  • Fenlon, Iain (1980). Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 


External links[edit]

Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Born: 21 September 1562 Died: 9 February 1612
Preceded by
Duke of Mantua
Succeeded by
Francesco IV
Duke of Montferrat