Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua

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.

Not to be confused with his son Cardinal Federico Gonzaga (1540–65).
Federico II Gonzaga
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


He was a son of his predecessor Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and Isabella d'Este. 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.[1] Federico Gonzaga was crowned Marquis Mantua on 3 April 1519,[2] 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.

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 Federico to avoid fighting against the Empire, to which Mantua had always traditionally been an ally. Federico therefore did not intervene when the Imperial troops passed through his lands in 1527, indirectly causing the subsequent Sack of Rome.

Federico 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 Federico's mistress, Isabella Boschetti: this was sufficient to have the Pope cancel the nuptial contract.

Federico 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 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 16 November 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.

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.[3] 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.[1]

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

Frederick and Margaret were parents to seven children:


See also


  1. Signorini, Rodolfo; Chambers, D. S; Brown, Clifford M.; Beamish, Gordon Marshall (2003). "Gonzaga family". Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.t033197.
  2. Cronaca universale della città di Mantova. Volume II
  3. Cockram, Sarah D. P. (2013). Isabella d'Este and Francesco Gonzaga: power sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. p. 58. ISBN 9781409448310. OCLC 855504802.


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