Francesco Gonzaga (1538–1566)

Francesco Gonzaga (6 December 1538 – 6 January 1566) was an Italian nobleman, who was Duke of Ariano. He was also a Roman Catholic cardinal and bishop.

For the 15th-century cardinal, see Francesco Gonzaga (1444–1483).


Francesco Gonzaga was born in Palermo on December 6, 1538, the son of Ferrante Gonzaga (a member of the House of Gonzaga) and Isabella di Capua.[1] His father was at that time viceroy of Palermo. He was the nephew of Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga.[1] His brother Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga also became a cardinal.[1]

When Ferrante died in 1557 Ercole Gonzaga became guardian and the young Mantuan humanist and future Jesuit Antonio Possevino became tutor to the brothers. He studied law as a young man.[1] In 1538, he was made archpriest of Guastalla.[1] On February 26, 1560, he became a protonotary apostolic.[1]

Pope Pius IV made him a cardinal deacon in the consistory of February 26, 1561.[1] He received the red hat and the deaconry of San Nicola in Carcere on March 10, 1561.[1] The pope named him papal legate in the Campagne and Maritime Province.[1]

On March 2, 1562, he was elected Archbishop of Cosenza with dispensation for not having reached the canonical age; he was named administrator of the see.[1]

On July 16, 1562, he opted for San Lorenzo in Lucina, a titular church declared to be a deaconry pro illa vice.[1] He opted for the order of cardinal priests on March 1, 1564 and San Lorenzo in Lucina was returned to its status as a titular church at that time.[1] He resigned the government of the Archdiocese of Cosenza sometime before January 12, 1565.[1] On May 5, 1565, he was elected Bishop of Mantua with dispensation for not having reached the canonical age.[1]

He participated in the papal conclave of 1565-66 that elected Pope Pius V.[1] He died during the conclave, in Rome, on January 6, 1566. He was buried in San Lorenzo in Lucina.[1]


  • Losito, Maria (2005). La Casina Pio IV in Vaticano. Vatican City: Pontificia Accademia delle Scienze.
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