Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua

Guglielmo Gonzaga (24 April 1538 – 14 August 1587) was Duke of Mantua from 1550 to 1587, and of Montferrat from 1574 to 1587. He was the second son of Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and Margaret Palaeologina of Montferrat. In 1574, Montferrat was elevated to a Duchy and Guglielmo became its first duke. He was succeeded as Duke of both duchies by his son Vincenzo.

Guglielmo Gonzaga
Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Duke of Mantua
Duke of Montferrat
PredecessorFrancesco III Gonzaga
SuccessorVincenzo I Gonzaga
Born24 April 1538
Died14 August 1587(1587-08-14) (aged 49)
SpouseEleonora of Austria
IssueVincenzo I, Duke of Mantua
Margherita Gonzaga
Anna Caterina Gonzaga
FatherFederico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
MotherMargaret Palaeologina

Patron of music

Guglielmo was particularly interested in sacred vocal music, and is known particularly to music historians for his extensive correspondence with the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. He built a large new church in Mantua, dedicated to Santa Barbara. He engaged in an unprecedented negotiation with the Papacy to create his own rite for Mantua, and devoted considerable resources to developing a musical repertoire for the church, commissioning works by Giaches de Wert and Palestrina. Part of his correspondence with Palestrina discusses the work commissioned in detail, stipulating Guglielmo's requirements, and therefore giving a sense of his musical preferences. Guglielmo's musical tastes were conservative for the day. He enjoyed imitative contrapuntal music but was concerned to maintain clarity of text, thereby showing the influence of Tridentine reforms. Upon his death, his son Vincent invited followers of the more modern trends to his court.

Marriage and children

On 26 April 1561 William married Eleonora of Austria, sixth daughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. They were parents to three children:


References and further reading

  • Iain Fenlon, Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Mantua, Cambridge University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-521-22905-7.
Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Born: 24 April 1538 Died: 14 August 1587
Preceded by
Francesco III
Duke of Mantua
Succeeded by
Vincenzo I
Marquess and Duke of Montferrat

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