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House of Gonzaga

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The House of Gonzaga Italian: ɡonˈdzaːɡa was a princely family that ruled Mantua, in Northern Italy, from 1328 to 1708; they also ruled Monferrato in Piedmont and Nevers in France, and also many other lesser fiefs throughout Europe Their family includes a saint, twelve cardinals and fourteen bishops Two Gonzaga descendants became Empresses of the Holy Roman Empire Eleonora Gonzaga and Eleonora Gonzaga-Nevers, and one became Queen of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Marie Louise Gonzaga


  • 1 History
  • 2 Family tree
  • 3 St Aloysius Gonzaga
  • 4 Roman Catholic Cardinals
  • 5 See also
  • 6 Bibliography
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


The coat of arms of the Duchy of Mantua

The first members of the family of historical importance are known to have collaborated with the Guelph faction alongside the monks of the Polirone Abbey2 Starting from the 12th century they became a dominant family in Mantua, growing in wealth when their allies, the Bonacolsi, defeated the traditional familiar enemy, the Casalodi In 1328, however, Ludovico I Gonzaga overthrew the Bonacolsi lordship over the city with the help of the Scaliger, and entered the Ghibelline party as capitano del popolo "people's captain" of Mantua and imperial vicar of emperor Louis IV3

Ludovico was succeeded by Guido 1360–1369 and Ludovico II 1369–1382, while Feltrino, lord of Reggio until 1371, formed the cadet branch of the Gonzaga of Novellara, whose state existed until 1728 Francesco I 1382–1407 abandoned the traditional alliance with the Visconti of Milan, in order to align their rising power with the Republic of Venice

Ducal palace, Mantua Ludovico III Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua and Barbara of Brandenburg with their children, fresco by Andrea Mantegna at San Giorgio Castle, Mantua, around 1470

In 1433, Gianfrancesco I assumed the title of Marquis of Mantua with the recognition of Emperor Sigismund, while obtaining recognition from the local nobility through the marriage of his daughter Margherita to Leonello d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara in 1435 In 1530 Federico II 1500–1540 received the title of Duke of Mantua In 1531, the family acquired the Marquisate of Montferrat through marriage Through maternal ancestors, the Gonzagas inherited also the Imperial Byzantine ancestry of the Paleologus, an earlier ruling family of Montferrat

A cadet branch of the Mantua Gonzagas became Dukes of Nevers and Rethel in France when Luigi Louis Gonzaga, a younger son of Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and Margherita Paleologa, married the heiress The Gonzaga-Nevers later came to rule Mantua again when Louis's son Charles Carlo inherited Mantua and Montferrat, triggering the War of the Mantuan Succession

Another cadet branch were first sovereign Counts, later Dukes of Guastalla They descended from Ferrante, a younger son of Duke Francesco II of Mantua 1484–1519 Ferrante's grandson, Ferrante II, also played a role in the War of the Mantuan Succession A further cadet branch was that of Sabbioneta, founded by Gianfrancesco, son of Ludovico III

Marie Louise Gonzaga, daughter of Prince Charles Gonzaga-Nevers, was a Polish queen consort from 1645 to her death in 1667

Two daughters of the house, both named Eleanor Gonzaga, became Holy Roman Empresses, by marrying Emperors Ferdinand II of Germany and Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, respectively From the latter Empress Eleanor, the current heirs of the Gonzaga descend

St Aloysius Gonzaga was a member of a junior branch of this family

The House of Gonzaga is the inspiration for the play-within-the-play in Shakespeare's Hamlet In Act 3 scene 2, they act out a play called The Murder of Gonzago or The Mousetrap

Gonzaga rule continued in Mantua until 1708 and in Guastalla until 1746 Both ruling lines became extinct, and the headship of the House of Gonzaga passed to the Vescovato line, descended from Giovanni, a son of Federico I Gonzaga That branch, shorn of sovereign domains, is extant4 Its head is Don Maurizio Ferrante Gonzaga, Principe del Sacro Romano Impero, Marchese Gonzaga, Conte di Villanova, Conte di Cassolnovo, Marchese del Vodice, Signore di Vescovato, Patrizio Veneto b 1941

Family treeedit

The branches of the Gonzaga family, showing Marquises and subsequently Dukes of Mantua in bold, Dukes of Nevers and Rethel in italics and the Guastalla line to the right

Marquis of Mantua
                Ludovico III
Marquis of Mantua
                Federico I
Marquis of Mantua
                Francesco II
Marquis of Mantua
Margaret Paleologa
Marquises of Montferrat
  Federico II
Marq 1519–30, Duke 1530–40
Bishop 1521
Cardinal 1527
  Ferrante I
Count of Guastalla
Francesco III
  Guglielmo I
Guglielmo X in Montferrat
          Louis of Nevers 1581–1595   Cesare I
Count of Guastalla
        Vincenzo I
          Charles III of Nevers
Carlo I of Mantua
  Ferrante II
1st Duke of Guastalla
Francesco IV
  Ferdinando I
  Vincenzo II
  Charles of Nevers
m Maria of Mantua
  Cesare II
Duke of Guastalla
Count of San Paolo d1686
Maria of Mantua
1609–1660, m
Charles of Nevers
                  Carlo II
  Ferrante III
Duke of Guastalla
                        Ferdinando Carlo
  Anna Isabella
  Maria Vittoria
Duke of Guastalla
                                Eleonora Luisa
m Francesco de' Medici
  Antonio Ferrante
Duke of Guastalla
Duke of Guastalla

St Aloysius Gonzagaedit

  • Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ 1568–1591, canonized by the Catholic Church in 1726

Roman Catholic Cardinalsedit

  • Francesco Gonzaga 1444–1483
  • Sigismondo Gonzaga 1469–1525
  • Pirro Gonzaga 1490–1529
  • Ercole Gonzaga 1505–63
  • Francesco Gonzaga 1538–66
  • Federico Gonzaga 1540–65
  • Giovanni Vincenzo Gonzaga 1540–91
  • Scipione Gonzaga 1542–93
  • Francesco Gonzaga 1546–1620
  • Ferdinando Gonzaga 1587–1626, became Duke of Mantua, as Ferdinando I, in 1612
  • Vincenzo Gonzaga 1594–1627, became Duke of Mantua, as Vincenzo II, in 1626

See alsoedit

  • Duchy of Mantua, a list of House of Gonzaga rulers;
  • Duchy of Guastalla
  • Duchy of Sabbioneta
  • County of Novellara and Bagnolo


  • Brinton, Selwyn 1927 The Gonzaga Lords of Mantua London: Methuen 


  1. ^ Francesca Cappelletti; Gerlinde Huber-Rebenich 1997 Der Antike Mythos und Europa Gebrüder Mann Verlag p 250 
  2. ^ Page at sapereit
  3. ^ Brunelli, Roberto 2010 I Gonzaga Quattro secoli per una dinastia Mantua ISBN 978-88-89832-98-1 
  4. ^ "GONZAGA: LINEA PRINCIPESCA DI VESCOVATO" Libro d'Oro della Nobiltá Mediterranea in Italian Società Genealogica Italiana 2004-03-15 Retrieved 2012-05-18 

External linksedit

  • Marek, Miroslav "Genealogy tree" GenealogyEU 
  • Giancarlo, Malacarne "Family Tree of the Gonzaga" 
  • Albero genealogico dei Gonzaga

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