Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua

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Francesco II (or IV) Gonzaga (10 August 1466 – (1519-03-29)29 March 1519) was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua from 1484 until his death.

Francesco II Gonzaga
Francesco II Gonzaga.jpg
Portrait of Francesco II Gonzaga in the Uffizi, Florence
Born10 August 1466
Mantua, Margravate of Mantua
Died29 March 1519(1519-03-29) (aged 52)
Mantua, Margravate of Mantua
Noble familyHouse of Gonzaga
Spouse(s)Isabella d'Este
FatherFederico I Gonzaga
MotherMargaret of Bavaria (1442–1479)


Francesco was born in Mantua, the son of Marquess Federico I Gonzaga.

Francesco had a career as a condottiero acting as Venice's commander from 1489 to 1498. He was the commander-in-chief of the army of the Italian league in the battle of Fornovo, under the tutorage of his more experienced uncle Ridolfo Gonzaga: even though Francesco was unable to stop Charles VIII and his army from returning to France,[1] he claimed Fornovo as a victory.[2] Francesco was described as "short, pop-eyed, snub-nosed and exceptionally brave, and was regarded as the finest knight in Italy".[3]

Francesco briefly commanded the Venetian army,[2] but in 1502 he left to pay his respects to Louis XII who was then at Milan.[4] By 29 April, he was with Louis XII when Genoa fell to the French army.[4] Francesco, taking the initiative after the French victory at Agnadello, was occupying lands that he had lost to Venice.[5] He was marching to Legnago with a company of French lances, when he was captured by the Venetians.[6] Francesco only gained his freedom by giving his son Federico II as hostage.[7] Once free, he was placed in command of papal troops, although he was ineffective since he stayed in Mantua. By 17 February 1510, Francesco, no longer involved in the war,[8] allowed a French army under Gaston of Foix to march through his territory to reach Brescia.[9]

During Francesco's absences, Mantua was governed by his wife Isabella d'Este,[10] whom he had married on 12 February 1490. Under their reign, Mantua knew a great age of cultural splendour, with the presence in the city of artists such as Andrea Mantegna and Jacopo Bonacolsi. Francesco had the Palace of St. Sebastian built, where Mantegna's Triumph of Caesar was eventually placed. The Palace was where Francesco lived when in Mantua. His wife, Isabella d'Este remained at the Castello di San Giorgio where she had her own suite of rooms. On completing the decoration of his rooms at San Sebastiano di Mantova, Francesco asked his wife for her views. Isabella commented favourably, though she did say that the decorations were almost as good as those within her studiolo.

Beginning in 1503, he started a long relationship with Lucrezia Borgia.

On 29 March 1519, Francesco, who had suffered from syphilis, died.[11] He was succeeded by his son Federico, with Isabella acting as regent. Another son, Ferrante Gonzaga originated the branch of the Counts of Guastalla.


Isabella d'Este and Francesco Gonzaga had:

  1. Eleonora Gonzaga, born 1493, died 1570. Married Francesco Maria I della Rovere Duke of Urbino.
  2. Margherita, born 1496.
  3. Livia, born 1501, died 1508.
  4. Ippolita Gonzaga, born 1503, died 1570. Ippolita became a nun in the Dominican convent of S. Vincenzo.
  5. Federico II, Duke of Mantua, born 1500, died 1540.[10] First betrothed to Maria Palaeologina but later married her sister Margaret Palaeologina.
  6. Ercole Gonzaga, born 1506, died 1565. Became a Cardinal.[12]
  7. Ferrante Gonzaga, born 1507, died 1557.[12] Married Isabella di Capua.
  8. Livia, later known as Sister Paola, born 1508, died 1569


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mallett & Shaw 2012, p. 31.
  2. ^ a b Hickson 2016, p. 88.
  3. ^ Nicolle 1996, p. 13.
  4. ^ a b Mallett & Shaw 2012, p. 75.
  5. ^ Mallett & Shaw 2012, p. 91.
  6. ^ Mallett & Shaw 2012, p. 94.
  7. ^ Ferino 1994, p. 35-37.
  8. ^ Mallett & Shaw 2012, p. 102.
  9. ^ Mallett & Shaw 2012, p. 105.
  10. ^ a b Cashman III 2002, p. 333.
  11. ^ Hickson 2016, p. 4.
  12. ^ a b Hickson 2016, p. 87.


  • Cashman III, Anthony B. (Summer 2002). "Performance Anxiety: Federico Gonzaga at the Court of Francis I and the Uncertainty of Ritual Action". The Sixteenth Century Journal. 33 (No. 2).
  • Ferino, Sylvia (1994). Isabella d'ESte. KHM Vienna.
  • Hickson, Sally Anne (2016). Women, Art and Architectural Patronage in Renaissance Mantua: Matrons, Mystics, and Monasteries. Routledge.
  • Mallett, Michael; Shaw, Christine (2012). The Italian Wars 1494–1559. Pearson.
  • Nicolle, David (1996). Fornovo 1495. Osprey Publishing.
  • Roeder, Ralph (1933). The Man of the Renaissance. Viking Press.

External linksEdit

Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua
Born: 10 August 1466 Died: 29 March 1519
Preceded by
Federico I
Marquess of Mantua
Succeeded by
Federico II