Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
|jure uxoris Duke of Nevers|
Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, by Thomas de Leu
|Born||18 September 1539|
|Died||23 October 1595 (aged 56)|
|Noble family||House of Gonzaga|
|Spouse(s)||Henriette of Cleves|
|Father||Frederick II Gonzaga|
Born in Mantua, he was the third child of Frederick II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and Margaret Palaeologina. At the age of 10 he was sent to Paris to inherit the assets left by his grandmother, Anne d'Alençon, widow of Marquess William IX of Montferrat. He entered Henry II of France's army and fought in the battle of St. Quentin (1557), where he was taken prisoner by the Spanish.
Marriage and townhouse in ParisEdit
On 4 March 1565 Louis Gonzaga married Henriette of Cleves, heiress to the Duchies of Nevers and Rethel. Thereafter he was known as the Duke of Nevers. Their son Charles became duke of Mantua in 1627, establishing the Gonzaga-Nevers line. Charles' grandson, Charles II, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat, sold the titles of Nevers and Rethel to Cardinal Mazarin in 1659.
Louis, Duke of Nevers, and his wife had five children:
- Catherine Gonzaga (21 January 1568 – 1 December 1629), married Henry I, Duke of Longueville
- Maria Henrietta Gonzaga (3 September 1571 – 3 August 1614), married Henry of Lorraine, Duke of Mayenne
- Frederick Gonzaga (11 March 1573 – 22 April 1574).
- Francis Gonzaga (17 September 1576 – 13 June 1580).
- Charles I, Duke of Mantua (6 May 1580 – 20 September 1637).
In 1572 Nevers purchased from the French king, Charles IX, the Grand Nesle, an old townhouse located just east of the Tour de Nesle on the Left Bank of Paris. Nevers had it reconstructed, after which it became known as the Hôtel de Nevers. Although it was never completed, it was greatly admired by contemporaries. Nevers' secretary, Blaise de Vigenère, a distinguished antiquarian and art historian, wrote that the house had a vault, built by Italian workmen, which was more grand than the one at the Baths of Caracalla. Although De Vigenère likely overstated the size, it must have been very impressive and was an architectural feature that was new to Paris.
Nevers became one of the important patrons of the arts and sciences in 16th-century France. He fostered faience production in the Duchy of Nevers, beginning in 1588 under the Italian masters, the brothers Augustin Conrade, Baptiste Conrade, and Dominique Conrade from Albisola, and Giulio Gambin, who had worked in Lyon.
He died at Nesle in 1595.
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