Duchy of Guastalla

Duchy of Guastalla
Ducato di Guastalla
State of the Holy Roman Empire

Coat of arms

Capital Guastalla
Languages Italian
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Principality
   1621–1630 Ferrante II Gonzaga (first)
  1729–1746 Giuseppe Gonzaga (last)
   Raised from county
    by Ferdinand II

2 July 1621
   Annexed to
    Parma–Piacenza at

18 October 1748
Currency Guastalla lira
Preceded by
Succeeded by
County of Guastalla
Duchy of Parma
Today part of  Italy

The Duchy of Guastalla was an Italian state which existed between 1621 and 1748. It was bordered by the Duchy of Modena and Reggio and the Po River to the north, on the opposite bank of the Duchy of Mantua.


On the 2 July 1621 Emperor Ferdinand II Habsburg elevated the County of Guastalla to the rank of a duchy. Ferrante II Gonzaga became the first duke of the city, hoping to succeed in the future to the great Duchy of Mantua. Ferrante died of plague in 1630 and was succeeded by his son Cesare II. With him Guastalla expanded its territory with the annexation of the lands of Dosolo, Luzzara and Reggiolo, until then owned by Mantua. In 1632 his son Ferrante III ascended to the throne. Having no male heir, he bequeathed the Duchy of Guastalla to his daughter's husband Ferdinand Charles, Duke of Mantua.

Meanwhile, Guastalla modernized its defenses, owing to the frequent wars which swept over Italy at this time. Between 1689 and 1690 the city was attacked by the Spaniards, who managed to demolish the defensive walls thus occupying the city, destroying the Visconti castle and the town tower.

In 1692 the Duke was accused of felony and Emperor Leopold I gave Guastalla and its territories to Vincenzo Gonzaga. During his reign, in 1702, there were violent clashes in the territory of Luzzara (see Battle of Luzzara) between the French troops of Louis XIV and imperial forces led by Prince Eugene of Savoy. Shortly after Guastalla was itself attacked. The city, although putting up a heroic defense, was forced to surrender.

Antonio Ferdinando Gonzaga in 1714 inherited the duchy on the death of his father. Unfortunately he was not very active politically, dying in unusual circumstances in 1729. His brother Giuseppe Gonzaga, last duke of the city, took power in 1734 and saw the occupation by the Austrians in the so-called Battle of Guastalla. Later the city was sold to Charles Emmanuel III of Savoy until 1738. The last duke died without heirs in 1746 and the Duchy of Guastalla was incorporated into Austrian Lombardy under the government of Maria Theresa of Austria during the year 1747.

With the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), Guastalla was joined to the Duchy of Parma, ruled by the Spanish Bourbons. It was annexed to the Cisalpine Republic in 1802, but became an autonomous duchy in 1806. It was returned in 1815 to the Duchy of Parma, and remained under Parma's rule until 1847. With the death of Marie-Louise the Duchy then passed to the Duchy of Modena and later on to the unified Kingdom of Italy.


The Gonzaga, at the maximum extent of the Guastalla duchy, also took control of the principality of Bozzolo and the annexed territories (Rivarolo Mantovano, San Martino dall'Argine, Pomponesco, Commessaggio, Ostiano, Isola Dovarese) and the Duchy of Sabbioneta.

See also

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