Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua

Not to be confused with his son Cardinal Federico Gonzaga (1540–65).
Federico II Gonzaga

Marquis of Mantua
Reign 3 April 1519 – 25 March 1530
Predecessor Francesco II
Duke of Mantua
Reign 25 March 1530 – 28 June 1540
Successor Francesco III
Marquis of Montferrat
Reign 30 April 1533 – 28 June 1540
Predecessor John George
Successor Francesco III
Born (1500-05-17)17 May 1500
Died 28 August 1540(1540-08-28) (aged 40)
Spouse Margaret Paleologina
Issue Francesco III Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Isabella Gonzaga
Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
Federico Gonzaga (cardinal)
Father Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua
Mother Isabella d'Este

Federico II of Gonzaga (May 17, 1500 – August 28, 1540) was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua (first as Marquis, later as Duke) from 1519 until his death. He was also Marquis of Montferrat from 1536.


Federico II soon after becoming a hostage, by Francesco Francia

He was a son of his predecessor Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and Isabella d'Este. Federico Gonzaga was crowned Marquis Mantua on 3 April 1519,[1] initially under the regency of his mother and his uncles Sigismondo and Giovanni Gonzaga. He received the imperial investiture from emperor Charles V on April 7, 1521.

Despite his poor military experience, Pope Leo X named him Gonfalonier and Captain General of the Church (commander in chief of the Papal Army), though a clause allowed Frederick to avoid fighting against the Empire, to which Mantua had always traditionally been an ally. Frederick therefore did not intervene when the Imperial troops passed through his lands in 1527, indirectly causing the subsequent Sack of Rome.

Frederick had signed a marriage contract with the heir to the Marquisate of Monteferrat, Maria Palaeologina, with the aim of acquiring that land; its marquess Boniface IV of Montferrat was in poor health. But when Boniface seemed to recover, he set up an alleged plot on the part of Maria against Frederick's mistress, Isabella Boschetti: this was sufficient to have the Pope cancel the nuptial contract. Frederick then signed another marriage contract with Charles V's third cousin, Julia of Aragon. In lieu of this move, in 1530 he was granted the ducal title, whereby their dynasty became Dukes of Mantua. However, when Boniface died by a fall from horse on March 25 of that year, Frederick paid 50,000 ducats to Charles in exchange for the annulment of the contract, and pushed the pope for the restoration of his earlier marriage agreement. When Maria also died, he was able to marry her sister Margaret on November 16, 1531. At the death of the last legitimate male heir of the Palaiologos family, Giovanni Giorgio (1533), the marquisate of Montferrat passed to the Gonzaga, who held it until the 18th century.

Frederick commissioned the Palazzo Te, designed and decorated by Giulio Romano, as his summer palace just outside Mantua.

Having suffered long from syphilis, which he had inherited from his father, he died in 1540 at his villa at Marmirolo. His son Francesco briefly held the title of 2nd Duke of Mantua before dying in his teens; the second son, Gugliemo, became 3rd Duke of Mantua as well as Duke of Montferrat and carried on the line.

Family and issue

Coat of arms of Federigo II

Frederick and Margaret were parents to seven children:

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Federico II Gonzaga.
Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Born: 17 May 1500 28 August
Preceded by
Francesco II
Marquis of Mantua
Elevated to Duke
New title Duke of Mantua
Succeeded by
Francesco III
Spanish occupation
Title last held by
John George Palaeologus
Marquess of Montferrat
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