Livia della Rovere

The view over San Lorenzo in Campo from Castelleone di Suasa where Livia della Rovere was raised and spent the latter part of her life in reclusion.

Livia della Rovere (16 December 1585 – 6 July 1641) was an Italian noblewoman of the House of della Rovere and a Duchess of Urbino.

Early life

Livia was the daughter of Ippolito della Rovere (illegitimate son of Cardinal Giulio Feltrio della Rovere) and Isabella Vitelli dei Signori dell'Amatrice. Ippolito was later legitimised and named Marchese di San Lorenzo. She was aunt to her sister Lucrezia's son, Ippolito Lante Montefeltro della Rovere, Duke of Bomarzo.[1]


Livia's second cousin, Francesco Maria II della Rovere (Duke of Urbino) was married to Donna Lucrezia d'Este, the daughter of Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. Their marriage was loveless and childless and when d'Este died without the pair having a male heir, Francesco resigned himself to the dissolution of his Duchy. Rather than accept that fate, the 50-year-old Francesco went looking for another bride.

In 1599, Ippolito della Rovere agreed that his 14-year-old-daughter, Livia, should marry her second cousin, Francesco Maria II, the son of her grandfather's brother, Guidobaldo II della Rovere. They were married on 29 April 1599. The marriage was an unhappy one. Francesco came into conflict with Livia's father and he left their villa.

Federico Ubaldo

Federico Ubaldo della Rovere as a child. The commissioning of this special painting shows the importantance of the long-awaited male heir.

On 16 May 1605 their son, Federico Ubaldo della Rovere, was born.[2] The birth of a long-awaited male heir repaired relations for a short while but the aging Duke showed little interest in his son and Livia was "confined" to the family palazzo. Federico Ubaldo was married to Claudia de' Medici in 1620 and they had one child, Vittoria della Rovere. When Federico Ubaldo died suddenly on 29 June 1623, after an epileptic attack, the Duchy was again without a male heir.

Francesco again took up the title of Duke of Urbino but realised his situation was hopeless. He forfeited his Duchy to Pope Urban VIII in 1625. Francesco died in 1631. As the only heir, male or female, Vittoria della Rovere inherited what was left in property, art and funds of the Duchy.[3][4]

Livia's nephew Ippolito Lante Montefeltro della Rovere continued the Della Rovere family line but as Duke of Bomarzo.

Later life

Livia lived a further ten years after her husband's death. She lived primarily as a recluse, leaving Castelleone di Suasa only for significant events. She died 6 July 1641.


  1. The Della Rovere. Piero della Francesca, Raphael, Titian (Senigallia, Urbino, Pesaro, Urbania, 4 April to 3 October 2004) - Edited by P. Dal Poggetto - Electa Mondadori ISBN 88-370-2908-X
  2. Artnet: History of Double Portrait with the Della Rovere Family Emblem
  3. Worldroots: Della Rovere
  4. Art Daily: 16th Century Table, Sold in 1989 for 6,000 Pounds, Estimated Now to Sell for 1 Million (July, 2010)
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