Margaret Paleologa

Margaret Paleologa

Portrait by Giulio Romano believed to depict Margaret Paleologo, c.1531. The Royal Collection.
Marquise of Montferrat
Reign 1533 - 1536
Predecessor John Georg Palaiologos
Successor Federico II Gonzaga
Spouse(s) Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua


Noble family House of Palaiologos
Father William IX of Montferrat
Mother Anne of Alençon
Born (1510-08-11)11 August 1510
Casale Monferrato
Died 28 December 1566(1566-12-28) (aged 56)

Margaret Palaeologa (Italian: Margherita Paleologa; 11 August 1510 in Casale Monferrato 28 December 1566 in Mantua), was an Italian ruler; Marchioness of Montferrat in her own right. She also married into the Gonzaga family, rulers of Mantua, making her Duchess of Mantua by her marriage to Federico II, Duke of Mantua. Margaret was the regent of Mantua as the guardian of her two sons from 1540 until 1556 in companionship with her brother-in-law.


Margaret was born in Casale to William IX of Montferrat and his wife Anne of Alençon. Her mother was the third child of René, Duke of Alençon and his second wife Margaret of Lorraine, daughter of Frederick, Count of Vaudémont and Yolande of Valois-Anjou. Margaret's maternal grandfather died two days after the birth of Anne.

Margaret's paternal grandparents were Bonifacio III of Montferrat and Marija Brankoviç of Serbia.

Margaret was the second of three children. Her elder sister was Maria Paleologa, who died when she was 21 years of age and her younger brother was Boniface IV of Montferrat, who died when he was only 18 years of age.


In 1517, Margaret's elder sister, Maria, was betrothed to Federico II Gonzaga, son of Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este, who later became Marquis and Duke of Mantua. The marriage contract was annulled, however, after Federico accused Maria of attempting to poison his mistress Isabella Boschetti, wife of the Count of Calvisano.

Potential identification: Titian c. 1536 – 'Female Portrait / Isabella d’Este' [1]

The death of their father rekindled Federico's interest in marrying Maria. But Maria died unexpectedly in September 1530. Federico's attentions turned to Margaret. Having weighed up the various proposals for Margaret's hand, her mother Anne d'Alençon opted for the link with the House of Gonzaga and the marriage was concluded in October 1531.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor had wanted Federico to marry Guila of Aragon but the Gonzaga family refused the marriage.[2]

On the death of her uncle, Margaret became Marchioness of Montferrat in her own right, though it later merged with the Gonzaga inheritance.

The marriage lasted for nine years until Federico's death, at the age of 40. The couple's last child was born the year of his death. In total, Margaret and Federico had seven children:


On Federico's death, their eldest son, Francesco became Duke of Mantua. As Francesco was still only a minor aged eight, Margaret acted as his regent. Margaret had her son married to Catherine, daughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. Margaret had her second son, Guglielmo married to Catherine's younger sister, Eleanor.

Francesco died one year after his marriage to Catherine in 1550, no children were born to their union.

Guglielmo then became Duke of Mantua. Margaret acted as his regent, with the help of her brother-in-law Ercole Gonzaga.

Margaret lived to see three grandchildren, those of Guglielmo and Eleanor. After Margaret's death, five more grandchildren were born including Charles I, Duke of Mantua.

Margaret died in Mantua on 28 December 1566.

In 1574, Margaret's homeland of Montferrat became part of the Duchy of Mantua, after the death of Margaret's son. In Montferrat, Guglielmo was known as Guglielmo X.[3]



  1. Romano’s [Royal Collection, London] and Titian’s portraits [KHM, Vienna] were both assumed as Isabella d’Este. By the change of Romano’s portrait to Margherita Paleologa (i.e. eye colour), the same identification should be discussed for Titian’s portrait, because there are inconsistences as Isabella d’Este; see i.e.: Ozzola, Leandro (1931): Isabella d’Este e Tiziano. In: Bolletino d’Arte del Ministero della pubblica istruzione. BdA (Rome) 1931 No. 11, pp. 491-494; Download:
  2. Cawley, Charles, Medieval Lands, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy,
  3. Italian Wikipedia, with further references
Margaret Paleologa
Born: 11 August 1510 Died: 28 December 1566
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Spanish rule
Marchioness of Montferrat
Succeeded by
Francesco III Gonzaga
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