Bona Sforza: Wikis


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Bona Sforza
Queen consort of Poland
Grand Duchess consort of Lithuania
Coronation 18 April 1518
Spouse Sigismund I the Old
Isabella, Queen of Hungary
Sigismund II of Poland
Sophia, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Anna I of Poland
Catherine, Queen of Sweden
House House of Sforza


Father Gian Galeazzo Sforza
Mother Isabella of Naples
Born 2 February 1494(1494-02-02)
Vigevano, Italy
Died 7 November 1558 (aged 64)
Bari, Italy
Burial Basilica di San Nicola, Bari

Bona Sforza (2 February 1494[1] – 7 November 1558) was a member of the powerful Milanese House of Sforza. In 1518, she became the second wife of Sigismund I of Poland.

She was the third child of Gian Galeazzo Sforza and his wife Isabella of Naples[2]. Her older brother was Francesco Sforza and her sisters were Ippolita Maria and Bianca Maria. All of Bona's siblings died young.

When her mother Isabella of Naples died in 1524, Bona succeeded to the titles Duchess of Bari and Princess of Rossano. She also became the holder of the Brienne claim to the title of King of Jerusalem.




Early Years

Bona was born into the powerful and wealthy Italian Sforza dynasty who had ruled Milan since 1447. Although her father belonged to the authority of the Duchy of Milan, he was ousted by his uncle Ludovico Sforza, known to history as "Il Moro". He exercised power on behalf of the young prince, until his death in 1494 at the castle in Pavia. Shortly afterwards, the Princess Isabella, together with her daughters, went to Bari. To regain political significance and their former possessions, Isabella had to find a husband for Bona (her surviving daughter). Her first attempts were unsuccessful due to the unfavourable political situation at the time but due to the support of the House of Habsburg she succeeded in marrying Bona to the widowed Polish King Sigismund I the Old. The marriage ceremonies and Bona's coronation were held in Krakow on 18 April 1518.

In her youth, Bona obtained a good education. Her teacher was Crisostomo Colonna, a member of the Academy of Pont, who supervised her education along with Antonio Galateo. She received instruction in history, law, administration and theology. She was thrifty, economical, and she also had the ability to influence people. She demonstrated this skill in all her activities.

Queen of Poland

Almost from the beginning of her life in Poland, Queen Bona tried to gain a strong political position. She began to form her own cabal and also benefited from the support of the king. She was also supported by Piotr Kmita Sobieński, Andrew Ladislaus and Piotr Gamrat, taking them to her offices and creating the so-called Triumvirate. She managed to also get Pope Leo X to decide on the appointment of fifteen ecclesiastical benefice of very high importance (e.g. in Kraków, Gniezno, Poznań, Włoclawek and Frombork).

Bona came out of the belief that one of the most important things needed for the effective implementation of policies and plans for strengthening royal authority, is access to appropriate high finance. Therefore she set herself the objective of magnification and the assembly domain of dynastic wealth as much as possible, which would give the Jagiello family financial independence. The family gained numerous estates in Lithuania, and finally in 1536-1546 they took over the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This generated huge profits.

In 1527, as a result of a fall from a horse, the queen gave birth prematurely to her second son Albert, who died at birth[3]. After this event, the Queen could not have any more children. Bona, wanting to ensure the continuity of the Jagiellonian dynasty on the Polish throne, decided to make the nobles and magnates to recognise her only son, the minor Sigismund Augustus as heir to the throne. First, the Lithuanian nobles gave him the ducal throne (ca. 1527-1528). Then, in 1529 he was crowned Sigismund II Augustus of Poland. This led to huge opposition from Polish lords, which led to the adoption of the bill that the next coronation will take place after the death of Sigismund Augustus, and that will consent of all the noble brothers.

From the outset, Bona was reluctant to the growing power of the Radziwiłł family and was later accussed of poisoning her daughter-in-law Barbara Radziwiłł.

In foreign policy, she was a fierce opponent of the Habsburgs and a supporter of a closer alliance with France. In Hungary during the wars that took place after the Battle of Mohacs in 1526, supported by János Szapolyai against the Habsburgs. Bona also sought to maintain good relations with Port Ottoman and contacts with Roxelana, the most important wife Suleyman the Magnificent. Bona was also a spokesperson for connecting Silesia to the Crown in return for her hereditary principality Bari and Rosano, but Sigismund the Old did not support the idea and the whole project collapsed. Bona managed to also carry out tax reforms in Lithuania and agricultural products (including uniform duties of the peasants and a unit of area measurements).

Later Life and Widowhood

In 1544, Sigismund II Augustus was given independent authority in Lithuania, and therefore there he moved. It was the cause of a significant weakening of power in the queen, who did not want his departure. The pair had originally entered a conflict over her sons marriage to Barbara Radziwiłł.

On the 1 April 1548, Sigismund I the Old died, leaving Bona a widow. Their son succeeded him.

After the death of the King, Bona moved to Masovia and stayed there 8 years. It was not possible for Bona to reach an agreement with her son of Bari so Poland took it.

A year after returning to the duchy of Bari Bona Sforza was poisoned by her trusted officer, Gian Lorenzo Pappacoda. Pappacoda was acting on behalf of King Philip II of Spain, who wished to avoid repaying his sizable debts to the Polish queen.


Bona and Sigismund I of Poland had six children:



See also


  1. ^ Milan, Medieval Lands
  2. ^ Bona Sforza at "World"
  3. ^ Grzybowski, Polish history and Lithuania (1506-1648), P. 47
Bona Sforza
Born: 2 February 1494 Died: 19 November 1557
Royal titles
Preceded by
Barbara Zápolya
Queen consort of Poland
Grand Duchess consort of Lithuania

Succeeded by
Elisabeth of Austria


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