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Francesco II of Gonzaga: Wikis


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Portrait of Francesco II Gonzaga in the Uffizi, Florence.

Francesco II (or IV) Gonzaga (10 August 1466 – March 29, 1519) was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua from 1484 until his death.



He was born in Mantua, the son of Marquess Federico I Gonzaga. He had a career as a condottiero acting as Venice's commander from 1489 to 1498. He was the commander-in-chief of the army of the Italian league in the battle of Fornovo, although under the tutorage of his more experienced uncle Ridolfo Gonzaga: although inconclusive, the battle had at least the effect to push Charles VIII of France's army back to the Alps. He was described as "short, pop-eyed, snub-nosed and exceptionally brave, and was regarded as the finest knight in Italy"[1].

Later he was rival of the Venetians, as leader of the Holy League formed by Pope Julius II against them. In that occasion he was captured by the Venetians, who held him as hostage for several months and humiliated him: this caused his perpetual hostility towards that city, and he refused any subsequent request to return to command its army.

During his absences, Mantua was governed by his wife Isabella d'Este, whom he had married on February 12, 1490. Under their reign, Mantua knew a great age of cultural splendour, with the presence in the city of artists such as Andrea Mantegna and Jacopo Bonacolsi. Francesco had the Palace of St. Sebastian built, were later Mantegna's Triumph of Caesar were placed.

On his death from syphilis contracted from prostitutes, he was succeeded by his son Federico, with Isabella acting as regent. His other son Ferrante Gonzaga originated the branch of the Counts of Guastalla. His disease prevented him from recognizing that his wife had eclipsed him.

See also


  • Nicolle, David (1996). Fornovo 1495. Osprey Publishing.  
  • Roeder, Ralph (1933). The Man of the Renaissance. Viking Press.  



  1. ^ Nicolle, Fornovo 1495, p. 13.
Preceded by
Federico I
Marquess of Mantua
Succeeded by
Federico II


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