Friday, October 2, 2015

Biography - Elisabetta Gonzaga 1471–1526 expelled by Pope Leo X

Elisabetta Gonzaga (1471–1526) Elisabetta was born in Mantua, Italy, the 2nd daughter of Federico I Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua & Margaret of Wittelsbach. Her brother was Francesco II Gonzaga. Elisabetta Gonzaga married Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, the duke of Urbino, in 1489. Guidobaldo was sickly & impotent; & they had no children, but Elisabetta refused to divorce him & nursed him through his illnesses.

1503 Duchess Elisabetta Gonzaga of Urbino attr to Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483–1520)

In 1504, they adopted Francesco Maria I della Rovere, the child of Guidobaldo's sister, who was then 14. Elisabetta's education led her to attracted writers, artists, & scholars to their court.

Guidobaldo da Montefeltro by Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483–1520)

Her nobility gave her contact & involvement in the power politics of 16th-century Italy. She was the sister-in-law of Isabella d'Este.

Isabella d'Este 1474-1539

In June 1502, Cesare Borgia occupied Urbino, putting to flight Guidobaldo & forcing Elisabetta to remain in Mantua, where she had been staying as a guest. She remained there until 1503, & then joined Guidobaldo in Venice. They were restored to power in 1504.

Giorgione (Italian painter, 1477–1510) Francesco Maria della Rovere

In 1506, Elisabetta reluctantly accompanied Lucrezia Borgia on her journey to Ferrara, where Lucrezia was married to Alfonso I d'Este.

Bartolomeo Veneto, Portrait traditionally assumed to be Lucrezia Borgia 1480-1519

In 1508, the adopted Francesco was betrothed to Eleonora Gonzaga, Elisabetta's niece, further consolidating the family dynasty. Following Guidobaldo's death in 1508, at the age of 36, she continued to live in Urbino as regent to the underage heir Francesco. However in 1516, she was expelled from Urbino by Pope Leo X, who wanted to give the duchy to his nephew Lorenzo de Medici. Together with her niece Leonora & without a penny, they found refuge in Ferrara.

Titian Tiziano Vercelli (Italian painter, 1488-1576) Portrait of Francesco Maria della Rovere & Eleonora Gonzaga 1536-38

Elisabetta Gonzaga was immortalized for her cultured & virtuous life by the writer Baldassare Castiglione, whose famous work of 1528, The Courtier, was based on his interactions & conversations with her. In the 20C, she was the focus of Saul Bellows' The Gonzaga Manuscripts.