Saturday, October 3, 2015

Biography - Bianca Maria Sforza 1472–1510 married at 2, widow at 10, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire at 22

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor by Bernard Stigel

In many of the paintings we have been reviewing in this blog, the image of Bianca Maria Sforza is used, both portrayed as herself & as a model for other women.  Bianca (1472–1510) became Holy Roman Empress as the 2nd wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the eldest legitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan.  It was not a gentle period.  When Bianca was not yet 5 years old, her father was assassinated inside the Church of Santo Stefano in Milan in 1476, which was the Feast Day of St. Stephen. He was stabbed to death by 3 high-ranking officials of the Milanese court.

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor by Ambrogio de Predis.

But this did not alter Bianca's life, even at the age of 5.  In January 1474, when Bianca was not quite 2 years old, she had been married to her 1st cousin Philibert I, Duke of Savoy.  Duke Philibert died in the spring of 1482, leaving Bianca a widow at the age of 10! She was  returned to Milan, in the care of her uncle. She was not given much of an education, but she was allowed to indulge in her favorite needlework.

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor as Saint Mary by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio

Twelve years later, when she was 22, in 1494, she remarried the King of the Romans, Maximilian I, who had been a widower since the tragic horse-fall death of his beloved 1st wife Mary of Burgundy in 1482. Bianca's 2nd marriage was arranged by her uncle, who wanted the title of Duke confirmed by the Emperor; & in exchange, the Emperor received a large dowry of 400,000 ducats along with Bianca. Maximilian got more than money from his arranged marriage, because through his marriage to Bianca, Maximilian was able to assert his right to the Imperial overlordship of Milan.

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor as Saint Lucia by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio

Maximilian & Bianca's marriage was unhappy. Maximilian said that she may be as beautiful as his first spouse but not as wise. He considered Bianca to be uneducated, overly talkative, naive, a spendthrift, & careless. Several times he left her behind as security, when he could not pay for his rooms on trips. Despite Bianca's several pregnancies, none produced a living child. She very much liked his children; but she was criticized for ignoring the dignity of her position, when she sat on the floor with them to play.

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor with her husband, the Emperor Maximilian I + his family by Bernhard Strigel

After 1500, Maximilian lost all interest in her. She lived with her own court of Milanese people in various castles in the Tirol.  Maximilian took the title of Holy Roman Emperor Elect in 1508. Bianca was, by marriage, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. Bianca Maria Sforza died at Innsbruck in 1510.

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor by Ambrogio de Predis

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor.

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor by Bernard Stigel

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor by Leonardo da Vinci.

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor portrayed as the Virgin Mary in the Adoration of the Magi, 1487 by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor

Biography - Margravine Isabella d'Este of Mantova (Italy) 1474-1539

For many years, between 1508-10 & 1516-25 Margravine Isabella d'Este 1474-1539 served as Regent of Mantova (Italy). Even before 1508, she reigned, when her husband, Federico I Gonzaga, was away from the state.  She was officially regent during his captivity & afterwards during his illness. She served as regent for a 2nd time for her son, Federico II Gonzaga, when he was away from the state. As regent she founded a school for young women, where they had to observe a strict code of moral conduct.

Titian (1490-1576) Isabella d'Este

The mother of 5 sons & 4 daughters, she was able to speak Greek & Latin & to hold her own in any debate. She was also artistic & could play the lute, sing, & dance. She was a patron of the arts setting artistic fashions & standards. She also wrote over 2,000 letters commenting on everything from politics to war.

Biography - Cecilia Gallerani c 1473-1536

Attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) The Lady with the Ermine thought to be Cecilia Gallerani, 1496

"Cecilia Gallerani was born around 1473. Very beautiful and famously portrayed by Leonardo in Lady with an Ermine, Cecilia kept a literary salon and wrote Latin verse. She was a true daughter of the Renaissance and became prominent at the court of her lover Ludovico Sforza, called 'Il Moro', Duke of Milan. In 1491 however, Ludovico married the very young Beatrice d'Este, the sister of Isabella Gonzaga. In the same year Cecilia gave birth to Ludovico's son." (Servadio, p. 6)

"Strong-willed Beatrice d'Este insisted that her new husband Ludovic Sforza remove his mistress, Cecilia Gallerani, from court in 1491. Ludovic acquiesced to Beatrice's demands, but repaid Cecilia by marrying her to a highly placed noble and by giving the couple a palace. Though Cecilia received excellent retirement benefits from Ludovic, her story indicates that life as a mistress could be a degrading and insecure career." (Williams & Echols, 1994, pp. 90-91)

Biography - Queen Juana I of Spain 1479-1555 a little unstable?

1500 Juan de Flandes (1460-1519) Joan the Mad

Joanna (1479–1555), nicknamed Juana la Loca, was the 1st queen regnant to reign over both the Crown of Castile (1504–55) & the Crown of Aragon (1516–55), a union which evolved into modern Spain. Besides the kingdoms of Spain, she also ruled the kingdoms of Sardinia, Sicily, & Naples in Italy; a vast colonial empire in the Americas; & was Countess of Burgundy & the consort of the Burgundian Netherlands.

Joanna with her parents, Isabella and Ferdinand in Rimado de la conquista de Granada by Pedro Marcuello, c. 1482.

She was the last monarch of the House of Trastámara & her marriage to Philip the Handsome initiated the rule of the Habsburgs in Spain. She succeeded her mother, Isabel I in 1505, & father Fernando in 1516.  Her father had nominated her as heir of all his possessions with her son as regent, because of her assumed mental instability, which is why she was known as Juana la Loca. 

Joanna around the time of her marriage, c. 1496

Some recent scholarship has attempted to separate Joanna's image from the appellation of "the Mad," seeking to demonstrate that she was the victim of the political ambitions of both her father and husband. She was known to be intelligent & educated. It was only after her marriage that accusations of mental instability began, perhaps because of her sympathy with Martin Luther's ideas. 

Joanna and her husband with their Spanish subjects

Despite her exclusion from power, Joanna remained the queen of Castile, reigning jointly after 1516 with her son Charles I, who became Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.  Her husband Felipe I was king & regent 1504-06, & her son, Charles (or Carlos) I (& V of the Holy Roman Empire) became king in 1516.

This portrait of Joanna was done in Flanders, ca 1500 Detail from a wing of the Last Judgement Triptych of Zierikzee, by the Master of Afflighem

Biography - Cunning Catherine de' Medici 1519-89, Queen of France 1547-59

1550s Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59) after Clouet

Catherine was the daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici, duke of Urbino, & Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne, a Bourbon princess of the French nobility. Orphaned within days of her birth, the infant Catherine was highly educated as she matured, trained by nuns in Florence & Rome. When she was just 14, she was married in 1533, by her uncle, Pope Clement VII, to Henry, duc d’Orléans, who would inherit the French crown from his father, Francis I, in April 1547.

1550s Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59) by Corneille de Lyon studio

During the years before the death of her husband's father, the French court came to know the artistic, energetic, & extraverted, as well as discreet, courageous, & gay, Catherine. She easily fit into the dazzling court of Francis I, from whom she learned her political attitudes & her passion for building. Of the chateaus she designed herself—including the Tuileries—Chenonceaux was her unfinished masterpiece.

1530-35 Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59) attributed to Francois Clouet

Despite her husband Henry’s abiding attachment to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, Catherine’s marriage was not unsuccessful. 

Henri II and Catherine de' Medici surrounded by members of their families, by François Clouet (c. 1510 – 1572)

Although she delivered no children during the first anxious 10 years of their union, eventually she did have 10 children, of whom 4 boys & 3 girls survived. She supervised their education.

1555 Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59) possibly by Agnolo Bronzino

Deeply involved with her children, Catherine lived privately, though she was appointed regent in 1552, during Henry’s absence at the siege of Metz. Her ability & eloquence were acclaimed after the Spanish victory of Saint-Quentin in Picardy in 1557, a battle which possibly was the origin of her perpetual fear of Spain.

1550s Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59) by Tito di Santi

Catherine’s 1st political crisis came in July 1559, upon the accidental death of Henry II.  Her son, Francis II, gained the throne, but political & financial power was retained by the Guise brothers.

Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59) by François Clouet 1555

Catherine’s next political crisis came with the premature death on Dec. 5, 1560, of Francis II, whose royal authority the Guises had already completely monopolized. Catherine succeeded in obtaining the regency for Charles IX, with Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre, as lieutenant general, during the civil wars.

Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59) by François Clouet 1560

Upon the death of Charles IX in 1574, she briefly assumed the regency with the support of the Parliament, until the return from Poland of Henry III a few months later.  Catherine did not retain the regency, but she continued to use court intrigues & affairs to sway the politics of France.  Catherine formed the notorious Flying Squadron (Escadron Volant), a group of beautiful female spies & informants, recruited to seduce powerful men of the French Court to extract information & manipulate them; so that the Queen Mother could retain her political power.

1565 Francois Clouet Catherine de' Medici (1519-89), Queen of France (1547-59)

Catherine was the mother of the last 3 Valois kings of France.  She was a major force in French politics during the 30 years of Roman Catholic-Huguenot wars & was an instigator of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. 

European Women 1520-1530

1500s Unknown Artist of the Venetian School, Portrait of a Young Girl

1520s Bartolomeo Veneto, Portrait of a Venetian Lady

1520s Palma Vecchio, Lady with a Lute

1520s Palma Vecchio, Woman In Blue

1520s Unknown Venetian Artist, Portrait of a Lady

1522 Domenico di Pace Beccafumi (1484-1581) Saint Lucy

1522 Parmigianoino (1503-1540) Saint Barbara

1523 Domenico Puligo (1492-1527) Mary Magdalen

1524 Bernardino Licinio (1489-1565) Mary Magdalen

1524 An Unknown Lady by an Unknown Jan Gossaert

1524 Jacob Cornelisz. van Oostsanen (c 1472-1533) Salome with Head of John Baptist

1525 Bacchiacca (1494-1557) Young Woman with Cat

1525 Catherine of Aragon

1525 Christoph Amberger (1505-1562) A Woman

1525 Jean Clouet (1475-1549) Madame de Canaples (Marie d'Assigny, 1502-1558)

1525 Lucas Horenbout (1495-1544) Catherine of Aragon

1525 Unknown Artist of the Venetian School Portrait of a Lady

1526 Hans Holbein the Younger (1498-1543) Anna Meyer Detail of the Darmstadt Madonna

1526 Hans Holbein the Younger (1498-1543) Lais Corinthiaca

1527 Bernardino Luini (1485-1532) Herodias

1527 Bernardino Luini (1485-1532) Saint Catherine

1527 Hans Holbein the Younger Mary, Lady Guildford

1528 Callisto Piazza Da Lodi The Concert

1528 Hans Holbein the Younger (1498-1543)  A Young Woman