Visual History of the World
The Early Modern Period
16th - 18th century
The smooth transition from
the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is conventionally fixed on such
events as the Reformation and the discovery of the "New World,"
which brought about the emergence of a new image of man and his
world. Humanism, which spread out of Italy, also made an essential
contribution to this with its promotion of a critical awareness of
Christianity and the Church. The Reformation eventually broke the
all-embracing power of the Church. After the Thirty Years' War, the
concept of a universal empire was also nullified. The era of the
nation-state began, bringing with it the desire to build up
political and economic power far beyond Europe. The Americas,
Africa, and Asia provided regions of expansion for the Europeans.
Proportions of the Human Figure by Leonardo da Vinci (drawing, ca.
is a prime example of the new approach of Renaissance
artists and scientists to the anatomy of the human body.
BAROQUE AND ROCOCO ART
THE 17-18th CENTURY LITERATURE
CLASSICAL MUSIC-The Middle Ages and the Renaissance,
The Baroque Era
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Elisabetta Gonzaga by
Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of
Urbino (1471, Mantua, Italy - Ferrara, 1526, Italy)
a cultured Italian Renaissance noblewoman , renown for
her virtuous and childless life.
Elisabetta was the second daughter of Federico I Gonzaga,
Marquis of Mantua, and of Margaret of Wittelsbach. She
was the sister of Francesco II Gonzaga.
She married Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, the duke of
Urbino, in 1489. Guidobaldo was sickly and impotent, and
they had no children, but Elisabetta refused to divorce
him and nursed him through his illnesses. In 1504 they
adopted Francesco Maria della Rovere, the child of
Guidobaldo's sister, who was then 14.
Elisabetta's education led her to a life in the
company of some the greatest minds of late
fifteenth-century Italy. Her court attracted writers,
artists, and scholars.
Her nobility gave her contact and involvement in the
power politics of sixteenth century Italy. She was the
sister-in-law of Isabella d'Este, an influential
Renaissance patron and political figure. In 1506
Elizabeth reluctantly accompanied Lucrezia Borgia on her
journey to Ferrara, where Lucrezia was married to
Alfonso I d'Este.
On entering Ferrara she rode a black mule caparisoned
in black velvet embroidered with woven gold,and wore a
mantle of black velvet strewn with triangles of beaten
gold; another day indoors she wore a mantle of brown
velvet slashed, and caught up with chains of massive
gold; another day a gown of black velvet striped with
gold, with a jewelled necklace and diadem; and still
another day, a black velvet robe embroidered with
On 21 June 1502 Cesare Borgia occupied Urbino,
putting to flight Guidobaldo and forcing , Elizabeth to
remain in Mantua, where she had been staying as a guest.
She remained there until 1503 and then joined Guidobaldo
in Venice. They were restored to power in 1504. The
adoption of Franseco in that year hoped to secure the
In 1508 Franseco was betrothed to Eleonora Gonzaga,
Elisabetta's niece, further consolidating the dynasty.
Following Guidobaldo's death in 1508 at the age of 36
she continued to live in Urbino as regent to the
However in June 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 and
without a penny, they found refuge in Ferrara.
Portrait of Eleonora (known as "Dianora" or
"Leonora") di Don Garzia di Toledo di Don Pietro dei'
Eleonora di Toledo, Duchess of Florence, with her son
Giovanni, by Agnolo
Eleonora di Garzia di Toledo
(March 1553 11 July 1576),
more often known as
"Leonora" or "Dianora", was the daughter of García
Álvarez de Toledo y Osorio, Marques of Villafranca del
Bierzo and Duke of Fernandina, and the wife of Don
Pietro de' Medici, a son of Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand
Duke of Tuscany. Leonora was born in Florence, where she
was brought up by Cosimo and Eleonora di Toledo, her
aunt and namesake. Betrothed to their son Pietro at the
age of 15, she blossomed under the wing of Pietro's
older sister, the artistic patron Isabella, into a
vivacious and witty beauty. Her marriage, like
Isabella's, was not a success, and she followed her
mentor's example of taking lovers. For this reason,
Pietro had her brought in 1576 to the country retreat of
Cafaggiolo, where he strangled her to death with a dog
leash. Cosimo's successor, Francesco I, tacitly approved
the murder, and Pietro was never brought to justice for
Until recently, little was known of Leonora di Garzia
di Toledo, and she was not identified as the sitter of
several portraits of her. The facts of her life have
emerged from the growing scholarship on Isabella de'
Medici, with whom she has much in common. In the view of
art historian Gabrielle Langdon, "Her story is valuable
in revealing attitudes and legalities attendant on the
lives and decorum of women in the early-modern Italian
Laura Battiferri by Agnolo
Laura Battiferri (1523-158?)
was born at Urbino, the natural
daughter of Giovanni Antonio Battiferri, who later
legitimated her. Widowed at an early age, Laura married her
second husband, the Florentine sculptor Bartolommeo Ammanati,
in 155C. at the age of twenty-seven. The marriage remained
childless, Laura referring to herself as a "barren tree".
Her poetry found many contemporary admirers. The Spanish
court had her literary works translated into Spanish.
Important writers and artists, notably Torquato Tasso and
Benevenuto Cellini, sought her company.
Laura Battiferri, a supporter of the Jesuitical
Counter-Reformation, was reputed to have been a devout
Catholic. Her great popularity at the Spanish court confirms
this. The demure severity of her pose and dress may reflect
the increased rigidity of Catholic ethical norms since the
Council of Trent (1545-1563).
Agnolo Bronzino's Laura Battiferri is one
of the most fascinating Italian Renaissance portraits of
women.Reverting in deliberately archaistic manner to a
prototype found in the early quattrocento, the artist has
portrayed the sitter in profile view, a pose reminiscent of
the medal portrait. The upper part of her body with the
small head is disproportionately elongated, emphasising the
projection of her strikingly large, slightly hooked nose.
Laura Battiferri is wearing a transparent veil, which hangs
down from the shell-shaped, calotte-style bonnet covering
her tightly combed-back hair onto her goffered shawl and
puffed sleeves. While pride - or is it modesty? -makes her
avoid eye-contact with the spectator, a gesture which lends
her something of the majesty of a high-priestess, the
painting is certainly not devoid of gestures "ad spectatorem".
The mannered spread of the slender fingers of her left hand
marks a place in an open book of Petrarch's sonnets to
Laura, with whom the lady in the portrait evidently
identifies. According to Petrarch, Laura is an
"unapproachable, unattainable beauty... as chaste as the
adored mistress of a troubadour, as modest and devout as a 'Stilnovismo
Beatrice'". "Laura's personality is even more elusive than
her external appearance. She remains the incarnation of
chaste and noble beauty."
Beatrice d'Este in a portrait by Giovanni Ambrogio
de Predis and by
Leonardo da Vinci
Beatrice d'Este (June 29, 1475
January 2, 1497),
duchess of Milan, one of the most
beautiful and accomplished princesses of the Italian
Renaissance, was the daughter of Ercole I. d'Este and
younger sister of Isabella d'Este and Alfonso d'Este.
She was bethrothed at the age of fifteen to Lodovico
Sforza (known as il Moro), duke of Bari, regent and
afterwards duke of Milan, and was married to him in
Beatrice married Ludovico in a double Sforza-Este
wedding. Ludovico married Beatrice, while Beatrice's
brother, Alfonso d'Este, married Anna Sforza the sister
of Gian Galeazzo Sforza. Leonardo daVinci orchestrated
the wedding celebration.
Beatrice and Alfonsos sister, Isabella d'Este
(14741539) was married Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess
She had been carefully educated, and availed herself
of her position as mistress of one of the most splendid
courts of Italy to surround herself with learned men,
poets and artists, such as Niccolo da Correggio,
Bernardo Castiglione, Bramante, Leonardo da Vinci and
many others. Leonardo da Vinci presented her with a
portrait of herself for her wedding gift, a beautiful
piece of Renaissance art. In 1492 she visited Venice as
ambassador for her husband in his political schemes,
which consisted chiefly in a desire to be recognized as
duke of Milan.
On the death of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Lodovico's
usurpation was legalized, and after the Battle of
Fornovo (1495) both he and his wife took part in the
peace congress of Vercelli between Charles VIII of
France and the Italian princes, at which Beatrice showed
great political ability. But her brilliant career was
cut short by death through childbirth, on the 3rd of
January 1497 at the age of 22. The child was a stillborn
Beatrice belongs to the best class of Renaissance
women, and was one of the culture influences of the age;
to her patronage and good taste are due to a great
extent the splendour of the Castello of Milan, of the
Certosa of Pavia and of many other famous buildings in
Lombardy. A fresco with her portrait faces Leonardo Da
Vinci's Last Supper. She is a central character in E. L.
Konigsburg's novel, The Second Mrs.Gioconda, in which
Konigsburg credits her for being the inspiration for Da
Vinci's Mona Lisa.
Cecilia Gallerani as The Lady with an Ermine,
portrait by by
Leonardo da Vinci
Cecilia Gallerani at age 45-47, with Mary
Magdalene attributes by Bartolomeo Veneto
Cecilia Gallerani (1473 1536)
was one of the mistresses of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of
Milan. She was the subject of Leonardo da Vinci's
painting The Lady with an Ermine (c. 1489). While posing
for the painting she invited Leonardo, who at the time
was working as court artist for Sforza, to meetings at
which Milanese intellectuals discussed philosophy and
other subjects. Cecilia herself presided over these
Cecilia was born into a large family from Siena. Her
father, Fazio, was not of the nobility, but he occupied
several posts at the Milanese court, including the
position of ambassador to Florence. She was educated
alongside her brothers in Latin and literature. In 1483
at the age of ten, Cecilia was bethrothed to Stefano
Visconti but it was broken off in 1487 for reasons
unknown. In May 1489, she left home for the Monastero
Nuovo, and it was possibly there that she met Ludovico.
Cecilia spoke Latin fluently and was said to be a
gifted musician and singer. She also wrote poetry. Even
after Ludovico married Beatrice d'Este, Cecilia
continued to keep her apartments in Ludovico's castle.
Cecilia had a son, Cesare, on 3 May 1491 by Ludovico il
When Beatrice d'Este found out about her, Ludovico
had to ask her to leave the Porta Giovia castle, the
seat of the Ducal court. She was given the Carmagnola
Palace in 1492, when she married Ludovico di Brambilla,
Count Bergamino. She bore her husband four children.
After the death of both her husband and her son
(1514-1515), she retired to San Giovanni in Croce, a
castle near Cremona. Bandello describes her as a patron
of the arts. According to others, hers was the first
salon in Europe.
Ritratto di dama (Veronica Gambara) , 1517-1518
Veronica Gambara (November 29,
1485 June 13, 1550) was an Italian poet, stateswoman
and political leader.
Born near Brescia, in Lombardy, Italy, Gambara came from
a distinguished family , one of the seven children of
Count Gianfrancesco da Gambara and Alda Pio da Carpi. Her family contained a number of distinguished
intellectuals as members , including her grandmother Ginevra and great-aunt, Isotta Nogarola . She was
educated in literature, philosophy, and languages from
an early age. She learned to compose in classical Latin
and read Latin poetry. When she was 17 she corresponded
with the leading neo-Petrarchan, Pietro Bembo, who later
became her mentor. By 1530 her poetry was known
In 1508 she was betrothed to a cousin, Giberto X,
Count of Correggio. He was a 50 year old widower, she
was 23. She married him in 1509 in Amalfi. Although an
arranged marriage she developed real feeling for her
husband and wrote poems of their love. They had two
sons, Ippolito was born in 1510 and Girolamo in 1511.
After Giberto's death in 1518 she expressed her grief in
her poetry. She took charge of his estates as well as
the education of her two sons.
She took an active role in the military defence of
Correggio in wars between the Emperor Charles V and the
French king, Francis I. She addressed poems to various
leaders on the necessity of peace that were by turns
flattering and stern.
Se died in 1550 in Correggio, Italy.
Approximately 80 of her poems and 150 of her letters
are extant, although there is no full English
translation of her work. Most of her poems are
sonnets, although she also wrote madrigals, ballads, and stanze in ottava rima. Besides her political poems, she
wrote poems of love, religious devotion, and pastoral
praise of Brescia and Correggio
Isabella dEste by
Isabella d'Este (18 May
147413 February 1539)
was marchesa of Mantua and one of
the leading women of the Italian Renaissance and a major
cultural and political figure.
Born in Ferrara, she was the first daughter of Ercole I
d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, and Leonora of Naples, daughter
of Ferdinand I of Naples, the Aragonese King of Naples,
and Isabella of Taranto.
Isabella was born in May 1474 to the Duke Ercole and
Duchess Lenora of Ferrara. She was received with great
joy. A son was hoped for but could wait. One year later
in June 1475 her sister Beatrice d'Este was born. Then
in 1476 and 1477 two brothers were born. The first was
Alfonso and second Ferrante. In 1479 and 1480 two more
brothers were born.They were Ippolitto and Sigismondo.
Of all the children Isabella reigned as the favorite.
In 1474 when Ferrante was born, Isabella traveled to
Naples with her mother. When her mother returned to
Ferrara, Isabella went with her, while the other
children stayed with their grandfather for eight years.
As Isabella traveled with her mother she learned
politics. When it came time to study, Isabella mastered
the required subjects quickly.
Isabella was quite intelligent and became masterful
in many languages. Isabella's favorite language was
Greek. She was also a talented musician. She was said to
be an amazing lute player and played it in her spare
As the wonderful Isabella grew she received a Royal
schooling. As a child she studied Roman history, and
rapidly learned to translate Greek and Latin. Because of
her intellect she often discussed the classics and the
affairs of the day with ambassadors. Moreover, she knew
the painters, musicians, writers, and scholars, who
lived in and around the court. Besides history and
language, she could recite Virgil and Terrence from
memory, and was an expert with lute, singing, and an
innovator with new dances.
In 1480 at age six Isabella was betrothed to
Francesco Gonzaga who at that time was the heir to the
Marquis of Mantua. Even though he was an ugly man
Isabella liked him for his strength, and bravery, she
also thought that he was a gentleman. After their first
meetings she found she liked him and spent the next few
years getting to know him and preparing herself to be
the Marchessa of Mantua. During these courting times
Isabella especially treasured the letters, poems, and
sonnets he sent her as gifts.
Ten years later, at age 16, she married the 25 year old,
now- reigning Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua
and became the Marchessa to Francesco amid a spectacular
outpouring of popular acclamation. Besides the Marquis
Francesco was also Captain General of the republic of
Venice armies. This gave him many duties; so in result a
couple of days after their honeymoon he left her to
perform her responsibilities alone. However Isabella
wasn't always alone, she spent time with her mother and
sister, and once she met Elisabetta Gonzaga her 18-
year- old sister-in-law the two became fast friends.
Donna velata by
Portrait of a Young Woman (La fornarina), by
Sixtinische Madonna by
Sebastiano del Piombo by
Giulio Romano, before was attributed to
The Portrait of a Young Woman (also known as La
fornarina) is a painting by the Italian High Renaissance
master Raphael, made between 1518 and 1520. It is housed
in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Palazzo
It is probable that the picture was in the painter's
studio at his death in 1520, and that it was modified
and then sold by his assistant Giulio Romano. In the
16th century the picture was in the house of the
Countess of Santafiora, a Roman noblewoman, and
subsequently became property of the Duke Boncompagni and
then of the Galleria Nazionale which still possesses it.
The woman is traditionally identified with the
fornarina (bakeress) Margherita Luti, the semi-legendary
Roman lover of Raphael (see biography), though,
probably, the true meaning of the picture has still to
be cleared up. The woman is pictured with an oriental
style hat and bare breasts. She is making the gesture to
cover her left breast, or to turn it with her hand, and
is illuminated by a strong artificial light coming from
the external. Her left arm has a narrow band carrying
the signature of the artist, RAPHAEL URBINAS. Art
historians and scholars debate whether the right hand on
the left breast reveal a cancerous breast tumour
detailed and disguised in a classic pose of love.
The particular fixed glance of the young woman also
contributes to the artificiality of the whole
Madonna della Seggiola by
Veronica Franco by Jacopo
Lady Revealing Her Bosom, Perhaps the Famous Venetian Courtesan
Veronica Franco (1546-1591)
was an Italian poet and courtesan in 16th century
Life as a courtesan
Renaissance Venetian society recognized two different
classes of courtesans: the cortigiana onesta, the
intellectual courtesan, and the cortigiana di lume,
lower-class courtesans (closer kin to prostitutes today)
who tended to live and practice their trade near the
Rialto Bridge. Veronica Franco was perhaps the most
celebrated member of the former category, although
Franco was hardly the only onesta in 16th-century Venice
who could boast of a fine education and considerable
literary and artistic accomplishments.
The daughter of another cortigiana onesta, Franco
learned the art at a young age from her mother and was
trained to use her natural assets and abilities to
achieve a financially beneficial marriage. While still
in her teens, Franco married a wealthy physician, but
the union ended badly. In order to support herself,
Franco turned to serving as a cortigiana to wealthy men.
She quickly rose through the ranks to consort with some
of the leading notables of her day and even had a brief
liaison with Henry III, King of France. Franco was
listed as one of the foremost courtesans of Venice in Il
Catalogo di tutte le principale et piu honorate
cortigiane di Venezia.
A well-educated woman, Veronica Franco wrote two
volumes of poetry: Terze rime in 1575 and Lettere
familiari a diversi in 1580. She published books of
letters and collected the works of other leading writers
into anthologies. Successful in her two lines of work,
Franco also founded a charity for courtesans and their
In 1575, during the epidemic of plague that ravaged
the city, Veronica Franco was forced to leave Venice and
lost much of her wealth when her house and possessions
were looted. On her return in 1577, she defended herself
with dignity in an Inquisition for witchcraft trial (a
common complaint lodged against courtesans in those
days). The charges were dropped.
There is evidence that her connections among the
Venetian nobility helped in her acquittal. Her later
life is largely obscure, though surviving records
suggest that although she won her freedom, she lost all
of her material goods and wealth. Eventually, her last
major benefactor died and left her with no financial
support. Although her fate is largely uncertain, she is
believed to have died in relative poverty.
In 1565, when she was about 20 years old, Veronica
Franco was listed in Il Catalogo di tutte le principale
e più honorate cortigiane di Venezia, which gave the
names, addresses, and fees of Venice's most prominent
prostitutes; her mother was listed as the person to whom
the fee should be paid. From extant records, we know
that by the time she was 18, Franco had been briefly
married and had given birth to her first child; she
would eventually have six children, three of whom died
As one of the più honorate cortigiane in a wealthy
and cosmopolitan city, Franco lived well for much of her
working life, but without the automatic protection
accorded to "respectable" women, she had to make her own
way. She studied and sought patrons among the learned.
By the 1570s, she belonged to one of the more
prestigious literary circles in the city, participating
in discussions and contributing to and editing
anthologies of poetry.
In 1575, Franco's own volume of the poetry was
published, her Terze rime, containing 18 capitoli (verse
epistles) by her and 7 by men writing in her praise.
That same year saw an outbreak of plague in Venice, one
that lasted two years and caused Franco to leave the
city and to lose many of her possessions. In 1577, she
unsuccessfully proposed to the city council that it
should establish a home for poor women, of which she
would become the administrator. By then, she was raising
not only her own children but also her nephews, who had
been orphaned by the plague.
In 1580, Franco published her Lettere familiari a
diversi ("Family letters to different people") which
included 50 letters, as well as two sonnets addressed to
King Henry III of France, who had visited her six years
earlier. We have little information for her life after
1580. Records suggest that she was less prosperous in
her later years but was not living in poverty. However,
she published no more writings.
Veronica Franco als Venus by
Fioretta Gorini (or Clarice
Clarice Orsini (c. 1453 29
July 1487) was the daughter of Jacopo (Giacomo) Orsini, lord of Monterotondo and Bracciano,
and his wife and cousin Maddalena Orsini. Born in Rome,
she is most known as the wife of Lorenzo de' Medici
(Lorenzo the Magnificent), de facto ruler of the
Florentine Republic. She was the mother of Pope Leo X.
Lorenzo and Clarice were married by proxy on 7
February 1469. The marriage was arranged by Lorenzo's
mother Lucrezia Tornabuoni, who wanted her eldest son to
marry a woman from a noble family, in order to enhance
the social status of the Medicis. Clarice's dowry was
6,000 florins. She arrived in Florence on 4 June 1469.
Clarice was not popular in Florence, because her
strict religious personality was in deep contrast with
the humanist ideals of the age. Even Lorenzo preferred a
Florentine woman, Lucrezia Donati, to whom he dedicated
his poems, but he had children only from Clarice. Of the
nine children born to them, three died in infancy.
During the Pazzi Conspiracy, which was aimed at
murdering Lorenzo and his younger brother Giuliano,
Clarice and her children were sent to Pistoia. (The
Pazzis succeeded in murdering Giuliano, but Lorenzo
survived the attack, thus the conspirators' plan to
replace the Medicis as de facto rulers of Florence
Clarice returned to Rome several times to visit her
relatives; she also visited Volterra, Colle Val d'Elsa,
Passignano, and other places in the 1480s. On 29 July
1487 she died suddenly from tuberculosis in Florence.
Portrait of Beatrice Cenci.
Formerly attributed to Guido Reni
Beatrice Cenci (February 6,
1577 September 11, 1599)
was an Italian noblewoman.
She is famous as the protagonist in a lurid murder trial
Beatrice was the daughter of Francesco Cenci, an
aristocrat who, due to his violent temper and immoral
behaviour, had found himself in trouble with papal
justice more than once. They lived in Rome in the rione
Regola, in Palazzo Cenci, built over the ruins of a
medieval fortified palace at the edge of Rome's Jewish
ghetto. Together with them lived also Beatrice's elder
brother Giacomo, Francesco's second wife, Lucrezia
Petroni, and Bernardo, the young boy born from
Francesco's second marriage. Among their other
possessions there was a castle, La Rocca of Petrella
Salto, a small village near Rieti, north of Rome.
According to the legend, Francesco Cenci abused his wife
and his sons, and had reached the point of committing
incest with Beatrice. He had been jailed for other
crimes, but thanks to the leniency with which the nobles
were treated, he had been freed early. Beatrice had
tried to inform the authorities about the frequent
mistreatments, but nothing had happened, although
everybody in Rome knew what kind of person her father
was. When he found out that his daughter had reported
against him, he sent Beatrice and Lucrezia away from
Rome, to live in the family's country castle. The four
Cenci decided they had no alternative but to try to get
rid of Francesco, and all together organized a plot. In
1598, during one of Francesco's stays at the castle, two
vassals (one of whom had become Beatrice's secret lover)
helped them to drug the man, but this failed to kill
Francesco. Following this Beatrice, her siblings and
step mother bludgeoned Francesco to death with a hammer
and threw the body off a balcony to make it look like an
accident. No one believed the death to be an accident.
Somehow his absence was noticed, and the papal police
tried to find out what had happened. Beatrice's lover
was tortured, and died without revealing the truth.
Meanwhile a family friend, who was aware of the murder,
ordered the killing of the second vassal, to avoid any
risk. The plot was discovered all the same and the four
members of the Cenci family were arrested, found guilty,
and sentenced to death. The common people of Rome,
knowing the reasons for the murder, protested against
the tribunal's decision, obtaining a short postponement
of the execution. But pope Clement VIII showed no mercy
at all: on September 11, 1599, at dawn, they were taken
to Sant'Angelo Bridge, where the scaffold was usually
Giacomo was quartered with a mallet and had his limbs
hung in the four corners; then Lucrezia and finally
Beatrice took their turn on the block, to be beheaded
with a sword. Only the young boy was spared, yet he too
was led to the scaffold to witness the execution of his
relatives, before returning to prison and having his
properties confiscated (to be given to the pope's own
family). Beatrice was buried in the church of San Pietro
in Montorio. For the people of Rome she became a symbol
of resistance against the arrogant aristocracy and a
legend arose: every year on the night before her death,
she came back to the bridge carrying her severed head.
Portrait of a Florentine Lady by
Eleonora de' Medici (February
28, 1567 September 9, 1611)
was the eldest child
of Francesco I de' Medici and Johanna of Austria. She
was a member of the famous Medici.
In 1578, when Eleonora was eleven her mother died,
and her father later married Bianca Cappello. Medici
was one of seven children. One of her sisters Marie de'
Medici became queen of France and was the mother of
Louis XIII of France, Marie made her sister Eleonora the
godmother of Louis. Eleonora and Marie also had
another sister called Anna who died at the age of 14,
the rest of Eleonora and Marie's siblings died during
Medici married Vincenzo I Gonzaga on April 29,
1584, for her husband it was his second marriage
after he divorced Margerita Farnese. Three of her sons
would become Dukes of Mantua and Montferrat and her
daughter Eleonore would become a Holy Roman Empress. Her
Francesco IV Gonzaga (May 7, 1586 December 22,
1612), Duke of Mantua and Duke of Montferrat between
February 9 and December 22, 1612.
Ferdinando I Gonzaga (April 26, 1587 October 29,
1626), Duke of Mantua and Duke of Montferrat from 1612
until his death.
Guglielmo Dominico (1589 1591), died during childhood
Margerita Gonzaga (2 October 1591 7 February 1632) ,
wife of Henry II, Duke of Lorraine
Vincenzo II Gonzaga (January 7, 1594 December 25,
1627), Duke of Mantua and Marquess of Montferrat from
1626 until his death.
Eleonore Gonzaga (September 23, 1598 June 27, 1655),
wife of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.
Her two daughters were possible second wives to Philip
III of Spain, after the death of his wife Margaret of
Austria. In 1608 she arranged the marriage of her eldest
son Francesco to Margaret of Savoy, this marriage
produced three children, only the eldest daughter Maria
reached adulthood, Maria was the mother of Eleanor
Gonzaga who became Holy Roman Empress by her marriage to
Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, they were the parents
of four children, among them were Eleonora Maria Josefa
of Austria and Maria Anna Josepha, Archduchess of
Eleonora died on September 9, 1611 in Cavriana,
Italy, when she was 44. Her husband outlived her by
only one year, dying in 1612, their son Francesco
succeeded them, however Francesco was hardly Duke of
Mantua for a year before his death also in 1612.
Francesco was succeeded by his brothers, Eleonora's
father died without a surviving male child so his
brother Ferdinando succeeded him as Grand Duke of
Vittoria Colonna, by Sebastiano del Piombo
Vittoria Colonna, drawing by
Vittoria Colonna (April 1490 - 25
marchioness of Pescara, was an Italian noblewoman and poet.
The daughter of Fabrizio Colonna, grand constable of the kingdom
of Naples, and of Agnese da Montefeltro, Vittoria Colonna was
born at Marinoa fief of the Colonna family in the Alban Hills
near Rome. Betrothed when four years old at the insistence of
Ferdinand, king of Naples to Francesco Ferrante d'Ávalos, son of
the marquis of Pescara, she received the highest education and
gave early proof of a love of letters. Her hand was sought by
many suitors, including the dukes of Savoy and Braganza, but at
nineteen, by her own ardent desire, she was married to d'Ávalos
on the island of Ischia.
There the couple resided until 1511, when her husband offered
his sword to the League against the French. He was taken
prisoner at the battle of Ravenna (1512) and conveyed to France.
During the months of detention and the long years of campaigning
which followed, Vittoria and Ferrante corresponded in the most
passionate terms both in prose and verse. They saw each other
but seldom, for Ferrante was one of the most active and
brilliant captains of Charles V; but Vittoria's influence was
sufficient to keep him from joining the projected league against
the emperor after the battle of Pavia (1525), and to make him
refuse the crown of Naples offered to him as the price of his
In the month of November of the same year he died of his
wounds at Milan. Vittoria, who was hastening to tend him,
received the news of his death at Viterbo; she halted and turned
off to Rome, and after a brief stay departed for Ischia, where
she remained for several years. She refused several suitors, and
began to produce those Rime spirituali which form so distinct a
feature in her works. In 1529 she returned to Rome, and spent
the next few years between that city, Orvieto, Ischia and other
places. In 1537 we find her at Ferrara, where she made many
friends and helped to establish a Capuchin monastery at the
instance of the reforming monk Bernardino Ochino, who afterwards
became a Protestant.
In 1536 she was back in Rome, where, besides winning the esteem
of Cardinals Reginald Pole and Contarini, she became the object
of a passionate friendship on the part of Michelangelo, then in
his sixty-first year. The great artist addressed some of his
finest sonnets to her, made drawings for her, and spent long
hours in her society. Her removal to Orvieto and Viterbo in
1541, on the occasion of her brother Ascanio Colonna's revolt
against Paul III, produced no change in their relations, and
they continued to visit and correspond as before. She returned
to Rome in 1544, staying as usual at the convent of San
Silvestro, and died there on 25 February 1547.
Pietro Bembo, Luigi Alamanni and Baldassare Castiglione were
among her literary friends. She was also on intimate terms with
many of the Italian Protestants, such as Pietro Carnesecchi,
Juan de Valdés and Ochino, but she died before the church crisis
in Italy became acute, and, although she was an advocate of
religious reform, there is no reason to believe that she herself
became a Protestant.
The example of her life helps counteract the impression of
the universal corruption of the Italian Renaissance conveyed by
such careers as those of the Borgia. Her amatory and elegiac
poems, which are the fruits of a sympathetic and dainty
imitative gift rather than of any strong original talent, were
printed at Parma in 1538; a third edition, containing sixteen of
her Rime Spirituali, in which religious themes are treated in
Italian, was published at Florence soon afterwards; and a
fourth, including a still larger proportion of the pious
element, was issued at Venice in 1544.
Portrait of Margaret Roper by
Margaret Roper, née More (15051544),
translator, was the daughter of Thomas More and wife of William
Roper. During More's imprisonment in the Tower of London, she
was a frequent visitor to his cell, along with her husband.
After More was beheaded in 1535 for refusing to bless the
Reformation of Henry VIII of England and swear to Henry as head
of the English Church, his head was displayed on a pike for a
month afterward. At the end of that period, Margaret purchased
his head and preserved it by pickling it in spices until her own
death at the age of 39 in 1544. After her death her husband
William Roper took charge of the head, and it is buried with
William Roper ("son Roper," as he is referred to by Thomas
More) produced the first biography of the statesman/martyr, but
his homage to his father-in-law is not remembered as well as
Margaret's efforts at comforting and honoring More. In Alfred,
Lord Tennyson's Dream of Fair Women, he invokes Margaret Roper
("who clasped in her last trance/ Her murdered father's head")
as a paragon of loyalty and familial love.
She published a translation of a work by Erasmus, A Devout
Treatise upon the Paternoster. In a letter her father mentions
her poems, but none is extant.
In Robert Bolt's famous play A Man for All Seasons, Margaret
and Roper were major characters. In the 1966 film, she was
portrayed by Susannah York.