Gonzaga in Mantua

- the translation should be improved -

Gonzaga in Mantua , Monferrato since 1536 und Guastalla since 1539 Gianfrancesco I Gonzaga, 1407-1444, Margrave since 1433
Ludovico II Gonzaga, 1444-1478
Federico I Gonzaga 1478-1484
Francesco II Gonzaga, Margrave of Mantua 1484-1519
Federico II Gonzaga, 1519-1540, Duke since 1530
Francesco III Gonzaga, 1540-1550
Guglielmo (William) Gonzaga, 1550-1587
Ferrante I Gonzaga, 1539-1557 Count of Guastalla

Mantua is situated in the Po-valley and was a buffer state between the powerful neighbors Milan, Venice, Ferrara, Parma and the Papal State. The dynasty of the Gonzaga emerged from the Gonzaga castle near Mantua. Ludovico I Gonzaga attained to power in Mantua in 1328 and was recognized as imperial vicar in 1329. As a result, the territory expanded. The Gonzaga were charged over the time to Counts (1382), Margraves (1433) and finally to Dukes of Mantua (1530). In 1536 they took over the Margravate Monferrato.

Map of Italy in 1499

Gianfrancesco I Gonzaga, 1407-1444
- 1433 first Margrave of Mantua -
Gianfrancesco I (*1394) served various states as condottiere - the Papal States (1412), the Malatesta (1417) and Venice (since 1432), where he ascended to 'generale capitano' (commander-in-chief). His alliance with Venice led Mantua win territory in the west. However, later territories were lost in the east, while being in service of the Visconti of Milan. Emperor Sigismund made him hereditary Margrave of Mantua in 1433 for a payment of 12000 florins and a promise of marriage.
Gianfrancesco I promoted the reputation of his family through his work as a patron. He took the humanist Vittorino da Feltre to the court as an educator of his children. He attracted artists such as Pisanello to Mantua, promoted the education of poor children and founded the first manufactory for tapestries in Italy. Gianfrancesco I made so Mantua to a leading city of the Renaissance.

Cast medal, about 1447 by Pisanello.     ō 96 mm   Kress 2.
Obv.:   IOHANES∑FRANCISCVS ∑DE∑GONZAGA∑ | ∑CAPITaneus∑MAXImus ∑ARMIGERORVM∑ | PRIMVS∑MARCHIO∑MANTVE∑   -   effigy with a tall hat to the left.
Rev.:   OPVS∑ PISANI PICTO RI S∑   "Work of the painter Pisano"
Gianfrancesco on horseback to the left, with high hat, sword and command staff. On the right a page
on horseback from behind. Left from the head an enigmatic symbol (door knocker or handle).
Compare with the piece in the Coin Cabinet Berlin.
This medal was probably ordered by his son and successor.
Much later Archduke Ferdinand commissioned a small painting for his portrait collection at Ambras Castle, which apparently bases on the medal.

None of his coins already bear his portrait.
Coat of arms: One of the first coins issued just after his elevation in 1433 is a Grosso (ō 25 mm, 2.4 g.), which presents for the first time the newly created coat of arms of the margravete of Mantua.
The original coat of arms of the Gonzaga was divided in alternating three golden and three black bars. Emperor Wenceslas (1378-1419), king of Bohemia, donated in 1394 the increase with the Bohemian lion (standing, crowned and double-skinned). The background coat of arms (cross with four eagles) was donated on the occasion of the elevation to the margravate (1433).
The take over of Monteferrato (1536) brought further coats of arms, see below.

Ludovico II Gonzaga, 1444-1478
- 2nd Margrave of Mantua -   - named "Luigi il Turco" -   - modern counting: Ludovico III -
Ludovico II (*1423) married Barbara of Brandenburg, a niece of Emperor Sigismund, on the occasion of Mantua's elevation to a Margravate in 1433. Ludovico was condottiere like his father and served different powers. Some of them were mutual enemies. When Ludovico entered Milan's services, but his father was in Venice services, a conflict erupted. After the father changed to Milan (1438), they were reconciled again (1441).
Ludovico succeeded his father Gianfrancesco as 2nd Margrave of Mantua in 1444. Through inheritance of his brothers and the high costs of war, the county was in economically bad shape. Mantua won reassert, as Pope Pius II called for a council to Mantua (1459-1460), to launch a crusade against the Turks as a late response to the fall of Constantinople. At the end of the Council, the Pope rose Ludovico's second son Francesco to a cardinal.
Ludovico committed the humanist author and architect Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) to Mantua. He also appointed Andrea Mantegna to the court artist and let him create the famous 'Camera degli Sposi' frescoed drawings (1465-1474) in the ducal Castello. Ludovico II is immortalized there together with his family on two frescoes.

Uniface bronze plaquette   by Pietro da Fano.     88,2 x 58,5 mm.   Hill 407; see Armand I, 27.
Bust left wearing flat cap and figured surcoat with jewel in front on cord; wo ornaments on the shoulder.
Revers: hollowed out impression of the obverse.
The missing legend of the round medal reads:

Testone n.d. (ca.1460), Mantua.     ō 25 mm, 6,52 g.   CNI IV 230/9 tav.20/4; RM II 7/2.
Obv.:   ∑LODOVICVS∑MANTVE∑MARCHIO∑II∑   "... 2nd Margrave of Mantua"
bust with laureated helmet to the left.

Rev.:   ∑:∑XPI∑SANGVINIS∑TABERNACVLVM   "Christ's blood in the Tabernacle"  -  ciborium.
The effigy of the ruler appears for the first time on a coin of Mantua.
Compare the detail 1 and the detail 2 of the two frescoes (1465-74) in the Camera degli Sposi,
Castello Palazzo Duccale, Mantua.

Ludovico II ordered Leon Battista Alberti to design and build the new
Basilica of Sant'Andrea as the repository for the Relic of the Holy Blood.

Federico I Gonzaga 1478-1484
- 3rd Margrave of Mantua -
Federico (*1441) served the Sforza in Milan as condottiero against Venice. 1478 he succeeded his father in Mantua, but had to cede land to his brothers. He married to Margaret of Bavaria. He was known for his affection for his children and kindness towards the court painter Mantegna, who more than any artist seemed to be a part of the family. The eldest son Francesco succeeded him, another son Sigismondo became Cardinal.

Ducato n. d., Mantua.     ō 24 mm, 3,44 g.   CNI IV 235/1 tav 20/14; RM 9/1; Friedb.517.
Vs.:   FEDERICVS∑MANTVE∑MARCHIO∑III∑   "... 3rd Margrave of Mantua"  -  bust to the left.
Rs.:   ∑:∑XPI∑IHESV∑SANGVINIS∑TABERN   "Christ's blood in the Tabernacle"  -  ciborium.

Compare the painting, Uffizi Gallery Florence, presented by wikimedia.org.

Francesco II Gonzaga, Margrave of Mantua 1484-1519
- 4th Margrave of Mantua -
Francesco (*1466) was a significant Condottiere, politician and patron in a time of great political unrest in Italy. As Condottiere he changed several times between Italian and French masters, but always was able to preserve the independence of Mantova.
Francesco married in 1490 Isabella d'Este from the house Este in Ferrara. Isabella was beautiful, intelligent and well educated. She represented her husband during his absence with diplomatic skills to the benefit of Mantua. When Francesco 1519 died of syphilis, Isabella served as regent for her son Federico II. In the time of Francesco and Isabella Mantua reached to a glittering highlight, in particular by Isabella's activities as patron. She was painted by artists such as Raphael, Andrea Mantegna, Titian and Leonardo da Vinci. Isabella knew best how to use art for the prestige for the house Gonzaga.

Ducato (before 1495), Mantua.     ō 23 mm, 3,56 g.   CNI IV 236/6; RM 11/3; Friedb.521.

1/2 Testone (before 1495), Mantua.     ō 25 mm, 3,87 g.   CNI IV 242/65; RM 17/17.
Obv.:   ∑FRANCISCVS∑MARchio∑MANTuae∑IIII   -   bust with beret to the left.
Rev.:   ✠∑XPI∑IHESV + SANGVINIS∑   -   as before; the central point does not belong to the picture.

Testone (before 1495), Mantua.     ō 28 mm, 9,58 g.   CNI IV 239/35var; RM 14/11; MIR 416.
Obv.:   FRANCISCVS∑MARchio∑MANuae∑IIII   -   MA ligated.   "... 4th margrave of Mantua"
Rev.:   + XPI + IHESV + SANGVINIS∑   "Christ Jesus blood"
Ciborium with blood of Christ, a motive intoduced by his grandfather Ludovico II.

The motive on the revers changed after the battle of Fornovo (1495):

Ducato (after 1497), Mantua.     ō 23 mm, 3,50 g.   CNI IV 235/13; RM 11/4; Friedb.520.
Legend and coin design like next Testone.

Testone (1497-1510), Mantua.     ō 28 mm, 9,66 g.   CNI IV 239/42; RM 14/12.
Obv.:   ∑FR MAR∑MANTVE∑IIII∑   -   bearded bust to the left.
Rev.:  (ciborium) Domine∑PROBASTI∑ME∑ET∑COGNOVIsti∑ME
"O Lord, you have proved me and approved"   -   a fire under a melting pot with a bundle of rods.
The revers presents a so-called 'impresa', that is a figure accompanied by a related motto.
The 'impresa' refers to the Battle of Fornovo (1495): Francesco wants
to depict his conduct as commander to be as pure as gold which melts in the crucible.
King Charles VIII had entered unhindered Italy to take Naples. Soon after his arrival there, a Holy League against him formed in Italy and he hurriedly retreated back. In the Battle of Fornovo (near Parma), the troops of the League, led by Francesco Gonzaga, wanted to defeat the French. Both sides declared themselves victors, although the outcome of the battle remained undecided, because Charles was able to continue his retreat, but had lost his entire Neapolitan loot to the looting mercenaries of the League. The looting of this treasure distracted the undisciplined soldiers of the League and prevented a complete victory. Rumors gave Francesco the blame. The devise (legend and image of the revers of the coin) argue against: Francesco's conscience is as pure as the gold melting in the crucible and is proved by God.
When King Louis XII invaded Italy for the second time in 1499, Federico moved to his side.

After his appointment as Gonfaloniere (1510), the coin design changed again:

Doppio ducato (after 1510), Mantua.     ō 28 mm, 6,80 g.   CNI IV 235/1; RM 10/1; Friedb.518.
Obv.:   FRancesco∑II∑MaRchio∑MANTVAE∑  -  bearded bust to the left.
Rev.:   S.R.E. - .CONF.  (Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Confalonierus)
"Gonfaloniere of the Holy Roman Church" (standard-bearer, a title which the pope could attribute to nobles).
Francesco received this title from Pope Julius II in 1510. The long center-piece mounted on Gonzagas coat-of-arms alludes to this title: Umbrella over the crossed keys Petris. The cross with the four eagles was donated by Emperor Sigismund in 1432 on the occasion of the elevation of Mantua to a margravate.

Testone (after 1510), Mantua.     ō 28 mm, 9,73 g.   CNI IV 238/27; RM 16/14.
Coin design as before. The legend differs at only one point.

Pattern for doppio testone.     ∆ ō 31 mm, 17,98 g.   CNI 238/24; RM 13/7; Armand II 99,3.
Obv.:  ∑ FRANCISCVS∑MAR∑MANTVE∑IIII∑   -   bearded bust to the left.
Rev.:   ∑DVINVM∑DARE HVMANVM∑ACCIP'   "divine is giving, human is to accept"
The Margrave on a podium distributs alms to bystanders. Exergue:

Compare with three portraits:
1. as child from Baldassare d'Este ca. 1474-80 (26◊21 cm), National Gallery of Art, Washington,
2. Terracotta-sculpture, 70 cm height, from Gian Cristoforo Romano, Museo della Cittŗ di Palazzo S. Sebastiano, Mantova,
3. later picture, according to Wikipedia at Uffizi and/or in the Ambras-Coll. of Archduke Ferdinand [1580-82, 13x10 cm], based on the sculpture?.

Even small currency carried the portrait of the ruler:

Quattrino, Mantua.    Copper, ō 16 mm, 1,62 g.   CNI IV 255/189var; RM 21/27var.

Federico II Gonzaga, 1519-1540 Margrave, since 1530 Duke of Mantua
- 5th Margrave of Mantua -   - first Duke of Mantua -
Federico (*1500) had to move to the French court as a guest and hostage in 1515, allowing his father to regain the favor of King Francis I. Federico became papal captain general and expelled the French out of Milan in 1521.
In order to win Monferrato for Mantua, Duke Federico II married the heiress of the Margravate, first Maria (1517), then her sister Margherita (1531), the last from the house of the Palaiologists. This marriage policy was successful: Emperor Charles V granted the margravate to Monferrato Federico II Gonzaga in 1536.
Federico commissioned the painter and architect Giulio Romano to build the Palazzo Te (1525-34), a pleasure seat for his constant mistress Isabella Boschetti. She could prevent the Federico's first marriage with Maria Palaiologos. Only after his death in 1540 did she withdraw.

1st period (1519-30): Federico II. Gonzaga as Margrave from Mantua

Doppio Ducato (before 1530), Mantua.     ō 26 mm, 6,83 g.   CNI IV 266/3; RM 22/2; Friedb.526.
Obv.:   ∑FEDERICVS∑II∑Marchio∑MANTVAE∑IIIII   -   head with short beard to the left.
Rev.:   FIDES over Mount Olympus with a way leading up in spiral,
on top an altar with a knotty branch, three oaks at the sides of the mountain.
A very rare variant of the coin carries under the mountain its name OΛYMΠOΣ (Olympos).
The revers depicts a so-called 'impresa, a figure with related motto.
Emperor Charles V dedicated this Impresa Federico II for his engagement in Milan 1521.
The mountain Olympus in Macedonia was considered in ancient times as the home of the gods. Just as Zeus stands above the other gods, the Emperor stands over the princes, including Federico Gonzaga. The motto 'FIDES' ("loyalty") signals the loyalty of Federico to the Emperor.

Compare the oil painting 1529 from Tizian (125x99 cm) Prado, Madrid.

Ducato n. d., Mantua.     ō 21 mm, 3,42 g.   CNI IV 267/17; RM 24/6; Friedb.525.
Obv.:   ∑FEDERICVS∑II∑M∑MANTVE∑IIIII   -   head with short beard to the left.
Rev.:   ∑SANCTA∑ - CATERINA   -   standing St. Catherine with palm branch and wheel in hands.

Mezzo testone leggero (before 1530), Mantua.     ō 26 mm, 3,01 g.   CNI IV 269/30; RM 27/14.
Obv.:   ∑FE∑II∑MAR∑MAN∑   -   head with short beard to the left.
Rev.:   ∑SANGVINIS - XPI∑IHESV     in exergue: MAN
Ciborium on the altar, on it: ∑S∑ / ANDR / EAS
The Basilica of Sant'Andrea in Mantua keeps the Relic of the Holy Blood.

Grossetto, Mantua.     ō 18 mm, 1,00 g.   CNI IV 273/68; RM 31/23; MIR 466.
Obv.:   FEDERICVS∑II∑M∑MAN∑V∑   -   head left.
Rev.:   HIC∑SANgius qui∑EXI - VIT ab∑Dextro∑LAtere∑XRIsti
"Here the blood that came from the right flank of Christ"
standing St Longinus with spear and ciborium.
The soldier Longino is said to have injured Christ at Golgotha. After his conversion he brought earth soaked with Christ's blood to Mantua. The hidden containers were rediscovered in 804 and a chapel was erected. A second discovery (It. Inventio) in 1048 connects to a redesign of the Monastery Sant'Andrea.

2nd period (1530-36): Federico II. Gonzaga as Duke of Mantua

Testone legero? n. d. (1530-36), Mantua.     ō 28 mm, 6,46 g.   CNI IV 282/156; RM 34/33.
with the most frequent motif on Gonzaga's coins: the ciborium (it . pisside),
here on a towel held by two hands; three drops of blood are visible in the vessel.

3rd period (1536-40): Federico II. additionally as Margrave of Monferrato

Scudo n. d. (1536-40), Mantua.     ō 39 mm, 25,70 g.   CNI IV 286/189; RM 37/42; Dav.8289,
the first thaler like coin from Mantua.

Obv.:  ∑FEDERICVS∑DVX∑MANTuae∑Et∑MARrchio∑MONTis∑Ferrato∑  -  bearded bust in armor to the left.
Rev.:   HIC∑EST∑VICTORIA∑MVNDI∑    "This is the winner of the world"
Crucified Christ between the Virgin Mary and St. John, on the ground a demon and a skeleton.

Francesco III Gonzaga, 1540-1550
- 2nd Duke of Mantua -
Francesco III (* 1533) assumed his heritage as a child under the regency of his mother Margherita Paleologa of Monferrato. Burdened with the demands of the side lines, the Gonzaga duchy fell back into insignificance. Francesco died without heirs, shortly after his marriage (1549) with Katharina of Austria, daughter of Charles's brother Ferdinand I. The duchy came to Francesco's younger brother Guglielmo. Another brother, Luigi (Ludovico) Gonzaga, married in the French aristocracy and became a patriarch of the Gonzaga-Nevers line, which replaced the extinct main line in the 17th century.

Testone legero, Mantua.     ō 31 mm, 5,98 g.   CNI IV 293/13; RM 40/3.
Obv.:   ∑FRAN∑DVX∑MAN∑II∑ET∑MAR∑MON∑F   -   youthful bust left.
"Francesco, 2nd Duke of Mantua and Margrave of Monferrato"

Rev.:   VIAS∑TVAS∑DOMINE∑DEMOSTRA∑MIHI   "Make known to me your ways, o Lord"
Archangel Raphael leads Tobias carrying a in his left a fish with curative properties.

Guglielmo (William) Gonzaga, 1550-1587
- 3rd Duke of Mantua -
Guglielmo (* 1538) succeeded his brother Francesco, who deceased childless in 1550, as Duke of Mantua and Margrave of Monferrato, first under his mother Margherita Paleologa as regent. The Margravate of Monferrato became a duchy in 1574. Guglielmo was interested in ecclesiastical music and corresponded with the composer Palestrina.
While Mantua coined only with Guglielmo's name, in Casale the coinage for Monferrato took place together with his mother until her death in 1566.

Lira 1575, Casale.     ō 34 mm, 12,45 g.   CNI II 148/27var; RM 52/19.
CNI knows only the dates 1567-70, 1572-74.
Obv.:   +GVLLIEL∑DVX∑MANT∑III∑ET∑MAR∑MONTIS∑FER   -   bust in armor to the left.
"William, 3rd Duke of Mantua and Margrave of Monferrato"

Rev.:   *CVIQVE* - * - *SVVM* / *15 - 75*   "To each his own"
Standing Justitia with sword and scales, underfoot a star.

The Margravate Monferrato was elevated tu Duchy in 1575.

Scudo of 120 soldi, Mantua.     ō 41 mm, 29,30 g.   CNI IV 310/98var; RM 48/10; Dav.8290.
Obv.:  ∑GVL∑D:G∑DVX∑MAN∑III∑ET∑MON FE∑I∑   "... 3rd Duke of Mantua and 1st Duke of Monferrato"
armored and draped bust with ruff to the right.

Ciborium on an altar between two angels. In the exergue: the value: ∑120∑.
The value of this scudo was 6 lire (lire = 20 soldi) or 120 soldi, the number in the exergue of the obverse.
A fixed value between two denominations is indicated on the coin for the first time.
That was foolhardy! - Because:
small coins (bad alloy) deteriorated in value more rapidly than current coins (good alloy).

1/2 Scudo of 60 soldi, Mantua.     ō 35 mm, ca.15,4 g.   CNI IV 310/100; RM 48/12; MIR 507.
Obv.:   ∑GVLIELMVS∑D G∑DVX∑MAN∑III∑   -   draped bust to the right.
Rev.:   ET∑MONTIS∑ - ∑FERRATI∑I∑   -   crowned shield, value at the bottom: 60.

Look at the painting spread by Wikipedia, without details.

Due doppie 1586, Casale (4 Ducats).   ō 33 mm, 13,22 g.   CNI II 156/99; RM 54/24; Friedb.179.
armored and draped bust to the right, ruff around the neck, lion head at the shoulder.
Crown with FIDES and mount Olymp on top of the shield in tendrils between 15-86, at the bottom 2 stars.
Legend over both sides: "... 3rd Duke of Mantua and 1st Duke of Monferrato"

Gonzagas coat of arms after the acquisition of Monteferrato in 1536:
1. The original coat of arms of Gonzaga consists of three black bars and three golden bars.
2. Emperor Wenceslas, king of Bohemia, donated in 1394 the increase with the Bohemian coat of arms, a standing crowned white lion in a red field.
3. Emperor Sigismund donated the red cross with four black eagles as a background coat of arms on the occasion of the elevation to the margravate (1433).
4. The acquisition of Monteferrato (1536) brought further coats of arms:
4a. The old coat of arms of Monteferrato: red bar over a white field.
4b. The Palaiologos (last imperial dynasty of the Byzantine Empire) contributions: Double Eagle of Byzantium, Cross of Jerusalem, 4 pales of Aragon, Saxony, Bar and Palaiologos Cross with 4 Bs in the angles.

Doppia n. d., Casale.     ō 28 mm, 6,61 g.   CNI II 157/105; RM 55/26; MIR 265/2.
Obv.:  GVL∑D∑G∑DVX∑MAN∑III∑ET∑MON∑FER∑I   -   effigy left, lion head at the shoulder.
Rev.:   Shield, mount Olymp, FIDES and crown as before.

Quattrino, Mantua.     Copper, ō 17 mm, 1,01 g.   CNI IV 314/133; RM 50/16; MIR 528/1.
The three balls in the ciborium represent three drops of blood of Christ.

Ferrante I Gonzaga, 1539-1557 Count of Guastalla
- 3rd son of Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este -   - brother of Federico II Gonzaga -
Ferrante Gonzaga (* 1507) served Charles V since his time as a page at the Spanish court. In 1527 he took part in the Sacco di Roma, in 1527 he became commander of the imperial army in Italy, in 1530 he participated at the coronation of Charles V in Bologna, and in 1531 he became knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece. On the orders of Charles, he fought against the Turks (Tunis, 1535, Algiers, 1543). He served Charles V as Viceroy of Sicily (1535-1546), was the governor of Milan (1546-1554) and went to the court of Henry VIII of England in 1543 as Charles' ambassador (under the designation PrŪncipe de Molfetta). In 1543 he accompanied the Emperor on the campaign against France, which ended with the peace of Crťpy (1544).
Ferrante Gonzaga married Isabella of Capua in 1529, daughter of Prince Ferdinand of Molfetta, who brought the fiefs Molfetta and Giovinazzo. In 1539 he bought the county of Guastalla, where a Gonzaga page line was created.
Ferrante Gonzaga was mortally wounded in the battle of St. Quentin being in the service of Philip II.

Medal, ca. 1555   from Leone Leoni.     ō 69 mm, 95,7 g.     BŲrner 747, Bernhart 163,6.
Obv.:   FERdinandus∑GONZaga∑PRAEFectus∑GALliae∑CISALpinae - TRIBunus∑MAXimus∑LEGGionum∑CAROLI∑V∑CAESaris∑AVGusti
"Ferdinand Gonzaga, prefect of Gallia Cisalpina and chief tribun of the legions of Emperor Charles V"
Bust in pomp harnish; the Order of the Golden Fleece at a ribbon on the breast.

Rev.:   TV NE CEDE MALIS    "But do not be afraid of evil"
Hercules kills two men with the club. The hydra to the right and a satyr tied to a tree on the left.
Ferrante Gonzaga ordered this medal after he had outlawed an accusation of embezzlement and corruption. Ferrante is designated on the medal with antique titles as governor of Milan and commander of the imperial troops. He is presented as Heracles struggling against the monster.
Compare with the painting from Cristofano dell'Altissimo made for the Uffizi before 1568,
as a copy from Paolo Giovio's picture gallery.
Look also at the Bronze sculpture "Victory over the Misfortune" from Leone Leoni, erected 1594
at the Piazza Mazzini in Guastalla.

Ref.:   [CNI and RM: page & no. e.g. 87/6 = p.87 no.6]
• Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI], vol.IV, look under Mantova   -   CNI-Index vol.IV
• Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI], vol.II, look under Casale (Monferrato)  -  CNI-Index vol.II
• Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI], vol.IX, look under Guastalla   -   CNI-Index vol.IX
• Ravegnani Morosini, Mario [RM]: Signorie e principati - monete italiane con ritratto, 1450-1796. 1984
    Gonzaga in Mantua, Monferrato (since 1536) & Guastalla (since 1539): vol.II, p.1ff