Gonzaga in Mantua , Monferrato since 1536 und Guastalla since 1539
Part 1
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
Part 2 (continuation page)
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
Ippolita Gonzaga (1535-1563)

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.     Ø 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 (Ø 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.

Uniface electrotype medal replica, model before 1478 by Pietro da Fano.     Ø 94 mm.
Hill 407; Armand I, 27.   Specimen in Museums Victoria, Australia.
The missing revers: NOLI·ME·TANGIERE - OPVS·PEIRI·DOMO·FANI  -  A naked child, seated, holding a bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right, turns his head towards a porcupine placed on the left.

Cast bronze medal 1475, by Bartolommeo Melioli.     Ø 78.5 mm, 112,47 g.
Hill (1930) 194; Armand I 80/2.   Specimen in The British Museum, London.

"Ludovico Gonzaga II marquess of Mantua. Illustration of precious blood (of Christ)"
Bust of Ludovico facing right with short hair. He is wearing mortier and armour, with cloak over left shoulder; breast plate adorned with Hydra (seven headed winged dragon); below, a helmet with round bowl adorned with a plant curved in a circle, on which sits a bird, to right of helmet, shield charged with Gonzaga arms; to left, another shield.

Ludovico in laureate helmet and armour, cloak over shoulders, left hand resting on shield, right hand holding a sword, seated right on a square seat (on side of which the Gonzaga hound, seated left, head reverted) before him stand Fides, pointing upwards with right hand, and Pallas, right hand holding spear and left arm resting on shield (charged with Medusa head) and holding helmet.
Exergue: ·MELIOLVS·SACRAVIT· / ·ANNO· / MCCCCLXXV   "Dedicated Melioli 1475"

Cast lead medal n. d. (1447-48), by Pisanello.     Ø 103 mm.
Hill (1930) p.11.36d; Armand I 4/11.   Specimen in The British Museum, London.

Obv.:   ·CAPTANEVS·ARMIGERORVSM - ·MARCHIO·MANTVE·ET·CET   "Captain of the Army of the Marches and Mantua"  -  Bust to the left between LVDOVI - CVS DE / GONZ - AGA
He has close-cropped hair and wearing plate-armour over his shirt of mail, on the shoulder plate is impressed the armourer's mark which is crowned.
Rev.:   OPVS·PISANI / PICTO / RIS   "Work Pisano, painter"  -  Ludovico is in full armour his visor is closed and has a globular crest, riding on horseback he is resting his baton on his right knee. Above is a radiant sun, to the right a flower on a stalk, with a stony plain.

Testone n.d. (ca.1460), Mantua.     Ø 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.

Ducato n. d., Mantua.     Ø 22 mm, 3,44 g.   CNI IV 230/3; Friedb.515.
Obv.:   ·LODOVIᗭVS·ᙏARChIO·ᙏANTVᗺ Z· - ᗺ·  -  Ludovico with sword and shield.
Rev.:   ·SAnᗭT - US· - GE - ORGIUS·  -  St. George on horseback pierces the dragon.

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.     Ø 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

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 (1474-1539) 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.

Cast bronze medal (before 1484), ascribed to Bartolommeo Melioli.    Ø 73 mm, 120 g.
Hill(1920)pl.VII,1; Armand 80/4; Kress 69.    Specimen displayed at Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Obv.:   Divus·FRANCISCVS·GONzaga·Divi·FREDerici·III·Marchionis·MANTVAE·Filius·SPES·PVBlica·
SALVSQue·Publica·REDIVIva    "The divine Francesco Gonzaga son of the divine Federico Marchese of Mantua; public hope and welfare renewed"   -   Effigy of the adolescent Francesco.
Rev.:   ADOLESCENTIA - E - AVGVSTAE   -   A woman, standing, turned to the right,
the right hand leaning on a pole, supporting a basket on the left hand; with feet between water and fire.
Ribbon with CAVTIVS "caution". Exergue: MELIOLVS DICAVIT.
The reverse express a desire for continued wise government after the premature death of the former Marchese.   Panofsky(1956, pp-22,n.20) identifies the figure as Health, holding a basket of medicines, indicating that the medal was made to commemorate the recovery of Francesco from a dangerous illness.
Bartolommeo Melioli (1448-1514) spent his career in Mantua as goldsmith, coin engraver and medaillist.

Cast bronze medal (1484 or after) by Gianfrancesco Ruberti.    Ø 51 mm, 53,1 g.
Armand I 81/1; Kress 71.    Specimen in the Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Obv.:   FRANCISCVS·MARCHIO·MANTVAE·IIII   -   bust left, breastplate with dove on a curling spray.
Rev.:   FAVEAT·FORtuna·VOTIS   "Fortune favors the votes"   -   battle-scene; under groundline: IOannis FRancisci RVBERTO OPVS; below weapons and armour, including a shield with EPO engraved on it.

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

1/2 Testone (before 1495), Mantua.     Ø 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.     Ø 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.     Ø 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.     Ø 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.

Quattrino (after 1497), Mantua.     Cu, Ø 15 mm, 164 g.   CNI IV 193/241; MIR 437; RM 21/28.
Legends and images as before.

Bronze medal c. 1495 by Sperandio of Mantua   on the battle at Fornovo in 1495.
Ø 95 mm, 284 g.   Armand I 69/23; Kress 131; Pollard 91.
Specimen in der National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Büste with plate-armour from the front, head with cap to the left.
Rev.:   OB RESTITVTAM ITALIÆ LIBERTATEM   "For the restoration of Italy's freedom"
The markgrave on horseback, turned to a page in front of him, behind him a group of riders and pedestrians. Below: OPVS·SPERANDEI

Cast lead medal n. d. (about 1495) by Bertolo Talpa (Bartolino Topina).     Ø 75 mm, 83,84 g.
Armand I 83/2; Hill (1930) 205; Börner 71; The Renaissance Portrait (2011) 91.

Bust left, bearded with long, wavy hair, cap with a flared edge.
Rev.:   VNIVERSAE ITALIAE LIBERATORI.   "Liberator of all Italy"
Rider to the right on a horse rising before the flames (coming from an earth gap), sword in hand, helmet with 3 large feathers and 2 long ribbons on the head; under the double floor line BERTVLVS - TALPA.
The rider is said to portray Francesco as Marcus Curtius, a legendary hero who in antique Rome jumped with horse and weapon into a deep crack in the earth - here represented by flames - in order to close this crack.
Compare the sharp specimen of the Coin Cabinet Berlin, exposed in the Bode-Museum.

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

Doppio ducato (after 1510), Mantua.     Ø 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.     Ø 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.     Æ Ø 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 Città 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, Ø 16 mm, 1,62 g.   CNI IV 255/189var; RM 21/27var.

Part 2 (continuation page)
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
Ippolita Gonzaga (1535-1563)

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
• Armand, Alfred: Les Médailleurs Italiens des quinzième et Seizièmme siècles. Vol.1, Paris 1883
• Kress: Renaissance Medals from the Samuel H.Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art. London 1967