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Charles II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat

Charles II Gonzaga
Portrait of Duke Charles II
Duke of Mantua and Montferrat
Reign22 September 1637 - 14 August 1665
PredecessorCharles I Gonzaga
SuccessorFerdinand Charles Gonzaga
Born3 October 1629 (1629-10-03)
Mantua, Duchy of Mantua
Died14 August 1665 (1665-08-15) (aged 35)
Mantua, Duchy of Mantua
Santuario di Santa Maria delle Grazie, Curtatone[1]
(m. 1649; died 1665)
IssueFerdinand Charles, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat
FatherCharles of Gonzaga-Nevers
MotherMaria Gonzaga

Charles II Gonzaga (31 October 1629 – 14 August 1665) was the son of Charles of Gonzaga-Nevers (d. 1631) of Rethel, Nevers, Mantua, and Montferrat; and Maria Gonzaga. He followed his grandfather Charles I, Duke of Mantua, in 1637 as ruler of these lands, the first ten years under regency of his mother Duchess Maria. On 22 March 1657, Charles II receives the appointment as Imperial Vicar in Italy. Charles sold the Duchies of Nevers and Rethel in 1659 to Cardinal Jules Mazarin,[2] the de facto Regent of France, and they became part of France.

On 7 November 1649, Charles II married Isabella Clara of Austria (12 August 1629 – 24 February 1685), a daughter of Leopold V, Archduke of Austria, and thus into the imperial family. The marriage was an act of diplomacy and they had only one child, his successor Ferdinand Charles, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat (1652–1708). The relationship between husband and wife effectively ended, and Charles continued a relationship with a noblewoman Margherita della Rovere, and also had affairs with men including the castrato Atto Melani.[3] In his book, The Last Medici, Harold Acton records that his death occurred in the midst of lascivious intercourse.[4]

Charles tried to revive the tradition of his family as patrons of the arts and to rebuild his family's art collection, which had been largely sold off by his forebears. In 1657, he appointed the Flemish painter and printmaker Daniel van den Dyck as his official court painter, architect, surveyor of his building program and engineer for stage designs for the theatre. After van den Dyck's death, he appointed on 4 April 1663 another Flemish painter called Frans Geffels as his new court painter.[5]




  1. ^ Royal Tombs
  2. ^ Condren 2021, p. 68.
  3. ^ Roger Freitas, The Eroticism of Emasculation: Confronting the Baroque Body of the Castrato, The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 20, No. 2. (Spring, 2003), pp. 196–249.
  4. ^ Acton, Harold. The Last Medici. p. 84.
  5. ^ Anne-Marie Logan, 'Daniel van den Dyck (Daniel Vandich)', Wallraf-Richartz Jahrbuch 55 (1994), p. 95-104


  • Condren, John (2021). "The role of women in Louis XIV's relationship with the Gonzaga-Nevers di Mantova between 1665 and 1691". In Anderson, Roberta; Santaliestra, Laura Oliván; Suner, Suna (eds.). Gender and Diplomacy: Women and Men in European Embassies from the 15th to the 18th century. Hollitzer Verlag.

Regnal titles Preceded byCharles I Duke of Mantua and Montferrat 1637–1665 Succeeded byFerdinand Charles
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Charles II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat
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