Bianca Cappello, granducessa (1542 - 1587)

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Birthplace: Venice, Venice, Veneto, Italy
Death: Died in Poggio A Caiano, Prato, Tuscany, Italy
Managed by: Shmuel-Aharon Kam (Kahn) / (שמואל אהרן קם (קאן
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About Bianca Cappello, granducessa

Bianca Cappello (1548 – October 17, 1587) was an Italian noblewoman who was the mistress, and afterwards, the second wife of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.

She was born in Venice, in 1548, the daughter of Bartolomeo Cappello and Pellegrina Morosini, a member of one of the richest and noblest Venetian families, and was famed for her great beauty.

At the age of fifteen she fell in love with Pietro Bonaventuri, a young Florentine clerk in the firm of Salviati, and on November 28, 1563 escaped with him to Florence, where they were married. In 1564 she had a daughter named Virginia, or, according to other sources, Pellegrina. The Venetian government made every effort to have Bianca arrested and brought back; but the Grand Duke Cosimo de' Medici intervened in her favour and she was left unmolested.

A portrait of Bianca Capello.

However, she did not get on well with her husband's family, who were very poor and made her do menial work, until at last her beauty attracted Francesco, son of the grand duke. Although already married to Johanna of Austria (known as "Giovanna" in Italy), he seduced Bianca and gave her jewels, money and other presents. Bianca's husband was given court employment, and consoled himself with other ladies. In 1572 he was murdered in the streets of Florence in consequence of some amorous intrigue, though it is possible that Bianca and Francesco were involved.

On the death of Cosimo in 1574 Francesco succeeded to the grand duchy; he now installed Bianca in a fine palace close to his own and outraged his wife by flaunting his mistress before her. As Giovanna had borne Francesco only one son, Filippo (20 May 1577 - 29 March 1582) who died as a juvenile, and six daughters, of whom, only two lived to adulthood, Bianca was very anxious to present him with an heir, for otherwise her position would remain very insecure. In 1576 she gave birth to Don Antonio de' Medici (d. 1621), but he was not openly acknowledged as Francesco's heir until after Joanna's death, when the boy was about three years old.[1]

In 1578 Giovanna died; a few months later Francesco secretly married Bianca, and on June 10, 1579, the marriage was publicly announced. The Venetian government now put aside its resentment and was officially represented at the magnificent wedding festivities, for it saw in Bianca Cappello an instrument for cementing good relations with Tuscany. But the long expected heir failed to come, and Bianca realized that if her husband were to die before her she was lost, for his family, especially his brother Cardinal Ferdinand, hated her bitterly, as an adventuress and interloper.

In October 1587, at the Villa Medici in Poggio a Caiano, Francesco and Bianca died on the same day, possibly poisoned, or as some historians believe, from malarial fever. In 2006, forensic and toxicology experts at the University of Florence reported evidence of arsenic poisoning in a study published in the British Medical Journal.[2]

The biography of Bianca Cappello was exploited by Thomas Middleton for his tragedy Women Beware Women (published 1657).

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Bianca Cappello, granducessa's Timeline

1542
1542
Venice, Venice, Veneto, Italy
1563
1563
Age 21
1579
June 10, 1579
Age 37
Florence, Italy
1587
1587
Age 45
Poggio A Caiano, Prato, Tuscany, Italy
????
Grand Duchess