Ferrante I Gonzaga, conte di Guastalla

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Ferrante Gonzaga

Birthdate: (50)
Birthplace: Mantua, Province of Mantua, Lombardy, Italy
Death: November 15, 1557 (50)
Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Immediate Family:

Son of Francesco II Gonzaga, Marchese di Mantova and Isabella d'Este, Marchesa di Mantua
Husband of Isabella di Capua
Father of Césare Gonzaga; Ippolita Gonzaga; Francesco Gonzaga; Andrea Gonzaga; Gian Vincenzo Gonzaga and 1 other
Brother of Eleonora Ippolita Gonzaga; Federico II Gonzaga, duca di Mantova; Ippolita Gonzaga; Ercole Gonzaga and Livia Gonzaga

Managed by: George J. Homs
Last Updated:

About Ferrante I Gonzaga, conte di Guastalla

Marchese di Molfet e governatore di Milano



Ferrante I Gonzaga (also Ferdinando I Gonzaga; 28 January 1507- 15 November 1557) was an Italian condottiero, a member of the House of Gonzaga and the founder of the branch of the Gonzaga of Guastalla.


He was born in Mantua, the third son of Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este. At the age of sixteen he was sent to the court of Spain as a page to the future emperor Charles V, to whom Ferrante remained faithful for his whole life. In 1527 he took part in the Sack of Rome and attended Charles' triumphant coronation at Bologna in 1530: at the death of the conestable Charles of Bourbon (1527) he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Imperial army in Italy.

He defended Naples from the assault of the French troops under Odet of Foix, Viscount of Lautrec, and obtained the surrender of the Republic of Florence. For this feat Pope Clement VII, a member of the Medici who had been ousted from that city, named him papal governor of Benevento. Again for Charles V, he fought against the Turks at Tunis in 1535 and Algiers in 1543 with a contingent of 3,000 cavalry. He commanded the left wing of the Holy League fleet at the Battle of Preveza in 1538. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Preveza

He served Charles as Viceroy of Sicily (1535-1546), accompanying the Emperor to Germany in 1543 and fighting the resolute campaign that enforced the Treaty of Crépy. He then served as Governor of the Duchy of Milan (1546-1554).

In 1534 Ferrante married Isabella di Capua, who brought him the fiefdoms of Molfetta and Giovinazzo. In 1539 he bought the countship of Guastalla, on the left bank of the Po for 22,280 golden scudi from Countess Ludovica Torelli; it was in part a strategic purchase, for Guastalla lies near Ferrara, which Charles wished to take from the Este.

Ferrante's villa near Milan, La Gualtiera, is now known as La Simonetta. Ferrante rebuilt it in the 1550s, commissioning the services of the Tuscan architect Domenico Giuntallodi of Prato. Ferrante was a patron and protector of the sculptor and medallist Leone Leoni, who executed a bronze medal for him about 1555, with a reverse that depicts Hercules with upraised club besting the Nemean Lion and the legend TV NE CEDE MALIS, "You do not yield to evil", alluding to his acquittal after indictment for misappropriation of funds and corruption. His son Cesare commissioned from Leone a more public monument from Leone, a bronze Triumph of Ferrante Gonzaga over Envy, (1564), which stands in Piazza Roma, Guastalla. Like all the Gonzaga, Ferrante was a patron of tapestry-makers: a series Fructus Belli ("the Fruits of War") was woven for him, and a lighter series of Putti.

He died in Brussels from a fall from a horse and battle fatigue received at the Battle of St. Quentin. He was buried in the sacristy of the cathedral of Milan.

Ferrante was succeeded in Guastalla by his son Cesare.

He was the ambassador to Henry VIII of England.

Priory of Sion hoax

In conspiracy theories, Ferrante has been alleged to be the fourteenth Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, according to the Grand Masters version found in Dossiers Secrets d'Henri Lobineau.

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Ferrante I Gonzaga, conte di Guastalla's Timeline

January 28, 1507
Mantua, Province of Mantua, Lombardy, Italy
Age 22
June 17, 1535
Age 28
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
June 12, 1538
Age 31
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
September 9, 1539
Age 32
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
September 8, 1540
Age 33
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
May 10, 1543
Age 36
November 15, 1557
Age 50
Brussels, Brussels, Belgium