Vittoria della Rovere

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About Vittoria della Rovere

Vittoria della Rovere (7 February 1622 – 5 March 1694) was Grand Duchess of Tuscany as the wife of Grand Duke Ferdinando II and suo jure Duchess of Rovere and Montefeltro. She bore Ferdinando two children: Cosimo III, Tuscany's longest reigning monarch, and Francesco Maria de' Medici, a prince of the Church. Vittoria was the only child of Claudia de' Medici and Federico Ubaldo della Rovere, son of the then incumbent Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria II della Rovere.

Vittoria was supposed to inherit her grandfather's duchy, but Pope Urban VIII convinced Francesco Maria to resign it to the the Papacy.[1] Instead, she received the della Rovere allodial possessions, the Duchies of Rovere and Montefeltro, and art collection.[2]

When her elder son's wife, Marguerite Louise d'Orléans, abandoned Tuscany in 1675, Vittoria was made guardian of her children: Anna Maria Luisa, Ferdinando and Gian Gastone.[3]


The last descendant of the della Rovere family, Dukes of Urbino, she was born in Pesaro to Federico Ubaldo della Rovere and Claudia de' Medici, the daughter of Ferdinand I of Tuscany. She received a deep Catholic education.

Vittoria was betrothed to her cousin Ferdinando in 1623 and married in 1634. She was the potential heir to the duchy of Urbino when her grandfather, the duke Francesco Maria II della Rovere died.[1] However, the duchy was annexed to the Papal States by Pope Urban VIII. Regardless, in 1631, the Medici obtained the rich art collections of the family, now in the Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti.

After bearing two children who died early, disputes arose about the education of their son Cosimo (born in 1642), whom Ferdinando wanted educated in a modern secular fashion. In the end, Vittoria forced a strict Catholic education on the boy.[4] Shortly after the birth of Cosimo, the couple became estraged: Vittoria caught the Grand Duke and a page, Count Bruto della Molera, in bed together.[5] They briefly reconciled in 1659, which resulted in the birth of their last child, Francesco Maria, in 1660.[6] Ferdinando and Vittoria had, at best, an unhappy marriage and lived separately for many years.

Vittoria and Ferdinando II, by Justus Sustermans, ca 1660 (National Gallery, London)

Grand Duke Ferdinando died in 1670, Cosimo succeeded. Grand Duchess Marguerite-Louise and Vittoria vied with each other for power; the latter triumphed. Cosimo III assigned his mother the day to day administration of Tuscany.[7] And Vittoria was formally admitted into the Grand Duke’s Consulta (Privy Council).[8] Marguerite-Louise was embittered: she tiffed with Vittoria over precedence and the Consulta.[9] Cosimo was firmly camped on his mother’s side.[9] However, this only fueled the Grand Duchesses's rage.

When her elder son's wife, Marguerite-Louise d'Orléans, abandoned Tuscany in 1675, Vittoria was made guardian of her children: Anna Maria Luisa, Ferdinando and Gian Gastone.[3]

In her old age, she made long stays in the convent of the Montalve, known as Villa La Quiete, as well as in the Villa del Poggio Imperiale. She died in Pisa in 1694.

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Vittoria della Rovere's Timeline

February 7, 1622
August 14, 1642
Age 20
Firence, Granducato di Toscana
November 12, 1660
Age 38
Florence, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
March 5, 1694
Age 72