Montefeltro, Federigo da (1422–1482)

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Montefeltro, Federigo da (14221482)

The Duke of Urbino, a skilled condottiere, and a renowned patron of Renaissance art and scholarship. Born in the Umbrian hill town of Gubbio, an illegitimate son of Guidantonio da Montefeltro, the Duke of Spoleto and lord of Urbino, Federigo was raised in an aristocratic court and knighted by the Holy Roman Emperor at the age of fifteen. Soon afterward he became a condottiere, or captain of mercenaries. In 1444 he became the leader of Urbino after the assassination of his half brother, Oddantonio da Montefeltro. Federigo's great skill on the battlefield earned him a reputation all over Italy; he finally enlisted with the illustrious Sforza family, the rulers of Milan, and married a member of the Sforza clan. In the late 1450s he served Pope Pius II in the pope's campaign against Sigismondo Malatesta, defeating Malatesta at the Battle of Cesano in 1462. Montefeltro's loyalty was easily lost, however, as he soon turned against the pope to wrest control of the territory forfeited by Malatesta in the Marches region and the Adriatic port city of Rimini.

In Urbino, Montefeltro built a large library in his ducal palace and employed scribes and scholars. He created the finest collection of manuscripts in Italy, after that of the pope. Realizing that the duke made a much better ally than enemy, Pope Sixtus arranged the marriage of Giovanni della Rovere, his nephew, to Federigo's daughter, and bestowed the title of duke on Montefeltro. The pope hired him to captain the papal forces against the city of Florence, where Montefeltro allied with the Pazzi conspirators against the Medici. The failure of the plot to overthrow the Medici was a serious blow to the duke as well as the pope. In 1482, while besieging the city of Venice, Montefeltro died, leaving the duchy of Urbino to his son Guidobaldo, a sickly and ineffective ruler at whose death the duchy was seized by the Papacy.

See Also: Malatesta, Sigismondo Pandolfo

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Montefeltro, Federigo da (1422–1482)

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