Gonzaga, Eleonora (1493–1543).

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Gonzaga, Eleonora (1493–1543).

Duchess of Urbino. Name variations: Leonora Gonzaga; Eleanora Gonzaga della Rovere; Eleonora della Rovere. Born Dec 1493 in Mantua, Italy; died in 1543 in Gubbio, Italy; dau. of Isabella d'Este (1474–1539) and Francesco also known as Gian Francesco Gonzaga (1466–1519), 4th marquis of Mantua (r. 1484–1519); niece of Elisabetta Montefeltro; m. Francesco Maria della Rovere (nephew of Pope Julius II), duke of Urbino (r. 1508–1538), in Mar 1509; children: Federico (b. 1511); Guidobaldo (b. 1514), duke of Urbino; Ippolita (c. 1516); Guilia; Elisabetta; Guilio (b. 1535), later Cardinal of San Pietro.

At 15, married Francesco, the 16-year old duke of Urbino; formed a close bond with dowager duchess, Elisabetta Montefeltro; because husband, captain in the papal armies, was often absent from Urbino, administered the duchy for many of years with Elisabetta; when husband refused to lead an army in Pope Leo X's invasion of France (1515), had to flee with him to Mantua; appealed to parents to intercede with Leo, but efforts were in vain; with husband, became rulers in exile; when Leo died and was replaced by Hadrian VI, was restored with husband to duchy (1523); with Elisabetta, returned to previous obligations of administration and also undertook the massive rebuilding of Urbino and surrounding towns needed after the destructive wars; also supervised the building of the palatial Villa Imperiale in Pesaro; with husband, was a liberal patron of major artists, including Titian, and encouraged the founding of Urbino's majolica industry (decorative enameled pottery); also continued Elisabetta's patronage of Baldassare Castiglione, author of Book of the Courtier (1528), which includes descriptions of the beautiful, intelligent, and gracious duchess, and the elegance and learning celebrated in the court of Urbino under Francesco and Eleonora.

See also Women in World History.

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Gonzaga, Eleonora (1493–1543).

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