della Scala, Beatrice (1340–1384)

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della Scala, Beatrice (1340–1384)

Italian noblewoman. Name variations: Regina della Scala; Regina Visconti. Born Beatrice Regina della Scala in 1340 in Vicenza; died in June 1384 in Milan; daughter of Mastino II della Scala, count of Verona; married Bernarbò or Bernabo Visconti, lord of Milan, in August 1350; children: Marco (d. 1382); Ludovico (d. 1404); Carlo (d. 1404); Thaddaea Visconti (d. 1381); Virida Visconti (c. 1354–1414); Catherine Visconti (c. 1360–1404); Rodolfo (d. 1389); Mastino (d. 1405); Agnes Visconti (c. 1365–1391); Valentina Visconti (d. 1393); Antonia Visconti; Maddalena Visconti (d. 1404); Elizabeth Visconti (d. 1432); Lucia Visconti; Anglesia Visconti .

Beatrice della Scala was born into the ruling family of Vicenza and Verona, the daughter of Count Mastino II of Verona. She was called Regina, the Latin word for queen, by her family because of her pride and assertiveness. As was usual for her time, Regina was married young, about age ten, though she did not live with her husband for several years. He was Bernabo Visconti, an Italian noble about 17 years her senior. The marriage was Count Mastino's attempt to secure the friendship of the powerful Visconti family, rulers of the Lombard region of northern Italy. His hopes were realized after 1354, when Bernabo became lord of Milan, making him one of the most powerful men in Italy.

Despite the difference in their ages, after Regina matured the marriage proved to be an excellent match. She had 15 children in their 34 years together. (Bernabo Visconti also boasted of at least 30 illegitimate children.) The couple shared similar interests in literature and the arts, and other characteristics as well. Like Bernabo, Regina was energetic, ambitious, and single-minded in her desire to create in Lombardy an ever larger and more prosperous state ruled by the Visconti. Regina contributed substantially to this common goal when, as Mastino's last surviving heir, she inherited Verona and Vicenza. The gain was not without a struggle, however; her illegitimate brothers claimed the cities for themselves and Regina and Bernabo were forced to attack and defeat them before adding the territories to the Visconti state.

There is considerable evidence of Bernabo's confidence in his young wife's administrative abilities. She advised him on matters of state, helped negotiate her children's marriages, and often accompanied him on his frequent military campaigns. Bernabo made her numerous land grants for her personal use and, in some cases, gave her authority over territories as well. One example is the territory of Reggio, which Bernabo acquired in 1371 and gave to Regina, who ruled it personally. She served as regent of Brescia for her son, and also ruled the cities of Parmigiana and Lunigiana. In addition, Regina sought to remedy the destruction of earlier warfare on the cities of Lombardy, and used her personal fortune to purchase and redevelop devastated areas, including reclaiming wastelands. She sought to help the poor in other ways as well, giving generously to charities and religious foundations in Milan.

Lady Regina died suddenly of a fever in June 1384 while preparing to join her husband on yet another campaign. She was 44 years old.

sources:

de Mesquita, D.M. Bueno. Giangaleazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1941.

Muir, Dorothy. A History of Milan Under the Visconti. London: Methuen, 1924.

Laura York , Riverside, California