Gonzaga, Ferdinando Carlo

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Personalities >> Gonzaga, Ferdinando Carlo

Mantua and Montferrat, Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga, Duke of

born 31 August 1652, Revere, Duchy of Mantua

died 5 July 1708, Padua, Republic of Venice


Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua - Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ferdinando Carlo was born in 1652. He was the only child of Duke Charles II of Mantua and Montferrat and Isabella Clara of Austria.

In 1665, Ferdinando Carlo became Duke of Mantua under the regency of his mother till 1670.

In 1671, the Duke of Mantua married Anna Isabella Gonzaga, daughter of the Duke of Guastalla.

On 8 December 1678, the Duke of Mantua concluded a secret alliance with France which was renewed in 1681, when he sold the Fortress of Casale to France. The same year, his wife inherited the Duchy of Guastalla.

On 12 August 1687, during the Great Turkish War (1683-1699), the Duke of Mantua was present at the Battle of Mohács but did not take part in combat. By 6 October, he was back to Mantua.

In 1688, the Duke of Mantua organised festivities for the carnival of Mantua before taking part in the Carnival of Venice. Assisted by French councillors, the duke also improved the fortifications of Guastalla with the secret intent to sell it to France.

In 1689, the Spanish governor of Milan, Antonio Lopez, visited Guastalla and ordered to dismantle the fortifications, appointing Vincenzo Gonzaga to do it.

In 1691, Spanish troops were sent to the Duchy of Mantua and the duke took refuge in the Republic of Venice, leaving his wife Anna Isabella behind to govern the duchy. She successfully negotiated the withdrawal of the Spanish forces.

In 1692, Emperor Leopold I revoked the inheritance of the Duchy of Guastalla which was transferred to Vincenzo Gonzaga.

In 1700, when Philip V inherited the crown of Spain, the Duke of Mantua was the sole prince of Italy to openly declare himself for the Bourbon.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713), the Duke of Mantua having aligned once more with France, Emperor Leopold I declared him a traitor. In mid-March 20 French and Spanish battalions were sent to the border of the duchies of Milan and Mantua. These battalions were soon authorised by the Duke of Mantua, in exchange of a sum of 2,000 pistoles, to occupy a few villages and castles along the Mincio. In the night of 4 to 5 April, the Comte de Tessé advanced troops in front of Mantua, as if he intended to invest the place. This gave to the Duke of Mantua a good pretext to open the doors of the city. By mid-June, Prince Eugène de Savoie, commanding the Imperialist army, intended to ravage the Duke of Mantua's private estates (sparing the possessions of the common people) to induce that prince to change sides. In mid-July, the French threw several battalions into Mantua, expecting a siege or a blockade. By the end of the year, Mantua was effectively under blockade.

In 1702, Prince Eugène maintained the blockade of Mantua till the end of July. On 12 July, the Duke of Mantua accompanied Vendôme to Cremona to pay homage to Philip V of Spain who had come to Italy to take command of the Franco-Spanish forces. The Duke of Mantua proposed his services to the king of Spain as volunteer in the Army of the Po.

In 1703, when Eugène invaded the Duchy of Mantua and prepared to lay siege to Mantua itself.

On 11 August 1703, Anna Isabella Gonzaga, Duchess of Mantua, died.

On 8 November 1704, the Duke of Mantua remarried with Suzanne Henriette of Lorraine, daughter of the Duke of Elbeuf.

In 1706, Prince Eugène successfully relieved Turin and seized control of the Po Valley.

On 13 March 1707, the French signed the Convention of Milan, surrendering northern Italy under the condition that their army could march safely back to France. The Duke of Mantua was now totally isolated. He flee to Casale, leaving once more the government of his duchy to his wife.

On 30 June 1708, the Imperial Diet of Regensburg charged the Duke of Mantua with felony and confiscated all his estates. Montferrat was ceded to the Duke of Savoy while the Habsburgs incorporated the Duchy of Mantua in their domain. The Duke of Mantua died a few days later on 5 July in the Palazzo Mocenigo Querini in Padua. He left no descendant.



N.B.: the texts on the period extending from 1700 to 1708 are mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.