Margaret Paleologa

Margaret Paleologa
Portrait believed to depict Margherita Paleologo by Giulio Romano.jpg
Portrait by Giulio Romano believed to depict Margaret Paleologa, c.1531. The Royal Collection.
Marquise of Montferrat
Reign 1533–1536
Predecessor John Georg Palaiologos
Successor Federico II Gonzaga
Born (1510-08-11)11 August 1510
Casale Monferrato
Died 28 December 1566(1566-12-28) (aged 56)
Noble family Palaeologus-Montferrat
Spouse(s) Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Issue Francesco III Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Isabella Gonzaga
Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua
Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers
Federico Gonzaga (cardinal)
Father William IX of Montferrat
Mother Anne of Alençon

Margaret Palaeologa (Italian: Margherita Paleologa; 11 August 1510 in Casale Monferrato – 28 December 1566 in Mantua), was the ruling Marquise regnant of Montferrat in her own right between 1533 and 1536. She was also Duchess of Mantua by marriage to Federico II, Duke of Mantua. Margaret acted as the regent of the Duchy of Mantua twice during the minority of her sons: for her elder son Francesco III Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua in 1540-1549, and for her younger son Guglielmo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, between 1550 and 1556.

Early life

Margaret was born in Casale to William IX of Montferrat[1] and his wife Anne of Alençon.[2]

Margaret was the second of three children. Her elder sister was Maria Paleologa, who died when she was 21 years of age, and her younger brother was Boniface IV of Montferrat, who died when he was only 18 years of age.


In 1517, Margaret's elder sister, Maria, was betrothed to Federico II Gonzaga, son of Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este, who later became Marquis and Duke of Mantua. The marriage contract was annulled. Federico's attentions turned to Margaret. Having weighed up the various proposals for Margaret's hand, her mother Anne d'Alençon opted for the link with the House of Gonzaga and the marriage was concluded in October 1531.[3] The marriage lasted for nine years until Federico's death, at the age of 40. The couple's last child was born the year of his death.

In 1533, Margaret inherited the title Marquise of Montferrat from her uncle John George, Marquis of Montferrat. However, in practice her ream was under Spanish occupation at the time. In 1536, her husband was made ruling Marquis of Montferrat by right of his marriage to her.

Regent of Mantua

On Federico's death in 1540, their eldest son, Francesco became Duke of Mantua as well as Marquis of Montferrat. As Francesco was still only a minor aged eight, Margaret acted as his regent.

Margaret had her son married to Catherine, daughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary. Margaret had her second son, Guglielmo married to Catherine's younger sister, Eleanor. Francesco died one year after his marriage to Catherine in 1550, and no children were born to their union.

Margaret's second son Guglielmo then became Duke of Mantua. Margaret acted as his regent, with the help of her brother-in-law Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga. As regent, Margaret issued laws and regulations which benefitted the economy of Mantua by the establishment of businesses. She made improvements on the river harbour and had the fortifications and defense of the Duchy strengthened. In her foreign policy, she was Pro-Spanish, which caused the French king to occupy Montferrat in 1555 - it was to be held by France until the Treaty of Cambresis in 1559.

Her regency was terminated when her son came of age in 1556.

Margaret died in Mantua on 28 December 1566.

In 1574, Margaret's homeland of Montferrat became part of the Duchy of Mantua, after the death of Margaret's son. In Montferrat, Guglielmo was known as Guglielmo X.


Margaret and Federico had:



  1. ^ Bertelli 2001, p. 146.
  2. ^ Hickson 2016, p. ix.
  3. ^ Hickson 2016, p. 101.
  4. ^ a b c Antenhofer 2011, p. 67.
  5. ^ Commire & Klezmer 1999, p. 365.


  • Antenhofer, Christina (2011). "From Local "Signori" to European High Nobility: The Gonzaga Family Networks in the Fifteenth Century". In Johnson, Christopher H.; Teuscher, Simon; Sabean, David Warren; Trivellato, Francesca (eds.). Transregional and Transnational Families in Europe and Beyond: Experiences. Berghahn Books.
  • Bertelli, Sergio (2001). The King's Body: Sacred Rituals of Power in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Translated by Litchfield, R. Burr. Pennsylvania State University Press.
  • Commire, Anne; Klezmer, Deborah, eds. (1999). Women in World History. Gab–Harp. Yorkin Publications.
  • Hickson, Sally Anne (2016). Women, Art and Architectural Patronage in Renaissance Mantua: Matrons, Mystics, and Monasteries. Routledge.
Margaret Paleologa
Born: 11 August 1510 Died: 28 December 1566
Regnal titles
Preceded by Marchioness of Montferrat
Succeeded by