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Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers

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Louis Gonzaga
jure uxoris Duke of Nevers
Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers, by Thomas de Leu
Born18 September 1539
Died23 October 1595(1595-10-23) (aged 56)
Noble familyHouse of Gonzaga
Spouse(s)Henriette of Cleves
  • Catherine, Duchess of Longueville
  • Marie Henriette, Duchess of Mayenne
  • Frederic Gonzaga
  • Francois Gonzaga
  • Charles I, Duke of Mantua
FatherFrederick II Gonzaga
MotherMargaret Palaeologina

Louis Gonzaga, Duke of Nevers (Italian: Ludovico or Luigi di Gonzaga-Nevers; 18 September 1539 – 23 October 1595) was an Italian-French soldier, dignitary and diplomat in France.

Early life

Born in Mantua, he was the third child of Frederick II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and Margaret Palaeologina.[1] At the age of 10 he was sent to Paris to inherit the assets left by his grandmother, Anne d'Alençon, widow of Marquess William IX of Montferrat. He entered Henry II of France's army and fought in the battle of St. Quentin (1557), where he was taken prisoner by the Spanish.[2]

Marriage and townhouse in Paris

Louis de Nevers and his spouse
Louis de Nevers and his spouse

On 4 March 1565 Louis Gonzaga married Henriette of Cleves, heiress to the Duchies of Nevers and Rethel.[3] Thereafter he was known as the Duke of Nevers.[3] Their son Charles became duke of Mantua in 1627, establishing the Gonzaga-Nevers line. Charles' grandson, Charles II, Duke of Mantua and Montferrat, sold the titles of Nevers and Rethel to Cardinal Mazarin in 1659.[4]

Louis, Duke of Nevers, and his wife had five children:

In 1572 Nevers purchased from the French king, Charles IX, the Grand Nesle, an old townhouse located just east of the Tour de Nesle on the Left Bank of Paris. Nevers had it reconstructed, after which it became known as the Hôtel de Nevers.[6] Although it was never completed, it was greatly admired by contemporaries. Nevers' secretary, Blaise de Vigenère, a distinguished antiquarian and art historian, wrote that the house had a vault, built by Italian workmen, which was more grand than the one at the Baths of Caracalla. Although De Vigenère likely overstated the size, it must have been very impressive and was an architectural feature that was new to Paris.[7]

Later life

Nevers became one of the important patrons of the arts and sciences in 16th-century France.[7] He fostered faience production in the Duchy of Nevers, beginning in 1588 under the Italian masters, the brothers Augustin Conrade, Baptiste Conrade, and Dominique Conrade from Albisola, and Giulio Gambin, who had worked in Lyon.[8]

Nevers is also considered by many historians as one of the courtiers most responsible for the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572.[9]

He died at Nesle in 1595.



  1. ^ Ward, Prothero & Leathes 1911, p. 75.
  2. ^ Oman 1937, p. 263-264.
  3. ^ a b Boltanski 2006, pp. 25–77.
  4. ^ NEVERS and the Counts of Nevers.
  5. ^ a b c Boltanski 2006, p. 501.
  6. ^ Braham and Smith 1973, p. 238.
  7. ^ a b Thomson 1984, p. 137.
  8. ^ Riccardi-Cubit 1996, p. 604.
  9. ^ Holt 2002, p. 20.


  • Boltanski, Ariane (2006). Les ducs de Nevers et l'État royal: genèse d'un compromis (ca 1550 - ca 1600) (in French). Librairie Droz.
  • Braham, Allan; Smith, Peter (1973). François Mansart. London: A. Zwemmer. ISBN 9780302022511.
  • Holt, Mack P. (2002). The Duke of Anjou and the Politique Struggle During the Wars of Religion. Cambridge University Press.
  • Oman, Charles (1937). A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century. Metheun.
  • Riccardi-Cubit, Monique (1996). "France, VII, 1(i)(a): Pottery, before 1600: Lead-glazed", vol. 11, pp. 603–607, in The Dictionary of Art, 34 volumes, edited by Jane Turner. New York: Grove. ISBN 9781884446009.
  • Thomson, David (1984). Renaissance Paris: Architecture and Growth 1475–1600. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0520053478.
  • Ward, A.W.; Prothero, G.W.; Leathes, Stanley, eds. (1911). The Cambridge Modern History. XIII. The Macmillan Company.
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