Clara Gonzaga

Clara Gonzaga
Countess of Montpensier
Dauphine of Auvergne
Duchess of Sessa

Medal portrait of Clara Gonzaga by Bartolomeo Melioli
Spouse(s) Gilbert, Count of Montpensier


Noble family House of Gonzaga
Father Federico I Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua
Mother Margaret of Bavaria
Born (1464-07-01)1 July 1464
Mantua, Italy
Died 2 June 1503(1503-06-02) (aged 38)

Clara Gonzaga, Countess of Montpensier, Dauphine of Auvergne, Duchess of Sessa (1 July 1464 – 2 June 1503)[1] was an Italian noblewoman of the House of Gonzaga. She was the daughter of Federico I Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and the wife of Gilbert, Count of Montpensier.

One of her six children was Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, who led the Imperial Army sent by Emperor Charles V against Pope Clement VII in what became the Sack of Rome, and where he was subsequently killed.

Clara is one of the characters in the Heptameron, which was written by Marguerite of Angouleme, sister of King Francis I of France.


Clara was born in Mantua on 1 July 1464, the eldest daughter of Federico I Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and Margaret of Bavaria (1 January 1442 – 14 October 1479). She had five siblings including Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua whose wife was the celebrated Isabella d'Este.

Clara's paternal grandparents were Ludovico III Gonzaga and Barbara of Brandenburg; and her maternal grandparents were Albert III, Duke of Bavaria and Anna of Brunswick-Grubenhagen-Einbeck, daughter of Duke Erich I of Brunswick-Salzderhelden and Elisabeth of Brunswick-Göttingen.

Marriage and issue

On 24 February 1482, in Mantua, at the age of seventeen, Clara married Gilbert of Bourbon-Montpensier, who in 1486 succeeded his father as Count of Montpensier and Dauphin of Auvergne. He was also Viceroy of Naples (1495), and the Duke of Sessa. He was the son of Louis I, Count of Montpensier and Joan, Dauphine of Auvergne. The marriage had been arranged by Clara's uncle Francesco Secco of Aragon who accompanied the newly-wed couple from Mantua to Milan on their lengthy journey to their home in France.

Gilbert and Clara had six children:

Widowhood and death

On 15 October 1496, in Pozzuoli, Italy, Clara's husband Gilbert (who had been the Viceroy of Naples since 1495), died of a fever, leaving her a widow at the age of thirty-two.

In 1499, Clara acted as mediator on behalf of her brother Francesco, who sought to form an alliance with King Louis XII of France in order to protect Mantua, which was then being threatened by both Cesare Borgia and the Doge of Venice.[3]

She maintained a correspondence with her sister-in-law, Isabella d'Este.[4]

Clara died on 2 June 1503. She was not quite thirty-nine years old. She was buried at the Chapelle Saint-Louis in the church of Aigueperse in Auvergne.[1]


Her many descendants included Louise Juliana of Nassau, King Louis XV of France, Marie Antoinette, Franz Josef I of Austria, and the British ruling houses since 1714 (Hanover, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Windsor).

Clara Gonzaga appears as a character in Marguerite of Angoulême's book, the Heptameron.[5]


  1. 1 2 3 Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Dukes of Bourbon
  2. Francis Hackett: Francis The First, p. 236
  3. George R. Marek: The Bed and the Throne: the Life of Isabella D'Este, p. 77, Harper & Row, 1976, ISBN 978-0-06-012810-4
  4. George R. Marek: The Bed and the Throne: the Life of Isabella D'Este, p. 82, Harper & Row, 1976
  5. Francis Hackett: Francis The First, p. 63
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/21/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.