The House of Montefeltro

SEE ALSO Borgias Home Page I Powerful Renaissance Families I Historical Characters I Discussion Forum I Urbino

House of Montefeltro

During the Period 1267 to 1538

Montefeltro is the name of an historical Italian family who ruled Urbino and Rimini.

The family's reign began in 1267 when Buonconte I da Montefeltro was elected podestà of Urbino. He and his descendants were leaders of the Ghibellines of the Marche and the Romagna.

Bonconte was succeeded by Montefeltrano (1214-55), and Guido I (1255-1286 and 1293-1296), who was captain of Forlì during wars with the French and papal armies. Pope Boniface VIII absolved him from censures for his actions in those wars, and employed him against Palestrina and the Colonna.

Guido's successor, Federico I (1296-1322), increased his domains by taking Fano, Osimo, Recanati, Gubbio, Spoleto, and Assisi from the Holy See. He was murdered after levying high taxes, and Urbino fell under papal control. In 1323, however, Frederico's son Nolfo (1323-1359) was proclaimed lord of Urbino. In 1355, as a papal legate, Cardinal Albornoz, travelled through Italy restoring papal authority, Urbino once more came under the control of the Holy See. Nolfo's son Federico was left without any authority, but his son, Antonio (1377-1403), took advantage of the rebellion of the Marche and Umbria against the Holy See (1375) to restore his authority in Urbino.

Guidantonio (1403-1443), was appointed ruler of the Duchy of Spoleto by Pope Martin V (1419) and carried on the war against Braccio da Montone with varying fortune. His second wife was Caterina Colonna who bore him nine children. His son, Oddo Antonio, was assassinated after only a few months in power. Guidantonio's daughter Sveva (1434–1478) married Alessandro Sforza, Lord of Pesaro. The Urbinese then offered the lordship to Federico III (1444-1482), the illegitimate son of Guidantonio, a pupil of Vittorino da Feltre's school and a lover of art. Under him Urbino became a cultural centre of the Renaissance. He was implicated in the wars against Sigimondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Pope Innocent VIII, Rene of Anjou, and Florence. Pope Sixtus IV conferred on him the title of Duke of Urbino (1474).

Reverse of Portraits of Federico da Montefeltro and His Wife Battista Sforza

Piero della Francesca's Triumphs of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza, reverse of the double Portraits of the ducal pair.
Federico, whose second wife was Battista Sforza (daughter of Alessandra Sforza) was one of the most successful condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, and Lord of Urbino from 1444 (as Duke from 1474) until his death. In Urbino he commissioned the construction of a great library, perhaps the largest of Italy after the Vatican, with his own team of scribes in his scriptorium, and assembled around him a great humanistic court in one of the great architectural gems of the early Renaissance, the Ducal Palace of Urbino, designed by Luciano Laurana and Francesco di Giorgio Martini, and was one of the most famous patron of arts in the Italian Renaissance. The famous studiolo of Urbino housed the library, musical instruments, devices, and art masterpieces which were the envy of all Italy. Visit the Urbino page for images of the studiolo.

The Ducal Palace, Urbino
Ducal Palace, Urbino

Guidobaldo I (1492-1508) married Elisabetta Gonzaga, the sister of Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. Guidobaldo was impotent, and they had no children, but Elisabetta refused to divorce him. He fought as one of Pope Alexander VI's captains alongside the French troops of King Charles VIII of France during the latter's invasion of southern Italy; later, he was hired by the Republic of Venice against Charles. In 1496, while fighting for the Pope near Bracciano, Guidobaldo was taken prisoner by the Orsini and the Vitelli, being freed the following year. Guidobaldo was forced to flee Urbino in 1502 to escape the armies of Cesare Borgia, but returned after the death of Cesare's father, Alexander VI, in 1503. He adopted Francesco Maria della Rovere, his sister's child and nephew of Pope Julius II, thus uniting the seigniory of Senigallia with Urbino. He aided Julius II in reconquering the Romagna.

The court of Urbino was at that time one of the most refined and elegant in Italy. Many men of letters met there. The Italo-English historian Polydore Vergil may have worked in the service of Guidobaldo and Elisabetta as well as Baldassare Castiglione, the author of the book Il Cortigiano, which describes the court of Urbino.

Montefeltro Family Coat of Arms

House of Montefeltro
Coat of Arms

The House of Montefeltro - THE  BORGIAS   wiki

Federico da Montefeltro. Portrait by Piero della Francesca

Montefeltro Family Coat of Arms 1443

House of Montefeltro
Coat of Arms 1443

Federico da Montefeltro and His Son Guidobaldo

Federico and Guidobaldo
da Montefeltro c1474
Portrait by
Pedro Berruguete

Guidobaldo da Montefeltro (Raphael, 1506)

Guidobaldo da Montefeltro
Portrait by Raphael 1506

TItian's Portrait of Francesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino"

Francesco Maria della Rovere
Portrait by Titian

More pages