AskDefine | Define mantua

Dictionary Definition

mantua n : loose gown of the 17th and 18th centuries

User Contributed Dictionary



Mantua, from Etruscan *𐌌𐌀𐌍𐌈𐌅𐌀 (manθva) — compare 𐌌𐌀𐌍𐌈𐌅𐌀𐌕𐌄 (manθvate), Mantuan, after Mantus, a Latin name for the god of the underworld.

Proper noun

  1. Province of Lombardy, Italy.
  2. City and capital of Mantua.
    —He and I / Will watch thy waking, and that very night / Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua. — Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare




Proper noun

  1. Mantua (city)

Extensive Definition

Mantua (, in the local dialect of Lombard language Mantua) is a city in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name.
Mantua is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes created during the 12th century. These receive the waters from the Mincio, which descend from Lake Garda. The three lakes are called Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo, and Lago Inferiore ("Superior", "Middle," and "Inferior" Lakes). A fourth lake, Lake Pajolo, which once completed a defensive water ring of the city, dried up at the end of the 18th century.
Mantua is mentioned in William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet. In this Romeo is sent into exile for killing Tybalt Capulet in a swordfight. Romeo subsequently leaves Mantua and returns to Verona when he hears his love, Juliet, has died.


The city was founded, probably around 2000 BC , on the banks of the Mincio, on a sort of island which provided natural protection. In the 6th century BC it was an Etruscan village which, in Etruscan tradition, was re-founded by Ocno. The name derives from the Etruscan god Mantus, of Hades. After being conquered by the Cenomani, a Gallic tribe, the city was conquered by the Romans between the first and second Punic wars, confusing its name with Manto, a daughter of Tyresia (Tiresias). The new territory was populated by veteran soldiers of Augustus. Mantua's most famous ancient citizen is the poet Publius Virgilius Maro, Virgil (Mantua me genuit), who was born near the city in 70 BC .
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Mantua was invaded in turn by Byzantines, Longobards and Franks. In the 11th century it became a possession of Boniface of Canossa, marquis of Toscana. The last ruler of the family was the countess Matilda of Canossa (d. 1115), who, according to legend, ordered the construction of the precious Rotonda di San Lorenzo (1082).
After the death of Matilde of Canossa, Mantua became a free commune, and strenuously defended itself from the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1198 Alberto Pitentino optimised the course of the Mincio, creating what Mantuans call "the four lakes" to reinforce the city's natural protection. Between 1215 and 1216 the city was under the podesteria of the Guelph Rambertino Buvalelli.
During the struggle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, Pinamonte Bonacolsi took advantage of the chaotic situation to seize power in 1273. His family ruled Mantua for the next century, making it more prosperous and artistically beautiful. On August 16, 1328, the last Bonacolsi, Rinaldo, was overthrown in a revolt backed by the House of Gonzaga, a family of officials. Luigi Gonzaga, who had been podestà of the city in 1318, was elected "People's Captain". The Gonzaga built new walls with five gates and renovated the architecture of the city in the 14th century, but the political situation in the city did not settle until the third Gonzaga, Ludovico I Gonzaga, eliminated his relatives, seizing power for himself.
Through a payment of 120,000 golden florins in 1433, Gianfrancesco I was appointed marquis of Mantua by Emperor Sigismund, whose daughter Barbara of Brandenburg he married. In 1459 Pope Pius II held a diet in Mantua to proclaim a crusade against the Turks. Under Francesco II the famous Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna worked in Mantua as court painter, producing some of his most outstanding works.
The first duke of Mantova was Federico II Gonzaga, who acquired the title from Emperor Charles V in 1530. Federico commissioned Giulio Romano to build the famous Palazzo Te, on the periphery of the city, and profoundly improved the urbanistic asset of the city. About Mantua, the poet Torquato Tasso in 1586 wrote: This is a very beautiful city and one worth travelling a thousand miles to see.
In 1624 Francesco IV moved the ducal seat to a new residence, the Villa della Favorita, designed by the architect Nicolò Sebregondi.
In 1627, the direct line of the Gonzaga family came to an end with the vicious and weak Vincenzo II, and the town slowly declined under the new rulers, the Gonzaga-Nevers, a cadet French branch of the family. The War of the Mantuan Succession broke out, and in 1630 an Imperial army of 36,000 Landsknecht mercenaries besieged Mantua, bringing the plague with them. Mantua never recovered from this disaster. Ferdinand Carlo IV, an inept ruler whose only aim was to hold parties and theatrical representations, allied with France in the Spanish Succession War. After the latter's defeat, he took refuge in Venice, carrying with him a thousand pictures. At his death, in 1708, he was declared deposed and his family lost Mantua forever in favour of the Habsburgs of Austria.
Under Austrian rule, Mantua enjoyed a revival, and during this period the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts, the Scientific Theatre, and numerous Palaces were built.
On June 4 1796, during the Napoleonic Wars, Mantua was besieged by Napoleon as a move against Austria, who joined the First Coalition. Austrian and Russian attempts to break the siege failed, but spread the French thin enough to abandon the siege on 31 July to fight other battles. The siege resumed on August 24. In early February the city surrendered and the region came under French administration. In the year 1810 by Porta Giulia, a gate of the town at Borgo di Porto (Cittadella), Andreas Hofer was shot; he had led the insurrection of the Tyrol against Napoleon.
After the brief French rule, Mantua returned to Austria in 1814, becoming one of the Quadrilatero fortress cities in northern Italy. Agitation against Austria culminated in a revolt which lasted from 1851 to 1855, and was finally suppressed by the Austrian army. One of the most famous episodes of Italian Risorgimento took place in the small valley of Belfiore, when a group of rebels was hanged by the Austrians.
In 1866, Mantua was incorporated in united Italy by the king of Sardinia.
See also:

Main sights

The Gonzaga protected art and culture, and hosted several important artists like Leone Battista Alberti, Andrea Mantegna, Giulio Romano, Donatello, Luca Fancelli and Nicolò Sebregondi. Though many of the masterworks have been dispersed, the cultural value of Mantua is nonetheless outstanding. Many monuments furnish examples of unique patrimony in patrician buildings and Italian architecture.
Main monuments include:


à, Mantua.


Mantua lies across the Milan-Codogno-Cremona-Mantova. By car, it can be reached through the A4 (Milan-Venice) Highway to Verona, and from there Highway A22 (Brennero-Modena). Otherwise, through the State road 415 (Milan-Cremona) to Cremona, and from there State road 10 (Cremona-Mantova).
The closest airport is Verona-Villafranca.


Famous citizens

External links


mantua in Arabic: مانتوفا
mantua in Aragonese: Mantova
mantua in Breton: Mantova
mantua in Catalan: Màntua
mantua in Czech: Mantova
mantua in Corsican: Mantova
mantua in Danish: Mantova
mantua in German: Mantua
mantua in Estonian: Mantova
mantua in Spanish: Mantua
mantua in Esperanto: Mantovo
mantua in French: Mantoue
mantua in Indonesian: Mantova
mantua in Italian: Mantova
mantua in Latin: Mantua
mantua in Lombard: Mantua
mantua in Hungarian: Mantova
mantua in Dutch: Mantua (stad)
mantua in Japanese: マントヴァ
mantua in Neapolitan: Mantova
mantua in Norwegian: Mantova
mantua in Norwegian Nynorsk: Mantova
mantua in Piemontese: Màntoa
mantua in Polish: Mantua
mantua in Portuguese: Mântua
mantua in Romanian: Mantova
mantua in Russian: Мантуя
mantua in Simple English: Mantua
mantua in Serbian: Мантова
mantua in Serbo-Croatian: Mantova
mantua in Finnish: Mantova
mantua in Swedish: Mantua
mantua in Tagalog: Lungsod ng Mantova
mantua in Turkish: Mantua
mantua in Venetian: Mantova
mantua in Volapük: Mantova
mantua in Chinese: 曼切華
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