Elisabetta Gonzaga (1471-1526) was a noblewoman of the Italian Renaissance, renowned for her cultured and virtuous life. A member of the House of Gonzaga, she was a sister of Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua and by marriage the Duchess of Urbino. Because her husband, Duke Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, was impotent, Elisabetta never had children of her own, but did adopt her husband's nephew and heir, Francesco Maria I della Rovere.
She married Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, the duke of Urbino, in 1489. Guidobaldo was sickly and impotent, and they had no children, but Elisabetta refused to divorce him and nursed him through his illnesses. After his death, Elisabetta refused to marry.
Elisabetta's education led her to a life in the company of some the greatest minds of late 15th century Italy. Her court attracted writers, artists, and scholars. Her nobility gave her contact and involvement in the power politics of 16th century Italy. She was the sister-in-law of Isabella d'Este, an influential Renaissance patron and political figure. Despite having poor health, Elisabetta was known to be a great horsewoman and would frequently attend hunts in the countryside around Urbino.
On 21 June 1502 Cesare Borgia occupied Urbino, putting to flight Guidobaldo and forcing Elisabetta to remain in Mantua, where she had been staying as a guest. She remained there until 1503 and then joined Guidobaldo in Venice. They were restored to power in 1504. Having no children they adopted in the same year Francesco Maria I della Rovere, the child of Guidobaldo's sister, who was then fourteen, to secure the succession.
On entering Ferrara she rode a black mule caparisoned in black velvet embroidered with woven gold,and wore a mantle of black velvet strewn with triangles of beaten gold; another day indoors she wore a mantle of brown velvet slashed, and caught up with chains of massive gold; another day a gown of black velvet striped with gold, with a jewelled necklace and diadem; and still another day, a black velvet robe embroidered with ciphers.
However, in June 1516 she was expelled from Urbino by Pope Leo X, who wanted to give the duchy to his nephew Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino (Lorenzo II di Piero, called "Lorenzino"). Together with her niece Eleonora Gonzaga and without a penny, they found refuge in Ferrara, where Elisabetta died in 1526.