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Bianca of Savoy

Bianca
Lady of Milan
Tenure 1350–1378
Spouse Galeazzo II Visconti
Issue
Gian Galeazzo Visconti
Maria Visconti
Violante Visconti
Full name
Bianca Marie di Savoia
House House of Savoy (by birth)
House of Visconti (by marriage)
Father Aimone, Count of Savoy
Mother Yolande Palaeologina of Montferrat
Born 1335
Died 31 December 1387
Pavia

Bianca of Savoy (1335 – Pavia, 31 December 1387) was the only surviving daughter of Aimone, Count of Savoy and his wife Yolande Palaeologina of Montferrat. Bianca was Lady of Milan by her marriage to Galeazzo II Visconti.

Early life

Bianca was the second of five children born to Count Aimone and Yolande, herself the daughter of Theodore I, Marquess of Montferrat (1291–1338) and Genoese noblewoman Argentina Hispanola.

When Bianca was six years old she lost her mother Yolande, who died giving birth on 24 December 1342 to her younger brother Louis, who died in childhood. Six months later on 22 June 1343 her father, Aimone died.

Bianca was raised in the Castle[1] of the Counts of Savoy on the shores of Lake Bourget. In 1345 tragedy struck when Bianca's younger brother John died. This left only one son and heir to Savoy, Bianca's older brother Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy. The period was marked by the devastating epidemic of the Black Death that killed off much of the population of Europe between 1347 and 1350.

Marriage

In an attempt to curb the expansionist policies of Bianca's uncle John II, Marquess of Montferrat, an alliance was established on the 22 October 1349 between Savoy, governed by Amadeus III of Geneva and Louis II of Vaud with Giovanni Visconti of Milan. In the agreements, a marriage was arranged between Bianca and Giovanni's nephew Galeazzo II Visconti.[2]

On 28 September 1350 at Rivoli, Bianca and Galeazzo were married, he was sixteen years her senior.

Only weeks after the marriage in October 1350, Galeazzo was asked by his uncle to seize the city of Bologna but his fragile health forced him to leave the conquest.

After moving to Bologna in 1351 their first child was born, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, then in 1352 a daughter, Maria (who died aged ten in April 1362)[3] and then another daughter Violante in 1354.

In 1360 Galeazzo was appointed Imperial vicar by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Pavia fell under the domination of the Visconti family.

Bianca followed her husband here who built the Visconti Castle where she educated, availed herself of illustrious friends, including Francesco Petrarca founder of the Library Visconti, which brought the first copies of Divine Comedy.

Bianca and Galeazzo had three children:

  1. Gian Galeazzo (November 1351 – 3 September 1402), succeeded his father as Lord of Milan. Married firstly to Isabella of France and secondly to Caterina Visconti.[4]
  2. Maria (1352 – April 1362), betrothed with the future Secondotto, Marquess of Montferrat with Asti as her dowry; she died before the wedding took place.
  3. Violante (1354 – November 1386), married firstly to Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, secondly to Secondotto, Marquess of Montferrat and thirdly to Lodovico Visconti.

When war broke out between Milan and her uncle John II, on the side of the latter was Bianca's brother, Count Amadeus VI. Bianca tried to whatever means to avert quarrels between him and her husband. The conflict ended with a dedication by John II in occupied areas of Lombardy and Piedmont.

Later life

When the state of her husband's health deteriorated, the couple relocated to Cortenova. Galeazzo died in 1378. Bianca founded the Franciscan Monastery Cortenova dedicated to St. Clare of Assisi. In the last years of life, Bianca spent time raising her granddaughter, Valentina, whom she taught French and German.

In 1385 together with her son she participated in a conspiracy against Bernabò Visconti. The conspiracy succeeded, and Bernabò was executed. So from then Bianca's son Gian Galeazzo was the independent ruler of Milan. Bianca took the death of her daughter Violante very badly in 1386.[5]

Bianca died aged 51 years old on 31 December 1387. She was buried at Pavia Santa Chiara, Pavia.[6]

References

Preceded by
Egidiola Gonzaga
Lady of Milan
1350–1378
Succeeded by
Beatrice Regina della Scala
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