Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, by Raohael - Firenze, Galleria degli UffiziGuidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, was born in Gubbio in 1472 and died in Fossombrone in 1508. He was the son of Federico II and Battista Sforza and the last of the Montefeltro line. Guidobaldo had a very fine humanistic education under Ludovico Adasio and Ottaviano Ubaldini, who was Guidobaldo's cousin. He succeeded his father as duke of Urbino in 1482. In 1489 Guidobaldo married Elisabetta Gonzaga (whose portrait by Raphael is reproduced here), the sister of the Marquis of Mantua. Even though Guidobaldo could not give Elisabetta any children, because of his impotency, she always had a very strong affection for him.
On June 20, 1502, Guidobaldo was forced to leave Urbino, being besieged by the troops of Cesare Borgia. Guidobaldo had asked Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua (Elisabetta's brother) for military help, but it didn't materialize. Four months later, taking advantage of the malcontent among Cesare Borgia's troops, on October 18 Guidobaldo was able to return to Urbino. But in December Cesare conquered Urbino Elisabetta Gonzaga  by Raphael - Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizifor the second time, and Guidobaldo had to seek refuge in Venice. The following year Cesare's father, Pope Alexander VI, died, and in the month of August Guidobaldo returned once again to Urbino, The new pope, Julius II della Rovere, nominated him Commander General of the papal army, and in 1504 Guidobaldo adopted his nephew, Francesco Maria della Rovere who will be his successor. Guidobaldo died at the very young age of 36
from an acute case of gout.

At that time the court of Urbino was the most refined and elegant among Italian courts, a real meeting point of culture, with Elisabetta as the central presiding figure in the life of the court. Among the most constant guests in Urbino we find Pietro Bembo, Giuliano de' Medici, Ottaviano and Federico Fregoso, Cesare Gonzaga, and many other men of letters—including, of course, Baldassare Castiglione. Elisabetta Gonzaga is the "Duchess" in Castiglione's The Courtier.