Historical Figures

Bona Sforza (1494-1557)

Bona Sforza, Jan Matejko

Bona Sforza

Polish queen, wife of Zygmunt I Stary from the Jagiellonian dynasty. She was the daughter of the Milanese prince Giangaleazza Sforza and the Neapolitan princess Isabella of Aragón. Her father was murdered when she was eight months old; She spent her childhood at the court of her uncle who killed her father, and then wandering around Italy together with her mother. Only at the age of eight did she settle down with her mother in Bari, which Isabella received from the Habsburgs. The girl was brought up to be the future ruler. Through the emperor, Maximilian I Habsburg, in 1515 Bona's hand was offered to the newly widowed king of Poland. Bona arrived in her new homeland at the beginning of 1518, and on the 18th of the month she was married and crowned.

She was an ambitious, active and extremely economical ruler. Thanks to the skillful management of the estates received from her husband, she quickly made a huge personal fortune, acquiring over two hundred villages and a dozen towns only in Korona. It also exerted a significant influence on the country's politics, so that the second decade of her stay in Poland is even said to be the period of the co-rule of Sigismund and Bona. In 1530, she led to the coronation of her only son, Zygmunt August, while his father was still alive ("vivente rege"). In Lithuania, she carried out a wide-ranging economic reform (known as "measuring with a spear"). In 1537, the resistance of the nobility to the queen's projects led to a rebellion known as the "coconut war". Despite the rebellion, the queen maintained an overwhelming influence on the affairs of the state until the death of her husband in 1548. Arguing with her son, she then withdrew to Mazovia, and finally, in 1556 - against Sigismund Augustus - she left Poland, taking away a large part of her private, movable property. Already in Italy, she lent a huge sum of 430,000 ducats to the viceroy of Naples - and thus to the Habsburgs whom he represented. She died a little over a year later, poisoned by the Habsburg agent Jan Wawrzyniec Pappacoda.