Costanza d'Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla

Costanza d'Avalos, Duchess of Francavilla

Costanza d'Avalos
Duchess of Francavilla
Princess of Francavilla
Spouse(s) Federico del Balzo (1477-1483)
Noble family d'Avalos
Father Iñigo I d'Avalos
Mother Antonella d'Aquino
Born 1460
Died 1541

Costanza d'Avalos (1460–1541), Duchess of Francavilla, was a noblewoman of Spanish origin from the d'Avalos family.


She was the daughter of Innico I d'Avalos, count of Monteodorisio, and Antonella d'Aquino, heiress to the marquisate of Pescara. Her father had come to Italy with Alfonso V of Aragon in 1442.

She was given in marriage to Federico del Balzo, Prince of Altamura and Duke of Venosa, son of Pietro Del Balzo and brother of the Queen of Naples, Isabella.[1]

After she was widowed without children, in 1483, King Frederick of Naples granted her the Duchy of Francavilla in 1501. She then followed her brother, Innico II d'Avalos, to Ischia, where he died in 1503.[1]

Later that year, she defended Ischia against the French for four consecutive months, with great skill and bravery. Her services were rewarded by the settlement of the civil and military government of the island on the d'Avalos family, which power it retained until 1734, when its military command was transferred to Naples.[2] She established her court at Ischia, which was frequented by many Neapolitan intellectuals of the period.

On 13 June, 1507, she signed a marriage contract between her nephew Fernando Francesco d'Ávalos and Vittoria Colonna. The marriage took place on Ischia in December 1509. Vittoria, shortly after her marriage, spent her time on Ischia with Costanza.

In 1523 Charles V granted to Costanza the land which nowadays forms Pescara.[3]

She died in 1541 after Charles V had given her the title of Princess of Francavilla.

Scholarly as well as amateur speculation has assigned the Mona Lisa's name to Costanza (among other women) - she was referred to as La Gioconda.[4]

Literary influence

On Ischia, Costanza established a circle of literary friends around her, among which were the poet Vittoria Colonna, the wife of her nephew, Sannazaro, Paolo Giovio, Tansillo and Bernardo Tasso.[5]

She also became a follower of Juan de Valdés and attended his lectures and discussions at his house in Chiaia.


See also