Boniface II (Montferrat)

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Boniface II , called "il Gigante" (the giant) (* 1202 or 1203; † June 12, 1253 in Moncalvo ), was Margrave of Montferrat 1225 or 1226–1253 and titular king of Thessaloniki 1239–1240.

Early years

As the only son of Margrave Wilhelm VI. Boniface was probably born in Moncalvo either in 1202 or 1203. Together with his father he took part in his expedition to the Orient in 1225. Margrave Wilhelm fell victim to an epidemic at the end of September of the same or the following year, which wiped out a large part of the army, whereupon the crusade came to a standstill. Boniface hastened to take over his legacy in Montferrat, because the territory of the margravate was strategically located in the southern foothills of the Alps, and the Count of Savoy in particular had a great interest in transferring power to his country. Bonifatius knew the expansive goals of the strong western neighbor and therefore concluded a testamentary contract with his cousin Manfred von Saluzzo , which would make them sole heirs to each other in the event of childlessness.

Relationship to the emperor

The Aleramici inheritance contract ultimately not only pursued the goal of keeping the Margraviates of Saluzzo and Montferrat in the family. Rather, Montferrat was heavily indebted to the emperor; This was one of the reasons why Boniface joined the Lombard League of Cities against Frederick II and urgently needed allies. The situation gradually came to a head, so that the Pope intervened as a mediator and at the turn of the year 1226/27 managed to defuse the situation and achieve a balance between Boniface and Frederick II. The relationship between Friedrich and Montferrat remained clouded, however, which was primarily due to the rocking policy of the margrave.

War with Alessandria

Membership in the Guelfan League of Cities could not hide a profound hostility that Boniface harbored against the city of Alessandria . One can assume that it was not least this antipathy that led Montferrat (if not forever) back to the Ghibelline camp . Alessandria was the unruly neighbor who had caused unrest in the margraviate since its inception. Founded by a few villages that withdrew from Montferrat's rule, the Allesandriner succeeded in conquering the city of Casale , one of the main towns of Montferrat, with the help of Milan and Vercellis .

In 1227 Boniface looked for allies against the warring city and found them in Asti , a free city-state within the margraviate. On the side of Alessandria stood the Lombard League of Cities and the strong army of Milan. After numerous skirmishes and the loss of some bases, a battle broke out in 1230, in which Boniface and Asti lost to the Alessandrians and Milanese. Montferrat had to sign a peace treaty and submit to the will of the city union. After an occupying power had withdrawn, the margrave dared a new attempt to move against Alessandria. This time he won Savoy and Saluzzo as allies. But no sooner had one heard of Boniface's new plans than the Milanese sent a new army which attacked Chivasso , the capital of Montferrat, and besieged it for four months. Boniface had to watch helplessly when his city surrendered on September 5, 1231 and was occupied by the League of Cities. Only after a year (and after the margrave had declared himself defeated) was the city returned to him.

The late years

Again and again Boniface switched fronts. His unsteady diplomacy brought him more and more anger. In 1243 he moved again to the Guelph camp, and in 1245 he visited the emperor in Turin , begging his forgiveness so that he could take over the guardianship of the children of his cousin Manfred III, who died in 1244. from Saluzzo could compete. There was a good reason for the constant change of faction: the fear of the Count of Savoy, who was becoming more and more powerful, and of Frederick's idea of ​​founding a new imperial state in Piedmont at the expense of Montferrat, Saluzzo and Savoy , which would serve as a bridgehead for the Italian peninsula should. Friedrich's death marked a moment of calm in Boniface's policy.

Under Conrad IV , the city of Casale came back to Montferrat. The margraviate had thus reached its greatest extent in southern Piedmont. Eight days after being enfeoffed with Casale, Bonifatius died on May 12, 1253 in Moncalvo. With his wife Margaret of Savoy, he had three children; the first-born Wilhelm VII was his successor, the daughter Alessina (or Adelheid) († 1285) married Albrecht I of Braunschweig in their first marriage and Count Gerhard I of Holstein in their second marriage , the daughter Theodora married Count Gherardo della Gherardesca . Nothing is known about the whereabouts of an illegitimate son, Nicolino.


  • Francesco Cognasso : Il Piemonte nell'età sveva (= Miscellanea di Storia Patria. Ser. 4, Vol. 10). Deputazione subalpina di storia patria, Turin 1968.
  • Leopoldo Usseglio: I Marchesi di Monferrato in Italia ed in Oriente durante i secoli XII e XIII. Curata da Carlo Patrucco. Miglietta, Casale Monferrato et al. 1926.
predecessor Office successor
William VI. Margrave of Montferrat 1225–1253
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William VII