Canon of Trento, Brixen and Salzburg, Cristoforo Madruzzo was elected bishop of Trento upon the death of
Bernardo Cles in 1539. Later Pope Paolo III nominated him Cardinal on 7th January 1545. The figure of Christoforo Madruzzo is undoubtedly linked to the
Council of Trent
During the government of Cristoforo Madruzzo, the Pope nominated Ludovico coadjutor to his uncle with right of succession. In 1561 he was nominated Cardinal, to become Prince-bishop of Trento six years later upon the resignation of his uncle. Numerous initiatives demonstrate Ludovico’s interest for his Principality: in 1579 he started his Pastoral visits; he introduced registers of births and weddings to the churches; he established the rules to follow in the administration of ecclesiastical goods and sacraments.
Charles Gaudenzio was nominated coadjutor to his uncle Ludovico in 1595, becoming Prince-bishop upon his death and later Cardinal in 1604. He received diplomatic roles abroad from Pope Paolo V, but he was also active in his diocese, completing the building of the Seminary sought by his predecessors, and calling in the Jesuits to set up a new grammar school for the cultural and religious education of the local population. Gaudenzio was particularly fond of defending the orthodoxy especially in the German parts of the Principality, favouring the creation of convents in Trento, Egna and Bolzano.
Charles Emanuele was the last representative of the Madruzzo house and the only one not to be conferred the title of Cardinal, and neither did he boast the international role that his predecessors had experienced. Instead, he had to face many political difficulties throughout his rule, including claims to the principality by Archduchess Claudia di Medici. Unsuccessful attempts were also made to repair the imminent extinction of the family, asking for his transfer to lay status in order to continue descendancy, which was refused.