In superintending the distribution of the Mantuan territory amongst the veterans, he used his influence to save from confiscation the property of the poet Virgil.
The Socialist party, which had grown powerful under a series of weak-kneed administrations, now began to show signs of division; on the one hand there was the revolutionary wing, led by Signor Enrico Fern, the Mantuan deputy, which advocated a policy of uncompromising class warfare, and on the other the riformisti, or moderate Socialists, led by Signor Filippo Turati, deputy for Milan, who adopted a more conciliatory attitude and were ready to ally themselves with other parliamentary parties.
The Marquis Lodovico Gonzaga of Mantua had for some time been pressing Mantegna to enter his service; and the following year, 1460, was perhaps the one in which he actually established himself at the Mantuan court, residing at first from time to time at Goito, but, from December 1466 onwards, with his family in Mantua itself.
Some of his early Mantuan works are in that apartment of the Castello which is termed the Camera degli Sposi - full compositions in fresco, including various portraits of the Gonzaga family, and some figures of genii, &c. In 1488 he went to Rome at the request of Pope Innocent VIII., to paint the frescoes in the chapel of the Belvedere in the Vatican; the marquis of Mantua (Federigo) created him a cavaliere before his departure.
The pope treated Mantegna with less liberality than he had been used to at the Mantuan court; but on the whole their connexion, which ceased in 1490, was not unsatisfactory to either party.