Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara

Alfonso d'Este (21 July 1476 – 31 October 1534) was Duke of Ferrara during the time of the War of the League of Cambrai.

Alfonso d'Este
Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio
Bemberg Fondation Toulouse - Portrait d'Alphonse dEste - Titien Inv.1053
Alfonso by Titian; Alfonso leans on a cannon, holding his sword
Born21 July 1476
Subiaco, Italy
Died31 October 1534 (aged 58)
Noble familyEste
Spouse(s)Anna Sforza
Lucrezia Borgia
FatherErcole I d'Este
MotherEleanor of Naples


Battista Dossi, ritratto di Alfonso I d'Este - Modena
Alfonso d'Este, by Dosso Dossi
Anna Maria Sforza
Anna Maria Sforza
Dossi dossi, lucrezia borgia, 1518 circa02
Lucrezia Borgia, 1518 Dosso Dossi[1][2]

He was the son of Ercole I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara and Eleanor of Naples and became duke on Ercole's death in June 1505. In the first year of his rule he uncovered a plot by his brother Ferrante and half-brother Giulio d'Este, directed against him and his other brother Ippolito. In September 1506 a trial for lèse majesté and high treason was held and, as expected, the death sentence was passed, but just as Ferrante and Giulio were about to mount the gallows they were informed that the duke had commuted their sentence to life imprisonment. They were led away to two cells in the Torre dei Leoni. Ferrante died in his cell after 34 years of imprisonment, while Giulio held on until he was pardoned in 1559, after 53 years of imprisonment. After his release, Giulio was ridiculed in the streets of Ferrara for his outdated clothes and died in 1561.

In the Italian Wars Alfonso preserved his precarious position among the contending powers by flexibility and vigilance and the unrivalled fortifications of Ferrara; he entered the League of Cambrai against Venice and remained an ally of Louis XII of France even after Pope Julius II had made peace with Venice; when the Bolognesi rebelled against Julius and toppled Michelangelo's bronze statue of the Pope from above the gate, Alfonso received the shards and recast them as a cannon named La Giulia, which he set on the ramparts of the castello: in 1510 Julius excommunicated him and declared his fiefs forfeit, thereby adding Ferrara to the Papal States; Alfonso then fought successfully against the Venetian and Papal armies, gaining the Battle of Polesella, capturing Bologna, and playing a major part in the French victory at the Battle of Ravenna (1512). These successes were based on Ferrara's artillery, produced in his own foundry which was the best of its time.[3][4] In both of his portraits by Titian, (Compare illustration above) he poses with his arm across the mouth of one of his cannon.

In 1526–1527 Alfonso participated in the expedition of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Spain, against Pope Clement VII, and in 1530 the pope again recognized him as possessor of the forfeited duchies of Modena and Reggio.

Alfonso's first wife was Anna Sforza, the sister of Gian Galeazzo Sforza. His second wife was Lucrezia Borgia.


Dosso Dossi 001
Aeneas and Achates on the Libyan shore, painted by Dosso Dossi for Alfonso's camerino d'alabastro (National Gallery of Art, Washington).

Like his brother Ippolito I, Cardinal d'Este, he was one of the great patrons of art of his time: for him the elderly Giovanni Bellini painted The Feast of the Gods in 1514, Bellini's last completed painting. He turned to Bellini's pupil, Titian, for a sequence of paintings. In 1529 Alfonso created the most magnificent gallery of his time, his studiolo or camerino d'alabastro ('small alabaster room'), now usually known as his "Camerino", in order to better display his works of art against white marble-veneered walls under a gilded ceiling.[5] The pallor of the marble led to the name of this room as the chamber of alabaster. There are documents from Mario Equicola on 9 October 1511, noting plans for painting of a room in Ferrara, in which six fables (fabule) or histories (istorie) shall be placed. I have already found them and have presented them in writing." A letter from Alfonso, dated 14 November 1514, authorized payment to Giovanni Bellini, the first painting completed for the chamber.

Titian is known to have painted two portraits of Alfonso: the first was widely acclaimed, singled out by Michelangelo and coerced as a diplomatic gift by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor; Alfonso induced Titian to paint a free replica, which the artist of the painting illustrated above has adapted for his model.[6] Over the next two decades, Titian added three more paintings: The Worship of Venus (Museo del Prado, Madrid), The Bacchanal of the Andrians (Prado, Madrid), and Bacchus and Ariadne (National Gallery, London). Dosso Dossi produced another large bacchanal, and he also contributed ceiling decorations and a painted frieze for the cornice, depicting scenes from the Aeneid, which gained immediacy by showing the heroes in contemporary dress (illustration, left). All the bacchanals in the Alabaster Chamber dealt with love, and some refer to marriage. After the Este family lost control of Ferrara in 1598, the Alabaster Chamber's paintings and sculpture were dispersed.

Alfonso inherited from Cardinal d'Este the poet Ariosto. Following in the lead of his father Ercole, who had made Ferrara into one of the musical centers of Europe, Alfonso brought some of the most famous musicians of the time to his court to work as composers, instrumentalists and singers. Musicians from northern Europe who worked at Ferrara during his reign included Antoine Brumel and Adrian Willaert, the latter of whom was to become the founder of the Venetian School, something which could not have happened without Alfonso's patronage.


When Alfonso's grandson Alfonso II d'EsteRobert Browning's duke of "My Last Duchess"[7]—produced no male heir, the main d'Este line died out. A grandson of Alfonso I and cousin of Alfonso II, Cesare d'Este had been born out of wedlock. He was recognized by the Emperor but not by the Pope, who took the Duchy of Ferrara by force. Nevertheless, the House of Este continued in Modena and Reggio.


16. Obizzo III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara
8. Alberto d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara
17. Lippa Ariosti
4. Niccolò III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara
18. Alberto Albaresani
9. Isotta Albaresani
2. Ercole I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
20. Frederick II, Marquis of Saluzzo
10. Thomas III, Marquis of Saluzzo
21. Beatrice of Geneva
5. Ricciarda, Marquise of Saluzzo
22. Hugh II, Count of Roncy
11. Marguerite de Pierrepont
23. Blanche de Coucy-Montmirail
1. Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
24. Ferdinand I of Aragon
12. Alfonso V of Aragon
25. Eleanor of Alburquerque
6. Ferdinand I of Naples
13. Giraldona Carlino
3. Eleanor of Naples
14. Tristan, Count of Copertino
7. Isabella of Clermont
30. Raimondo Orsini del Balzo, Prince of Taranto
15. Caterina del Balzo Orsini
31. Mary of Enghien

See also


  1. ^ "NGV's Renaissance mystery woman revealed". Brisbane Times.
  2. ^ Maike Vogt-Luerssen: Lucrezia Borgia: The Life of a Pope's Daughter in the Renaissance, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4537-2740-9, pp. 90–91.
  3. ^ Murrin, Michael (1994). History and warfare in Renaissance epic (Pbk. ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 124–125. ISBN 978-0226554037.
  4. ^ Mallett, Michael; Shaw, Christine (2005). The Italian Wars, 1494-1559 : War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe (1st ed.). Harlow: Pearson. p. 107. ISBN 978-0582057586.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Bryson Burroughs, "The Portrait of Alfonso d'Este by Titian" The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 22.4 (April 1927), pp. 97–101.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-09-29. Retrieved 2005-07-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)


  • Taylor, Frederick Lewis (1973). The Art of War in Italy, 1494–1529. Westport: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-8371-5025-6.

External links

Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
Born: 21 July 1476 Died: 31 October 1534
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ercole I
Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio
forfeit 1510–1530
Succeeded by
Ercole II

Year 1476 (MCDLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

1529 in art

The year 1529 in art involved some significant events and new works.

Alfonso I

Alfonso I may refer to:

Alfonso I of Asturias (739–757), called the Catholic (el Católico), the King of Asturias

Afonso I of Portugal (1094–1195) (Afonso Henriques), the son of Henry of Burgundy

Alfonso I of Aragon (1104–1134), known as Alfonso the Battler

Alfonso V of Aragon (1396–1458), King of Naples as Alfonso I

Afonso I of Kongo (1456–1543) the first Christian king of the Kingdom of Kongo

Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara (1476–1534)

Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886–1941), known to French Legitimists as "Alphonse I"

Alfonso d'Este, Lord of Montecchio

Alfonso d'Este (10 March 1527 – 1 November 1587) was an Italian nobleman.

Bacchus and Ariadne

Bacchus and Ariadne (1522–1523) is an oil painting by Titian. It is one of a cycle of paintings on mythological subjects produced for Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, for the Camerino d'Alabastro – a private room in his palazzo in Ferrara decorated with paintings based on classical texts. An advance payment was given to Raphael, who originally held the commission for the subject of a Triumph of Bacchus. At the time of Raphael's death in 1520, only a preliminary drawing was completed and the commission was then handed to Titian. In the case of Bacchus and Ariadne, the subject matter was derived from the Roman poets Catullus and Ovid.

The painting, considered one of Titian's greatest works, now hangs in the National Gallery in London. The other major paintings in the cycle are The Feast of the Gods (mostly by Giovanni Bellini, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C), and Titian's The Bacchanal of the Andrians and The Worship of Venus (both now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid).

Bride of Vengeance

Bride of Vengeance is a 1949 adventure film set in the Italian Renaissance era, directed by Mitchell Leisen. Mary Grant designed the film's costumes.

It stars Paulette Goddard as Lucrezia Borgia, whose brother Cesare Borgia has her second husband Prince Bisceglie killed in order to marry her to Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara (John Lund) whose well defended lands lay between the Borgia's Papal States and Venice, which Cesare wants to conquer.

The story takes liberties with historical accuracy, as Cesare ensures Lucretia blames Alfonso for the murder and, encouraged by Cesare, she plots deadly revenge against her new husband. When the poison she gives him is counter-acted, and she realizes Cesare really killed her second husband, she returns to help Alfonso defend Ferrara against Cesare's army.

Cesare retreats, killing Michellotto who wanted to continue the fight. In the final scene the couple drink to their love.

Camerini d'alabastro

The Camerini d'alabastro (little rooms of alabaster) are a range of rooms built over the Via Coperta in Ferrara, northern Italy, linking the Castello Estense to the Palazzo Ducale. They may have included the studiolo or little study of Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara.

Camilla Martelli

Camilla Martelli (c. 1545 – 30 May 1590) was first the lover and then the second wife of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de' Medici. She was the mother of Virginia de' Medici, future Duchess of Modena.

Claude, Duke of Chevreuse

Claude de Lorraine (5 June 1578 – 24 January 1657), also called Claude de Guise, was a French noble and husband of Marie de Rohan. He was the Duke of Chevreuse, a title which is today used by the Duke of Luynes.

Eleonora d'Este (1515-1575)

Eleonora d'Este (4 July 1515, Ferrara - 1575, Ferrara) was a Ferrarese noblewoman. She was the first daughter of Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara and his second wife Lucrezia Borgia - as his first daughter, Alfonso named her after his mother Eleanor of Naples.

Eleonora d'Este (1561-1637)

Eleonora d'Este (1561-1637) was a Ferrarese noblewoman.

Giulia della Rovere

Giulia della Rovere (1531, Casteldurante – 4 April 1563, Ferrara) was an Italian noblewoman. A portrait of her by Titian survives in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

Laura Dianti

Laura Dianti (Early sixteenth century in Ferrara – 25 June 1573 in Ferrara, Italy) was a lover of Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara after the death of his wife Lucrezia Borgia. She was probably also his third wife. She was also known under the pseudonym Eustochia.

Leda and the Swan (Michelangelo)

Leda and the Swan is a lost tempera on canvas painting by Michelangelo, produced in 1530 but now only surviving in copies and variants. The work depicted the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan.

Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia (Italian pronunciation: [luˈkrɛttsja ˈbɔrdʒa]; Valencian: Lucrècia Borja [luˈkrɛsia ˈbɔɾdʒa]; 18 April 1480 – 24 June 1519) was a Spanish-Italian noblewoman of the House of Borgia who was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei. She reigned as the Governor of Spoleto, a position usually held by cardinals, in her own right.

Her family arranged several marriages for her that advanced their own political position including Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro and Gradara, Count of Catignola; Alfonso of Aragon, Duke of Bisceglie and Prince of Salerno; and Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. Tradition has it that Alfonso of Aragon was an illegitimate son of the King of Naples and that her brother Cesare Borgia may have had him murdered after his political value waned.

Rumors about her and her family cast Lucrezia as a femme fatale, a role in which she has been portrayed in many artworks, novels and films.

Musica Secreta

Musica Secreta is a British vocal ensemble that was founded in 1991 by soprano Deborah Roberts to explore music written by and for women in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 2000, musicologist Laurie Stras joined the ensemble as a co-director. The group has made several award-winning albums. They collaborated with novelist Sarah Dunant in a musical dramatization of Dunant's novel Sacred Hearts which ran between 2009 and 2012.Their album Lucrezia Borgia's Daughter (2017) is a recording of the earliest known published music intended for performance by nuns. The recording features motets printed in the anonymous Musica quinque vocum motteta materna lingua vocata printed in 1543; some may have been written by Suor Leonora d'Este, the only surviving daughter of Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara.

Rodrigo of Aragon

Rodrigo of Aragon (also called Little Rodrigo, 1499–1512), Duke of Bisceglie and Sermoneta of the House of Trastámara, was the only child of Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI, and her second husband Alfonso of Aragon, son of Alfonso II of Naples.

The Family (Puzo novel)

The Family is a 2001 novel written by Mario Puzo. The novel is about Pope Alexander VI and his family. Puzo spent over twenty years working on the book off and on, while he wrote others. The novel was finished by his longtime girlfriend, Carol Gino. The Family is effectively his last novel.

The Tribute Money (Titian)

The Tribute Money (Italian: Cristo della moneta – literally Christ of the coin) is a panel painting in oils of 1516 by the Italian late Renaissance artist Titian, now in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, Germany. It depicts Christ and a Pharisee at the moment in the Gospels when Christ is shown a coin and says "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's". It is signed "Ticianus F.[ecit]", painted on the trim of the left side of the Pharisee's collar.It is possibly the earliest representation in art of this scene, which had a personal significance for Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, who commissioned it.

Princes of Modena
1st generation
2nd generation
3rd generation
4th generation
5th generation
6th generation
7th generation
8th generation
9th generation
10th generation
11th generation

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.