Alfonso I d'Este Historical Profile

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ALFONSO D'ESTE Historical Profile
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ALFONSO D'ESTE STATS
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Name: Alfonso d'Este
Born: 21 July 1476
Home town: Ferrara
Died: 31 October 1534
Position: Duke of Ferrara, Duke of Modena and Reggio d'Emilia
House of: Este
Nickname:
Personality type: Reserved, rough, intelligent, determined
Hobbies: Hunting, cannons, pottery, playing viola
Strength(s): As head of an important city-state, with ties to France, Alfonso was a useful ally for the Borgia family. Alfonso managed to hold on to his duchy in the face of attempted takeovers from both the Julian papacy and Venice. Expert political ability and military skills
Weakness(es): Visiting brothels
Quirks: Rather eccentric - he once walked through the streets of Ferrara completely naked! Man of few words, a bit of a "poker face" in official circumstances, he liked to stare silently at his interlocutors, watching them panic as they were struggling to decipher him. Unusually keen on manual labour.

"I cannot write without tears, so grave is it to find myself deprived of such a sweet, dear companion as she was to me, for her good ways and for the tender love there was between us."
After the death of Lucrezia


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ALFONSO D'ESTE BIO
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Alfonso d'Este was born on 21 July 1476, the eldest son of Ercole d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio d'Emilia, and his wife Eleanor, daughter of King Ferrante I of Naples. He was first married to Anna Sforza, who died in childbirth.

Like his father, Alfonso at first resisted the idea of marrying Lucrezia Borgia, who was considered of inferior birth. His father desperately tried to obtain a French princess instead, but eventually gave up in return for a hefty dowry.

Alfonso and Lucrezia were married on 2 February 1502. They were not an obviously compatible couple - Lucrezia was cultured, gracious and fond of elaborate dress and jewels, whilst Alfonso was reserved, boorish, and rough. He was, however, interested in architecture and carried our extensive remodelling and redecoration of his palaces. He also collected paintings and marble sculptures, and built a magnificent gallery, the Camerino, to house them.

The early years of the marriage were marred by a series of miscarriages and stillbirths suffered by Lucrezia, but in 1508, she gave birth a healthy son, Ercole, who succeeded his father as Duke. He was followed by five more children, three of whom survived to adulthood.

Alfonso was forced to deal with a conspiracy against him by his younger brothers Ferrante and Guilio in 1505. Both were sentenced to death, but the sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.

The actions of Pope Julius II threatened the Este control of Ferrara, and Alfonso was forced to fight for his duchy, often in alliance with the French. He proved himself an able soldier, with particular skill in the use of artillery. He fought well in a number of battles, including Ravenna (1512). He was excommunicated by the Pope in 1510, The death of Julius in 1513 removed the threat from Ferrara.

Despite his initial reluctance to marry her, Alfonso became devoted to Lucrezia. He left her in charge of his duchy during his numerous absences at war or on other journeys, and had great confidence in her ability. He was devastated by her death in 1519, and wrote to his nephew:

'I cannot write without tears, so grave is it to find myself deprived of such a sweet, dear companion as she was to me, for her good ways and for the tender love there was between us.'

Alfonso never remarried. He died on 31 October 1534 at the age of 58.


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  • When forced to pawn his gold and silver plate to pay for the defence of Ferrara, Alfonso was able to provide pottery plates of his own making for his family and court to eat from.

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