Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara

Alfonso II d'Este
Duke of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio

Alfonso II d'Este by Girolamo da Carpi
Spouse(s) Lucrezia di Cosimo de' Medici
Barbara of Austria
Margherita Gonzaga
Noble family House of Este
Father Ercole II d'Este
Mother Renée of France
Born (1533-11-22)22 November 1533
Died 27 October 1598(1598-10-27) (aged 64)

Alfonso II d'Este (22 November 1533 – 27 October 1597) was Duke of Ferrara from 1559 to 1597. He was a member of the House of Este.


He was the elder son of Ercole II d'Este and Renée de France, the daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne of Brittany and was the fifth and last Duke of Ferrara.[1]

As a young man, he fought in the service of Henry II of France against the Habsburgs. Soon after his accession, he was forced by Pope Pius IV to send back his mother to France due to her Calvinist creed. The 1570 Ferrara earthquake fell into his reign. In 1583 he allied with Emperor Rudolf II in the war against the Turks in Hungary.


He married three times:

He had no known children, legitimate or otherwise.


The legitimate line ended in 1598 with him. Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor recognized as heir his cousin Cesare d'Este, member of a cadet branch, who continued to rule in the imperial duchies and carried on the family name. The succession, however, was recognized only by the Emperor but not by the Popes. In 1598 Ferrara was therefore incorporated into the Papal States by Pope Clement VIII, on grounds of doubtful legitimacy. As a result of Alfonso death Cesare d'Este and his family were "obliged to leave the city" and the power of the government was there after turned over to the cardinal legate.([3])

Patron of the arts and sciences

Alfonso II raised the glory of Ferrara to its highest point, and was the patron of Torquato Tasso, Giovanni Battista Guarini, and Cesare Cremonini—favouring the arts and sciences, as the princes of his house had always done. Besides being fluent in Italian he was also proficient in Latin and French.[4] Luzzasco Luzzaschi served as his court organist.

In addition, he was the sponsor of the Concerto delle donne, a type of group which was to be copied all over Italy. He also restored the Castello Estense, damaged by an earthquake in 1570.

His expenses, however, went at damage of the public treasure.



Alfonso II is the duke upon whom Robert Browning based his poem My Last Duchess.


  1. Este, Alfonso, II, D' (1533 - 1597). (2006). In J. Hale (Ed.), Thames & Hudson Dictionary of the Italian renaissance , the. London, United Kingdom: Thames & Hudson. Retrieved from
  2. Murphy, Caroline P. Murder of a Medici Princess. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-19-531439-7
  3. Hale, J.R; Thames; Hudson. "". Credo Reference. SFCC. Retrieved 3 September 2016. External link in |title= (help)
  4. Thames & Hudson Dictionary of the Italian renaissance , the (J. Hale ed.). London, United Kingdom: Thames & Hudson.

External links

Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara
Born: 22 November 1533 Died: 27 October 1597
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ercole II
Duke of Modena and Reggio
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Ercole II
Duke of Ferrara
Succeeded by
The Papal States
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