Niccolò III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara

Niccolò III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara

Niccolò III d'Este, attributed to Amadio da Milano
Spouse(s) Gigliola da Carrara
Parisina Malatesta
Ricciarda of Saluzzo
Noble family House of Este
Father Alberto d'Este
Mother Isotta Albaresani
Born (1383-11-09)9 November 1383
Died 26 December 1441(1441-12-26) (aged 58)
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Niccolò III d'Este (9 November 1383 26 December 1441) was Marquess of Ferrara from 1393 until his death. He was also a condottiero.


Born in Ferrara, the son of Alberto d'Este and Isotta Albaresani, he inherited the rule of the city when he was only 10 years old, under the protection of the Republics of Venice, Florence and Bologna. He was attacked by his relative Azzo X d'Este, a general of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, a descendant of Obizzo II d'Este who contested Niccolò the right to rule in Ferrara due to his illegitimate birth.[1] Azzo was however taken prisoner by Astorre I Manfredi in the ensuing war, and any menace over Niccolò's rule disappeared.

In 1397 he married Gigliola da Carrara, daughter of Francesco II da Carrara, lord of Padua.

In 1403 he joined the league formed against the Duke of Milan, being appointed Captain General of the Papal Army by Pope Boniface IX. In 1405 he ceded the ancestral family lands near Este to Venice. In 1410 the fighting master Fiore dei Liberi dedicated his treatise, the Fior di Battaglia, to him. This manuscript is a large part of the foundation of modern attempts to rebuild the Western martial arts. In 1413 he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In 1418 he remarried to Parisina Malatesta, daughter of Andrea Malatesta. Fearing the ambitions of Filippo Maria Visconti, two years later he ceded him the possession of Parma.

In 1425 Niccolò had both his wife Parisina and his illegitimate son Ugo executed on charges of adultery, as well as decreeing that all women within his domains found to be guilty of adultery were to be put to death. He had to rescind this order once it was determined that this action would depopulate Ferrara.[2] In that year he was again commander-in-chief of the anti-Visconti league. In 1429 his illegitimate son was named heir of the Marquisate.

The role of Niccolò as a prestigious leader in Italy was confirmed when his city was chosen as the seat of a council in 1438.

Marriages and children

Niccolò had children with at least eleven different women.

He married first Gigliola da Carrara, daughter of Francesco II da Carrara, lord of Padua in June 1397. She died of the plague in 1416. They had no known children.

He married secondly Parisina Malatesta, daughter of Andrea Malatesta. He had her executed on 21 May 1425 for allegedly having an affair with his illegitimate son Ugo d'Este. They had three children:

He married thirdly Ricciarda of Saluzzo in 1429. She was a daughter of Thomas III of Saluzzo and Marguerite of Pierrepont. They had two children:

He also had eleven illegitimate children:



  1. Although Niccolò had been later legitimated by his father.
  2. Durant, Will (1953). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 262.

Niccolò III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara
Born: 9 November 1383 Died: 26 December 1441
Preceded by
Marquess of Ferrara
Succeeded by
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