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Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara

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Title: Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara  
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Subject: Castrato, Ferrara, Franciscus Patricius, Renée of France, Jerusalem Delivered, Concerto delle donne, Ercole II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, 1580 in music, Moral Disorder, Giovan Battista Aleotti
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Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara

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.

As a young man, he fought in the service of Henry II of France, fighting against the Habsburgs. Soon after his accession to the throne, he was forced by Pope Pius IV to send back his mother to France, due to her Calvinist creed. He commanded Ferrara at the time of the 1570 Ferrara earthquake.

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 1597 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.

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. 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.



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

External links

  • Illustrious people (English)
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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