Was an illegitimate son of Niccolò III d’Este Marquis of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio and his lover Stella de’Tolomei. His politics were always centered on expanding the Estense state and conferring nobility upon the Este family. This is how one can understand his desire to obtain dukedom for his possessions. In foreign politics he was very close to the Republic of Venice and against both Francesco Sforza and the Medici family because of past rancours. These disputes led to the vain Battle of the Riccardina or Molinella which had neither winners nor losers. The court of Borso was the center of the School of Ferrara (painting) that included such famous painters as Francesco del Cossa, Ercole de’Roberti and Cosmè Tura. Borso was quite sparing regarding culture: a famous episode is that when Franceso del Cossa, one of the painters who frescoed the Hall of the Months in Palazzo Schifanoia, asked for more money in payment for his fatigues and, when Borso said no, left for Bologna to establish his own school of painting. Borso’s reputation is above all connected to his famous Bible, one of the best miniatures of the Italian Renaissance. His successor was his half-brother Ercole I d’Este.
Duke of Ferrara, was one of the principal patrons of culture and the arts during the Renaissance. He was the son of Nicolò III and Ricciarda of Saluzzo and was educated under the Aragonese court in Naples where he studied military strategies and horsemanship. He fought in the Battle of the Riccardina or Molinella where he suffered foot injury that left him lame for the rest of his life. Because of this the Venetians, his most hated enemies, nick-named him “Il Ciotto” (The Cripple). The rivalry with the Serenissima, caused by its desire to expand and the conflict to obtain the salt monopoly brought Ercole to fight a battle between Ferrara and the Venetians who were allied with Pope Sisto IV. This battle ended in a defeat that was then sealed with peace in Bagnolo. Ercole had extraordinary success in the humanistic field and was also as a patron of culture and the arts; this made Ferrara the most refined European court. Walloon and Flemish musicians arrived in Italy and the most famous European composers worked for Ercole and dedicated their music to him. Amongst them were Alexander Agricola, Jacob Obrecht, Heinrich Isaac, Hadrian Willaert and Josquin Desprez (who composed the Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, dedicated to Ercole and based on a theme using the syllables of the Duke’s name. Ercole appointed the poet Matteo Maria Boiardo his Minister and introduced young Ludovico Ariosto to the court of Ferrara. He had the architect Biagio Rossetti design the famous Herculian Addition for this Ferrara was defined the first modern city in Europe. Ercole died in 1505 and was succeeded by his son Alfonso I d’Este.
Was Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio and son of Ercole I d’Este and Eleonora d’Aragona. He married Anna Maria Sforza and then Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Alessandro VI. He was an able manipulator in the conflict between Venice and the Papal State and that between France and Spain for the supremacy in Italy. He was an ally of Giulio II and the League of Cambrai against Venice. He was appointed standard-bearer for the Sacred Roman Church and then was excommunicated and declared theoretically deprived of his possessions because he refused to accept the peace between the Pope and Venice. He also lost his possessions of Modena, Carpi and Mirandola that were occupied by the Papal troops. During the following war of the Sacred League he was allied with France and with his famous artillery helped in the winning of Ravenna. Leone X tried to assassinate him and the death of this Pope saved the Este’s from ruin. Being allied with the Empire at the time of the conflicts between Carlo V and Clemente VII Alfonso obtained legal rights for the territories he controlled, eventhough they were contested by the Pope. He was fond of the arts and literature and was the patron of Ludovico Ariosto. He died due to indigestion, a thing that strangely compares him to his brother Ippolito.