Alfonso II d’Este was born on 24 November 1533. The son of Ercole II d’Este (1508-1559), who was in turn the eldest son of Alfonso I d’Este (1476-1534), Alfonso II carried forth an impressive family legacy. He took the title of Duke of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio in 1559 following his father Ercole II’s death and would serve thus until his own death on 27 October 1597. With no male heir to his claim, Alfonso II d’Este thus also became the last such Duke of Ferrara.
Amidst his various political entanglements and sequential marriages – the first of which was to Lucrezia, daughter of Cosimo de’ Medici, in July 1558 – Alfonso also made time for artistic and architectural patronage. In addition to commissions for poets such as Torquato Tasso and philosopher Cesare Cremonini, Alfonso performed substantive restorations on the Castello Estense following damage from a 5.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Ferrarese region in November 1570.
Ferrarese painter, Portrait of Alfonso II d’Este, late 16th century. Metropolitan Museum, New York.
Domenico Poggini, Medal bearing the likeness of Alfonso II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, c. 1555. Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Castello Estense, Ferrara. Photograph courtesy of FerraraItalia.