Ercole II d'Este

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Ercole II d'Este (by Nicolò dell'Abbate )

Ercole II. D'Este (born April 4, 1508 in Ferrara , † October 3, 1559 ibid) was Duke of Ferrara , Modena and Reggio from 1534 to 1559 .


Ercole came from the Este family, one of the oldest Italian noble families, as its members appeared as margraves as early as 951, ruled Ferrara from 1240, rose to Dukes of Modena in 1452 and rose to Dukes of Ferrara in 1471. He was the eldest son of Duke Alfonso I d'Este (* 1476, † 1534) from his marriage to Lucrezia Borgia (* 1480, † 1519), a daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who was Pope Alexander VI from 1492 to 1503 . ruled.


Renée de France (1510-1575)

Ercole married Renée de France (1510–1575), a daughter of King Louis XII , for political reasons . of France and Anne de Bretagne , the marriage being concluded on June 28, 1528 in Paris in the Sainte-Chapelle before the papal legate Cardinal Giovanni Salviati. Since King Francis I was unable to pay a lot of money for the dowry of his predecessor's daughter, he instead awarded Ercole the titles of Duke of Chartres , Count of Gisors and Lord of Montargis and committed to paying an annuity of 12,000 annually Scudi.

Ercole succeeded his father as duke on October 31, 1534. From 1536 it offered a new home to the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal, because this promoted trade and thus the prosperity of Ferrara. From 1536 to 1554 the city became an important port of call for Sephardic Jews. A rabbinical congress was held in Ferrara in 1554, and a Jewish university was founded two years later. The laws that Ercole introduced to protect the Jews were considered the most progressive in Italy.

His wife Renée, on the other hand, was a supporter of the Reformation and friends with the evangelical teacher Fulvio Pellegrino Morato and his daughter Olympia Morata (1526–1555). She opened the court of Ferrara to religiously persecuted intellectuals from Central Europe, especially from France. The French poet Clément Marot came to Ferrara in 1535 , Johannes Calvin in 1536 , Vittoria Colonna and Bernardino Ochino in 1537 and Celio Secondo Curione , Camillo Renato and Aonio Paleario around 1540 .

Renee's sympathy for Protestantism led to a break with Ercole, the Duchy of Ferrara in his part of de jure to the Papal State was one and naturally a cautious policy towards the Pope had to drive. In 1554 he had his wife put under house arrest in Palazzo Estense (Pareschi). Further steps in his pro-Catholic partisanship were an alliance treaty with France in 1556 and a peace treaty with Spain in 1558 .


Ercole II and Renée had five children:

  1. Anna (1531–1607) ⚭ (I) 1548 François de Lorraine, duc de Guise (1519–1563); ⚭ (II) 1566 Jacob of Savoy , Duke of Nemours (1531–1585),
  2. Alfonso II. (1533–1597), Duke 1559, ⚭ (I) 1558 Lucrezia de 'Medici (1545–1562), daughter of Grand Duke Cosimos I of Tuscany ; ⚭ (II) 1565 Barbara of Austria (1539–1572), daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I ; ⚭ (III) 1579 Eleonora Gonzaga (1564–1618), daughter of Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga of Mantua ,
  3. Lucrezia (1535–1598) ⚭ 1570 Francesco Maria II. Della Rovere (1549–1631), Duke of Urbino ,
  4. Eleonora (1537–1581),
  5. Luigi (1538–1586), cardinal 1561.


  • Manfred E. Welti: Brief history of the Italian Reformation (= writings of the Association for Reformation History . Vol. 193). Mohn, Gütersloh 1985, ISBN 3-579-01663-6 , pp. 66-69 ( digitized in the Google book search).

Individual evidence

  1. Gino Benzoni: Ercole II. D'Este in: Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 43 (1993) [1]
  2. 500 years of the Reformation - designed by women , Martina Mangels: Renée de France - Humanity between the fronts - the king's daughter who wanted to save the baker , website Women and Reformation
predecessor Office successor
Alfonso I. Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio
Alfonso II