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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

Este, Borso d’

1st Duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio

(b Ferrara, 1413; reg 1450–71; d Ferrara, 20 Aug 1471).

Son of Niccolò III d’Este. He held many important mercenary military commands from 1430 to 1450. His art partronage was strategic, pragmatic, centralizing and intimate. Unlike his brother Lionello d’Este, he had only a rudimentary education and little empathy with the thought and literature of the ancient world. His main interest was the development of the Ferrarese state, and his control of the terms in which he wished to be seen by contemporaries and by posterity was absolute. Artists and scholars to him were functionaries, concerned with propaganda and entertainment, undeserving of special consideration, and arts and letters were tools of propaganda, which, shrewdly manipulated, would produce his image as a powerful, just, pious and magnanimous ruler. Borso returned to Ferrara in 1445 to assist Lionello in the administration of the Este territories. In 1452 he was invested as Duke of Modena and Reggio by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III.

Gordon Marshall Beamish