Biography of Alfonso II d'Este
Alfonso II d'Este, duke of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, was the son of Ercole II d'Este and Réné of France. He was educated at the French court. He ascended the throne on 26 November 1559. At the insistence of Pope Pio IV, he sent his mother, a Calvinist (1560), back to France. He maintained a brilliant court, including such artists and literary figures as G.B. Guarini, G.B. Pigna, Francesco Patrizi, and Pirro Pigorio. He married Lucrezia d'Medici, daughter of Cosimo I and Eleonora of Toledo, in 1558. Lucrezia died in 1561. Hoping to improve his title and engage the Emperor Ferdinando I of Austria in his cause, he married Ferdinando's daughter Barbara in 1565. He assisted in the unhappy campaign against the Turks in Hungary in 1566. All was in vain, however, when Cosimo became grand duke instead. Alfonso had no children by either of his first two wives, nor did he have a child with his third wife (1579) Margherita Gonzaga. Both Popes Pio VI and Gregory XIII forbade him to designate a successor (Gregory died before the matter could be settled according to Alfonso's wishes.) He did manage to have the Emperor invest Modena and Reggia in his cousin, Cesare d'Este (1594). His hope that he could maintain Ferrara did not meet with success. On his death in 1597, Ferrara passed to the Pontifical State.