Estensi, the constructive dynasty

The urbanistic structure of Ferrara, situated in the perimeter of the boundaries she is developed between Middle Ages and Renaissance, during the dominion of the dynasty Estense. Is it the result of the sum in different periods, of urban portions to the primitive nucleus of the city. (Additions). Ferrara, with the lineage Estense, becomes the capital of a modern been regional of the Renaissance and today the youngest province of the region Emilia. Estensis are a family of origin longobarda with ownership to Este. From 1240 to 1598, they are dukes of Ferrara and when are transferred in Modena the city of Ferrara returns under the dominion of the Pope. It is not to trace effortless a brief synthesis of the events of about 350 years of history Estense, without neglecting important events. With this general picture, is wanted to distinguish the constructive and entrepreneurial ability of a dynasty that doesn’t exhaust him with the described works. 

The nucleus that has given origin to the city of Ferrara, goes up again to the Byzantine epoch. The Esarchis toward the end of the VII century, after the destruction of the Episcopalian center of Voghenza from the Unni, they installed him on a protected island from swamp, in the zone where today street is found it Brings St. Pietro. Here a built urban nucleus has been created, that subsequently he develops in linear sense from Street Charles Mayr to Street Ripagrande, then, Rivagrande, where it flows the river Po. The denomination Ferrara, goes up again to 760 around, when it was busy at a king longobardo and it is found writing in a document that Ferrara belonged to the Esarcato in Ravenna. After twenty years, she is regained by the Franchis that they deliver the Dukedom to the Pope. Toward Thousand, the Pope, gives the control of the urban nucleus to Tedaldo of Canossa that builds one surrounded building, legible in some roads of the historical center: street Garibaldi, street Mazzini, street Saracen. Ferrara, becomes a commercial city, while is finishing the Byzantine dominion in Italy and it begins the decadence in Ravenna.

Over the boundaries of Tedaldo, in 1135, the new Cathedral of St. George was built for giving stable center to the Episcopalian desk, from the ancient church of St. George out the boundaries, to the new cathedral. The Church Saint Maria in Vado and the convent they had already existed since Thousand, it is one of the most ancient churches built to Ferrara, where the first inhabitants were baptized. In this church there has been a preserved miracle in the history. March 28 th 1171, during the celebration of the mass, from the wafer broken by the priest it goes out some blood that squirts on the walls and it is still today visible. From 1492, the Church Saint Maria in Vado, she is restructured under the direction of Biagio Rossetti.

Ferrara, becomes common in 1173 and the town statutes, an unique case among the cities of the Middle Ages, is engraved on stones of marble of 80 centimeters and envoys in sight in the cathedral. In the commercial Ferrara, they begin the struggles for the political hegemony, among the families most powerful. In this context, of struggle for the city supremacy, the dynasty of the Estensis and Azzo VII  emerges, will be twice Podestà in 1196 and in 1208.
Inside the boundaries, in 1241 the convent and the first church of St. Francis rises.

The Palio of Ferrara, the most ancient of Italy, has been founded in 1259 for to celebrate the victory of Azzo II. Today for tradition, the Palio races in the city and in Ariostea Plaza. The Estensis have the predominance in the public life of the city and they begin to impose the inheritance of the power against the autonomy written in the town statutes. Successor of Azzo VII, will be Obizzo II that he dies in 1293 and nomination Azzo VIII marquis of Este. The first Estensis, were violent and warlike and Dante puts them to the hell. The successions of the Estensis, are complicated from the number of illegitimate children of every prince. Toward 1300, also Modena and Reggio, enter to belong to the dominion Estense.

The Church of St. Francis.  In 1341, Rinaldo and Niccolò of Este they made to build the convent and the church of St. Francis, situated in another place, already from 1240, in comparison to the today’s location. The architects were Armanno, Taddeo and Falconetto da Fontana.  In 1494, the church was redrawn by Biagio Rossetti on the same structures. The jobs are submitted to Bartholomeo da Righino and Andrea Fiorato, but in 1515, because of the yelding of the ground, the church collapses and from 1516 to 1530 she was reconstructed under the guide of Biagio Rossetti that it dies the same year. In the 1570 earthquake, the dome and the bell tower it collapses it suffers serious damages. Subsequently, dome and bell tower she was reconstructed… and it will be subject to different restructurings.

The dynasty Estense, takes the guide of the city and in 1385 it starts to build the Castle, an imposing work of engineering that a first time, it serves for the political and military control of the city and subsequently it will become residence of the ducal family. The project is of Bartolino da Novara on order of Nicolò II. The Castle is inserted inside the first Addition. In the same year, it is also begun to build Building Schifanoia, on charge of Alberto V, a Delizia Estense. The Delizie, are buildings of relaxation and pastime. In the possessiones Estensi is built around thirty delights, some can be visited, others have been destroyed. With the long kingdom from 1348 to 1388, Nicolò II, has consolidated the institutional structure of the dukedom organizing it a modern principality. Its kingdom is troubled by floods and epidemics of plague, revolts for taxes. Nicolò II faces the urban problems, with the first Addition, it magnifies to north the city.. Districts and boundaries reach Course Giovecca.

After the death of Nicolò, for five years to the guide of the dukedom, there is Alberto. One statue of his is situated in the low part of the external façade of the Cathedral. Nearby engraved, on plain of marble, there is a document of Bonifacio IX that it founds the university of Ferrara in 1391, the most important event of the end of the century. Alberto, has realized the importance of the culture for the development of the city that made of Ferrara a center of attraction of the arts and the letters.

The dukes of the Renaissance. Alberto’s successor, for a long period, from 1393 to 1441, it was a natural child, Nicolò III, legitimated, authorized by the Pope to the succession. Nicolò III, represents the idea of Prince sustained in expectancy by Macchiavelli. It is of this period also the history of Ugo and Parisina Malatesta, the second wife of Nicolò III that he gets married in 1418, when she is only fifteen years old.
Nicolò III, had a vengeful character and he is also distinguished for children’s number born out of his three marriages. Despite everything, the long period of her kingdom, it was one period of peace, it tried to magnify the possessiones and it effected a politics of mediation with the other principalities. Died the first wife, bride Parisina Malatesta, and when it discovers a relationship with an illegitimate child of the same age of Parisina, it makes them behead both, in the Castle of Ferrara, then he marries still and from this marriage Ercole is born, successor of Borso. Nicolò III, opens to the culture humanist, he invites in the city the veronese Guarino Guarini and it submits formation of his child Leonello, that starts to the humanistic studies of the classical world. Leonello is the second of his illegitimate children, from 1441 to 1450, it becomes the first successor.

In 1442, Giovanni Romei, banker, usurer, courtier of the house of Este, builds the house in the street Savonarola. This house is one of the best examples of the Renaissance residence to Ferrara. With will, to the death, he leaves the house to the convent Corpus Domini. In Five hundred, a part of the house is restructured on behalf of Cardinal Ippolito of Este brother of Alfonso II. In 1810, the convent is suppressed and it becomes government ownership. In 1872, the monastery is redelivered to the Clarisses and the house passes to the Commune that lodges families without house. In 1895, the Commune wants to demolish the house and the State it repurchases it. From 1919 to 1920, she is restructured and in 1936, the façade is restored. Dal1952, the house, is a government museum.

With Leonello, it opens one extraordinary period that will consecrate Ferrara a center of the Renaissance beside Florence and Urbino, consolidating the culture of the Renaissance. Leonello invites in her palace the artists of the time, it recommends Alberti to write De re Aedificatoria. The Estensis, prefer the architecture and the urbanism, instead of other arts, even if artists and literates, musicians, are invited by the dukedom estense. The music, among the principles, it had a great diffusion and influence. It is not a case if still today, the most greater part of the Italian musicians, originate from the zones that were dominated by the estensis. The art, was not only the ornament for the life of court but a tool of authority and prestige of the political action. The literates and the artists become also often advisers and ministers. Leonello, has granted to the present Jewish community in the city from 1088 the construction of own cemetery and in 1444, it made to build the hospital of Sant’Anna that anchors today exists.
In 1449, Leonello, entertains the artists Weyden, Mantegna, Jacopo Bellini and Piero Della Francesca it painted lost frescos. Leonello, continues the period of peace begun by his father, even if its kingdom has been characterized by different famines and by the weight of the taxes. In this period, the university of Ferrara, attracts students from different countries and becomes an important center for the music.
After Leonello his stepbrothers Borso and Ercole, are the most concrete of the dynasty.
The dominion Estense, of this period has greater fame and prestige.
Borso, has been Duke since 1450 to 1471, he doesn’t marry, it doesn’t have children, but it is political aware and effective, it has a deep religious faith, her life, it doesn’t have excesses as that of his father Nicolò. Borso is devoted to works of philanthropy and assistance. Contrarily of Leonello, it doesn’t love to surround him of artists and literates, but he prefers the hunting in his numerous estates or the contact with the people that fed for him a lot of consideration and devotion, the dowries of the correct prince they recognize him and illuminated that it paid attention to the needs of the subjects. The intellectuals to the court of Borso had to celebrate the glories of the prince, but it didn’t consider the culture as source of progress. The dukedom of Borso was characterized by the poetry of the Boiardo, while Ariosto will be the writer and more important adviser during the kingdom of Ercole.
Borso as Nicolò II, are surrounded of architects and builders and still magnify the city with the second Addition. In 1451, the course of the Po is diverted from street XX Settembre. Here a new district is added to south of the same street, new boundaries are built that contain also the Monastery of Sant’Antonio in Polesine, founded upon an islet by the agostinianis. The monastery, in 1297 it passes to the daughter of Azzo II, Beatrice and to her Benedictine nuns. Borso was very careful to the management of the business of government, always present in the places of the possessiones estensi, personally followed projects and works of reclamation and control of the waters with innovative methods and financial appointments. It modernized the administrative structure of the government, using collaborators valid, and not courtiers. The Pope himself, recognizes in Borso a prince “worthy of the church.” In this period, the walls of the delight of Schifanoia are painted with the life of Borso, the triumph of the gods that they overhang the human activities and the astrological theme of the months. Beside the  enlargement of the city, the fame of Borso, is that to have commissioned the Bible miniated to Taddeo Crivelli, known as Bible of Borso.
From 1471 to 1505, Ercole becomes duke for 34 years, it is child of Niccolò III and stepbrother of Leonello and Borso. To Naples, from 1445 to 1460 it studies the military technique and the classical arts and he marries the daughter of the King Eleonora in Aragon. It has two daughters, Isabella and Beatrice they marry other two families in sight in the dukedom in Mantua and Milan. Ercole treats international relations and diplomats and loses the territories in the war with Venice. It is squanderer of wealth and it holds the distant people, without making attention as Borso, to the needs of the people, but it gets the maximum prestige.
From the residence of the sovereigns, they pass the most important musicians of the epoch, writers, architects. Biagio Rossetti is a favorite architect that has to double the urbanism of the city, the planning of new districts, monuments and the restauration of those existing.
The Herculean addition, is the enterprise most important of the ducal family and of Biagio Rossetti, initiated in 1492, perhaps the purpose is the defense of the city with new fortifications, but districts are built, spaces, gardens, four doors, new boundaries. And’ the same urbanistic conformation of the city inside the boundaries that we see today. They brought the most modern European city to conclusion, the ideal city frequented by so many illustrious characters the ideal city of the Renaissance that is still it to our days.
The new city is thought by Ercole, drawn, from the architect Biagio Rossetti and Wandering Presciani, without changing the structure of the medieval city, but connecting to the same one the new city. The carrying structure is formed from two perpendicular roads as in the ancient Roman cities. The first road, then street of the Angels, today street Ercole of Este, begins from the Castle and it comes up to the Door of the Angels where they transit illustrious personality and dukes that go to hunting in their estate that today it is a public park. The door was closed, when the dukes departed from Ferrara for Modena.
To the intersection of the perpendicular road, today, road Lipsticks, in 1493, he starts to build then the Building of the Diamonds residence of the Estensis, on behalf of Sigismondo, brother of Ercole, almost a source of light that radiates him on the city, formed by an external bugnato with 8500 diamonds, that is blocks of white marble with form of diamond that captures the light in different way during the arc of the day. Who visits the city, should cross street Ercole of Este, departing from the Castle and to reach the Porta degli Angeli, afoot or in bicycle. Rossetti street, can be crossed also in car and to arrive in Ariostea Plaza, the ancient Renaissance plaza, added by Biagio Rossetti with the herculean addition, where, every year, there is still, the Palio of Ferrara. To the lovers of the ice cream, memory that in this plaza, there is the best gelateria of the whole Emilia.

The last dukes in the Five hundred Ferrara.
In the last one hundred years, in the dominion of the dukes different catastrophes happen: the overflows of the waters of the Po that often flood the city. They realizes jobs of embankment, control and reclamation of the waters. In 1528, the city is stricken from an epidemic of black plague. Among 1570-1574, to Ferrara, an earthquake damages the historical patrimony, monumental. Many buildings were not reconstructed with the same quality of material and with the time anymore they become fragile. In 1593, a famine overwhelmed the economy of the dukedom producing so many poor citizens.
Besides the natural calamities, it began to reveal him the hostility of the popes toward the dukes. The Pope Giulio II, successor of Borgia from 1503 to 1513, was hostile of Alfonso Primo and Pious Quinto he didn’t see of good eye the marriage of Ercole II with Renata of France. In the dukedom Ferrara, in this century, women of great interest live.
During the Renaissance, in France, Spain and England, the national monarchies are formed. France had become the state more feared of Europe, while Italy, divided in small states, it was more weak in comparison to the already formed European monarchies. As a whole, the Italian states were richer and civil than Europe, but they didn’t have the political and military strength of the other countries and they became easy prey of the foreigner. In 1492, Lawrence Magnifico dies, author of the political equilibrium among the Italian states. It becomes Pope the same year, the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia.
To Florence, the ferrarese Girolamo Savonarola, rises up against the corruption in the church and hopes that the king French Charles VIII, that threat to invade the Italian states, is also useful for the dismissal of the Physicians. The defeat of Charles VIII, is also it for Savonarola, and from this moment, it begins the struggle among France, Spain and the European powers for the domination of Italy that almost lasts half century. In twenty years, the Italian states have lost the political independence.

In 1500, the architect Biagio Rossetti, begins to build Building Costabili.
After four years, the construction is interrupted and the building is not ended.
Anthony Costabili, is ambassador to Milan and adviser of Ercole to Ferrara.
The building has been commissioned by the duke of Milan that marries Beatrice of Este, but there is no absolute proofs. The building, has different passages of ownership. In 1920, it is purchased from the Italian State and after the restaurations, it becomes Archaeological Museum where the recoveries of the Greek city and etrusca of Spina are exposed. Inside the building, there is a courtyard with the portico that hears again some influence of the parvis of Brunelleschi in the hospital of the Innocent ones to Florence.

In 1505, Ercole disappears and he will be replaced by his child Alfonso, to which he leaves a strong state and her succession is hailed by the people. Alfonso dies in 1534.
In 1491, Alfonso marries the sister of Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Ann Maria, that disappears after six years. Subsequently, he marries Lucrezia, daughter of pope Rodrigo Borgia in 1502.
Alfonso, will have to fight against the conspiracy of his two  brothers and Pope Giulio II, that she wants to return in possession of the possessiones of the church. It will be excommunicated three times for her politics against the church. Alfonso, will continue the favorable politics to France undertaken by his father.
Commander and an expert of fortifications it was capable, it completed the boundaries begun by their father Ercole, it was expert of weapons and it tried to have good relationships with Charles V that it dominated Italy. Alfonso, was above all man of weapons a capable technician of artillery. Its artillery was successful near the European monarchies. Different inventions are assigned him in the sector of the weapons. It also conceived a system of manufacture of ammunition. It defeats the naval fleet in Venice with an army of earth, that wanted to appropriate the territories estensi. It established good relationships with the Dukedom in Mantua.
He participates in the League Saint allied of France and in the battle in Ravenna (April 11 th 1512), its armies allow the French to defeat the pontifical army. It was excommunicated three times for the politics against the state of the Church.
Also Alfonso, will be patron of the arts: in his royal building, we find Titian, Giovanni Bellini and the sculptor Antonio Lombardo, that decorated the Camerino of the Paintings and the Study of the Marbles in the private apartment on the Covered Street. Unfortunately the paintings and the sculptures were lost in 1598 when Ferrara passed under the Pontifical State. It was also protecting of Ludovico Ariosto that it devoted his poem to the cardinal Ippolito of Este, brother of Alfonso. The same Ariosto, became his administrator. In this period, Michelangelo, will visit Ferrara on behalf of the Republic in Florence.
Ercole II, child of Alfonso and Lucrezia Borgia, bride for political convenience Renata of France in 1528, that it contributed to spread the Reform in Italy, and it will have been governor of Ferrara since 1534 to 1559.  Renata of France is an important figure for the 1550 culture, for the Lutheran and Calvinist likings. To the court of Renata of France, Torquato Tasso writes freed Jerusalem. Ercole dies in 1559, in a battle against the king of Spain Phillip II, commissioned by the Pope Paolo IV. When Ercole Morì, Renata returned in France in her Castle.

Alfonso II, is the last duke to Governare Ferrara, from 1559 to 1597, it was patron of artists and of Torquato Tasso. Alfonso, married three times, it doesn’t have direct heirs and it names Caesar, the last child of Alfonso but the Pope Clemente VIII, it doesn’t recognize other descendants and the dukedom of Ferrara, returns under the direct management of the Church. The succession of Caesar, is recognized only by the emperor of Modena and Reggio. Caesar, bride Virginia, the daughter of Cosimo, of the family of the Physicians. From this moment the dynasty Estense, continues his history to Modena and Reggio.

In 1598, the transition to the state of the Church, to Ferrara, happens in a period of economic weakness. The allocation of the church, caused the destruction of a populated district  and demolished the delight of the Belvedere. As in other cities of Italy, building a fortress that will be hated by the people. In the same year, the Este Duchy, must sell to the state Pontifical also the possessions he had in Romagna Bagnacavallo, Lugo, Conselice Cotignola Fusignano, Massalombarda, defined area  Romandiola  or Romagna Estense.

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