The House of Este in Ferrara, Modena and Reggio Emilia
here Part 1
Niccolò III d'Este, reigned 1393-1441
Leonello d'Este, reigned 1441-1450
Borso d'Este, reigned 1450-1471
Ercole (Hercules) I d'Este, reigned 1471-1505
Ercole's daughter : Isabella d'Este (1474-1539)
Part 2 (separate page)
Part 3 (separate page)
|The family of Este carried the title 'Margrave of Este' since 1171. They established in Ferrara in the 13th century. They also became rulers in Modena and Reggio Emilia. The construction of the Castello Estense in Ferrara began in 1385. The university was founded in 1391. The Este court became a cultural center. Ferrara reached its climax in the time of the three sons of Niccolò III d'Este - Leonello, Borso and Ercole.|
Map of Italy in 1499
Touch the picture to see the reverse.Cast bronze medal n. d. (about 1437-41) by Amadio da Milano.
Ø 50,4 mm, 64,7 g. Armand I 10/30; Hill Corpus 73; Kress 29; Pollard (2007) 47.
Obv.: NICOLAI MAR - CHIO ESTENSIS FERrarie (Legend is incus!)
Rev.: shield from markgravate Ferrara: eagle (Este) | lilies (french increase 1431)
Touch the picture to see the reverse.
Cast medal 1444 from Pisanello. Ø 99 mm Coll. Stephen K. Scher, New York
Medal on the occasion of Leonello's 2nd marriage in 1544 with Maria,
daughter of Alfonso I, King of Naples and Sicily.
Obv.: ·GEner·Regis·ARagonum· | LEONELLVS·MARCHIO·ESTENSIS· | ·Dominus·FERRARIE·REGII·ET·MVTINE·
"Son in law of the King of Aragon, Leonello Margrave of Este, Lord of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio"
Rev.: OPVS· PISANI· PICTORIS· "Work of the painter Pisano"
Cupid holding a lion (Leonello = "little lion") in front of a roll of music and tames him with singing lessons.
Above the lion an eagle in the back view, indicating the noble origin Leonellos.
A stele with the year 1444 shows a plump sail at a mast.
Cast bronze medal n. d. (before 1441) by Amadio da Milano.
Ø 50,6 mm, 47,8 g. Armand I, 16/2; Börner 29; Kress 28.
Obv. start at 7h : ᕠ DOMINVS ᕠ BORSIVS ᕠ MARCHIO ᕠ ESTENSIS ᕠ
Rev. start at 4h : ᕠ AMADE ᕠ MEDIOLANi ᕠARtiFEX ᕠ FECiT
Marigold with two long leaves; hanging from a rosette above of the flower,
a door-knocker with bar ending in dragon's head.
Ducato o. J. (1471), Ferrara. Ø 23 mm, 3,48 g. CNI X 431/13; RM 127/1; Friedb.261.
Obv.: BORSIVS·DVX·ZC' FERRARE ZC'· "Borso, Duke ... and Ferrara"
(minted after the elevation to the Duke of Ferrara, thus 1471) - effigy with beret to the left.
Rev.: SVREXIT·XPS·REX·GLORIE "Christ is risen, the glorious king"
Christ with a blessing hand and a banner rising from the grave as a resurrection. Exergue: *+*
(This ducat was also coined with the coat of arms instead of the portrait.
Cast bronce medal 1460 by Jacopo Lixignolo. Ø 80 mm. Hill 1930, p.26, no.94; Kress 35.
Specimen in the Musei Civici di Arte Antica, Ferrara, shown by www.wga.hu
Rev.: OPVS IACOBVS LIXIGNOLO MCCCCLX - Landscape with unicorn.
The unicorn is dipping its horn into a stream purifying its water.
Cast bronze medal 1460. by Petrecino of Florence. Ø 96,2 mm. Hill 1930, No.96; Kress 36.
Obv.: BORSIVS·DVX·MVTINE·Z(et)·ReGII·MARCHIO·ESTENSIS·RODIGII·Que·COMES - Bust left.
Rev.: OPVS - PETRECINI DE FLORETIA MCCCCLX - In a rocky landscape, a hexagonal font with open lid, showing a ring within; crosses incised on sides of font; above, the sun's face shining.
Compare with the portrait, tempera on canvas, 48x36 cm, painted by Baldassare d'Este
Cast bronze medal 1472 by Lodovico Coradino. Ø 56,5 mm.
Armand I ?; Hill 1930 29/102c. Specimen on display in The British Museum, London.
Bust left wearing a cap with edge turned up all around and a jewel is placed at the side. Another jewel is placed on the breast of his elaborate gown. At the arm-section MCCCCLXXII engraved.
Rev.: ·GADES·HERCVLIS· - ·OPVS·CORADINI·M·
Young Hercules, nude but for cloak hanging behind him, standing to front, looking right, resting right hand on spear, holding in left hand kite-shaped shield charged with a ring in the middle of which is a flower; on left, in the sea, three fluted Corinthian columns.
Uniface cast lead medal n. d. (1473) by Sperandio of Mantua. Ø 113 mm, 367 g.
Armand I 68/21; Kress 116; Pollard (2007) 85. Specimen in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
Busts confranted: on right Ercole with cap, on left Eleonara with coif, both wearing a chain with pendant. Above a four-winged cherub's head, below: OPVS SPERANDEI.
Ercole married 1473 Eleonora of Aragon (1450-93), daughter of Kg. Ferdinand I. They had six children.
The oldest daughter Isabella (1474-1539) married Francesco II. Gonzaga (1466-1519), Markgrave of Mantua.
The second daughter Beatrice (1475-97) married Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508).
The next was son Alfonso, Duke of Milan, who became Ercole's successor (see below).
The fifth child, Ippolito I d'Este (1479-1520), became a cardinal in 1493.
Bronze medal n. d. (1490-5). Style of Niccolò Fiorentino. Ø 50 mm, 61,42 g.
Armand II 44/3; Kress 267; Pollard(2007) 304. Specimen in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
Vs. ·HERCVLES·DVX - FERAriae·MVtine·ETcetera - Bust to left, elderly, wearing cap and armour.
Rs. ·MINE - RVA· - Minerva standing to front, resting on spear and shield.
Ducato n. d., Ferrara. Ø 23 mm, 3,48 g. CNI X 435/10; RM 129/3; Friedb.265.
Obv.: HERCULES·DVX·FERRARIE· - bust to the left.
Rev.: SVREXIT·XPS·REX·GŁoriE· - Similar to the ducat before. Under the grave a cross.
Testone n. d., Ferrara. Ø 28 mm, 9,70 g. CNI X 436/26; RM 131/6.
Obv.: HERCVLES·DVX·FERRARIAE·II· - bust left without pearl circle.
Rev.: On horseback to the right a naked man with forward pointing hand.
Testone n. d., Ferrara. Ø 28 mm, 7,74 g. CNI X 436/20; RM 129/4.
Obv.: ·HERCVLES·FERRAR·DVX·II - bust right without pearl circle.
Rev.: Seven headed hydra on a fire.
Grossone n. d., Ferrara. Ø 26 mm, 3,79 g. CNI X 437/32; RM 133/10.
Obv.: +[HE]RCVLES·DVX·FERRARIE - armored bust with pearl circle.
Rev.: +✿DEVS·FORTITVDO·[ME]A✿ "God is my strength"
St. George on horseback fights the dragon with a lance.
Ligated letters on the Obv. / Rev.: [HE] / [ME]
Mezzo testone n. d., Modena. Ø 25 mm, 3,90 g. CNI IX 191/7; RM 136/14; MIR 624.
Obv.: ·HERCVLER·DVX·INVICTISS: - head to the left.
Rev.: DEVS·FORT·MEA· "God is my strength"
Hercules tears a lion. Exergue: ·C (arms from Modena) M·
Ducato, Reggio Emilia. Ø 22 mm, 3,46 g. CNI IX 661/1; RM -; MIR 1260; Friedb.979.
Obv.: ·HERCV - LES·DVX - Hercules lifts the giant Antaeus.
Rev.: S·ProSPER - EPIscopus·REGII - St. Prosper (Bishop of Reggio in the 5th century), with Mitra and Nimbus, stands in front, blessing with his right hand, a crook in his left hand, at right the arms of Reggio.
Gaia, the Earth, supported her son, the giant Antaeus, in the fight against Hercules. Therefore,
Heracles could win only after he had lifted Antaeus from the earth and separated him from his mother.
Testone leggero, Reggio Emilia. Ø 24 mm, 3,69 g. CNI IX 661/3; RM 137/15; MIR 1261.
Obv.: ·HERCVLES· ᕠ ·DVX·II·ᕠ· - Bust to the left, cap with buckle.
Rev.: ·REGIVM· - ·LEPIDIᕠ ancient name of the region, after consul Marco Lepido, 2nd century BC.
Coat of arms of Reggio (Red Cross in the silver field) in the form of a horse head.
Testone leggero o. J. (1496/1502), Reggio. Ø 24 mm, 3,09 g. CNI IX 602/6; RM 137/16.
Obv.: ·DIVO·HERC ᕠ ·DVCI ᕠ - barheaded bust to the left.
Rev.: ᕠ COMVNITAS ᕠ REGII :· - City coat of arms as before.
Bagattino n.d., Reggio. (1º tipo: figura giovanile) Ø 17 mm, 2,64 g. CNI IX 664f/32-56; RM 138/17.
* HERCVLES - DVX * // ·REGIVS·EMILIA·VETERES
Bagattinos were made of base metal (copper or bronze).
Bagattino n. d., Reggio. (3º tipo: figura senile) Ø 16 mm, 1,84 g. CNI IX 670/84; RM 138/19.
*HERCVLES·DVX*· // *REGIVM·OLIM·EMILIA·:
Compare the outlines in the coat of arms of the last three coins.
'Tartsche shield' s a shield shape with a lateral saving for the spear of shield leading knight.
Compare the bust in marble by Sperandio da Mantova 1475
Gold medal with enamel and diamonds n. d. (c. 1498) by Gian Cristoforo Romano. Ø 69 mm.
Armand III 3/49; Hill (1930) 221; Kress 76; Pollard(2007)118; Gesichter der Renaissance 240/92.
Here the only surviving gold specimen preserved in the coin cabinet of Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna.
Obv.: ISABELLA ESTENsis MARCHionissa MAntuae - Bust to the right with elegantly curled hair.
Rev.: BENEM ERE - NTIVM ERGO "For Those Who Serve Her" (as a reason for giving away the medal)
A winged female figure in antique robe holds a palm branch in her left hand and a staff in her right hand.
A snake rises in front of her, with the zodiac sign Sagittarius on top.
Ref: [CNI and RM: page & no. eg. 87/6 = p.87 no.6]
• Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI], vol.X, look at Ferrara - CNI-Index vol. X
• Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI], vol.IX, look at Modena and Reggio - CNI-Index vol. IX
• Ravegnani Morosini, Mario [RM]: Signorie e Principati. Monete italiane con ritratto 1450-1796. 1984
House of Este in Ferrara, Modena and Reggio: vol.I, p.120 ff.
• Armand, Alfred: Les Médailleurs Italiens des quinzième et Seizièmme siècles. Vol.1, Paris 1883
• Kress: Renaissance Medals from the Samuel H.Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art. London 1967
Part 2 (continuation)
Alfonso I d'Este, reigned 1505-1534
Alfonso's second wife : Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519)
Part 3 (continuation)