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Princely family of Lombard origin prominent in the history of medieval and Renaissance Italy. The Estensi, a branch of the 10th-century dynasty of the Obertenghi, took their name from the township and castle of Este, near Padua. The founder of the family was the margrave Alberto Azzo II (died 1097), through whose son Folco I (died 1136?) descended the House of Este. The family first gained prominence as leaders of the Guelphs in the wars between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Members of the family ruled in Ferrara in the 13th–16th century. After Alfonso II (1533–1597), the fifth and last duke of Ferrara, died childless, direct papal rule was established in Ferrara in 1598, and the main branch of the Este family came to an end. The family also ruled in Modena and Reggio from the late Middle Ages to the late 18th century. In addition to their political prominence, members of the family also played an important role as promoters of art and culture.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Este family, visit Britannica.com.
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