Leonello d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara

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Leonello D'Este portrayed by Pisanello.

Leonello d'Este (also spelled Lionello; 21 September 1407 – 1 October 1450) was marquis of Ferrara and Duke of Modena and Reggio Emilia from 1441 to 1450.


Leonello was one of three illegitimate sons of Niccolò d'Este III and Stella de' Tolomei. He received a military education under the condottiero Braccio da Montone, and was taught in letters by the humanist Guarino Veronese. In 1425, after the execution of his elder brother Ugo Aldobrandino, he was left as the sole heir of Niccolò. In 1435 he married Margherita Gonzaga and was recognized as legitimate by Pope Martin V. Margherita, who died in 1439, gave birth to a child, Niccolò in 1438 (died in 1476). In 1441 he succeeded to his father's possessions in northern Italy. In 1444 Leonello married Mary of Aragon, illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso V of Naples.

Leonello was a skilled politician and was responsible for the construction of the first hospital of Ferrara. But he distinguished himself chiefly as a man of culture. Leon Battista Alberti wrote his De Re Aedificatoria at Leonello's commission, and at the Ferrarese court there worked artists such as Pisanello, Iacopo Bellini, Giovanni da Oriolo, Andrea Mantegna, Piero della Francesca and the Netherlandish Rogier van der Weyden. His personal Breviary was sold in a fragmented state in 1958 by Baron Llangattock at Christies. It has since then been known as the Llangattock breviary. It was created under the artistic direction of Giorgio d´Alemagna and painters like Matteo De Pasti and Jacopo Magnanimo contributed to it. Leaves from it are in the collections of museums such as the Louvre in Paris, The Danish National Library and several private collections.

During his rule the University of Ferrara gained a European prestige.

Leonello died in 1450, at 43. He was succeeded by Borso d'Este, his father's illegitimate son.


  • Fry, Roger. "A Portrait of Leonello d'Este by Roger van der Weyden." Burlington Magazine 18, January 1911. 200–202

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Preceded by
Niccolò III
Marquess of Ferrara
Modena and Reggio

Succeeded by