The Villa d’Este at Tivoli / en.wikipedia.org
These are two more of those family names that ring down the centuries, the Este since about the year one thousand, and the Esterházy since the sixteenth century. We have emphasised the importance of dynastic, powerful families and individuals in General-History.com on purpose, because history is made or mangled by humans, in association with, or struggling with Nature. Many of our subjects have been weak or bad or a combination of the two; many have been strong and good, but even more have been that strangely human breed, the weak who appear strong (and vice-versa), with good and bad elements showing up equally.
The family Este seem to have surfaced in Italy around 1000 A.D., and were absolute rulers of Ferrara by the end of the 12th century. They remained in charge of this region until 1598, when their powers were incorporated into the Papal States. Azzo d’Este was the first Marchese (marquis). He lived from 1205 until 1264, and had completely established his authority by the time he died. He was Signore of Ferrara, and his son Obizzo made the position hereditary, annexing Modena and Reggio at the same time.
Niccolo III (born 1383, died 1441) was a good man who brought prosperity and comparative peace to the territory during his long princely reign. His sons and successors, Leonello (born 1407), Borso (born 1413) and Ercole (1431) were scholars who encouraged learning. They were also notable patrons of the arts. Isabella (1474) and Beatrice (1475, both daughters of Ercole) continued the traditions set by their family and ancestors. Isabella married Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua, and Beatrice married Ludovico Sforza of Milan, thus joining together three significant and powerful Italian families.
Alfonso I got into trouble with Popes, not at all a difficult thing to do in and around the Renaissance (q.v.), or at any other time for that matter, and Julius II and Leo X removed the Este’s papal fiefs in 1527, but meanwhile Ippolito was building the magnificent Villa d’Este at Tivoli. The family lost their power in Ferrara in 1598 but retained the duchy of Modena until 1859, when Francis (1819 – 1875) gave up all his territories to King Victor Emmanuel II.
Prince Pál Antal (Paul Anton) Esterházy / en.wikipedia.org
The Esterházy flourished in several branches in Hungary from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. It is still an aristocratic name to be reckoned with in Europe, because Esterházys married into most noble European families, with notable breeding success.
Count Pál (Paul) Esterházy (1665 – 1713) was a field-marshal for the Habsburgs, becoming a Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (q.v.) in 1687, mostly because of his successful campaigns against the Turks. Prince Miklós IV (born 1765) fought against Bonaparte, but was such a spendthrift he lost most of the family’s enormous estates. Prince Pál Antal (born 1786) was Austria’s ambassador in London until 1842, and in 1848 took up the reins of the Foreign Ministry in Vienna. After the end of the Great War, the defeat of Germany/Austria, the splitting of Austro-Hungary etc., great families like the Esterhazy have maintained a low, well-bred profile, but aristocratic circles from Vienna to New York would not be the same without the occasional Esterházy to liven things up.