Portrait of Francesco II d'Este (1660-1694), Duke of Modena and Reggio (1662-1694), Regency (1662-1674)
Francesco II d'Este (6 March 1660 – 6 September 1694) was Duke of Modena and Reggio from 1662 to 1694. He was born in Modena to Alfonso IV d'Este, duke of Modena, and Laura Martinozzi, niece of Cardinal Mazarin. His sister, Mary of Modena, married the future James II of England in 1673 and became queen of England in 1685. He became duke at the age of two. His mother, pious and rigorous, served as his regent until 1674, filling state offices with clerics under the advice of her Jesuit confessor Father Garimberti. When she left to accompany the princess to England, he assumed control at the age of fourteen, and was so transformed in the free and easy company of his cousin principe Cesare Ignazio d'Este, that on her return the dowager duchess withdrew from court. Francesco's foreign policy was affected by the requirements of Louis XIV, his sister's patron after 1688, but he resisted French attempts to interfere in the duchies. A Franco Modenese alliance was proposed with Francesco and a princess of the House of Lorraine, Béatrice Hiéronyme, the eldest daughter of François Marie de Lorraine, Prince de Lillebonne. The marriage never materialised and instead, he married Margherita Maria Farnese. He learned the violin as a boy and the court orchestra was revived for him when he was eleven; one of the musicians employed there was Giovanni Maria Bononcini. Francesco was a lavish and discerning patron of music, and the composer Arcangelo Corelli dedicated his Op. 3 trio sonatas (Rome, 1689) to him. His library has remained substantially complete in the Biblioteca Estense, Modena.
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