He was the son of Ercole I. At 15 he had been married to Anna Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan. She died in childbirth in 1497, and Alfonso later (1501) married Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Leaving much of the cultural and social life of his brilliant court to Lucrezia, he devoted his considerable energies to statecraft and war. The new technology of firearms fascinated him, and he established a celebrated foundry for casting huge cannons. He enjoyed tinkering with artillery and painting maiolica, but his reputation for intellectual triviality is unjustified. His intelligence, applied to military and diplomatic problems, preserved his state at a time of intense danger. In him great reserves of keenness lay beneath an inarticulate, even stolid appearance.
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