Isabella d’Este (May 18, 1474–February 13, 1539) was one of the most noted women of the Italian Renaissance who played a key role in Italian politics and culture. I have always been fascinated by her since she was such an influential person during an age that was dominated by men. She represents, for me, another side of the Renaissance that sometimes is ignored by historians who focus on the upheaval and tension of the period. Isabella d’Este was Marchesa of Mantua and was a patron of the arts as well as a leader of fashion, whose innovative style of dressing was copied by women throughout Italy and at the French court. She served as the regent of Mantua during the absence of her husband, Francesco II Gonzaga, the Marquess of Mantua, and during the minority of her son, Federico, Duke of Mantua. In 1500 she met King Louis XII of France in Milan on a diplomatic mission to persuade him not to send his troops against Mantua.
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