the dynasties

What is a dynasty?

It is the convention of transmitting power following the bloodline, from father to son, in order to keep the power inside the family.


The family Da Carrara (which members are called Carraresi) was an aristocrat family from Padua. It governed the lordship of Padua between 1318 and 1405. During this time, the Euganean city conquered Verona, Vicenza, Treviso, Feltre, Belluno, Bassano, Udine and Aquileia and controlled them until 1405. Only Venice prevented the creation of a big regional state with Padua as its capital.

The family of the Da Carrara, aristocratic family from Padua, had probably noble German origins. Thanks to some favourable conditions, they created a real feud in the Paduan countryside, with the castle of Carrara San Giorgio in the middle. After some fights between Communes and the Emperor, the Carraresi lost a big deal of their power, and in 1250 Jacopo Da Carrara was murdered in his castle in Agna by Ezzelino III da Romano. Niccolò and Obizzo were forced to move to Padua, while the Emperor Henry VII favored the territorial power of the Scaligeri from Verona at the expenses of the dominations of Padua. Still, Padua had improved its economic and political relevance in the meantime, and there Niccolò and Obizzo led a riot against the noble families of Padua. In 1318, Giacomo Da Carrara headed the negotiation of the war against Verona, and after a failed attempt to conquer again Vicenza, he had to leave the fortified municipalities of Este, Monselice, Montagnana, and Castelbaldo. In July 1318, Giacomo became Lord of Padua by popular acclaim with the name of Giacomo I. The Lords Da Carrara kept their control over Padua until 1405, with a short break for the Scaligeri domination between 1328 and 1338, and the Visconti domination between 1388 and 1390. In 1405, Giacomo III, son of the last Lord of Padua Francesco Novello, was taken prisoner by the Venetians because a plague epidemic forced him to surrender. Francesco Novello and the other son Francesco III gave themselves up to the Venetians and the three were later chocked in prison.


The House of Este, or Estensi, was an ancient Italian dynasty that descends from the Obertenghi family and took the name from the municipality of Este (currently in the province of Padua), which had been their feud between 1056 and 1239. The Estensi had been Lords of Ferrara (a city tied as vassalage to the Papal State) since 1208, and then Dukes of the same city since 1471, widening their domination to most of Emilia-Romagna.

The House of Este, or Estensi, was an ancient Italian dynasty that descends from the Obertenghi family and took the name from the municipality of Este in the province of Padua which had been their feud between 1056 and 1239. Alberto Azzo II D’Este (996-1097) can be considered the forefather of the family in the city with the same name of Este, and the initiator of the Marquisate, since he was appointed Marquis of Este (which at the time was an important political and commercial hub) by the Emperor. Azzo VII went to power when he was very young, but in the early years he was under the protection of his mother and some noblepeople. His investiture as Marquis of Ancona was renewed by Pope Onorio III, and he got the protection of the Emperor Fredrick II. Afterwards, he opposed the Emperor and became the leader of the guelphs of the Marquisate. The events connected with the military campaigns in the North of Italy of Fredrick II witnessed the alternance between the ghibellines (loyal to the Emperor) as leaders of town until 1239, when the Emperor was defeated and went back to South Italy. In 1242, he got power over Ferrara, after the victory against Ezzelino III Da Romano, actually starting the Estensi domination over the municipality.


The family Da Romano (also called Ezzelini or Ecelini) were an important Venetian family in the Middleages.Romano was a fortified center at the bottom of the Venetian pre-Alps, in a strategic point for the control of the passages along the river Brenta-Valsugana, which connected the two sides of the Alps. The presence of a river link allowed a quick rise of the family.

The family Da Romano (also called Ezzelini or Ecelini) were an important Venetian family in the Middleages.The first known components of the family Da Romano are Ecelo (or Ezzelo) and his wife Gisla, that can be found in some documents of1070. They likely had Germanic origins, but we do not know when they arrived to Italy. The most important member of the family was Ezzelino III Da Romano (1194-1257), who was a vicar of the Emperor Friedrick II from Svevia. He extended his domain from the Oglio and the Po to Trent and the March of Treviso. After the death of Fredrick II, he was excommunicated by Innocenzo IV (1254). He died in Soncino, after he was injured and captured in Cassano d’asda after a failed attempt to conquer Milan.


The Della Scala or Scaligeri ruled over Verona for one hundred eighteen years, from 1262 to 1387. During Mastino’s rule the Venetian Commune became a Sognoria, but this change was actually effective only with Mastino’s brother, Alberto. Under the rule of Cangrande their lordship reached its maximum importance and reputation.

The Della Scala or Scaligeri ruled over Verona from 1262 to 1387. After fights against the Imperial vicar Ezzelino III da Romano, they gradually got to power thanks to Mastino. He had the support of the merchants of the commune and the local clergy, he was podestà from 1261 to 1269. Thanks to him, the passage from Commune to Signoria was effortless. Under the rule of Cangrande (1291-1329), the Signoria of the Dalla Scala reached its highest importance and power, even Dante Alighieri stayed in Verona at the time. Cangrande went to war against Padua with ups and downs, and in 1328 he was lord of Verona, Vicenza, Padova, Treviso, Belluno, Feltre, Monselice, Bassano, and Imperial vicar of Mantua and leader of the Italian Ghibellines. In 1329, he was poisoned and died, and his lordship went to his nephews Alberto II and Mastino II. In 1331, Mastino was elected Captain general of a league against the emperor which included the Visconti and the Estensi. Once they freed Ferrra from the emperor’s siege, Mastino went back to Verona and he was acclaimed by his subjects. After his death, the lordship started to decline, and in 1387 a league composed by Carraresi, Visconti, Estensi and Gonzaga put an end to the independence of Verona and to the Dalla Scala dynasty after two big fights, among which that of Castagnaro.


The Visconti family is one of the most ancient noble Italian families, which origin is dated back to the end of the 10th century in the territory of Northern Italy, where it was founded the Visconti’s Dukedom with Milan as its capital. The Visconti were the lords of Milan from 1277 to 1395, when the lord of the Holy Roman Empire Wenceslaus of Luxembourg appointed Gian Galeazzo Visconti as Duke of Milan and Imperial vicar.

The Viscontis were the lords of Massino, a strategic place on the western heights of Lake Maggiore and the Ticino river, where they have been present since the 12th century as archbishop’s vassals. The surname of the family derives from the Latin vice comitis, which means “deputy counts”, vice- he who takes the place and remains (with-you) indicated the one who was with someone, that is with the emperor, for the Visconti with the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In historical terms, it is believed that it was one of the capitular families that the archbishop Landolfo (979-998) invested in the fiefs known as caput plebis.

The relative documentation dates back to 1157 and from it results as the Visconti were owners of the captaincy of Marliano (today’s Mariano Comense). In coeval times, however before 1070, they obtained the public viscount office which later became hereditary in all male descendants. The function of viscounts, or vicars of the count, is linked to the adoption of the sign bearing a viper that swallows a child, still on the coat of arms of the Municipality of Milan.

Soon the family was divided into several branches, some of which were invested with fiefs far from Milan, while the branch that gave the city the noble dynasty is descended from Uberto, who died in the first half of the 13th century.

rep. di venezia

The Republic of Venice was an ancient state before the unification of Italy, with Venice as its main nucleus. It was known both as Saint Mark’s Republic or just Serenissima. Until its fall (18th century), the state included the most of the North-Eastern part of Italy, Istria and Dalmatia, as well as many islands of the Adriatic Sea (Gulph of Venice) and of the Eastern Ionic sea.

In the late Middle Ages, Venice became extremely rich, thanks to the control of trade with the Levant, and began to expand in the Adriatic Sea and beyond. This expansion phase began in the year 1000, when the fleet led by Doge Pietro II Orseolo to fight the Narentani pirates who oppressed the Venetian coasts with their raids received subjugation of the Istrian and Dalmatian coastal cities and subsequent recognition by the Byzantine emperor of the title of duke of Venice and Dalmatia (Dux Venetiae et Dalmatiae).

The republic expanded in the following centuries, to many islands and territories of the Adriatic and the Mediterranean Sea, coming to understand for centuries almost all the eastern coasts of the Adriatic (entirely known as the “Gulf of Venice”), but also the large islands of Crete (“Candia” for the Venetians of the time) and Cyprus, most of the Greek islands and of the Peloponnese (“Morea” for the Venetians of the time). Its offshoots reach the Bosphorus several times. The complex of these vast island and coastal domains constituted what the Venetians called the state da mar (lit. the “maritime state”, as opposed to the “Domini di Terraferma” and the “Dogado”).

For centuries the republic was primarily a state composed of islands and coastal strips, which constituted the so-called state of mar. Only limited inclusions of areas of the lagoon hinterland had been carried out to constitute defensive strongholds against the expansion of cities like Padua and Treviso. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, however, the Venetians began to expand considerably also inland, in response to the threatening expansion of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan from 1395.

In 1410, Venice had already conquered much of today’s Italian region of Veneto, including important cities such as Verona and Padua, and ten years later it subjected Friuli. The republic came to understand the territory of what had been the X Augustan region of the Italian peninsula (Venetia et Histria). In 1426 and 1428 also the cities of Brescia and Bergamo today became Venetian, with their suburbs.