https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-u.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9780429292354/3abb420d-80da-4aed-a9cf-ae5c42b997f9/content/ifig0001.tif"/>Compared with the ancient and noble house of Este, the Sforzas were vulgar upstarts and the Gonzagas were only raw recruits to the aristocracy of Italy. The Este were members of the medieval nobility in Carolingian times. For centuries they ruled the little town of Este in the Euganean Hills near Padua. But late in the twelfth century a Marquis Obizzo d’Este seized Ferrara and early in the thirteenth century his son, Marquis Azzolino, and his heirs were solemnly elected perpetual lords of the city by the people of Ferrara. This is the first recorded instance of an Italian city deliberately voting to exchange its liberty for the arbitrary rule of a despot. Later in the thirteenth century another Obizzo acquired the lordships of Modena and Reggio.