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The court of Ercole d'Este was one of the most glittering in Renaissance Italy. The duke was a prolific builder, and the leader in the revival of classical theater, an enthusiastic patron of musicians, and a creator of magnificent court spectacles. Very little survives to testify to Ercole's achievements, largely because of a devastating earthquake in 1570, but extensive archival evidence has been used to reestablish the duke's achievements and the extent to which he was personally involved in his patronage.