House of Sforza

House of Sforza
Country Italy
Ethnicity Italian
Founded 1411
Founder Muzio Attendolo
Final ruler
Milan:
Francesco II (1535)
Pesaro:
Galeazzo (1519)
Titles
Estate(s) Milan, Pesaro, Gradara
Deposition
Milan:
1500: Italian Wars
Pesaro:
1519: Death of Galeazzo
Two Sicilies:
1624
Cadet branches

Illegitimate

  • House of Sforza-Pesaro (extinct in 1519)
  • House of Sforza-Cotignola (extinct in 1624)
  • House of Sforza-Cesarini

The House of Sforza (pronounced [ˈsfɔrtsa]) was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan. They acquired the Duchy of Milan from the previously-ruling Visconti family in the mid-15th century, and lost it to the Spanish Habsburgs about a century later.

History

Rising from rural nobility of Lombardy, the Sforza family became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics, similar to the Medici in Florence. Under their rule, the city-state flourished and expanded.

Muzio Attendolo (1369–1424), called Sforza (from sforzare, to exert or force), founded the dynasty. A condottiero from Romagna, he served the Angevin kings of Naples and became the most successful dynast of the condottieri.

His son Francesco I Sforza ruled Milan, having acquired the title of Duke of Milan (1450–1466) after the extinction of the Visconti family in 1447.

The family also held the seigniory of Pesaro, starting from Muzio Attendolo's second son, Alessandro (1409–1473). The Sforza held Pesaro until 1519, with the death of Galeazzo.

Muzio's third son, Bosio (1411–1476), founded the branch of Santa Fiora, who held the title of count of Cotignola; the Sforza ruled the small county of Santa Fiora in southern Tuscany until 1624. Members of this family also held important ecclesiastical and political positions in the Papal States, and moved to Rome in 1674, taking the name of Sforza Cesarini.

The Sforza became allied with the Borgia family through the arranged marriage (1493–1497) between Lucrezia Borgia and Giovanni (the illegitimate son of Costanzo I of Pesaro).[1] This alliance failed, as the Borgia family annulled the marriage once the Sforza family were no longer needed.

In 1499, in the course of the Italian Wars, the army of Louis XII of France took Milan from Ludovico Sforza (known as Ludovico il Moro, famous for taking Leonardo da Vinci into his service).

After Imperial German troops drove out the French, Maximilian Sforza, son of Ludovico, became Duke of Milan (1512–1515) until the French returned under Francis I of France and imprisoned him.

Sforza rulers of Duchy of Milan

Sforza rulers of Pesaro and Gradara

Sforza family tree

Notable members

Name Portrait Relationship to the House of Sforza
Muzio AttendoloFounder of the House of Sforza
Francesco SforzaSon of Muzio Attendolo, first Sforza ruler of Milan
Bianca Maria ViscontiWife of Francesco I Sforza
Galeazzo Maria SforzaSon of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan
Gian Galeazzo SforzaSon of Galeazzo Maria Sforza
Bona SforzaDaughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza
and Queen of Kingdom of Poland and Grand Princess of Grand Duchy of Lithuania,
as the wife of Sigismund I the Old, King of Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania
Bianca Maria SforzaDaughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and
Holy Roman Empress, as the wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Anna SforzaDaughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and wife of Alfonso I d'Este
Her successor would be the infamous Lucrezia Borgia
Caterina SforzaIllegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan
Ludovico SforzaSon of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan
Beatrice d'EsteWife of Ludovico Sforza
Maximilian SforzaSon of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan
Francesco II SforzaSon of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan
Giovanni Paolo I SforzaIllegitimate son of Ludovico Sforza, first Marquess of Caravaggio

See also

References

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