Sforza family

Italian family that ruled Milan (1450–1535).

The family began with the prosperous farmer and later condottiere leader Muzio Attendolo (1369–1424), who was given the nickname Sforza ("Force"). His illegitimate son Francesco Sforza became duke of Milan in 1450. Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444–76) succeeded his father in 1466, and, though a despotic ruler, he introduced the cultivation of rice, built canals and encouraged commerce, and was a patron of the arts; he was assassinated by conspirators who vainly hoped to provoke a popular uprising. Gian Galeazzo Sforza (1469–94) succeeded his father in 1476 under the regency of his mother and uncle, Ludovico Sforza, who usurped the government in 1481 and established Milan's supremacy. After Ludovico was driven from power by Louis XII of France in 1499, his son Massimiliano Sforza (1493–1530) returned to rule briefly (1513–16) before yielding the duchy to France. Another son, Francesco Maria Sforza (1495–1535), returned after the French defeat to rule from 1522, until his death without heirs ended the ducal line in 1535. The duchy then passed to Charles V and the Habsburgs. Descendants of Sforza Secondo (an illegitimate son of Francesco Sforza) became the Counts Sforza and included the diplomat Carlo, Count Sforza.

* * *

▪ Italian family
 Italian family, first named Attendoli, that produced two famous soldiers of fortune and founded a dynasty that ruled Milan for almost a century.

      The Attendoli were prosperous farmers of the Romagna (near Ravenna) who first assumed the name Sforza (“Force”) with the founder of the dynasty, the condottiere Muzio Attendolo (1369–1424). Muzio's illegitimate son Francesco Sforza, also a condottiere, became duke of Milan in 1450 through his marriage to the daughter of Duke Filippo Maria Visconti.

      Francesco's eldest son, Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444–76), succeeded his father in 1466. Though traditionally characterized as despotic, extravagant, and dissolute, Galeazzo Maria was apparently a capable ruler who took an active interest in agriculture, constructed canals for irrigation and transportation, introduced the cultivation of rice, and encouraged commerce, particularly the manufacture of silk and wool. He was a patron of musicians, artists, poets, and scholars, and himself wrote treatises on hunting. In foreign policy, however, he followed an indecisive course that ended in Milan's virtual isolation.

      Galeazzo Maria was assassinated during Christmas festivities by three conspirators who vainly hoped to set the stage for a popular insurrection. But the murder left Milan to the uncertainties of the regency of his widow, Bona of Savoy, who ruled with the aid of an unpopular chancellor, Cicco Simonetta, and to the brief, troubled reign of Galeazzo's son Gian Galeazzo (1469–94), whose power was soon usurped by his uncle Ludovico the Moor.

      After Ludovico was driven from power by Louis XII of France in 1499, his sons Massimiliano (1493–1530) and Francesco Maria (1495–1535) took refuge in Germany. In 1513, backed by the Swiss, Massimiliano returned to Milan. Three years later Francis I of France attacked the city. The Milanese and their Swiss allies were defeated by French and Venetian troops at Marignano, southeast of Milan, and Massimiliano yielded the duchy to Francis, retiring to Paris to live on a pension. Francesco escaped north to Trento, returning to be set up as duke of Milan in 1522 by Emperor Charles V, after the defeat of the French at the Battle of Bicocca (north of Milan). Francesco's death without heirs ended the ducal male line, and the duchy passed to Charles V and the Habsburgs.

      Several other branches of the Sforza family survived, the descendants of Sforza Secondo (an illegitimate son of Francesco Sforza) becoming the counts Sforza, one of whom was the anti-Fascist statesman and foreign minister of Italy, Carlo Sforza (1873–1952).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sforza family —    Sforza (strength) was the nickname of the condottiere Muzio Attendolo and soon was adopted as the family s surname. Muzio s son Francesco Sforza married Bianca Visconti from the ruling family of Milan, thus inheriting his father in law s… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Sforza family — /ˈsfɔtsə/ (say sfawtsuh) noun a Milanese Renaissance family active in politics, warfare and art patronage. 1. Giacomuzzo /dʒakəˈmutsoʊ/ (say jahkuh moohtsoh) or Muzio /ˈmutsioʊ/ (say moohtseeoh) (Giacomuzzo Attendolo), 1369–1424, Italian… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Sforza, Francesco — born July 23, 1401, San Miniato, Tuscany died March 8, 1466, Milan Italian mercenary and duke of Milan (1450–66). He became condottiere of Florence in 1434 and defeated Milan twice (1438, 1440), then was hired by the Milanese to serve as captain… …   Universalium

  • Sforza, Ludovico — born July 27, 1452, Vigevano, Pavia, duchy of Milan died May 27, 1508, Loches, Toubrenne, France Regent (1480–94) and duke of Milan (1494–98). The second son of Francesco Sforza, he was known as the Moor because of his dark complexion and black… …   Universalium

  • Sforza — /sfawrt seuh/; It. /sfawrdd tsah/, n. 1. Count Carlo /kahrdd law/, 1873 1952, Italian statesman: anti Fascist leader. 2. Francesco /frddahn ches kaw/, 1401 66, Italian condottiere and duke of Milan 1450 66. 3. his father, Giacomuzzo /jah kaw mooh …   Universalium

  • family — /fam euh lee, fam lee/, n., pl. families, adj. n. 1. parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not. 2. the children of one person or one couple collectively: We want a large family. 3. the spouse and children …   Universalium

  • Sforza —    Dynasty that ruled the duchy of Milan between 1450 and its expulsion by a French army in 1499, and again for intermittent peri ods in the first third of the 16th century. Its founder, Francesco (1401 1466), was the son of a successful… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • SFORZA —    (i. e. stormer), Italian family celebrated during the 15th and 16th centuries, founded by a military adventurer, a peasant of the name of Muzia Allendolo, and who received the name; they became dukes of Milan, and began by hiring their… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Galeazzo Maria Sforza — (January 24, 1444 ndash; December 26, 1476) was Duke of Milan from 1466 until his death. He was a member of the Sforza family of Milanese rulers, famous as patrons of the arts and music. He was also famous for being lustful, cruel and tyrannical …   Wikipedia

  • Giovanni Sforza — d Aragona (1466 July 27, 1510) was an Italian condottiero, lord of Pesaro and Gradara from 1483 until his death. He is best known as the first husband of Lucrezia Borgia. Their marriage was annulled on claims of his impotence in March 1497.Life… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.