Francesco I Sforza

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Francesco I Sforza bigraphy, stories - Italian condottiero and founder of the Sforza dynasty in Milan

Francesco I Sforza : biography

July 23, 1401 – March 8, 1466

Francesco I Sforza (July 23, 1401 – March 8, 1466) was an Italian condottiero, the founder of the Sforza dynasty in Milan, Italy. He was the brother of Alessandro, with whom he often fought.

Notes

Sources

Antonio Menniti Ippolito, Francesco I Sforza, duca di Milano, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, L, Roma 1998, pp. 1–15.

Category:1401 births Category:1466 deaths Category:People from the Province of Pisa Francesco 1 Francesco 1 Category:Condottieri Category:Knights of the Garter Category:15th-century Italian people Category:Burials at Milan Cathedral Category:Deaths from edema

Biography

Early life

Francesco Sforza was born in San Miniato, Tuscany, one of the seven illegitimate sons of the condottiero Muzio Sforza and Lucia da Torsano. He spent his childhood in Tricarico (in the modern Basilicata), the marquisate of which he was granted in 1412 by King Ladislaus of Naples. In 1418, he married Polissena Ruffo, a Calabrese noblewoman.

From 1419, he fought alongside his father, soon gaining fame for being able to bend metal bars with his bare hands. He later proved himself to be an expert tactician and very skilled field commander. After the death of his father, he fought initially for the Neapolitan army and then for Pope Martin V and the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti. After some successes, he fell in disgrace and was sent to the castle of Mortara as a prisoner de facto. He regained his status after a successful expedition against Lucca.

In 1431, after a period during which he fought again for the Papal States, he led the Milanese army against Venice; the following year the duke’s daughter, Bianca Maria, was betrothed to him. Despite these moves, the wary Filippo Maria never ceased to be distrustful of Sforza. The allegiance of mercenary leaders was dependent, of course, on pay; in 1433-1435, Sforza led the Milanese attack on the Papal States, but when he conquered Ancona, in the Marche, he changed sides, obtaining the title of vicar of the city directly from Pope Eugene IV. In 1436-39, he served variously both Florence and Venice.

In 1440, his fiefs in the Kingdom of Naples were occupied by King Alfonso I, and, to recover the situation, Sforza reconciled himself with Filippo Visconti. On October 25, 1441, in Cremona, he could finally marry Bianca Maria. The following year, he allied with René of Anjou, pretender to the throne of Naples, and marched against southern Italy. After some initial drawbacks, he defeated the Neapolitan commander Niccolò Piccinino, who had invaded his possessions in Romagna and Marche, through the help of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (who had married his daughter Polissena) and the Venetians, and could return to Milan.

Sforza later found himself warring against his son Francesco (whom he defeated at the Battle of Montolmo in 1444) and, later, the alliance of Visconti, Eugene IV, and Sigismondo Malatesta, who had allegedly murdered Polissena. With the help of Venice, Sforza was again victorious and, in exchange for abandoning the Venetians, received the title of capitano generale (commander-in-chief) of the Duchy of Milan’s armies.

Duke of Milan

After the duke died without a male heir in 1447, fighting broke out to restore the so-called Ambrosian Republic.Henry S. Lucas, The Renaissance and the Reformation (Harper Bros.: New York, 1960) p. 268. The name Ambrosian Republic takes its name from St. Ambrose, a popular patron saint of Milan. Agnese del Maino, his wife’s mother, convinced the condottiero who held Pavia to restore it to him.

He also received the seigniory of other cities of the duchy, including Lodi, and started to carefully plan the conquest of the ephemeral republic, allying with William VIII of Montferrat and (again) Venice. In 1450, after years of famine, riots raged in the streets of Milan and the city’s senate decided to entrust to him the duchy. It was the first time that such a title was handed over by a lay institution. While the other Italian states gradually recognized Sforza as the legitimate Duke of Milan, he was never able to obtain official investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor. That did not come to the Sforza Dukes until 1494, when Emperor Maximilian formally invested Francesco’s son, Ludovico, as Duke of Milan.