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date: 28 October 2020

Sforza familylocked

  • E. S. Welch,
  • Sabine Eiche
  •  and Janet Southorn


Italian family of rulers and patrons. The family ruled Milan from 1450 until 1535, with two interruptions (1499–1512; 1515–21) when they were ousted by the French (see Milan, §I, 2). The founder of the dynasty was (1) Francesco Sforza I who married (3) Bianca Maria, the illegitimate daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan (see Visconti family, §6), and declared himself Duke in 1450. The Sforza court brought several notable artists and architects to Milan; in particular (5) Ludovico Sforza had Leonardo da Vinci in his household for 18 years and also employed Donato Bramante on various architectural projects in Milan. With the death (1535) of (8) Francesco Sforza II, Milan passed to the Habsburgs. (2) Alessandro Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, the brother of Francesco I, was a notable architectural patron in Pesaro, while (6) Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza financed the new cathedral at Pavia as well as collecting books and manuscripts....

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L.-G. Michaud, ed.: Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 84 vols (Paris, 1811–57)