Sforza was the first European ruler to follow a foreign policy based on the concept of the balance of power, and the first native Italian ruler to conduct extensive diplomacy outside the peninsula to counter the power of threatening states such as France. In 1449 Milan concluded peace with Venice behind Sforza’s back, whereupon he blockaded the city, starving it into insurrection. He however survived for four more years, finally dying in March 1466. Antonio Menniti Ippolito, Francesco I Sforza, duca di Milano, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, L, Roma 1998, pp. Black Friday Sale! While he lived Milan remained a military power. His heirs became vulnerable because they were not military leaders and allowed military preparedness to decline. 1–15. Francesco I Sforza (Italian pronunciation: [franˈtʃesko ˈpriːmo ˈsfɔrtsa]; 23 July 1401 – 8 March 1466) was an Italian condottiero who founded the Sforza dynasty in the duchy of Milan, ruling as its (fourth) duke from 1450 until his death. Updates? After some initial setbacks, 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. 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. The following year Venice, Naples, Savoy, and Montferrat joined forces against Sforza, who turned to Cosimo de’ Medici and concluded a Milan–Florence alliance that brought about the Peace of Lodi (1454) and permitted him to consolidate his rule over Milan. Under his rule (which was moderate and skillful), Sforza modernised the city and duchy. During Sforza's reign, Florence was under the command of Cosimo de' Medici and the two rulers became close friends. The following year, he allied with René of Anjou, pretender to the throne of Naples, and marched against southern Italy. He created an efficient system of taxation that generated enormous revenues for the government, his court became a center of Renaissance learning and culture, and the people of Milan grew to love him. After the Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan, died without a male heir in 1447, fighting broke out to restore the so-called Ambrosian Republic. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. 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. A three-cornered struggle then ensued among the Milanese republic, Venice, and Sforza. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Francesco-Sforza-duke-of-Milan-1401-1466. He built it with difficulty, but held in with ease. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Premium Membership is now 50% off! His government, though despotic, apparently was enlightened. During periods of uneasy truce he became betrothed (1433) to and married (1441) the duke’s illegitimate daughter and only child, Bianca Maria. The Milanese seized the occasion to rebel and proclaimed a republic, hiring Sforza as their captain general. After the death of his father during the War of L'Aquila, he participated in the Braccio da Montone's final defeat in that campaign; he fought subsequently for the Neapolitan army and then for Pope Martin V and the Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti. Francesco Sforza, (born July 23, 1401, San Miniato, Tuscany [Italy]—died March 8, 1466, Milan), condottiere who played a crucial role in 15th-century Italian politics and, as duke of Milan, founded a dynasty that ruled for nearly a century.  In 1436-39, he served variously both Florence and Venice. This friendship eventually manifested in first the Peace of Lodi and then the Italian League, a multi-polar defensive alliance of Italian states that succeeded in stabilising almost all of Italy for its duration. Francesco's successor Ludovico commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to design an equestrian statue as part of a monument to Francesco I Sforza. Francesco Galeazzo Maria (5 August 1453/54 — died young). Elisabetta Maria (10 June 1456 — 1473), wife of. Sforza occupied Genoa and Savona in 1464. On 25 October 1441, in Cremona, he could finally marry Bianca Maria as part of the agreements that ended the war between Milan and Venice. 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. …Maria’s son-in-law, the powerful condottiere, Francesco (duke 1450–66) provided his subjects not only relative peace and patronage of humanism and the arts but also the disadvantages of tyrannical rule. His successor, the cruel and lustful Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1466–76), was assassinated in a conspiracy of three young men who combined…. Sforza Maria (18 August 1451 — 29 July 1479), Duke of Bari from 1464 to 1479. Two years later he inflicted an even more crushing defeat on the Milanese at Anghiari, near Florence. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Francesco Sforza with his second wife Bianca Maria Visconti had: Italian condottiero, founder of the Sforza dynasty, For other people named Francesco Sforza, see, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Francesco_I_Sforza&oldid=971240431, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with Encyclopædia Britannica links, Wikipedia articles with SELIBR identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Francesco Sforza. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.  Agnese del Maino, his wife's mother, convinced the condottiero who held Pavia to restore it to him.. From 1419, he fought alongside his father, soon gaining fame for being able to bend metal bars with his bare hands. In 1418, he married Polissena Ruffo, a Calabrese noblewoman.. Corrections? This page was last edited on 4 August 2020, at 23:07.  Despite these moves, the wary Filippo Maria never ceased to be distrustful of Sforza. A clay model of a horse which was to be used as part of the design was completed by Leonardo in 1492 — but the statue was never built. In 1999 the horse alone was cast from Leonardo's original designs in bronze and placed in Milan outside the racetrack of Ippodromo del Galoppo. He regained his status after leading an expedition against Lucca. On his way to Milan, Sforza learned that the duke had died and had named, not him, but Alfonso of Aragon, king of Naples, as his successor. 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.  The name Ambrosian Republic takes its name from St. Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan. became the new duke of Milan after his mercenaries conquered the city cosimo de' Medici took control of Florence, controlled the government from behind the scenes In Milan, he founded the Ospedale Maggiore, restored the Palazzo dell'Arengo, and had the Naviglio d'Adda, a channel connecting with the Adda River, built. Sforza suffered from hydropsy and gout. 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. Omissions? Ottaviano Maria (30 April 1458 — 1477), Count of Lugano, who drowned while escaping arrest. Though Sforza was primarily a warrior, he and his children became known as patrons of the arts and enriched Milan architecturally. The Sforza — Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. In 1443 (two years after his marriage) Sforza was once more at war with his father-in-law. Fighting for the Florentine-Venetian League against Milan in 1438, he won a battle at Lake Garda and captured Verona. In 1449 Milan concluded peace with Venice behind Sforza’s back, whereupon he blockaded the city, starving it into insurrection. He was succeeded as duke by his son, Galeazzo Maria Sforza. ← previous next → Pages: 1 2 last Francesco Sforza was born in San Miniato, Tuscany, one of the seven illegitimate sons of the condottiero Muzio Sforza and Lucia da Torsano. 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. He was the brother of Alessandro, whom he often fought alongside. He spent his childhood in Tricarico (in the modern Basilicata), the marquisate of which he was granted in 1412 by King Ladislaus of Naples.