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Adrian Foster
Adrian Foster

Forza Chiara!!! Perugia.mpg


Ludovico Sforza was born on 27 July 1452 at Vigevano, in what is now Lombardy. His position as the fourth son of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti[9] meant that he was not expected to become ruler of Milan, but his mother still encouraged a broad education.




Forza Chiara!!! Perugia.mpg


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Cicco Simonetta describes him as the most versed and rapid in learning among the children of Francesco Sforza who, as well as his mother Bianca, showed him particular attention, witnessed by the extensive correspondence. At the age of seven, in Mantua, together with his mother and brothers, he welcomed Pope Pius II on a visit to the city, making the first public outing on an official occasion. At the age of eleven, he dedicated an oration in Latin to his father.[11]


Galeazzo Maria seemed to have a particular predilection for him: in 1471 he had established in his will that, dying without grandchildren, the Duchy of Milan passed to Ludovico even before the other brothers. The latter covered his well-known relationship with Lucia Marliani, signing the deeds of donation for the countess. A clear change occurred in 1476, when he was sent to France together with his brother Sforza Maria, in a sort of disguised exile. Bona later accused the two brothers-in-law of having plotted to assassinate the duke, only to deny the accusation once he had made peace with Ludovico, so that it is not possible to establish the reasons for that exile. According to the official version of Galeazzo Maria, it was his own brothers who asked him for permission to "go and see the world".[14]


The assassination of Duke Galeazzo Maria then took place on 26 December 1476, at the hands of other authors. He was succeeded by his son Gian Galeazzo Maria, then only seven years old. Upon hearing the news, Ludovico and Sforza hastily returned from France. Together with two other brothers, Ascanio and Ottaviano, as well as the condottieri Roberto Sanseverino, Donato del Conte and Ibletto Fieschi, Sforza and Ludovico tried to oppose the regency of Bona, since the duchy was in fact in the hands of the ducal councilor Cicco Simonetta. The attempt failed. Ludovico was exiled to Pisa, Sforza Maria to Bari, Ascanio to Perugia. Octavian instead tried to wade the Adda in full and drowned there. Roberto Sanseverino fled to France, Donato del Conte was imprisoned in the "ovens" of Monza[15] and Ibletto Fieschi in the Castello Sforzesco.


In February 1479 the Moro and Sforza Maria, induced by Ferrante of Aragon, entered with an army in the Republic of Genoa, where they joined Roberto Sanseverino and Ibletto Fieschi. The Duchess Bona of Savoy and Cicco Simonetta convinced Federico Gonzaga and Ercole d'Este to gather an army and come to their rescue against the payment of a large sum of money. A second army led by Roberto Malatesta and Costanzo Sforza, supporting the Florentines, would have faced the troops of the pontiff and the Neapolitan ones.


On 29 July Sforza Maria died near Varese Ligure, according to many poisoned on commission of Cicco Simonetta, according to others of natural death, and Ferrante appointed the Moro Duke of Bari. Following Roberto Sanseverino, on 20 August Ludovico resumed the march to Milan at the head of an army of 8,000 men, crossing the Passo di Centocroci and going up the Sturla Valley. On 23 August he took the citadel of Tortona after having corrupted the Castellan Rafagnino Donati. He then went up to Sale, Castelnuovo Scrivia, Bassignana and Valenza.


The Milanese Ghibelline nobility, which had Pietro Pusterlaas as a reference, took advantage of Ludovico's presence in Milan to try to convince him to get rid of Simonetta, reminding him of all the sufferings that he and his brothers had had to suffer because of Cicco: exile, war, the death of Octavian and Donato del Conte and finally the poisoning of Sforza Maria,[17] to which Ludovico had been very attached. However, he did not consider Cicco a danger and judged it unnecessary to condemn to death a man now quite old and moreover sick with gout.[17] Therefore, Pietro Pusterla planned an armed revolt against the ducal secretary and seeking the support of the Marquis of Mantua and Monferrato as well as Giovanni Bentivoglio and Alberto Visconti.


Meanwhile, the Ghibelline nobility, who had helped him in his rise to power, had become unpopular with Ludovico and had found in Ascanio Sforza the defender of his interests. The Moor, persuaded by Sanseverino, ordered the arrest of his brother and his exile in Ferrara. Pietro Pusterla, Giovanni Borromeo, Antonio Marliani and many other illustrious exponents of the Ghibelline faction were also exiled.


Bona went into such fury at his departure that, forgetting all her honour and dignity, she too decided to leave and pass over the mountains, and this bad resolution could never be revoked; but forgetting every filial love of her, in the hands of Lodovico Sforza she renounced the protection of her children and of the state.


Ludovico entered the war in favour of his future father-in-law, Ercole d'Este, and first sent Federico da Montefeltro, then, at the death of this, his half-brother Sforza Secondo. On 6 January 1483, Sixtus IV abandoned the alliance with the Venetians and moved to Ferrara. The Venetians through Costanzo Sforza, who had passed to their pay, devised a plan to make Ludovico abandon the league: on 15 July Roberto crossed the Adda and fortified the bridge; despite the success, there were no revolts; The Moor met in Cremona with Alfonso of Aragon and other representatives of the league and decided to immediately counterattack the Venetians. On 22 July, Alfonso gathered the army of the league in Monza, and the next day Roberto, realizing that the operation had now failed, retired to Bergamo.


The wedding was set for the following January and on 29 December 1490, during a winter that turned out to be very rigid enough to force the use of sleds, the wedding procession left Ferrara to lead the betrothed to Milan.[32] She was accompanied by her mother and her other relatives. His brother Alfonso and cousin Ercole would have equally married two princesses of the Sforza house on the same occasion: the first Anna Maria, daughter of the late Galeazzo Maria and therefore niece of Ludovico (and sister of Gian Galeazzo), the second Angela, daughter of Carlo Sforza and Bianca Simonetta (daughter of Cicco Simonetta).[13]


The 15-year-old princess quickly charmed the Milanese court with her joy in life, her laughter, and even her extravagance. She helped to make Sforza Castle a centre of sumptuous festivals and balls and she loved entertaining philosophers, poets, diplomats and soldiers. Beatrice had good taste, and it is said that under her prompting her husband's patronage of artists became more selective and the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Donato Bramante were employed at the court.[13] She would become the mother of Maximilian Sforza and Francesco II Sforza, future Dukes of Milan.


To respond to this manoeuvre, Ludovico then allied himself with Emperor Maximilian and with the King of France Charles VIII, to whom he left the green light to go down to Italy to conquer the kingdom of Naples, which Charles considered his legitimate possession as it was stolen by the Aragonese from the Angevins. Maximilian promised Ludovico il Moro to publicly recognize his succession to the duchy and to defend his rights, thus legitimizing the usurpation that many claimed to the Sforza, and to seal this promise he married Bianca Maria Sforza, sister of the young Gian Galeazzo, who brought him the amazing sum of 400,000 ducats as a dowry. plus another 100,000 for the investiture, as well as many gifts.


Louis Duke of Orleans [...] in a few days he prepared a fairly fine army, with which he entered Novara and took it, and in a few days he also had the castle, which caused great fear to Ludovico Sforza and he was close to despair over his fate, had he not been comforted by his wife Beatrice [...] O little glory of a prince, to whom the virtue of a woman must give him courage and make war, for the salvation of the domain!


Beatrice d'Este managed to expel from Novara the Duke of Orleans, who had seized it, directly threatening Milan over which she boasted rights of possession. Peace was signed, and Charles returned to France, without having drawn any serious fruit from his enterprise. Lodovico Sforza rejoiced in this result. But it was a brief jubilae his.


The move turned out to be wrong, indeed it deprived him of a precious ally, Venice, which had helped him concretely since the battle of Fornovo, certainly not making him the help of Florence, of which the Duchy of Milan had always been a proud opponent since the fifteenth century before Sforza and Medici started a personal friendship. All this was evident at the second descent into Italy of the King of France: Louis XII allied himself with Venice, which at this point was eager to take revenge for Ludovico's about-face in Pisa, and Gian Giacomo Trivulzio passed with the exercise in Italy.


However, the situation backfired during the siege of Novara, when the Swiss refused to participate in the battle. On 10 April, the Swiss garrison was leaving Novara, passing a cordon formed by the Swiss on the French side. French officers were posted to oversee their exit. As the disguised Sforza passed the cordon, one mercenary Hans (or Rudi) Turmann of Uri made signs giving away Sforza's identity and he was apprehended by the French along with the Sanseverino brothers. A few days later, Ascanio, who had attempted to escape to Germany, was also captured.[94]


"Now are you here, Ludovico Sforza, who for the sake of a foreigner Galeazzo Sanseverino have chased me your citizen out, nor, if you have chased me away only one, have you again urged the souls of the Milanese to rebel against the royal Majesty?" 'To which thing, answering in a low manner, the prince said, that it is difficult to know the cause why the soul bends to love one and hates the other [...]


With the arrival of the French, Milan lost its independence and remained under foreign domination for 360 years. Among the spoils of war taken by the French, there was also the great Visconti-Sforza Library[95] which was located (together with a part of the ducal archive) in the castle of Pavia and consisted of over 900 manuscripts, including some that belonged to Francesco Petrarca. Of the codices of the library of the Dukes of Milan,400 are still preserved today at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, while others ended up in Italian, European or American libraries.[96][97]


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