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House of Sforza

house of sforza, the house of sforza the snakes

  • House of Sforza-Pesaro extinct in 1519
  • House of Sforza-Cotignola extinct in 1624
  • House of Sforza-Cesarini

Sforza pronounced ˈsfɔrtsa was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan They acquired the Duchy of Milan from the previously ruling Visconti family in the mid-15th century, and lost it to the Spanish Habsburgs about a century later


  • 1 History
  • 2 Sforza rulers of Duchy of Milan
  • 3 Sforza rulers of Pesaro and Gradara
  • 4 Sforza family tree
  • 5 Notable members
  • 6 In popular culture
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References


A miniature of Muzio Attendolo, fifteenth century

Rising from rural nobility, the Sforzas became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics, similar to the Medici in Florence Under their rule the city-state flourished and expanded

Muzio Attendolo 1369–1424, called Sforza from sforzare, to exert or force, founded the dynasty A condottiero from Romagna, he served the Angevin kings of Naples and became the most successful dynast of the condottieri

His son Francesco I Sforza ruled Milan, having acquired the title of Duke of Milan 1450-1466 after the extinction of the Visconti family in 1447

The family also held the seigniory of Pesaro, starting from Muzio Attendolo's second son, Alessandro 1409–1473 The Sforza held Pesaro until 1519, with the death of Galeazzo

Muzio's third son, Bosio 1411–1476, founded the branch of Santa Fiora, who held the title of count of Cotignola; the Sforza ruled the small county of Santa Fiora in southern Tuscany until 1624 Members of this family also held important ecclesiastical and political position in the Papal States, and moved to Rome in 1674, taking the name Sforza Cesarini

The Sforza became allied with the Borgia family through the arranged marriage 1493-1497 between Lucrezia Borgia and Giovanni the illegitimate son of Costanzo I of Pesaro1 This alliance failed as the Borgia annulled the marriage once the Sforza's were no longer needed

In 1499, in the course of the Italian Wars, the army of Louis XII of France took Milan from Ludovico Sforza known as Ludovico il Moro, famous for taking Leonardo da Vinci into his service

After Imperial German troops drove out the French, Maximilian Sforza, son of Ludovico, became Duke of Milan 1512-1515 until the French returned under Francis I of France and imprisoned him

Sforza rulers of Duchy of Milanedit

Map of Italy in 1494 Insert shows the Duchy of Milan ruled by the Visconti family and inherited by the Sforzas
  • Francesco I 1450–1466
  • Galeazzo Maria 1466–1476
  • Gian Galeazzo 1476–1494
  • Ludovico 1494–1499
  • Ludovico restored 1500
  • Massimiliano 1512–1515
  • Francesco II 1521–1535

Sforza rulers of Pesaro and Gradaraedit

  • Alessandro
  • Costanzo I
  • Giovanni
  • Costanzo II
  • Galeazzo

Sforza family treeedit

  • Muzio Sforza with mistress Lucia da Torsano had 7 illegitimate sons
    • son Francesco I Sforza married Bianca Maria Visconti
      • son Galeazzo Maria Sforza mistress Lucrezia Landriani
        • daughter Bianca Maria 1472–1510, second wife of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I
        • son Gian Galeazzo1469–1494, married Isabella of Naples
          • son Francesco II, nominally duke under the regency of Ludovico Maria
          • daughter Bona 1494–1557, second wife of King Sigismund I of Poland2
          • daughter Ippolita Maria Sforza 1493–1501
        • illegitimate daughter Caterina Sforza married Giovanni de' Medici il Popolano
      • son Ludovico il Moro the Moor 1451–1508
        • son Ercole Massimiliano
        • son Francesco II III Maria
        • illegitimate daughter Bianca Sforza married to Galeazzo Sanseverino
        • illegitimate son Giovanni Paolo I 1497–1535, marquess of Caravaggio
      • son Ascanio 1444–1505, Cardinal
      • daughter Ippolita Maria 1446–1484, married king of Alfonso II d'Aragon of Naples
    • son Alessandro, first lord of Pesaro
      • son Costanzo I
      • son Galeazzo, last Sforza ruler of Pesaro
      • son Giovanni 1466–1510, first husband of Lucrezia Borgia
        • son Costanzo II Giovanni Maria
    • Bosio count of Cotignola, lord of Castell'Arquato

Notable membersedit

Name Portrait Relationship to the House of Sforza
Muzio Attendolo Founder of the House of Sforza
Francesco Sforza Son of Muzio Attendolo, first Sforza ruler of Milan
Bianca Maria Visconti Wife of Francesco I Sforza
Galeazzo Maria Sforza Son of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan
Gian Galeazzo Sforza Son of Galeazzo Maria Sforza
Bona Sforza Daughter of Gian Galeazzo Sforza
and Queen of Kingdom of Poland and Grand Princess of Grand Duchy of Lithuania,
as the wife of Sigismund I the Old, King of Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania
Bianca Maria Sforza Daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and
Holy Roman Empress, as the wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Anna Sforza Daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and wife of Alfonso I d'Este
Her successor would be the infamous Lucrezia Borgia
Caterina Sforza Illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan
Ludovico Sforza Son of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan
Beatrice d'Este Wife of Ludovico Sforza
Maximilian Sforza Son of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan
Francesco II Sforza Son of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan
Giovanni Paolo I Sforza Illegitimate son of Ludovico Sforza, first Marquess of Caravaggio

In popular cultureedit

  • One of the cursed artifacts from Friday the 13th: The Series was the "Sforza Glove", attributed to the original family's possession
  • Thomas Harris's character Hannibal Lecter is a descendant of the House of Sforza
  • In the anime, manga and book series Trinity Blood, one of the Cardinals and Duchess of Milan is named Caterina Sforza
  • Caterina Sforza appears as a non-playable character in the video game Assassin's Creed 2 and its sequel, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
  • The Sforza figure prominently in the Showtime series on the Borgia family
  • The house is mentioned in a song about the Borgia Family in the British edutainment TV show Horrible Histories

See alsoedit

  • List of rulers of Milan
  • Gradara
  • House of Visconti
  • Italian Wars
  • Pesaro


  1. ^ "La Signoria degli Sforza" Gradaracom Retrieved 2013-04-23 
  2. ^ http://wwwbritannicacom/biography/Sigismund-I-king-of-Poland

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