Today in History / OnThisDay - July 27th. 1452 - Ludovico Sforza

Ludovico Sforza was born on July 27th. 1452 at Vigevano (now located
in Lombardy). He was a younger son of Francesco I Sforza, Duke of Milan,
and Bianca Maria Visconti.

Due to his mother he received a proper education and he learned inter
alia the classical languages, the instruction in the beauties of painting,
sculpture and letters. He also was taught the methods of government
and warfare.

painting of Ludovico Sforza : Source picture: Wikipedia

In 1466 his father Francesco died (the famous painting the last Supper
was painted next to his burial place). Ludovico's older brother,
Galeazzo Maria Sforza, became the new Duke of Milan. He ruled over
the Duchy till his assassination in 1476. Then he left the throne to his son,
who was at that moment 7 years old!

Ludovico and the boy's mother, Bona of Savoy, moved into a bitter
struggle for the regency and in 1481 Ludovico seized control of the
government of Milan, despite attempts to keep him out of power.

Love & Marriage

In 1491 Ludovico married Beatrice d'Este. She was a daughter from
Ercole I d'Este. In fact a double Sforza-Este wedding took place as
Beatrice's brother, Alfonso d'Este married Ludovico's niece Anna Sforza.
Leonardo da Vinci orchestrated the wedding celebration.

A shining court

Beatrice was at that time 15 years old and she quickly charmed the
court in Milan. She made from the Sforza castle a center of joy,
she organized festivals, balls and she loved to be entertained by
philosophers, poets, diplomats and soldiers. It was said that Beatrice
really had a good taste, and due to her, Ludovico became patron of
artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Donato Bramente. Beatrice and
Ludovico would have 2 children together: Maximilian and Francesco.
However Ludovico had several mistresses (although he kept only one
mistress at a time). By these mistresses several children were born.

Not only Beatrice did a lot for the court of Milan. Ludovico invested
in agriculture, horse and cattle breeding and in the metal industry.
Even a lot of workers were employed in the silk industry. Artists and
craftsmen transfered the court of Milan into one of the most splendid
of Europe. Ludovico also sponsored work in civil and military
engineering such as canals and fortifications.

Besides that Ludovico continued to pay for the work on the Cathedral of
Milan. It was no secret that the universities of Pavia and Milan
flourished under him, although people were grumbling that they
had to pay heavy taxation...

Source picture: wikipedia


In 1494, Alfonso the king of Naples allied himself with Pope
Alexander VI and this was a threat to Milan. Ludovico decided
to accept help from France, then ruled by the powerful Charles VIII.
Ludovico permitted the French troops to pass through Milan, so
they might attack Naples. Naples reacted immediately. Their King
claimed the Duchy of Milan as their own. Ludovico asked help
to Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I. To rattify this ally, Ludovico
offered his niece, Bianca Sforza, to Maximilian I, as his bride.

Check also the page : House of Habsburg - Maximilian I - on top of my
blog or on this link

In 1494 his nephew died under suspicious conditions and the throne
of Milan fell to Ludovico. On January 3rd. 1497 Ludovico's wife

When Charles VIII died his cousin Louis became King of France
and he claimed the Duchy of Milan as his own, this led to the
Italian Wars...

Ludovico died on May 27th. 1508 at the Château de Loches,
as a prisoner of the French.