Ludovico Sforza


Ludovico Sforza

Ludovico Sforza Duke of Milan (Ludovico il Moro, "The Moor"; July 27, 1452 – May 27, 1508), a member of the Sforza dynasty of Milan, Italy, was the second son of Francesco Sforza, and was famed as patron of Leonardo da Vinci and other artists. It is said that he was called "il Moro" because of his dark skinned complexion. Some scholars believe that the name "Moro" came from Ludovico's coat of arms, which contained the mulberry tree, but that is doubtful, as the Italian name for that tree is the feminine "mora" rather than the masculine "moro". It should be noted that in Italian "moro", just like "bruno", is just the masculine equivalent of "brunette" ("mora" in Italian). So the epithet most likely refers either to Ludovico's jet black hair or perhaps his swarthy complexion (suggesting he resembled a Moor).

Biography

Ludovico Sforza was born at Vigevano, in what is now Lombardy.

Ludovico married Ercole I d'Este's youngest daughter Beatrice d'Este in January 1491 in a double Sforza-Este marriage. Ludovico Sforza married Beatrice d'Este, while Beatrice's brother, Alfonso d'Este, married Anna Sforza, the sister of Gian Galeazzo Sforza. Leonardo da Vinci orchestrated the wedding celebration.

Beatrice and Alfonso’s sister, Isabella d'Este (1475–1497) was married to Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua.

Ludovico had many mistresses. Cecilia Gallerani was Ludovico’s favorite mistress. She gave birth to his child, a son, in the same year as he married Beatrice d'Este. She is thought to be the subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine. The ermine was the heraldic animal of Ludovico il Moro.

On the assassination of Ludovico's elder brother Galeazzo in 1476, the crown passed to his seven-year-old nephew Gian Galeazzo Sforza. Ludovico seized control of the government of Milan during Gian Galeazzo's minority despite attempts to keep him out of power. When he died in 1494, Ludovico received the ducal crown from the Milanese nobles on October 22.

The same year, he simultaneously encouraged the French under Charles VIII of France, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, to become involved in Italian politics, hoping to manipulate the two and reap the rewards himself—thus starting the Italian Wars. Things did not go as planned, and finding his own position endangered by the French, he joined the league against Charles VIII, giving his niece Bianca in marriage to Maximilian I and receiving in return imperial investiture of the duchy.

After first defeating the French at the Battle of Fornovo in 1495 (making weapons from 80 tons of bronze originally intended for a da Vinci statue), Ludovico was later driven from Milan by the new French king, Louis XII in 1499. In 1500, Louis XII laid siege to the city of Novara, where Ludovico was based. The armies of both sides included Swiss mercenaries. The Swiss did not want to fight each other and chose to leave Novara. Ludovico was handed over to the French in April 1500 and died as prisoner in the castle of Loches. The Swiss later executed a soldier from Uri called Hans Turmann who had, they claimed, betrayed Ludovico for money.

The Swiss later restored the duchy of Milan to Ludovico's son, Maximilian Sforza. His other son, Francesco II, also held the Duchy of Milan for a short period. Giovanni Paolo, another son of Ludovico, was a successful condottiero and the first in the family line of the marquesses of Caravaggio.

External links

* [http://www.kleio.org/monalisa/g_eng/350.htm Portrait and family tree]


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