Sforza, Ludovico

Sforza, Ludovico or Lodovico

(lo͞odōvē`kō sfôr`tsä, lō–), b. 1451 or 1452, d. 1508, duke of Milan (1494–99); younger son of Francesco I Sforza. He was called Ludovico il Moro [the Moor] because of his swarthy complexion. In 1480 he deprived his sister-in-law, Bona of Savoy, of the regency for her infant son, Gian Galeazzo Sforza (see SforzaSforza
, Italian family that ruled the duchy of Milan from 1450 to 1535. Rising from peasant origins, the Sforzas became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics.
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, family), and from that date his actual rule may be reckoned. In 1494, Gian Galeazzo died, a virtual prisoner, and Ludovico was formally invested with Milan by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian IMaximilian I,
1459–1519, Holy Roman emperor and German king (1493–1519), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. As emperor, he aspired to restore forceful imperial leadership and inaugurate much-needed administrative reforms in the increasingly
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. Partly in order to divert French ambitions from Milan, partly in order to protect himself from the hostility of the king of Naples, Ludovico concluded an offensive alliance with Charles VIIICharles VIII,
1470–98, king of France (1483–98), son and successor of Louis XI. He first reigned under the regency of his sister Anne de Beaujeu. After his marriage (1491) to Anne of Brittany, he freed himself from the influence of the regency and prepared to conquer
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 of France, whose invasion (1494) of Italy was the beginning of the Italian WarsItalian Wars,
1494–1559, series of regional wars brought on by the efforts of the great European powers to control the small independent states of Italy. Renaissance Italy was split into numerous rival states, most of which sought foreign alliances to increase their
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. In 1495, however, Ludovico reached an understanding with Charles's enemies and turned against the French, who were expelled from Italy. In 1499, Louis XIILouis XII,
1462–1515, king of France (1498–1515), son of Charles, duc d'Orléans. He succeeded his father as duke. While still duke, he rebelled against the regency of Anne de Beaujeu and was imprisoned (1488), but was released (1491) by his cousin King Charles
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 of France, who had a hereditary claim to the duchy of Milan (he was a great-grandson of Gian Galeazzo Visconti), invaded Italy and expelled Ludovico from his duchy. Ludovico's attempt, with the aid of Swiss mercenaries, to recover his lands was defeated at Novara (1500); he was captured and died a prisoner in France. Before his fall, Ludovico Sforza was one of the wealthiest and most powerful princes of Renaissance Italy. He was a subtle diplomat and an unscrupulous intriguer. With his wife, Beatrice d'EsteEste
, Italian noble family, rulers of Ferrara (1240–1597) and of Modena (1288–1796) and celebrated patrons of the arts during the Renaissance. Probably of Lombard origin, they took their name from the castle of Este, near Padua.
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, he held a brilliant court and spent immense sums of money to further the arts and sciences. He is remembered especially for his patronage of Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da Vinci
, 1452–1519, Italian painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, and scientist, b. near Vinci, a hill village in Tuscany. The versatility and creative power of Leonardo mark him as a supreme example of Renaissance genius.
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 and of the architect Bramante.