Milan:Francesco II (1535)
Pesaro:Galeazzo Sforza (1512)
|Estate(s)||Milan, Pesaro, Gradara|
Sforza (pronounced [ˈsfɔrtsa]) was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan. They acquired the Duchy of Milan following the extinction of the Visconti family in the mid-15th century, Sforza rule ending in Milan with the death of the last member of the family's main branch in 1535.
Francesco I Sforza ruled Milan, having acquired the title of Duke of Milan (1450–1466) after marrying in 1441 the natural daughter and only heir of the last Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti, Bianca Maria (1425–1468), making the Sforzas the heirs of the house of Visconti.
The family also held the seigniory of Pesaro, starting with Muzio Attendolo's second son, Alessandro (1409–1473). The Sforza held Pesaro until 1512, after the death of Costanzo II Sforza.
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 positions in the Papal States, and moved to Rome in 1674, taking the name of 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 Pesaro). This alliance failed, as the Borgia family annulled the marriage once the Sforza family 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.
In 1521 Charles V drove out the French and restored the younger son of Ludovico, Francesco II Sforza to the duchy. Francesco remained the ruler of Milan until his death in 1535 and as he was childless the Duchy reverted to the Emperor, who passed it to his son Philip II in 1540, thus beginning the period of Spanish rule in Milan.
|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|
While the House of Sforza has died out over the last century, it is closely related to the Castellini Baldissera family, who inherited a number of their palazzos and estates.