Italian Condotta IV60: 1320AD- 1495AD

DBA list:
1x 3Kn (General): Francesco Sforza
4x 3Kn
1x 2LH
2x 8Cb or 2Ps
2x 4Sp or 4Pk
1x 4Cb or 4Ax or 3Bd or 2LH
1x 2ps or Art

The Sforza dynasty was founded by Muzio Attendolo, called Sforza (from sforzare, to exert or force, 1369-1424) a condottiero from Romagna serving the Angevin kings of Naples. He was the most successful dynast of the condottieri.

Francesco I Sforza (July 23, 1401 - March 8, 1466) was born in San Miniato, Tuscany, one of the seven illegitimate sons of the condottiero Muzio Sforza and Lucia da Torsano.After the death of his father, he fought initially for the Neapolitan army and then for Pope Martin V and the duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti.

In 1431, after a period in which he fought again for the Papal States, he led the Milanese army against Venice; the following year the duke's daughter, Bianca Maria, was betrothed to him. Despite these moves, the wary Filippo Maria never ceased to be distrustful of Sforza. The allegiance of mercenary leaders was dependent, of course, on pay: in 1433-1435, Sforza led the Milanese attack on the Papal States, but when he conquered Ancona, in the Marche, he changed sides, obtaining the title of vicar of the city directly from Pope Eugene IV. In 1436-39, he served variously both Florence and Venice.

In 1440, his fiefs in the Kingdom of Naples were occupied by King Alfonso I, and, to recover the situation, Sforza reconciled himself with Filippo Visconti. On October 25, 1441, in Cremona, he could finally marry Bianca Maria. In the following year, he allied with René of Anjou, pretender to the throne of Naples, and marched against southern Italy. After some initial drawbacks, he defeated the Neapolitan commander Niccolò Piccinino, who had invaded his possessions in Romagna and Marche, through the help of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (who had married his daughter Polissena) and the Venetians, and could return to Milan.

Sforza later found himself warring against his son Francesco (whom he defeated at the Battle of Montolmo in 1444) and, later, the alliance of Visconti, Eugene IV, and Sigismondo Malatesta, who had allegedly murdered Polissena. With the help of Venice, Sforza was again victorious and, in exchange for abandoning the Venetians, received the title of capitano generale (commander-in-chief) of the Duchy of Milan's armies.

After the Milanese duke died without a male heir in 1447, fighting broke out to restore the so-called Ambrosian Republic. Sforza received the seigniory of several cities of the duchy, including Pavia and Lodi, and started to carefully plan the conquest of the ephemeral republic, allying with William VIII of Montferrat and (again) Venice. In 1450, after years of famine, riots raged in the streets of Milan and the city's senate decided to entrust to him the dukeship. It was the first time that such a title was handed over by a lay institution. While the other Italian states gradually recognized Sforza as the legitimate Duke of Milan, he was never able to obtain the official investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor. That did not come to the Sforza Dukes until 1494 when Emperor Maximilian formally invested Francesco's son Lodovico as Duke of Milan.

Under his rule (which was moderate and skillful), Sforza modernised the city and duchy. He created an efficient system of taxation that generated enormous revenues for the government, his court became a center of Renaissance learning and culture, and the people of Milan loved him. In Milan, he founded the Ospedale Maggiore, restored the Palazzo dell'Arengo, and had the Naviglio d'Adda, a channel connecting to the Adda River, built.

During Sforza's reign over Milan, Florence was under the command of Cosimo de' Medici and the two rulers became close friends. This friendship eventually manifested in the Peace of Lodi and then the Italian League, a multi-polar defensive alliance of Italian states that succeeded in stabilising almost all of Italy for its duration. After the peace, Sforza renounced part of the conquests in eastern Lombardy obtained by his condottieri Bartolomeo Colleoni, Ludovico Gonzaga, and Roberto Sanseverino after 1451.

Francesco Sforza

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