The House of Sforza (pronounced [ˈsfɔrtsa]) was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan. They acquired the Duchy of Milan from the previously-ruling Visconti family in the mid-15th century, and lost it to the Spanish Habsburgs about a century later.
Rising from rural nobility of Lombardy, the Sforza family became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics, similar to the Medici in Florence. Under their rule, the city-state flourished and expanded.
Muzio Attendolo (1369–1424), called Sforza (from sforzare, to exert or force), founded the dynasty. A condottiero from Romagna, he served the Angevin kings of Naples and became the most successful dynast of the condottieri.
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.
|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|
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