Alessandro Sforza (cardinal)
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A member of the House of Sforza, Alessandro Sforza was born in Rome in 1534, the son of Bosio II Sforza, count of Santa Fiora e Cotignola, and his wife Costanza Farnese, who was the natural and legitimized daughter of Pope Paul III. His brother Guido Ascanio Sforza di Santa Fiora also became a cardinal. He was the uncle of Cardinal Francesco Sforza.
He gained the academic title of Magister. Early in his ecclesiastical career, he became a papal chaplain. He became a scriptor of apostolic letters. On January 12, 1554, he became a cleric of the Apostolic Camera. He became a canon of St. Peter's Basilica on April 18, 1554. He was involved in a minor scandal after he made French vessels travel from Civitavecchia to Gaeta that caused Pope Paul IV deprive him of his charges and benefits. After the vessels were returned and some cardinals intervened, the pope restored him to his former offices on October 8, 1557.
Pope Pius IV made him a cardinal priest in the consistory of March 12, 1565. He received the red hat and the titular church of Santa Maria in Via Lata on May 15, 1565. He participated in the papal conclave of 1565-66 that elected Pope Pius V. Together with Cardinals Giovanni Ricci, Giovanni Francesco Commendone, and Marcantonio Bobba, was named by Pope Pius V inspector of rivers, ports and public roads of Rome. On January 5, 1570, the pope named him papal legate a latere to Bologna and Romagna.
He participated in the papal conclave of 1572 that elected Pope Gregory XIII. The new pope named him archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore; during the jubilee year of 1575, he opened the holy door there. Gregory XIII also made him cardinal protector of Spain. Sometime before March 30, 1573, he resigned the government of the Diocese of Parma. He was named Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura on January 12, 1575. On July 11, 1580, he was named papal legate to the Papal States (in addition to remaining legate to Bologna), charged with eliminating banditry.