House of Sforza

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CoA Sforza.svg
CountryFormer countries
FounderMuzio Attendolo
Final ruler
Francesco II (1535)
Galeazzo Sforza (1512)

Cadet branches:

Estate(s)Milan, Pesaro, Gradara
Cadet branchesIllegitimate:
  • House of Sforza-Pesaro (extinct in 1515)
  • House of Sforza-Cotignola (extinct in 1624)
  • House of Sforza-Cesarini

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).[1] 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.

Sforza rulers of the Duchy of Milan[edit]

Map of Italy in 1494. Insert shows the Duchy of Milan ruled by the Visconti family and inherited by the Sforzas.

Sforza rulers of Pesaro and Gradara[edit]

Sforza family tree[edit]

A family tree of the House of Sforza

Notable members[edit]

Name Portrait Relationship to the House of Sforza
Muzio Attendolo Muzio Attendolo Sforza.jpg Founder of the House of Sforza
Francesco Sforza Francesforza.jpg Son of Muzio Attendolo, first Sforza ruler of Milan
Bianca Maria Visconti Biancamati.jpg Wife of Francesco I Sforza
Galeazzo Maria Sforza Giangaleazzosketch.jpg Son of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan
Gian Galeazzo Sforza GianniDavinci.jpg Son of Galeazzo Maria Sforza
Bona Sforza Caraglio Cameo of Bona Sforza.jpg 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 Bernhard Strigel 009.jpg Daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and
Holy Roman Empress, as the wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Anna Sforza Anna Maria Sforza.jpg Daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and wife of Alfonso I d'Este
Her successor would be the infamous Lucrezia Borgia
Caterina Sforza Cattysporja.jpg Illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan
Ludovico Sforza Ludosporjailmoro.jpg Son of Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan
Beatrice d'Este Bettyeste sporjawife.jpg Wife of Ludovico Sforza
Maximilian Sforza Massimiliano Sforza by G.A. de Predis (Donatus Grammatica).jpg Son of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan
Francesco II Sforza FrancescoIISforza.jpg Son of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan
Giovanni Paolo I Sforza Giovanni Paolo Sforza with the Sforza symbol.jpg Illegitimate son of Ludovico Sforza, first Marquess of Caravaggio

Castellini Baldissera[edit]

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.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "La Signoria degli Sforza". Retrieved 2013-04-23.
  2. ^ "Sigismund I | king of Poland | Britannica".
  3. ^ de Sio, Gian Filippo (March 2019). "Lo sfarzo abituale di una nobile famiglia milanese. Gli eredi Mellerio 1783-1792". Società e Storia (163): 57–89. doi:10.3280/ss2019-163004. ISSN 0391-6987. S2CID 187172458.
  4. ^ Miller, Matt (12 October 2010). "The Real Life Characters of Assassin's Creed". Game Informer. Retrieved 18 June 2019.

External links[edit]