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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

Sforza, Francesco I

[Attendolo], Duke of Milan

(b San Miniato, 23 July 1401; reg 1450–66; d Milan, 8 March 1466).

He was the son of the condottiere Muzio Attendolo and established himself as one of the most important military figures in 15th-century Italy. In 1441 he married Bianca Maria, the illegitimate daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan. Following Filippo Maria’s death in 1447 and a short-lived attempt by the Milanese to create a republic (the Ambrosian Republic), Sforza declared himself Duke in 1450. His sponsorship of the arts was primarily directed towards religious and civic building projects. During the first ten years of his rule his patronage was dominated by the need to reconstruct and restore major Visconti fortresses, particularly the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, which had been destroyed during the Ambrosian Republic. Francesco also took up the traditional ducal sponsorship of the building of Milan Cathedral and the Certosa di Pavia.

E. S. Welch