House of Sforza

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  • House of Sforza-Pesaro (extinct in 1519)
  • House of Sforza-Cotignola (extinct in 1624)
  • House of Sforza-Cesarini

Sforza was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan.



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

His son Francesco I Sforza ruled Milan for the first half of the Renaissance era, acquiring the title of Duke of Milan from the extinct Visconti family in 1447.

Rising from peasant origins, the Sforzas became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics. Under their rule the city-state flourished and expanded. Similar to the Medici in their use of personal power, the Sforzas differed in that they were warriors, not bankers.[1]

The family also held the seigniory of Pesaro, starting from Muzio Attendolo's second son, Alessandro (1409–1473). The Sforza held Pesaro until 1519, with the death of Galeazzo. 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 position in the Papal States, and moved to Rome in 1674.

The Sforza would later join with the Borgia Family, through the arranged marriage of Lucrezia Borgia to Giovanni (the illegitimate son of Costanzo I of Pesaro[1]).

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