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Francesco Sforza: The Power and Prestige of a Renaissance Duke

Italian CondottieriFrancesco Sforza: The Power and Prestige of a Renaissance Duke

Francesco Sforza knows strategy and tactics. He leaves nothing to chance. Everything is thoughtful in him, the plan of the war, as well as that of the battle. In addition to his great leadership skills, he is known for his ability to navigate through the complex Italian situation in the second half of the fifteenth century

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Last Updated on 2023/10/16

The Birth of a Dynasty: Sforza’s Ascension to Power.

“FRANCESCO SFORZA (Francesco da Cotignola) Of San Miniato.

Francesco Sforza (1401-1466) was a leading Italian condottiero and duke who played a crucial role in the intricate political landscape of 15th-century Italy. Born into the influential Sforza family, he grew to be a formidable military leader, known for his strategic acumen and leadership skills. After a series of complex political maneuvers, Sforza became the Duke of Milan in 1450, marking the beginning of the Sforza dynasty’s rule over the city-state. His reign was characterized by stability and prosperity, with significant developments in areas such as infrastructure, art, and culture. He was a patron of the arts and sciences and invited numerous humanists and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, to his court. Despite his success and power, Sforza’s personal life was complex. He had 35 children, many of whom were born out of wedlock. His death in 1466 marked the end of his dynamic rule, yet his legacy and influence on Milan and Italy at large are still recognized today.

Duke of Milan and Bari; Count of Cotignola, Tricarico, Ariano Irpino, Pavia; Marquis of Marca. Lord of Milan, Pavia, Novara, Piacenza, Parma, Cremona, Genova, Savona. Additionally, for varying periods, he also controlled Ascoli Piceno, Tolentino, Potenza Picena, Sant’Elpidio a Mare, Monterubbiano, Montefiore dell’Aso, Visso, Montegranaro, Montottone, Castignano, Offida, Porto Recanati, Jesi, San Severino Marche, Osimo, Recanati, Fabriano, Macerata, Urbisaglia, Pergola, Fermo, Acquapendente, Tuscania, Assisi, San Lorenzo, Sanguinetto, Teramo, Troia, Benevento, Manfredonia, Ariano Irpino, Foligno, Gualdo Tadino, Todi, Terni, Nocera Umbra, Orvieto, Proceno, Bitonto, Pontremoli. Natural son of Muzio Attendolo Sforza; brother of Alessandro Sforza, Giovanni Sforza, Leone Sforza (the mother Lucia Terzani); half-brother of Bosio Sforza and Corrado da Fogliano (another son of Lucia Terzani); son-in-law of Jacopo Caldora and Filippo Maria Visconti; cousin of Foschino Attendolo and Marco Attendolo; nephew of Micheletto Attendolo and Lorenzo Attendolo; father-in-law of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Jacopo Piccinino, Giosia Acquaviva and Giovanni da Tolentino; brother-in-law of Troilo da Rossano and Ardizzone da Carrara. He has 35 children, of which only eight are legitimate. From Giovanna d’Acquapendente, also known as Colombina, he has five children including Polissena, wife of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta and assassinated by the said condottiero, and Drusiana, wife of Jacopo Piccinino.

Born: 1401 (July)
Death: 1466 (March)

YearState,
Comp of venture
OpponentConductActivity areaActions taken and other salient facts
…………Tuscany and EmiliaHe spends the first years of his childhood in Florence. He moves to Ferrara and becomes a page at the court of Marquis Niccolò d’Este. In this city, among his teachers is Guarino Guarini, known as “the Veronese”.
1412
…………CampaniaFracesco Sforza goes to Naples with Marco Attendolo; he is entrusted to the care of the grand chamberlain Gabriele Felice and to that of Michele Ravignano, husband of his aunt Margherita Attendolo.
Dic.He is enfeoffed by Queen Giovanna d’Angiò with the county of Tricarico including Senise, Calciano, Salandra, Brasciano, and Craco, previously owned by the San Severino.
1414
Dic.CampaniaHe is imprisoned in Castelnuovo in Naples with his father and Micheletto Attendolo by order of the queen of Naples. He will be released after four months.
1415
Mar. Jun.CampaniaHe is given as a hostage by his father to Pandolfo Alopo along with his sister Lisa, his brothers Leone, Giovanni, Alessandro, his cousins Foschino and Marco, and a son of Lorenzo Attendolo. Once freed, he will later be enfeoffed by the queen with Ariano Irpino and the lands of Apice, Montecalvo Irpino, Castelfranco, Casalduni, Monteleone di Puglia and Amando, seized from Ermenegildo di Sabran.
Aug.CampaniaHe is imprisoned by Giacomo di Borbone, Count de la Marche, when the court favors the party of the queen’s betrothed over that of the favorite Pandolfo Alopo.
1416
Nov.With the fall from grace of Giacomo di Borbone, he gains freedom. He is given back Tricarico and Ariano Irpino with their respective pertinences.
1417
Feb.CampaniaHe is conferred the title of Count of Ariano Irpino.
Oct.NaplesPerugiaLazioHe fights the troops of Braccio di Montone. He distinguishes himself in a clash near Toscanella (Tuscania) where Tartaglia is defeated; for the valor shown on the occasion, he is knighted at the end of the fight.
1418
Aug.SforzaNapoliCalabriaHe is sent by his father to Calabria. Accompanying Sforza are Berardo da Varano, Taliano Furlano, Pelino da Cotignola, Bianchino da Parma, Antonello d’Alfano, Arrigo della Rocca Bolone, Matteo dell’Alpe, Rinaldo da Cotignola, Ettodoro Albanese, il Minutillo.
1419
May. Jun.NapoliPerugiaCalabria, LazioHe leaves Calabria to head to Viterbo to aid his father. He moves at dawn to attack the enemy camp, placed between Bullicame and Montefiascone, where Muzio Attendolo has prepared an ambush. Niccolò Piccinino and Tartaglia come against him; he defeats the opponents with the help of Micheletto Attendolo; he captures 562 horses. Piccinino is also taken prisoner along with 37 men of his company. He enters Viterbo.
1420
Jun.AnjouNapoli1000 horsesCampaniaHe joins his father against Giovanna d’Angiò (Joanna I of Naples). He besieges Acerra, which he only manages to capture with the help of Micheletto Attendolo. He is wounded in the chest by a verrettone in a clash in Naples near Porta Capuana. He is incapacitated for fifteen days.
Oct.CalabriaBy the end of the month, he marries Polissena Ruffo, the Countess of Montalto, in Rossano. She is the widow of the French knight, Giacomo di Mailly. Through this marriage, Sforza receives a substantial dowry of 20,000 ducats, along with various lands that include Paola, the principality of Rossano, Calimera, Caccuri, Montalto Uffugo, and Policastro. These territories are placed under the administration of Angiolo Simonetta. Around the same time, Sforza purchases Briatico and Messiano for 25,000 ducats from Rizzardo Morisco.
1421
Jan.CalabriaHe is appointed as the Viceroy of Calabria by Louis of Anjou (Luigi d’Angiò) with the objective of organizing an offensive against the Aragonese party in cooperation with the local nobles. He is given 100,000 ducats (out of the 200,000 promised to him); he heads to the region with 1,200 men and many condottieri who had served under his father, Muzio, including Tinto dei Michelotti, Taliano Furlano, Cesare da Martinengo, and Perino Attendolo. He reaches Rende and swiftly brings the Marquis of Crotone, the Count of Arena, the Count of Policastro, and other nobles such as Fuscaldo and San Severino, under his control. Sforza also has to quell a revolt that erupts in the fiefdom of Montalto Uffugo following the poisoning of his wife, Polissena Ruffo, and a daughter from her first marriage. The poisoning was orchestrated by an aunt who wished to take over the niece’s inheritance.
…………CalabriaThe fleet of Alfonso of Aragon (Alfonso d’Aragona) lands in Calabria, and false news of his death spreads. Sforza is at risk of becoming a victim of some mutinous condottieri. However, he is saved by the arrival of Micheletto Attendolo with 400 horsemen and Luigi da San Severino. His adversaries are defeated at Cosenza. With victory comes a slew of prisoners; Taliano Furlano, Fiasco da Giraso, and Cesare da Martinengo are captured. Yet, no one is punished, and everyone returns to serve under his command.
…………NapoliKing of AragonHe continually follows his father in service of the Queen of Naples (Joanna I of Naples, Giovanna d’Angiò), opposing the Aragonese.
1423
…………NapoliKing of AragonCalabriaHe is expelled from Reggio Calabria by the Aragonese.
Oct.Abruzzo
He is called back from Calabria by his father to support him in the Abruzzo region against Braccio di Montone, who is laying siege to L’Aquila.
1424
Jan.AbruzzoHe crosses the mouth of the overflowing Pescara river with 50 horsemen, skirmishes with the Bracceschi, and is forced to watch his father Muzio drown without being able to intervene while his father attempts to reach him on the other side of the river. Deciding to retreat, he fords the Pescara again, returning with some losses to the initial bank, and leads the troops back to Ortona, where he leaves a garrison.
Feb. – Mar.CampaniaIn Benevento, he secures his father’s possessions. His father’s widow, Maria di Marzano, vainly tries to prevent him from entering the city, as she wants his other half-brothers to also enjoy their father’s inheritance. He receives the oath of loyalty from his vassals and goes to Aversa, where Joanna I of Naples (Giovanna d’Angiò) confirms his father’s fiefs: from this point forward, he will no longer be known as Francesco Attendolo, but will definitively take the nickname of Sforza, by which he is already known. In Benevento, he reorganizes his troops and, on the way, clashes between Aversa and Maddaloni with Orso Orsini, sent to Naples with 500 horsemen by Montone. After being defeated, he fortifies himself in Acerra, where he receives aid from Agapito Colonna, the lieutenant of the Prince of Taranto, Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo. Together with Micheletto Attendolo, he besieges the “infant” Peter of Aragon, Count of Alburquerque (Pietro d’Aragona) in Naples by land; at sea, the Visconti fleet, led by Guido Torelli, whom he becomes good friends with, is in action.
Apr.CampaniaNaples falls due to the defection of Jacopo Caldora. Sforza soon forms familial ties with this condottiero, as he will marry his daughter. At the end of the month, he leaves Campania with Caldora, Micheletto and Lorenzo Attendolo, and Luigi da San Severino.
MayAbruzzoHe allies with the papal forces led by Ludovico Colonna.
Jun.1000 horsesAbruzzoMontone allows him to descend from Mount Ocre against the advice of Niccolò Piccinino and other commanders who wanted to attack him on the heights. He faces off in the Battle of L’Aquila, which lasts from seven to eight hours. Together with Micheletto Attendolo, he commands the vanguard (five units with 1,000 horses). With three units, he tries to ford the Aterno river; Malatesta Baglioni, Giovanni Unghero, Antonello Ruffaldi, and Starchellino throw themselves against Sforza. Sforza overcomes the resistance; he then stands up to the attack of Montone conducted on the right wing; he begins to outflank the left wing of the enemy. The adversary is defeated and taken prisoner. It is said that Sforza, while the surgeon is inspecting the wound on Montone’s head, deliberately bumped the surgical iron with his gloved hand, causing instant death. He then besieges the Paganica castle with Jacopo Caldora, forcing the defenders to surrender on terms.
Jul. – Aug.ChurchPerugiaUmbria, LazioJoins forces with the Trinci military; together (3000 horses and many foot soldiers) they approach Perugia, plundering crops, rustling cattle, and setting fire to numerous farmers’ homes between Deruta and Marsciano. He is met in San Martino in Colle by representatives of the city; by the end of the month, Perugia surrenders to the Papal States. He breaks into the Orvieto region and the Patrimony of St. Peter to confront the followers of Montone. The castle of Monte Rubiaglio surrenders to him.
Sept.ChurchFolignoUmbriaHe also compels Niccolò Trinci, the lord of Foligno, to acknowledge Papal authority. The Florentines contact him to fight the Visconti; despite Pope Martin V opposing his decision, he prefers to serve under Duke Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan (commanding 1500 cavalry and 300 infantry).
Oct. – Nov.Umbria, LazioHe’s spotted with Micheletto Attendolo at Ponte San Giovanni, aiming for Todi. He reaches Viterbo, stops at Acquapendente, and returns to Perugia. Once again, the Florentines (Rinaldo degli Albizzi) approach him, promising both him and Attendolo a contract for 400 lances and 200 infantry for six months plus six months of their own accord or a year of service and one of their own accord at their discretion. Included in the articles is a down payment of 50/60 florins per lance and the staff of the general captain for Sforza. He meets with the Pope in Rome; his troops set up their winter camps first on the borders with Siena and then, after money is delivered to them, in Terracina.
1425
Jun.MilanoFirenze, Faenza1500 horsemen and 300 infantrymenUmbria, RomagnaHe moves with 1000 horsemen near Deruta; emissaries from the commune of Perugia present him with ritual gifts (bread, wine, confetti, bitter oranges, and wax). Having also obtained 600 florins, he moves towards Romagna. He makes a stop at Granarolo and at the end of the month arrives at Forlì with 1200 horsemen; he lodges at Cava dei Colli near Montecchio; he then moves to the Faenza region where he raids Reda and Albareto. He returns to Granarolo once more.
Jul.RomagnaHe stationed himself around Faenza. In a sortie against the defenders of the city, he captures Jacopo Orsini and Baldovino da Tolentino, who are taken to Lugo. The besieged forces break into his camp but are swiftly repelled and pursued all the way to the city gates. He retreats to Imola and from there continues to torment the people of Faenza with almost daily incursions into their territory.
Aug.LombardyFilippo Maria Visconti is summoned to Milan. He is welcomed benevolently by the Duke.
Sept.RomagnaHe returns to Romagna and coordinates his actions with those of Angelo della Pergola and Secco da Montagnana. They besiege Niccolò Piccinino in Faenza.
Oct.Tuscany, MarcheHe defeats Niccolò Piccinino, Niccolò da Tolentino, and Bernardino degli Ubaldini della Carda in Anghiari alongside Guido Torelli. He captures 300 horses and 500 infantrymen. A few days later, with the assistance of Fabrizio da Capua, he once again emerges victorious over the Florentines in Faggiuola, in the Val Marecchia.
1426
…………Tuscany
Mar.- Apr.MilanoVenice1500 horsesLombardyHe leaves Montichiari to aid the besieged fortress of Brescia, which is under attack by the Venetians led by Carmagnola. A large convoy of supplies is formed, escorted by 500 men-at-arms. He enters the citadels of the city and reinforces their garrisons. He engages in continuous skirmishes with the adversaries, not giving them any respite. After forty days, when Niccolò da Tolentino arrives at the enemy camp with 4,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry, he leaves the infantry in the fortresses and retreats to Montichiari. According to Venetian and Florentine sources, Sforza is in Brescia with 300 cavalry when the city falls into the hands of Carmagnola.
MayLombardyHe joins his forces with those of Niccolò Piccinino (who has also switched to the service of the Visconti), Angelo della Pergola, Guido Torelli, and Secco da Montagnana, who come from Tuscany and Romagna to provide aid to the besieged in Brescia. He clashes with Carmagnola at Montichiari. Frequent disagreements arise within the Visconti camp between those, like Sforza and Piccinino, who advocate for a more offensive strategy, and those, like della Pergola and Torelli, who favor a more cautious tactic.
Aug.LombardyHe attempts in vain to provide assistance to the large fortress of Asola, which ultimately surrenders to Andrea Gottego. Together with Piccinino, he leads a new attack on Brescia, targeting the area between the Torrelonga Gate and the Sant’Alessandro Gate at the “prato al vescovo” (bishop’s meadow).
Nov.LombardyThe last strongholds of resistance in Brescia surrender to the Venetians.
Dec.LombardyA peace treaty is signed between the parties, according to which Francesco Sforza is supposed to hand over Orzinuovi to the opposing forces and to the ducal representative, Oldrado Lampugnani. However, he refuses to obey this article, possibly prompted by secret encouragement from Filippo Maria Visconti himself. The Duke of Milan, in fact, only desires to buy time in order to resume the conflict with the Serenissima.
1427
May1200 horsesLombardyIn Milan, he resides near Porta Comacina in the parish of San Marcellino. He attends the signing of the alliance with Emperor Sigismondo of Hungary at the Castle of Porta Giovia, aimed against Venice. He sets up an ambush with Piccinino, Guido Torelli, and Angelo della Pergola at Carmagnola in Gottolengo. The outcome is uncertain due to the final intervention in favor of the Venetians by Gian Francesco Gonzaga, who manages to somewhat balance the outcome of the clash. In the same month, he clashes again with Carmagnola near Binanuova, along the Oglio River. During one of the many encounters, he orders the captured enemy soldiers to be thrown into the river, just as his rival captain does when he recaptures the location.
Jun.1500 horsesEmiliaHe leaves Castelguelfo, crosses the Panaro River with Ardizzone da Carrara, and joins forces with the ducal army. He hastens to repel an attempted Venetian fleet landing by Francesco Bembo on the left bank of the Ticino River.
Jul.LombardyWith della Pergola and Torelli, he launches an attack on Carmagnola at the fortified camp of Castelsecco near Cremona. He finds a less defended point in the trench formed by the wagons and penetrates it with great force, followed by Cristoforo da Lavello and Ardizzone da Carrara. He advances to the center of the camp and finds himself isolated. After four hours of fierce fighting, the ducal forces are repelled and retreat to Cremona (with 500 prisoners among the Visconti troops).
Aug.Lombardy, EmiliaHe arrives in Parma with 600 horsemen and 100 infantry soldiers. His men are lodged in Codiponte. He establishes a connection with Niccolò Piccinino at Praolboino to continuously confront the Venetians.
Oct.LombardyHe sets up camp at Maclodio. The proposal of Sforza and Piccinino (supported by the Captain General Carlo Malatesta) prevails, which suggests moving the troops onto a raised embankment surrounded by impassable marshes for cavalry and dense forests. Additionally, Carmagnola had already positioned numerous archers and crossbowmen in advance. Sforza is among the first to take up arms, along with Cristoforo da Lavello and Ardizzone da Carrara. He rescues della Pergola from capture and, taking advantage of the chaos of the defeat, escapes using the cover of dust. Among the Visconti troops, 10,000 men are taken prisoner, but they are all released (to avoid the burden of feeding them) according to the customs of the time.
Nov.PiedmontIn Castellazzo Bormida.
Dec.MilanoExiles from GenoaLiguria, PiedmontHe is sent to Liguria to defend Genoa against the Fregoso family. He is attacked by the exiles in a gorge of the Apennines and orders a retreat. He is pursued by mountaineers from behind and the flanks. Many of his men are killed, including Gherardo da Cotignola. He reaches the plain and forms the troops in a circle. The pursuers halt, waiting for darkness. He is saved on this occasion by the intervention of Eliana Spinola, Lady of Ronco and follower of Filippo Maria Visconti. She manages, with her supporters, to drive away the exiles. He returns to the Alessandria region.
1428LombardyAccused in Milan by Niccolò Terzi and Alberico da Barbiano, he is sentenced to languish in frustrating idleness in Lomellina and Mortara without pay and followers. Twice during this period, there is a debate in the ducal council about whether to imprison him or have him killed. In the end, he is protected by some friends, such as Guido Torelli, who divert any threats away from him. This is the first of many ups and downs that characterize his relationship with the Duke of Milan.
1430
Jan.LombardyHe regains the favor of the Duke and is sent to Pavia with 1200 horsemen and 50 infantry soldiers. His troops are lodged in the houses of the courtiers.
May, Jun.LuccaFlorence1700 horsemen and 600 infantry soldiersPiedmontFlorence has attacked Lucca. Francesco Sforza has become unpopular with a portion of the political and military world in Milan. Taking advantage of the situation, the Visconti, who desires to seize Lucca, dismisses Sforza and sends him to defend the city under attack by the Florentines. Officially discharged with the delivery of 3000 florins, he leaves Tortona. With the money received from Antonio Petrucci and Paolo Guinigi, the Lord of Lucca (a loan of 24,162 ducats), he reorganizes his companies. The contract consists of 450 lances, plus an additional 50 at the discretion of Guinigi, with a one-year term. He takes a break in the territory of Parma with 1700 horsemen and 600 infantry soldiers, staying in that area for two months.
Jul., Aug.TuscanyHe crosses the Apennines, takes the road to Lunigiana and Pietrasanta, and liberates Lucca from the siege by the Florentines. He brings Leone da Tagliacozzo into the city. He leaves his army on the Serchio River and enters the city himself to energetically demand more money from Paolo Guinigi. Satisfied with his requests, he leads an attack on Pescia with 3000 infantry and 2000 cavalry, defended by Giovanni Malavolti and Paolo da Diacceto. The attackers surround the town’s walls; a portion of the militia positions themselves at Porta Vecchia, another at Porta Reale, and one in the area known as “Muro-rotto.” After five unsuccessful assaults on the walls (August), he moves through the Val di Nievole with Ladislao Guinigi. He seizes Buggiano and sets fire to Stigliano. The Florentines take refuge in Ripafratta while Sforza carries out his plundering activities up to three miles from Prato. The looted livestock and booty (transferred with 500 laden horsemen carrying spoils and prisoners) are taken to Lucca. In the city, he encounters new conflicts with Paolo Guinigi, who fears an overly aggressive offensive against their opponents. Sforza camps beyond the Serchio River and requests more money. During the same period, Filippo Maria Visconti reaches an agreement with Antonio Petrucci, the chancellor of the Tuscan state, to overthrow the rule of Paolo Guinigi, who, in turn, is conducting secret negotiations with the Florentines to hand over the city in exchange for 200,000 florins. The Florentines propose to Sforza to pay him 50,000 florins as the remaining wages owed to his deceased father for seven years. The condottiero meets with Boccaccino Alamanni near Pescia, where the money is handed over to him.
Sept., Oct.Tuscany, EmiliaThe Lucca conspirators, who are pro-Visconti, along with Pietro Cenami, surprise Paolo Guinigi in his palace in Lucca and arrest him. At the same time, Sforza captures Ladislao Guinigi, the son of the Lord of Lucca, at the camp. He enters the city and loots Paolo Guinigi’s palace, seizing a booty worth 60,000 ducats. Part of the booty is distributed among the soldiers and condottieri as payment for overdue wages, while the rest is sent to Milan to repay loans previously granted by the Duke of Milan to Paolo Guinigi. Sforza establishes himself with Pietro Navarrino in the citadel, taking it as a guarantee for the debt owed to the conspirators (another 12,000 florins). This debt is partially settled in goods (silk fabrics, jewelry) and partially in cash. Only then, at the end of October, does he leave Lucca. He leaves his brother Alessandro as a hostage and heads to Mirandola. He refuses to further involve himself in Tuscan affairs, particularly rejecting an offer from the Florentines to fight against the Sienese. He reveals the contents of this offer to Siena.
…………RomagnaHe retreats to Cotignola. As he prepares to travel to his possessions in Puglia, he receives simultaneous offers: a new proposal from the Florentines, who have been repeatedly defeated in Tuscany by Piccinino, and an offer from the Visconti to marry their natural daughter, Bianca Maria, who is twenty-four years younger than him. He chooses to serve the Duke and immediately arranges for the annulment of his marriage to the daughter of Jacopo Caldora through the Pope. He also receives an advance on the dowry and takes possession of Cremona, Bosco Marengo, and Frugarolo.
1431
Mar.MilanVeniceLombardyWith Niccolò da Tolentino, he defeats Carmagnola at Soncino. He sets an ambush for his rival near Azzanello and captures 1000 to 1500 horsemen and 500 infantry soldiers. The opponent manages to escape to Brescia with only 7 horses.
Jun.LombardyHe repels a new Venetian attack at Soncino and captures another 500 horses from Carmagnola. In the same month, with Niccolò Piccinino, Niccolò da Tolentino, and the fleet of Pasino degli Eustachi from Pavia, he destroys the Venetian fleet near Cremona after convincing Carmagnola, through a stratagem, not to move from his camp. Alongside Piccinino and Guido Torelli, he boards the ducal galleys with his men-at-arms. The Milanese soldiers use hooks to grab onto the enemy ships, launching themselves onto the protected bridges wearing their armor. After twelve hours, only 5 or 6 vessels manage to escape; the Venetian casualties amount to 1500, including 500 among the Visconti troops. Additionally, around 400 wounded, brought to the hospital in Cremona, mostly perish in the following days. The captured galleys and prisoners, including Niccolò Trevisan and the provveditore Marino Contarini, are taken to Pavia. The defeat costs the Serenissima the loss of war materials worth 600,000 florins.
Nov., Dec.MilanMonferratoPiedmontHe attacks the Marquis Gian Giacomo of Monferrato with 2000 horsemen and other troops, totaling 5000 men. He defeats 1000 horsemen and an equal number of infantry soldiers. In just two months, he prevails over his adversaries. He arrives in Alessandria with Urbano di San Luigi and punishes the inhabitants who have favored the Monferrato forces, condemning 5000 citizens. He sends Rampino with a portion of his troops to the Upper Monferrato with the task of persuading, and if necessary, forcing the feudal lords to join the Visconti cause. He besieges Lu, captures it after five days, and subjects it to a fierce sack that ends with the destruction of houses and the killing of many inhabitants. Sforza applies the same cruelty to Vignale and other nearby places, sparing only the lords of certain castles (Mirabello Monferrato, Baldesco, Grana), and Occimiano in exchange for a substantial ransom. In December, he also gains control of Casale Sant’Evasio (Casale Monferrato), which is saved from plundering by paying a large sum of money. Gian Giacomo of Monferrato initially takes refuge in the castle of Pontestura but soon abandons it to seek refuge first with the Count of Savoy and then in Venice. With the victory, Sforza travels to Milan and welcomes the Emperor at Sant’Ambrogio. He is escorted to Piacenza by Alberico da Barbiano, Niccolò Terzi, and his cavalry.
1432
Feb.Piedmont, LombardyFrancesco Sforza continues his campaign in the Monferrato region. He is reported to be in Vignale. His troops seize control of Calliano and Tonco, plunder the countryside of Montemagno, and take prisoners in San Donnino. He moves to Cremona. The Duke’s ambassador invites him to return to Milan. On the way, in Lodi, he is informed by a letter from Contuccio Perugino that traps have been set for him by the Visconti due to suspicions of treason. He goes to Milan himself and convinces the Visconti of his innocence.
Apr.EmiliaHe finds himself with his troops between Piacenza and Parma. He meets the Emperor in the latter city. While in Parma, he lodges in the houses of Giovanni da Marano.
Sept.MilanVeniceLombardyHe confronts Lorenzo Attendolo with Niccolò Piccinino.
Oct.Emilia, LombardyHe forces Gattamelata to withdraw from Romagna to Bologna. He fights the Venetians near Cremona.
Nov.EmiliaWith Erasmo da Trivulzio, he negotiates and obtains Brescello on agreed terms.
Dec.EmiliaWith Pietro dei Rossi and other representatives, including the notable Archbishop of Milan, he is granted the authority to negotiate with Sigismondo of Hungary on various aspects of the current political situation in the peninsula.
1433
Jan.He threatens to abandon the ducal pay and join the service of the Pope, using as a pretext his enmity with Niccolò Fortebraccio. The Visconti sends Francesco da Bologna to Fortebraccio to persuade the condottiero to reconcile with Sforza.
Apr.With the signing of the Peace of Ferrara, he is dismissed by the Duke of Milan.
Jul., Aug.EmiliaThe inhabitants of Parma grant him citizenship during one of his visits. He is hosted in the bishop’s residence. In August, he returns to the city with his brother Leone.
Sept.Romagna, TuscanyHe leaves Martorano and enters the region of Forlì in Bagnolo and Villafranca. One of his constables deserts and flees to Forlì. Antonio Ordelaffi grants him safe passage when Sforza requests his presence at the camp, promising not to harm him. However, when the constable presents himself, Sforza personally hangs him. He then proceeds to Bagnacavallo and from there, he moves to Florence, where he is given a horse with its accompanying gear, valued at over 500 florins.
Oct.SforzaEmila RomagnaHe requests and obtains permission from the Visconti. He forms an alliance with Lorenzo Attendolo, seemingly moving towards the Kingdom of Naples to reclaim lands that were taken from him by Jacopo Caldora. In Mirandola, he negotiates with Battista Canedoli and Giovanni Beccai on how to obtain the lordship of Bologna. He arrives in Bologna and deceitfully obtains a safe conduct from Pope Eugene IV. He then moves to Bagnolo in Romagna, where his men pay for the supplies they consume.
Nov.RomagnaHe stays several days in Ronco and then passes through Cesena, Savignano sul Rubicone, and Rimini, accompanied by his brother Leone and Lorenzo Attendolo, with a force of 3000 horsemen.
Dec.SforzaChurchMarcheHe enters Fano with his cavalry and 2000 infantry soldiers, encountering no opposition from Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, with whom he had previously reached an agreement. In the city, he receives representatives from Senigallia and other lands who wish to escape the rule of the Papal State under the harsh governance of the papal legate, Bishop Giovanni Vitelleschi of Recanati. He brandishes a letter, whether genuine or forged, from the Council of Basel, authorizing him to occupy the province. At the invitation of some members of the da Varano family, he reaches Jesi and takes control of the town after a two-day siege. He orders the reinforcement of the fortress and city walls. Filottrano, Staffolo, and other centers like Corinaldo open their gates to him. Recanati also falls into his hands following the escape of Vitelleschi. He then moves towards Macerata, reaching the Cornacchia Pass and urging the inhabitants to surrender to his forces. Sforza advances through the valleys of Musone and Potenza. He sacks Montolmo (Corridonia) after a resistance attempt lasting forty-eight hours. In just a few days, a large part of the Marche cities surrender to him, including Montelupone, Offagna, Osimo, Serra San Quirico, Apiro, Appignano, Montegiorgio, Monterubbiano, Castignano, San Severino Marche, Montemonaco, Monte Santa Maria in Gallo, Penna San Giovanni, Amandola, Belforte del Chienti, Matelica. Together with Lorenzo Attendolo, he forces Berardo da Varano to make an agreement, imposing a ransom of 18,000 ducats, as well as the surrender of Montecosaro, Montecchio (Treia), Montemilone (Pollenza), Sant’Angelo, Gagliole, and Gualdo. When the Bishop Vitelleschi places the inhabitants as guards in some fortresses, Sforza threatens to have their families killed if the strongholds are not handed over to him. Finally, even the papal legate is captured and, to regain his freedom, he must hand over 10,000 florins. Sforza enters Ascoli Piceno and negotiates the surrender of Rocca Contrada (Arcevia). Ancona acknowledges its tribute to him.
1434
Jan.SforzaAscoli PicenoMarcheHe reaches an agreement with the Chiavelli family of Fabriano. Ascoli Piceno rebels against him but is eventually subdued after a fierce siege, resulting in a brutal looting by his troops. He makes a triumphant entrance into Fermo and visits the Girifalco fortress, arranging for restoration and defensive improvements. Giovanni Vitelleschi flees to Rome after stealing the treasure from the sanctuary of Loreto. The Duke of Milan is disappointed in his expectations as Sforza declares himself the ruler of the Marche region.
Feb.SforzaChurchMarche, UmbriaInvited by the cities of Umbria, he leaves Fermo and heads to Recanati, visiting the sanctuary of Loreto. He then crosses the territory of Camerino and passes through Colfiorito. With his brothers Alessandro, Leone, and Giovanni, he continues his march in Umbria. The priors of Perugia present him with 500 florins. He appoints Foschino Attendolo as his lieutenant in the Marche, assisted by Boccarino degli Alamanni as the general treasurer.
Mar.ChurchFortebraccioStandard Bearer of
the Papal States, Grand Constable
Umbria, Lazio, and TuscanyHe received Todi, Amelia, San Gemini, Tuscania, Otricoli, Gualdo Tadino, Terni, Magliano Romano, and Soriano nel Cimino on certain terms: Micheletto Attendolo, whose task it was to oppose him, did not obstruct his march. Sforza made an agreement with the son of Paolo Orsini, to whom he handed over Fabrica di Roma, San Leonardo, and Castiglione; he laid siege to Montefalco, traveled to Foligno, and even Spoleto surrendered to him; Viterbo opened its gates to him; he occupied Toscanella (Tuscania). He set up camp at Calcarella, near Vulcia; here, he was visited by papal emissaries led by the Bishop of Recanati, the Abbot of Subiaco, the Bishop of Tropea Niccolò Acciapaccia, and the Florentines Niccolò Cavalcanti and Flavio Biondo. Despite the urging of the Duke of Milan, he agreed to take service with the Papal States to fight Niccolò Fortebraccio. In Florence, in Santa Maria Novella, he knelt before the Pope, received the insignia of the Standard Bearer of the Papal States, and was named the papal vicar of several localities he occupied (Todi, Tuscania, Gualdo Tadino, Rispampani (Rocca Rispampani) for five years; Acquapendente, Proceno, and San Lorenzo Nuovo for a tax of 900 florins; the Marquisate of Fermo for another 800). Queen Joanna I of Naples (Giovanna d’Angiò) named him Grand Constable of the Kingdom of Naples. Sforza sent against Fortebraccio 450 lances under the command of Lorenzo and Micheletto Attendolo, Niccolò da Tolentino, and his brother Leone.
Apr.LazioHe laid siege to Montefiascone; took possession of Bagnoregio, Canino, and all the territory around Lake Bolsena. The situation changed when, under pressure from the Duke of Milan, Niccolò and Francesco Piccinino arrived in Viterbo to aid Fortebraccio.
MayLazioHe abandoned the siege of Montefiascone and headed to Rocca Rispampani to aid his condottieri stationed in Rome. Having been reached by Micheletto Attendolo, he tried to cut off the adversaries at Vitorchiano. He waited at San Martino al Cimino, preparing to fight; he was dissuaded from this by the Milanese ambassador Urbano di Ortona who initiated some negotiations. For this purpose, he sent Troilo da Rossano and Sarpellione to Otricoli.
Jun.Lazio, UmbriaHe encamped near Vetralla and Petrignano. The Pope had to flee from Rome to Florence due to a popular uprising stoked by the agents of the Visconti and the Colonna. Sforza returned to besiege Montefiascone, raiding livestock, taking prisoners, setting fire to crops, and cutting down vineyards. With the arrival of 200 crossbowmen from Viterbo, he gained San Francesco on certain terms, crossed the Tiber at Alviano and the Nera at Narni; he forced Piccinino to retreat. He captured 60 horses, regained Otricoli, Calvi dell’Umbria, and the castles of Foglia and Gavignano; he confronted Piccinino once more at Magliano Sabino.
Jul.LazioThe Duke of Milan intervened decisively; at Magliano Sabino, Sforza first signed a one-week truce with the opponents, then a five-month truce.
Aug.UmbriaHe set up camp on the Tiber; he fell ill and left command of the troops to Micheletto Attendolo. He stayed between Narni, Terni, and Acquasparta, stopping in Todi to recuperate.
Sept.He declined to enter into the pay of Prince Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo of Taranto, who was threatened by the Queen of Naples.
Oct.MarcheNiccolò Fortebraccio broke the truce; Pope reaffirmed Francesco Sforza in his positions as the Standard Bearer of the Papal States and the Marquis of Fermo.
Nov.500 lances and 800 infantrymenTuscany, Marche, and UmbriaIn Florence, in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella, his condotta (mercenary contract) was renewed by the papal authorities, increasing it to 500 lances (with three men per lance) and 800 infantrymen for a year of firm service and one of respect. The monthly cost of the companies was 10500 florins. He quartered in Lugnano in Teverina; he conquered Camerino with the aid of Lionello dei Michelotti and Ranieri Vibi del Frogia. He forced Giovanni da Varano to renounce the possession of the castle of Cerreto near Visso. His men plundered the territory of Marsciano to avenge the wife of Gattamelata, who was kidnapped by the local lord who was serving with Fortebraccio. He moved from Alviano; obtained Castiglione in Teverina and besieged Gualtieri Zanfoneri in Lugnano in Teverina. The first location almost immediately succumbed to the strength of his arms, except for the fortress whose defenders only surrendered in mid-December. To conquer this fortress, he asked the inhabitants of Amelia for reinforcements.
1435
Jan.UmbriaHe incited San Gemini to rebel against Piccinino, recovered Capitone and Monte Penna; he arrived at Todi and took Ripalbella and San Vito from Monaldo Monaldeschi della Cervara: the locations were sacked. He sent his brother Leone to aid Vitelleschi, who was intent on recovering Rome on behalf of the Papal States.
Feb.UmbriaHe concluded a thirty-day truce with Piccinino. He besieged Orvieto and conquered the nearby castles. All of them were sacked.
Mar.-MayChurch, Venice, FlorenceMilan1000 lances and 800 infantrymenTuscany, Umbria, LazioHe was reported to be in Cortona; he entered into the service of the anti-Visconti league for one year of firm service and one of respect: the condotta (mercenary contract) was established at 1000 lances and 800 infantrymen. Upon expiry of the contract, he pledged not to fight the league’s troops for six months; he was granted a monthly salary of 10500 florins, an advance of 50000 florins to be delivered within a month in three installments. He was declared by the Pope as the Marquis of Piceno; he was confirmed as the Vicar of Todi and Tuscania for three years and Fermo for life; the Queen of Naples reaffirmed his position as the Grand Constable. He gathered at Fratta Todina 1500 horses, 1800 infantrymen and 800 select troops; he moved to San Gismondo, camped at Pozzaglia Sabino, crossed the Tiber at Bucarelli and towards Chiagio, stopped at Costano and Santa Maria degli Angeli, and provoked Niccolò Fortebraccio to battle. He left his brother Leone in charge of guarding the Duchy of Spoleto with 400 horses and 200 infantrymen, and joined forces with the troops of Cardinal Vitelleschi.
Jun.Umbria, Marche, RomagnaHe rode with the cardinal’s militia into the Perugino (Ripa, Resana, and La Fratta) and the county of Città di Castello upon hearing the news of the killing in the town of Arrigo da Modigliana; he moved to Borgo San Sepolcro (Sansepolcro); he had to stop at the Tiber where due to heavy rain he lost several days. As soon as he was informed that Piccinino was still stationary in Romagna, he crossed the Apennines in three days, touched Fano, and reached Cesena where he joined with Sigismondo Pandolfo and Domenico Malatesta, who were struggling against Piccinino. He arrived at Maturano with 3000 horses, tried to block the enemy on the Savio; while waiting for the reinforcements promised by the Venetians and Florentines, he had the roads blocked. His soldiers also took care to protect the harvest work in the territories controlled by the lord of Cesena. Continuing his operations, he obtained Forlimpopoli and stormed its fortress, occupied Ronco and Fiumana; he continued in his policy of devastation of the Forlì area with the two Malatesta. He assaulted Forlì at the Porta di San Pietro and made many prisoners; he began to bombard the city: during an inspection in the surrounding area with the cavalry captains, he fell into an ambush set by many Forlì citizens hidden among the crops. He didn’t lose heart when he saw himself surrounded by peasants; he made great promises, asserting that it was his intention to reconcile with the lord of the city Antonio Ordelaffi; he took advantage of the disorientation or astonishment of his interlocutors and spurred his mount. He camped at Bertinoro and Meldola; Piccinino was stationed at Casemurate: Sforza’s action at this moment was not as energetic as he usually is (also due to his numerical inferiority). This aroused the suspicions of the papal commissioner Baldassarre da Offida.
Jul.RomagnaHe lingers in the Cesena area, continuously sending saccomanni into territories controlled by his enemies; he tries some diversionary tactics that end with the defeat of Guidantonio Manfredi at Morano. He only regains the initiative when reinforcements arrive from the Bologna area, via Ravenna, led by Gattamelata, Brandolino Brandolini, and Taddeo d’Este.
Aug. – Sept.Romagna, EmiliaHe asks Gian Francesco Gonzaga for a loan of 5000 ducats; he sends some captains of his companies, such as his brother Alessandro, Manno Barile, Taliano Furlano, to Fiordimonte. These join forces with Taddeo d’Este, Gattamelata, Cristoforo da Tolentino, Guidantonio Manfredi, and Brandolino Brandolini. Niccolò Fortebraccio is mortally wounded at Fiordimonte. With this victory, Sforza crosses the Savio, heads for Bologna, and makes Battista Canedoli flee. In Cotignola.
Oct.RomagnaHe stays between Forlì and Forlimpopoli, secures Ronco, and easily persuades Antonio Ordelaffi to surrender to the Papal State; he sends Taliano Furlano with 800/1000 horses and 500 infantry to aid the Florentines in opposing the Visconti forces at Pontedera.
Nov.ChurchGeneral CaptainTuscanyHe goes to Florence with 300 horses to pay homage to the pope: among the various festivities that take place in the city, a tournament is organized among seventy of his men-at-arms. The authorities give him mounts, gold and silver silk drapes of great value; Pope Eugene IV invests him with Barbiano and appoints him General Captain of the Papal States with a condotta of 800 lances and 800 infantrymen. In the middle of the month, his concubine is received with all honors in the Recanatese area, having gone on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Loreto.
Dec.Marche, RomagnaHe accepts the lordship of Fabriano offered to him by the inhabitants who, for their part, have killed Tommaso Chiavelli with many members of his family. In Cesena, Rimini, and Osimo. In the centers under his lordship, Sforza imposes everywhere the payment of taxes, rents, and rents due for the sustenance of his militias. In these circumstances, the citizens of Camerino try to bribe Taliano Furlano, making him believe that Sforza desires his death: when he becomes aware of the plot, he orders the public punishment of those responsible for the plot. He is not satisfied in his request.
1436
Jan.SforzaCamerinoMarche, UmbriaHe leaves Osimo, moves to Jesi and San Severino Marche waiting for the troops sent to him by the various Marche cities and paid for by them for fifteen days. Despite the winter rigors, he goes to Castelraimondo; he conquers the castle of Serravalle di Chienti with bombards, loots Muccia. The surrender on terms of Camerino is immediate; at the end of the month he is reported at Pievebovigliana; from here he moves to Gualdo Tadino.
Feb. – Apr.MarcheIn February he returns to Fermo; he then touches Ascoli Piceno, where he stays for several days, and Fabriano (where he is greeted with all due honors). He stops at Serra San Quirico and Osimo; he stays in this place until mid-April. He takes away from Contuccio della Genga the castle of Genga. Some members of this family are executed. Finally, Sforza, at the Pope’s urging, joins the rest of the Papal troops in Senigallia.
May – Jun.ChurchForlìRomagnaHe stops with his companies at Casemurate, apparently as a friend of Antonio Ordelaffi, lord of Forlì. He waits for the first days of June when the wheat must be harvested; Ordelaffi is summoned to Bologna by the Pope through the archbishop of Tropea who arrived in Forlì; Sforza begins to lay waste to the crops; he moves to Ronco. He rushes to the Porta di San Pietro in Forlì; in a clash with the defenders, he captures 42 men of stature; two others drown in the moat because Ordelaffi does not lower the drawbridge and two more are killed. His soldiers sell wheat to the starving citizens in front of the gates at night. He conquers some fortresses neighboring the capital.
Jul. – Aug.Romagna, EmiliaHe decides to attack Forlì by attacking the Porta di San Pietro; he burns the grate with bundles of saggina found in a nearby furnace. Repelled, after a few days he leaves Bagnolo and arrives at San Valeriano (San Varano). The wheat crops are destroyed; the inhabitants fear losing even the fruits of the harvest, so they surrender to Sforza. The lord of the city is captured by the citizens while he is walking in the square with some nobles; he is taken to the house of Duciolo Lacioso. In the following days, Sforza enters Forlì, takes the fortress, and meets with the authorities in the palace. Ordelaffi can reach Ferrara with his family and his assets. The condottiero moves to Medicina. The podestà of Bologna, Baldassarre da l’Offida, with the tacit consent of the Pope, decides to get rid of his presence to recover the Marche d’Ancona for the Papal States; he asks for a part of his men to fight the Count of Cunio. Sforza provides the troops requested; he asks for their availability at the end of the brief conflict. Baldassarre da Offida hedges on the subject and secretly consults the Duke of Milan to get help from Piccinino. In the same days, two ducal infantrymen go to the Sforza camp asking for a reward for killing Piccinino; Sforza indignantly drives away the soldiers for the proposal.
Sept.Emilia, RomagnaHis contract with the Papal States expires and an agreement is not found. Offida sends twelve crossbowmen to Ponte Poledrano (Bentivoglio) to ambush and kill the condottiero who is supposed to pass by there. Sforza is informed of the ambush by the cardinal of Capua; he goes to Cantalupo Selice and intercepts some of Offida’s messages directed to the Pope. He is in Bologna with Pietro Brunoro and Sarpellione; the next day he assaults the Papal camp at Riccardina. Domenico and Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta do not intervene in the affair; on the contrary, Pietro Giampaolo Orsini and Guidantonio Manfredi resist but are defeated. Sforza besieges Budrio; Offida is captured by the inhabitants while he is trying to flee disguised as a woman; he is handed over to him covered in flour. Sforza imprisons him in the Girifalco fortress in Fermo, where he will die the following year. During the same days, the supporters of the Bentivoglio put pressure on him to approach Bologna and instigate a revolt in the city; he does not want to follow this course; the Pope apologizes to Sforza, claiming he was unaware of the plot. Sforza remains in Cotignola; he leaves Bagnacavallo and reaches Russi, damaging the territory.
Oct.EmiliaIn Bologna. He guards the city on behalf of the Papal States along with his brother Alessandro and the Lord of Rimini, Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta.
Nov.Florence, VeniceMilan1000 lances and 1000 infantryTuscany, RomagnaHe is welcomed in Florence with great honors (jousts and dances) by Cosimo dei Medici. He signs a contract at Santa Gonda in which he enters into service with the Florentines and Venetians for five firm years and one respect year. His monthly salary is set at 14,000 florins, 60% charged to the Florentines and the remaining quota to the Venetians; the advance is set at 40,000 ducats and must be paid within three months. Among the secret clauses is the stipulation that he cannot be asked to cross the Po against his will. He faces Niccolò Piccinino with 5,000 cavalry and 2,500 infantry without taking any initiative. He returns to Romagna via Modigliana and takes possession of Barbiano, which, together with Cunio, is part of the County of Cotignola (his fiefdom).
Dec.SforzaCunioRomagna, TuscanyHe captures the castle of Cunio and returns to Tuscany to confront, once again at Santa Gonda, his ultimate rival who, on his part, has moved to the Pisan territory.
1437
Feb.Florence, VeniceMilanTuscanyAfter a period of substantial inactivity, he heads towards Lunigiana, where Sarpellione, Pietro Brunoro, and Niccolò da Pisa defeat Niccolò Piccinino while he is engaged in the siege of Barga.
Mar.TuscanyHe besieges Lucca alongside Gattamelata. He goes to the Pistoia region when the city is threatened by Piccinino. He proceeds to Pistoia with a considerable number of cavalry and infantry, strengthening the defenses of the Apennine passes. He orders the peasants to bring livestock and forage into the cities.
Apr.Tuscany, LiguriaWith the return of Niccolò Piccinino to Lombardy, he besieges Montecarlo and attacks Santa Maria in Castello with 5,000 cavalry, 3,000 infantry, and 1,000 sappers. He plants a large bombard that hurls stones weighing 530 pounds. Just four projectiles are enough to bring down the tower, and the soldiers storm the fortress, capturing 120 infantrymen. Camaiore, Viareggio (which he obtains through a treaty with the castellan), Massa, Carrara, Moneta, Avenza, and Sarzana surrender to him.
May – Aug.TuscanyHe returns to the area around Lucca with 3,000 sappers, setting fire to wheat fields, cutting vines and trees, and plundering livestock. Once again, he lays siege to Montecarlo, which surrenders to Brunoro after fifteen days of siege. He also attacks Lucca, captures the fortress of Uzzano, and proceeds to acquire other castles such as San Gennaro, Villa Basilica, Motrone, and Nozzano (which surrender through treaties). However, none of these actions prove decisive, and his attempts to occupy Pontremoli also prove futile. He returns to Lucca and defeats the defenders in several sorties as they courageously come out of the city to confront him. In July, he is forced to send four squadrons of cavalry and numerous infantry to the Marche region to counter Francesco Piccinino, who has entered Camerino’s territory.
Sept.Tuscany, EmiliaThe Venetians suffer defeats on the Adda and the Mella rivers by Niccolò Piccinino. Due to their insistent demands, through Andrea Donato, Sforza leaves his brother Leone behind in Lucca.
Oct. – Nov.EmiliaAt the beginning of the month, he crosses the Arno, reaches Pistoia, and from there crosses the Apennines. He slowly turns his attention to Reggio Emilia with 3,600 cavalry and 2,000 infantry, causing damage to the surrounding countryside. Conflict erupts in the city, with Sforza and the Florentines on one side and the Venetians on the other. He refuses to cross the Po River and relies on the signed agreements to avoid a complete rupture with the Duke of Milan, fearing that the Pope may take advantage of his absence to strike at his interests in the Marche region. In November, a dispute arises in the square of Reggio Emilia with Andrea Morosini, who threatens to withhold payment of his wages. Sforza considers himself released from all obligations and returns to Tuscany. He stops in Pisa, pretexting the need to monitor the movements of Niccolò Piccinino, but in reality to spend the winter there without concern for the ongoing war around Lucca and Pontremoli. Cosimo de’ Medici intercedes on his behalf with the Senate of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.
Dec.SforzaKing of AragonMarcheHe returns to the Marche region where Francesco Piccinino is threatening Fermo after conducting several raids on Fabriano and Ascoli Piceno. He engages in a battle with this captain, resulting in an uncertain outcome.
1438
Jan.Emilia, TuscanyHe moves to the region of Reggio Emilia and then proceeds to Castiglion Fiorentino.
Feb.TuscanyDispleased with the actions of Taliano Furlano, he harshly reproaches him. Taliano Furlano, in turn, abandons his banners and joins forces with Francesco Piccinino.
Mar.TuscanyContacted in Pisa by Francesco da Landriano and Eusebio Caimi, he re-approaches the Duke of Milan. Visconti once again promises him the marriage with his daughter, a dowry of 100,000 florins, with a quarter to be delivered immediately and the rest within the year. He also assures an annual salary of 142,488 florins for his companies, secured by the revenues of certain localities. Additionally, he grants a contract for 5,000 cavalry, with 2,000 to be paid by the ducal treasury, and assigns him the cities of Asti (to be conquered from the French) and Tortona. Due to these promises, Sforza adopts an ambiguous stance with the Florentines and the Venetians, constantly raising objections regarding payments and the terms of the contract. He seems to achieve his objectives as he plays a crucial role in the peace treaty between the Florentines, the people of Lucca, and the ducal forces. However, the Duke of Milan ultimately disappoints Sforza in his hopes. Following furious protests from Niccolò Piccinino, the Duke retracts his given word and suspends the fulfillment of the commitments made to Sforza. He swears that he would never give him his daughter unless the issues between him and Piccinino are resolved first. Sforza attempts to appease his rival by promising the marriage of his own daughter to Jacopo, Piccinino’s son. Meanwhile, both the ducal forces and the Florentines urge Sforza to act in the Kingdom of Naples to support the ambitions of Renato d’Angiò against Alfonso of Aragon. The Florentines guarantee him a monthly provision of 8,400 florins.
Apr.TuscanyHe leaves the Pisan territory, passes through Bibbiena, and enters the Cortona region at the head of 15,000 men.
MayTuscanyFrancesco Sforza finds himself in Olmo, near Arezzo, where he sacks a castle located between that area and Castiglion Fiorentino.
Jun. – Jul.Sforza, AnjouNorcia, King of AragonGrand ConstableUmbria, Tuscany, Lazio, AbruzzoHe takes possession of Assisi (leaving the Pisan, Benedetto degli Agapiti, as his lieutenant there), passes through Panicarola and Ponte San Giovanni, where the people of Perugia present him with 100 florins and customary gifts. He acquires twelve loads of lances, pickaxes, and iron poles necessary for his troops in the city. He proceeds to Foligno and accepts the reconciliation offered to him by Corrado Trinci. The agreement concludes with the promise of a marriage between Trinci’s daughter, Marsabilia, and Sforza’s brother, Leone. He fights in Norcia and obtains its surrender in early July, with the inhabitants recognizing an indemnity of 16,000 florins to be paid over three years and the payment of an annual fee of 700 florins. He openly expresses his opposition to the Aragonese, causing the Duke of Milan to publicly caution him against taking offensive actions against his ally. He returns to Tuscany and welcomes King Renato of Provence, who has been released from long captivity in Burgundy, and is preparing for his expedition to the Kingdom of Naples. Sforza is confirmed in his possessions by the claimant to the Kingdom of Naples and is bestowed the title of Grand Constable. He reaches Capo d’Acqua, conquers Amatrice, and imposes a levy of 1,500 ducats on its inhabitants. He seizes the castle of San Flaviano (Giulianova) at the expense of Giosia Acquaviva.
Aug.Abruzzo, MarcheHe spreads terror in the lands of the Duke of Atri, takes Acquaviva Picena from him, and defeats him near Teramo. The city soon falls under his control, along with the entire region between the Tronto and Pescara rivers. In Teramo, Sforza’s troops destroy the Acquaviva emblems on the façade of the cathedral and in other places. He attempts to join forces with Renato d’Angiò, but strong pressures from the Duke of Milan and the Florentines persuade him, at that moment, to abandon his initiative. In parallel with diplomatic actions, he is offered 100,000 florins by the King of Aragon through ambassadors Ignazio di Guevara, Andrea della Candida, and Rainaldo da lo Doce. Great promises are made to him on this occasion, including the lordship over all the lands north of the Tordino River, except for Teramo, the office of Grand Constable (on the Aragonese side), the command of 1,000 cavalry and 1,000 infantry, the governance of the Abruzzo region, and the principality of Salerno. Sforza accepts the advice of Filippo Maria Visconti, concludes a two-month truce, and withdraws from the region with the promise that Alfonso of Aragon would not attack L’Aquila or any other Abruzzo city. He aims for the tower of Schitto and reaches Fabriano.
Sept. – Oct.SforzaTolentino    CamerinoMarcheCommanding 6,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry, he besieges Sassoferrato, captures the city in three hours, and allows his soldiers to sack it. Women and children are taken as prisoners to Fabriano. He proceeds towards Tolentino with 8,000 men. The town surrenders to him within a few days upon seeing the siege engines, around early October. The inhabitants of Tolentino are forced to pay a ransom of 20,000 ducats as compensation. He pauses in Pieve Torina, and Camerino submits to him. He orders the construction of a new fortress in Tolentino, then returns to Fabriano and Jesi.
Dec.MarcheIn Jesi, he receives assurance from the Duke of Milan that the delivery of his daughter, Bianca Maria, to Asti or Abbiategrasso for their promised marriage is imminent. However, with the favorable development of the war among the ducal factions in Lombardy, Sforza is disappointed in his expectations.
1439
Jan.MarcheIn Serra San Quirico.
Feb.Venice, Florence, ChurchMilanCaptain of the Grand Company: 1,300
lances and 1,300 infantry.
TuscanyHe hastens to accept the offer from the Venetians, Florentines, and the Papal States to lead their troops against the Visconti. His hesitations are overcome by the interventions of Niccolò d’Este, the Marquess of Ferrara, and the Malatesta family. The agreement is signed in Florence at the Palazzo della Signoria, with a contract duration of five years plus an additional year of mutual respect. The cost of the contract for 1,300 lances and 1,300 infantry is set at 17,400 florins per month (with 9,000 to be paid by the Venetians and 8,400 by the Florentines). He is granted an initial payment of 50,000 florins. He has no obligation for review, marking of horses for potential inspections, or registering the actual numbers of his companies in the appropriate lists. The Pope confirms his title as Marquess of the Marche and, in addition to his previous vicariates, grants him authority over Assisi, Pergola, Cerreto, Visso, and all the lands taken from the Trinci family. He is also promised the union of Cremona with all the territories conquered on the right bank of the Po River, with the exception of Parma, which is to be assigned to the Estensi. Sforza ensures the protection of his Abruzzo and Marche territories, and at the same time, secures a monthly provision of 2,000 ducats for Jacopo Caldora from the Venetians. At the end of the contract, he commits to respecting the territories of the Venetian Republic, Florence, and the Papal States for six months.
Mar.SforzaChurchUmbriaHe forces Trevi and Foligno to come to an agreement.
Apr.Marche, RomagnaThe people of Perugia present him with some jewels as a gift. He travels to Jesi, Fermo (for the wedding of his natural daughter, Isotta, to Andrea Matteo Acquaviva), and Senigallia. He passes through Rimini at the head of 8,000 men.
MayVenice, Florence, ChurchMilanRomagnaHe conquers Forlimpopoli after just seven hours of siege. In that location, he meets with Neri Capponi, who persuades him to support the Venetians in the Veneto region. He also secures the surrender of the fortress by threatening the defenders with a bronze cannon capable of firing projectiles from a distance of five miles. Forlimpopoli is granted as a fief to Pietro Giampaolo Orsini. Sforza clashes with Francesco Piccinino near Cesena and inflicts losses on his infantry and cavalry. He makes stops in Selbagnone and Ronco, then besieges Forlì, which is defended by Francesco Piccinino and Guidantonio Manfredi with 1,200 to 1,500 cavalry and 200 infantry. From the Forlì area, he moves towards Ravenna and camps between Bagnacavallo and Russi. After being repelled, he heads towards Imola with Domenico Malatesta.
Jun. – Jul.Emilia, VenetoHe captures and sacks Mordano, crosses the territory of Bologna, and arrives at Ferrara, leaving through the Lion Gate to Francolino. He finds the Po River swollen due to heavy rains, nearly breaking its banks. Two boat bridges are set up at Goro and Fornaci, defended by 12 galleons. He crosses the river with 6,244 cavalry and 1,600 infantry. He arrives by sea in Chioggia, where the Venetians present him with silver items worth 1,000 ducats. Doge Francesco Foscari meets him, and they go to Venice for the delivery of the command insignia. The following day, he is in Padua, where Gattamelata joins him with his troops of 6,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry. The news is celebrated with ringing bells and joyful fires in Verona. Sforza immediately moves to Cologna Veneta with 14,000 cavalry and 8,000 infantry. He occupies Lonigo, which surrenders at his discretion after paying a sum of money. Since the plain road is blocked by fortifications prepared by Piccinino, he takes the mountain route and, after three days of marching, reaches the castle of San Giovanni in Roncà. He fortifies a nearby hill where two well-garrisoned castles are located. He grants the soldiers two days of rest and has the infantry occupy the hill at night. He is attacked by Piccinino, but a sudden sortie by Troilo da Rossano and Niccolò da Pisa convinces the ducal forces to abandon Soave at sunset. The road to Verona is now clear. The Venetians also retake Legnago and Porto. Sforza reaches the city of Verona but cannot enter due to the plague, so he waits outside the walls at the Campo di Marte.
Aug.VenetoHe reaches Lake Garda and unsuccessfully attacks Bardolino, which is under the surveillance of Gian Francesco Gonzaga.
Sept.Piccinino destroys the Venetian fleet on Lake Garda, blocking Sforza’s advance on Brescia. The condottiero withdraws to Zevio, where there is no plague. However, he manages to send 3,000 men towards Brescia, who, after passing through Gavardo, reach their destination despite heavy losses and in a poor condition.
Oct.Veneto, TrentinoHe arrives at Castelpenede near Torbole and marches rapidly with his troops to the north of Lake Garda. He fords the Sarca River and encamps in the plain between Arco and Riva del Garda.
Nov.Trentino, VenetoHe, along with Gattamelata, assaults the castle of Tenno. They face opposition from Piccinino, Luigi da San Severino, and Gian Francesco Gonzaga. His soldiers are initially halted by the ducal forces controlling the mountaintops. He sends Troilo da Rossano against the Gonzaga troops who are attempting to join forces with Piccinino. Troilo da Rossano easily defeats the opponents. Piccinino is also defeated in a battle where 60 Venetians and over 300 Visconti soldiers are killed, with many more wounded. Among the adversaries, Carlo Gonzaga and Cesare da Martinengo are taken as prisoners. Niccolò Piccinino, for whose capture Sforza promises a reward of 5,000 ducats, retreats into the fortress. He manages to escape from it by hiding in a sack carried by a German mercenary. Sforza moves towards Brescia but is soon called back by the Venetians, along with Gattamelata, as Piccinino, Gonzaga, and Luigi dal Verme have penetrated Verona with a sudden assault. He swiftly arrives in Torbole, fords the Adige River above Brentonico, and reaches the besieged Chiusa fortress that was attacked the previous night by Francesco Piccinino. With the help of the local inhabitants led by Jacopo Marano, who join his militia, he spends the night in Sant’Ambrogio di Valpolicella. Together with Gattamelata, he decides to continue and, in three days, reaches the vicinity of Verona. He enters the city through Castelvecchio and the fortress of San Felice, which are still held by troops loyal to the Venetian Republic. Gattamelata and his brother Alessandro break in after conquering Porta Oriello and Porta Vescovo. The ducal forces are caught in disorder, scattered throughout the streets, and engaged in looting. Niccolò Piccinino takes refuge in the citadel with Gian Francesco Gonzaga but soon leaves through the Porta di Santa Croce, heading towards Vigasio, pursued by Troilo da Rossano and Sarpellione. Sforza returns to Verona with 2,000 prisoners, and his soldiers sack the houses of those who have shown hostility towards the Venetians during this brief period. He orders the return of the goods plundered by the enemies, and the citizens donate 10,000 ducats, which are distributed among the troops. With the victory, he moves to the aid of Brescia, whose defenders are increasingly oppressed by hunger, diseases, and the incursions of the Visconti forces. He chooses the route north of Lake Garda, besieges Tenno once again, which blocks the passage, and fortifies some positions with the help of the sappers until Riva del Garda and Peneda. At the same time, Renato d’Angiò, the claimant to the throne of Naples, asks him to join his payroll.
Dec.TrentinoHe besieges Arco and has around 2,000 sappers construct trenches around the area to prevent reinforcements from reaching the defenders. However, Piccinino intervenes, breaks the blockade, and defeats Sforza. The condottiero retreats to Castel Penede, crosses Monte Baldo, and relocates to Verona for winter quarters.
1440
Jan.Lombardy, VenetoHe is located near Orzinuovi; the communities of Gandino, Gazzaniga, Vertova, Nembro, Pratolongo, and Cene open their doors to him. By the end of the month, Camerino rebels in favor of the papal forces. Sforza moves to Verona.
Feb. – Mar.SforzaChurchMarcheHe returns to the Marche region to reclaim Camerino; he conquers Serravalle di Chienti.
Apr.Venice, FlorenceMarcheVenetoHe is handed 81,000 ducats to put his companies in order. On St. George’s Day, he is in Verona, and in the Church of Sant’Anastasia, eight banners of the League’s army are blessed, including his own. Meanwhile, Sigismondo Pandolfo and Domenico Malatesta leave the Venetian payroll for the ducal one: Sforza now fears for his possessions in the Marca d’Ancona, he goes to Venice to put pressure on the Doge in order to move to Tuscany and oppose Niccolò Piccinino. His request is not granted.
Jun. – Jul.Veneto, LombardyHe leaves San Martino Buon Albergo and alarms Gian Francesco Gonzaga, who defends the Mincio line; he deceives the adversary with a movement that scares Gonzaga so much that he fears being attacked from behind; he targets Brescia. He throws a bridge of boats over the Mincio at Monzambano (which is sacked) and crosses the river with 20,000 men, finding no opposition from the Marquis of Mantua who has holed up in the capital. He touches upon Rivoltella and Bedizzole, crosses the Chiese at the Nove bridge; he arrives at Poncarale, subjugates Offlaga, Manerbio, Bassano Bresciano, San Gervasio Bresciano, and the entire district of Quinzano d’Oglio and Pontevico. Gottolengo, Calvisano, and Montichiari meet the same fate, surrendering on terms; he conquers Longhena: the Brescians, to thank him, send to his camp 6 calves, 12 kids, 20 forms of cheese, 3 carts of red wine and one of vernaccia, 2 weights of wax, 50 boxes of various candies, a horse loaded with cherries and one with pears. Taliano Furlano and Luigi da San Severino also retreat from Brescia, place themselves on the Oglio, and camp between Soncino and Orzinuovi to control the bridge that joins the two banks. Sforza, however, does not enter Brescia, where his presence is no longer necessary; he focuses on the Oglio, instructs Sarpellione to assault Taliano Furlano and then retreat to drive the ducal forces away from the Oglio. The ducal forces fall into the trap. They chase the Sforza captain as planned; they advance without caution amid numerically superior forces; they are so pressed that they are no longer able to defend either the bridge or the castle of Orzinuovi. Sforza crosses the river, swoops down on the Milanese at Soncino and takes almost all their supply wagons along with almost 1,500 horses: among the prisoners is Borso d’Este, who had previously deserted from the Venetian camp. He recovers Orzinuovi, Soncino, Palazzolo sull’Oglio, Chiari, and Martinengo; he reaches the banks of the Adda. The swollen river and the careful guard of the Visconti prevent him from crossing. The news provokes great celebrations in Florence with bonfires and bell ringing. In July, he attacks Caravaggio with cannons; his brother, Leone Sforza, is mortally wounded: Sforza threatens death to all the defenders of the town if they do not quickly surrender to the Venetians. He moves to the Cremona and Cremasco areas after leaving Pietro Avogadro with the Brescian militias at the siege of Crema. He takes Casalmaggiore from Taliano Furlano.
Aug. – Sept.Lombardy, VenetoHe diverts towards Pontevico and crosses the Oglio at Robecco d’Oglio; he moves to the Mantua area where he immediately conquers Marcaria, Cavriana, and Asola whose fortress, taken by killing the defenders, is demolished to its foundations. He gains control over other centers such as Guidizzolo, Volta Mantovana, Solferino, Castiglione delle Stiviere; he obtains the fortress of Lonato on terms. He returns to Veneto, lays siege to Lazise, defended by 500 men including infantry and cavalry, and surrounds by land and lake Peschiera del Garda, whose land is given over to looting. He conquers its little fortress in a few days (he would like to hang the castellan for his treachery) and only after thirty-four days (September) the main castle. He is contacted at Peschiera del Garda by an emissary of Filippo Maria Visconti (the Marquis d’Este, as on other occasions) who is lavish with promises: this time Sforza remains faithful to his employers and informs the provider Pasquale Malipiero of the negotiations. Also in this month, the last ducal strongholds in Veneto fall (Villafranca di Verona, Vigasio, Nogarole Rocca, Valeggio sul Mincio, Isola della Scala, Nogara, Cerea, Sanguinetto).
Nov.VenetoHe stops in Verona; he sends his soldiers to their winter quarters. Their conduct leads the Senate to ask him to restrain his men because they are forcing the civilian population to sell their goods at low prices.
Dec.LombardyIn Brescia, where he takes lodging at the inn of the Stella and the Spada: the notable citizens honor him; they present him with pieces of English cloth, silver objects, knives and swords with enameled silver sheaths worth 500 ducats. He goes to Venice; he is named a patrician of the Serenissima and is gifted a palace at San Pantaleo, the Casa delle Due Torri (Cà Foscari), built at the end of the 14th century by the Giustiniani family and later the residence of the Marquis of Mantua.
1441
Jan.VenetoIn Verona.
Feb.VenetoIn Venice, to attend the wedding of Doge Francesco Foscari’s son, Jacopo, to Lucrezia Contarini; on this occasion, he organizes a joust in Piazza San Marco in front of thirty thousand people. It is won by a man-at-arms of Taddeo d’Este and one from his company. The prize, a piece of crimson velvet worth 140 ducats, is divided into two parts.
Mar.Veneto, LombardyPiccinino recovers Chiari and Soncino; Sarpellione switches sides to the ducal pay. Sforza mobilizes, touches on Peschiera del Garda, and recovers the castle of Valeggio sul Mincio that had rebelled against the Venetians. He arrives in Brescia with 300 lances; he receives a grand welcome from Bartolomeo Colleoni and returns to Verona.
Apr.VenetoIn Verona, he is presented with the standard of the captain-general; in a solemn mass, his banner is blessed, followed by that of the Florentines, the Genoese, the Venetians, the state of the Church, and lastly that of Pope Eugene IV.
Jun.Veneto, LombardyHe is ready for war; he touches on Sommacampagna, crosses the Mincio, passes between Lonato and Calcinato, arrives at Castenedolo and Bagnolo Mella; with the retreat of Niccolò Piccinino, he takes the road to Quinzano d’Oglio. He arrives at Verolanuova and Pralboino; the opposing captain positions himself at Binanuova and Seniga. Sforza crosses the Oglio with 8,000 horsemen and 3,000 foot soldiers; at night he moves his troops and with a march of thirty miles arrives at Pontoglio, he sends Cristoforo da Tolentino and Tiberto Brandolini in advance who catch the enemy guards by surprise, takes possession of the bridge, and ferries his troops across the river. Piccinino positions himself between Romano di Lombardia and the Serio river to defend Ghiaradadda and Bergamasco; Sforza then turns towards Martinengo with the objective of supplying Bergamo with provisions. He is preempted by the Visconti captain who forwards 1,200 horsemen and 500 foot soldiers, commanded by Giacomo da Caivana and Perino Fregoso, to the defense of the castle of Martinengo. Francesco Sforza receives the assistance of 6,000 selected troops from Brescia and Bergamo and prepares to besiege the fortress with 6 cannons. He attacks Cignano, where Piccinino has entrenched himself with forces numerically inferior to his own (10,000 horsemen and 6,000 foot soldiers); an attack of his is repelled, which ends with the capture of 500 horses, the death of 20 men-at-arms, almost all from his family, and the wounding of Fiasco da Giraso and Troilo da Rossano. He falls back to Castignano; he has a wide moat dug to defend his camp and continues to bombard the castle of Martinengo with artillery. His rival sets up two forts nearby with which he prevents the arrival of supplies (food and forage for the horses) to Sforza’s 30,000 men. In short, the condottiero finds himself moving from the position of besieger to the less favorable position of besieged.
Jul. – Aug.Lombardy, VenetoThe two captains remain in contact for 18 days. In the meantime, he is saved by the Duke of Milan who, irritated by the requests of his condottieri aimed at dismembering the Visconti duchy (primarily Niccolò Piccinino, but also Luigi da San Severino, Taliano Furlano, and Luigi dal Verme all with various territorial requests), directs Antonio Guidoboni to his camp with the request for his arbitration and the offer of his daughter in marriage. Visconti recalls Piccinino and orders him to lay down his arms; Sforza signs a truce with the secretary Eusebio Caimi. At the beginning of August, he has a friendly meeting with Piccinino and his condottieri when they leave the camp of Martinengo; he goes to Soncino and from there to Venice where he demonstrates to the Senate the goodness of his actions.
Sept.Lombardy, VenetoHe meets in Marmirolo with Niccolò d’Este who has been tasked by the Duke of Milan to bring him his betrothed, his daughter Bianca Maria. In Sanguinetto, he is visited by Malatesta to whom he in turn gives his daughter Polissena in marriage, previously promised to the brother of the Lord of Rimini, Domenico.
Oct.LombardyHe finally marries the Duke of Milan’s daughter in Cremona at the church of San Sigismondo: the wedding is celebrated by the city’s bishop; he is escorted to the ceremony by 2000 horsemen and an equal number of infantry led by Pietro Brunoro. In the same month, he travels to Cavriana where the peace treaty is signed.
Nov.Sarpellione returns to his service and acquires on his behalf the lordship of Orvieto with the aid of Gentile della Sala. At the end of the month, Sforza renews his contract with the anti-Visconti league for a firm three years and one year of respect.
1442
Jan. – Mar.Lombardy, Veneto, EmiliaHe decides to return to the Kingdom of Naples to defend the cause of Renato d’Angiò and his possessions. Informed that Niccolò da Pisa is offering himself to the Florentines, he decides to get rid of him: he orders him to precede him to the Marche of Ancona, probably provides him with a safe conduct from Piccinino, and imposes upon him the route to Bologna. In this way, the condottiero can be taken by surprise and killed in the city by Astorre Manfredi, with whom Sforza has made an agreement. He moves calmly from Cremona and stops with his wife in Sanguinetto. In February, he goes to Venice for consultations with La Serenissima and to obtain money: the authorities gift his wife a piece of jewelry worth 1000 ducats. He crosses the Po River, goes through Ferrara, and sends his brother Giovanni ahead to the Marche of Ancona with some squads of horsemen.
Apr. -MaySforzaChurch, NapoliRomagna, MarcheHe goes onto the Pope’s payroll: his financial conditions during this period are so dire that he has to resort to usurious loans at 14% from some Jews in Ancona, pledging not only his silverware but also his most lavish clothes. In May, he is noted to be in Ravenna and Rimini to revisit his daughter who married Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. He then goes to Gradara and Senigallia, where he receives news of his excommunication by the Pope, who used various pretexts, among them the specious one of not having made Piccinino, who is also part of the papal army, return Bologna to the Church State. Visconti also opposes his expedition to the Kingdom of Naples. Shocked, he pauses for many days in Fabriano, unsure of what to do, whether to move to Tuscany or stay in his possessions in the Marche. By mid-May, he waits between Esanatoglia and Castelraimondo. In his uncertainty, he orders Sarpellione and Bernardo d’Utri to move as quickly as possible to Patrimonio in Toscanella (Tuscania), the former with 500 horsemen, the latter with 400 foot soldiers: both are tasked with raiding the Church State.
Jun.Marche, UmbriaHe chooses Jesi as the residence for his wife. His brother Giovanni is defeated in the plain of Sessa Aurunca by Jacopo Piccinino: Sforza is stripped by Alfonso d’Aragona of all his remaining possessions in the Kingdom of Naples (Ariano Irpino, Monte Sant’Angelo, Troia, Manfredonia). Sarpellione is also attacked in Todino by Pietro Giampaolo Orsini, Gian Francesco Gonzaga, and Carlo di Montone. At first, he plays the religious card and aligns himself with Antipope Felix V, from whom he requests the renewal of the Marquisate of Ancona and the gonfaloniership of the Church; he then returns to the arguments that are more familiar to him. He leaves Jesi and gathers new troops in San Severino Marche. He moves to Fabriano with 4000 horsemen and sends 800 horses to aid Sarpellione, but they are unable to get past the castle of Fossato di Vico. These militias return to Marche after obtaining a certain quantity of wheat. He sends another 200 horses to Assisi; others are directed towards Bettona and are defeated by Piccinino (capture of 250 horses). He too moves towards Umbria. He doesn’t manage to prevent the surrender of Todi; he pauses for some time in Gualdo Cattaneo and leads his army (comprising of 5000 horses and 2000 foot soldiers) to the conquest of Fossato di Vico. Rebuffed, he returns to Fabriano; at the end of the month, he enters Fermo with his wife through the Porta di San Giuliano. He is celebrated by the populace: on this occasion, his brother Alessandro levels the Piazza di San Martino.
Jul.MarcheNiccolò Piccinino enters Belforte del Chienti; Sforza moves to Ripe San Ginesio and occupies San Ginesio. He begins peace negotiations with the Aragonese, returns to Fermo with 3000 men; he faces the opponents on the plains of Tenna. During the same days, he comes to an agreement with the King of Naples and swears loyalty to him for his fiefs held in the kingdom. He meets with Ignazio di Guevara in San Martino, near Servigliano; he stipulates with the Aragonese a contract of five years (4000 horsemen and 1000 foot soldiers). The contract provides for a monthly allowance of 1500 ducats in his favor, a prepayment of 60000 ducats, the governance of Abruzzi, the title of Great Constable, confirmation of the lordships of Manfredonia and Fortore, the return of the fiefs lost with the exception of Benevento and Caiazzo, and the release within two months of some of his captains such as Foschino and Marco Attendolo, Simone Scudo, and Giovanni Piccinino.
Aug.MarcheHe sets out for the kingdom to recover his fiefs; he crosses the Tronto. He positions himself in Montefortino; he doesn’t fail to inform Alfonso d’Aragon about the disloyalty of Piccinino. The latter challenges Sforza to a direct confrontation with one of his companies. The King of Naples disavows the actions of Ignazio di Guevara, judging them unauthorized; the Pope, in the meantime, issues a bull of condemnation against him. After some skirmishes with Piccinino, he reconciles with his rival under pressure from the Florentine commissioner, Bernardo dei Medici. An eight-month truce is signed. This is immediately broken by Piccinino who, with Cristoforo da Tolentino, occupies Tolentino: Sforza is surprised by the news in Fermo while a great festival is taking place. He moves to the plains of Rancia and in a skirmish, his mount is killed.
Sept.MarcheThe truce is reestablished again through the mediation of Bernardo dei Medici; Sforza implements a sort of economic blockade against the cities controlled by the papal state (Camerino, Tolentino, Sarnano, Montemonaco, and Montefortino). He returns to Fermo; as soon as he becomes aware that the enemy is in the Folignate region leading 8000 horsemen and 3000 foot soldiers, he attacks with Brunoro Ripatransone, given the state of the Church. He sets up accommodations near Santa Maria della Fede in the vicinity of Monte Fiore; places artillery, occupies the Capuchin hill and the monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena. Initially repelled, the city quickly surrenders with the promise of pardon. During a pause, the defenders kill 25 soldiers by throwing stones and other projectiles from the walls; with a twelve-hour attack, a new opening is made in the defensive curtains, the gates are forced open, and the place is sacked, with fifteen hundred people killed. Sforza returns to Fermo: many sacred vases, a bell from the town tower, and other sacred furnishings are transported to the city, all of which serve to embellish the city’s churches.
Oct.MarcheHe orders the demolition of the walls of Ripatransone; the town is set on fire for a third of its area. In retaliation, Niccolò Piccinino occupies Gualdo Tadino in the Duchy of Spoleto. Sforza descends into the valley of the Chienti, fords the Potenza at the mills of Macerata (leaving Giovanni da Tolentino in charge) and arrives at Montecassiano. He captures and sacks Montalboddo (Ostra Vetere).
Nov.Marche, AbruzzoHe is spotted at Jesi and Cingoli: he continues to impose ever new burdens on the towns of the Marches. He recovers Montefortino, Amandola, Belforte del Chienti. In Puglia, the King of Naples takes San Giovanni Rotondo from him. Sforza pushes into Abruzzo and promises Renato d’Angiò to send him 1000 lances and 1000 foot soldiers (subject to the inevitable requests for confirmation in the position of grand constable and recovery of possessed fiefs). With the loss of Assisi, and the alliance against him of the Aragonese and Visconti, he immediately withdraws and distributes his soldiers in winter quarters between Fermo, Ascoli Piceno, Cingoli, Fabriano, Jesi, Osimo, and Arcevia. He sets up camp at Matelica.
1443
Jan.MarcheHe generally resides in Jesi. He plays a part in the defection of Pietro Giampaolo Orsini in favor of the Florentines; he also foments a revolt in Foligno.
Feb.MarcheHe tries to bribe Cristoforo da Tolentino in order to regain Todi; he also orchestrates a plot in Ancona, as a result of which the city’s podestà is imprisoned and beheaded.
Mar.MarcheHe instigates another conspiracy in Gubbio that ends with the expulsion of some citizens; he conspires with the Florentines to poison Niccolò Piccinino.
Apr.MarcheHe opens negotiations with Visconti to return to his service.
MayMarcheIn Pesaro with his wife, a guest of the lord of the city, Galeazzo Malatesta. He sets his sights on Tolentino and lays siege to the town.
Jun.MarcheThe Venetians provide him with a bombard, which is unloaded at Porto Recanati and transported to the Moline di Macerata where his brother Alessandro is quartered. He conquers Esanatoglia, where Pazzaglia is killed along with 150 soldiers; after fierce resistance, he also takes Castelraimondo. In the same month, he returns the fortress of Forlì to Antonio Ordelaffi.
Jul.MarcheHe encamps under Tolentino and begins the siege operations. With targeted bombardment, the bastion of Porta Nuova is rendered harmless; having obtained the defenders’ surrender after eighteen days, he leaves his brother Alessandro in charge of the town. He sets off with hostages towards San Severino Marche and Fermo. Informed that Niccolò Piccinino is encamped near Visso, he sends out Brunoro and Malatesta from San Severino Marche with 3000/4000 men, both cavalry and infantry, forcing the opposing captain to withdraw to Norcia while waiting for reinforcements promised by the Aragonese.
Aug.MarcheWith the advance from the south of 24,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry led by Alfonso of Aragon (Alfonso d’Aragona) and Piccinino, he decides to defend all the major cities under his control with half of his men (4,000), placing his relatives and friends in command. Thus, he sends his brother Alessandro to Fermo, his brother Giovanni to Ascoli Piceno, his half-brother Rinaldo da Fogliano to Civitanova Marche, Brunoro to Fabriano, Fioravante Oddi to Cingoli, his son-in-law Giovanni da Tolentino to Osimo, Troilo da Rossano to Jesi (even though he has been warned by the Duke of Milan of a possible betrayal by his son-in-law due to the appearance of the King of Naples on the battlefield), Antonio da Trivulzio to Recanati, Roberto da San Severino to Arcevia, Attaccabriga to Corinaldo, Fiasco da Giraso to Staffolo, and Guglielmo of Bavaria (Guglielmo di Baviera) to Massaccio (Cupramontana).
Matelica, Tolentino, and Macerata fly the banners of the Papal State; Manno Barile abandons his salaries, Troilo da Rossano, and Pietro Brunoro deliver Jesi and Fabriano to the confederates, defecting with 2,400 cavalry and 600 infantry. San Severino Marche, Recanati, Castel del Piano, Cingoli, Osimo, Tuscania, and Acquapendente are also involved in the disintegration of his state; other captains, always close to him like Fiasco da Giraso and Guglielmo di Baviera, get caught up in the general climate of chaos. Only the brothers Alessandro and Giovanni remain steadfast in their place. Sforza fortifies himself in Fano, which belongs to Malatesta.
Sept.Marche, RomagnaHe sends his carriages to Romagna under the escort of Dolce dell’Anguillara; besieged in Fano, he tries to break the siege with continuous skirmishes. He is joined here by Sarpellione and Dolce dell’Anguillara; he moves to Rimini where he connects with Malatesta. Reinforcements arrive in his aid from the Venetians and Florentines. In the same days, some treacherous condottieri like Fiasco da Giraso and Guglielmo of Bavaria (Guglielmo di Baviera) acknowledge their mistake and rejoin his ranks.
Oct.Marche, RomagnaHe returns to Fano with 2 armed galleys and many boats loaded with infantry. He takes revenge on Brunoro and Troilo da Rossano with false evidence that he deliberately allows to fall into the hands of the King of Naples. The Duke of Milan, worried about the many successful outcomes for the Aragonese and the Papal States, also lends a hand to his fortune: Sforza goes to Rimini again and ratifies the alliance between the ducal forces on one side, and the Venetians and Florentines on the other. He leaves Rimini with his men-at-arms camped near the Porta di San Bartolomeo; he stops at San Giovanni in Marignano.
Nov.MarcheHe leaves Fano and meets Taddeo d’Este, Guido Rangoni, and Tiberto Brandolini; he clashes with Niccolò Piccinino at Foglia and defeats him at Montelauro. According to one source, the battle is decided by a surprise assault by Taddeo d’Este that puts the enemy ranks to flight; according to other versions, it’s a clash engaged in during the river crossing that creates the preconditions for a generalized battle. His soldiers are initially repelled; those of Sarpellione, sent by him to attack the enemies from the rear, suddenly appear on the top of a hill. At this sight, Piccinino is no longer able to keep his men stationary and the flight becomes general. Immense booty falls into the hands of the Sforzeschi who seize weapons and mounts and cause the prisoners to flee. In the fight among the bracceschi, Giannino da Caravaggio is killed and Braccio Baglioni is captured. The victory is not decisive due to Piccinino’s energetic reaction and the actions of his son-in-law Malatesta, who diverts part of the forces from the main objective to seize Pesaro at the expense of Federico da Montefeltro. Sforza thus conquers Novilara and Candelara, which he gives to Malatesta; he takes Montalboddo and Montenovo, whose defenders surrender through the intercession of his wife; he leaves her at Corinaldo, reaches Potenza Picena and recovers Jesi and Appignano. He allows his soldiers to sack Montefano; Castelfidardo also surrenders to him (after he had sent Giovanni da Tolentino there with 1500 horses), as do other castles in the Fermano area. Pope Eugene IV (Eugenio IV) deprives him of the vicariates of Tuscania and Rispampani.
Dec.MarcheHe besieges Giacomo da Caivana and Niccolò Terzi in Monte San Pietrangeli: the bombardment brings down the walls; but here too, as in Martinengo, the defenders strengthen at night what is destroyed during the day. The cold, the rain, and the lack of fodder do the rest. Niccolò Piccinino approaches Montegranaro, and Sforza, having lost hope of conquest, moves first to Montegiorgio (with the re-acquisition of Santa Vittoria in Materano, Mogliano, and Loro Piceno), and then to Fermo. He obtains a safe-conduct from Piccinino for his wife, who, pregnant, joins him from Corinaldo in that location.
1444
Mar.MarcheAt the end of the month, the Sforza forces suddenly enter Montefiore dell’Aso and take 17 prisoners.
Apr.MarcheHe is excommunicated a second time by Pope Eugene IV (Eugenio IV), along with Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta.
MayMarcheSeveral men from Ripatransone are caught near the Chienti with letters from the papal legate of the Marca, aiming to incite rebellion in the Fermano area against the Sforza forces. By Sforza’s order, these men are hanged in Fermo in a square then known as “dei porci” (of the pigs). Around the same time, the condottiero beats Niccolò Piccinino to Montegiorgio (or Montefortino according to some sources), where the opposing captain has organized a plot: he enters the city, captures 5 conspirators who are taken to Fermo to be hanged and quartered; the following day, their heads are impaled on spears to be displayed on the battlements of the city gates. At the same time, his son-in-law Sigismondo goes to Venice to collect his and Sforza’s pay; the Lord of Rimini, instead of giving Sforza his share, keeps all the sum received in settlement of his wages and the cost of lodging and provisions granted to his father-in-law in the recent campaign. The setback for Sforza is mitigated by the reinforcements that the Venetians bring him with horses and infantry led by Colleoni. Sforza allocates the money sent to him by the Florentines to Sarpellione, who vigorously supports the conflict in the territories of Osimo and Recanati.
Jun. – Jul.MarcheHe aims again at Monte San Pietrangeli; he is repelled once more. His financial difficulties increase as he is unable to pay his troops; the Aragonese fleet, off the ports of Ancona and Fermo, hinders the arrival of reinforcements by sea; Piccinino achieves the same results with the blockade of supplies by land; finally, Malatesta evades his request to concentrate the troops between Osimo and Recanati, preferring to stay in Fano. Only Sarpellione leaves Castelfidardo and fortifies himself on the Tenna: once again, however, he is saved by Visconti, who sends Francesco da Landriano to Piccinino with the order to sign a truce with Sforza and return to Milan.
Aug.MarcheWith the departure of his rival, he leaves Fermo with 3,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry, linking up with Sarpellione. He decides to challenge the Bracceschi, who have not yet recovered from Niccolò Piccinino’s departure. With money received from the Florentines, he hands a ducat to each soldier and provides the army with supplies for eight days. He withdraws all the garrisons; after two days he is reported at Urbisaglia, near Francesco Piccinino, who is camped in a difficult point to attack: the latter unintentionally facilitates him when he moves to Montolmo/Pausola (Corridonia). Sforza has the pontificals attacked from four sides: on the right, towards the hill, the militias of his brother Alessandro and those of Dolce dell’ Anguillara are launched, on the left, those of Manno Barile first and then Sarpellione. The first three condottieri are stopped, but Sarpellione surpasses the obstacles and reaches inside the enemy camp. Domenico Malatesta and Roberto da Montalboddo repel the Sforza’s attacks; brother Alessandro, with a flanking move, always on the right, arrives at the back of the pontificals. The enemies flee, pursued by dell’ Anguillara and Manno Barile. Also, Carlo di Montone, at this sight, must fold. The Bracceschi, however, seem to recover the fortunes of the battle. Sforza quickly resorts to a ruse; he “creates” a reserve force, consisting of servants and pages accompanying the troops, which, seen from afar, are easily mistaken for real men-at-arms. Domenico Malatesta and Roberto da Montalboddo retreat to Montecosaro and Recanati, where Giacomo da Caivana and Jacopo Piccinino also take refuge; Francesco Piccinino is captured with more than a third of the effective forces (2000 horses and the infantry); the pontifical legate, Cardinal Domenico Capranica, is also taken prisoner but is immediately released. Francesco Piccinino is treated with dignity despite Sarpellione’s intemperance. The castle of Corridonia surrenders the next day. The victory uncontestedly revives Sforza’s fortunes, allowing him to recover Macerata, Tolentino, San Severino Marche, and Osimo.
Sept. – Oct.MarcheHe takes over Cingoli with eight days of siege and Jesi with the fortress (three days); he goes against Serra San Quirico and forces Santino da Ripa to surrender on terms after thirteen days. He signs a truce with the Aragonese. They cross the Tronto River again to retreat to Abruzzo. Days later (in early October), he stipulates a similar agreement also with the pontificals; he is granted twelve days to regain lost locations. He is re-invested with the title of Marquis only for those lands over which he will have actual control after this time period: he camps at Montesanto (Potenza Picena); conquers Sant’ Elpidio a Mare, Monterubbiano, Montefiore dell’ Aso, Montegranaro, Castignano (where he gets delivered 600 bushels of wheat and all the cattle) and Offida; his brother Alessandro takes over Porto Recanati. Recanati, Osimo, and Fabriano remain in the hands of the pontificals but are obliged (along with Ancona) to recognize him a tribute. Finally, he renews the conduct with the anti-ducal league for a firm three years starting from February 1445, plus one of respect. He plans to cross the Tronto River to move into Abruzzo against the Aragonese as Alfonso d’Aragona is busy in Calabria fighting the Marquis of Crotone Antonio Ventimiglia. He desists from the initiative so as not to antagonize the Duke of Milan; he stops in Fermo with his wife and there receives Malatesta, who came to apologize for his not always straightforward operations. Many of his condottieri, especially Sarpellione and Dolce dell’Anguillara, push him for revenge; he prefers not to accept the advice and to hire Federico da Montefeltro.
Nov.MarcheThe Duke of Milan appoints Sarpellione as his general captain who, despite the old friendship that binds the two condottieri, does not inform Sforza of his decision. When Sforza learns of this, he has Sarpellione captured and strangled: because of this affront, the Duke of Milan allies himself with the Aragonese.
1445
Jan.MarchePope takes advantage of the new situation; Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta also abandons Sforza due to the presence of Montefeltro by his side.
Feb.MarcheHe lingers in Montecalvo in Foglia. He unsuccessfully challenges Malatesta to an open field battle in Tavoleto.
Mar. – Apr.MarcheHe remains inactive in Jesi from March to May. In mid-April, he imposes new taxes to repair the walls of Montegranaro and the tower of San Patrizio; a few days later, he conquers Pergola and sacks the town.
Jun.Marche, RomagnaHe leaves Jesi and sends numerous militias to the Abruzzo region to help Giosia Acquaviva, now his ally. These forces are under the command of Antonio da Trivulzio and Bastiano da Canosa. He positions himself along the Foglia river, and together with his brother Alessandro, devastates the territories of Rimini and Fano. He is reported to be near Montelabbate.
Jul.Marche, RomagnaHe defeats the Aragonese forces in a location called La Bazza. On the same day, he officially declares war on Malatesta. He seizes Novilara, secures Candelara through negotiations, and takes over the castles of Saltara, Cartoceto, Serrungarina, Bargni, Montefiore, and Pozzuolo which he loots. He enters Ostra Vetere and captures Meldola, which is left at the mercy of his soldiers. By the end of the month, he is reported to be in Florence.
Aug.MarcheHe recovers many lands between the Metauro and the Foglia rivers; he stations his forces near the Santa Lucia monastery; one of his attacks with 3000 infantry is repelled. He pretends to retreat and has his men placed in the villages; when the defenders leave the walls for meals, he launches a new assault; the infantry overcome the wall with ladders and break into the locality, which is looted without sparing churches and hospitals. He also takes Montesecco after three days of bombardment: the locality saves itself from depredations by recognizing a large sum of money in his favor. He attacks Castellaro; leaves Montefeltro to the siege of Fano, moves away from Carignano, and heads towards Fermo; on the Esino, he is informed that Giacomo da Caivana has preceded him by seizing Montefano, and that many castles in the territory have rebelled against him.
Sept.MarcheHe links up with Federico da Montefeltro and occupies Filottrano. He continues his advance and also recovers Appignano. His strategy seems to be focused on regaining control over key territories and strengthening alliances with important military leaders.
Oct.MarcheHe crosses the Potenza river and reaches Fermo with part of the infantry and a few light cavalry. Giovanni Ventimiglia, who is threatening the city with the Aragonese, retreats. He moves to Corridonia where he is joined by Montefeltro and his brother Alessandro; Matteo da Sant’Angelo also waits there with the infantry. During the night, Taliano Furlano leaves Civitanova Marche, which Sforza is besieging, to seek refuge in Potenza Picena. The rebellion in Ascoli Piceno (where he sent 6000 ducats days earlier for the pay of the troops) and Osimo forces him to change his strategy. The opposing armies join forces in Fabriano, forcing Sforza to reduce his points of reference. He increases the garrison in Fermo to 1500 horses and 500 infantry; he also strengthens the defenses of Jesi. Malatesta enters Arcevia by treaty; Sforza descends to the Chienti, touches Corridonia again, camps under Montefano, and moves to relieve the castle of Arcevia. On the banks of the Esino, he is informed that the castellan has surrendered; he changes direction, goes to Jesi and from there moves into Urbino territory.
Nov.MarcheHe gains numerous castles at the expense of Malatesta such as Fermignano, Acqualagna, Piandimeleto (sacked), Monterone, San Sisto, and Piole; he hands them over to Federico da Montefeltro. It starts to snow; he leaves the camp and distributes the cavalry in Tuscany and in the less mountainous parts of the territories of Urbino and Gubbio. At the same time, Fermo rebels against his brother Alessandro; Sforza tries in vain to assist him; San Severino Marche (even with a Sforza garrison of 600 infantry) also rebels to return under the control of the Papal States.
1446
Jan.TuscanyIn Florence with Astorre Manfredi.
Feb.MarcheWith the loss of Fermo’s fortress (the Girifalco), he moves to Pesaro with his family; he prepares to equip himself with a new army. In Pesaro.
Mar.MarcheHe signs an alliance with Ancona with the aim of threatening Recanati and Osimo.
Apr. – MayMarcheHe is excommunicated for the third time; Florence and Venice send him 120,000 florins. Cosimo de’ Medici advises him to go on the offensive in the Duchy of Spoleto and to approach Rome to join forces with Cardinal Niccolò Acciapaccia of Capua (exiled by Pope Eugene IV due to a falling out with the cardinal legate Ludovico Scarampo and the King of Naples) and Everso dell’ Anguillara, a secret opponent of the Pope; similar assurances are obtained from the Venetian Orsatto Giustinian. At the same time, Sforza refuses the offers made to him by the Bolognese, through their emissary Ludovico Caccialupi, to oppose the Visconti. He organizes his companies, and it’s only by the end of May that he is able to cross the Apennines: at this point, however, potential allies have different interests. Sforza leaves his brother Alessandro to guard Pesaro.
Jun.Umbria, Lazio, MarcheIn Fossato di Vico with 5000 horsemen and 1000 foot soldiers; he goes to Pianello and Deruta in vain search of provisions; he targets Todi. Along the way, he learns that the conspirators with whom he hopes to enter the city have changed their mind; indeed, they have called Cesare da Martinengo for their defense. A safe-conduct permit allowing Giovanni da Tolentino and his chancellor Cicco Simonetta to enter is also denied to him. He heads to Orvieto, crosses the Tiber, poorly received everywhere; he reaches Viterbo where he asks for provisions from Everso dell’Anguillara and the inhabitants near Lake Bolsena. However, the potential ally reconciled with the Pope in the previous month, and therefore provides him no support. Sforza is thus forced to wander for twelve days through the mountains between Montefiascone, Arlena di Castro, and Acquapendente in desperate search of food. The country people refuse to supply his men; the soldiers, without bread for three days, are forced to eat only strawberries. He retreats to Resana, near Ponte Pattoli, leads the army back to Gubbio and Fossombrone in Federico da Montefeltro’s territories: he meets Carlo di Montone in Montone. In such disasters, he is also abandoned by his brother Alessandro, who has surrendered Pesaro to the Papal forces.
Jul. – Aug.MarcheHe doesn’t admit defeat and through a series of offensive actions tries to contain the enemy advance: he leaves Fossombrone, he encamps near Urbino, presses on Jesi and forces the people of Ancona to come to terms.
Sept.MarcheHe rides to Castel Durante (Urbania) and harasses the adversaries besieging the castle of Lunano. Similar actions are carried out continuously. He clashes with the Papal forces on the Foglia, at Pieve della Trappola (Pieve San Silvestro).
Oct.MarcheThe Florentines send him 3000 horsemen under the command of Guidantonio Manfredi and Simonetto di Castel San Pietro, and 1000 infantrymen led by Gregorio d’Anghiari. With these troops, he forces Cardinal Scarampo and Malatesta to move away from Urbino and take position at Tavoleto. He sets up camp at Montecalvo in Foglia and challenges the opponents to a pitched battle, sending them, through a herald, a bloody glove stuck on a pole. The Papal forces, fearing betrayal by Giacomo da Caivana, refuse to engage and strengthen the defenses of their camp. Through mediation by Montefeltro, he reconciles with his brother Alessandro, who offers Pesaro as a base for his operations. He seizes many castles such as Montelabbate, Pozzo del Piano, Tomba, and Montelauro. He lays siege to Gradara.
Nov.MarcheDuke of Milan contacts him seeking his help. Visconti advises him not to make an agreement with the Venetians as he would soon move in his favor. Formally, Sforza maintains good relations with the Serenissima, also because in Cremona and his other lands there are Venetian troops; at the same time, he informs the Duke of Milan about the movements of his opponents.
Dec.MarcheThe heavy rains, lack of gunpowder, and lack of money for the troops convince him, after 63 days, to abandon the siege operations. He stops between Candelara and Montelabbate. He sends the cannons to Pesaro, leads the army to Foglia, and distributes the men between Urbino and Pesaro where he stays with his family. A truce is signed with the Papal forces, Aragonese, and Malatesta.
1447
Feb.MilanVeniceGeneral CaptainMarcheVisconti sent his friend Pietro Pusterla as an ambassador to persuade him to enter his service: he was promised a contract on the same terms as those previously enjoyed by the Venetians and Florentines (a five-year firm contract, one year of good pleasure, an annual salary of 204,000 florins, and the title of General Captain). The Florentines contacted him through Angelo Acciaiuoli and Neri Capponi to dissuade him from this intention; the Venetians arrested his secretary, Angelo Simonetta, while he was in Venice. Sforza tried to justify himself by sending a long letter from Pesaro to Venice. An investigation was opened into his betrayal by the Council of Ten: this revealed that many patricians, including the Doge’s son (and perhaps the Doge himself), had too close friendships. Andrea Donato, the local Doge from Candia, was summoned back in chains. He testified his relations with Sforza before this judiciary. It became known that he received 900 ducats from the condottiero: he was sentenced to a year in prison and banned from aspiring to public office for a decade. Sforza’s palace on the Grand Canal was confiscated.
Mar.MarcheThe Venetians attempted to seize Cremona, where the provider Gerardo Dandolo was weaving a treaty with the local Guelphs. An attack on the city by Micheletto Attendolo was repelled: the condottiero of the Serenissima did not dare to engage in a siege.
Apr.MarcheCaptains from the Bracceschi school such as Francesco and Jacopo Piccinino, Niccolò Terzi, and the counselors Antonio da Pesaro and Giacomo da Imola convinced the Duke of Milan not to pay him the agreed sum; they even accused Sforza of promising Pietro Pusterla the Piccinino’s assets in Casalpusterlengo and of aspiring to the duchy. The Venetians no longer paid him any provision and declared him their rebel. For his part, Sforza sent 300 infantrymen to Cremona to rescue Foschino Attendolo.
May – Jun.MarcheThe Venetians easily reached the outskirts of Milan, bringing devastation and fear. The Duke called Sforza back and sent him 50,000 florins (20,000 in cash and 30,000 by letter of exchange) to pay the troops; Sforza, to raise additional money, returned Jesi to Pope Nicholas V (Niccolò V) for the sum of 31,000 ducats. He made peace with the King of Naples and with Malatesta.
Jul.MarcheHe sent Manno Barile to Arcevia with the insignia for the handover of Jesi to the papal representatives; he waited for Carlo di Campobasso who was to deliver to the Sforza the agreed sum for the cession of Jesi.
Aug.MilanVeniceGeneral Captain of 4,500 cavalry and 1,500 infantry.Marche, Romagna, Emilia, LombardyDeparting from Pesaro with 4,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry, almost completely lacking in provisions, before leaving, he had to resort to other measures to collect the money necessary for his needs, such as the pawn of the fortress of Pontremoli and his wife’s jewels with moneylenders in Ancona and Ferrara. He passed through Rimini and Forlì; in Cotignola, he learned of the death of the Duke of Milan from a messenger of Marquis Leonello d’Este. He renewed his alliance with Rolando Pallavicini and decided to go to Lombardy immediately, even if his troops were not entirely in order. On his march, he touched Budrio and Borgo Panigale (where more than 40 carts of supplies were administered by the Bolognese); in three days, he crossed Bolognese, Modena, and Reggio, stopped at San Secondo Parmense, and from there sent Benedetto da Norcia as his orator to Milan. Parma did not open its gates as he had hoped. At court, on the other hand, the Bracceschi party, which included Francesco da Landriano and Broccardo Persico, pressed for the Duchy of Milan to join the Kingdom of Naples; Sforza also had his supporters in Milan, such as Andrea da Birago. The Viceroy of Naples, Raimondo Boilo, entered the castle of Porta Giovia and persuaded the Visconti condottieri Guidantonio Manfredi, Carlo Gonzaga, Luigi dal Verme, Guido Torelli, and the sons of Luigi da San Severino to declare themselves in favor of the King of Naples, Alfonso of Aragon. Contrarily, the Ambrosian Republic was born, which renewed Sforza’s contract, through Antonio da Trivulzio and Scarabello Balbo, that he signed with Visconti: six firm years, plus two of respect with a monthly provision of 15,000 ducats and the command of 4,500 cavalry and 1,500 infantry. An increase in the provision to 17,000 ducats was foreseen in case of the recovery of the lands west of the Adda; the prestation was set at 60,000 ducats. He had many friends in the various city councils; his ambition was well known, so he was suspected of aspiring to the Milanese lordship due to his kinship with the late Filippo Maria Visconti. The old Milanese oligarchy of the da Trivulzio, Cotta, Bossi, Lampugnani, Morone, proponents of the republic, were hostile to him. Sforza moved to the lands of Rolando Pallavicini; he reached Cremona where he signed the terms of the contract with Luigi Bossi and Pietro Cotta; he reserved the possibility of a territorial expansion of his lordship towards Brescia or, better, Verona. He left Cremona in a war-ready state with 6,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry; he headed for Pizzighettone where the Piccinino brothers were stationed. He promised Francesco the lordship of Cremona and Jacopo that of Crema.
Sept.LombardyCrossing the Adda with Francesco Piccinino, he entered the territory of Lodi: he was helped by the governor Pietro Visconti and the castellan Giacomo Crivelli. He occupied Maleo, Codogno, San Colombano al Lambro, which he conquered with cannons in twelve days of siege. While engaged in this endeavor, he was informed that Pavia was increasingly divided among the partisans of the King of France, those of the Duke of Savoy, and those of the Marquis of Monferrato. He took advantage of the situation, left the camp under the command of Francesco Piccinino and Guidantonio Manfredi, and went with a few men to the city; he convinced his mother-in-law Agnese del Maino, morganatic wife of Visconti, and Matteo da Bologna to hand over the fortress, had the assets seized at the time returned to Colleoni. Finally, he had a solemn mass celebrated in the Church of San Siro. The Milanese sent him Guarniero Castiglione and Oldrado Lampugnani to ensure he respected the pacts he had signed: he refused, alleging that the Pavia did not want to submit to the dominion of the Ambrosian Republic. He returned to the camp at San Colombano al Lambro, crossed the Adda at Pizzighettone, and headed for Piacenza. Micheletto Attendolo was in front of him, who on behalf of the Venetians took up a position at Cavacurta.
Oct. – Nov.EmiliaHe tried to provoke his rival into battle; he sent against him Jacopo Piccinino with two chosen squads of horses; he sounded the retreat and pushed against Piacenza, defended by the Venetians of Taddeo d’Este and the Scotti (2,000 horses, 2,000 infantry, and 6,000 citizens). He enjoyed the support of the Anguissola, the Landi, and the Arcelli. He first quartered in Muccinasso, stationed the infantry at the village of San Lazzaro, the cavalry 500 steps away; Carlo Gonzaga was placed at the Fausta or Augustus Gate with some Sforza squads; Francesco Piccinino and Guidantonio Manfredi at the Gate of San Raimondo; Luigi dal Verme at that of Stralevata. Before the city, he had 4 galleons, prepared in Pavia (led by Filippo and Bernardo degli Eustachi), anchored at his own expense in the middle of the Po River to hinder any relief to the city via the river. He was joined in the field by Milanese ambassadors (Luigi Cotta, Pietro Bossi, and Antonio da Trivulzio) who handed him the baton of general captain and two banners, that of Saint Ambrose and that of the commune. During the siege, Sforza made extensive use of artillery: he had 3 large cannons placed between the Gate of San Lazzaro and that of San Raimondo, each of which fired up to sixty shots a day. His squadron leader, Ventura da Parma, captured a peasant who was carrying messages from Attendolo to Taddeo d’Este: instead of hanging him, he decided to use him to facilitate the delivery of messages after reading them.
Dec.EmiliaThe cannons knocked down two towers and the connecting curtain wall: the falling rubble partially filled the moat, making its crossing more manageable. Beyond the two external moats that protect the walls, Taddeo d’Este and the governor Gerardo Dandolo had a third dug: the attackers tried to overcome this obstacle as well by filling it with bundles of wood. They were repelled with numerous losses. In the attack, Sforza’s mount was killed by a culverin shot. In the end, the Sforza artillery knocked down a corner of the walls towards the Gate of San Lazzaro. The breach allowed the Milanese to storm the city, which was looted for forty days by his soldiers. Houses and churches were robbed, women raped, and men (ten thousand of them) captured and ransomed.
1448
Jan.LombardyHe withdrew to Cremona after sending his troops to their winter quarters.
Feb.He promises Rolando Pallavicini the restitution of properties taken from him by Niccolò Piccinino years earlier. In Milan, the Piccininos lean on the Guelph faction (the Trivulzios) who desire peace with Venice; on the other hand, Francesco Sforza supports the Ghibellines who want the continuation of the conflict. Movements in favor of war are provoked by the Ghibellines in the Porta Comacina district. To avoid giving room to the advocates of peace, Sforza refrains from asking for the pay of his troops, who, moreover, have been enriched with the plunder of Piacenza.
Mar.LombardyHe enters Ghiaradadda and lays siege to Lodi.
Apr.LombardyFrancesco Piccinino, following the capture of the Venetian general provider Gerardo Dandolo in Piacenza, manages to conclude an honorable peace in Bergamo for the Ambrosian Republic. Francesco Sforza prevents its ratification. He incites a popular uprising in Milan; the Broletto is invaded by a multitude of rebels, and the peace treaty is annulled.
MayLombardyHe gathers his troops again between Cremona and Pizzighettone, laying siege to the castles owned by the Venetians on the right bank of the Adda. He conquers Mozzanica, Vailate, Treviglio, sets fire to the bastion on the bridge of Cassano d’Adda, and also gains the fortress with Astorre Manfredi following a siege supported by six cannons. He crosses the Adda and secures the surrender of Rivolta d’Adda: the locals kill those in charge of its defense.
Jun.LombardyHe takes Pandino after overcoming the resistance of Giovanni Spagnolo in twelve days; he occupies Melzo. The Venetian fleet of Andrea Querini and Niccolò Trevisan advances on the Po: he proposes to lead the army to Casalmaggiore to defend his fiefs; the two Piccininos push the Milanese to focus instead on the siege of Lodi. Francesco Sforza is forced to follow their initiative: he besieges Lodi for sixteen days and sends aid to Cremona through Manno Barile and Roberto da San Severino.
Jul.LombardyHaving requested and received full powers, he leaves the Lodi area with the support of Guglielmo of Monferrato, Carlo Gonzaga, Cristoforo Torelli, and Luigi dal Verme; in three days, he reaches Moso on the Po near Cremona via Crema. The Venetian fleet is anchored at the island of Mezzano where Andrea Querini has strengthened his position with piles and chains, turning the upper entrance towards Casalmaggiore into a nearly entrenched camp for his galleons. Sforza sets up two cannon batteries on the banks of the Po to bombard the fleet: on the Emilian shore, Pietro Maria dei Rossi is positioned with 2000 men and 6 bronze cannons; four more are placed at Casalmaggiore on the opposite bank. Finally, the Milanese fleet, commanded by Biagio Assereto, Bernardo, and Filippo degli Eustachi, advances on the river, blocking the adversaries’ every outlet on the waterway. The bombardment begins without any signs of intervention from Micheletto Attendolo in favor of the fleet. Andrea Querini remains inactive under the artillery fire, which causes mortality and desertions; eventually, he orders the ships to be set on fire, cuts the hawsers, and launches against the Milanese fleet. Of the initial 70 vessels, including 30 galleons, only 4 are saved from the flames and fall into the hands of the Pavia forces. Andrea Querini returns to Venice and is sentenced to three years in prison for his mistakes. At the end of the battle, Francesco Sforza goes to Torre dei Picci near Cremona. With 12,000 horsemen and 3,000 foot soldiers, he turns towards Caravaggio, whose defense is in the hands of Diotisalvi Lupi with 800 foot soldiers and 700 horsemen under the command of Ludovico Malvezzi and Matteo da Capua. He encamps near the walls, the Sforza troops on the left of the eastern gate with Guglielmo of Monferrato, Cristoforo Torelli, Carlo Gonzaga, and Luigi dal Verme; on the right are the condottieri of the Bracceschi school; in between, another 4,000 horsemen are positioned, just arrived, under the command of Francesco, Amerigo, and Bernabò da San Severino, Jacopo Orsini, Angelo da Lavello, Fioravante Oddi, Antonio Ventimiglia, Giorgio di Annone.
Aug.LombardyThe siege of Caravaggio is marked by bloody skirmishes. The locality is surrounded by ditches and embankments. He builds a bastion two crossbow shots away from the city walls on the eastern side, towards the Serio, beginning the siege operations on the castle which he subjects to heavy artillery fire (4 cannons). He has tunnels dug under the walls to bring them down. He sends Jacopo Piccinino to Morengo to block the advance of the Venetians coming from Bergamo. In the action, Francesco Piccinino and Dolce dell’Anguillara are also involved, who do not move to protect Jacopo Piccinino when he is attacked by Guido Rangoni. He orders new assaults by Roberto da San Severino and Antonello da Corneto; in various clashes, the Milanese and German musketeers among his ranks stand out for their effectiveness. In a semi-circle, from southeast to southwest of Caravaggio, he positions the companies of Luigi dal Verme, Cristoforo Torelli, Carlo Gonzaga, and Guglielmo di Monferrato. In addition to blocking the other accesses to the location, he concentrates his maneuvering mass in his center and on the right wing. Finally, he arranges for the ranks of Amerigo, Bernabò and Francesco da San Severino, as well as those of Orso Orsini, Angelo da Lavello, Fioravante Oddi, Antonio Ventimiglia and Giorgio di Annone to be placed on the road to Fornovo San Giovanni. In this way, the possible Venetian penetration routes from the course of the Serio towards Caravaggio are intercepted. Money starts to run out and the number of men at his disposal dwindles: Gonzaga, dal Verme, and Giovanni Ventimiglia ask for permission to leave. Despite this, after thirty-five days, Matteo da Capua is forced to capitulate.
Sept.LombardyThe Venetians decide to intervene in aid of the defenders of Caravaggio, especially when Tiberto Brandolini believes he has found a safe passage through a marsh, skirted by a forest, that allows for an assault on the fortified Milanese camp. The Most Serene Republic organizes an attack on the Milanese camp, which is defended by Alessandro Sforza and Guglielmo di Monferrato. This is preceded by a heavy artillery fire directed by Bartolomeo Colleoni. Initially, Sforza finds himself in difficulty; he receives fresh troops in aid led by squad leaders Mariano di Calabria and Guido Turco di Fusignano. His reaction is swift, carried forward with 2000 cavalry while dal Verme, Torelli, and Dolce dell’Anguillara assault the enemy rearguard. The Venetians now find themselves in difficulty due to the narrow place in which they find themselves fighting because of the nearby marsh. Finally, Francesco Sforza and Francesco Piccinino attack the camps of the Serenissima, watched over by Colleoni; the fortress of Caravaggio immediately surrenders upon hearing of the defeat. In the clash, there are 12,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry among the Sforzans; 12,500 cavalry and 5,000 infantry among the Venetians: of these, only 1,500 cavalry survive. In the Venetian field, the Milanese seize 6 large cannons, 30 bombardelle, and a large quantity of victuals, silverware, and ammunition; the dead are very few (7), mostly men trampled by the horses. All the prisoners are freed after being stripped of their weapons and clothes; only a few captains like Gentile da Leonessa, Roberto da Montalboddo, Guido Rangoni, Carlo di Montone remain in the hands of the victors. With the victory, the Riviera di Salò rebels against the Serenissima.
The event gives Sforza the momentum to invest Brescia and move towards the Mincio. He sends the three San Severino to conquer Lodi and prepares to besiege Brescia, defended by Jacopo Catalano with 500 cavalry and 1,000 infantry. He camps in Trenzano; he passes through Roncadelle and places himself in front of the city at the Porta di San Nazzaro with 10,000 cavalry and many infantry. He surrounds Brescia from La Garzetta to San Giacomo; Rovato, Orzinuovi, Asola, Soncino, and Val Camonica surrender to his power after a weak resistance, or worse, with a spontaneous act of surrender. A sudden sortie by the Brescians, albeit carried out with some disorder, causes him some losses. Meanwhile, in Venice, the Council of Ten allocates 2000 ducats for his assassination.
Oct.Sforza, VeniceMilan, Duke of SavoyLombardyThe Ambrosian Republic seeks peace with its adversaries; Francesco Sforza proceeds autonomously and uses Ermolao Donati, the secretary of the superintendent, as an intermediary; negotiations follow at Peschiera del Garda between his secretary Cicco Simonetta and Pasquale Malipiero, culminating in the agreement of Rivoltella del Garda (signed mid-month in the church of San Biagio) which marks a reversal of alliances. The enemy is now the Ambrosian Republic. With this treaty, Sforza commits to clearing the territories of Bergamo and Brescia, renouncing Crema and Ghiaradadda; Venice, for its part, abandons all the territories of the duchy including Lodi, Brivio, and Lecco. The Serenissima provides him with 4,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry immediately, and after a month, another 2,000 cavalry and 2,000 infantry. He is assigned a monthly provision of 13,000 ducats (another 8,500 florins per month are recognized by the Florentines) and another 40,000 are advanced to him on his future claims: in exchange, he immediately frees in Cremona the superintendent Ermolao Donato, Gentile da Leonessa, and Roberto da Montalboddo, to whom he gives arms and mounts. He approaches the gates of Brescia where his brother Alessandro enters, he sets out on the road to Orzinuovi and moves on Soncino. Piacenza embraces his party; the fleet of Filippo degli Eustachi also expresses itself in his favor. He enters Piacenza after a meeting with Filippo degli Eustachi at Canossa; he leaves Giacomo da Salerno and Tommaso Tebaldi in charge with 600 cavalry; he moves to Pavia.
Nov.LombardyWith the loss of Lodi, he changes his route; he aims for Castelleone to cross the Adda at Maccastorna; he obtains the town from the Bevilacqua; Marco Leone leads him a bridge of boats from Cremona, transported by carts. He arrives at Casalpusterlengo and activates his supporters in Milan; at the same time, his brother Alessandro convinces Luigi dal Verme, Guglielmo di Monferrato, and Cristoforo Torelli to follow him against the Ambrosian Republic. Among them are initially Antonio Ventimiglia and Carlo Gonzaga who soon change their minds. Sforza marches towards Milan, vainly opposed on the Adda by Francesco Piccinino; he touches Bollate, obtains Casorate Primo, Rosate, Binasco and Lacchiarella. He takes no prisoners or loot, respecting everyone’s property to win over the Milanese; after three days of siege of the capital, he conquers and sacks Abbiategrasso, although his wife and Dolce dell’ Anguillara try to make him back off from such a purpose because during the assault he is almost killed by a gunshot. Part of the troops divert the canal that carries water from Ticino to Milan to prevent the flow of supplies to the city and deprive the citizens of the use of the mills. He receives a reinforcement of 2,000 men from the Venetians and moves to Legnano; he occupies Abbiategrasso; he obtains Busto Arsizio and Cantù by pact where he also enjoys the support of many Visconti and Rusca feudatories of the area.
Dec.PiedmontHe attacks Novara, which is defended by Lancillotto Visconti. Due to the lack of supplies and the poor state of the fortifications, the citizens surrender under terms. Having signed the surrender, he leaves the village of Santo Stefano where he had previously camped; he assigns dal Verme to besiege the city castle which is conquered and sacked: the sum of money obtained from the collection of the ransoms of the Savoyard prisoners is significant. Immediately after, both Tortona and Vigevano follow the example of Novara, while Alessandria opens its gates to Monferrato. He returns to the Milanese area and his men are joined by those of Ventimiglia, who deserts from the enemy camp with 500 horses and 400 infantry, as well as those of other captains from the Braccesca school, such as the brothers Andrea and Antonio da Landriano, who no longer want to submit to the orders of Francesco Piccinino.
1449
Jan.LombardyBartolomeo Colleoni is sent to conquer Parma to assist his brother Alessandro. Meanwhile, in Venice, the prospect of his potential assassination is no longer contemplated, as he is now an ally of La Serenissima (the Most Serene Republic of Venice).
Feb.LombardyHe persuades Francesco and Jacopo Piccinino (4,000 cavalry) to support his ambitions; he promises his daughter Drusiana in marriage to the younger brother, and delivers money to the two siblings. Manno Barile and Fiasco da Giraso attempt in vain to dissuade him from this choice; they advise him to kill them, or at least imprison them. However, peace negotiations with the Ghibellines fail: in Milan, the Guelph faction has gained the upper hand in the council with support from the common people. Some Ghibellines, whose letters of agreement with Sforza have been intercepted, are either beheaded or exiled. The government is in the hands of the people; special laws are approved that punish anyone who speaks in his favor with death. Sforza completes the invasion of the Milanese territory, blockades the capital from all sides, and cruelly oppresses the civilian population. He leaves Landriano and positions his squads in the bordering areas to more effectively establish a blockade; the Bracceschi place many of his men in the monastery of Viboldone, in Melegnano, and in Peschiera Borromeo; Giovanni Ventimiglia is in the monastery of Chiaravalle Milanese with the captain of the Venetian infantry, Michele di Piemonte; Guglielmo di Monferrato, Luigi dal Verme, and Dolce dell’Anguillara occupy the roads leading from Pavia to the navigli; Roberto da San Severino with the three San Severino brothers are at the monastery of Baggio. For himself, he chooses the base of Moirago near Binasco, from where he can control all movements towards Porta Ticinese. He approaches Castellazzo, a fortified monastery near this gate, and conquers it in a day with cannons, despite the valiant resistance opposed by Tommaso Schiavo. He repels a sortie of the townsfolk and tightens the siege on the capital with more vigor, alongside Francesco Piccinino, Dal Verme, Dell’Anguillara, and Matteo da Capua on the roads leading to Monza and Vercelli. He lays siege to Monza.
Mar.LombardyThe Sforza forces are defeated near Monza by Carlo Gonzaga (capturing 300 horses along with artillery and supplies). Sforza distances himself from Monza, leaving the operation’s leadership to Monferrato and the two Piccininos. He provides Francesco Piccinino with three large cannons, transported from Cremona, and returns to Milan to starve the city.
Apr.LombardyHe meets with the elder of the two Piccininos. The direct contact proves fruitless; the two brothers break every vow of friendship, take up the defense of Monza, and hand over Melegnano, which they are guarding, to the Milanese. In response, Sforza orders the sacking of Landriano, Vidigulfo, and Carpiano.
MayLombardyHe attacks Melegnano and seizes the village; he assails the fortress with cannons, demolishing two towers and dismantling part of the walls. The defenders surrender on the condition of receiving no reinforcements within three days. From Milan arrive 6,000 cavalry, 4,000 infantry, and 20,000 men of the city militia, mostly armed with muskets and led by the two Piccininos and Carlo Gonzaga. Sforza deploys his regular troops and places Guglielmo di Monferrato at the vanguard with 200 lances. The Milanese pickets, stationed at San Giuliano Milanese, lose their audacity at the sight of the Sforza forces and flee. A few days pass and Sforza takes advantage of rumors of Monferrato’s betrayal, artfully leaked by Francesco Piccinino, to arrest this condottiero in Pavia where he had gone on a courtesy visit to Sforza’s wife, Bianca Maria Visconti.
Jun.LombardyHe leaves Melegnano and orders Marco Leone to move from Pavia with the fleet and build a pontoon bridge over the Ticino at Parasacco. He besieges Vigevano, defended by Ruggero Galli, Enrico del Carretto, and Jacopo di Rieti. His artillery creates a breach in the city walls; behind it, the defenders have prepared a new earth and manure trench held together by large beams. A portion of the walls and bastions is covered with sacks of wool to dampen the impact of the stones hurled by cannons. He decides to launch a general assault; pillaging is promised, along with a reward of 100 ducats for the soldier who first enters the castle (50 for the second, 25 for the third). The army is divided into eight ranks, and the attacks are relentlessly repeated. At night, Donato del Conte seizes the earthwork. Giacomo da Salerno starts some negotiations that result in the capitulation of the defenders; the city is not sacked; the walls, like those in Melegnano, are dismantled. With the return of Carlo Gonzaga and the two Piccininos to Milan, Sforza occupies San Giorgio di Lomellina with cannons, sacks Castiglione Seprio, and seizes the fortress in five days.
Jul. – Aug.LombardyHe leaves Ventimiglia in Cantù with 1,000 cavalry and 500 infantry and rides towards Lodi. With Manno Barile (who has 16,000 men and seven hundred supply carts with him), he assaults Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, which surrenders in two to three days after 122 cannon shots. With the betrayal of Antonio and Ugolino Crivelli, he also takes possession of the fortress of Pizzighettone: 500 cavalry and 300 infantry previously sent by the Piccininos are captured; he conquers Melzo, sacks Vimercate, and takes over all of Brianza. He moves towards Cassano d’Adda, whose defenders, at the sight of the cannons, surrender in five days. His troops are decimated by the plague.
Sept.LombardyCarlo Gonzaga also enters his service, handing over Lodi and Crema: the latter is given, according to agreements, to La Serenissima (Venice). The Venetian officials, Pasquale Malipiero and Giustinian, request a meeting with the condottiero; Sforza blocks them at Rivolta d’Adda as he has learned that the Senate has decided to end the conflict with the Ambrosian Republic and wants to request his consent to the new agreements. He accepts the submission of Lodi and detains Erasmo da Trivulzio, who has always been his adversary. At the same time, he increases his pressure on Milan. He reaches Lambrate and assails the city at Porta Orientale; in one of many skirmishes, Fiasco da Giraso is captured; in another, conducted between Porta Orientale and Porta Comacina, his brother Bosio is injured. The Venetians, led by Colleoni, no longer support his offensive for various reasons. A peace treaty is signed between La Serenissima and the Ambrosian Republic, which involves Sforza returning a large part of the territory he had taken between the Po, Adda, and Ticino rivers to the Milanese. Sforza does not accept the new situation; he momentarily withdraws to Colturano and has his men pillage several Venetian companies. He promptly returns the spoils, escorts the official Giacomo Antonio Marcello to Crema, and sends his ambassadors (his brother Alessandro, Angelo Simonetta, and Andrea da Birago) to Venice with a written order to accept the terms of peace; in reality, their task is to buy him some time. He establishes a thirty-day truce with the Milanese to allow them to sow their fields.
Dec.SforzaMilan, VeniceLombardyUnder the pretext of violence suffered by his ambassadors in Venice, he breaks the truce and wages war against the Milanese and the Venetians. He sends out numerous cavalry squads to devastate the countryside and cut off every communication route between the Venetian army, coming from Bergamo, and those under siege. He heads to Lodi to arrange for the provisioning of his troops; he orders surveillance of the Adda line from Cassano d’Adda to the bridge of Lecco. The Venetians under Malatesta cross the Adda at Brivio. Sforza manages to halt the advance of the opponents, which was facilitated in some way by the negligence of his brother Giovanni and Ventimiglia. He orders Roberto da San Severino and Onofrio Rufaldo to recover Monte Calco, where Matteo da Sant’Angelo has positioned himself; he cuts off all contact routes to the enemy vanguard with respect to the bulk of the army still remaining on the left bank of the Adda. He obtains the fortress of Trezzo sull’Adda for money and captures Innocenzo Cotta; from Cotta’s brother, he is given the fortress of San Colombano al Lambro under the threat of hanging his relative in front of the walls in case of his capture. He is reported on Monte di Brianza where he continues to face the troops of La Serenissima. Milanese troops under the command of Jacopo Piccinino arrive at Monza and from there aim to connect with the Venetians at Monte Calco. Sforza abandons his camp at night with Ventimiglia, advances into the valley of Rovagnate, and assaults Jacopo Piccinino at Casate. He also pillages his camp; in this circumstance, he runs some danger when, due to the darkness, he finds himself isolated from his men twice. That same morning, he is at Montevecchio and Monte Calco to animate the troops; he sends troops to Galbiate Genesio and Monte Barro to occupy San Genesio, where there are 4,000 men. He stops the flow of supplies to the location with the conquest of the fortress of Airuno. The Venetians stationed at San Genesio lose all hope of being rescued, descend towards Olginate, and cross the Adda again without finding any obstacles.
1450
Jan.LombardySforza signs a peace treaty with Duke Ludovico of Savoy in which he renounces numerous districts and castles in Pavia, Novara, and Alessandria. This allows him to dedicate himself to the eastern front where Colleoni is headed to supply Milan with a good quantity of grain. He sends his brother Giovanni with five squads of horses and Onofrio Rufaldo with two squads of infantry to the mountains of Bellagio to block Jacopo Piccinino, who is moving from the city to meet the allies. When seven of Piccinino’s squad leaders make contact with the Sforza forces to capture their captain, Sforza sends Giacomo da Salerno with eight squads of horses to support their initiative; he also warns Ventimiglia, stationed at Cantù, to support their action. The plan is unsuccessful; his men are defeated by Piccinino between Barlassina and Como; his brother Giovanni is also defeated at Asso by Colleoni. His situation becomes critical again; the antagonism in the opposing camp between Colleoni and Piccinino on one side and Malatesta on the other allows him to regain control of the situation. His brother Giovanni arrests Colleoni on the shores of Lake Como; Sforza strengthens the garrisons of Bellagio and attacks Monte Barro. Victorious, he repels an incursion by Malatesta and forces him to return to the Venetian side of the Adda. The lack of straw and supplies (his men’s nourishment is only based on wine, turnips, and chestnuts) pushes him to throw himself on Monza.
Feb. – mar.LombardyThe Monza enterprise does not succeed because Carlo Gonzaga’s guidance fails due to heavy rain, leading the troops to Carate Brianza. Consequently, he reinforces Melzo, orders Carlo Gonzaga to do the same in Carate Brianza, and sends his brother Giovanni to Seregno to support Ventimiglia, who remains in Cantù. He moves to Vimercate with Roberto San Severino, Torelli, Giacomo from Salerno, Sacramoro from Parma, the three San Severinos, and Paolo from Rome. He resumes the harsh siege of Milan; no one can exit; those caught introducing food into the city are hanged. He stays in Monza to closely monitor his adversaries’ movements. Through a mutual friend, Luchino Palmeri, he attempts to win over Jacopo Piccinino who is eventually hanged by the captain of the Ambrosian Republic. He imprisons Ventimiglia in Cantù, suspecting him of treachery. While camped at Vimercate, a revolt breaks out in Milan at Porta Nuova led by his supporters such as Gaspare from Vimercate and Pietro Cotta. The inhabitants of the district call upon Sforza to enter the city and proclaim him their lord. Sforza presents himself at Porta Nuova, which is forcefully opened for him, allowing his entrance into Milan where he lodges in the houses of Alberto Marliani. Carlo Gonzaga is elected governor. A committee of seven citizens (Antonio Trivulzio, Pietro Pusterla, Oldrado Lampugnani, Pietro Francesco Visconti, Vimercate, and Melchiorre Marliani) are tasked with bestowing upon him the symbols of ducal power (the white damask cap, the cloak, the collar, the scepter, the keys, the seal, the banner), and they gird his sword at the end of the ceremony, the cost of which is estimated to be 1500 ducats. Upon returning to the Vimercate camp, he issues two proclamations pardoning all those who have wronged him and abolishing all tolls. In the following days, Como, Monza, and Bellinzona also open their gates to him. In March, he triumphantly rides into Milan through Porta Ticinese, having refused to ride a golden chariot as many of his supporters would have wished. He is elected Duke. Around the same time, the inhabitants of Todi send several ambassadors to pay him tribute; they present him with a silver basin and a gilded silver plate highlighting his most notable feats. An embassy from Florence arrives, consisting of Piero dei Medici, son of Cosimo, Neri Capponi, Luca Pitti, and Diotisalvi Neroni.
Aug.He stays in Lodi for twenty days. By the end of the month, the idea of his political assassination resurfaces in Venice. For the murder of Sforza, Vittore Scoraderi is promised a one-time sum of 5000 ducats, an annual pension of 1000 ducats, the opportunity to free four men banished by the Serenissima, a marshal’s post, and the castles of Oderzo and Tricesimo.
1451
Apr.LombardyHe welcomes Colleoni into his service. Suspected of treachery by the Venetians, Colleoni has escaped an assassination attempt by Jacopo Piccinino at Isola della Scala.
MayLombardyMonferrato is released from prison in exchange for the surrender of Alessandria. After the act is ratified in Lodi, Sforza sends Corrado da Fogliano with 300 horsemen and 500 infantrymen to Alessandria to take control of the city and its surrounding county.
Sept.LombardyHe behaves just as cunningly with Carlo Gonzaga, aiming to annex Tortona to the Duchy of Milan.
1452
Apr.LombardyAt the end of the month, on St. George’s Day, a new war with the Venetians begins. All the military households and many soldiers come to Milan for the usual ceremonies. Subsequently, the Duke, exiting the city walls at Cassina Verde, outside Porta Romana, has banners placed on two tall oaks. From there, the soldiers move to their lodgings in the Lodi and Cremona areas. At the same time in Venice, the Council of Ten decides once again to resort to extreme measures, such as poisoning Sforza. Innocenzo Cotta and Jacopo Piccinino are consulted on this matter; a chancellor is sent to the Levant to find the most suitable poison. In pursuit of this goal, 10000 ducats are promised to a member of the Duke of Milan’s household. The poison, a kind of ointment to smear on Sforza’s saddle and stirrup, has no effect, likely because Sforza became aware of this attempt as well as previous ones. Among his papers, an amulet will later be found, “effective” against attempts at poisoning and betrayal, with twelve esoteric signs taken from the tables of the prophet Malachi.
May – Jun.LombardyHe leaves 1000 horsemen and 500 infantrymen in Melzo, rides to Cassano d’Adda and Trezzo sull’Adda, and increases the numbers of the garrisons. At the beginning of June, he sets up a pontoon bridge over the Oglio, moves into the Brescia area, and joins up with Ludovico Gonzaga (3000 horsemen and 1000 infantrymen). He sends his son Tristano to Soncino with 500 horsemen and an equal number of infantrymen. He confronts the adversaries with 18000 horsemen and 3000 infantrymen (the Serenissima has 16000 horsemen and 6000 infantrymen). He quickly conquers Pralboino, Manerbio, Gottolengo, and Pontevico (in two days).
Jul. – Sept.LombardyHe is in Villagana. He sends his brother Alessandro to defend Lodi, who is defeated at Abbadia Cerreto by Carlo di Montone and Matteo da Capua. The defeat forces him to retreat and set up camp at Quinzano d’Oglio. In August, he reclaims Bagnolo Mella, Leno, and Corzano. In September, he remains in Bagnolo Mella while the opposing captain, Gentile da Leonessa, moves to Bergamo. The two condottieri face off for twenty-eight days.
Oct.LombardyHe enters Calvisano; the Venetians fortify themselves in Ghedi. In November, he defeats the adversaries near Manerbio and towards Asola. He challenges Gentile da Leonessa to a pitched battle at Montichiari: this does not occur and various sources place the blame for the missed confrontation on one or the other. With this outcome, he returns to Calvisano and assigns his men to their winter quarters.
1453
SpringLombardyHe leaves Cremona to lift the siege of Pontevico and Seniga, where Sacramoro da Parma is in defense.
Jun. – Sept.LombardyHe clashes with Jacopo Piccinino, forcing him to retreat to Pontevico. In July, he heads to Montirone and conducts his raids right up to the walls of Brescia. In August, along with Ludovico Gonzaga, he suddenly attacks Piccinino in Ghedi. In the same month, his men defeat 4000 Venetian horsemen at Castelleone. Sforza is then able to send his brother Alessandro with 2000 men to assist the Florentines, receiving 80000 florins in exchange. The situation for the Venetians becomes so grave that, in September, the Council of Ten promises again the diploma of nobility and 10000 florins to anyone who kills him. There are now talks of attempts on his life, first in the fortress of Cremona, and then by poisoning. Also during this period, Sforza has serious disagreements with Ludovico Gonzaga on the conduct of the war.
Oct.LombardyWith the arrival of 1700 French horsemen led by René d’Anjou, he is able to cross the Mella, reaches Pavone, occupies Bassano Bresciano and Pontevico, which is sacked after two days of artillery fire. The French are noted for their cruelty, which is also unleashed on the civilian population: with such an introduction, he effortlessly secures Verola, Quinzano d’Oglio, Gabbiano, Farfengo, Gerola, Villachiara, Longhena, Roccafranca, Mairano, Pompiano, Trenzano, Lograto, Manerbio, Leno, Bargnano, Chiari, Pontoglio, and Palazzolo sull’Oglio. Jacopo Piccinino remains inactive in the face of his offensive.
Nov.LombardyWith the help of Colleoni and René d’Anjou, he strengthens his action in the Brescia region; he recovers the whole of Ghiaradadda, excluding Crema, and the entire Bergamo area with the exception of the capital. He captures or retakes Rovato (after eight days of siege), Palazzolo sull’Oglio, Chiari, Pontoglio, Manerbio, Martinengo, Orzinuovi (admirably defended by Bertoldo d’Este and Giovanni Villano with 1000 horsemen and 1000 infantry), and Soncino.
Dec.LombardyHe conquers Romanengo, which is set on fire and thoroughly sacked. He reaches Marcaria and futilely besieges Asola.
1454
Jan.LombardyHe sends his troops to winter in Cremona, Parma, and Piacenza. The forces of René d’Anjou return to France.
Mar.LombardyColleoni suddenly decides to return to the pay of the Venetians. This new situation prompts Sforza (in April) to change his policy and sign a twenty-five year peace treaty with the Venetians and Florentines, and a thirty-year treaty with the King of Naples. He returns to the Serenissima (Venice) the territories of Bergamo, Brescia, and Cremona which he still controls, while retaining Ghiaradadda.
1456
Jun.The Senate gifts him a palace in the San Polo district, formerly belonging to Gattamelata; later, he will exchange this for the Cà del Duca, built in San Samuele.
1457
Aug.LombardyHe exerts futile pressures on the Pope to prevent Jacopo Piccinino’s passage into the Marche region, who is preparing to attack Malatesta on behalf of the King of Naples.
1458
…………Montefeltro and Jacopo Piccinino are on the verge of overwhelming the Lord of Rimini. To maintain a certain balance, he sends financial aid to Malatesta, enabling him to hire men and captains for the safeguarding of his territories.
Oct.Pope Pius II renews his old investiture of Barbiano and Cunio: the related tribute is no longer the delivery of a sparrowhawk, but rather the sum of four ounces of silver.
1459
Aug.Sforza and Aragonese emissaries work towards a peace treaty in Mantova between Malatesta and King Ferrante of Aragon. Jacopo Piccinino, who fought in the conflict in favor of the Aragonese, is not consulted. Furthermore, Sforza opposes any economic or territorial benefits being given to the Bracceschi condottiero.
1460
Sept.EmiliaSforza gathers a portion of the ducal relatives in Parma under the command of Donato del Conte and the care of Chancellor Domenico Guiscardo. His aim is to rigorously enforce certain measures intended to reorganize the corps of men-at-arms.
1461
Aug.LombardyAt the beginning of the month, Sforza is struck by an attack of gout and dropsy: he recovers in a short time.
1462
Jan. – Feb.LombardyNow he falls seriously ill. The inhabitants of Piacenza, on the false news of his death, rebel against the ducal power due to his fiscal policy. Tiberto Brandolini, instead of quelling the riots, holds an ambiguous attitude; some courtiers, like Francesco da Landriano, have contacts with Jacopo Piccinino; one of his own sons, Sforza Secondo, also known as Sforzino, an illegitimate child, had already been imprisoned in the previous months for being caught in negotiations with Piccinino for a conduct. With his recovery, he resumes his activities.
…………He has Tiberto Brandolini imprisoned, suppresses the revolts in Piacenza, and regains control of the situation. After that, he collects money for his troops operating in the kingdom of Naples and sends Antonio da Pesaro as his ambassador to Naples.
1463
Jun.LombardyFrancis Sforza is hit by another serious bout of dropsy, a condition that causes an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues or cavities.
Dec.LombardyWith the Treaty of Nouvion, King Louis XI of France granted the Duke of Milan the investiture of Genoa and Savona. Sforza, for his part, committed to not providing assistance to Philip of Savoy (Filippo di Bresse) to the detriment of his father (the Duke of Savoy) and the transalpine sovereign.
1464
Mar. – Nov.He attempts to acquire Genoa without fighting. Having received a negative response, he sends Gaspare da Vimercate to Val Polcevera. Savona is occupied with the help of Marquis Giovanni del Carretto and the lord of Monaco, Lamberto Grimaldi. His men take control of Albenga and the Western Riviera. Donato del Conte and Gaspare da Vimercate enter Genoa. The ducal forces also take over the Castelletto after a brief siege. In November, Jacopo Piccinino is his guest in Milan. Initially convinced of the danger posed by the presence of his son-in-law in Lombardy, he contemplates having him assassinated by his brother Alessandro. He finally agrees with the Aragonese envoy in Milan, Antonio Ciminello, to have him killed in Naples.
1465
Jul.He convinces Jacopo Piccinino to go to Naples with false promises. He will be blamed for the murder by his own daughter Drusiana. To divert the rumor of betrayal away from himself, he feigns a reaction by sending letters expressing his sorrow and regret for his son-in-law’s death to all the chancelleries; he orders mourning in Milan; he sends his son Tristano to Naples with the order to defend his position at all the courts and to halt at Siena the wedding procession of his daughter Ippolita, who is also headed to Naples. His efforts are rewarded by Ferrante d’Aragona with the recognition of the Duchy of Bari for Sforza.
1466
Mar.LombardyFor some time afflicted with a severe form of dropsy (which he neglects despite the advice of doctors, thus not taking the prescribed medications) and gout, he dies at the beginning of the month in the arms of his last mistress, Elisabetta da Robere, also known as “dalle Grazie”. The death occurs in his Milanese palace, the Court of Arengo, in the Dog’s Chamber. The new Duke, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, will force the woman to return all the jewels she received as gifts. Francesco Sforza is buried in the choir of Milan Cathedral in a sarcophagus that Cardinal Carlo Borromeo will have removed. His remains are scattered. Francesco Filelfo delivers the funeral oration. He is portrayed kneeling before his wife Bianca Maria in the painting “Virgin with Child” by Giulio Campo, in the Church of San Sigismondo in Cremona. Portraits by Bonifacio Bembo are in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan; by Gian Cristoforo Romano, in the Bargello National Museum in Florence; by Bartolomeo Bramantino, in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence; preparatory drawings for an equestrian monument by Antonio del Pollaiolo in Munich and New York; a miniature by Giovanni Pietro Birago; a medallion by Pisanello; various medals made by Gianfrancesco Enzola on his behalf. A guest of his court, Antonio Cornazzano composed the “Sforziade” or “Sforzeide”, an epic poem celebrating his deeds; later, Sebastiano Fausto dedicates the “Sforzeide fatta italiana” to him.
As Duke of Milan, Sforza begins the construction of the Sforza Castle on the ruins of the Porta Giovia castle, destroyed by the Milanese after the death of Filippo Maria Visconti. The Florentine architect Antonio Averlino, known as Filarete, the Cremonese engineer Bartolomeo Gadio, and the Tuscan Benedetto Ferrini work on the construction site, along with a large number of master masons and military engineers. He has the hospital for the poor, called Cà Granda, built, which is now the headquarters of the State University: the project is always by Filarete, while its construction is overseen first by Guiniforte Solari and then by Solari’s son-in-law Giovanni Antonio Amadeo. On the foundation stone of the building, the motto “Merito et tempore” is carved with the insignia of the “scopetta”. Likewise, on Sforza’s initiative, the Martesana canal is built, conveying the waters from Trezzo on the Adda to the Milanese church of San Marco.
Still in Milan, he has the church of Santa Maria Incoronata embellished (Giovanni and Guiniforte Solari); next to this building, his wife Bianca Maria Visconti has another temple dedicated to San Nicola da Tolentino built. In Cremona, he commissions the reconstruction of the monastery of San Sigismondo, the construction of the Monastery of the Dove, and the creation of frescoes in the church of Sant’Agostino. To decorate the cathedral of the same place, Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti are sculpted in full figure in Carrara marble. Similar statues of wife and husband, always in full figure, are found in Vicenza in the Civic Museum of Palazzo Chiericati. The condottiero, finally, continues the works at the Certosa di Pavia, entrusted to the Solari and Cristoforo Manteg
azza.
In his ducal chancellery serve Cicco, Andrea, Giovanni, and Angelo Simonetta. He invites (and protects) humanists Zanetto Bugatto, Bonifacio Bembo, Guiniforte Barzizza, Costantino Lascaris, Francesco Filelfo, Pier Candido Decembrio (who writes his biography), and Filarete to his court. Leonardo da Vinci, during his stay in Milan, among other things, works on the project of an equestrian monument in his honor, commissioned by Ludovico Sforza in 1482. In the coat of arms of Francesco Sforza as Duke of Milan, two black eagles on a field of gold and two Visconti vipers appear in opposing quarters. Father of 35 children, 24 of whom are born to women other than his wives. Streets are named after him in Milan and Macerata. Finally, Francesco Sforza appears as a secondary character in the television series “The Medici”, played by Anthony Howell.

Sources

-“Questo principe salì per tutti i gradi della milizia; e fu liberale, eloquente, magnanimo e così valoroso nell’armi che se gli trovano pochi pari…Ministrò l’imperio suo con singolar giustizia, temperanza, clemenza e umanità popolare, in modo che se per lo terror dell’armi era formidabile a’ nemici, per la bontà della sua vita era ottimo fra tutti i principi di quel tempo.” BARBUO’

-“Maschio animo in maschio corpo, fermo, costante, calcolativo; il disegno concepito una volta eragli in mente come fiaccola, che lo illuminava ed accendeva a ridurgli intorno ogni opera, ogni detto, ogni pensiero,; la virtù, se non era ostacolo, volentieri abbracciata, se ostacolo, quasi virtù non fosse, messa un disparte: il male, non mai per abito o scopo, bensì come mezzo necessario accettato: amore ed odio non isconosciuti, ma sottomessi agli intenti: gli intenti poi grandi di grandezza comune, cioé conquista e potenza…Quanto alle compagnie di ventura, Francesco col nome del padre riunì la scuola sforzesca sotto disé, colla propria virtù l’esaltò e se ne cattivò l’affezione, e colle forze del principato la sottomise di sorta che alla sua morte essa parve come aumentata; in generale, la milizia italiana, tranne alcuni pochi condottieri, restò smembrata sotto oscuri capisquadra.” RICOTTI

-“Come guerriero, Francesco Sforza si stacca non solo dai più antichi avventurieri che si lanciavano a capo fitto nella pugna, fiduciosi nella irresistibile forza della propria spada; ma eziandio da coloro che primi ordinarono le schiere dell’esercito, e dietro un piano prestabilito le guidarono sul campo della battaglia. Lo Sforza conosceva strategia e tattica: tutto è pensato in lui, il piano della guerra, come quello della battaglia.” CIPOLLA

-“Inimico degli Aragonesi per gravissime offese ricevute da Alfonso padre di Ferdinando, e amico degli Angioini, nondimeno, quando Giovanni figliuolo di Renato, l’anno mille quattrocento cinquantasette, assaltò il regno di Napoli, aiutò con tanta prontezza Ferdinando che da lui fu principalmente riconosciuta la vittoria; mosso non da altro che da parergli troppo pericoloso al ducato suo di Milano che di uno stato così potente in Italia i franzesi tanto vicini non si insignorissino.” GUICCIARDINI

-“Certo nel consesso dei capitani a soldo del Quattrocento lo Sforza deve alla sua sfacciata fortuna di essere stato salutato come il più illustre condottiero. Giudizio però che non può essere corroborato da nessuna dimostrazione. Nella sua carriera militare noi troviamo le abili ritirate, le rinunce ad imprese ardite e pericolose, la manovre sapientemente logoratrici, ma in nessuna delle vittorie che gli sono attribuite se ne può riconoscere l’impronta insigne della sua intelligenza. Solo un partigiano ostinato, il Simonetta, poteva dire “Sempre vinse e non fu mai vinto”. Chi vinse fu la sua diplomazia.” COGNASSO

-“Quell’uomo veramente grande, che sempre reso pago di sue brame oltre la sua speranza, lasciò dubbio se fosse più affortunato che virtuoso, o più virtuoso che affortunato.” BRUTO

-“Sia lo Sforza sia Braccio di Montone riservarono particolari aree alla loro fanteria e Francesco Sforza seppe addestrare una forza di fanteria altamente disciplinata, al cui comando prepose Pietro Brunoro e Donato del Conte. Nella fanteria di Francesco Sforza prevalevano i balestrieri e più tardi gli scoppettieri.” MALLETT

-“Tutte le sue vicende derivarono più dalla sua abilità che da aiuti insperati della fortuna..e dalla sua ponderatezza delle vie da prendere se messo di fronte a situazioni inaspettate. Ed anche è da mettere in rilievo, in lui, oltre alle grandi doti di comandante di un esercito, che poteva, da un momento all’altro dissolversi, la sua capacità di destreggiarsi nella complessa situazione dell’Italia del Quattrocento, quando, non essendoci ancora uno Stato predominante, molti signori e signorie ambivano ad esercitare un simile ruolo. Infine, una delle sue doti, e non certo di minore importanza, fu la sua manifesta volontà di non irrigidirsi mai nei confronti di nessuno, di preferire sempre di venire a patti con l’avversario, di accattivarsi la simpatia e la fedeltà degli abitanti delle varie città che passavano sotto il suo dominio.” CATALANO

-“Chiarissimo fra i principi italiani fu di così grato e venerabile aspetto, e così gran nome, che ben possiamo dire, ch’egli fusse pieno di maestà. Et essendo anche spaventoso al nemico, il che di rado si trova congiunto insieme, era appo loro tenuto in grandissima riverenza.” DOMENICHI

-“Nobile e vivace volto aveva Francesco Sforza; era grande della persona e ben fatto; ed aveva una singolare forza ed agilità in tutti gli esercizi del corpo; pochissimi lo pareggiavano al salto, alla corsa, alla lotta, o, nello scagliare vigorosamente il giavellotto. Egli camminava col capo scoperto alla testa del suo esercito, sia tra i ghiacci dell’inverno, sia sotto il cocente sole della state. Sopportava pazientemente la fame, la sete ed il dolore; pure non ebbe che poche occasioni di porre la sua costanza a quest’ultima prova, perciocché, sebbene avesse passata la sua vita in mezzo alle battaglie, non fu quasi mai ferito. Non aveva bisogno di lungo sonno per riposare; ma per quanto fosse grande l’agitazione del suo spirito, o il tumulto da cui era circondato, egli dormiva sempre tranquillo..Singolarmente sobrio a mensa, egli non era temperato del pari degli altri piaceri; era amantissimo del sesso gentile..Generoso e talvolta prodigo, divideva tutto ciò che aveva tra i poveri, i soldati e i dotti, de’ quali molti trattenevane alla sua corte..Egli era affatto padrone di sé medesimo, e sapeva nascondere l’ansietà, il cruccio, la gioia e la collera. Gelosissimo di sua riputazione, s’informava con molta cura di ciò che dicevasi di lui, e dichiarava sollecitamente quelle sue azioni che credeva sospette o mal accette al popolo..Da lungo tempo nessun principe d’Italia aveva dimostrata tanta prudenza con tanto valore.” SISMONDI

-“Era forse, fra gl’italiani d’allora, l’uomo più di qualunque altro fatto secondo l’indole del suo tempo. In nessun altro, quanto a lui, si univano la vittoria del genio e della forza individuale, e chi voleva credere alla superiorità de’ suoi talenti, doveva almeno riconoscere in lui il prediletto della fortuna.” BURCKHARDT

-“Principe liberalissimo, pieno di humanitate.” CORIO

-“E’ non ebbe più riguardo a infamia che a buona nominanza: egli amò più gli spergiuri che i sacramenti..Io non so sotto quale vocabolo mi possa dare nome al Conte; imperocché dall’un lato mi dice essere fellone e malvagio, e poi mi conforta ch’io ne scriva essere insano e bestiale..Or, con tutte queste tante infallibili ricchezze, nullo suo uomo pagava, ma piuttosto li faceva morire di violente morte che soddisfare di numerabile pecunia per gli acquistati soldi. Ciostui fu morte a sepoltura d’ogni ciascun uomo combattitore. Costui mandò Trojolo (Troilo da Rossano) e Pietro Brunoro a tendere lacci nel campo del re d’Aragona; e poi il fratello, messer Alessandro, con sagaci modi, lettere pel campo del prefato re fece seminare, le quali nelle mani di Alfonso pervennero..(i due capitani furono così incarcerati pper dieci anni in una fortezza del regno di Valenza)..Questo Conte uccise Cerpellone (Sarpellione), e impiccollo; e quanto dagli uomini era più favoreggiato e difeso, tanto più avaccio cercava la colui morte. A’ nipoti di Niccolò da Pisa mai nulla di loro soldo volle dare; i quali da lui furono mandati in Lombardia: là ove l’ucciditore del zio uccise i nipoti. Questa era la sua arte; e in queste così fatte cose spendeva il suo tempo e i pensieri. Tutto era o per invidia de’ più degni di fama di lui, o per avarizia di non li pagare de’ loro soldi, e non meno per sospetto che per loro non fusse manifestata la sua fellonia.” CAVALCANTI

-“Niuno altro principe per memoria di molti secoli arrivò più al colmo delle virtù eroiche e della vera gloria di lui, e niuno fu ornato di più chiare lodi di guerra e di pace, il quale tra le perpetue e continue prove di virtù militari d’ogni guisa fu ventidue volte vincitore in giusta battaglia, e spesse fiate assalito era con aperta forza, ora con occulti inganni quasi di tutta l’Italia aspirante alla rovina sua, con l’avvedimento e col valore si liberò da così gravi pericoli che gli soprastavano, le quali cose li fecero finalmente padrone d’un ricchissimo e nobilissimo principato.” FOGLIETTA

-“Francesco Sforza governò uno stato nuovo, conquistato con la forza delle armi, mancante del riconoscimento imperiale e della continuità dinastica e minacciato da molti pericoli. L’esercito fu costantemente utilizzato, sia attivamente, sia passivamente, come elemento risolutore ed equilibratore di conflitti e vertenze internazionali.. Con l’azione diplomatica e bellica, il duca acquistò sufficiente prestigio, autorevolezza e forza contrattuale per aspirare alla leaderhip nel sistema delle potenze italiane, in un ruolo di guardiano dell’assetto della pace di Lodi…Nei “Commentarii” (di Cicco Simonetta) Francesco Sforza è un condottiero sui generis, paterno e indulgente, addirittura mite, cortese e mai vendicativo, che teorizza, perfino, un comportamento “humano e mansueto”, uno stile “della mansuetudine”, che deve caratterizzare tanto il comando militare quanto la pratica politica.” COVINI

-“Fuit autem animo usque adeo infracto atque inconcusso, ut omni maxime videreretur carere formidine; quod si quis clamor hostilis aut die, aut nocte repente oriebatur in castris, ipse omnium primus erat in armis ac cursim coramque ad tumultum se conferebat. Iis omnibus gerendis rebus securus fuit et celer et prudens et strenuus; in bello ad cognoscendis non modo hostium motus, sed sermones etiam consilia cogitationesque eam semper curam adhibuit, ut nihil fere eum laterit, quod ipsi tentaturi essent. In ducendo autem et alendo exercitu, acie instruenda ac proelio committendo tanta peritia prospicentia et animi fortitudine praestabat, ut hostium etiam ipsorum testimonio constaret, eum posse proelio unquam superari. Ea autem utebatur ingenii acrimonia, ea gravitate, prudentia atque consilio, ut nihil neque in bellicis, neque in urbanis rebus iniret unquam, quod minus fuisset quam diligentissime antea metitus omnemque prospexisset eventum, et quod decreverat innata quadam animi magnitudine et incredibili celeritate conficiebat.”SIMONETTA

-“Le grand condottière.”  DE LA SIZERANNE

-“Che si può paragonare a qualunque capitano, così de’ Persi, come de’ Romani.” ALBERTI

-“Attese con tal lode ad imitar la gloria grande in guerra di Sforza suo padre, che si può dir lo superasse o, senza dubbio, lo pareggiò.. Maneggiò le vittorie così bene come la spada.. Fu Francesco di persona alta e assai forte; il volto hebbe rubicondo, gli occhi azzurri e i capelli neri.” ROSCIO

-“Fu.. di tanto valore nel mestiero dell’armi, che per le virtù sue fu fatto duca di Milano.. Valorosissimo Capitano.”  PELLINI

-“Con vivo spirito s’acquistò gran fama in tutte le guerre, e vinta in ogni luogo la Fortuna, e calpestata l’invidia, e domate le reliquie della parte Braccesca, o veramente vinte con la felicità delle cose da lui fatte in guerra, il suo raro valore lo fece signore d’un ricchissimo stato.”  GIOVIO

-“Tu non fuggisti mai dal tuo nemico,/ Né egli hebbe da te vittoria mai./ Ma ben fuggiro ogn’hor dal gran valore/ De la tua destra le inimiche schiere./ Qualhor volser venir teco a le mani./ Et quante volte dimonstrar volesti,/ Quanto ceda la sorte o la fatica.” P.A. Bargeo, da un sonetto raccolto dal GIOVIO

-“Il quale fu così valoroso in armi, che dagl’istorici vien’appellato folgore di Marte, e egli solo è stato paragonato a Caio Cesare, imperatore che non fu mai vinto, ma egli ben sì hebbe grandissime vittorie, di modo che si acquistò titolo del primo Capitano d’Europa…Avanzò costui in valore non pure i maggiori Capitani del suo tempo, ma s’agguagliò ancora co’ più famosi antichi..Signoreggiò Francesco anni 16 in Milano, nelli quali costrusse edificij, ampliò strade, e ridusse in esquisita Fortezza il famoso castello di Porta Giobbia; e benché non dotato di lettere, con tanta giustitia, intelligenza, temperanza, clemenza, e liberalità trattò l’imperio, che a giuditio universale fu reputato in pace, & in guerra singolare tra’ Principi di quel tempo. Era di faccia grave, di sembiante allegro, di corpo disposto, nell’udienze benigno, e mansueto, di lingua facondo, d’animo invitto, & imperturbabile, e tale in fine. che parve haver la natura con le tre gratie pienamente concorso ed eccellentemente organizzare, & arricchire un corpo, che doveva contenere un’anima singolarmente perfetta.”  ”LOSCHI

-“I suoi grandi talenti per la guerra lo resero l’arbitro e il terrore di tutte le potenze d’Italia. A vicenda le serrò e ne trionfò. Egli riportò gran vantaggi e soffrì grandi sventure.. La sua politica decise costantemente della sorte dell’Italia. Morì con la fama d’uomo, che univa a tutte le doti guerriere le qualità tutte di uomo di stato; gran capitano, gran politico, grande in ogni cosa che può rendere un uomo celebre ed immortale.” LAUGIER

-“Uomo fierissimo e nobile per gloria.. Nelle cose della militia fu di gran lunga superiore al padre e generale di tutti i principati del tempo suo.. Fu Francesco di statura alta, di honesta faccia, di occhi allegri, largo nelle spalle, alto di petto, di capo calvo e al tutto ben formato, facondo nel parlare e molto copioso, sottile d’ingegno, desideroso di gran cose, nel negotiare molto cauto, alle fatiche infatigabile, provido in tutte le sue operationi, ad ingannare i nemici astuto e solerte nel prevenire i loro consigli, di rado s’azzuffò alla sproveduta co i nemici, più tosto li superava col tempo, che combattendo, si dilettava della moltitudine di fanterie nel suo esercito, co i quali dimostrava di quanto ingegno fosse e di quante forze. Dilettavasi altresì di vedere i suoi soldati ornati d’oro e d’argento. Fu presto in essequire i suoi consigli, dimostrando in tutte le sue opere con la tolleranza della fatica, la prestanza dell’animo.. Principe heroico, la cui fama si fece pari a qual si voglia altro Capitano de tempi antichi.” SANSOVINO

-“Facit Francisci Sfortiae summa virtus, militarisque rei gloria fortitudoque animi. Bello enim longe clarissimus dux, semperque ex hoste victor adeo clarus extitit.. Iam tum adolescens clarus military Gloria celebrisque fuit.” EGNAZIO

-“Principe e Capitano di Guerra veramente chiarissimo.” SPINO

-“Francesco era dispostissimo e bellissimo cavalliere con viso lieto e piacevole; .. era molto facondo e acconcio nel dire;.. lo Sforza havendo grande arte in ingannare il nimico, delle occasioni, che egli prudentemente antivedeva, si serviva, a fé gran conto della militia a pie..; volle che i suoi ornati tutti d’oro e d’argento andassero.” TARCAGNOTA

-“Mostrossi sempre cauto, paziente, posato ne’ consigli, attento alle occasioni e prontissimo a coglierle.. Personaggio de’ più illustri di questo secolo, chiaro per belliche imprese e per le arti della politica, onde ebbe la fortuna di occupare un dominio nobilissimo.” UGOLINI

-“In horoscopo stellam fixam habuisse tradunt, cujus ea quidem vis est, ut grandia nato dona conferat, cursusque secundiore provectum ostentet.”ARLUNO

-“Fameux condottière de ce temps.” DE CHERRIER

-“In due cose.. vuole essere lo Sforza ripreso: in uno smodato libertinaggio .. e nelle insidie in cui trasse Guglielmo di Monferrato, il marchese di Crotone (Antonio Ventimiglia), Carlo Gonzaga ed altri, gittati nelle prigioni del castello (di Pavia) senza ragioni sufficienti. Diremo di più: non sempre nella vittoria evitò la crudeltà, e se è vero ch’egli forte lamentandosi delle barbarie di Piacenza, restano sempre le non meno inaudite di Melegnano, delle quali nessuno potrebbe purgare. Fu Francesco Sforza bello e forte della persona, e sortì ingegno fino ed animo largo. Dal suo volto ispirava un’aria di maestà ed insieme di benevolenza che gli conciliavano il rispetto e l’affetto de’ grandi e del popolo, il quale più l’amava in quanto, oltre all’essere liberalissimo, lo sapeva nemico delle soverchierie. Come soldato niuno dei contemporanei l’avanzò, ed ebbe più propizia la fortuna delle armi; come uomo politico mostrò di possedere doti elevatissime, ancorché le condizioni del paese ed i costumi del tempo conducessero anche le nature generose ad una politica più presto fraudolenta che leale.” MAGENTA

-“Divenne l’onore della milizia italiana e il più gran politico del suo tempo.” HERCOLANI

-“Heureux condottière.”LAVISSE-RAMBAUD

-“In castris propriis natus atque educatus, usque adeo ab adolescentia florere incepit..Felicitate inter perrara exempla reponendus, tum imperio ac rebus gestis, tum Philippi, Alphons ac Ferdinandi eius filii affinitatibus…Vir in armis plurimum excellens.. Franciscus vero certe, ac solertia magis nitens, raro nisi ex destinato confligere, sedendi, atque obsidendo hostem frangere: peditatum multificare, argento atque auro cultos milites habere, potentiorem se hostem non temere aggredi…Unus ex primis ducibus fuit.” FACIO

-Confronto con Niccolò Piccinino “Vero arte ac solertia magis nitens, raro, nisi ex destinato, confligere, sedendo atque obsidendo hostem frangere, peditatum multifacere, argento atque auro cultos milites habere, otentiorem se hostem non temere aggredi.” FACIO

-“Ad una non comune bellezza fisica univa una forte, magnanima tempra morale. Alto e slanciato della persona, resa agile e resistente ad ogni fatica, da continui esercizi e da una rara frugalità, nobile di portamento, volto con alta fronte spaziosa, illuminato da occhi grandi, profondi, sempre largamente aperti di fronte al nemico, egli aggiungeva a tale prestigio fisico un equanime sentimento di generosa liberalità, di audacia nel pericolo, di prudenza nella fortuna.” FRANCIOSI

-“Gran condottiero e statista.” GABOTTO

-Con Corrado da Fogliano, Leone Sforza, Giovanni Sforza, Alessandro Asorza “In quibus omnibus ex paterna disciplina tanta indoles bellicae virtutis enibit, ut singuli prope absoluti Ducis nomen, famamque sint consecuti.” A.M. GRAZIANI

-“Annibalem jure optimo appellari velim, quod illi nulla tenus inferior, cum rebus gestis, non auctoritate et astutia militari, immo pietate longe superior et ad hoc usque tempus fortunatior.. Fortunatissimum imperatorem et rei militaris scientia peritissimum.” PORCELLIO

-“Prode e glorioso per l’abilità dimostrata in tutti i fatti d’arme.” AMBROGETTI

-“Uno dei più grandi condottieri del Rinascimento.” ARGIOLAS

-“Fu Francesco grande capitano, forse il maggiore dei suoi dì; delle arti, delle scienze generoso protettore ed amante caldissimo, munifico e benefico.. Non scevro certamente dei difetti e delle colpe onde andavano allora contaminati pressoché tutti i principi d’Italia, fu però meno sleale ed assai meno crudele di molti altri.” BALAN

-“Dotato di robusta costituzione ed aitante della persona riunì in sé qualità tali che lo resero un abile generale. Fu egli il primo che sapesse ben servirsi delle artiglierie, e far manovrare i battaglioni in massa, ciò che costituì propriamente la tattica così detta degli sforzeschi.. Da lungo tempo in Italia niun principe avea riunite in sé, come lo Sforza, tanto valore e prudenza. Come militare ebbe qualità preclare, e di ventidue battaglie da esso combattute, non una ne perdé. Ebbe però tutti i vizj del suo tempo e la sua fortuna andò collegata ad un insieme di perfidie che riscontrandosi comuni in quell’epoca, non furono al certo sdegnate da esso.” PAOLINI

-“Vigoureux, brave à l’occasion, capable d’une idée fixe, et du mal par intéret ou par haine, il inspirait la défiance, mais forçait de compter avec lui.” PERRENS

-“Generale in quel tempo delle sue armi.” BONOLI

-“Il quale meritò in quel secolo il primo onore di vera giustizia e di somma virtù nell’armi.” GHILINI

-“Magnanimus et potens.. Sagax et futura praevidens.”  RIPALTA

-“Fu huomo generoso e invitto quanto altri di molti anni adrieto.” M. MONALDESCHI

-“Bellica virtute humanaque prudentia praeditus.” RAYNALDO

-“Aetas illa Scipioni aequabat corporis animique indole, magnitudine gestarum rerum.atque tam immaturae virtutis pene miraculo.. Magnus utique bellator Franciscus Sfortia, et omni reliqua laude par antiquis non caruit eo certe vitis mutabilis animi, quocumque spes  aliqua fortunae augendae, et dominando cupiditas vocaret.” RIPAMONTI

-“Il più valoroso di quei tempi.. Fu l’uomo più celebre de’ suoi tempi. Figlio di padre valoroso ed ardito, l’eguagliò nel valore e lo superò nel consiglio. La maggior parte della vita, cioè finché non giunse al ducato di Milano, fu da lui passata in mezzo alle armi. Vincitore in 22 battaglie ordinate, e in molti piccoli fatti d’arme, abile guerriero egualmente che politico, portò la sua famiglia dal mestiero di contadino, com’era stato suo padre, allo splendore sovrano.” PIGNOTTI

-“L’onore della milizia italiana e il più gran politico de’ suoi tempi.”LITTA

-“Animo et viribus insignis, paternam quoque famam, ac totius familiae nomen, quod patrui, et propinqui ductores in armis fuissent, memorabat, adjecto trium fratrum numero, item sociorum  omnium juventutem obtenstans qua nulla esset in castris illustrior.” BILLIA

-“Guerriero di molta stima.” VILLANOVA

-“Signore in quel secolo stimatissimo e valorosissimo Capitano.” AVICENNA

-“Il più grande e il più magnanimo capitano che forse fiorisse allora non che in Italia in Europa.” ROSMINI

-“Sforza, par ses talents, ses possessions, son activité, occupait incontestablement le premier rang parmi les condodottieri. Si l’on considère qu’il joignait à ces avantages ceux qui resultent d’une conscience étrangère à tout scrupule servie par un réel génie politique, on devine qu’il devait arriver à triompher des compétitions et des difficultés pouvant faire obstacle à son ambition.” DELABORDE

-“Il quale per commune judicio di tutta Italia fu valoroso e eccellente Capitano.” PASSI

-“Hombre (segun se dijo) de gente humilde, si bien valeroso por su persona.” SANDOVAL

-“Francesco Sforza egli è, che tanto altrui/ vinse, et invicto quasi venne al fine,/ né ‘l mondo forsi hebbe el più chiar de lui.” SANTI

-“El più savio omo d’Etalia, e anco belo de persona e ghagiardo.” Da una cronaca di G.A. Faie, riportata da G. SFORZA

-“Fit long temps la guerre en qualité de general mercenaire, sans acquerir autre chose que de la reputation et de l’argent. Fameux batard, qui de general qu’il avoit été des Venetiens dans le duché de Milan, s’en étoit emparé.” VARILLAS

-“Riconosciuto in Italia come il primo capitano del secolo, al cui aiuto il Visconti dovette di continuo ricorrere, trovandosi inevitabilmente in balia di lui. Francesco Sforza era un leone che sapeva far la volpe, e Filippo Maria era una volpe che amava mettere la pelle del leone. Così vissero lunghi anni, tendendosi a vicenda agguato, e conoscendo ognuno assai bene le intenzioni segrete dell’altro.. Pel suo genio militare divenne l’uomo che tutti volevano a loro servigio, perché pareva che senza di lui nessuno in Italia potesse vincere.. Ma in mezzo a tutte queste vicende, egli seppe tener fermo l’occhio alla sua mira costante; e quando Filippo Maria morì, si vide subito in che modo il capitano di ventura si mutava in uomo di stato.”  VILLARI

-“Francesco Sforza era nato sotto la stella della Fortuna. Illegittimo, era stato educato dal padre nelle lettere come nell’arte della guerra. Era quindi un uomo completo del Rinascimento, cui non mancava che una signoria.” A. VISCONTI

-“Re di justicia, invicto, e vivo Marte,/ Tu fusti quel, che prima el stilo mio/ Aleasti per destino a sì grand’arte/ (Alla conquista di Piacenza)/ Il gran Sforzesco mezo in beffa torse/ Quando i Piacentin miei gli fen la giarda/ Per li sospetti gridi che levorse./ Sotto ucciso il caval dala bombarda/ Saltò in piè lieto e disse ad un famiglio/ Toi su la sella e fa conciar la barda/ Questa parola estinse ogni bisbiglio/ Mostrando quello al campo in armi acceso/ Non estimato haver tanto periglio.” CORNAZZANO

-“Sul finire del Quattrocento Antonio Cornazzano nel suo trattato “De re militari” consiglia senz’altro al condottiero che voglia “seguire astrologia” di trovare innanzitutto un dottore capace di farlo di farlo “uscire in buon punto, secondo un esempio che veniva dall’alto poiché “questo far vidi a quel sommo signore/ Francesco Sforza, che nel tor el regno/ di genova citrade observò l’hore.” SETTIA

-“Tra i condottieri se non il più grande, fu certamente il più fortunato.. (Il) più grande capitano e (il) più accorto politico del suo tempo.” BELOTTI

-“Victory in the field, the accomplished fact sanctioned by the de facto recognition of other rules and governments, personal achievement and the reward due to valour and merit, all contributed to the image of Sforza as a natural prince.” BUENO DE MESQUITA

-“Col cangiar di partito e di servitù, ed aiutato dal suo valore non meno che dalla fortuna, era salito alla signoria di Milano, ottenendo in seguito nome di uomo insigne per virtù guerriera e per senno politico.” E. COLOMBO

-“Fortis animus et magnus, et summa rei militaris scientia erat in eo.” FABRONIO

-“Guerriero di alta portata.” VERDIZZOTTI

-“Famoxo como per vera laode sopra hogne altro italiano, e per sua virtù molte e più volte hobedito da la fortuna sicomo essa sottoposta al-lue.” G. DI M. PEDRINO

-“Per l’eroico della sua prudente condotta era divenuto l’arbitro dell’Italia.. Salì in somma a tant’auge di stima, e divenne di sì alto grido il suo nome, che gli stessi principi, sì dell’Italia che fuori dell’Italia, benché re, l’onoravano come li fosse stato padre.” G. BONOLI

-Con Niccolò da Tolentino “I più illustri Capitani di quel secolo.” COLUCCI

-“Capitano invittissimo.”BALDI

-“Guerriero di squisito valore.” V. DE CONTI

-“Gran maestro di guerra nel secolo XV.” CRISTOFANI

-“Famoso militare del secolo.” ACQUACOTTA

-“Rinomato nella milizia come nella politica.” HALLAM

-“Capitano di sommo valore e di pari felicità.” MAFFEI

-“Gran capitano.” BIFFIGNANDI

-“Gran Capitano.. La bontà, la giustizia, la generosità furono costantemente la guida del suo regnare.” PEZZANA

-“Francesco fu uomo grande di statura, bellissimo di presenza e caro di eloquenza, accorto, paziente in ogni sua azione e nella guerra molto ritenuto e circospetto; imperocché cercava sempre di vincer più presto collo straccar il nimico che col venir seco a giornata, se già non vi fusse stato tirato dall’occasione. Valeasi più della fanteria, che della gente a cavallo. Con quei modi e costumi, mediante la benignità e dolcezza della natura sua, che ‘l faceva amabile appresso d’ognuno, si acquistò riputazione grandissima, e finalmente si fece duca di Milano.” GARIMBERTO

-“Uno de’ più insigni capitani di quel tempo.. Uno de’ migliori principi che abbia avuto l’Italia. Capitano di primo ordine e saggio reggitore de’ popoli, unì in se stesso con difficil nodo i talenti politici e militari. Era dotato d’ingegno penetrante e di singolare prudenza, onde non risolveva cose d’importanza, se prima non le aveva ben esaminate, ma dappoché aveva risoluto, era pronto e costante nella loro esecuzione; inoltre modesto ne’ prosperi eventi, fermo e intrepido negli avversi. Quantunque vissuto sempre fra le armi, e coronato degli allori di 22 vittorie, senza mai essere stato vinto, amò nondimeno la pace e si studiò di conservarla; tenne sollevati i suoi sudditi per quanto glielo permisero le circostanze e le sue sconcertate sorgenti dell’erario.” G. ROVELLI

-“Celebratissimo Capitano di quell’età.” RIGHI

-“Capitano senza pari nell’età sua.” PALMA

-“Uno dei più insigni condottieri d’arme a que’ tempi.” ROMEGIALLI

-“Fu principe savio ed umano cosicché seppe guadagnare l’animo di quei medesimi ch’egli aveva prima combattuto.” SAGLIO

-“Alle doti d’ingegno, che ne costituivano un prode capitano, Francesco Sforza accoppiava la longanimità e l’astuzia dell’uomo politico e dell’amministratore.” A-VALLE

-“Fu questo principe, liberalissimo e pieno di umanità, e mai niuno si partiva da lui di malavoglia; e singolarmente onorava gli uomini virtuosi e dotti. Contro gli uomini semplici non esercitava alcuna inimicizia, ma aveva in sommo odio gli ghiotti e maliziosi. Amò sempre la giustizia e fu osservatore della religione; ebbe la eloquenza naturale e nulla stimava gli astrologhi.” NUBILONIO

-“A scorrere l’ardua via che dal nulla doveva condurlo ai varii gradi di conquistatore, di sovrano, di arbitro, lo Sforza se ebbe delle virtù da esercitare, ne ebbe anche di quelle da rinnegare. Dové usare astuzie contro gli astuti, perfidie contro i perfidi, violenze contro i violenti, egli per indole sincero, leale, generoso. Fino gli affetti di congiunti dové talvolta immolare, egli de’ congiunti amantissimo, anche di quelli che avrebbero potuto nuocere al suo decoro.. Esse (le sue qualità) gli insegnarono ad essere saldo nelle sventure, nella prosperità moderato; a nulla tentare senza averne calcolato gli effetti; a trovare espedienti nelle intenzioni, rimedii nelle contrarietà. Esse gli somministrarono quella facilità di parola, quella lucidezza d’idee, quella piacevolezza di modi, che tanto valsero a schiudergli ogni cuore, a conciliargli ogni simpatia, a rendere quasi irresistibile la sua forza di persuasione.. Un buon generale deve cominciare dal posseder le virtù del soldato: e tutte le possedeva lo Sforza. Nel maneggio delle armi, nel gittar dischi o aste non aveva chi lo eguagliasse. D’ogni fatica o disagio era tollerantissimo. Non curava né caldo né freddo, né fame né sete. Le più gravi armature portava con disinvoltura come il farsetto.. Egli fu valentissimo nel preparare le offese, nell’inventar le difese, nel preveder tutto, nel nulla abbandonare alla ventura ed al caso.. Egli vide con occhio pronto e sicuro quali delle nuove armi fossero da accettarsi immediatamente, quali no;.. la grossa artiglieria accettò senza indugio.. Gli archibusi invece vide di qual poco profitto potessero essere nella lor primitiva conformazione che ne rendeva sì lento e incomodo l’uso.” RUBEI

-“Esso Francesco fu tanto gratioso, benevolo, clemente, benigno, misericordioso, bello de persona e de statura, bello de faza, alegro et iocondo, de bellissimo aspetto, eloquentissimo sopra ogniuno, fortunatissimo, savio e dotissimo de ragione o in calculare, or come se fede exaltato altissimamente, dilecto et amato da signori, popolo et gente de ogni conditione, e così più de gente d’arme et saccomani, astuto e bellicoso, sopra tutti in fatti d’arme animoso: con tutte le sollecitudine debia havere corpo humano, poco dormire, poco mangiare et de suo bevere temperato; victoriosissimo sopra li suoi inimici, che mai sua persona, sue bandiere et stendardi ritornarono indietro uno passo. Ha avuto molte et infinite vittorie come ne li gesti suoi particolarmente se contene; misericordiosissimo, senza alcuna crudeltà, et perdonare a suoi inimici se ben gli avesse potuto offendere essendo capitati nelle sue mani: devotissimo sopra ogni creatura de Dio e de la nostra gloriosissima Vergine Maria: elemosinare sì de giese, sì de maridare fanciulle: signore justissimo ne le terre sue:.. largo in donare più posto in prodigalità che larghezza, dotato de ogni gentilezza, fortissimo in ogni affanno e fatica; e sopra tutte le altre cose ne li affanni, adversità e tribolazioni sapere fingere coprire, gubernare.” MINUTI

-“Francesco, altero dono/ Di Marte a nostra etate.” CHIABRERA

-“Francesco Sforza di membra grosse, più alto della media e brusco di modi. Sul volto portava i segni del suo mestiere di soldato, gli occhi erano incavati, il gran naso ingobbito e la carnagione che dava sul bruno (così ce lo mostrano i ritratti del tempo, fra i quali quello di Zanetto Bugatto conservato nell’archivio capitolare di Monza). Un uomo tutt’altro che bello, insomma, stando agli ideali estetici di un’epoca portata a preferire, anche per ciò che riguarda i maschi, le figure gentili e aggraziate.” PERRIA

-“Prode capitano.” PAGNANI

-“Uno dei più capaci e geniali condottieri del suo tempo.” CALCAGNI

-“Da lungo tempo nessun principe d’Italia unito non avea unito tanta prudenza con tanto valore.. Ebbe tutti i vizi del secolo suo. Gabbandosi de’ suoi giuramenti, offendeva senza scrupolo i costumi e la decenza; non andò debitore della sua grandezza e delle sue vittorie che ad un’ordita di perfidie.” SISMONDI-FABRIS

-“Sforza was a man after the heart of the fifteenth centyry, a great captain, an acute politician, a mixture of the fox and the lion, ready to shed blood if necessary; otherwise a friend of impartial justice. He founded a dynasty; he conquered a kingdom which he left powerful and wellgoverned; he constructed public works; he held one on the most brilliant courts in Italy. He died..celebrated by men of letters as just, great. and magnanimous.”BROWNING

-“The most noteworthy example of a condottiere who made himself head of a powerful state.” TREASE

-Inattivo all’assedio di Lucca “Pensava Lucca, quando il conte venne,/ Che se n’andasse a conquistar Fiorenza:/ Dall’uscio al fiume questo cammin tenne/ E in fino a Pescia mostrò sua potenza;/ Et poi a Lucha sua gente intenne,/ Con Bernardin (Ubaldini della Carda) si stette in patienza./ A suo piacer stava per la strada/ Di fuora senza menar colpo di spada.” Da un poema coevo di ANONIMO

-Responsabile della morte del ferito Braccio di Montone “E ‘l medico li fé presto venire,/ Felliy tentare ciascuna ferita,/ Justa sua poscia lo voleva guarire/ Et returnarelo da morte e vita./ Conte Francisco say. Il’ ebe a ssentire,/ Quella persona mangia (grande) e tanto ardita/  Colle soy many sci ‘llu medicone/ Et, poco stecte, e Braccio spirone.” Da un cantare aquilano, riportato dal PASQUALI

-Alla battaglia dell’Aquila “Ipse inter fremitus, densa inter milia fertur/ Sfortia, et in medio vestigat marte tyrannum.” GRIFIO

-Alla battaglia dell’Aquila “Deh chi vedesse el conte fi’ de Sforza/ Rompere lancie, e lu stocco menare!/ Con Pulino (Pelino da Cotignola), e Lion (Leone Sforza) ne giva a corsa,/ Con quel Gerardo (Gherardo da Cotignola) non ha più che fare,/ Che non si vede mai né urzo (orso), né orza/ Quanti n’à la terra, e fa se fé dare,/ Conte Francisco n’à più che paraggio,/ Nonne fé più giamai Guidon Selvaggio.” CIMINELLO

-“Godere se vole et fare triumphi e festa/ O Codognolla ch’el tuo Capitano/ In su la sella cum la spada in mano/ Milano ha conquistato ad alta testa.” Soave Di Soave Da un sonetto raccolto dal MAGENTA

-“Questo signore Francesco (rispetto al padre) seppe meglio simulare al suo tempo che tucti li altri signori che fussero stati in Italia di più centenara d’anni.” BROGLIO

-“Francesco Sforza, a professional commander who seized the duchy of Milan in 1450, had himself pictured wearing an ancient armour-style suit of armour and conversing with a panel of classical martial worthies, including Hannibal, Julius Caesar and Themistocles.” ARNOLD

-“Principale Capitano di que’ tempi.” CASTELLINI

-Con Angelo della Pergola e Niccolò Piccinino “Soldati di alto valore.” MAGENTA

-“Tra i principi più grandi e, secondo il tempo, dei più buoni.” CANTU’

-“Feroce e desideroso di gloria.” SABELLICO

-“Era il conte di natura pietoso, saggio e bello di persona; più tosto gran che piccolo..Era stato il più franco e vittorioso signore, che si trovasse in Italia.” DELLA TUCCIA

-“Questo principe, comeché attendesse quasi sempre l’animo all’arte della guerra, nella quale fu invero assai chiaro e celebrato, nondimeno portò un grande amore alle lettere, ed a coloro che le professavano.” GIORNALE ARCADICO DI SCIENZE LETTERE ED ARTI

-“Il miglior capitano che fosse allora in Italia e forse in Europa.” MURATORI

-“Fu tra i sovrani, il più grande dei suoi dì, né maggior elogio si può far di lui che col dire che regnando sedici anni regnasse brevissimo tempo.” MACHIAVELLI

-“Uno de più fortunati principi ch’havesse l’Europa..amatore della giustizia, della religione e molto prudente nelli fatti della guerra, come della pace.” MORIGGIA

-“Venne a Lunigo et quello à campegiato/ ladove a Piero Brunoro uno scopiecto/ da quei de dentro uno ochio fu cavato/ onde vedente illui si gran difecto/ Francesco Sforza dissi a Piero Brunoro/ Vendecta di ciò fare io ti promecto/ e avuto il castello senza dimoro/ tucti li scopithiere senza sogiorno/ per darli pena dei peccati loro/ tucti li fece mettere in un forno/ a da suoi scoppithiere furo bersagliate/ et morite tucti in quel presente giorno.” SPIRITO

-“Sembra quasi preludere a Federico il Grande allorché manovra in campo gli eserciti in guerre “frontali” e scontri campali di notevoli dimensioni.” ADAR

-“Umano e clemente fu sempre questo grand’uomo: pronto alla collera, tosto si conteneva, siccome è l’indole dei generosi; e colui al quale avesse fatto danno o con parole o altrimenti, non occorreva che chiedesse cosa alcuna; che il buon principe co’ beneficii lo risarciva spontaneamente. Non amava i lodatori, e conosceva che questa è la maschera seducente colla quale il vizio insidiosamente si accosta al soglio. Non vi era cosa più sicura che la fede e la parola di Francesco.” VERRI

-“Tra tutti i condottieri che raggiunsero una signoria, Francesco Sforza fu senz’altro quello più baciato dalla “fortuna”, machiavellicamente intesa, perché ottenne il potere nel ducato di Milano, il più prestigioso stato dell’Italia del Quattrocento. La figura di Francesco Sforza appare singolare proprio nella doppia veste, che degnamente seppe impersonare, di condottiero e politico. Fu pronto a barcamenarsi nell’azione militare tra violenza e prudenza, così come uomo di Stato optò per un equilibrio che risultò in fondo frutto di diabolica diplomazia, antesignana della “virtù” machiavellica, propria ad un tempo..di “lione” e “golpe”. Lo avrebbe infatti esaltato il segretario fiorentino nel Principe, perché “quello che con mille affanni aveva acquistato, con poca fatica mantenne.””. RENDINA

-“Quest’uomo, che anche nella vita privata parve essere eccezionale, procreando ben cinquantatré figli tra legittimi e no, fu davvero un personaggio sopra le righe, l’”uomo nuovo” capace di raggiungere la vetta valendosi delle sue sole energie, della sua sagacia politica, delle sue doti militari. Formatosi come condottiero alla scuola del padre Muzio, ispirata alla prudenza più che alla ricerca dell’offensiva violenta, proprio alla sua abilità di uomo militare dovette la sua ascesa. A differenza però di tanti altri valorosi e altrettanto ambiziosi capitani che agirono nel suo tempo, lo Sforza non solo fu un uomo d’armi, ma anche un politico accortissimo, capace di districarsi nell’attuazione del suo personale progetto tra le insidie di una situazione generale eccezionalmente dinamica e complessa. Fu questo, secondo il Machiavelli, il suo contributo più rilevante alla scena italiana del periodo: ponendosi come garante dell’equilibrio riuscì a mantenere “con poca fatica” ciò “che con mille affanni” e con “li debiti mezzi e con una gran virtù aveva acquistato””. STAFFA

-“Non solo si affermò come uno dei migliori capi militari del suo tempo, combattendo prevalentemente nel nord dell’Italia, ma per di più allacciò con il duca di Milano dei rapporti tormentati ma che facevano di lui un possibile erede della signoria viscontea.” VIGUEUR

-“Apprezzava ed amava la professione delle armi, ma più come mezzo che come scopo. Egli si sentiva l’animo troppo grande da non dover provare repugnanza a quella continua vicenda di mercimonie, di soprusi, di bassezze, che pur troppo costituiva l’ordinaria vita del condottiero. E neppure gli piaceva quella che per il condottiero era il massimo grado di remunerazione, cioè la grandezza di feudatario, non abbastanza libera da poter fare il bene, né abbastanza forte da esseree sicuro del danno. In una parola, egli si sentiva animo, mente ed ambizione di principe; e nella professione delle armi si prefiggeva di cercare non altro che una via per arrivare a quel grado.” RUBIERI

-“Abbiamo veduto come ne’ suoi disegni egli mai non si abbandonando al caso, sempre quello che parea possibile unicamente tentava. Quanto all’amministrazione ordinò le cose come erano a tempo di Filippo Maria (Visconti). Se non che più di quello si mostrò dolce e compassionevole e inclinato a soccorrere alle altrui miserie e sopperire a’ bisogni de’ paesi sottoposti, di cui come nuovo principe doveasi procacciar la benevolenza. A lui si deve il canale di Martesana fra Trezzo e Milano, a lui il grande ospedale costruito da Francesco Averlino (Filarete), architettore fiorentino. Ancora onorò le scienze, come tutti i principi italiani di quel tempo; accolse alla sua corte i Greci fuggitivi di Costantinopoli, de’ quali Costantino Lascaris fu precettore d’Ippolita, sua figliuola, la quale imprese il greco con una grammatica composta da esso Lascaris, e stampata a Milano il 1476. Bonino Mombrizio, professor d’eloquenza a Milano, Francesco Filelfo, Leodrisio Crivelli, Pietro Candido Decembrio, tutti furono da duca beneficiati, e Simonetta, suo segretario, e poi suo storico, lunghissimo tempo stette alla sua corte.” LEO

-“Francesco Sforza fu il più splendido esempio di come un capitano di ventura potesse conquistare un vasto dominio ed elevarsi al rango di principe. In tutte le sue imprese fu assistito dalla fortuna, ma certo alla fortuna si accoppiarono le sue doti eccezionali di condottiero e di sapere politico.” MONTELLA

-“Francesco fu uno dei personaggi più significativi del Rinascimento italiano, l’”uomo nuovo” capace di raggiungere la vetta valendosi delle sole sue virtù, della sua sagace politica, delle sue doti militari. Formatosi come condottiero alla scuola del padre Muzio, .. (ne) seguì l’insegnamento divenendo il campione di una condotta ispirata alla sua abilità di uomo militare…A differenza però di tanti altri valorosi, e altrettanto ambiziosi, capitani che agirono nel suo tempo, Francesco non solo fu un uomo d’armi, ma anche un politico accortissimo, capace di districarsi, nell’attuazione del suo personale progetto, tra le insidie di una situazione generale eccezionalmente dinamica e complessa. … Malgrado i pressanti impegni politici e militari che caratterizzarono l’intera sua esistenza, Francesco non mancò di una reale sua sensibilità umanistica. Protettore di letterati (tra cui Francesco Filelfo, che gli dedicò la “Sforziade”) e artisti, curò con vivo interesse l’ampliamento della biblioteca del castello di pavia, iniziata dal Visconti: a tal fine nel 1459 scrisse personalmente al mitico prete Gianni d’Abissinia perché gli procurasse copia delle opere di Salomone. Tra le sue più importanti realizzazioni a beneficio della città e dello Stato si ricordano la costruzione (1457-1460) del naviglio della Martesana, che convogliava le acque da Trezzo a Milano, il castello Sforzesco e soprattutto l’ospedale Maggiore di Milano. Un complesso, quest’ultimo, unico nel suo genere.” MENNITI IPPOLITO

-“Riputato..il più valente ed accorto capitano d’Italia.” REBUSCHINI

-“Sforza est l’unique condottiere qui ais réussi à conquérir un Etat puissant et à y fonder une dynastie.” PEYRONNET

-“Francesco Sforza non lAsciò né ebbe un “monumentum” capace di suscitare la fantasia della gente: non statua di marmo o di bronzo al centro d’una piazza, nonostante le buone (e interessate) intenzioni di Galeazzo Maria e di Ludovico; non una “historia picta”, essendo andati distrutti e cancellati gli affreschi del Foppa alla Cà Granda, la saga delle imprese di Francesco al Castello di Milano; non una “historia scripta”, per la mediocrità letteraria dei suoi biografi…Lo conosciamo attraverso ritratti di pittori di secondo piano e- se si eccettua il ritratto della National Gallery di Washington- tutti lo raffigurano come un placido gentiluomo un po’ pingue, un po’ spento, privo di suggestione.” Da “GLI SFORZA A MILANO. ATTI.”

-“Valoroso duca..uscito vincitore da ventidue battaglie.” CASALIS

-“Era Francesco di persona alta, e assai forte: il volto hebbe rubicondo: gli occhi azurri: e i capelli neri.” CAPRIOLO

-“Nel ducato per prima cosa riformò l’amministrazione, nominando nuovi giudici e magistrati che promulgassero nuove leggi e facendo assumere cariche di gestione pubblica a nobili e popolani senza differenza. Infine l’esercizio delle tasse lo affidò ad un consiglio di quindici cittadini reputati i più onesti.” PREDONZANI

-“(Il) migliore condottiero italiano del momento, che ha a disposizione eccellenti e fedeli truppe assistite da una struttura logistico-diplomatica sperimentate e galvanizzata dai continui successi.” MORO

-“Rispettato, esaltato, ammirato da vivo, compianto alla sua morte e per almeno due generazioni a tutti i livelli socio-culturali, viene da chiedersi come mai, tutto sommato, Francesco Sforza non si sia portato dietro una popolarità se pur lontanamente paragonabile ad altri personaggi del suo tempo..Francesco non lasciò né ebbe un monumento in piazza come il Colleoni, la testa mozzata come il Carmagnola, non mandò al patibolo la moglie anzi si vollero un gran bene, non finì pugnalato come il figlio maggiore (Galeazzo Maria), non precipitò dai fasti alla rovina come uno dei suoi cadetti (Ludovico). Se Nicolò Machiavelli lo prese ad esempio della massima “virtù”, che pensa al “Principe” pensa al Borgia, non a Francesco. E ancora: la Cà Granda fu opera sua, ma l’immagine dell’Ospedale Maggiore finì collegata agli anni della peste, e quindi ai Borromeo; dette il via un Castello fra i massimi d’Europa ma non fece in tempo né ad abitarlo né a renderlo fastoso…Anche in ciò che rifulse sopra tutti – la saggezza della sua politica, la precorritrice organizzazione diplomatica dello Stato, quel suo essere il pernio dell’equilibrio italiano – anche in questo trovò lungo il cammino dei posteri un concorrente: Lorenzo de’ Medici, poeta in proprio, mecenate per eccellenza, che una ventata di simpatia anche presso molti storici finì con l’elevare (lui, non Francesco) ad “ago della bilancia” del Quattrocento.” G. LOPEZ

-“L’erede del villano di Cotignola fu principe e fondatore di una splendida nuova dinastia. Il “padre comune di tutti gli uomini d’arme” aveva vinto i superstiti pregiudizi di classe. Ricordando l’esempio di lui e dei Piccinino, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, ..scrisse: “Nella nostra Italia, tanto vaga di mutamenti, dove nulla ha stabilità e non sussiste ormai più nessuno dei vecchi governi, non è difficile che anche i servi possano diventare re.”” VALERI

-“Il suo nome fu lodato dagli uni, biasimato dagli altri, ammirato da tutti. Chi menzionava il suo valore, la sua prudenza, il suo animo sdegnoso, la misericordia verso i vinti, il buon trattamento alla moglie, il perdono ai maldicenti; chi, invece, ripensando alle antiche speranze rimpiangere la calpestata libertà milanese, biasimava l’ambizione, la lussuria, la slealtà di lui. Chi era stato beneficato lo chiamava il migliore dei principi: chi ne aveva avuto castigo, il peggiore dei mortali.” LO MONACO

-“La façon dont Francesco se débarasse de ses engagements antérieurs peut irriter désagréablement notre sensibilité actuelle mais, aux hommes de cette époque elle semblair parfaitement naturelle.” COLLISON-MORLEY

BIOGRAFIE SPECIFICHE

-L. Bignami. Francesco Sforza.

-F. Catalano. Francesco Sforza.

-P. C. Decembrio. Vita Francisci Sfortiae quarto mediolanensium ducis.

-F. Filelfo. Elogio a Francesco Sforza.

-W. M. Pollard. Life and times of Francesco Sforza duke of Milan.

-E. Rubieri. Francesco I Sforza.

-G. Simonetta. Rerum gestarum Francisci Sfortiae Mediolanensium ducis commentarii.

Topics: Francesco Sforza’s life, Francesco Sforza’s legacy, Impact of Francesco Sforza on Milan, Role of Francesco Sforza in Italian Renaissance, Francesco Sforza and the Sforza Dynasty.
Featured image source: wikimedia

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Roberto Damiani
Roberto Damianihttp://condottieridiventura.it
Roberto Damiani è l'autore del sito Condottieri di ventura e Corsari del mediterraneo.