Azzone Visconti

Azzone Visconti (7 December 1302 – 16 August 1339) was lord of Milan from 1329 until his death. He is considered the founder of the state of Milan,[citation needed] which later became a duchy.

Azzone Visconti
Lord of Milan
Azzone Visconti
Coat of armsCoat of arms of the House of Visconti (1277).svg
Reign1329 - 1339
PredecessorGaleazzo I
Born7 December 1302
Died16 August 1339
BuriedSan Gottardo, Milan
Noble familyHouse of Visconti
Spouse(s)Caterina di Savoia
FatherGaleazzo I Visconti
MotherBeatrice d'Este


Born in Ferrara, he was the sole legitimate son of Galeazzo I Visconti and Beatrice d'Este. In 1322 he was lord of Piacenza, but in the same year, together with his father, was forced to flee.[citation needed] In 1325, Azzone commanded troops at the battles of Altopascio and Zappolino, both victories over the Guelphs.[1]

In 1328, his father Galeazzo and all of the other leading members of the Visconti family were arrested under suspicion of assassinating Galeazzo's younger brother Stefano. Their territories were confiscated by the Emperor, and local families took control of many cities that had long been tied to the Viscontis. Milan itself was ruled by a new Imperial appointee and a council that was hostile to the Viscontis. Therefore, when Galeazzo died later that year, Visconti power was at a low point.[1]

Azzone immediately became involved in a struggle with his uncle Marco for control of Milan. In 1329, with the support of another uncle, Giovanni, he bought the title of imperial vicar of Milan from the emperor Louis IV for 60,000 (or 125,000)[2] florins. (At the same time, Giovanni was appointed to several high offices by Nicholas V, the Imperial antipope.)[1] Azzone paid only 12,000 of the promised florins, the feeble Louis being unable to force the payment.[citation needed] In the same years,[when?] Marco was killed and Azzone was named as one of the assassins, but he was never condemned.[citation needed]

This maneuver drew the ire of Pope John XXII, who excommunicated Azzone, placed the city of Milan under interdict, and threatened an invasion by his French allies. Under this pressure, Azzone was forced to submit to the Pope and renounce his Imperial vicariate, although he did retain political power within Milan, and on 15 March 1330 he was appointed perpetual lord of Milan.[1]

In 1331, he married Caterina di Savoia,[3] daughter of Louis II of Vaud. That same year, Charles of Bohemia, the son of King John of Bohemia and future emperor as Charles IV, was nearly poisoned to death at a banquet in Pavia. Azzone was again suspected. In the August of the same year he allied with Theodore I, Marquess of Montferrat, against King Robert of Anjou, in order to capture his possessions in north-western Italy. In 1332 he also conquered Bergamo and Pizzighettone, continuing in 1335 with Lodi, Crema and other Lombardy lands who had ceded themselves to the Papal States, as well as Vercelli and Cremona.[2]

Lodrisio Visconti, who had escaped, set a company of mercenary troops with the help of the Scaligers of Verona, who sought vengeance for Azzone's support to Venice during the war with Verona. The latter was however defeated by the Milanese troops in the battle of Parabiago, to which Azzone, suffering of gout, did not partake. Lodrisio was imprisoned in the castle of San Colombano al Lambro.

He died in 1339 of a gout attack, and was buried in the church of San Gottardo, which he had commissioned some years before. He had no male heirs (having had only a daughter, Luchina) and was succeeded as lord of Milan by Giovanni and another uncle, Luchino. Besides his political and military career, he is remembered for his great construction works in Milan and other cities of Lombardy.[2]

Azzone Visconti's tomb in the church of San Gottardo in Corte (formerly the chapel of the Royal Palace of Milan), was sculpted by Giovanni di Balduccio and his workshop. The relief on it shows Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian investing Azzone Visconti as imperial vicar. The monument was dismantled during the neoclassical reconstruction of the church, and rebuilt in modern times in the way we can see it now; however several parts of it had been meanwhile lost.


  1. ^ a b c d Black, Jane (2009). Absolutism in Renaissance Milan: Plenitude of Power under the Visconti and the Sforza 1329-1535. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780191609886. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Tolfo, Maria Grazia; Colussi, Paolo (February 7, 2006). "Storia di Milano ::: I Visconti" [History of Milan::: The Visconti]. Storia di Milano (in Italian). Milano: Storiadimilano. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  3. ^ Marek, Miroslav (January 9, 2011). "Visconti 2". Genealogy.Eu. Retrieved August 31, 2011.[self-published source][better source needed]
Italian nobility
Preceded by
Galeazzo I Visconti
Lord of Milan
Succeeded by
Luchino Visconti