Bianca Maria Sforza

Bianca Maria Sforza (5 April 1472 – 31 December 1510) was the queen of Germany and empress of the Holy Roman Empire as the third spouse of Maximilian I. She was the eldest legitimate daughter of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan by his second wife, Bona of Savoy.

Bianca Maria Sforza
Bernhard Strigel 009.jpg
Portrait by Bernhard Strigel, ca. 1505/1510
Queen consort of Germany
Archduchess consort of Austria
Tenure16 March 1494 – 31 December 1510
Holy Roman Empress
Tenure4 February 1508 – 31 December 1510
Born5 April 1472
Died31 December 1510(1510-12-31) (aged 38)
FatherGaleazzo Maria Sforza
MotherBona of Savoy
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early lifeEdit

Bianca was born in Pavia as the eldest daughter of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan, by his second wife, Bona of Savoy. She was named after her paternal grandmother, Bianca Maria Visconti.[1] When Bianca was not yet five years old, her father was assassinated inside the Church of Santo Stefano in Milan on 26 December 1476, which was the Feast Day of St. Stephen. He was stabbed to death by three high-ranking officials of the Milanese court.[1]

On 6 January 1474[2] the 21-month-old Bianca married her first cousin Duke Philibert I of Savoy, the son of her uncle Amadeus IX of Savoy, and Yolande of France.[3] Duke Philibert I died in the spring of 1482, leaving Bianca a widow at the age of ten. She returned to Milan, under the tutelage of her uncle Ludovico Il Moro, who cared little about her education and allowed her to indulge her own interests, mainly needlework.

On 31 July 1485, the engagement between Bianca and John Corvinus, the only (though illegitimate) son of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, was formally announced. With this marriage, the Hungarian ruler wanted to secure his son's future inheritance of Hungary and Bohemia and to make him Duke of Austria. The marriage by proxy was signed on 25 November 1487, and according to the terms of the contract, Bianca received several Hungarian counties. However, due to the opposition and intrigues of Queen Beatrix, wife of King Matthias, the formal marriage never took place. In March 1492 a marriage between Bianca and King James IV of Scotland was considered, but the idea was soon abandoned.[1]

Queen and empressEdit

On 16 March 1494[4] in Hall, Tyrol, Bianca married her second husband, the widowed King Maximilian I of Germany. Bianca's second marriage was arranged by her uncle, who wanted recognition and the title of duke confirmed by Maximilian; in exchange, Maximilian received a large dowry along with Bianca, 400,000 ducats.[5] Her magnificent retinue on her way to her wedding aroused much attention. At her wedding, Bianca wore a bodice "with eighty pieces of the jeweler's art pinned thereon, with each piece consisting of one ruby and four pearls".[5] Maximilian's claim to overlordship of Milan angered Anne of France, regent for her brother King Charles VIII of France, and brought about French intervention in Italy, thus inaugurating the lengthy Italian Wars.

The union was unhappy: shortly after the consummation of the marriage, Maximilian complained that Bianca may have been more beautiful than his first wife, Duchess Mary of Burgundy, but was not as wise. It was impossible for the young bride to win the affection of her husband, who considered her too uneducated, talkative, naive, wasteful with money, and careless. He did wish to have children with her, but all their attempts failed: despite Bianca's several pregnancies, none produced a living child. She very much liked her stepchildren Philip the Handsome and Margaret, but was criticized for forgetting her dignity when she sat on the floor with them to play.[1]

After 1500, Maximilian lost all interest in Bianca. She lived with her own court of Milanese people in various castles in Tyrol. On several occasions he left her behind as security when he could not pay for his rooms on trips. Maximilian took the title of emperor-elect of the Holy Roman Empire in 1508, making Bianca empress. Empress Bianca died at Innsbruck on 31 December 1510. She was buried at Stams. Her husband did not attend her funeral or even dedicate a gravestone to her.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d "Bianca Maria Sforza, regina dei Romani e imperatrice" (in Italian). Treccani. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Bianca Maria Sforza Koenigin 1510". Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  3. ^ Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Dukes of Milan
  4. ^ Hunt, Lynn; Martin, Thomas R.; Rosenwein, Barbara H.; Hsia, R. Po-chia; Smith, Bonnie G. (2007), The Making of the West, II (Second ed.), Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, p. 458, ISBN 978-0-312-43946-0
  5. ^ a b George R. Marek, The Bed and the Throne: The Life of Isabella D'Este, p. 42, Harper & Row, 1976, ISBN 978-0-06-012810-4
  6. ^ Hermann Wiesflecker: Maximilian I , 1991, p. 81.

References and literatureEdit

  • Hellmut Andics: Die Frauen der Habsburger.. J&V, Wien, 1985
  • Hermann Wiesflecker: Maximilian I., Wien/München 1991, ISBN 3-7028-0308-4 and ISBN 3-486-55875-7
  • Thea Leitner: Habsburgs Goldene Bräute. Piper, 2005
  • Sigrid-Maria Größing: Maximilian I. – Kaiser–Künstler–Kämpfer. Amalthea, Wien 2002 ISBN 3-85002-485-7

External linksEdit

Bianca Maria Sforza
Born: 5 April 1472 Died: 31 December 1510
Royal titles
Title last held by
Eleanor of Portugal
Holy Roman Empress
Title next held by
Isabella of Portugal
Queen consort of Germany