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Galeazzo Maria Sforza (24 January 1444 – 26 December 1476) was the fifth Duke of Milan from 1466 until his assassination a decade later. He was notorious for being lustful, cruel, and tyrannical.
|Galeazzo Maria Sforza|
|Duke of Milan|
|Reign||20 March 1466 –|
26 December 1476
|Predecessor||Francesco I Sforza|
|Successor||Gian Galeazzo Sforza|
|Born||24 January 1444|
Commune of Fermo
(now in Italy)
|Died||26 December 1476 (aged 32)|
Milan, Duchy of Milan
(now in Italy)
Bona of Savoy
|Father||Francesco I Sforza|
|Mother||Bianca Maria Visconti|
He was born to Francesco Sforza, a popular condottiero and ally of Cosimo de' Medici who would gain the Duchy of Milan in 1450, and Bianca Maria Visconti. He married into the Gonzaga family; on the death of his first wife Dorotea Gonzaga, he married Bona of Savoy. Cruel and vengeful, he was "a man who did great follies and dishonest things not to write."
Galeazzo Maria Sforza was born in Fermo, near the family's castle of Girifalco. He was the first son of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti. At the death of his father on 8 March 1466, Sforza was in France heading a military expedition to help King Louis XI against Charles I of Burgundy. Called back home by his mother, Sforza returned to Italy under a false name. The false identity was necessary as he had to pass by the territories of the family's enemy, the Duke of Savoy, who made an unsuccessful attempt on Sforza's life. He entered Milan on 20 March, 1466, and was acclaimed by the populace.
In his first years, Sforza and his mother ruled jointly, but he later ousted her from Milan.
Sforza was famous as a patron of music. Under his direction, financial backing and encouragement, his chapel grew into one of the most famous and historically significant musical ensembles in Europe. Composers from the north, especially the Franco-Flemish composers from the present-day Low Countries, came to sing in his chapel and write masses, motets and secular music for him. Some of the figures associated with the Sforza chapel include Alexander Agricola, Johannes Martini, Loyset Compère, and Gaspar van Weerbeke. However, most of the singers at the Sforza chapel fled after Sforza's murder and took positions elsewhere; as a result, there was soon a rise in musical standards in other cities such as Ferrara.
Bernardino Corio describes Sforza Veronese, his favorite, to whom he cut off a testicle. The twenty-two-year-old Ambrogio instead, in order to escape his flattery (Sforza was in fact bisexual), castrated himself. He had the young Pietro Drego buried alive and out of jealousy he had both hands amputated by Pietrino da Castello, slandering him as a forger, since he had caught him conversing with his mistress. When he surprised a farmer who had caught a hare against the hunting ban, he forced him to swallow it whole with all his skin until he suffocated. Since an astrologer priest had predicted the date of his death, Sforza had him walled up alive and wanted to see him starve. He raped both men and women, and was known for appropriating the wives of others. Once he had finished, he had them raped in turn by his favorites. Resentment against this behavior formed the basis of the conspiracy that crushed him in 1476. The lightest punishment of all went instead to his barber, the Travaglino, who, having cut it by mistake, received four lashes. The Corio also describes him as greedy, and an imposer of unusual taxes.
When, in 1471, his sister Ippolyta asked a Franciscan friar holy man in Naples—perhaps Giovanni della Marca—to pray for Galeazzo Maria, the friar refused to do so, saying: "What do you want, madonna, that I pray to God for the Lord your brother, who fears God as much as that wall does?"
There were three principal assassins involved in Sforza's death: Carlo Visconti, Gerolamo Olgiati, and Giovanni Andrea Lampugnani, all fairly high-ranking officials at the Milanese court.
Lampugnani, descended from Milanese nobility, is recognized as the leader of the conspiracy. His motives were based primarily on a land dispute, in which Sforza had failed to intervene in a matter which saw the Lampugnani family lose considerable properties. Visconti and Olgiati also bore the duke enmity - Olgiati was a Republican idealist, whereas Visconti believed Sforza to have taken his sister's virginity.
After carefully studying Sforza's movements, the conspirators made their move on the day after Christmas, 1476, feast day of Saint Stephen, patron saint of Santo Stefano, the church where the deed was to be committed. Supported by about thirty friends, the three men waited in the church for the duke to arrive for mass. When Galeazzo Sforza arrived, Lampugnani knelt before him; after some words were exchanged, Lampugnani rose suddenly and stabbed Sforza in the groin and breast. Olgiati and Visconti soon joined in, as did a servant of Lampugnani's.
Sforza was dead within a matter of seconds. All the assassins quickly escaped in the ensuing mayhem save for Lampugnani, who became entangled in some of the church's cloth and was killed by a guard. His body soon fell into the hands of a mob, which dragged the corpse through the streets, slashing and beating at it; finally, they hung the body upside-down outside Lampugnani's house. The beheaded corpse was cut down the next day and, in an act of symbolism, the "sinning" right hand was removed, burnt, and put on display.
Aftermath of assassinationEdit
Despite the initial public reaction, the government brought swift justice, soon encouraged by the public as well.
The conspirators had given little thought to the repercussions of their crime, and were apprehended within days. Visconti and Olgiati were soon found and executed, as was the servant of Lampugnani who had participated in the slaying. The executions took place in a public ceremony that culminated in the display of their corpses as a warning to others.
Evidence from the conspirators' confessions indicated that the assassins had been encouraged by the humanist Cola Montano, who had left Milan some months before, and who bore malice against the duke for a public whipping some years before. While being tortured, Olgiati also uttered the famous words, "Mors acerba, fama perpetua, stabit vetus memoria facti" (Death is bitter, but glory is eternal, the memory of my deed will endure).
Similar elements indicate that this assassination was likely influential in the Pazzi conspiracy, a subsequent attempt to dethrone the Medici family in Florence and to replace them with Girolamo Riario.
With his second wife, Bona of Savoy, Sforza had four children:
- Gian Galeazzo Sforza (1469–1494), who became duke upon his father's death; he married his cousin Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan and had issue
- Hermes Maria Sforza (1470–1503), Marquis of Tortona
- Bianca Maria Sforza (1472–1510), who married Philibert I, Duke of Savoy and Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
- Anna Sforza (1476–1497), who married Alfonso I d'Este
With his mistress Lucrezia Landriani, he had several illegitimate children:
- Carlo (born 1461), his granddaughter, Violante Bentivoglio (1505–1550), married Giovanni Paolo I Sforza, who was the legitimized son of Ludovico il Moro, duke of Milan, and Lucrezia Crivelli.
- Caterina Sforza, (1462-1509) who married 3 times: Girolamo Riario; Giacomo Feo; and Giovanni de' Medici il Popolano
- 2 more children
By his mistress Lucia Marliani
- Ottaviano Maria Sforza (1475-1548) Bishop of Lodi
Other children by unknown women, including
- Chiara, who married Count Pietro dal Verme in 1480
- ^ Galeazzo Maria Sforza, di Cesare Violini, 1943, p. 141.
- ^ Welch, Evelyn Samuels (September 1989). "Galeazzo Maria Sforza and the Castello di Pavia, 1469". The Art Bulletin. 71 (3): 352 – via JSTOR.
- ^ Welch, Evelyn S., “Sight, Sound and Ceremony in the Chapel of Galeazzo Maria Sforza”. Early Music History 12 (1993): 151–190
- ^ Corio 1565, p. 982.
- ^ Con animo virile» Donne e potere nel Mezzogiorno medievale (secoli XI-XV) A cura di Patrizia Mainoni. Collana: I libri di Viella, p. 447.
- ^ Tobias Daniels, Umanesimo, congiure e propaganda politica. Cola Montano e l’Oratio ad Lucenses, Rome 2015 (RR inedita 63. saggi).
- ^ Niccolò Machiavelli's Florentine Histories, Book VII Chapter VI
- ^ a b Ettlinger, Helen S. (1994). "Visibilis et Invisibilis: The Mistress in Italian Renaissance Court Society". Renaissance Quarterly. 47 (4): 770–792. doi:10.2307/2863216. JSTOR 2863216. S2CID 159780817.
- ^ "Archivio capitolare della basilica concattedrale di Sezze". www.archiviosezze.it. Retrieved 11 December 2017.
- Martines, Lauro (2003). April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici. New York: Oxford UP. ISBN 978-0-19-515295-1.
- Belotti Bortolo. Il Dramma di Gerolamo Olgiati; Milano; 1929
- Corio, Bernardino (1565). L'Historia di Milano (in Italian). presso Giorgio de' Caualli. Giorgio de' Cavalli. p. 994.