Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Visconti of Milan

  (Redirected from House of Visconti)

Visconti is the family name of important Italian noble dynasties of the Middle Ages. The Visconti of Milan rose to power in their city, where they ruled from 1277 to 1447, initially as Lords then as Dukes and where several collateral branches still exist. The effective founder of the Visconti lordship on Milan was Ottone, who wrested control of the city from the rival Della Torre family in 1277.[1]

House of Visconti
Coat of arms of the House of Visconti (1395).svg
Coat of arms of the Visconti of Milan
Ethnicity Italian
Founded 1075 (1075)
Founder Ariprando Visconti
Final ruler Filippo Maria Visconti
Titles Lord of Milan (1277–1395)
Duke of Milan (1395–1447)
Motto Vipereos mores non violabo
(Latin for "I will not violate the customs of the serpent")
Cadet branches Visconti of Modrone
Depiction of the biscione swallowing a child, the coat of arms of the House of Visconti, on the Archbishop's palace in Piazza Duomo in Milan, Italy


The origin of the familyEdit

In the second half of the XI century Ariprando Visconti and his son Ottone were the first family members to obtain the title of viscount, which then became hereditary throughout the male descent.[2][3] The primary sources show the first evidence of "Ariprandus et Otto Vicecomes" in 1075. In the following years Ottone is shown in the proximity of the sovereigns of the Salian dynasty, Henry IV and his son Conrad. This relationship is confirmed by the circumstances of his death, occurred in Rome in 1111, when he was slaughtered after an attempt to defend Henry V from an assault.[a][b][4] In the first documents where they appear, Ottone and his offspring declared to follow the Lombard law and acted in connection with other Milanese families of the noble upper class (capitanei). A relationship with the Litta, a Milanese vavasour family subordinate to the Visconti in the feudal hierarchy, is also documented.[5] These circumstances make evident their participation to the Milanese society in the years before 1075 and ultimately their Lombard origin.

In 1134 Guido Visconti, son of Ottone, received from the abbot of St. Gallen the investiture of the court of Massino a strategic location on the hills above Lake Maggiore, near Arona,[6] where another family member was present from the twelfth century as a guardian of the local archiepiscopal fortress.[7] A royal diploma, issued by Conrad III in 1142, attests their entitlement of the fodrum in Albusciago and Besnate.[8] On the basis of a document from the year 1157 the Visconti were considered holders of the captaincy of Marliano (today Mariano Comense) since the time of the archbishop Landulf;[9] however the available documentation cannot infer such conclusion.[10]

A second Ottone, son of Guido, is attested in the documentary sources between the years 1134 and 1192. The primary role of Ottone in the political life of the Milanese commune emerges in the period of the confrontation with Frederick Barbarossa: his name is the first to be cited, March 1, 1162, in the group of Milanese leaders surrendering to the emperor after the capitulation of the city that took place in the previous weeks.[11][12]

March 1st 1162, Ottone Visconti is the first Milanese appearing in the list of authorities surrendering to the Barbarossa after the capitulation of the city

A member of the following generation, Ariprando was bishop of Vercelli between 1208 and 1213, when he played also the role of Papal legate for pope Innocent III. An attempt to have him elected archbishop of Milan failed in 1212 amidst growing tensions between opposite factions inside the city. His death, in 1213, was probably caused by poisoning.[13]

The family dispersed into several branches, some of which were entrusted fiefs far off from the Lombard metropolis; the one which gave the Medieval lords of Milan is said to be descended from Umberto (d. in the first half of the 12th century).

Lords and Dukes of MilanEdit

The Visconti ruled Milan until the early Renaissance, first as Lords, then, from 1395, with the mighty Gian Galeazzo who endeavored to unify Northern Italy and Tuscany, as Dukes. Visconti rule in Milan ended with the death of Filippo Maria Visconti in 1447. He was succeeded by a short-lived republic and then by his son-in-law Francesco I Sforza, who established the reign of the House of Sforza.[14][15]

Visconti rulers of Milan[14]Edit

Visconti's Lordship, 14th century

Family treeEdit

Uberto Visconti
*? †1248
*? †?
*? †?
*1207 †1295
*? †?
*1230 †1276
Matteo I il Magno[f]
*1250 †1322
Uberto il Pico
*1280? †1315
*1277 †1328
*? †1329
*1287 †1349
*1288 †1327
*1290 †1354
*? †?
*1302 †1339
*? †1399
Matteo II[l]
*1319 †1355
Galeazzo II[m]
*1320? †1378
*1323 †1385
*? †?
Line of Visconti
of Modrone
Gian Galeazzo[p]
*1351 †1402
Giovanni Maria[q]
*1388 †1412
Filippo Maria[r]
*1392 †1447
Bianca Maria[s]
*1425 †1468
Francesco Sforza
*1401 †1466
House of Sforza
Coat of arms

Visconti of ModroneEdit

From Uberto Visconti (c. 1280–1315), brother of Matteo I Visconti, came the lateral branch of Dukes of Modrone. To this family belonged Luchino Visconti, one of the most prominent film directors of Italian neorealist cinema.

Other membersEdit


  1. ^ Landulfi de Sancto Paolo Historia Mediolanensis, p. 31, rr. 33-35: "Otto autem Mediolanensis vicecomes cum multis pugnatoribus eiusdem regis in ipsa strage coruit in mortem, amarissimam hominibus diligentibus civitatem Mediolanensium et ecclesiam."
  2. ^ Leonis Marsicani et Petri Diaconi Chronica Monasterii Casinensis, p. 780, rr. 37-40: "Hoc ubi Otto comes Mediolanensis perspexit, pro imperatore se ad mortem obiciens, equum suum contradidit; nec mora, a Romanis captus, et in Urbem inductus, minutatim concisus est, eiusque carnes in platea canibus devorandae relictae."
  3. ^ Bishop of Ventimiglia (1251 - 1262).
  4. ^ Archbishop of Milan (1262), lord of Milan (1277-78) and (1282-85).
  5. ^ Console di giustizia in Milan (1236)).
  6. ^ Capitano del popolo of Milan (1287-1298), lord of Milan (1287-1302) e (1311-1322).
  7. ^ Lord of Milan (1322-1327).
  8. ^ Lord of Milan (1339-1349).
  9. ^ Archbishop of Milan (1339), lord of Milan (1339-1354), lord of Bologna and Genoa (1331-1354).
  10. ^ Podestà of Vercelli (1317) and Novara (1318-1320). Line of the Visconti di Modrone (marquesses of Vimodrone 1694, later Dukes of Vimodrone 1813) whose members include the film directors Luchino Visconti and Eriprando Visconti.
  11. ^ Lord of Milan (1329-1339).
  12. ^ Lord of Milan (1354-1355).
  13. ^ Lord of Milan (1354-1378).
  14. ^ Lord of Milan (1354-1385).
  15. ^ Presumed. Lord of Bologna (1355-1360).
  16. ^ Lord of Milan (1378-1395) and Duke of Milan (1395-1402).
  17. ^ Duke of Milan (1402-1412).
  18. ^ Duke of Milan (1412-1447).
  19. ^ Illegitimate, by Agnese del Maino; in 1441 married to Francesco I Sforza, later duke of Milan.


  1. ^ a b 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. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ Biscaro (1911), p. 20-24
  3. ^ Filippini (2014), p. 33-42
  4. ^ Filippini (2014), pp. 44-45, 83
  5. ^ Keller (1979), p. 207
  6. ^ Conradi III. et filii eius Heinrici Diplomata, doc. 21
  7. ^ Filippini (2014), p. 58-75
  8. ^ Conradi III. et filii eius Heinrici Diplomata, doc. 20
  9. ^ Biscaro (1911), p. 28
  10. ^ Filippini (2014), p. 73-74
  11. ^ Filippini (2014), p. 100-101
  12. ^ Das Geschichtswerk des Otto Morena und seiner Fortsetzer über die Taten Friedrichs I. in der Lombardei, p. 152
  13. ^ Filippini (2014), p. 105-113
  14. ^ a b c Hale, John Rigby (1981). A concise encyclopaedia of the Italian Renaissance. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 338–341, 352. OCLC 636355191. 
  15. ^ a b Williams, George L. (1998). "Two: The Papal Families at the Close of the Middle Ages, 1200-1471". Papal genealogy: The families and descendants of the popes. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. pp. 33–35. ISBN 978-0-7864-0315-8. OCLC 301275208. Retrieved September 16, 2010. 
  16. ^ Marek, Miroslav (January 19, 2005). "Visconti 1". Genealogy.Eu. Retrieved September 16, 2010. [self-published source][better source needed]
  17. ^ Marek, Miroslav (January 19, 2005). "Visconti 2". Genealogy.Eu. Retrieved September 16, 2010. [self-published source][better source needed]

Primary sourcesEdit

  • Conradi III. et filii eius Heinrici Diplomata, edited by Friedrich Hausmann. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Diplomata regum et imperatorum Germaniae (in German). 9. Vienna, Cologne, Graz: MGH. 1969. 
  • Landulfi de Sancto Paolo Historia Mediolanensis, edited by Ludwig Bethmann and Philipp Jaffé. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores (in folio) (in Latin). 20. Hannover: MGH. 1868. pp. 17–49. 
  • Leonis Marsicani et Petri Diaconi Chronica Monasterii Casinensis, edited by Wilhelm Wattenbach. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores (in folio) (in Latin). 7. Hannover: MGH. 1846. pp. 727–844. 
  • Das Geschichtswerk des Otto Morena und seiner Fortsetzer über die Taten Friedrichs I. in der Lombardei, edited by Ferdinand Güterbock. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum, Nova series (SS rer. Germ. N.S.) (in German). 7. Berlin: MGH. 1930. 

Secondary sourcesEdit

  • Biscaro, Gerolamo (1911), "I maggiori dei Visconti, signori di Milano", Archivio Storico Lombardo, serie 4 (in Italian), 16: 5–76 
  • Filippini, Ambrogio (2014). I Visconti di Milano nei secoli XI e XII. Indagini tra le fonti (in Italian). Tangram Edizioni Scientifiche. ISBN 9788864580968. 
  • Keller, Hagen (1979). Adelsherrschaft und städtische Gesellschaft in Oberitalien: 9. bis 12. Jahrhundert. Bibliotek des Deutschen Historischen Instituts in Rom (in German). 52.