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Ludovico Sforza Duke of Milan (Ludovico il Moro, "The Moor"; 27 July 145227 May 1508), a member of the Sforza dynasty of Milanmarker, Italymarker, was the second son of Francesco Sforza, and was famed as patron of Leonardo da Vinci and other artists.

Biography

Ludovico Sforza was born at Vigevanomarker, in what is now Lombardy. He married Ercole I d'Este's youngest daughter Beatrice d'Este in January 1491 in a double Sforza-Este marriage, while Beatrice's brother, Alfonso d'Este, married Anna Sforza, the sister of Gian Galeazzo Sforza. Leonardo da Vinci orchestrated the wedding celebration.

Beatrice and Alfonso’s sister, Isabella d'Este (1475–1497) was married to Francesco II Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua.

Ludovico had many mistresses. Cecilia Gallerani was Ludovico’s favourite mistress. She gave birth to his child, a son Cesare, on 3 May 1491 in the same year as he married Beatrice d'Este. She is thought to be the subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine. The ermine was the heraldic animal of Ludovico il Moro. Another mistress was Lucrezia Crivelli

On the assassination of Ludovico's elder brother Galeazzo in 1476, the crown passed to his seven-year-old nephew Gian Galeazzo Sforza. Ludovico seized control of the government of Milan during Gian Galeazzo's minority despite attempts to keep him out of power.

In 1488, Ludovico ordered a major book-burning of Jewish holy books in Milan and its territory, mentioned in the writings of the scribe Menahem Oldendorf (who saw Ludovico's later troubles as divine punishment for this act.)

When Gian Galeazzo died in 1494, Ludovico received the ducal crown from the Milanese nobles on 22 October. The same year, he simultaneously encouraged the French under Charles VIII of France, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, to become involved in Italian politics, hoping to manipulate the two and reap the rewards himself—thus starting the Italian Wars. Things did not go as planned, and finding his own position endangered by the French, he joined the league against Charles VIII, giving his niece Bianca in marriage to Maximilian I and receiving in return imperial investiture of the duchy.

After first defeating the French at the Battle of Fornovo in 1495 (making weapons from 80 tons of bronze originally intended for a da Vinci statue), Ludovico was later driven from Milan by the new French king, Louis XII in 1499. In 1500, Louis XII laid siege to the city of Novaramarker, where Ludovico was based. The armies of both sides included Swissmarker mercenaries. The Swiss did not want to fight each other and chose to leave Novara. Ludovico was handed over to the French in April 1500 and died as prisoner in the castle of Loches. The Swiss later executed a soldier from Urimarker called Hans Turmann who had, they claimed, betrayed Ludovico for money.

Beatrice d'Este died on 3 January 1497 while giving birth to a stillbirth son; she was mother of Maximilian and Francesco II Sforza.The Swiss later restored the duchy of Milan to Ludovico's son, Maximilian Sforza. His other son, Francesco II, also held the Duchy of Milanmarker for a short period. Giovanni Paolo, another son of Ludovico by Lucrezia Crivelli, was a successful condottiero and the first in the family line of the marquesses of Caravaggiomarker.

Children of Ludovico Sforza

Image:Massimiliano.jpg|Maximilian SforzaImage:FrancescoIISforza.jpg|Francesco II Sforza in a portrait by Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis, 1521Image:GianPaoloISforza.jpg|Giovanni Paolo later of the Marquesses of Caravaggiomarker.File:Profile of a Young Fiancee - da Vinci.jpg|Bianca Sforza {1482-1496} daughter of Ludovico Sfora and mistress Bernardina de Corradis

The meaning of the nickname

It is said that he was called il Moro because of his dark skinned complexion. Some scholars believe that the name Moro came from Ludovico's coat of arms, which contained the mulberry tree, but that is doubtful, as the Italian name for that tree is the feminine mora rather than the masculine moro. In Italian "moro", just like "bruno", is the masculine equivalent of "brunette" ("mora" in Italian). So the epithet most likely refers either to Ludovico's jet black hair or perhaps his swarthy complexion (suggesting he resembled a Moor).

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