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Ludovico Sforza

Milanese duke born in Vigevano (1452) and died in France (1508), aged 56

Parents

Teachers

Francesco Filelfo Italian Renaissance humanist

Siblings

Galeazzo Maria Sforza Milanese duke

Nephews/Nieces

Gian Galeazo Sforza (1469-1494) Milanese duke

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472-1510) Italian woman

Employees

Bramante (1444-1514) Italian Renaissance architect

Children

1479

Ludovico Sforza is empowered as the Duke of Bari.

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Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 27: duke

1479

January 17

on Friday

16 days later

A certain hermit came here to preach and threatened many ills. He had been at Volterra, serving at a leper hospital. He was a lad of twenty-four, barefoot, with a wallet on his back; and he declared that St. John and the Angel Raphael had appeared to him. And one morning he went up on to the ringhierra of the Signori to preach, but the "Eight" sent him away. And each day some incident happened.

And at this time, a son of the Duke of Milan,(1) who was confined within certain boundaries in the territory of Pisa, fled from there, and went to Genoa to the Signor Roberto,(2) and joined him.

(1) This was Ludovico Sforza, called Il Moro, uncle to the reigning duke, and at that moment exiled.

(2) Roberto da Sanseverino.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.
Sunrise in Genoa was at 6:07 AM and sunset was at 6:14 PM.
Sunrise in Pisa was at 6:07 AM and sunset was at 6:14 PM.
Sunrise in Volterra was at 6:07 AM and sunset was at 6:14 PM.

1480

June 3

on Thursday

1 year, 4 months, 18 days later

Messer Piero Vespucci was permitted to return to Florence, and was restituted in all his rights, according to the wish of the duke.(1)

At this time the price of grain fell to 15 soldi the bushel, and the like low prices.

(1) He, however, preferred leaving Tuscany, and went to offer his services to the Sforza in Milan, and was appointed Ducal Councillor by Ludovico il Moro. Sent to exercise his authority at the city of Alessandria, he met with a tragic end, being killed in 1485 in a popular rising.

Attachments
Portrait of Ludovico Sforza

Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.
Sunrise in Tuscany was at 5:53 AM and sunset was at 6:00 PM.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:53 AM and sunset was at 6:00 PM.
Sunrise in Milan was at 5:53 AM and sunset was at 6:00 PM.

1481

7 months, 2 days later

Draft of a letter from Leonardo da Vinci to Ludovico Sforza:

Your Gracious Highness! I have sufficiently seen and tested the productions of all who are considered masters of the art of inventing war-machines. And since the working and function of these instruments is no different from that of the machines in common use, I shall endeavour -- approaching no one else -- to make myself clear to Your Excellency and reveal my secrets. I shall put them at your disposal whenever you desire and hope for good results from the things which I shall now briefly describe ...

First: I have a means of making very light bridges which can be very easily transported ... And I have others which are proof against fire and are thus indestructible in battle, easy to take down and put up again, and I also know of a means to get fire to the bridges of the enemy and destroy them. Secondly: In besieging a place I know how to cut off the water in the dikes, also how to construct many drawbridges and other apparatus necessary for such an undertaking. Thirdly: If during a siege the engines cannot be effectively used on account of the height or strength of the town wall, I have a means to destroy every tower or fortification ... Fourthly: I know of a kind of siege-engine which is very light and easy to move and which can be used hurl fire-bombs. Their smoke will terrify, confuse and severely injure the enemy. Fifthly: I know how to construct subterranean caves and winding passages which can be made without any noise ... Sixthly: I can make sound, indestructible armoured vehicles. If these reach the enemy with their cannons, they can compel the largest forces to retreat and afterwards the infantry can follow them in safety and without any let or hindrance. Seventhly: I can make, if necessary, bombards, mortars and other field-guns ... Eighthly: Where cannons cannot be used I shall construct stone-throwing machines, catapults, slings and other instruments, amazing and hitherto completely unknown ... Ninthly: If this should be necessary, I know of apparatus for use at sea for attack and defence, such as ships which can withstand the force of the strongest opponents and produce dust and smoke. In time of peace I believe I can achieve something in architecture, as well as another, both in building public and private buildings and in channelling water from one place to another. Further, I work as a sculptor in marble, bronze and clay and can paint as well as others with whom I may be compared. I could also add my labours to the bronze horse which is to contribute to the undying fame and eternal memory of your father and the renowned house of Sforza ...

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Source: Primary

Leonardo da Vinci; 'Letters of the Great Artists', p. 34-8

1481

After a bitter struggle for the duchy of Milan with the child-regent Gian Galeazzo Sforza's mother, Bona of Savoy, followed, the boy's uncle, Ludovico Sforza, emerges as victor and seizes control of the government of Milan.

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Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 29: duke
Gian Galeazo Sforza (1469-1494), aged 12: duke

1482

1 year later

Leonardo da Vinci moves to Milan to work in the service of the city's duke, Ludovico Sforza. He gains the title of "painter and engineer" of the duke.

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1488

May 1

on Tuesday

6 years, 4 months, 2 days later

We heard that the Duke of Milan had entered Forli, and had had several men put to death.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning gibbous that night.
Sunrise in Forli was at 5:53 AM and sunset was at 5:59 PM.

1489

8 months, 5 days later

Leonardo da Vinci receives the Sforza commission from Ludovico Sforza, to cast the largest equestrian statue ever, in honour of Ludovico's father.

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1489

July 22

on Monday

6 months, 22 days later

Impatient with Leonardo's delays in completing the clay model for the The Horse, Ludovico Sforza writes to Pietro Alemanni, the Florentine Ambassador to Milan, asking him to find "a master capable of doing the work."

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Astronomical Events

The moon was waning crescent that night.

1489

Late

Leonardo da Vinci works on an allegorical representation called 'Paradise', commissioned by Lodovico Sforza.

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1490

January 13

on Monday

7 months, 16 days later

'Paradise' is performed in the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan.

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The court applauds rapturously the performance of "Paradiso" staged by Leonardo da Vinci
An angel in the celestial sphere of the 'Paradise'
Performance of 'Paradiso' at the court of Ludovico Sforza
Scene from the "Paradise"
Apollo and his chariot emerge from the heavens in 'Paradiso'
The three Graces dance before the celestial sphere in "Paradiso"
The Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, admiring the spectacle of 'Paradiso'

Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Milan was at 6:06 AM and sunset was at 6:13 PM.

1491

11 months, 23 days later

Leonardo da Vinci assists in the preparations for the tournament held in honour of Ludovico Sforza's marriage to Beatrice d'Este. For this he devised an invasion by a company of dancing and singing Scythians or Tartars, costumed as savages and led by a rider mounted on a big horse and wearing a cloak covered with golden scales and painted with peacock's eyes. ('Leonardo da Vinci', p. 61)

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1492

January

1 year later

Ludovico Sforza and Beatrice d'Este marry.

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Agents

Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 40: duke

1494

2 years, 1 day later

Gian Galeazo Sforza dies under suspicious conditions, in Milan, and the throne falls to his uncle, Ludovico Sforza.

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Gian Galeazo Sforza (1469-1494), aged 25: duke
Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 42: duke

1494

October 22

on Monday

9 months, 24 days later

Ludovico Sforza assumes the ducal title and receives the ducal crown from the Milanese nobles.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.

Agents

Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 42: duke

1494

December 4

on Tuesday

1 month, 13 days later

Entry from "A Florentine Diary" by Luca Landucci:

An embassy from the Duke of Milan came to Florence.(1)

(1) To congratulate the Florentines upon their recovered liberty.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the first quarter that night.
Sunrise in Florence was at 5:47 AM and sunset was at 5:54 PM.

Agents

Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 42: duke
Luca Landucci (1436-1516), aged 58: apothecary; diarist

Source: Primary

Landucci, Luca, trans. Alice de Rosen Jervis, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1927. "A Florentine Diary", p. 74

1495

28 days later

Ludovico Sforza defeats the French at the Battle of Fornovo.

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Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 43: duke

1495

January 2

on Wednesday

1 day later

2nd January (Friday). Two ambassadors were sent to Milan, Messer Luca Corsini and Giovanni Cavalcanti. They went in fine array. (1)

(1) To congratulate Ludovico Sforza, called Il Moro, on his becoming Duke of Milan.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the first quarter that night.
Sunrise in Milan was at 6:01 AM and sunset was at 6:08 PM.

1495

April 2

on Tuesday

3 months later

2nd April. It was said that a league had been made between the Venetians, the Duke of Milan, the Emperor, the Pope, the King of Spain, and the Genoese; and we should be given till the end of April to decide whether we would join it.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the first quarter that night.

1497

June 29

on Tuesday

2 years, 2 months, 29 days later

From a sheet of instructions that Lodovico Sforza gave to his secretary:

Item, to urge Leonardo the Florentine to finish the work that he has begun at the refectory of the Grazie, so that he may start with the other wall in the same refectory; and have him sign a contract obliging him to finish the work within the stipulated time.

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The moon was a new moon that night.

1499

1 year, 6 months, 6 days later

With the duke Ludovico Sforza's fall from power, Leonardo da Vinci flees Milan for Venice, with his assistant Giocomo Salai and friend, the mathematician Luca Pacioli.

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Agents

Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 47: duke
Luca Pacioli (1445-1517), aged 54: mathematician
Giocomo Salai (1480-1524), aged 19: painter

1500

February

1 year, 1 month, 1 day later

Ludovico Sforza re-enters Milan with an army of mercenaries.

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Agents

Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 48: duke

1500

April

1 month, 29 days later

Ludovico Sforza is handed over to the French.

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Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), aged 48: duke

1513

September 23

on Tuesday

13 years, 5 months, 28 days later

A landslide occurred in the Alps near Bellinzona which is described by Leandro Alberti in 1550:

In the past years an earthquake caused a large part of a mountain to collapse, in such a way that the Bregno valley came to be obstructed; and as the river came to be dammed up, it produced a large and dark lake with great damage to the inhabitants of the valley, many of whom were drowned and their houses submerged. And so it stayed for quite some time, until the fallen earth made gradually soft by the infiltrations of the water and being no longer sufficiently strong to retain the immense pressure of it, suddenly burst open to the fury of the swollen waters. And since the former river bed, which was joined to the Ticino, was no longer adequate to contain it, the water flooded all the neighbouring regions, overthrowing in part even that strong wall which Lodovico Sforza had built near Bellinzona.

It is suggested by Carlo Pedretti that Leonardo da Vinci describes this event in the Codex Atlanticus around 1513:

... for in our own times a similar thing has been seen, that is, a mountain falling seven miles across a valley and closing it up and turning it into a lake.

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Astronomical Events

The moon was in the last quarter that night.
Sunrise in Bellinzona was at 5:49 AM and sunset was at 5:55 PM.
Sunrise in Ticino was at 5:49 AM and sunset was at 5:55 PM.
Sunrise in Bregno was at 5:49 AM and sunset was at 5:55 PM.

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