Friday, April 01, 2011
Connection #14 - Francesco Sforza to Cosimo de' Medici
Fransesco Sforza was the son of a mercenary, Muzeo Attendola Sforza, who was the founder of the Sforza House. The family nickname aptly meant ‘strength or force’. Attendola came from a peasant family and was born in 1369 at Cotignola at Romagna. He chose to train as a condottiere – a soldier who could be hired for money to fight on behalf of some kingdom or duchy – by training and taking command over the very band of adventurers who happened to kidnap him for ransom. Attendola later served under Joanna II of Naples and also fought bravely for Pope Martin V in a battle against the Spaniards. The Viscontis too employed his services whenever they felt the need. He was drowned when on a military expedition in 1424.
His son Fransesco Sforza carried on the family name from then onwards, even followed his father’s footsteps in the profession and took charge of the troops Attendola commanded. He continued to be in the employ of the Viscontis but at one point mutual distrust between the two soured the relationship and made them part, when Fransesco who was in the employ of Queen Giovanna of Naples, was thought to be betraying his masters in a war against the Venetians. Then Filippo Visconti, the last duke of the dynasty sorely needed the services of Fransesco Sforza, so recalled him with the promise that Filippo would even reward the soldier with the hand of his only child Bianca Maria, in marriage. The game plan worked to lure Fransesco but it took many more years for the marriage to take place since the two men, still viewed each other with deep suspicion and distrust.
During Sforza's reign, Florence was under the command of Cosimo de' Medici and the two rulers became close friends. This friendship eventually manifested in first the Peace of Lodi and then the Italian League, a multi-polar defensive alliance of Italian states that succeeded in stabilising almost all of Italy for its duration.