start page Charles V TOUR :  Trivulzio ➜

The Renaissance began in Italy long before the epoch of Emperor Charles V.
Duchy of Milan 1450-1535

Francesco I Sforza, 1450-1466
Galeazzo Maria Sforza, 1466-1476
Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza and his mother Bona di Savoia, 1476-1481
Gian Galeazzo Maria's wife Isabella d'Aragona (1470-1524)
Gian Galeazzo Maria's sister Bianca Maria Sforza (1472-1510) ⚭ emperor Maximilian
Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza and his uncle Ludovico, 1481-1494
Ludovico Maria Sforza, il Moro, 1494-1499   ⚭   Beatrice d'Este
Louis XII, King of France, 1500-1512
Massimiliano Maria Sforza, 1512-1515
Francis I of France, 1515-1521
Francesco II Sforza, 1521-1535

Map of Italy in 1499

Francesco I Sforza, 1450-1466     (4th Duke of Milan)
- son-in-law of the last duke of Visconti -
Francesco (1401-1466), one of many illegitimate sons of the Condottiero Muizo Attendolo from Romagna, took up his father's mercenaries just as he did his nickname "Sforza" (sforzare = to exert, to force). Francesco was a very efficient and successful Condottiero switching sides a number of times between the Visconti in Milan, the Pope, and Venice. Military skill and political ruse made him a prominent and influential protagonist of Italian politics.
Francesco Sforza married Bianca Maria Visconti (ca.1424-1468) in second marriage. She was the only (and illegitime) daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, and was betrothed to him at the age of six. The Visconti dynasty took its name from the function of a governor acting in the name of the king, lat. 'vicecomes' (Viscount). They took control of Milan in the 13th century and continued to rule until 1447, when Filippo Maria Visconti died without male issue. His son-in-law Francesco I Sforza succeeded and established the reign of the House of Sforza.
As dowery, Francesco was given Pontremoli and Cremona and the promise to succeed to the dukedom. After the death of his father-in-law, Francesco was able to oust all other claimants to the duchy by military intervention. When the short-lived Ambrosian republic (1447-1450, from St. Ambrose, patron saint of Milan) ended in riots and famine, the senate accepted him as Duke in 1450. The other Italian states followed suit, unlike the Emperor, who only granted investiture to Francesco's son in 1494.
The friendship between Francesco Sforza in Milan and Cosimo de Medici in Florence made the first Peace of Lodi (1454) possible and led to the Italian League (1455), which established and kept peace between Venice, Milan and Florence, Naples and the Pope until 1494.
Francesco was a wise ruler domestically. He modernised both city and dukedom, rebuilt the fortress Porta Giovio, introduced an efficient tax system and founded the Ospedale Maggiore. His court attracted scholars and artists and became one of the most influential centers of Renaissance culture. He was much loved by his people and on his death in 1466 he left his successor an untroubled and wealthy land.

Bronze about 1441 by Pisanello (Antonio di Puccio Pisano)   Ø 87 mm.  Kress 5; Pollard (2007) 5.
Specimen in The National Gallery of Art, Kress Collection, Washington D.C.

bust in armor, coat of mail and a captain's hat.
Rev.:   OPVS·PISANI·PICTORIS   -   Horse's head, stack of books and sword
as symbols of soldierly virtues and scholarship.
This medal is from the period shortly after Francesco's marriage to Bianca Maria Visconti (1412), sole heiress to the dukedom. Francesco had received Cremona as dowry. The medal highlights his association to the Visconti "vicecomes".
Pisanello (ca. 1395 - 1455) worked as a draftsman, painter and medaillist at several courts between Naples and Milan. He is famous for his portrait medals, which he introduced as a new Renaissance art genre. He signed his cast reliefs as a painter: "Opus Pisani pictoris" - manufactured by the painter Pisano. Unfortunately, his frescoes and paintings did not stand the test of time as well as his medals and their recasts did.

Bronze 1456, by Gian Francesco Enzola.     Ø 42 mm.   Arm.I 44/6; Kress 92.
armored bust right between ·V· - ·F·
(V F = Vivas Francise or Votum Fecit [a promise made] ?)

Rev.:   IOannis FRancisci ENZOLAE PARMENSIS OPVS   -   Under a tree, a greyhound seated;
a hand issuing from a radiant cloud nearly touches him; a bridle with open buckle lies on the ground
and is tied to the tree by chain.

This is the figure of the 'impresa' called 'cane sotta il pino' (dog under a pine), created for Bernabo Visconti (1354-85), a passionate hunter and holder of greyhounds.
An 'impesa' consists of a figure (called body) and a motto (called soul).
The motto "QUIETUM NEMO IMPUNE LACESSIT" (eng. 'do not tease the sleeping dog' meaning 'no impunity for attack on peace') is missing on the medal. The figure of this impresa was used on the cloak of Francesco at his wedding to Bianca Maria Visconti, as presented on the Altar-picture of San Sigismondo church in Cremona from 1441.
Compare the figure on a capital at the Rocchetta courtyard in Castello Sforzesco, Milan.

Note on the imagery: In the heraldics of the 15th to 16th century, it became popular throughout Italy to design personal emblems. They had to consist of a symbol illustrating an event in the person's life and an inscription with a suitable motto or 'devise'. Often, one person would use a number of different symbols. These so called 'imprese' were used alongside the family's coat of arms. The 'imprese' were considered a new genre for which a number of rules applied (s. Paolo Giovio, Dialogo dell'imprese militari et amorose, 1555). A well composed 'impresa' was to be a little enigmatic, comprehensible to the initiated but not easily accessible to the crowd. The 'imprese' are found as decoration in print, in paintings, on clothes, in gardens, on and in buildings, and on coins and medals.

Compare the painting by Bonifacio Bembo (19x13,5 cm) in the Codice Triv. 786, Biblioteca Trivulziana, Milan.

Multiplo del grossone n. d. (1462-64).     Ø 24 mm, 6,59 g.   CNI 149/33; Crippa 176/27.
Specimen from Collezione di Vittorio Emanuele III, BdN-Materiali 42 (2016) p.114.

Obv.:   (Visconti-Schlange)DVX·MLI·PPIE·ANGLERIE·Q3·COE’·  -  Bust between initials ·F· - ·S·
Rev.:   ·S· - ·AMBROSIV'· - ·MEDIOLANI
St Ambrose enthroned with scourge and crook in his hands.

Ducato, n.d. (not dated, after 1464).    Ø 23 mm, 3,52 g.  CNI 147/22; RM 238/1; Crippa 4; Friedb.683.
Obv.:   (Visconti snake) FRANCISChVS◦SFORTIA·VICecomes'·  -  bust in armor to the right.
Rev.:   DVX◦MEDIOLANI·AC - ·IANVaE·Dominus'·   "Duke of Milan and Lord of Genoa"
Francesco in armor riding to the right, the upraised sword in his right hand;
both the rider and the horse wear badges showing a broom with banderole and the Visconti snake.

One of the best known Sforza 'imprese' is the 'impresa della scopetta', the broom, presented for the first time in 1454. It is accompanied by the motto: 'Merito et Tempore' (it. "per merito e con tempo") meaning 'on merit and with time'. This 'impresa' proclaims: Francesco will clean up the duchy of all ugliness.
You find this 'impresa' also on a coin from Francesco II Sforza.

Francesco I Sforza and Ferdinando I d'Aragona of Naples (1458-1494) were the first
rulers to mint coins showing their lifelike portrait.

Medal about 1466  by Sperandio di Mantua.     Ø 86 mm.   Kress 115; Pollard (2007) 94.
Specimen in The National Gallery of Art, Kress Collection, Washington D.C.

Renaissance building with four cupolas, intended as a memorial of the Duke.
The portrait was very likely copied from some painting. [Hill/Pollard]

VICECOMES :   The governor acting in the name of the king called himself Viscount (lat. Vicecomes, ital. Visconte). His descendants became the family of Visconti. The following Sforza dukes took on the unique title of "Vice Comes".

Porthume bronze medal (1480-88)  by Caradosso Foppa.     Ø 40 mm, 17 g.
Hill Corpus 653b; Pollard (2007) 215.
Specimen in the Coin Cabinet, Staatliche Mussen zu Berlin, displayed in the Bode-Museum, room 216.

Obv.:   FRANCISCVS SFORTIA VICECOMES DVX MLI QVARTVS.  -  Bust in armor to the left.
On the chest the Impressa 'cane sotta il pino' (see above).

Rev.:   CLEMENTIA·ET·ARMIS·PARTA  -  Francesco Sforza on horseback under a canopy followed by warriors. Citizens of Milan knelt in front of him and received him in 1450 when he moved in.

Galeazzo Maria Sforza, 1466-1476     (5th Duke of Milan)
- son of Francesco I Sforza -
After the death of Francesco I in 1466, his son Galeazzo Maria Sforza became Duke of Milan. In 1468, Bona of Savoy, sister-in-law of King Louis VI of France, became his second wife. As Galeazzo Maria's parents were both illegitimate, his wife's royal connections were particularly important. Galeazzo Maria loved pomp and luxury and was a patron of the arts and music. But he was of tyrannical, cruel and sadistic character. In 1476, his tenth year of reign, he was murdered by three Milanese nobles in the Church of San Stefano, a day after Christmas and during mass. This spectacular murder became the model for the Pazzi Conspiracy two years later, an attack on the Medici family in Florence Cathedral.

'Leone Galeato'

Doppio ducato (testone d'oro, n.d., about 1469)    Ø 29 mm, 6,99 g.
CNI 163/5; RM 243/2; Crippa 1; Friedb.689.

Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) GALEAZ·M·SFO·VICECOMES·DVX·MLI·V·  -  bust to the right.
Rev.:   (Visconti snake) PAPIaE·ANGLE·Q3·CO·AC·IANVE·DNS·ӡC·
a lion sitting on a fire and sheathed in a helmet with crest and feather headdress; the repeated motto reads "ICH HOF" (German 'I hope'); firebrands with two buckets at the side.
In the field: initials Gӡ - M for Galeazzo Maria   (Gӡ = GZ).
[ His namesake Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1385-1402) used already the abbreviation G3, see
Denaro CNI p.98 n.99 : +·COMES·VIRTVTVM· _ cross   //   +·D·MEDIOLANI·3C'· _ G3 ]
The legend on both sides reads:
"Galeazo Maria Sforza Viscount (Vicecomes), 5th Duke of Milan (Mediolani), Count of Pavia (Papiae),
Angera (at the south end of Lake Maggiore) and (AC) Lord (Dominus) from Genoa (Ianua), etc.(ӡC=ZC)"
The pattern of this ducato pleased the duke and he ordered 10,000 pieces in January 1469.

Compare the design of the revers to the figure on a capital at the
Rocchetta courtyard in Castello Sforzesco, Milan.
You see on the coin and on the capital the impresa 'Leone Galeato' (eng. helmed lion). This impresa dates back to Galeazzo II Visconti (1354), who had to spend about a decade in exile in Savoy. It may be interpreted as: 'Fury will be repressed by reason as long as fate demands'. The motto was often placed in a foreign language to make it seem even more puzzling. Firebrands with two buckets were added later to this impresa.
Galeazzo Maria Sforza simply took over the 'impresa' of a predecessor of the same name.

Compare the portrait of the avers to a painting from 1471, 65x42 cm (Uffizi, Florence).

'biscione visconteo' with crowned helmet and dragon

Ducato n. d. (about 1467).    Ø 22 mm, 3,48 g.  CNI 163/8; RM 244/3; Crippa 2; Friedb.688var.
Legends in gothic letters.

Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) G3·MA·SF·VICECOMES·DVX·MLI·V·
= Galeazo Maria Sforza Vicecomes Dux MedioLanI V = "Galeazzo Maria Sforza, 5th Duke of Milan"
juvenile effigy to the right in a coat of mail (compare with Pisanello's bronze above).

= PaPiensis ANGLiEra Tricarici COmes AC IANVaE DomiNuS eTC
"Count of Pavia and Angara and Tricarico, also Lord of Genoa"  -  similar to next coins;
in the field: G - ӡ   (ӡ = Z) for Galeazzo.
Crippa and RM distinguish 4 types of these ducats:
1) Crippa 2, RM 3, CNI 7-13 __ head of small size; gothic scripture; about 1467; (as above)
2) Crippa 3, RM 4, CNI 14-19 __ head of larger size; scripture as before; about 1470
3) Crippa 4, RM 5, CNI -   __   effigy as before; scripture no longer gothic; about 1474
4) Crippa 5, RM 5a, CNI 20-34 __ head of larger size; Roman letters (as below).

Ducato n. d.     Ø 22 mm, 3,45 g.   CNI 164ff/20-34; RM 246/5a; Crippa 5; Friedb.688.
Legends in Roman letters.

Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) G3·M·SF·VICECOS·DVX·MLI·V·  -  elderly head to the right, large size.
Rev.:   ✠ PP·ANGLE·Q3·CO·AC·IANVE'D'  -  similar to the Teston below.

Galeazzo II Visconti, 1354-78 already used this design of the reverse, eg. on a grosso (24 mm, 2,5 g.)

Testone n. d. (since 1474)     Ø 29 mm, 9,53 g.   CNI 171/77; RM 248/8; Crippa 6A.
Obv.:  (head of St. Ambrose) GALEAZo·Maria·SFortia.VICECOmeS·DVX·MedioLanI·QuInTus
"Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Viscount, 5th Duke of Milan ...";
armored bust to the right in a coat of mail; circle behind the head.

Rev.:   PaPiae·ANGLEriae·Queӡ· - ·COmes·AC·IANVaE·Dominus·
"... Count of Pavia and Angara, also Lord of Genoa"
Visconti coat of arms with a crowned helmet: winged dragon with a human in the throat;
in the field, the initials Gӡ· - ·M·
and the 'tizzoni ardenti con secchi' (trunks standing in fire and buckets roped to the trunks).

Compare a figure on a captital at the Rocchetta courtyard
in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan.
The impresa 'Tizzone ardente coi secchi' consists of a figure (firebrands with two buckets) and the motto ("Humentia siccis" in Latin, meaning 'moist things to dry'). It was used alone or together with 'Leone Galeato'. Both imprese have the same historical background.
'Imprese' were designed by scholars. They were very popular in Italy and enriched the design of coins especially in Milan, Mantua and Ferrara.
A well known 'impresa' of emperor Charles V shows the
Pillars of Hercules with the band 'PLUS ULTRA'.

The 'biscione visconteo' is the Visconti coat of arms. It is a snake or viper about to devour (or to give birth to) a human. Its significance is still under discussion. With the Visconti's rise to power in Milan, it became a symbol for the city.
The Visconti-snake probably derives from the families name (canting arms): biscione sounds like Visconti.
When the Sforzas became Dukes of Milan, they adopted both the 'biscione visconteo' and a number of Visconti 'imprese' for their own symbol as a political statement, stressing the dynastic continuity and the legitimacy of his claim to the duchy.

This testone ('testa' = head), issued since 1474, was the first silver coin to show a lifelike Renaissance
portrait of a ruler. Other rulers quickly adopted the policy as it turned coins into a means for
propaganda allowing them to spread their own image and fame.

Crown and arms of the Duchy

Mezzo testone n. d.     Ø 27 mm, 5,10 g.   CNI 173/96var; RM 251/10; Crippa 8.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) GALEAZ·M·SF·VICECOS·DVX·MLI·QIT'   -   armored bust to the right.
Rev.:   (head of St. Ambrose) PP'ANGLE'Q3'CO'AC·IANVE·DNS·7C'   (7C' = ZC' = etc.)
Crown with olive and palm branches, the quartered arms of Milan (imperial eagle / Visconti snake),
on the sides: crowned initials G - M.

The coat of arms of Milan (Visconti snake) was enlarged with the imperial eagle on the occasion of the elevation of Gian Galeazzo Visconti to first Duke of Milan (1394). The impresa li 'piumai' originated at the same time. It consists of the ducal crown with inserted olive branch (symbol for peace) and palm branch (for victory), expressing best wishes for peace and prosperity. The motto is 'piu mai' (eng. 'more than ever'). Quite rightly so, because wealth and power of Milan had arrived their zenith in 1394.

St. Ambrose, the patron of the city

Grosso da 8 soldi.     Ø 27 mm, 3,46 g.   RM 251/11; Crippa 9A.
Obv:   (Visconti-snake) GALEAZ·MA·SF·VICECOS·DVX·MELI·V·3·C'·   -   armored bust to the right.
Rev.:   S· - AM - BROSI'·MELI·   -   St. Ambrose to the right riding against three warriors.
The figure refers to St. Ambrose's struggle against the Arians.

Grosso da 4 soldi.     Ag, Ø 24 mm, 2,6 g.   RM 252/12; Crippa 10.
Obv.:  (Visconti-snake) GALEAZ·MA·SF·VICECO·DVX·MLI·V·  -  effigy between Gӡ - M .
Rev.:  S· - AM - BROSI'·MELI·  -  St. Ambrose enthroned and with scourge and crozier.

Grosso da 4 soldi.     Ag, Ø 25 mm, 2,44 g.   RM 252/13; Crippa 12.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) Gӡ·MA·SF·VICECOMES·DVX·MELI·V·
armored bust to the right between initials Gӡ - ·M .
Rev.:   S - AMBROSI'   -   St. Ambrose raises his scourge with his right hand
while restraining an armed soldier with his right hand.

Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza and his mother Bona di Savoia, 1476-1481
- grandson of Francesco I Sforza  -  (6th Duke of Milan) -
Gian Galeazzo (1469-1494) became duke of Milan at the age of seven after the murder of his father in 1476. His mother Bona di Savoia (1449-1503) acted as regent until 1481, when she lost the power struggle with her brother-in-law Ludovico Maria Sforza, nicknamed "Il Moro" (the Moor). Gian Galeazzo, aged twelve, was declared of age and crowned in 1480, since when Ludovico's appropriation of power was left unchallenged and Gian Galeazzo was effectively deprived of the duchy.
Bona di Savoia was exiled from Milan. She continued to act as patron of the arts. She commissioned the Sforza Book of Hours, one of the finest surviving Renaissance manuscripts, by the illuminator Giovan Pietro Birago (about 1490, now in the British Library).

Testone, n. d.     Ø 29 mm, 9,32 g.   CNI 183/11; RM 257/6; Crippa 2.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) BONA·7[=et]·IO·GZ·M·DVCES·MEdioLanI·VI·
Bona and her son: "the 6th Dukes of Milan"
bust of the regent with widow's veil and pearl necklace.

Rev.:  (head of St. Ambrose) SOLA·FACTA·SOLVM·DEVM·SEQVOR·
"Only to deeds and God alone I hold"
Phoenix with outstretched wings at the stake.
This is the first instance of an Italian coin bearing a woman's head since the Roman Empire.

Doppio zecchino, n. d.     Ø 24 mm, 6,95 g.   CNI 183/4; RM 256/2; Crippa 1; Friedb.690.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) BONA·DVCIs - SA·MedioLanI·7C'   [7C = et cetera]
bust of the regent with widow's veil and pearl necklace.
Rev.:   (head of St. Ambrose) IOannes·GaleaZius·Maria·SFortia VI - CECOmes·DuX·Mediolani·SeXtus
armoured bust of the young Duke to the right.

Geprägte Silver medal n. d.     Ø 43 mm, 24,29 g.   CNI 183/5; RM 258/7;
Hill Corpus 677a; Börner 254.   Specimen in the Coin cabinet, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Obv.:   ⁎BONA⁎7(et)⁎IOannea⁎GaleaZius⁎Maria⁎DVCES⁎MEdioLanI⁎VI(sextus)⁎   -   Bust of the mother.
Rev.:   ⁎GALEAZzo⁎Maria⁎SForza⁎VICe⁎COmes⁎DVX⁎MEDioLanI⁎V(quintus)⁎   -   Bust of the late father.
Gian Galeazzo Maria appear only in the obverse-legend. The reverse is entirely dedicated to the late father.

Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza alone, 1481
- the legend refers only his title -

Doppio ducato n. d. (1481)   Ø 27 mm, 6,98 g.  CNI 185/7; RM 259/2; Crippa 1; Friedb.693.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) IOannes·GaleaZius·Maria·SForza·VICECOmeS·DVX·MedioLanI·SeXTus'
armored bust of the young Duke to the right, with long hair and bonnet.
Rev.:   ✠ - PaPiae.ANGLEriae - Q3[que]·COmeS·7C'   [7C = "etc."]
quartered shield of Milan surmounted by two helms with crest face each other:
On the left a crown, a dragon with comb, a human in the mouth ('drago visconteo').
On the right a collar, a winged monster with human head, a ring with a diamant.
The ancestor Muzio Attendolo obtained this ring in 1409 from Margrave Nicolò III Ferrara
in recognition of military support. [RM]
- There may be a connection to the 'impresa dei tre anelli con diamante'.

Medal or multiple testone.     Ø 38 mm, 24,86 g.   CNI 186/15 tav.9/10; RM 261/6; Crippa 6B.
quartered shield (imp. eagle / Visconti snake) surmounted by two crowned helmets with crest;
left helmet as in the coins above and below; right helmet with feathers as crest.

Isabella d'Aragona (1470-1524)
- daughter of Alfonso II of Naples   and   wife of Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza
on a separate page

Bianca Maria Sforza (1472-1510)
- sister of Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza   and   wife of Emperor Maximilian-

Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza and his uncle Ludovico, 1481-1494
In 1489, Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza, 6th Duke of Milan, married Isabella of Aragon, daughter of Alfonso II, King of Naples. The couple moved to the castle of Pavia, as Gian Galeazzo had no intention of challenging his uncle, who had been the regent of Milan for thirteen years. However, when Ludovico married Beatrice d'Este, daughter of Duke Ercole I d'Este of Ferrara and Modena in 1491, Isabella and Beatrice became rivals on behalf of their children. Isabella rightly foresaw that her son Francesco (Il Duchetto, 1491-1512) would be deprived of the duchy. Gian's daughter Bona Sforza (1494-1557) married King Sigismund I of Poland in 1518. She brought the Renaissance to Poland, which was soon reflected in the design of the Polish coins.
Gian Galeazzo died in 1494, aged twenty-five. Rumors quickly attributed his early death to his uncle, although he had often been ill. Ludovico usurped the crown on the very day of Gian Galeazzo's death passing over four-year-old Francesco's right of succession. The State Council of Milan agreed, probably fearing the implications of another child as Duke.

Testone (Lira da 20 Soldi) n. d.    Ø 29 mm, 9,68 g.  CNI 190/32; RM 266/9; Biaggi 1570; Crippa 4.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) ·IOGZ·M·SF·VICECOMES·DVX·MLI·SX·
armored bust of the young Duke to the right.
Rev.:   LVdovicus·PATRVO· - ·GVBENANTE·   [BE superposed] "... paternal uncle, gubernator"
quartered shield of Milan, dragon and monster face each other as seen two coins before.
On the left a crown, a dragon with comb, a human in the mouth ('drago visconteo').
On the right a collar, a winged monster with human head, a ring with a diamant.
The ancestor Muzio Attendolo obtained this ring in 1409 from Margrave Nicolò III Ferrara in recognition of military support.
Look at the enlarged detail
(Does the collar of the monster consist of rings with diamond?)

Ducato n. d. (1481-94)     Ø 23 mm, 3,5 g.   CNI 187/7-10; RM 263/3; Biaggi 1567; Crippa 2.

Doppio Ducato n. d.    Ø 25 mm, 7,04 g.  CNI 187/5; RM 262/2; Biaggi 1566; Crippa 1; Friedb.695.
Obv.:   (head St. Ambrose) ·IOGZ·M·SF·VICECOMES·DVX·MLI·SX·
armored bust of the young Duke to the right.
Rev.:   LVDOVICVS·PA - TRVVS·GVBERNANS·   "uncle Ludovico, gubernator"
armored bust of Ludovico Maria Sforza to the right.
Compare with the reverse of the coin above: The regent's effigy completely dislodges the imagery and takes up more space than the duke's effigy does. This coin seems to have two equally important sides.

Testone n. d.     Ø 27 mm, 9,56 g.   CNI 23; RM 264/8; MIR 221/2.

Ludovico Maria Sforza, Il Moro, 1494-1499   (7th Duke of Milan)
- youngest son of Francesco I Sforza -
Ludovico Maria Sforza, called Il Moro, (*1452 †1508) had governed Milan since 1480. In 1494, the equilibrium between Venice, Milan, Florence, the pope and Napels turned instable. Ludovico and other nobles took the unwise decision to invite King Charles VIII of France to assert his claim on the Kingdom of Naples. This initiated the Italian wars (1494-1559), which started as dynastic disputes over the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples and developed into a European power struggle. All parties involved changed alliances several times.
The duchy prospered under the patronage of Ludovico. He advanced the building of canals and fortifications and the development of agriculture and silk production. The patronage of Ludovico and his wife Beatrice d'Este, daughter of the duke of Ferrara, turned Milan into the most sought after court for musicians, poets, artists and scholars. Leonardo da Vinci worked for Ludovico until his downfall in 1499.

King Charles VIII of France died in 1498. His successor Louis XII upheld hereditary claims to Milan and Naples, invaded Italy in 1499 and his superior army took Naples, Genoa, and Milan. Ludovico was able to escape and sought support from the emperor. A year later, he entered Milan with an army of Swiss mercenaries. When the Swiss mercenaries in both armies refused to fight each other at the siege of Novara, the French King allowed Ludovico's soldiers to retreat. Ludovico, however, fell into French custody and was held captive in France until his death in 1508.

The title of Ludovico il Moro contains 'ANGLUS DUX' instead of 'VICECOMES DUX'.

Doppio Ducato n. d.    Ø 26 mm, 6,98 g.   CNI 198/7; MR 267/2; Crippa 1B note, Friedb.698.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) LVDoVICVS·Maria· - SFortia·ANGLVS·DVX·MedioLan
ANGLVS means 'descended from the old count of Angera'.
Armored bust to the right, coat of mail around the neck.

Rev.:   ✠ PaPiae·ANGLEriae·Que3·COmes·AC· - IANVaE·Dominus·7C'   [7C = et cetera]
The crowned Duke on a galloping horse, in armor and with raised sword.
Both horse and rider wear badges showing the Visconti snake and the 'imprese Scopetta'.
The legend on both sides translates:
"Ludovicus Maria Sforza Anglus, Duke of Milan, Count of Pavia (Papiae),
Angera (Lago Maggiore) and Lord of Genoa (Ianua), etc."
Note the similarity to the ducat of his father Francesco I Sforza. There is one 'scopetta' with band for the motto on Francesco's ducat and both rider and horse wear badges with a 'biscione'. Here, there are two brooms without band and only one Visconti snake.

Testone n. d.     Ø 27 mm, 9,67 g.   CNI 199/19; RM 269/5; Biaggi 1578; Crippa 2.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) LVDOVICVS·M· - SF·ANGLVS·DVX·MLI   -   armored bust right.
Rev.:   (head of St. Ambrose) PaPiae·ANGLEriae·Q3·COmes·AC·IANVaE·Dominus·7C'
The quartered arms of the Duchy of Milan are linked to two 'imprese':
'piu mai' (eng. 'more than ever' - the ducal crown with inserted olive and palm branche)
and the 'tizzone ardente coi secchi' (the 'firebrands with buckets').

Ludovico Maria Sforza, il Moro and his wife Beatrice d'Este

Prova di testone 1497.     Ø 27 mm, 10,5 g.  CNI 202/5; RM 272/11; Crippa 11; Kress 654;
Pollard (2007) 795.     Specimen in the Kress Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) LVDOVIC'·M·SF· - 1497 - ·ANGLV'·DVX M
Compare to a 1990 medal in silver, Ø 40 mm, 30 g.

In 1491, Ludovico Sforza (aged 40) married Beatrice d'Este (aged 15), daughter of Ercole I. d'Este, Duke of Ferrara. Beatrice was a most accomplished Renaissance princess and acted as patron of the arts like her famous sister Isabella d'Este in Mantua. She was only 21 when she died in stillbirth in 1497 and was much regretted by her husband and the people in Milan.
This 'Prova di testone' was issued to commemorate her in 1497. The marble bust of Giovanni Cristoforo Romano, created in 1490/91 on the occasion of her wedding, served as model (59,5 cm, the Louvre).
Her two minor sons Massimiliano and Francesco fled to Innsbruck to the court of Emperor Maximilian I after the capture of their father in 1500.

Look at this detail of the Sforza altar , (ca. 1494, 230x165 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan): Ludovico and son Massimiliano kneel on the left, Beatrice and the younger son Francesco kneel on the right.

Louis XII of France, Duke of Milan 1500-1512
King of France 1498-1515, King of Naples 1501-1503, Lord of Asti 1465-1515
With the death of King Charles VIII in 1498, the trunk line of the Valois dynasty became extinct. Louis XII (1462-1515) succeeded his cousin to the French throne and asserted a hereditary claim to the Duchy of Milan via his grandmother Valentina Visconti. Louis conquered Milan in 1500 and Naples a year later. The French campaign had been well prepared, both politically and militarily, and was conducted by the Milanese-born Marshall Gian Giacomo Trivulzio.
Louis's success in Naples was short-lived. He was forced to cede Naples to Spain in 1504. In Milan, however, Louis was welcomed as lawful ruler. Emperor Maximilian repealed the investiture he had conceded to Ludovico Sforza in 1495 and installed Louis XII instead. Cardinal d'Ambroise performed the oath of fealty for his king on April 4, 1505, having delivered half of the stipulated fee of 100.000 guilders to the emperor.
Louis XII joined the League of Cambrai (i.e. Pope Julius II as initiator, Ferdinand of Aragon and Emperor Maximilian I and others against the Republic of Venice, 1508-10). The League fell apart when the Pope's mistrust and fear of Venetian predominance in northern Italy switched to fear of French predominance. The Holy League against France took its place (1511-13), founded by Pope Julius II, the major participants being Venice and again Ferdinand of Aragon and the emperor. However, membership of the league would change when the participants had second thoughts on who their most immanent enemy was. The Swiss Confederation participated in both alliances as a resource for mercenaries. Their commander Matthäus Schiner played a major part when the League's army defeated the French (Pavia 1512 and Novara 1513) and drove Louis XII from Milan and Italy. Lodovico Sforza's eldest son Massimiliano was installed as Duke of Milan. Louis's Italian ambitions came to nothing. He died without male issue in 1515 and was succeeded by Francis I.

Louis was Lord of Asti, a small dominion in Piedmont, which his father had inherited from Valentina Visconti. In Asti, Louis issued testons with his portrait and the title "Duke of Orléans and Milan (!) and Lord of Asti" even before he became king of France. He adopted the appealing Renaissance style his predecessor had introduced. He also minted coins with his effigy in Naples (1501-03) and in France.

Gros da 12 soldi a 15, n. d.    Ø 32 mm, 7,75 g.  CNI 211/77 tav.11/4; RM -; Crippa 5 (p.285).
Rev.:   (head of St. Ambrose) ·ET·MEDIOLANI·DVX·ET·C'·
crowned arms (France/Milan) between two crowns.
Compare the painting, ca. 1500 in Windsor Castle.

Doppio Ducato, n. d.     Ø 28 mm, 6,97 g.   CNI 203f/8-11var; Crippa 1; Friedb.704.
bust with decorated cap to the right, a lily on the chest.
Rev.:   ME - DIO - LA - NI - ·DVX   (Mediolani Dux)
Milan's patron Saint Ambrose with raised scourge riding to the right, French royal arms at the bottom.
The dies for this double ducat were also used for testons, see next coin.
Punctuation in the legends vary.

Testone, n. d.     Ø 28 mm, 9,68 g.   CNI 208/46; Crippa 3.
bust with decorated cap to the right, a lily on the chest.
Rev.:   ME - DIOL - AN - I·D - VX
riding St. Ambrose as before.

Da 10 ducati, n. d.    Ø 39 mm, 34,32 g.  CNI 203,1 (coin); Crippa 24 (medal); Ciani 989 (coin).
Obv.:   ✠ ⚜LVDOVICVS⚜DG⚜REX⚜FRANCORVM   -   Bust right.
Rev.:   MEDIOL - ANI·DVX   -   crowned quartered shield France/Milan.

Louis XII on coins and medals from France and Asti

Massimiliano Maria Sforza, 1512-1515     (8th Duke of Milan)
- first son of Ludovico Maria Sforza, grandson of Francesco I Sforza -
Massimiliano Maria Sforza (1493-1530), renamed as "Maximilano" in honour of Emperor Maximilian, and his brother Francesco spent their youth in exile at the emperor's court in Innsbruck. Unfortunately, Maximilian did not much care about them and their education was neglected. When the Swiss mercenaries of the Holy League under the command of Cardinal Matthäus Schiner had driven Louis XII from Milan, they installed Massimiliano as Duke of the duchy, much against the emperor's wishes. Milan had to compensate the Swiss Confederation with a considerable sum of money and with territory around Locarno and Lugano.
Massimiliano, ill prepared for his new function, overbearing and reckless besides, was not qualified to regain the duchy for the Sforza dynasty. King Francis I of France returned with an army to regain the duchy in 1515 and defeated the Swiss at the battle of Marignano. Milan came again under French authority and Massimiliano surrendered his inherited rights to Francis I. He was given ample compensation and spent the rest of his life in French exile, where he died in 1530.

Pattern for a multiple testone or a medal.    Ø 38 mm, 34,05 g.   CNI 218/2; RM 273/2; Crippa 312/8.
Obv.:   (Visconti snake) MAX·MAria·SForza·VICECOmes·DVX·MLI·VIII·C3   "... 8th Duke of Milan"
armored bust with beret to the left.
Rev.:   ✠ S AMEROSIVS I[=P]IETATE DEI   (unfinished legend)
St. Ambrose enthroned and with nimbus and mitra,
his right hand raises a scourge, the left hand holds an episcopal crozier.

Francis I of France, Duke of Milan 1515-1521
- King of France 1515-47 and Lord of Asti 1515-1529 -
As Louis XII died without issue, his cousin and son-in-law Francis I of the house Valois-Angoulême succeeded in 1515. Like Louis, he was a grandson of Valentina Visconti and his endeavors to retake Milan began immediately. In September of that year he defeated the army of the Swiss Confederation at Marignano thanks to superior artillery and Venetian reinforcements. Francis was extremely proud of his victory over the seemingly invincible Swiss. He reached an agreement with pope Leo X and Charles V (then Charles I of Spain) in the Treaty of Noyon (1516), in which French claims to Milan were recognized. However, when Charles instead Francis was elected emperor in 1519, animosities flared up again at a number of European sites. Francis's rule of Milan ended with the beginning of the Italian War of 1521-26.

Doppio ducato, n. d.     Ø 28 mm, 6,85 g.   CNI 220/1.
Obv.:   ·FRANCISCVS✠D·G·FRA·REX·   -   bust to the left.
Rev.:  (head of St. Ambrose) MEDIOLANI· - *DVX*ET*CET  -  crowned arms France/Visconti.
Look at the obverse of such a piece, preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
This is the only gold with the portrait of Franz I, that came into circulation.
In his native France, he was shown only on silver coins.

Pattern.     Ø 38 mm.   CNI 221/8.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) *FRANCISCVS*D*G*FRANCORVM*REX*   -   bust to the right.
Rev.:   *MEDIOLANI* - *DVX*ET*C*   -   crowned arms France/Visconti.

Find Francis I on French coins.

Francesco II Sforza, 1521-1535
- 2nd son of Ludovico Maria Sforza, grandson of Francesco I  -  the last Sforza Duke of Milan -
After the Spanish army had defeated the French at the Battle of Bicocca in 1522, emperor Charles V installed Lodovico Sforza's youngest son Francesco Maria Sforza (1495-1535) as duke of Milan. Francesco fought with the emperor at the Battle of Bicocca (1522) but switched to the French side and joined the League of Cognac in 1526, which Pope Clement VII had organized to drive Charles V out of Italy. Milan was dominated by Spanish troops until the Treaty of Cambrai ended hostilities for a few years (1529, "Peace of the Ladies", negotiated by Margaret of Austria as regent of the Netherlands and Louise of Savoy as regent of France). Francesco was given imperial investiture in 1530.
Francesco II effected a cultural and economic recovery of Milan which twenty years of war had destroyed. He married Christina of Denmark, the 12-year-old niece of Charles V, by proxy in 1534, but he died a year later without issue. The Sforza dynasty in Milan ended and the completed fief reverted to the emperor. Francesco's death sparked the Italian War of 1535.

Pattern or medal   (reproduction 1990),   Ø 40 mm.   CNI 224/9; RM 276/5.
Obv.:   (head of St. Ambrose) *FRANCISCVS*SForza*VICECOmes*DVX*MEDIOLAnI*II*
effigy - for the first time a Sforza without coat of mail at the neck.
Rev.:   Squared shield (imp.eagle/Visconti 'biscione'); on top: a small head of St. Ambrose between S - A; on the sides: DVX - MLI; at the bottom: SECO - NDVS.
Two 'imprese' appear as space fillers: 'piu mai' (crown with inserted olive and palm branches)
and 'tizzone ardente coi secchi' (firebrand with buckets).

Medal worth 6 scudi d'oro.    Ø 30 mm, 19.95 g.   CNI 244/2; RM 274/1.
The only known specimen in the Gabinetto Numismatico e medagliere, Castello Sforzesco, Milan.

Obv.:   +FRANCISCI SF II - DVCIS MLI  -  Bust in tunic to the left.
Rev.:  Sanctus·AMBROSIVS· - ARCHIEPiscopus·MEDIolani  -  Bust with nimbus and mitre to the front.
The legend of the obverse uses the dedication form FRANCISCI (to Francis) which makes a posthumous coinage probable.
Thanks to my wife Anna Maria for help and discussion.1st issue: 9.2016.

Next ruler in Milan: Emperor Charles V (1535-1556)

Ref.:   [CNI and RM: page & no. eg. 83/7 = p.83 n.7]
Corpus Nummorum Italicorum [CNI] vol. V  -  CNI-Index vol. V
Ravegnani Morosini, Mario [RM]: Signorie e principati - monete italiane con ritratto, 1450-1796. 1984
    Sforza, Milano: vol.III, p.238 ff
• Biaggi, Elio: Monete e Zecche medievali Italiane dal Sec. VIII al Sec. XV. Torino 1992
• Crippa, Carlo: Le Monete di Milano dai Visconti agli Sforza dal 1329 al 1535. Milano 1986
• Toffanin, Alessandro: Monete Italiane Regionali (MIR-11) - Milano. Ed. Varesi, Pavia 2013
• Velde, François in Imprese [basic information, in English]
Le Imprese della famiglia Visconti-Sforza nelle miniature di Giovanni Pietro Birago ...
• • Guerreri, Franca :  Le "imprese" Visconti-Sforza, Cap.III: Galeazzo II Visconti
• Mangano, Paola :  Le 'imprese' do Ludovico il Moro alla Sforzesca di Vigevano
• Pozzati, Ugo :  Evoluzione dell'Araldica Viscontea-Sforzesca e Imprese Araldiche 1277-1535
• Kroll, Antonia : Propaganda im mittelalterlichen Mailand - das Wappen der Visconti
• Black, Jane : Double duchy: the Sforza dukes and the other Lombard title
    in: Europe and Italy. Studies in honour of Giorgio Chittolini, pp.15-27. Florence 2011.

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