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Old 14-07-2014, 09:37 PM   #192
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Lightbulb House of Sforza

Sforza was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan.. They acquired the dukedom and Duchy of Milan from the previously ruling Visconti family in the mid-15th century, and lost it to the Spanish Habsburgs about a century later..Rising from rural nobility, the Sforzas became condottieri and used this military position to become rulers in Milan. The family governed by force, ruse, and power politics, similar to the Medici in Florence. Under their rule the city-state flourished and expanded..Muzio Attendolo (1369–1424), called Sforza (from sforzare, to exert or force), founded the dynasty. A condottiero from Romagna, he served the Angevin kings of Naples and became the most successful dynast of the condottieri..His son Francesco I Sforza ruled Milan, having acquired the title of Duke of Milan (1450-1466) after the extinction of the Visconti family in 1447...

Bianca Maria Visconti's numerous descendants include Caterina Sforza, Marie de Medici, King Louis XIV of France, King Charles II of England, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Princess Michael of Kent...Born near Settimo Pavese, Bianca Maria was the illegitimate daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan and last of the Visconti rulers, and Agnese del Maino, the only person the shy, secluded Filippo ever loved. Agnese was the daughter of Ambrogio del Maino, a Milanese nobleman and ducal questore. Agnese served as Lady-in-Waiting to Filippo's wife, Beatrice di Tenda. The couple had a second daughter, called Caterina Maria or Lucia Maria, also born in Settimo in 1426, but she died shortly after her birth..Bianca's paternal grandparents were Gian Galeazzo Visconti and Caterina Visconti..When she was six months old, Bianca Maria and her mother were sent to a castle in Abbiate, where a rich residence had been established for the two of them. The Duke spent much of his time in Abbiategrasso, where he was impressed by Bianca Maria's strong character..Bianca Maria spent her childhood and adolescence in Abbiategrasso, where she received a humanist education. The Ducal library contained a wide variety of works: Latin classics, narrative texts in Provençal and French, scientific and didactical works, as well as texts in Italian and volgare, mainly by Tuscan authors. Both Bianca and her father were passionate hunters and lovers of horses..In 1430, at the age of six, Bianca Maria was betrothed to the condottiero Francesco I Sforza, a man twenty-four years older than she was. In that year the condotta (contract) between Milan and Sforza came to an end, and the betrothal was a move to keep the powerful general tied with Milan. It has also been suggested that Visconti enticed Sforza with the promise of appointing him as legitimate heir to the duchy. Sforza probably also accepted because of the rich dowry, which included territories in the areas of Cremona, Castellazzo and Bosco Frugarolo. The contract was signed on February 23, 1432, in the castle of Porta Giovia, the Visconti residence in Milan. Bianca Maria's official spokesperson was her godfather, Andrea Visconti, general of the Humiliates order. The presence of Bianca Maria and her mother at the ceremony is not certain; according to some sources, she visited Milan for the first time when she was already of marrying age..Against the advice of all her counsellors, Bianca Maria decided to take part in Galeazzo's marriage on 9 May 1468. At the end of the feasts she accompanied her daughter Ippolita to Serravalle, whence she set off to Cremona. However, when midway, in Melegnano, she fell ill. A high fever obliged her to stay in bed until August, but she kept up an intense correspondence. At the beginning of October, her condition worsened further. She died on 28 October of that year, after having recommended her younger children, Elisabetta and Ottaviano, to their brother Galeazzo. She was buried in the Duomo of Milan, next to her husband. The funeral oration, commissioned by Galeazzo, was written by the humanist Francesco Filelfo..There is a tradition that the "Visconti di Madrone" Tarot cards, one of the oldest decks in existence, was commissioned by her father in 1441 as a wedding present to Bianca Maria and Francesco. On account of this, she is sometimes referred to as"Lady Tarot"... me Clarice, would you ever say to me "Stop.. If you loved me, you'd stop"?. Not in a thousand years.. "Not in a 1'000 years"..That's my girl...
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