The Sforza family was the noble family who ruled the duchy of Milan from 1450 to 1535.
The name of the family derives from the nickname of its founder, Muzio Attendolo (Cotignola, 1369 - near Ravenna, 1424), a captain of fortune of Romagna at the service of the Angevin kings of Naples, called Sforza (Forte) for its prestancy. It was the dynasty of Italian leaders who had the greatest fortune.
The first duke of Milan was the eldest son of Muzio Attendolo, Francesco (1401-1466), who acquired the ducal title thanks to his marriage to Bianca Maria Visconti, last heir of the duke Filippo Maria Visconti, who died in 1447. From this marriage he originated the main branch of the family. The successor of Francis I was Galeazzo Maria (1444-1476), duke from 1466 to his death, who married Bona di Savoia. Among her illegitimate daughters Caterina Sforza should be noted, who first married Girolamo Riario, becoming a lady of Forli and Imola, and was later the mother of Giovanni dalle Bande Nere.
Successor of Galeazzo Maria was the son Gian Galeazzo (1469-1494), who married Isabella of Aragon. Gian Galeazzo, because of his weakness and ineptitude, in practice never directly governed, and the regency of the duchy was from the beginning in the hands of his uncle Ludovico Sforza known as il Moro, who had the title of duke only since the death of grandson; Ludovico il Moro married Beatrice d'Este. As proof of the prestige enjoyed by the Milanese family at that time there is the marriage celebrated between Bianca Maria, sister of Gian Galeazzo and Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg. Ludovico il Moro ruled over the Duchy of Milan until 1500, when he was definitively defeated and taken prisoner by the French. After the French were expelled from the army of Swiss mercenaries of the empire (1512), the duchy of Milan returned for a few years to the sons of Ludovico il Moro, Massimiliano (1493-1530) and Francesco II (1495-1535) , who married Cristina of Denmark, nephew of Emperor Charles V. Costoro, involved in the wars between France and the Empire, reigned at intervals and under the protection of the Habsburgs, to whom, after the death of Francis II without heirs, the duchy passed.
From Giovanni Paolo (1497-1535), natural son of Ludovico il Moro and Lucrezia Crivelli, descended the branch of the Marquises of Caravaggio, extinct in 1717. From Sforza Secondo, natural son of Francesco I, descended the branch of the Counts of Borgonovo Val Tidone, extinct in 1679; from Jacopetto, natural son of Sforza Secondo, descended the branch of the Counts of Castel San Giovanni, which came up to the twentieth century and which belonged to the Minister Carlo Sforza.