Ludovico Sforza Duke of Milan, known as il Moro, was born of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti. He was Duke of Bari from 1479, regent of the Duchy of Milan from 1480 to 1494 alongside his nephew Gian Galeazzo Maria Sforza and finally Duke himself from 1494 to 1499. During his rule, Milan experienced the full renaissance and his court became one of the most splendid in northern Italy. Patron of Leonardo da Vinci and other prominent artists of his time, he is best known for having commissioned Leonardo's Last Supper.
After the death (1476) of his elder brother Galeazzo Maria, Duke of Milan, Ludovico, an attempt to replace the new duke, the boy Gian Galeazzo, with his own brother Sforza Maria, failed with this and the other brother Ascanio was condemned to confinement (1477). Genoa rebelled against the Sforza government (1478), agreed with the brothers and Roberto Sanseverino (son of a sister of Muzio Attendolo) to make it the basis of its intrigues, supported by the king of Naples, who invested him with the duchy of Bari (1479) . Once he was able to return to Milan and got rid of Cicco Simonetta, he managed to get himself appointed tutor to Gian Galeazzo (1480): from this moment on he was in fact the true Duke of Milan, but he had to eliminate his allies, including the Sanseverino, who declared rebel (1482). He then continued the friendship policy with the King of Naples (whose daughter Isabella of Aragon married Gian Galeazzo), was his ally in the war of Ferrara (1482-84) and helped him during the conspiracy of the barons (1485-86). Resuming Genoa (1487), blocked the sights of Florence on Forlì intervening in favor of the niece Caterina Sforza Riario, widow of the lord of that city, changed relations with Naples; he then formed a defensive league with Charles VIII of France (1492), while his brother, Cardinal Ascanio, worked with the simony for the election of a favorable pope, who was then Alexander VI. But the threat of the descent into Italy of Charles VIII united Naples, Florence and Rome, while the coldness of Venice towards Moro pushed this to tighten ever closer to France, and at the same time to try to balance this alliance with the friendship of Maximilian of Austria, who granted him (1494) the investiture of the duchy of Milan. But when Charles VIII came down to Italy, the Moro immediately became his opponent and entered the league held in Venice against France. When Gian Galeazzo died (1494) and Charles VIII returned to France, the power of Ludovico, an arbiter almost of the things of Italy, was at the height, threatened only by the jealousy of Venice. But success to the throne of France, Louis XII, already his archenemy and claimant to the duchy of Milan, he, who proclaimed himself Duke of Milan and allied with Venice and the Pope, sent Gian Galeazzo Trivulzio to conquer the duchy. Ludovico il Moro then sheltered in Innsbruck (1499), trying a few months after the reconquest, but betrayed in Novara by the Swiss troops who, until then faithful, had been the backbone of his army, was handed over to the French in 1500 who imprisoned him first in Lys-Saint-Georges and then in Loches where he died. Beatrice d'Este's husband, he was a munificent and cultured prince, protector of artists and writers like Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci. He promoted grandiose works in the Certosa di Pavia and in the castles of Milan, Pavia and Vigevano. He was also responsible for the construction of S. Maria delle Grazie in Milan.