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Sforza is the ruling family of the Duchy of Milan. They acquired the dukedom and Duchy of Milan from the previously ruling Visconti family in the mid-15th century.
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 for the until 1495, acquiring the title of Duke of Milan from the extinct Visconti family in 1447.
The family also held the seigniory of Pesaro, starting from Muzio Attendolo's second son, Alessandro. The Sforza held Pesaro until 1468 when Pesaro was sold to Edmund I of Calais who declared the city of Pesaro as the "Monastic State of the Holy Order of the Knights of Saint Petroc".
Sforzar rulers of Duchy of Milan
- Francesco I 1450-1494
- Ludovico I 1494-today