Sforza, Francesco I (fränchāsˈkō, sfôrˈtsä) [key], 1401–66, duke of Milan (1450–66); illegitimate son of Muzio Attendolo Sforza. He succeeded his father as leader of his band of mercenaries, and by his valor and sagacity he became one of the most powerful condottieri of his time. In 1441 he married Bianca Maria, illegitimate daughter of Filippo Maria (see under Visconti), duke of Milan. On Filippo's death (1447) the so-called Ambrosian republic was set up in Milan. Francesco, who commanded the Milanese troops, made himself master of the republic and was proclaimed duke in 1450 with the support of the Medici of Florence. He consolidated the power of Milan and in 1464 seized Genoa. An able prince, he patronized arts and letters and beautified Milan. His son, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, succeeded him as duke.
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