Lodovico Sforza, called Lodovico il Moro (the Moor)

Born in 1451/2 and died in 1508, he was the son of Francesco I Sforza . Francesco I had married Bianca Maria, sole daughter and heir of Filippo Maria Visconti, and thus had become duke of Milan.

Lodovico was called the Moor because of his complexion. . In 1494 Ludovico summoned Charles VIII of France to his aid, whose invasion of Italy in the same year was the beginning of the Italian wars between Spain and France. But Lodovico found his own position endangered by the French, and joined the league against Charles, gave his niece Bianca in marriage to Maximilian I and received in return imperial investiture of the duchy.

The successor of Charles VIII, Louis XII of France was a great-grandson of Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351?-1402). The daughter of Gian Galeazzo, Valentina, had married Louis d'Orléans, and it was through her that Francis I and Louis XII kings of France derived their hereditary claim to the duchy of Milan. Thus Louis XII invaded Italy in 1499 and expelled Lodovico from his duchy. Although reinstated to his position for a short time by the Swiss mercenaries, Lodovico was eventually delivered over by them to the French (1500) and died a prisoner in the castle of Loches.

Lodovico Sforza was one of the wealthiest and most powerful princes of Renaissance Italy. With his wife, Beatrice d'Este, he held a brilliant court and spent immense sums of money to advance the arts and the sciences. In particular he is remembered for his patronage of Leonardo da Vinci and of Bramante.