A History of Milan under the Sforza

By Cecilia M. Ady; Edward Armstrong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
FRANCESCO SFORZA AND THE AMBROSIAN REPUBLIC (1447-1450)

DURING the last few weeks of Francesco Sforza's career in the March of Ancona, Milan, upon which his eyes were now fixed, formed a veritable hot-bed of political intrigue and party rivalry. Filippo Maria Visconti, characteristic to the last, preferred to sacrifice the Duchy to the evils of a disputed succession rather than to commit himself to any one party before his death. Hence the numerous claimants to Milan gathered like vultures round the dying prince, in the hope that if they could not carry off the prize in its entirety they might at least contrive to divide the spoils. From the point of view of hereditary right, Charles, Duke of Orleans, had a strong claim upon Milan through his mother, Valentina Visconti, a claim, moreover, which Filippo Maria had brought into prominence by appealing to the French king for aid against Venice. Valentina's dowry town of Asti had remained in the hands of the Dukes of Milan until Filippo Maria, in the hour of panic after Micheletto's victory at Casalmaggiore in 1446, sent an embassy to France promising to cede Asti on the day that a contingent of French troops crossed the Alps in his defence. His panic over, the Duke of Milan endeavoured to retract his promises, but, meanwhile, French troops had arrived in Italy. Only a day or two before Filippo Maria's death, they took possession of Asti and proceeded to proclaim the Duke of Orleans as the true heir to Milan. Other claimants through the female line were Albert and Sigismund of Hapsburg, the great-grandchildren of Bernabò Visconti. The Duke of Savoy hoped at least to recover Vercelli and the surrounding district,

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