A HISTORY of Milan, under the House of Sforza, can hardly incur the charge of being superfluous. While Rome, Florence and Venice have each found English historians, and while fresh books on Renaissance Italy appear every day, no English writer has told the story of the Sforza as a whole. The scant attention which has been given to the history of Milan may be compared with the brief visit which the traveller pays to the capital of Lombardy before he presses on to other Italian cities. Yet those who pause to look will find, hidden under the bustle of a modern commercial town, numerous relics of an age when the Duchy of Milan was deemed the first State in Italy. To the student of history the rule of the Sforza presents one of the most characteristic examples of an Italian tyranny at the time of the Renaissance.
Only eighty-five years elapsed between the day when Francesco I. made himself master of Milan and that on which his grandson and namesake died childless. Those years, however, are among the most vivid in the world's history. Six Sforza Dukes in all wielded the sceptre of Milan. Of them two, if not three, might be taken as representative types of the many-sided Renaissance despot. Francesco I., the greatest soldier of his day, forms the pre-eminent example of the despot skilled in the arts of war, uniting in his person all those qualities which make the founder of a State. Lodovico 11 Moro is no