A History of Milan under the Sforza

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

CHAPTER IV
FANCESCO SFORZA -- DUKE OF MILAN (1450-1466)

THE accession of Francesco Sforza formed a turning-point not only in the history of Milan but in that of Italy. Within Milan Sforza's recognition as Duke in 1450 marked the final abandonment of Republican ideals and the revival of the earlier despotism. Four years later the chief Italian States gave their consent to Sforza's possession of the Duchy at the Peace of Lodi, and in so doing they determined the basis of their mutual relations for the next forty years. During the first half of the fifteenth century each of the five chief States of Italy had experienced some important change. While Sforza was fighting for the Duchy of Milan, the Aragonese dynasty had replaced that of Anjou in Naples, and Florence had witnessed the rise to power of the Medici. Venice had, meanwhile, become a mainland power, and the return of the Pope to Rome after the schism had emphasised the purely territorial aspect of the Papacy. Hence Italy had been involved in a long series of wars springing from these changes, in the course of which the Five States had marked out their boundaries. Now, in 1454, the days of expansion and conquest were over, and the States evolved the theory of the balance of power as the best way of preserving the peace of Italy. By means of alliances and counter alliances no one State would be allowed to grow strong at the expense of its neighbours. Thus, with the rulers of Italy at peace among themselves, they would be free from foreign intervention, and their resources could be devoted to improvement of their own dominions. The years between Sforza's accession and the Peace of Lodi form the

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