LITERATURE AND SOCIAL LIFE
THE literature of the Sforza period is not, in itself, of firstclass importance. In spite of great literary activity and of wide appreciation of learning in all its branches, Milan produced no man-of-letters who could lay claim to genius, no humanist of the first order, no poet who possessed higher qualities than those of grace and charm. When Francesco Sforza began his reign, humanism, in the vigour of its youth, had permeated every phase of Italian society. The scholar who could apply his facility in Latin prose composition to the production of diplomatic documents met with an eager welcome at the chief Italian Courts. The art of polite letterwriting took Cicero for its model. Knowledge of Greek and the possession of Greek manuscripts were, in themselves, titles to fame. In this general enthusiasm for the classics Milan had her full share, yet her own contribution to learning was small. Of the humanists who frequented the Sforza Court Francesco Filelfo by far surpassed his companions. Filelfo, however, was not Milanese by birth, nor was Milan exclusively the city of his adoption. After visiting almost all the Courts of Italy, he eventually made Milan his headquarters, attracted thither by a high salary and by the absence of rivals who could deprive him of the monopoly of renown. Again, when during the reign of Lodovico Italian poetry burst into fresh life, it was Bernardo Bellincione, a minor poet of Florence, who became the pioneer of native poetry in Milan. Thus, from the standpoint of literature, Milan under the House of Sforza is chiefly interesting as a type of the country and of the age.