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Ludovico Sforza

Ludovico Sforza a.k.a. Ludovico il Moro (The Moor) 1451-1508 was a son of Francesco Sforza, and was famed as patron of Leonardo da Vinci and other artists.

In 1494 received the ducal crown from the Milanese nobles on October 22. The same year he simultaneously encouraged the French under Charles VIII of France, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, to become involved in Italian politics, hoping to control the two and reap the rewards himself - so starting the Italian Wars.

Things didn't go as planned, and finding his own position endangered by the French, he joined the league against Charles VIII, giving his niece Bianca in marriage to Maximilian I and receiving in return imperial investiture of the duchy.

After first defeating the French at the Battle of Fornovo in 1495 (making weapons from 70 tons of Bronze, originally set aside for a Leonardo da Vinci statue,) Lodovico was later driven from Milan by the new French king, Louis XII in 1499, and although reinstated for a short time by the Swiss he was eventually delivered over by them to the French (April 1500) and died a prisoner in the castle of Loches.

Original entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.