Cardinal Ascanio Sforza Historical Profile




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CARDINAL ASCANIO SFORZA Historical Profile
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CARDINAL ASCANIO SFORZA STATS
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Name: Ascanio Maria Sforza
Born: 3 March 1455
Home town: Cremona, Lombardy
Died: 25 May 1505
Position: Vice Chancellor of the Roman Curia
House of: Sforza
Personality type: A typical Renaissance prelate: intelligent, capable, calculating, haughty and showy.
Hobbies: Gambling and feasting.
Strength(s): Diplomatic skills; political ability; family loyalty.
Weakness(es): His fortunes were tied to those of his brother Ludovico, and his career was damaged by the latter's actions.
Quirks:




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CARDINAL ASCANIO SFORZA BIO
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Ascanio Maria Sforza was born on 3 March 1455 in
Cremona, Lombardy, the son of Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and his wife Bianca Maria Visconti. Two of his brothers, Galeazzo and Ludovico Maria Sforza became Dukes of Milan.


A capable diplomat, Ascanio worked to build an alliance between the Sforza's and the House of Aragon in Naples. In the conclave of 1492, Ascanio was seen as a potential Pope, but when it became clear that he could not win, he threw his support behind his friendRodrigo his persuasive manner was a great help in ensuring Borgia's election as Pope Alexander VI. He was rewarded with Rodrigo's former office of Vice-Chancellor, the most powerful position in theVatican after that of Pope. He led negotiations for the marriage ofLucrezia Borgia to his cousin, Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, in 1493.

As a younger son, he was destined for theChurch and was made a Commendam at the age of ten.Pope Sixtus IV attempted to make him a Cardinal in 1477 but was blocked by the other Cardinals. Ascanio became Bishop of Pavia in 1479. Sixtus finally succeeded in making him a Cardinal in 1484, shortly before his death. Some Cardinals objected to Ascanio participating in the conclave which took place shortly thereafter because his formal nomination ceremony had not taken place, but his ally Rodrigo Borgia helped him defeat this opposition.

Ascanio was put in a very difficult position by the French invasion of 1494, as his brother Ludovico supported the French, whilst Pope Alexander opposed them. Although Ludovico subsequently changed sides, the friendship between Ascanio and Alexander had been permanently damaged. In 1497, he was accused of involvement in the murder of Juan Borgia, but the Pope very quickly absolved him.

When Louis XII invaded Italy in 1498 with Papal support and deposed Ascanio's brother Ludovico as Duke of Milan, Ascanio was unable to prevent this. He was taken as a prisoner toFrance in 1500 and remained there until 1502. Returning to Italy following the death of Alexander, he attempted to obtain the Papacy for himself, but Sforza influence had declined following 'Il Moro''s downfall, and he was defeated in the September conclave byCardinal Francesco Piccolomini (Pope Pius III) and the October conclave byGiuilana della Rovere (Pope Julius II).

Cardinal Ascanio Sforza died of plague inRome on 25 May 1505 at the age of fifty, and was buried in the Church of Santa Maria del Populo in the City: his magnificent Renaissance tomb still survives.

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The following biography is from an article on Find a Grave by Lutetia:

Roman Catholic Cardinal. The Bishop of Pavia, Cremona, Pesaro and Novara, he was the sixth son of Francesco I Alessandro Sforza, Duke of Milan and Bianca Maria Visconti. In March 1484 he was created Cardinal by Pope Sixtus IV. as the first in his family. He participated in the conclaves of 1484, 1492 and 1503 and was more than once regarded favorite for the papal throne. In 1492 he got four mule loads of silver and the position of vice-chancellor of the church when he voted for Rodrigo Borgia.

Sforza supported his brother Ludovico Maria Sforza who wanted the regency in Milan for their nephew Gian Galeazzo, who was too young to reign. After Ludovicos fall he had to flee to Insbruck in 1499, but returned in the following year. In April 1500 he was arrested by the Venetians and then handed over to the French Army. He was imprisoned for 3 years and was only released after he had promised to vote for Cardinal George d'Amboise, a close friend and advisor of the French king, in the conclave of 1503.

On May 27, 1495, Cardinal Sforza accompanied the pope to Orvieto because of the approaching French troops; they returned to Rome the following June 27, the French king having left the city on June 3. The cardinal then resided in the Cesarini palace, in front of the Tiber river and next to S. Maria del Popolo. He excused himself in the consistory of June 19, 1497, which followed the mysterious death of the son of the pope, the duke of Gandía, and declared himself innocent of the crime; the pope believed him and had a long interview with the cardinal on June 21; he was sent by the pontiff as legate to Naples; when he was suspected again, the cardinal prudently stayed away from Rome for several days and went to Frascati, Grottaferrata and Gennazzino; returned to Rome in August 1497 for the exequies of Cardinal Lunati and met with the pope. He left on September 21, 1497 to fulfill a promise to Our Lady of Loreto and returned on October 21.

On December 25, 1497, he attended an interview between the pope and the ambassadors of King Federico of Naples and the duke of Milan on the subject of the divorce of the pope's daughter, Lucrezia, and Giovanni Sforza. In September 1498, he saw the pope break off with him and Ludovico il Moro again; the following December, he had a lively altercation with the pope in consistory. On January 23, 1499, he resigned the commendam of the monastery of S. Savino, diocese of Piacenza. Attended the audience of the pope with the ambassadors of Spain and Portugal in January 1499.

On February 13, 1499, he was asked by the pope to intervene before the king of Naples, but he was not able to; the difficulties increased and he left Rome on July 14, 1499 with the pretext of going hunting (he had the reputation of being a great hunter); he did not ask the pope for permission to leave the city, as required, and took all his possessions with him; he went to Nemi, and later, to Genoa and Milan, where his brother was attacked by the French; on October 11, 1499, because of his departure, he was deprived by the pope of his legation in Bologna, which was given to Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, who was absent from Rome. He followed his defeated brother and went to the Tyrol; on April 10, 1500, he went to Venice; he remained there and avoided the king of France; his possessions, valued at 200,000 ducati, were confiscated and his benefices were distributed to others by the pope.

On May 15, 1500, he was taken from Venice to Milan, with other captives, and lodged in the Sforza's châteaux. On the following June 15, he was taken to France and imprisoned in Lyon; and later at the Tour de Bourges; he was freed on January 3, 1502, thanks to Cardinal Georges I d'Amboise, with the promise of not leaving France without royal permission; he went to Rome with Cardinal d'Amboise for the first conclave of 1503, which elected Pope Pius III, entering Rome through the gate of S. Maria del Popolo; he was received with enthusiasm by the Romans. He participated second conclave of 1503, which elected Pope Julius II. Abbot commendatario of the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll, 1504-1505.

He was a friend of intellectuals and artists and very charitable with the poor. He authored several works in Latin and Italian. Death. May 27, 1505 (1), Rome, of the plague and not poisoned as some sources have said. Buried in a remarkable Renaissancist tomb, built by Pope Julius II, work of Andrea Sansovino, in the choir of the church of S. Maria del Popolo, Rome (2). The tomb was finished in 1509.



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  • In May 1492, Sforza gave a banquet for Ferrante, grandson of the King of Naples, that was so extravagant that a contemporary writer said that is he were to describe it in detail, no-one would believe him.
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