Ludovico Sforza

SEE ALSO Borgia Home | Borgias Historical Profiles | House of Sforza

Page symbolsLudovico Sforza as played by Ivan Kaye

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Name: Ludovico Sforza
Position: Duke of Milan (regent)
Personality type: Cruel, savage, brutal, military duke
Endearing trait(s): patron of Leonardo da Vinci
Strength(s): strong ruler, good administrator
Weakness(es): made the wrong friends at the wrong time
Quirks: in the show he keeps his 'cousin' in chains under the floor of the castle (for the real "gilded chains" metaphor, see his historical profile)

Want to meet the real Ludovico Sforza?
Visit Ludovico Maria Sforza' Historical Profile
for an in-depth biography
Ludovico il Moro" Sforza (de Predis c. 1490)

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Season One

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Violent, cruel, devious, shifty. Ludovico keeps his 'cousin' Gian Galeazzo in chains in the dungeons of his castle. The rightful duke fears and hates his cousin. Ascanio Sforza was sent to Milan to use threats to persuade the Moor to resist the French, with whom Ludovico is now allied with. Duke of Milan was the younger son of Francesco I Sforza. Because of his swarthy complexion he was called Ludovico il Moro ( the Moor) Bono of Savoy- his sister in law was deprived of the regency of her infant son Gian Galeazzo, by him in 1480 and from that date his actual rule may be reckoned.

The Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in 1494 formally invested Ludovico with Milan, when Gian Galeazzo died a virtual prisoner. In order to protect himself from the hostility of the King of Naples and at the same time divert the French ambitions from Milan, Ludovico conclude an offensive alliance with Charles VIII of France in 1494.This was the beginning of the Italian Wars. Ludovico was expelled From Italy, when he reached and understanding with Charles enemies, and turn again the French.

In 1494 Gian Galeazzo Visconti the great grand father of Louis XII of France - who had hereditary claim to the duchy of Milan, expelled Ludovico from his duchy when he invaded Italy.

In 1500 Ludovico try to recovered his lands defeated at Novara with the aid of Swiss mercenaries.
He died when he was captured prisoner in France.

During Renaissance Italy, Ludovico Sforza was one of the wealthiest and most powerful princes before his fall. He was an unscrupulous intriguer and a subtle diplomat. He held a brilliant court and spent immense sums of money with his wife Beatrice d' Este to further arts and science.

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Family members:
The Powerful Sforza family:

Ascanio Sforza, Cardinal of Milan (cousin in the show, actually his brother)
Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro (cousin)
Gian Galeazzo Sforza, young duke of Milan (cousin in the show, actually his nephew)
Caterina Sforza, Lady of Imola and Forli (cousin in the show, actually his niece)

Cecilia Gallerini (Mistress) - Cesare (Son)
Lucrezia Crivelli (Mistress) - Giovanni Paulo (Son)

Friends: At times, all major powers of Italy were both his allies and enemies. Lorenzo de Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, Isabella d'Este

Enemies: France (King Charles VII and Louis XII, Naples

Pope Alexander VI, at times all of Italy was allied and other times enemies of Ludovico Sforza.

Beatrice d'Este (Wife), issue:
  • Maximillan Sforza (Son)
  • Francesco II Sforza (Son)

Brutally kept his cousin Gian Galeazzo in chains and then released him only to poison him in front of Cardinal Sforza.

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  • "Everybody wants Naples; my nephew Gian Galeazzo!!!!! Its part of his heritage. He think Milan is his." - Ludovico to Cardinal Della Rovere.

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How does Ludovico Sforza in The Borgias compare to actual history? Compare the facts with the fiction below!
  • Much feared powerful duke of Milan
  • Kept his nephew, the rightful duke Gian galeazzo, in the palace dungeon in chains
  • No sign yet of the awesome Beatrice, duchess of Milan, the palace looked a bit ancient when in fact it was a very modern castle built in 1450.
  • A psycho madman covered in hair
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  • Not feared, but known as wily and ambitious
  • Gian galeazzo had full personal freedom, and voluntarily left all ducal responsibilities to his capable uncle
  • Married the lovely and accomplished Beatrice d'Este in 1491, who attracted artists and literary figures to the wealthy court
  • Not a psycho, and actually not bad looking
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