Sforza, Bianca Maria (1472–1510)

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Sforza, Bianca Maria (1472–1510)

Holy Roman empress. Born on April 5, 1472, in Milan; died on December 31, 1510, in Innsbruck; daughter of Bona of Savoy (c. 1450–c. 1505), duchess of Milan, and Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444–1476), 5th duke of Milan (r. 1466–1476); half-sister of Caterina Sforza (c. 1462–1509); became second wife of Maximilian I (1459–1519), Holy Roman emperor (r. 1493–1519), in 1494; stepchildren: Margaret of Austria (1480–1530). Maximilian was first married to Mary of Burgundy (1457–1482).

In 1494, Charles VIII of France invaded Italy. Having defeated Charles in the Burgundian Wars just the year before, Maximilian I was not willing to see the French king establish his power in Italy. Accordingly, Maximilian joined an anti-French league along with Spain, the pope, Milan and Venice, but poverty kept him from offering effective help. As part of the alliance, and as a means of getting financial aid, Maximilian married Bianca Maria Sforza in 1494. Bianca Maria's uncle, Ludovico il Moro, was the ruler of the wealthy city of Milan whose funds permitted Maximilian to undertake a small expedition to Italy in 1496. The marriage was a failure from the beginning. Maximilian found Bianca Maria "nervous, capricious, indulgent, sickly, and gloomy," and his neglect of her made these traits worse. Eventually, he all but confined her to her quarters in the palace at Innsbruck.


White, Arthur. "Maximilian I," in Historic World Leaders. Edited by Anne Commire. Detroit, MI: Gale Research.