Duke of Milan
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Duke of Milan
Duchy of Milan
Heraldik Herzog Krone (Deutsches Kaiserreich und HRR).svg
Arms of the House of Sforza.svg
Arms of Francesco I Sforza.
Quarterly: 1st and 4th, Or an eagle stand Sable, wearing a crown; 2nd and 3rd, Argent a serpent ripple Azure, wearing a crown, eating a moor Gules
Creation date5 September 1395
MonarchWenceslaus, King of the Romans
PeerageImperial nobility
First holderGian Galeazzo Visconti
Last holderFrancis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Present holderNone
Extinction date9 June 1815
Seat(s)Sforza Castle

The following is a list of rulers of Milan from the 13th century to 1814, after which it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia by the Congress of Vienna.

Before elevation to duchy

Until 1259, Milan was a free commune that elected its own podestà. The Torriani family gained sustained power in 1240, when Pagano Della Torre was elected podestà.[1] After Pagano's death, Baldo Ghiringhelli was elected podestà in 1259, but at the end of his tenure Martino della Torre, Pagano's nephew, perpetrated a coup d'état, seizing of power of his family over the commune, establishing the first Signoria (Italian for "Lordship") of Milan.[2]

Signore Rule Affiliation Podestà(s)
Martino della Torre 8 September 1259 20 November 1263 Guelph Captain general:

Filippo della Torre 20 November 1263 24 December 1265 Guelph
Napoleone della Torre 24 December 1265 21 January 1277 Guelph

During their tenure, the Torriani family, aligned with French Charles of Anjou, started a strong rivality with Visconti family, loyal to the German Hohenstaufen.[3] In 1262, Pope Urban IV appointed Ottone Visconti as Archbishop of Milan, for Martino della Torre's disappointment.[4] In 1273, a civil war started between the two families, ended with Torriani's defeat in the Battle of Desio of 1277.[5]

Signore Rule Affiliation Podestà(s)
Ottone Visconti 21 January 1277 8 August 1295 Ghibelline Captain general:
Matteo I Visconti 8 August 1295 June 1302 Ghibelline

On June 1302, Guido della Torre forged a coalition with anti-Visconti cities and marched on Milan, deposing Visconti.[6] However, in 1308 Guido started a quarrel with his cousin, the Archbishop Cassone della Torre. After an assault on Milan Cathedral, Cassone fled to Bologna and solicited an imperial intervention.[7] Taking advantage of a chaotic situation in Northern Italy, King Henry VII of Germany descended into Italy with an army, and in Autumn 1310 he marched on Milan to restore both Cassone and the Visconti. After the fall of Milan, he was crowned King of Italy in the city's Cathedral.[8]

Signore Rule Affiliation Podestà(s)
Guido della Torre June 1302 6 January 1311 Guelph
Matteo I Visconti 6 January 1311 24 June 1322 Ghibelline
Galeazzo I Visconti 24 June 1322 6 August 1328 Ghibelline
Azzone Visconti 6 August 1328 16 August 1339 Ghibelline
Luchino Visconti 16 August 1339 24 January 1349 Ghibelline
Giovanni Visconti 5 October 1354
Matteo II Visconti 5 October 1354 29 September 1355 Ghibelline
Galeazzo II Visconti 4 August 1378
Bernabò Visconti 6 May 1385
Gian Galeazzo Visconti 6 May 1385 5 September 1395 Ghibelline

After elevation to duchy

House of Visconti

In 1395, Gian Galeazzo Visconti was titled Duke of Milan by King Wenceslaus,[9] who sold the title under the payment of circa 100,000 florins.[10] Since that moment, all the following rulers of Milan were styled as dukes.

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Gian Galeazzo
(aged 50)
Giangaleazzo Visconti.jpg Arms of the House of Visconti (1395).svg 5 September 1395
3 September 1402
(1) Isabella of France
(m. 1360; d. 1372)
4 children
(2 survived to adulthood)

(2) Caterina Visconti
(m. 1380; w. 1402)
2 children
2 illegitimate children
Giovanni Maria
(aged 23)
Gian Maria Visconti.jpg Arms of the House of Visconti (1395).svg 3 September 1402
16 May 1412
Antonia Malatesta of Cesena
(m. 1408; w. 1412)
Son of Gian Galeazzo Visconti
(legal blood proximity)
Filippo Maria
(aged 54)
FilippoVisconti.jpg Arms of the House of Visconti (1395).svg 16 May 1412
13 August 1447
(1) Beatrice of Tenda
(m. 1412; ex. 1418)

(2) Mary of Savoy
(m. 1428; w. 1447)
1 illegitimate child
Son of Gian Galeazzo Visconti
(legal blood proximity)

House of Sforza (1st rule)

After the death of Filippo Maria in 1447, the main line of Visconti went extinct. Benefited by political chaos, a cabal of wealthy citizens, academics and clerics declared the Duchy dissolved and proclaimed the oligarchical Golden Ambrosian Republic.[11] The republic was never recognized and the neighboring states of Venice and Savoy tried to expand their fiefdoms in Lombardy, as well as France. Taking advantage of the state's weakness and the resurgent Guelph-Ghibelline conflict, the commander-in-chief of the Milanese forces, Francesco I Sforza, defected from Milan to Venice in 1448,[12] and two years later, after several side switches and cunning strategies, Sforza entered the city during Annunciation. He was then declared the new Duke of Milan,[13] using as a claim his marriage with Bianca Maria Visconti, illegitimate daughter of Filippo Maria.

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Francesco I
(aged 64)
Francesco Sforza.jpg Arms of the House of Sforza.svg 25 March 1450
8 March 1466
(1) Polissena Ruffo
(m. 1418; d. 1420)

(2) A Jacopo Caldora's daughter
(m. 1424; ann. 142?)

(3) Bianca Maria Visconti
(m. 1441; w. 1466)
8 children
Giovanna d'Acquapendente
7 illegitimate children
(5 survived to adulthood)
Galeazzo Maria
(aged 32)
Piero Pollaiuolo Portrait of Galeazzo Maria Sforza.jpg Arms of the House of Sforza.svg 8 March 1466
26 December 1476
Bona of Savoy
(m. 1468; w. 1503)
4 children
Lucrezia Landriani
4 illegitimate children

Lucia Marliani
2 illegitimate children
Son of Francesco I Sforza
Gian Galeazzo
(aged 25)
Gian Galeazzo II. Maria Sforza.jpg Arms of the House of Sforza.svg 26 December 1476
21 October 1494
Isabella of Aragon
(m. 1489; w. 1494)
3 children
Son of Galeazzo Maria
(aged 55)
Profile Lodovico.jpg Arms of the House of Sforza.svg 21 October 1494
17 September 1499
Beatrice d'Este
(m. 1491; d. 1499)
2 children
Bernardina de Corradis
2 legitimized children

Cecilia Gallerani
1 legitimized child

Lucrezia Crivelli
2 legitimized children
Son of Francesco I Sforza
(blood proximity)

House of Valois (1st rule)

In 1494, Ludovico Sforza usurped the throne of Milan, after probably poisoning his nephew Gian Galeazzo. After Venetian's threats, Ludovico solicited French king Charles VIII to descend into Italy,[14] starting the First Italian War. After Ludovico's betrayal and alliance with League of Venice in 1495, French were defeated in the Battle of Fornovo and unabled to expand in Italy. Charles VIII's top general and cousin, Louis II, Duke of Orléans (future Louis XII), was humiliated and due to his personal hate toward Ludovico Sforza,[15] started to claim the Duchy of Milan for himself, quoting his paternal descendance from Valentina Visconti and Gian Galeazzo's last will. After Louis XII's ascension to the French Throne in 1499, he started the Second Italian War to conquer Milan and Naples. With French armies near Pavia, Ludovico and his loyalists left Milan on 17 September 1499 to flee toward Germany.[16] This left Louis XII as only Duke of Milan, entering in city on 6 October 1499.[17]

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Louis I
(Luigi I)

(aged 52)
Louis-xii-roi-de-france.jpg Arms of Louis XII (Milan).svg 6 October 1499
20 June 1512
(1) Joan of France
(m. 1476; ann. 1498)

(2) Anne of Brittany
(m. 1499; d. 1514)
2 Daughters

(3) Mary of England
(m. 1514; w. 1515)

House of Sforza (2nd rule)

Ludovico Sforza was captured on February 1500,[18] dying in hard prison in 1508. His son Massimiliano became the Sforza claimant to the Milanese Throne, finally re-gained in January 1513, six months after the Swiss army entrance in Milan.

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
(aged 37)
Massimiliano Sforza by G.A. de Predis (Donatus Grammatica) photoshoped.jpg Arms of the House of Sforza.svg 9 January 1513
5 October 1515
Does not appear Never married Son of Ludovico Sforza

House of Valois (2nd rule)

After their defeat in the Battle of Marignano in 1515, the Swiss retired from Milan and Massimiliano was imprisoned by the returning French troops. He waived his rights to Milan for the sum of 30,000 ducats and continued to live in France.[19]

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Francis II
(Francesco II)

(aged 52)
Franciscus Rex Galliae - Serie Gioviana.jpg Arms of Louis XII (Milan).svg 11 October 1515
20 November 1521
(1) Claude of France
(m. 1514; d. 1524)
7 children

(2) Eleanor of Austria
(m. 1530; w. 1547)
  • Son-in-law of king Louis XII
    (jure uxoris claim)

House of Sforza (3rd rule)

By November 1521, the French situation had deteriorated considerably. Emperor Charles V, Henry VIII of England, and the Pope Leo X signed an alliance against Francis on 28 November.[20]Odet de Foix, Viscount of Lautrec, the French governor of Milan, was tasked with resisting the Imperial and Papal forces; he was outmatched by Prospero Colonna, however, and by late November had been forced out of Milan and had retreated to a ring of towns around the Adda River.[21] For the third time and last time, Sforza were restored to power.

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Francesco II
(aged 40)
Francesco II Sforza by anonim.jpg Arms of the House of Sforza.svg 4 April 1522
24 October 1535
Christina of Denmark
(m. 1534; w. 1535)
Son of Ludovico Sforza
(blood proximity)

House of Habsburg

In 1535, after the death of the heirless Francesco II Sforza, Emperor Charles V annexed the Duchy as a vacant imperial state in order to avoid other claims by the French or the collateral branches of Sforza.

House of Habsburg-Spain

In 1540, the Duchy was secretly given as a gift to Charles V's son Philip, Prince of Asturias. This was made official at the abdication of Charles V in 1555. In 1556, Philip became Philip II of Spain and Milan entered in personal union with the Spanish Crown.

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Philip I
(Filippo I)

(aged 71)
Philip II of Spain by Antonio Moro.jpg Arms of the King of Spain as Monarch of Milan (1580-1700).svg 11 October 1540
13 September 1598
(1) Maria Manuela of Portugal
(m. 1543; d. 1545)
1 child

(2) Queen Mary I of England
(m. 1554; d. 1558)

(3) Elisabeth of Valois
(m. 1559; d. 1568)
2 children

(4) Anna of Austria
(m. 1570; d. 1580)
5 children
(1 survived to adulthood)
Title given by Emperor Charles V
Philip II
(Filippo II)

(aged 42)
Velázquez (Felipe III).jpg Arms of the King of Spain as Monarch of Milan (1580-1700).svg 13 September 1598
31 March 1621
Margaret of Austria
(m. 1599; d. 1611)
8 children
(5 survived to adulthood)
Son of Philip I
(blood proximity)
Philip III
(Filippo III)

(aged 60)
Diego Rodríguez Velázquez -Retrato Felipe IV Rey de España (Prado).jpg Arms of the King of Spain as Monarch of Milan (1580-1700).svg 31 March 1621
17 September 1665
(1) Elisabeth of France
(m. 1615; d. 1644)
8 children
(2 survived to adulthood)

(2) Mariana of Austria
(m. 1649; w. 1665)
5 children
(2 survived to adulthood)
María Calderón
1 legitimized child
Son of Philip II
Charles I
(Carlo I)

(aged 38)
Claudio Coello - Charles II - Google Art Project.jpg Arms of the King of Spain as Monarch of Milan (1580-1700).svg 17 September 1665
1 November 1700
(1) Marie Louise d'Orléans
(m. 1679; d. 1689)

(2) Maria Anna of Neuburg
(m. 1690; w. 1700)
Son of Philip III
(blood proximity)

House of Bourbon-Anjou

In September 1700, Charles became ill; by 28 September he was no longer able to eat and Portocarrero persuaded him to alter his Will in favour of Louis XIV's grandson, Philip of Anjou.[22] When Charles died on 1 November 1700, the throne was offered to Philip, who was proclaimed King of Spain on 16 November 1700. This was accepted by Britain and the Dutch Republic among others but disputes over division of territories and commercial rights led to the War of the Spanish Succession in 1701.[23]

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Philip IV
(Filippo IV)

(aged 62)
Vivien - Philip V of Spain - New Castle Schleißheim.jpg Arms of the King of Spain as Monarch of Milan Philip V (1700).svg 1 November 1700
7 March 1714
(1) Maria Luisa of Savoy
(m. 1701; d. 1714)
4 children
(2 survived to adulthood)

(2) Elisabeth Farnese
(m. 1714; w. 1746)
6 children

House of Habsburg-Austria (then Habsburg-Lorraine)

After the Treaty of Rastatt of 1714, Emperor Charles VI officially gained the Duchy of Milan, a possession considered vital to the security of Austria's southern border.[24] Since that moment, Milan was a permanent possession of Austrian branch of Habsburg Monarchy.

Duke Arms Tenure Marriage(s)
Succession right(s)
Charles II
(Carlo II)

(aged 55)
Emperor Charles VI.jpg Coat of Arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine as Monarch of Milan (1707-1796).svg 7 March 1714
20 October 1740
Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick
(m. 1708; w. 1740)
4 children
(3 survived to adulthood)
Maria Theresa
(Maria Teresa)

(aged 63)
Jean-Étienne Liotard - Maria Theresia van Oostenrijk 2.jpg Coat of Arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine as Monarch of Milan (1707-1796).svg 20 October 1740
29 November 1780
Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
(m. 1736; d. 1765)
15 children
(10 survived to adulthood)
Joseph I
(Giuseppe I)

(aged 48)
Joseph Hickel (attr) Joseph II als Mitregent seiner Mutter.jpg Coat of Arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine as Monarch of Milan (1707-1796).svg 29 November 1780
20 February 1790
(1) Isabella of Parma
(m. 1760; d. 1763)
2 children
(Not survived to adulthood)

(2) Maria Josepha of Bavaria
(m. 1765; d. 1767)
Leopold I
(Leopoldo I)

(aged 44)
Kaiser Leopold II in Feldmarschallsuniform c1790.jpg Coat of Arms of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine as Monarch of Milan (1707-1796).svg 20 February 1790
1 March 1792
Maria Luisa of Spain
(m. 1765; w. 1792)
16 children
(14 survived to adulthood)
Francis III
(Francesco III)

(aged 67)
Franz II Kaiser.jpg Arms of the Duchy of Milan 1783.svg 1 March 1792
15 May 1796
(1) Elisabeth of Württemberg
(m. 1788; d. 1790)
1 child
(Not survived to adulthood)

(2) Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily
(m. 1790; d. 1807)
11 children
(7 survived to adulthood)

(3) Maria Ludovika of Austria-Este
(m. 1808; d. 1816)

(4) Caroline Augusta of Bavaria
(m. 1816; w. 1835)
Does not appear Interregnum (1796-1814):
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
11 April 1814
7 April 1815

See also


  1. ^ Motta, Antonio (1931). Treccani (ed.). Della Torre. Enciclopedia Italiana (in Italian).
  2. ^ Fantoni, Giuliana L. (1989). Treccani (ed.). Della Torre, Martino. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). 37.
  3. ^ Gallavresi, Giuseppe (1906). La riscossa dei guelfi in Lombardia dopo il 1260 e la politica di Filippo della Torre (in Italian). 6. Arch. stor. lombardo, 4th section.
  4. ^ Richard, Charles-Louis; Giraud, Jean-Joseph (1822). Méquignon Fils Ainé (ed.). Bibliothèque sacrée, ou, Dictionnaire universel [...] des sciences ecclésiastiques (in French). 13. p. 301.
  5. ^ Pugliese, Michela (2017). Youcanprint (ed.). All'ombra del castello (in Italian). p. 76. ISBN 9788892664630.
  6. ^ Treccani (ed.). "Della Tórre, Guido" (in Italian).
  7. ^ Fantoni, Giuliana L. (1989). Treccani (ed.). Della Torre, Cassone. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). 37.
  8. ^ Jones, Michael (2000). Cambridge University Press (ed.). The New Cambridge Medieval History. 6. p. 533.
  9. ^ Barto?, Franti?ek M. (1937). Treccani (ed.). Venceslao IV re di Boemia e di Germania. Enciclopedia Italiana (in Italian).
  10. ^ Symonds, John A. (1888). Henry Holt and Co. (ed.). Renaissance in Italy: the Age of the Despots (in Italian).
  11. ^ Lucas, Henry S. (1960). Harper Bros (ed.). The Renaissance and the Reformation. p. 268.
  12. ^ Ady & Armstrong 1907, p. 47
  13. ^ Ady & Armstrong 1907, p. 60
  14. ^ Baumgartner 1996, p. 40
  15. ^ Baumgartner 1996, p. 105
  16. ^ Baumgartner 1996, p. 114
  17. ^ Baumgartner 1996, p. 117
  18. ^ Durant, Will (1953). Simon and Schuster (ed.). The Renaissance. The Story of Civilization. 5. p. 191.
  19. ^ Frieda, Leonie (2012). Weidenfeld & Nicolson (ed.). The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance. p. 333.
  20. ^ Konstam, Angus (1996). Osprey Publishing (ed.). Pavia 1525: The Climax of the Italian Wars. p. 88.
  21. ^ Blocksman, Wim (2002). Oxford University Press (ed.). Emperor Charles V, 1500-1558. p. 52.
  22. ^ Hargreaves- Mawdsley, HN (1979). Eighteenth-Century Spain 1700-1788: A Political, Diplomatic and Institutional History. Macmillan. pp. 15-16. ISBN 0333146123.
  23. ^ Falkner, James (2015). The War of the Spanish Succession 1701-1714 (Kindle ed.). 96: Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473872905.CS1 maint: location (link)
  24. ^ Ward, William, Leathes, Stanley (1912). The Cambridge Modern History (2010 ed.). Nabu. p. 384. ISBN 1174382058.


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