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Bianca Maria Sforza
Bianca Maria Sforza, portrait by Ambrogio de Predis
Queen consort of Germany
Empress of the Holy Roman Empire
Duchess consort of Austria
Tenure 16 March 1494- 31 December 1510
1508- 31 December 1510
16 March 1494- 31 December 1510
Spouse Philibert I, Duke of Savoy
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor
Father Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan
Mother Bona of Savoy
Born 5 April 1472
Milan, Italy
Died 31 December 1510
Burial Stams

Bianca Maria Sforza (April 5, 1472 – December 31, 1510) was Holy Roman Empress as the second wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the eldest legitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan, by his second wife, Bona of Savoy.


Family and lineage

Bianca was born in Pavia on 5 April 1472, the eldest daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan (24 January 1444- 26 December 1476), by his second wife, Bona of Savoy (10 August 1449- 1503), whom he had married in 1468, a year after the death of his first wife, Dorotea Gonzaga, who did not bear him children. Bianca's paternal grandparents were Francesco I Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, for whom she was named. Her maternal grandparents were Louis, Duke of Savoy and Anne de Lusignan of Cyprus. She had an older brother Gian Galeazzo Sforza, who married their first cousin, Isabella of Naples, by whom he had issue, and a younger sister Anna Sforza, first wife of Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, who, after Anna's death in childbirth, would marry secondly, Lucrezia Borgia. Bianca's older illegitimate half-sister was Caterina Sforza from her father's relationship with Lucrezia Landriani. Her uncle was Ludovico Sforza Il Moro, Duke of Milan, who married Beatrice d'Este, and her aunt was Ippolita Maria Sforza, first wife of King Alfonso II of Naples.

When Bianca was not yet five years old, her father was assassinated inside the Church of Santo Stefano in Milan on 26 December 1476, which was the Feast Day of St. Stephen. He was stabbed to death by three high-ranking officials of the Milanese court.


In January 1474, when Bianca was not quite two years old, she married her first cousin Philibert I, Duke of Savoy (7 August 1465- 22 April 1482), the son of her uncle Amadeus IX of Savoy, and Yolande of France.[1] Duke Philibert died in the spring of 1482, leaving Bianca a widow at the age of ten.

On 16 March 1494,[2], in Hall, Tyrol, she married secondly, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, who had been a widower since the tragic death of his much-loved first wife Mary of Burgundy on 27 March 1482, when she was fatally injured after falling from her horse. His second marriage, by proxy, to Anne of Brittany was dissolved in early 1492, by Pope Innocent VIII, with the purpose of enabling Anne to marry King Charles VIII of France.

At her wedding, Bianca wore a bodice with eighty pieces of the jeweler's art pinned thereon, with each piece consistng of one ruby and four pearls,[3] She also brought her husband a rich dowry of 400,000 ducats,[4] and through his marriage, Maximilian was able to assert his right to the Imperial overlordship of Milan. This angered Anne de Beaujeu, Regent of France for her brother King Charles VIII, and brought about French intervention in Italy, thus inaugurating the lengthy Italian Wars.

Maximilian was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1508. Bianca was, by marriage, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire.

Bianca had no children of her own. She had two stepchildren from Maximilian's marriage to Mary of Burgundy, Philip the Handsome (22 June 1478- 25 September 1506), who married Joanna of Castile, and Archduchess Margaret of Austria (10 January 1480- 1 December 1530), who married firstly, John, Prince of Asturias and secondly Philibert II, Duke of Savoy.

Bianca Maria Sforza died at Innsbruck on 31 December 1510. She was buried at Stams.

A noteworthy portrait of Bianca Maria Sforza by Ambrogio de Predis hangs in the National Gallery of Art of the United States in Washington, D.C.

External links


  1. ^ Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Dukes of Milan
  2. ^ Hunt, Lynn; Martin, Thomas R.; Rosenwein, Barbara H.; Hsia, R. Po-chia; Smith, Bonnie G. (2007), The Making of the West, II (Second ed.), Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, p. 458, ISBN 978-0-312-43946-0  
  3. ^ George R. Marek, The Bed and the Throne, p. 42, Harper and Row, Publishers, New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London, 1976
  4. ^ George R. Marek, The Bed and the Throne, p.28, Harper and Row, Publishers, New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London, 1976
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Eleanor of Portugal
Empress of the Holy Roman Empire
Succeeded by
Isabella of Portugal
Preceded by
Eleanor of Portugal
German Queen
Succeeded by
Isabella of Portugal
Preceded by
Eleanor of Portugal
Archduchess consort of Austria
Duchess consort of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola

Succeeded by

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