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The Sforza Family



The Sforza Family
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.5

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    condottieri, prominence, best, reportedly, leadership, prosperous, military, ruler, appeal, leading, power, portable, peace, beginning, provided, whose
     content words:    Francesco Sforza, Ludovico Sforza, When Ludovico, Last Supper


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The Sforza Family
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     The name Sforza gives you some idea of what this family was all about. The name comes from the word meaning "force." From the beginning of their rise to fame through military service, to the height of their power as rulers of the Duchy of Milan, the Sforzas were a powerful family. The Sforza family rose in prominence through military service. In the 1300s, leading members of the family were condottieri. Condottieri were the leaders of groups of soldiers, known as mercenaries, who hired themselves out to anyone who needed more troops.
 
2     Once the family had become prosperous and made a name for itself, leading members became rulers in Milan, Italy. Francesco Sforza became Duke of Milan in 1450. He also became a patron of the arts and letters in Milan, just as his friend Cosimo de' Medici was in Florence.
 
3     Ludovico, Francesco's son, became ruler of Milan in 1494. He became the most well-known member of the Sforza family. However, he is best known, not for his leadership as Duke of Milan, but for his support of one Renaissance artist. This artist, Leonardo, had written a letter to Ludovico Sforza a few years earlier. The purpose of his letter? He was applying for a job, not as an artist, but as a military engineer. In the letter, he stated his qualifications. As people do today on job applications and resumes, he showed why he was the right man for the job. His list of qualifications included not only his accomplishments, but also his ideas for new projects. He focused on ideas that would appeal to someone looking for military innovations. He detailed his plans for building strong bridges that were also light and portable â good for chasing the enemy or for fleeing in a hurry, if that became necessary. He described never-before-seen attack vehicles and improvements on the old weapons such as catapults. He went on to say that he also had plenty of qualifications to keep working for Ludovico in times of peace. He laid out his qualifications as an architect and a sculptor. At the end of his letter, Leonardo mentioned that he was also a good painter.

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