Book Review: A History of Milan Under the Sforza

I must say this right from the beginning, if you love history of any sort then you know how dry and boring some people can make it seem. The author of this book; Cecilia Ady is not one of those authors. Throughout she presents the facts and details of a very esoteric (yet popular) subject to a modern audience with wit and poise. There are times in the book where you may be so enthralled by her prose that you fail to recognize the biting sarcasm which she skewers some of her subjects with. If you are a fan of Cambridge histories either modern, or medieval, then you will find yourself relishing the vigor with which Ms. Ady approaches the subject. I found the chapter on Galeazzo Maria Sforza to be far too curt, and far too dry for my taste. However the bulk of the book which focuses on Francesco Sforza I, and Lodovico “Il Moro” Sforza, are alone worth the price of admission. If you are like me and have been yearning for a book on this illustrious and important Italian family you will not be disappointed. I found particularly helpful the interplay between the French kings who held an a priori claim on the ducal throne of Milan, and the Holy Roman Emperors who wielded enormous influence, and to whom the duchy of Milan eventually lapses to bringing a close to the by then perfunctory Sforza branch, and thus the book. In these pages you will find many historical figures, the least of which is a resourceful account of Leonardo Da Vinci’s service to the Milanese court of Il Moro Sforza. Not to be missed is the Borromeo, Borgias, Medici, and condottiere portraits which bring the landscape to life. A true treat indeed!

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