Bianca Maria Visconti – The illegitimate duchess

(public domain)

Bianca Maria Visconti was born on 31 March 1425 as the illegitimate daughter of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan and Agnese del Maino. Her mother served as lady-in-waiting to Filippo’s wife, Beatrice di Tenda, who was tortured and executed on her husband’s orders before Bianca’s birth. Agnese and Filippo had a second daughter, named Caterina Maria or Lucia Maria, but she died not long after her birth.

Bianca and her mother were sent to live in Abbiate when she was just six months old, and it was there that she received a humanist education. Her father visited her often.

In 1430, Bianca was betrothed to Francesco I Sforza, who was 26 years older than her but her father tried to dissolve the betrothal twice in later years. They were married in the Abbey of San Sigismondo on 24 October 1441. She was appointed as regent of the Marche in 1442, while Francesco was away on a military campaign. Their first child was born in 1444, and they would go on to have nine children, though not all would live to adulthood.

Her father’s death in 1447 led to Milan declaring the Ambrosian Republic. Bianca and Filippo marched on Milan, and it was reported that Bianca donned armour and actually fought in a battle. In 1450, Francesco was at last declared Duke of Milan, with Bianca as his Duchess. Bianca was not to be a non-political consort, and she devoted herself to duchy’s administration.

Bianca’s mother died on 13 December 1465, and just three months later she also lost her husband. Bianca recalled her son, but he soon forced her to leave Milan. She left from Cremona, her dowry city. She was invited to her son’s wedding on 9 May 1468 and on the way back to Cremona she fell ill. She was in bed until August, and she continued to get worse. She died on 28 October 1468. She was buried in the Duomo of Milan, next to Francesco.

About Moniek Bloks 2743 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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