Lords of Milan

Pagano della Torre (meaning 'of the tower' and also rendered as Torriani) was a condottiero, essentially a military leader with the status of a warlord, someone who often served as a mercenary commander in times of conflict in Italy. His grandfather was one Martino 'The Giant' who fought in the Crusades. Martino's son was Jacopo, who married into the powerful Visconti family and became captain of Milan while his in-laws were serving as patrician of Pisa, dominating the giudici of Cagliari, and intermarrying with the giudici of Gallura. Pagano was Jacopo's son, and he also became captain of Milan (in 1240), establishing himself and his descendants as the main power in the city.

Milan had been founded by the Celtic Insubres tribe, perhaps around 600 BC. It was developed under Roman control, but its convoluted political history during the medieval period essentially reflected that of all of Italy. The governance of the peninsula was disjointed and fractured, with frequent internecine squabbles and threats from greater powers from outside Italy, especially from the growing might of France, Aragon, and Castile. All of northern Italy remained nominally under the vassalage of the Holy Roman empire, but the struggle for power between the Papist Guelfs and their opponents, the Imperialist Ghibellines, was intense in this period.

1240 - 1247cPaganus / Pagano I della Torre, Son of Jacopo. Captain of Milan. Died.

1247 - 1257 Paganus / Pagano II della Torre

1253 - 1256 Manfredi Lancia

1257 - 1259 Martino della Torre, Brother or nephew of Pagano I. Died 1263.

1257 - 1259 Martino imposes his personal power over Milan as its captain. The della Torre lordship of the city begins with him and lasts for half a century or so. The della Torre family also hold Bergamo, Lodi, Novara, and Vercelli. In 1259, Oberto Pallavicino, a field captain for former Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, defeats the Lombardic-Guelphish League of towns at the Battle of Cassano, and as a reward he is granted command of Alessandria, Como, Lodi, Milan, Novara, and Tortona.

Medieval Italy

Medieval Italy was a cauldron of competing city states, with unceasing competition between them that sparked the Renaissance and a blossoming of culture and advancement

1259 - 1264 Oberto Pallavicino

1263 - 1265 Filippo della Torre, Brother of Martino.

1265 - 1277 Napoleone della Torri Cousin, and son of Pagano I. Imprisoned, died the following year.

1273 - 1274 With his brother Raimondo, bishop of Como, having been a prisoner of Conrad Venosta von Matsch (a minor vassal from the alpine Valchiavenna region of Lombardy) since 1269, Napoleone manages to free him. In the same year, Rudolph of Habsburg is elected Holy Roman Emperor and Napoleone switches his own allegiance to him, away from the now too-dominant Charles of Anjou in Naples. As a reward, in 1274 Napoleone is granted the title of imperial vicar in Lombardy.

1277 Napoleone is attacked by Ottone Visconti in a struggle for control of Milan. Initially, Napoleone holds him off, winning the Battle of Guazzera (the captured nephew of Ottone Visconti, Teobaldo Visconti, is captured during the battle and is later beheaded). However, he is subsequently defeated at the Battle of Desio, and della Torre power in Milan is broken, barring a brief final flourish in 1302. Napoleone dies the following year. Francesco della Torre, podestà of Alessandria, Bergamo, Brescia, Lodi and Novara, is also killed by the visconti at Desio, a double blow for the della Torre family.

1277 - 1294
Ottone Visconti
Son of Ubaldo Visconti. Archbishop of Milan.
Early in the year, Genoa attempts the conquest of Porto Torres and Sassari on Sardinia (part of the recently fallen giudicato of Logudoro). Part of Genoa's large merchant fleet defeats a Pisan force while heading into the eastern Mediterranean. Then Genoa blockades Porto Pisano, Pisa's own harbour, and attacks Pisan vessels across the Mediterranean. The final act is the Battle of Meloria on 5-6 August 1284, close to Livorno on Italy's upper western coast. The Pisan fleet is decimated by Genoese galleys at the same time as Pisa itself is attacked by Florence and Lucca, destroying any hope of a Pisan restoration. The defeat marks the end of Pisa as a major power, sending the city into a decline that ends with its eventual conquest by Florence. Corsica is ruled by the victorious Genoa.

1294 - 1302 Matteo I Visconti, Grand-nephew through Teobaldo Visconti (killed 1277).

1288/1291 Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I appoints Matteo as his vicar general for Lombardy, and the captain's influence extends as far as Bologna, Emilia, Genoa, and Piedmont. The year in which this takes place is unclear, either being 1288 or 1291.

1297 - 1302 Lugano is taken from the bishopric of Como and becomes the property of Milan. The struggle for power in Italy between the Papist Guelfs, which in Rome are led by the Orsini family, and their opponents, the Imperialist Ghibellines which are led by the Colonna family, is intense in this period. It also influences the struggle for power between Como and Milan. When Guido della Torre of the anti-Visconti Guelfs displaces Matteo Visconti as lord of Milan in 1302, Como regains Lugano and holds it for over a century.

1302 - 1311 Guido della Torre, Fled Milan and died in 1312.

1308 With the death of Nino Visconti, giudice of Gallura, his daughter Joanna inherits the title. Despite attempts to assert her rights to control Gallura, she is unsuccessful, and she eventually sells her title to her relatives, the Visconti family of Milan (presumably in 1308). They later sell them on to Aragon, which is eventually able to conquer the entire island of Sardinia.

1311 Guido attempts to rally the people of Milan against Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxemburg and his proposed treaty between the opposing factions in Italy. The attempt fails and Guido is forced to flee Milan, to be replaced by the restored Matteo Visconti.

1311 - 1322 Matteo I Visconti Restored. Abdicated.

1320 - 1322 In an escalation of the continuing conflict between Guelfs and Ghibellines, Pope John XXII ensures that Matteo is charged with necromancy for attempted papicide. Matteo refuses to appear before the papal court and is found guilty in his absence in 1321. The charge spreads to Galeazzo, Matteo's son, and in 1322 the papal legate, Cardinal Bertrand du Poujet, proclaims a holy crusade against the Visconti. With the stakes escalating further, Matteo stands aside in favour of his son (and dies a month later).

1322 - 1327 Galeazzo I Visconti, Son. Imprisoned at Monza.

1327 - 1339 Azzone Visconti Son. Died of gout.

1330 In a change to the established tradition, Azzone is named perpetual lord of Milan, now that the threat of excommunication raised against his family during the conflict with Matteo Visconti has expired.

1331 - 1335 Azzone allies himself with Theodore I, marquess of Montferrat. Their common enemy is Robert of Anjou, king of Naples, and Azzone is keen to reclaim his possessions in north-western Italy. The following year, he takes Bergamo and Pizzighettone. Further conquests in 1335 include Crema, Cremona, Lodi, and Vercelli, along with other territories in Lombardy that had ceded control to the Papal States.

1339 - 1349 Luchino Visconti, Brother of Galeazzo I. Lord of Pavia (1315). Poisoned.

1339 - 1349 Luchino expands his territory during his time as lord of Milan, by hiring an army of mercenaries and placing them under the command of his illegitimate son, Stefano. Pisa is captured, and Parma is purchased from Obizzo III d'Este, marquis of Ferrara.

1343 - 1345 Jani Beg, khan of the Golden Horde, leads a massive Crimean Tartar force against the Crimean port city of Kaffa. The assault turns into a siege which is lifted by a Genoese relief force. Two years later, Jani Beg returns, but the second attack against Kaffa is defeated by an outbreak of Black Plague. There is a possibility that Jani Beg's army catapult their infected fellow troops into Kaffa so that the defenders will become infected. The ploy fails to bring the city to its knees, but infected Genoese sailors subsequently take the Black Death with them back to Italy.

1349 - 1354 Giovanni Visconti, Brother. Archbishop of Milan (1342-1354).

1350 - 1352 Giovanni secures control of Bologna as its new lord, and he places his nephew, Bernabò, in command there. Milan continues to increase its power in Lombardy in general. Genoa is added to the list of Milanese possessions in 1352, with Giovanni becoming lord there, and in 1353 Novara is also acquired.

1354 - 1385 Bernabò Visconti, Nephew, and son of Stefano.

1354 - 1378 Galeazzo II Visconti, Brother and co-ruler.

1354 - 1355 Matteo II Visconti Brother and co-ruler.

1355 After having shared power in turns in Milan for just a year, the vicious Matteo is murdered by his two brothers, and they divide his share of Milan's outer territories between themselves.
Sforzesco Castle in Milan

Although Sforzesco Castle was only transformed into a ducal palace by its namesake, Francesco Sforza, in 1450, its origins date to the time of Galeazzo II Visconti

1378 - 1385 Gian Galeazzo I Visconti, Son of Galeazzo II, and co-ruler with Bernabò Visconti.

1385 Bernabò Visconti is overthrown by his nephew and son-in-law, Comte de Vertus in Champagne, Gian Visconti (a title delivered to Gian by his first wife, Isabelle of Valois). Bernabò is imprisoned and dies soon afterwards, poisoned allegedly on Gian's orders. Soon after securing his new domain, Gian expands his territory. He seizes Padua, Verona, and Vicenza, becoming lord of each of them and giving himself control of much of the Po Valley. Padua is lost in 1390.

1385 - 1395 Gian Galeazzo I Visconti, Became sole lord in 1385. Raised to duke of Milan.

1395 Gian Galeazzo Visconti purchases a diploma for 100,000 florins from Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslas of Luxemburg. This diploma confirms Gian Visconti as duke of Milan and count of Pavia.

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