VISCONTI, vis-kon'te or ves-kon'te, an old Milanese family, celebrated for its political consequence and its patronage of science. His tory makes mention of the Visconti in the Ilth century; but they disappear from the time of the destruction of Milan by Frederick Bar barossa, when, with some otfier noble families, they were obliged to yield to the superior power of the opposite party, the Torriani or family Della Torre. The first of the Visconti who laid the foundation of their greatness was Orrotvt: b. 1208; d. 1295, created archbishop of Milan in L263, and perpetual lord of Milan in 1277, who gamed the ascendency over his enemies, and bequeathed his power to his nephew, MATTEo: b. 1250; d. 1322. The latter was, however, driven into banishment by the Torriani, but after living in exile seven years had the address to obtain the title of imperial vicar 1294, which he soon exchanged for that of lord-general of Milan (1311). Matteo trans mitted the supreme power to his eldest son, GALEAZZO : b. 1277; d. 6 Aug. 1328, who was overpowered by his enemies and thrown into prison by Louis of Bavaria in 1327, but was soon afterward released. His son Azzo: b. 1302; d. 14 Aug. 1329, who succeeded him and in creased the extent of his dominions, acquiring nearly all of Lombardy, was not less distin guished for his pacific virtues than for his mil itary talents. His uncle LUCCHINO : b. about 1287; d. 2A Jan. 1349, succeeded him. The latter extended the dominions of the family, and was the first of the name who was distinguished as a patron of science and art. tie corresponded with Petrarch. After his death in 1349 his brother, GIOVANNI : b. 1290; d. 5 Oct 1354, arch bishop of Milan, assumed the reins of govern ment He was a zealous patron of letters. He appointed a commission of six learned men to compose a commentary on Dante, fostered the University of Bologna and received Petrarch on his arrival at Milan with the highest marks of distinction. Giovanni was succeeded by his
nephew, MArreo II, d. 1355; BARNABO, d. 138.5; and GALF.AZZO d. 1378. Matteo's two brothers, who shared their estates on his death, though eminent for their warlike talents, ren dred themselves obnoxious by their cruelty and other vices. Galeazzo, however, continued to treat Petrarch with the same respect that his predecessors had shown him, and employed him in several negotiations. He was succeeded in 1378 by his son, Garr GALPAZZO : b. about 1347; d. 3 Sept. 1402, who imprisoned his uncle Barnabo in the castle of Trezzo, and took upon himself the sole government (1385). In him the Visconti family reached the summit of its grandeur and splendor. In 1395 he received from the Emperor Wenceslas the ducal dignity; and his territories were more extensive than those of any of his predecessors. Pisa, Siena, Perugia, Padua and Bologna were subject to his sceptre; and he had already shown a disposition to assume the title of king ot Italy, when his ambitious projects were cut short by his death of the plague. He fostered science and art, collected the most distinguished scholars at his court, restored the University of Piacenza and connected that of Pavia with it, and founded a large library. He built the c,eiebrated bridge over the Ticino at Pavia, and began the magnificent cathedral at Milan. Gian Galeazzo left three sons, GIAMMARIA : d. 16 May 1412; FIUPPO MARIA : d. 13 Aug. 1447, and an illegitimate child, GABRIEL : d. September 1408. Giammaria succeeded to the dukedom, and was assassinated, after which Filippo Maria reigned alone till his death. His natural daughter, Bianca, had been married to Francesco Sforza, who was named Dulce of Milan in 1450. Consult Sismondi, (Histoire des Republiques Italiennes' (1826-33) ; Symonds, (The Age of the Despots' (1875).