Louis XII, 1498-1512

Friedberg 704 (Italy), PCGS graded AU-55

Louis XII had hated Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, since 1495, when the duke, a former French ally, had betrayed Louis (then only the Duke of Orléans) at the Battle of Fronovo, and resulted in the expulsion of French forces from northern Italy. Ever after this black day, Louis claimed that Milan was his rightful possession. After he became king, Louis XII, made good on this claim by embarking upon the Great Italian War (1499-1504). After years of diplomacy and fighting, Louis XII took Milan and used it as a base for his attempts to reclaim the Kingdom of Naples. The French king was criticized for his Italian adventures in Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, but he nevertheless exacted his revenge on Ludovico Sforza and established a strong French presence in Italy. The present double ducat was struck by Louis XII after his conquest of Milan and the formal addition of Duke of Milan to his titulature. The portrait is particularly desirable for its high Renaissance style.

Milan. + LVDOVIC D G FRANCOR REX, crowned bust of Louis XII right. Reverse: MEDIOLAN DVX, St. Ambrosius on horseback charging right; arms of France below.

Ex The Bru Sale (19 June 2010), 90