Milan spent much of its history at the beginning of the Renaissance engaged in a series of wars against its neighbours. Amongst their rivals, Milan often fought against Florence and Venice. As a result, Milan became a major center of the weapons industry throughout Europe and was known for their production of high quality swords and armor, as well as early firearms. Milan was also known as a major manufacturing hub for Southern Europe. Like Genoa, they wove silk and traded in textiles as well. Milan was a very wealthy community throughout the Italian Renaissance.
The ruling families of Milan during this period were the Visconti and Sforza. Members of these families were both political and religious leaders. Francesco Sforza was particularly effective, helping turn Milan into a powerful metropolis during his time as ruler he commissioned the Sforza Castle, the Ospedale Maggiore and the Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to Leonardo Da Vinci's, The Last Supper.
The Milan Cathedral, pictured in the background, began to be built in the late 14th Century under the rule of the Visconti family and took 600 years to complete! Milan in the Renaissance, as it remains today, was a center of art and culture. Leonardo Da Vinci worked in Milan at the court of Ludovico Sforza from 1482 until 1499. While in Milan, Da Vinci painted The Last Supper and engaged in many engineering projects, including designing floats and pageants for special occasions. To Sforza, Da Vinci explained many of his abilities as a Renaissance Man, telling him, "I can construct bridges… a kind of cannon… with which to hurl small stones like hail. I can noiselessly construct… subterranean passages. I can make armoured wagons… I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in the construction of buildings, both public and private." - Nick Trend, 2011.
Sforza Castle, home to one of the great families of the Renaissance period.
The Last Supper. This is a restored version so as to be more visible. One of Leonardo Da Vinci's most famous works was created and rests in Milan.