In 1450, King Alfonso I of Naples sent Beccadelli, Pontano and other men working at his court on a diplomatic mission to northern Italy.1 The initiative was part of a broader political design linked to the years of political turmoil that followed the death of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan (1392-1447). In this period of interregnum, the Milanese territory, which was a desirable objective for many rulers from all over Europe by virtue of its wealth and strategic location, was turned into the fragile and short-lived Ambrosian Republic. As a result, the powerful warlord Francesco Sforza (1401-1466) tried to seize the vacant throne of Milan and start a new dynasty of Milanese dukes. For Alfonso, who already had had a taste of this condottiero’s military skills in 1442, Sforza’s ambitions over Milan were a threat that needed to be avoided at all cost.2 Hence, he began to form alliances with a number of smaller states of northern Italy, and most importantly with the members of the Este family who ruled over Ferrara and its surrounding territories. Alfonso’s newly formed elite of state bureaucrats, well trained in the studia humanitatis, played a crucial role in this diplomatic design, which would have modest political results but spectacular artistic repercussions.