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Andrea Doria

Genoese admiral and statesman, b. at Oneglia, Italy, 1468; d. at Genoa, 1560

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Doria, ANDREA, Genoese admiral and statesman, b. at Oneglia, Italy, 1468; d. at Genoa, 1560. His family belonged to the magnae quatuor prosapiae who disputed among themselves for the supremacy in Genoa, but the Adorni and Fregosi of the opposing faction excluded the Doria from power. At first Genoa sought union with France; then, in 1464, Louis XI ceded it to the Duke of Milan. Doria’s early years were trying ones; his father died young, and his mother placed him under the guardianship of a relation who was captain of the guard to Pope Innocent VIII. Thus began the active, adventurous career that was destined to make Andrea Doria one of the most important personages of Europe in the sixteenth century.

Like many Italians of his day, Doria was at first a condottiere. He commenced by serving (1487-1492) in the guards of Innocent VIII, then in the Neapolitan army of Alfonso of Aragon, to whom he alone remained faithful after the conquest of Naples by Charles VIII (1495). He next joined the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; after this he entered the service of Jean de La Rovere, leader of the French troops of the Kingdom of Naples, and had as his opponent Gonsalvo de Cordova, the most renowned general of the time. In 1503 Doria was able to reenter Genoa, where order had been restored by Louis XII, and set out to subdue the Corsicans, then in revolt. On his return the Genoese entrusted him with the reorganization of their fleet. Doria now abandoned land service for that of the sea and, arming eight galleys at his own expense, constituted himself an independent naval power. During the years 1507 to 1519 he traversed the Western Mediterranean with his fleet, and, having overpowered the Barbary Corsairs and captured several of their chiefs, among them the famous Cadolin, returned to Genoa laden with booty.

On account of the civil discords in Genoa, Doria withdrew with twelve corsair galleys that he had seized, the crews of which would now acknowledge no other chief, and entered the service of Francis I, who appointed him “governor-general of the galleys of France“. In 1524 he raised the blockade of Marseilles, then besieged by Charles V, and, after the battle of Pavia, gathered together the remnants of the French army (1525). He then became commander of the galleys of Clement VII; in 1527 reentered the service of France and compelled Genoa to acknowledge the authority of Francis I. But in 1528 he quarrelled with the King of France, who did not pay him faithfully. Recalling Filippo Doria, his nephew, who was besieging Naples with his uncle’s fleet, Andrea agreed to enter the service of Charles V, and began to reestablish order in Genoa, where he was received with enthusiasm (September 12, 1528). After breaking up the ancient noble clans, he set up a new social division and an aristocratic constitution which continued in force, with but few modifications, until 1798. Absolute head of the naval forces of the house of Austria, he directed the maritime struggle against the Turks and the Barbary pirates; in 1532, just when Solyman threatened Hungary, Doria landed on the coast of Greece, took Coron and Patras, and even meditated an attack on Constantinople. In 1535 he cooperated in the siege of Tunis; in 1536 as head of the united squadron, made up of the ships of the pope, Venice, and the Knights of Malta, he surprised the famous Barbarossa in the Gulf of Arta and then allowed him to escape. Loaded with honors by Charles V, Doria retired to the territory of Genoa and lived in the beautiful palace he had built at Fassolo, where he dispensed royal hospitality to Charles V and Philip II. He was greatly revered by his fellow-citizens, yet, in 1547, he suppressed with much cruelty the conspiracy formed by some discontented nobles, the Fieschi and the Cibo. Doria’s tomb, decorated by Montorsoli, is in the church of San Matteo, but his colossal statue, which was erected in 1540, was overthrown and broken in 1797.


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