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Andrea Doria

Andrea DoriaBorn: 30-Nov-1466
Birthplace: Oneglia, Italy
Died: 25-Nov-1560
Location of death: Genoa, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Military

Nationality: Italy
Executive summary: Genoese condottiere admiral

Genoese condottiere and admiral, was born at Oneglia of an ancient Genoese family. Being left an orphan at an early age, he became a soldier of fortune, and served first in the papal guard and then under various Italian princes. In 1503 we find him fighting in Corsica in the service of Genoa, at that time under French vassalage, and he took part in the rising of Genoa against the French, whom he compelled to evacuate the city.

From that time forth it was as a naval captain that he became famous. For several years he scoured the Mediterranean in command of the Genoese fleet, waging war on the Turks and the Barbary pirates. In the meanwhile Genoa had been recaptured by the French, and in 1522 by the Imperialists. But Doria now veered round to the French or popular faction and entered the service of King Francis I, who made him captain-general; in 1524 he relieved Marseilles, which was besieged by the Imperialists, and helped to place his native city once more under French domination. But he was dissatisfied with his treatment at the hands of Francis, who was mean about payment, and he resented the king's behavior in connection with Savona, which he delayed to hand back to the Genoese as he had promised; consequently on the expiry of Doria's contract we find him in the service of the emperor Charles V (1528). He ordered his nephew Filippino, who was then blockading Naples in concert with a French army, to withdraw, and sailed for Genoa, where with the help of some leading citizens, he expelled the French once more and re-established the republic under imperial protection. He reformed the constitution in an aristocratic sense, most of the nobility being Imperialists, and put an end to the factions which divided the city. He refused the lordship of Genoa and even the dogeship, but accepted the position of perpetual censor, and exercised predominant influence in the councils of the republic until his death. He was given two palaces, many privileges, and the title of Liberator et Pater Patriae. As imperial admiral he commanded several expeditions against the Turks, capturing Corona and Patras, and co-operating with the emperor himself in the capture of Tunis (1535). Charles found him an invaluable ally in the wars with Francis, and through him extended his domination over the whole of Italy.

Doria's defeat by the Turks at Preveza in 1538 was said to be not involuntary, and designed to spite the Venetians whom he detested. He accompanied Charles on the ill-fated Algerian expedition of 1541, of which he disapproved, and by his ability just saved the whole force from complete disaster. For the next five years he continued to serve the emperor in various wars, in which he was generally successful and always active, although now over seventy years old; there was hardly an important event in Europe in which he had not some share. After the peace of Crépy between Francis and Charles in 1544 he hoped to end his days in quiet. But his great wealth and power, as well as the arrogance of his nephew and heir Giannettino Doria, made him many enemies, and in 1547 the Fiesco conspiracy to upset the power of his house took place. Giannettino was murdered, but the conspirators were defeated, and Andrea showed great vindictiveness in punishing them. Many of their fiefs he seized for himself, and he was implicated in the murder of Pier Luigi Farnese, Duke of Parma, who had helped Fiesco. Other conspiracies followed, of which the most important was that of Giulio Cibò (1548), but all failed.

Although Doria was ambitious and harsh, he was a good patriot and successfully opposed the emperor Charles's repeated attempts to have a citadel built in Genoa and garrisoned by Spaniards; neither blandishments nor threats could win him over to the scheme. Nor did age lessen his energy, for in 1550, when eighty-four years old, he again put to sea to punish the raids of his old enemies the Barbary pirates, but with no great success. War between France and the Empire having broken out once more, the French seized Corsica, then administered by the Genoese Bank of St. George; Doria was again summoned, and he spent two years (1553-55) in the island fighting the French with varying fortune. He returned to Genoa for good in 1555, and being very old and infirm he gave over the command of the galleys to his great-nephew Giovanni Andrea Doria, who conducted an expedition against Tripoli, but proved even more unsuccessful than his uncle had been at Algiers, barely escaping with his life. Andrea Doria died on the 25th of November 1560, leaving his estates to Giovanni Andrea. The family of Doria-Pamphilii-Landi is descended from him and bears his title of prince of Melfi. Doria was a man of indomitable energy and a great admiral. If he appears unscrupulous and even treacherous he did but conform to the standards of 16th-century Italy.

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