November 28, 2021
Andrea Doria (Oneglia, November 30, 1466 - Genoa, November 25, 1560) was an Italian admiral, politician and nobleman of the Republic of Genoa.
Andrea Doria was born in Oneglia in 1466 to Ceva Doria, consignor of Oneglia and exponent of the ancient Genoese family of the Doria di Oneglia, and Caracosa Doria of the Doria di Dolceacqua. His father was at one point forced to sell his feudal titles, and both parents died relatively young leaving Andrea an orphan at seventeen. In those days, a young noble who wanted to improve his condition could take two paths: the profession of arms or an ecclesiastical career. Andrea chose to become a soldier.
He then went to Rome in 1485, the city where his cousin Nicolò Doria, a distant relative of him and a joint of Pope Innocent VIII (the Genoese Giovanni Battista Cybo), commanded the pope's guard. Thanks to his kinship he obtained a post as an officer, carrying out his service until the death of Innocenzo, which took place in 1492. He then began a real career as a soldier of fortune, in the service of the Montefeltro, the Aragonese and Giovanni della Rovere, lord of Senigallia, nephew of Sixtus IV and brother of the future Pope Julius II.
In 1503 he obtained command of the Genoese troops who were putting down a revolt in Corsica. After a long campaign, he managed to defeat the rioters and capture their leader, Ranuccio della Rocca.
Taking the Bridle
The episode of the Briglia fortress (1514) definitively consecrated the image of the now almost fifty-year-old leader to Genoa as well. At the time, Genoa was under the control of the French, who maintained two garrisons in the city, at Castelletto and at the Briglia, a fortress built by King Louis XII of France. Located on the same hill where the lighthouse tower stood, the Briglia dominated the port, keeping it under the gunfire. After the battle of Ravenna (1512), the anti-French party led by Giano Fregoso established itself in Genoa. The French sent a warship to the Briglia, which blocked port traffic, to supply it with provisions. Doria, appointed commander of the port and of the fleet, personally led an action that ended with the capture of the vessel.
The French returned to Genoa, restoring control over the Briglia, while Doria and the fleet repaired in La Spezia. The French fortunes declined again shortly after, with the defeat of Novara (1513) by the Swiss, allies of the Pope. Andrea Doria thus returned to Genoa, helping Ottaviano Fregoso to settle himself as the new Doge and definitively destroying the Bridle in 1514.
On the sea
It has therefore been seen that Andrea Doria became a sailor rather late, over forty years old. He adapted very well: reconfirmed at the head of the fleet, he began in 1513 with two galleys owned by him to patrol the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian, against the Barbary pirates who constituted a serious threat to navigation and the coasts. He took the most sensational success on the island of Pianosa, where, together with his cousin Filippino Doria, he destroyed the fleet of the corsair Godoli; in 1519 he captured the corsair Gad Ali.
Meanwhile the Italian situation had changed again. In Marignano (today Melegnano) the French of the new king Francesco I defeated the Swiss (1515). Ottaviano Fregoso then agreed to hand over Genoa to Francesco, who appointed him governor of the city. The institutional change left Andrea Doria in command of the fleet, to fight against the pirates.
Wars against the Empire
Francis I was not to be the only protagonist of that beginning of the century. The second was Charles V. This was the son of Philip I of Habsburg, Duke of Burgundy and lord of the Netherlands, and Joan of Castile, called la Pazza, daughter of the Catholic Kings and queen of Castile.
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