Andrea Doria

This article refers to the Genoese admiral of the 15th and 16th centuries. For the ship of the same name, see SS Andrea Doria.

Andrea Doria (November 30, 1466 - November 25, 1560) was a Genoese condottiere and admiral.


Early Life

He was born at Oneglia of an ancient Genoese family. Orphaned at an early age, he became a soldier of fortune, serving first in the papal guard and then under various Italian princes. In 1503 he was 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 onwards, he became famous as a naval commander. For several years he scoured the Mediterranean in command of the Genoese fleet, waging war on the Turks and the Barbary pirates.

Wars between France and the Holy Roman Empire

In the meanwhile Genoa had been recaptured by the French, and in 1522 by the Imperialists. But Doria now joined the French or popular faction and entered the service of King Francis I of France, 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. Dissatisfied with his treatment at the hands of Francis, who was mean about payment, he resented the king's behaviour in connection with Savona, which he delayed handing back to the Genoese as he had promised. Consequently, on the expiration of Doria's contract he entered the service of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (1528).

Reestablishment of the Genoese Republic

Doria ordered his nephew Fiippino, who was then blockading Naples in alliance with a French army, to withdraw; Doria then sailed for Genoa where, with the help of some leading citizens, he expelled the French 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 (Liberator and Father of His Country).

Doria as Imperial Admiral

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.

Later Years

After the Peace of Crépy between Francis and Charles in 1544, Doria hoped to end his days in quiet. However, 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 Doria showed great vindictiveness in punishing them, seizing many of their fiefs for himself. He was implicated in the murder of Pier Luigi Farnese, duke of Parma and Piacenza, 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 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, aged eighty-four, 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 (1553-1555) 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, the son of Giannettino 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 left his estates to Giovanni Andrea. The family of Doria-Pamphilii-Landi is descended from Giovanni Andrea Doria and bears his title of prince of Melfi. Judged by the standards of his day, Doria was an outstanding leader.

The liner SS Andrea Doria, which was launched in 1951, had its maiden voyage in 1953, and sank in 1956, was named after the Italian admiral, as were two U.S. Navy ships USS Andrew Doria.

Andrea Doria's descendent today live in Rome at the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj


An episode of Seinfeld is named "The Andrea Doria". In it, George and a survivor of the liner Andrea Doria compete for an apartment.


sv:Andrea Doria


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