Andrea Doria (or D'Oria) (30 November 1466 - 25 November 1560) was an
Italian condottiere and admiral from Genoa.
Doria was born at Oneglia from the ancient Genoese family, the Doria di
Oneglia branch of the old Doria, de Oria or de Auria family. His parents were
related: Ceva Doria, co-lord of Oneglia, and Caracosa Doria, of the Doria di
Dolceacqua branch. 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
armies of the Holy Roman Emperor.
But Doria 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
Marseille, which was besieged by the Imperialists, and later 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 behavior 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
Emperor Charles V (1528).
Re-establishment of the Genoese Republic
Doria ordered his nephew Filippino, 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, by
creating 28 Alberghi or "clans". The 28 Alberghi that formed this
new ruling class included the Cybo, Doria, Fieschi, Giustiniani, Grimaldi,
Imperiale, Pallavicino, and Spinola families.
He refused offers to take 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. The
title "censor" in this context was modeled on its meaning in the
Roman Republic (i.e. a highly respected senior public official - see Roman
censor), rather than its modern meaning having to do with censorship. 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 Ottoman
Empire, capturing Koroni 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 I, and through him extended his domination over the
whole of Italy.
In February 1538, Pope Paul III succeeded in assembling a Holy League
(comprising the Papacy, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Venice
and the Maltese Knights) against the Ottomans, but Hayreddin Barbarossa
defeated its combined fleet, commanded by Andrea Doria, at the Battle of
Preveza in September 1538. This victory secured Turkish dominance over the
Mediterranean for the next 33 years, until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
He accompanied Charles V on the ill-fated Algiers expedition of 1541, of
which he disapproved, and which ended in 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.
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, had made him many
enemies, and in 1547 the Fieschi conspiracy to dislodge his family from power
took place. Giannettino was killed, but the conspirators were defeated, and
Doria showed great vindictiveness in punishing them, seizing many of their
fiefs for himself. He was also implicated in the murder of Pier Luigi Farnese,
duke of Parma and Piacenza, who had helped Fieschi.
Other conspiracies followed, of which the most important was that of Giulio
Cybo (1548), but all failed. Although Doria was ambitious and harsh, he was a
patriot and successfully opposed 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 84, he again put to sea to
confront the Barbary pirates, but with no great success. In 1552 the Ottoman
fleet under the command of Turgut Reis defeated the Spanish-Italian fleet of
Charles V under the command of Andrea Doria in the Battle of Ponza (1552).
War between France and the Empire having broken out once more, the French
seized Corsica in the Invasion of Corsica (1553), then administered by the
Genoese Bank of St George. Doria was again summoned, and he spent two years
(1553-1555) on 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 great-uncle had been at Algiers,
barely escaping with his life after losing the Battle of Djerba against the
Turkish fleet of Piyale Pasha and Turgut Reis. Andrea Doria left his estates
to Giovanni Andrea. The family of Doria-Pamphili-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.