Andrea Doria “The Prince” of Genoa
Andrea Doria was born in 1466 in Oneglia from Ceva and Caracosa Doria di Dolceacqua. In 1484, orphan and without his portion of feudal heritage, yield from his mother to her cousin Domenico, Andrea moved to Rome under the orders of Nicolò Doria, captain of the papal guards under Innocenzo VIII, part of the ligurian family of the Cybo. When Alessandro VI Borgia entered the papal court Andrea, having lost every influential contact, moved to Urbino care of the Montefeltro family first and after that of the Della Rovere household. In 1513 Andrea took service in the Genoese Republic commanding two galleys for the protection of Genoa and of the Riviera. In 1516 he bought three galleys and contracted his services with Francesco I king of France (1522-28) and with pope Clemente VII Medici (1526). During the permanence of the admiral in the papal court, Sebastiano del Piombo painted the portrait of Andrea which is still preserved in the Villa.
In the summer of 1528 the Doria stipulated a new contract with Carlo d’Asburgo, king of Spain and emperor, according to which he put at the kings disposal twelve galleys and three triremes receiving a compensation of 90.000 golden scudi each year and the imperial letter of marque. Concerning the politics Andrea asked and obtained the submission of Savona and Genoa’s independence, allied but not submitted to the emperor, with the demolition of the hated fortress of Castelletto which was site of the French garrison. In the same 1528 The Doria realized the oligarchic reform of the 28 noble hotels. In 1531 he received the title of prince of the Melfi feud in Basilica, which paid 40,000 scudi a year and 25,000 more as a special compensation, the ordinance of the honorary title of the Golden Toson, the highest at the time, with the assignment of the collar with the golden rams vellum that is always worn in Andrea’s portraits. The republic of Genoa to express gratitude conferred him the title of “Pater Patriae” and decided to erect a celebratory statue of colossal dimensions (sculptured in 1539 from Montorsoli). Above that the senate donated to the admiral a palace in the Doria district close to the church of Saint Mathew, which Andrea had restored from the Montorsoli as his monumental sacred burial. Alessandro accepted the role of perpetuate prior of the syndicates, and preferred to be introduced as champion of the republican ordinance even if he was, by all means, other than juridically, lord of the city. As prince, even if of a far away feud, he gave birth, along with his wife Peretta Usodimare, widow of the Marquis of the Carretto, of a noble Renaissance court that remained unique in Genoa’s history.
At the service of Charles V Andrea battled against the frightful Barbary Pirates between which the famous Barbarossa and Dragut. In 1547 he had to face the Fieschi’s conspiracy that found its conclusion with the annihilation of the rival family but in which he lost his beloved cousin and heir Giannettino. To the Admiral, died in 1560, succeeded Giovanni Andrea Ist (1539-1606), son of Giannettino.