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Simone Boccanegra

Simone Boccanegra

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Simone Boccanegra
Boccanegra
The surname Boccanegra or Bocanegra originated sometime in the 13th century AD, in northern Italy. The following information contributes to the origin, meaning and translation for this name.- The Church :...

(died 1363) was the first doge of Genoa
Doge of Genoa
The Republic of Genoa, in what is now northern Italy, was technically a communal republic in the early Middle Ages, although it was actually an oligarchy ruled by a small group of merchant families, from whom were selected the Doges of Genoa.- History :...

. His story was popularized by Antonio García Gutiérrez
Antonio García Gutiérrez
Antonio García Gutiérrez was a Spanish Romantic dramatist.After having studied medicine in his native town, he moved to Madrid in 1833 and earned a meager living by translating plays of Eugène Scribe and Alexandre Dumas, père...

's 1843 play Simón Bocanegra and Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

's 1857 opera Simon Boccanegra
Simon Boccanegra
Simon Boccanegra is an opera with a prologue and three acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, based on the play Simón Bocanegra by Antonio García Gutiérrez....

. Note the spellings.

Boccanegra was elected doge for life on September 24, 1339, as the candidate of the "popular" Ghibelline faction. Boccanegra was opposed by the aristocratic Guelf faction, representing the old mercantile patriciate, which his first actions excluded from public life. With the old patriciate excluded from power, a new class of mercantile houses arose: Adorno
Adorno (family)
The Adorno family was a patrician family in Genoa, Italy, of the Ghibelline party, several of whom were Doges of the republic. The first of these, Gabriele Adorno, is also the tenor role in Giuseppe Verdi's opera Simon Boccanegra....

, Guarco, Fregoso, and Montaldo.

During Boccanegra's dogate, Genoese control was extended the length of both the French
French Riviera
The Côte d'Azur, pronounced , often known in English as the French Riviera , is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France, also including the sovereign state of Monaco...

 and Italian
Italian Riviera
The Italian Riviera, or Ligurian Riviera is the narrow coastal strip which lies between the Ligurian Sea and the mountain chain formed by the Maritime Alps and the Apennines...

 Rivieras, with the exception of the Grimaldi holdings in Monaco and Ventimiglia, and Genoese galleys went to the aid of Alfonso XI of Castile
Alfonso XI of Castile
Alfonso XI was the king of Castile, León and Galicia.He was the son of Ferdinand IV of Castile and his wife Constance of Portugal. Upon his father's death in 1312, several disputes ensued over who would hold regency, which were resolved in 1313...

 in his struggles against the Saracen
Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

s.

There were constant conspiracies and attempts against Boccanegra's life from the outset. (The first conspirator's head rolled on December 20, 1339.) This led to the establishment of a bodyguard of 103 mounted soldiers. For Boccanegra's security these were drawn from Pisa
Pisa
Pisa is a city in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Arno on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Pisa...

, the inveterate enemy of Genoa, where, however, Simone's brother Niccolò was "captain of the people", their mother having been a Pisan aristocrat.

Boccanegra was forced to resign his office at a public meeting he had called, December 23, 1344. Giovanni Valente ruled as chief magistrate, until Boccanegra regained power in 1356. Boccanegra was fatally poisoned in 1363.
The poet Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

 wrote letters to the people of Genoa and to the doge of Venice
Doge of Venice
The Doge of Venice , often mistranslated Duke was the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy. Commonly the person selected as Doge was the shrewdest elder in the city...

 humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

 appealing to them to end their fratricidal wars and find a common aim. These letters were among Verdi's inspirations for the revision of the opera in 1881.

Simone Boccanegra's tomb in the church of San Francesco in Castelletto was decorated with a remarkable funeral sculpture, depicting him as if lying in state
Lying in state
Lying in state is a term used to describe the tradition in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public at large to pay their respects to the deceased. It traditionally takes place in the principal government building of a country or city...

with extraordinary realism in his features. This sculpture is now in the Museum of Sant'Agostino.

External links


Il primo doge: Simone Boccanegra Sources for Genoese history