1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fiesco, Giovanni Luigi

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FIESCO (de' Fieschi), GIOVANNI LUIGI (c. 1523-1547), count of Lavagna, was descended from one of the greatest families of Liguria, first mentioned in the 10th century. Among his ancestors were two popes (Innocent IV. and Adrian V.), many cardinals, a king of Sicily, three saints, and many generals and admirals of Genoa and other states. Sinibaldo Fiesco, his father, had been a close friend of Andrea Doria (q.v.), and had rendered many important services to the Genoese republic. On his death in 1532 Giovanni found himself at the age of nine the head of the family and possessor of immense estates. He grew up to be a handsome, intelligent youth, of attractive manners and very ambitious. He married Eleonora Cibò, marchioness of Massa, in 1540, a woman of great beauty and family influence. There were many reasons which inspired his hatred of the Doria family; the almost absolute power wielded by the aged admiral and the insolence of his nephew and heir Giannettino Doria, the commander of the galleys, were galling to him as to many other Genoese, and it is said that Giannettino was the lover of Fiesco's wife. Moreover, the Fiesco belonged to the French or popular party, while the Doria were aristocrats and Imperialists. When Fiesco determined to conspire against Doria he found friends in many quarters. Pope Paul III. was the first to encourage him, while both Pier Luigi Farnese, duke of Parma, and Francis I. of France gave him much assistance and promised him many advantages. Among his associates in Genoa were his brothers Girolamo and Ottobuono, Verrina and R. Sacco. A number of armed men from the Fiesco fiefs were secretly brought to Genoa, and it was agreed that on the 2nd of January 1547, during the interregnum before the election of the new doge, the galleys in the port should be seized and the city gates held. The first part of the programme was easily carried out, and Giannettino Doria, aroused by the tumult, rushed down to the port and was killed, but Andrea escaped from the city in time. The conspirators attempted to gain possession of the government, but unfortunately for them Giovanni Luigi, while crossing a plank from the quay to one of the galleys, fell into the water and was drowned. The news spread consternation among the Fiesco faction, and Girolamo Fiesco found few adherents. They came to terms with the senate and were granted a general amnesty. Doria returned to Genoa on the 4th thirsting for revenge, and in spite of the amnesty he confiscated the Fiesco estates; Girolamo had shut himself up, with Verrina and Sacco and other conspirators, in his castle of Montobbia, which the Genoese at Doria's instigation besieged and captured. Girolamo Fiesco and Verrina were tried, tortured and executed; all their estates were seized, some of which, including Torriglia, Doria obtained for himself. Ottobuono Fiesco, who had escaped, was captured eight years afterwards and put to death by Doria's orders.

There are many accounts of the conspiracy, of which perhaps the best is contained in E. Petit's André Doria (Paris, 1887), chs. xi. and xii., where all the chief authorities are quoted; see also Calligari, La Congiura del Fiesco (Venice, 1892), and Gavazzo, Nuovi documenti sulla congiura del conte Fiesco (Genoa, 1886); E. Bernabò-Brea, in his Sulla congiura di Giovanni Luigi Fieschi, publishes many important documents, while L. Capelloni's Congiura del Fiesco, edited by Olivieri, and A. Mascardi's Congiura del conte Giovanni Luigi de' Fieschi (Antwerp, 1629) may be commended among the earlier works. The Fiesco conspiracy has been the subject of many poems and dramas, of which the most famous is that by Schiller. See also under Doria, Andrea; Farnese. (L. V.*)