Simone Boccanegra

Simone Boccanegra (Italian: [siˈmoːne ˌbokkaˈneːɡra]; Ligurian: Scimon Boccaneigra [ʃiˈmuŋ ˌbukˑaˈnejɡɾa]; died 1363) was the first Doge of Genoa. He became doge in 1339, but was ousted from power six years later. He regained the position in 1356, retaining it until his death in 1363.[1]

Simone Boccanegra
Scimon Boccaneigra
Provincia di Genova-Stemma.svg
1st Lifetime Doge of the Republic of Genoa
In office
December 23, 1339 – December 23, 1345
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byGiovanni I di Murta
In office
15 November 1356 – 3 March 1363
Preceded byPosition temporarily vacant
Succeeded byGabriele Adorno
Personal details
Died14 March 1363
Genoa, Republic of Genoa

His story was popularized by Antonio García Gutiérrez's 1843 play Simón Bocanegra and Giuseppe Verdi's 1857 opera Simon Boccanegra. Note the spellings.


Belonging to the wealthy Genoese Boccanegra family of merchants, a family that had among its members Guglielmo Boccanegra, that in 1257 became a virtual dictator of the Republic of Genoa, when an insurrection against the government of the old aristocracy made him gain the control of the republic.[2] Guglielmo Boccanegra was also the commissioner, in 1260, of the building of Palazzo San Giorgio, the future seat of republican power in the republic.[1]

Life as dogeEdit

Boccanegra was elected doge for life on December 23, 1339. Boccanegra was opposed by the aristocratic, 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, Guarco, Fregoso, and Montaldo. During Boccanegra's dogate, Genoese control was extended the length of both the French and Italian Rivieras, with the exception of the Grimaldi holdings in Monaco and Ventimiglia.[1]

Simone’s brother Egidio, was a grand admiral in the service of Alfonso XI of Castile, and inflicted a memorable defeat on a Moroccan fleet off Algeciras in 1344.[2]

There were constant conspiracies and even attempts against Boccanegra's life from the start. (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, the inveterate enemy of Genoa, where, however, Simone's brother Niccolò was "captain of the people", their mother having been a Pisan aristocrat.[1][3]

Resignation and deathEdit

A denaro grosso ("thick penny") from the time of Simone Boccanegra

Boccanegra was forced to resign his office at a public meeting he had called, December 23, 1345. He was succeeded by Giovanni I di Murta, who died in early January 1350 and then by Giovanni II Valente, who ruled as chief magistrate, until Boccanegra regained power in 1356.

Boccanegra died in 1363, possibly having been poisoned by agents of his enemies.

In cultureEdit

19th century fresco probably intended to depict Simone Boccanegra, at Palazzo San Giorgio (Genoa).

The humanist poet Petrarch wrote letters to the people of Genoa and to the doge of Venice 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.[3]

Simone Boccanegra's tomb in the no longer extant church of San Francesco in Castelletto was decorated with a remarkable funeral sculpture, depicting him as if lying in state with extraordinary realism in his features. This sculpture is now in the Museum of Sant'Agostino.


  1. ^ a b c d "BOCCANEGRA, Simone in "Dizionario Biografico"". (in Italian). Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  2. ^ a b "Boccanegra Family | Genoese family". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
  3. ^ a b Bertone, Giorgio. Simone Boccanegra. Primo Doge di Genova immortale eroe verdiano A.D. 1339 (in Italian). ERGA.

See alsoEdit

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