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La Genealogía
de 
Puerto Rico

(The Genealogy of Puerto Rico)

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HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF THE  NEGRONI FAMILY

By

Héctor Andrés Negroni
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THE NEGRONE DE SAN COLOMBANO FAMILY IN CORSICA
          The founder of the Negrone de San Colombano Family in Corsica was Marchese Francesco Negrone de San Colombano (Genoa, b. ca. 1490- Castle of San Colombano, d. ca. 1541). He was the son of Marchese Domenico Negrone and Francesca di Carmandino. In 1511 he was named "Protector of the Bank of St. George" and was entered in the Golden Book of the Genoese Nobility. He came to Corsica in 1523 to marry Princess Giorgetta Da Mare (born in 1492 and died in 1556), daughter of Prince Giacomosanto I Da Mare (born in 1449 and died October 1520) and of Princess Giovanna Luigia Pavia.  Prince Giacomosanto I Da Mare was also Lord of San Colombano and Capraja, Count of Corsica, and Knight of the Duke of Milan,. Upon his marriage, Francesco received the Lordship of San Colombano as dowry and was Lord of San Colombano from 1524 to 1550. To distinguish his family from the Genoese branch, Francesco changed his last name to Negrone de San Colombano.
          I think it is important to provide a summary overview of Corsica, of Cap Corse, and of the Lordship of San Colombano, since these places play a pivotal role in the history of the Negroni Family. History has also shown us that, since the earliest days of recorded history, Corsica was a crossroads of invasion due to its convenient and central location in the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, Corsica is the sum total of all the ethnic influences it experienced throughout its history. Furthermore, given the varied and sometimes localized influences, Corsica and the Corsicans do not necessarily present a homogeneous character.
        CORSICA is an island in the western Mediterranean, 12 km (8 miles) north of tile island of' Sardinia, 83 km (52 miles) from the Italian coast, and 170 km (106 miles) from the French coast. It has a surface area of more than 8,500 square kilometers (3,300 square miles) and measures approximately 183 km (114 miles) long and 83 km (52 miles) wide. It is the fourth largest Mediterranean island, after Sicily, Sardinia, and Cyprus. It has a population of about 250,000 people (less than it had 100 years ago) and therefore a population density of around 30 persons per square kilometer (76 persons per square mile). Compare that to Puerto Rico's 390 persons per square kilometer ( 1,000 persons per Square mile). Puerto Rico's population density is more than ten times that of Corsica!
        Geographically, Corsica has been called "a mountain in the sea" because despite its relatively small size, its geography is very irregular and mountainous. The highest mountain in the island is Monte Cinto with a summit of 2,707 meters or over 8,800 feet. It has at least six mountains that exceed 2,000 meters (over 6,500 ft) in height. Corsica has three distinct geographic regions that have influenced its history: Cap Corse, "Banda di Dentro", and "Banda di Fuori". Traditionally, Cap Corse, the peninsula that sticks to the north like an index finger and points to Genoa, was an independent feudal domain closely allied to Genoa. The mountain range runs roughly north to south and divides the island into two parts, the east, also known as "Banda di Dentro" (area on the side of the mountains closest to Genoa) and the west, also known as "Band di Fuori" (area on the side of the mountains farthest from Genoa). Generally speaking, the east is smaller and less irregular while the west is somewhat larger and characterized by mountains, cliffs, gorges, and deep valleys. This ruggedness prevented conquerors from really controlling the interior of Corsica. The region of Banda di Dentro was historically a region where an early form of democracy was practiced and thus was known as the Terra di Comune. The region of Banda di Fuori was an area where feudal lords constantly struggled for supremacy and therefore this region was known as Terra di Signori.
        The earliest record of human presence in Corsica is a female skeleton found near the town of Bonifacio dating from the year 6,570 BC. Naturally the island provides testimony of all the great periods into which archeologists divide the world and thus you can find menhirs, statutes, early homes, cave paintings, arms, and other testimony from each of those ages or periods. The first recorded invasion of Corsica is that of the Torreans or Sardinians, the same people that gave Sardinia its name. It must be pointed out that remains of other tribes such as Gaelic, Celts, and Ligures have been found on the island. The next invasion wave was that of the Phoenicians who gave Corsica its first recorded name, Cyrnos, and established a settlement in the north of the island near Algajola. The Greeks who established the city of Aleria and the Etruscans who established the city of Mariana followed them. In the year 384 BC, Corsica was under the nominal control of Carthage and founded Caralis (Cagliari) and Sulchos (Palma di Solo). As a result, the Punic Wars extended into Corsica as well, and in 238 BC Corsica and Sardinia were joined as a Roman province. Nonetheless, history tells us that it took the Romans almost 500 years to pacify the island of Corsica!
         By the end of the Roman Empire, Corsica had about 100,000 inhabitants divided into 32 civitates or cities. History cannot pinpoint with absolute certainty the arrival of Christianity to the Island but it must have been about the third century in the area of Cap Corse known as Sacrum Promontorium. By the middle of the fourth century Pope Athanasius named bishops to Corsica and the Island was divided into five dioceses: Aleria, Taina, Mariana, Ajaccio, and Sagona. The fall of the Roman Empire exposed Corsica once again to new invasions. In 465 AD it was invaded by the Vandals, in 534 AD it was invaded by Byzantine Greeks, in 549 AD the Goths invaded the island, and in 552 AD the Byzantine Greeks expelled the Goths. With the fall of the Gothic Kingdom, the Byzantine Empire joined Corsica and Sardinia once again as a political division of the Exarchate (Viceroyalty) of Africa 
        After a few years of relative stability, the Corsican peace was broken again in 713 by the Islamic movement and the Saracens (Arabs and Moors) ravaged the Corsican coasts. In 725 Corsica was nominally under the control of the Lombard Kingdom in Italy after the defeat of Pisa. In 757 Pepin the Brief promised Pope Stephen III that Corsica would be part of the Papal Estates once the infidels were driven off and in 774 the donation of Pepin the Brief was confirmed by Charlemagne upon defeating the Lombard Kingdom. In order to pacify the Island, the Franks sent several expeditions to Corsica to drive off the moors. Meanwhile, the Frankish King, Louis the Pious, gives Bonifacio Marquis of Toscana the Island of Corsica as a fiefdom. Upon the death of the last Marquis of Toscana (Lamberto), Corsica passes to Berenguer II, King of Italy in 951 where it remained until the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II gives Corsica as a fiefdom to the new Marquis of Toscana (Hugo) in 973. Tired of being passed from feudal lord to feudal lord, the Corsicans organize their own feudal structure but another group of Corsicans rise in rebellion against their own lords and in 1007, the first Corsican Patriot, Sambucio de Alando is elected Corsican Chief.  Under his command, they defeat the feudal lords led by the Lord of Cinarca. After their victory they established a political division known as La Terra del Commune around Brando, Aleria, and Calvi.
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This article was originally published in the
Boletin de la Sociedad Puertorriqueña de Genealogía  Vol VIII, Abril de 1996, Num 1-2
Copyright 2005 © Héctor Andrés Negroni
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