News that the Genoese fleet had been disastrously defeated, and largely captured or destroyed, by Venetian and Catalan fleets in the battle of Alghero (sometimes called the battle of La Lojera), fought off the western coast of Sardinia on 27 August, must have reached Milan early in September.1 To the Archbishop this doubtless suggested that he might soon gain possession of Genoa; to Petrarch, to whom the news came at night, it must have brought great distress, for internecine warfare between Italian states seemed to him to be a very terrible thing. Venice and Genoa, perennial and bitter rivals, had been engaged in intermittent naval hostilities since 1350; in the spring of 1351 Petrarch had written to Andrea Dandolo, Doge of Venice, a long and able letter, Fam. XI8, in which he had urged the Doge to make peace with Genoa; and on 1 November 1352-- the Genoese having won a major victory earlier in the year, and a peace conference having failed to reach an agreement--he had written to the Doge and Council of Genoa another long and able letter, Fam. XIV5, in which he had urged them to make peace with Venice.
No sooner had he heard the news of the battle of Alghero than he started to write a letter of consolation and exhortation to the Doge and Council of Genoa; but early on the following morning he heard a report that the Genoese, broken in spirit, were considering a course of action that seemed to him unworthy--and he did not finish the letter that he had begun. Presumably the course of action in question was the one that the____________________