Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi

Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi

Infobox Italian Royalty|prince
name = Prince Luigi Amedeo
title = Duke of the Abruzzi
full name = Luigi Amedeo Giuseppe Maria Ferdinando Francesco
titles = "HRH" The Duke of the Abruzzi
"HRH" Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy
"HRH" Infante Luigi Amedeo of Spain

imgw = 200px
date of birth = birth date|1873|1|29
place of birth = Madrid, Spain
date of death = death date and age|1933|3|18|1873|1|29
place of death = Jowhar, Italian Somalia
royal house = House of Savoy
father = Amadeo I of Spain
mother = Maria Vittoria del Pozzo della Cisterna

Prince Luigi Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of the Abruzzi (Luigi Amedeo Giuseppe Maria Ferdinando Francesco) (January 29, 1873 – March 18, 1933), was an Italian prince, mountaineer and explorer who made the first ascent of Mount Saint Elias (Alaska-Yukon) in 1897. He also served as an Italian admiral during World War I.

Early years and the "Stella Polare" expedition

Luigi Amedeo was born in Madrid, Spain the youngest son of the reigning King of Spain, Amadeus I and his consort Maria Vittoria del Pozzo della Cisterna. Shortly after his birth his father who had reigned in Spain since 1870 abdicated and returned to Italy. Luigi Amedeo was a member of the House of Savoy, well known in Europe since the 12th century and a nephew of Umberto I. His cousin, Vittorio Emmanuele III became king of Italy in 1900.

From 1893 to 1896 Luigi Amedeo travelled around the world, including Eritrea, then an Italian possession, and Vancouver. He had begun to train as a mountaineer in 1882 on Monte Bianco and Monte Rosa (Italian Alps): in 1897 he made the first ascent of Mount Saint Elias (Canada/U.S., 5,489 m). There the expedition searched for a mirage that natives and prospectors claimed to see over a glacier of what is called the Silent City of Alaska. C. W. Thornton who was a member of the expedition wrote, "It required no effort of the imagination to liken it to a city, but was so distinct that it required, instead, faith to believe that it was not in reality a city."Fact|date=July 2007

Another witness wrote in "The New York Times": "We could plainly see houses, well-defined streets, and trees. Here and there rose tall spires over huge buildings which appeared to be ancient mosques or cathedrals."

Some think the mirage is an image of Bristol, England that is 4,500 km across the pole. Its ghostly image was reported each year between June 21 and July 10.

In 1899 his polar expedition caused a sensation. In spring he arrived in the Norwegian capital Christiania (the present day Oslo) with 10 companions. The duke acquired the "Jason", a steam whaler of 570 tons. Renamed "Stella Polare" (“Pole Star”) the ship took the expedition through the frozen sea. On June 12 they headed for Arkhangel’sk.

On June 30 the "Stella Polare" dropped anchor in the docks of Arkhangel’sk and the duke was solemnly received by governor Engelhardt. The same day Luigi Amedeo was invited to meet the local authorities and the present foreign diplomats.

On July 7 a local newspaper wrote:

:The city theatre arranged an extraordinary spectacle in the presence of the Duke of the Abruzzi. The drama "The princess of Baghdad", consisting of three acts, was performed. Before the curtain was raised the orchestra had played the Italian royal anthem…

Later the duke himself wrote about his stay in Arkhangel’sk:

:Our departure was set for July 12. Early in the morning the church was open to us and we, although being Catholic, were allowed to join the mass. In the afternoon all the dogs were brought back on board to their kennels. In the evening the "Stella Polare" put out and was escorted by two steamers down the Dvina. I still remained on shore, as well as Doctor Cavalli, in order to spend the evening together with our Italian friends. Next evening we left Arkhangel’sk. During the whole journey we saw flags being hoisted to welcome us…

Arctic expedition

In 1899 Luigi Amedeo organized an expedition towards the North Pole.

Twenty men took part in the expedition, among them Captain Umberto Cagni, Lieutenant F. Querini and Doctor A. Cavalli Molinelli. They planned to go to Franz Joseph Land, in the Arctic wilderness, to establish a camp in which to stay during wintertime and, afterwards, to reach the North Pole by dogsled across the frozen sea.

Luigi Amedeo established the winter camp on the Rudolf-Island. The expedition was to start at the end of the Arctic Night. The duke lost two fingers during winter because of the cold, which made it impossible for him to join the trip by sled. He left the command over the pole expedition to Captain Cagni. On March 11 1900 Cagni left the camp and reached latitude 86° 34’ on April 25, setting a new record by beating Nansen’s result of 1895 by 35 to 40 kilometres. Cagni barely managed to turn back to the camp until June 23. On August 16 the "Stella Polare" left the Rudolf-Island heading south and the expedition returned to Norway. During the expedition the northern coast of Rudolf-Island and two other islands were explored and measured.

Late years

In 1906, inspired by Henry Morton Stanley's last wishes, the Duke led an expedition to the Ruwenzori Range (5,125 m), in Uganda. He scaled sixteen summits in the range, including the six principal peaks. One of them, Mount Luigi di Savoia, bears his name. The highest peak was reached on June 18 1906.

The next great expedition, in 1909, aimed to climb K2 in Karakorum. A team led by Luigi Amedeo reached a height of 6,666 m on the ridge in 1909. The standard route up the mountain (formerly known as K2's East Ridge) climbs today on the Abruzzi Spur.

In an attempt on Chogolisa the next year he and his companions again failed to reach the summit, but set a world altitude record.

A vice-admiral in the Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy), he was Inspector of Torpedo Craft 1911 -1912. During World War I, he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Adriatic Fleet (1914 - 1917) based in Taranto, his flagship being the "Conte di Cavour".

The Explorers Club in New York elected the Duke to its highest category of membership — Honorary Member — in 1912.Fact|date=August 2007

The Duke of Abruzzi died on March 18 1933, at Jowhar some ninety kilometres north of Mogadishu (Somalia). Here he had founded the Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi, an agricultural settlement experimenting new cultivation techniques. In 1926 the colony comprised 16 villages, with 3,000 Somali and 200 Italian inhabitants.

Personal life

In the early years of the twentieth century the duke was in a relationship with Katherine Elkins, daughter of the wealthy American senator Davis Elkins, but the duke's cousin King Vittorio Emmanuele III refused him permission to marry a commoner. His brother, Emanuele Filiberto, to whom Luigi was very close to, convinced him to give up the relationship [ [ Aosta very ill] ] . In the later years of his life the duke became involved with a young Somali woman named Faduma Ali. They never married.


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1= 1. Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi
2= 2. Amadeo I of Spain
3= 3. Maria Vittoria del Pozzo della Cisterna
4= 4. Victor Emmanuel II of Italy
5= 5. Maria Adelaide of Austria
6= 6. Carlo Emanuele dal Pozzo, Prince della Cisterna
7= 7. Louise Caroline Ghislaine, Countess of Merode
8= 8. Charles Albert of Sardinia
9= 9. Maria Theresa of Tuscany
10= 10. Archduke Rainer Joseph of Austria
11= 11. Princess Elisabeth of Savoy-Carignan
12= 12. Giuseppe Alfonso dal Pozzo, 4th Prince della Cisterna
13= 13. Marie Anne Theodore des Balbes de Berton
14= 14. Werner, Count of Merode
15= 15. Countess Victoire de Spangen d'Uyternesse
16= 16. Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Carignan
17= 17. Princess Maria Christina of Saxony
18= 18. Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany
19= 19. Princess Luisa of Naples and Sicily
20= 20. Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor
21= 21. Maria Louisa of Spain
22= 22. Charles Emmanuel, Prince of Carignan (= 16)
23= 23. Princess Maria Christina of Saxony (= 17)
24= 24. Giuseppe Amedeo Tommaso dal Pozzo, Prince della Cisterna e Belriguardo
25= 25. Anna Gabriella Enrichetta Caresana
28= 28. Guillaume de Merode, Count of Merode-Westerloo
29= 29. Marie d'Ongnies, Princess of Grimberghe
30= 30. Count François de Spangen d'Uyternesse
31= 31. Louise de Flaveau
ahnentafel bottom

ee also

* Luigi Island

cientific works

*"La Stella Polare nel Mare Artico 1899-1900" (1902)
*"Osservazioni scientifiche, eseguite durante la spedizione polare di S.A.R. Luigi Amedeo di Savoia" (1903, with Cagni and Cavalli-Molinelli)


*De Filippi, "La spedizione di S.A.R. il principe Luigi Amedeo di Savoia, Duca degli Abruzzi, al Monte Sant’Elia (Alaska) 1897" (1900)
*Louis Amédée de Savoie (Duc des Abruzzes), Expédition de l’Étoile Polaire dans la Mer Arctique 1899-1900, Paris, coll. Polaires, Économica, 2004 (Préface de Giulia Bogliolo Bruna)

External links

* Bridges, Peter, [ "A Prince of Climbers"] , "Virginia Quarterly Review", Winter 2000

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