Ernesto Burzagli

Ernesto Burzagli CB GCMM GOA (7 June 1873 – 13 September 1944) was a prominent figure in the Kingdom of Italy during the early 20th century. During a lifetime career in the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina Italiana), he rose to the rank of Admiral and Chief of Staff. In 1933, King Victor Emmanuel III appointed Burzagli as a Senator in Rome.[1]

Despite his life service to the state, Burzagli was arrested in 1944 after clashing with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Although he was released a short time later, Burzagli was forced to withdraw from public life.

Ernesto Burzagli
Burzagli giovane
Burzagli as a young officer
Born7 June 1873
Modena, Italy
Died13 September 1944 (aged 71)
Montevarchi, Italy
Allegiance Kingdom of Italy
Service/branchRegia Marina
Years of service1892-1931
Battles/warsWorld War I

Early years

Aboard a Japanese naval vessel in Yokohama harbor before sailing to the Battle of Port Arthur (1904).

Burzagli entered the Italian Naval Academy (Accademia Navale) in Leghorn (Livorno in Italian) in 1887; and he was commissioned as ensign in 1892.

Japanese certificate acknowledging Burzagli's observer participation as Italian naval attaché serving with the Imperial Japanese Navy (1904-1906).

Burzagli was from a noble family of Montevarchi, but was born in Modena, as his father had relocated there to assume a position as a professor of physics at the Military Academy of Modena. Burzagli graduated from the Accademia Navale di Livorno in 1892, and after serving on a number of ships in the Royal Italian Navy, he was assigned as a military attaché to Tokyo, Japan in May 1904. He arrived just in time to become an official foreign observer of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Russo-Japanese War, and witnessed first-hand the naval bombardment of Port Arthur. After the end of the war, in April 1906, he was received by Emperor Meiji of Japan, and received the Order of the Rising Sun before his return to Italy.[2]

Naval career

In 1912, Burzagli was assigned command of an Intrepid-class destroyer. Promoted to commander in 1914, he saw combat in World War I as commander of a squadron of destroyers, and from May 1916 to March 1917, served on the General Staff of the Italian Navy. In 1917, Captain Burzagli sailed the RN Libia across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City.[3] Near the end of the conflict, he was promoted to higher rank.

Award of Order of Ouissam Alaouite
Moroccan decree (dahir) which proclaims and confirms that the Order of Oissam Alaouite is conferred on Ernesto Burzagli.
Diploma of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, creating Burzagli a Commander (First Class).

In February 1918, he was awarded the Military Order of Savoy.[1] In 1919 he was decorated with the Navy Cross by the United States Navy for his service to the allied cause during the World War.

At the end of the war in 1919, Burzagli was sent to Albania to command the Vlore naval base, and played an active role in the suppression of pro-independence Albanian uprising, personally undertaking several reconnaissance flights over rebel-held territory, for which he was awarded the Bronze Medal of Military Valor.

Altrefoto (6)
Map showing the route sailed by the RN Libia circumnavigating the world (1921-1923); and inset images feature a side view of the naval vessel and the ship's captain.

Burzagli was given command of the cruiser RN Libia from February 1921 to February 1923, and during this period, the ship circumnavigated the globe.[4] On his return, Burzagli was promoted to the rank of rear admiral; and he and assigned to head the Accademia Navale and the Italian Institute of Marine War.

He wrote a treatise in four volumes, Manual of Navigation (1927).

He left his place at the academy in 1927 in to accept the position of Chief of Staff of the Navy, a post he held until 1931.[5][6]

Burzagli was a Technical Advisor in the Italian delegation at the London Naval Conference of 1930 for the reduction of the armaments.[7]

Burzagli was promoted to Divisional Admiral in 1926, and promoted again to Vice Admiral in 1928. He was Naval Chief of Staff from 1927-1931.[1] He was no longer Naval Chief of Staff in 1932 when Italy announced plans to retire two battleships, twelve cruisers, 25 destroyers, and 12 submarines—in all, 130,000 tons of naval vessels.[8]

In 1933, he was also named a Senator.[9] In the Senate, he served as a member of the Commission for Examination of Law Conversion (1936–1939), a member of the Commission for Finances (1939–1943), and a member of the Commission for the High Court of Justice (1940–1943).[1]

Later years

Burzagli withdrew from the active service in 1936. After the withdrawal to Montevarchi near his estate of Moncioni, he entered in friction with Benito Mussolini for his clear opposition to Italy's entrance into the Axis Powers, and for his subsequent opposition to Italy's entrance into World War II.

In the spring of 1944, he refused to collaborate with the authorities of the Italian Social Republic and was arrested. However, he was released in consideration of his reputation and his advanced age.

He died on 13 September 1944 and was buried in a monumental tomb in the cemetery of Montevarchi.


Letter dated 1919, from the United States Secretary of the Navy, awarding the Navy Cross to Burzagli

Burzagli received many awards and decorations, including awards from several other countries, such as the Navy Cross from the United States, the second highest award that nation's military has.

Cavaliere OCI BAR
Ufficiale OCI Kingdom BAR
Commendatore OCI Kingdom BAR
Grande ufficiale OCI Kingdom BAR
Cavaliere di Gran Croce OCI Kingdom BAR
Cavaliere SSML BAR
Ufficiale SSML Regno BAR
Commendatore SSML Regno BAR
Grande ufficiale SSML Regno BAR
Cavaliere di gran Croce Regno SSML BAR
JPN Kyokujitsu-sho 5Class BAR
JPN Zuiho-sho (WW2) 5Class BAR
Order of the Bath UK ribbon
Legion Honneur Chevalier ribbon
RUS Order św. Anny (baretka)
Ufficiale BAR
FIN Order of the White Rose Commander 1st Class BAR
PER Order of the Sun of Peru - Commander BAR
Star of Romania Ribbon
Star of Romania Ribbon
MAR Order of the Ouissam Alaouite - Grand Officer (1913-1956) BAR
NLD Order of Orange-Nassau - Grand Officer BAR
PRT Military Order of Aviz - Grand Officer BAR
ESP Gran Cruz Merito Naval (Distintivo Blanco) pasador


Valor militare bronze medal BAR
Navy Cross ribbon
Anzianità di servizio 16 BAR
Anzianità di servizio 25 BAR

Service medals

Campaigns in Africa medal BAR
1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War Medal (Japan)
Commemorative Italian-Austrian war medal BAR
Commemorative Italian-Austrian war medal BAR
Medaglia a ricordo dell'Unità d'Italia BAR
Peru Centenary of the Independence
Medaglia d'onore per lunga navigazione marittima 20 BAR
Mauriziana BAR

Selected works

  • Burzagli, Ernesto. (1927). Manuale dell'Ufficiale di Rotta. Genoa:
  • __________ and A Grillo. (1932). Manual del oficial de derrota (Navigation Manual translated from Italian to Spanish). Barcelona: G. Gilli

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Senato della Repubblica: biographical summary
  2. ^ File:Portarthur.jpg; File:Giapp.jpg
  3. ^ Malcolm, James. (1917). State Service: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Government of the State of New York and Its Affairs, p. 268.
  4. ^ Library of Congress: RN Libia
  5. ^ Segrè, Claudio G. (1990). Italo Balbo: A Fascist Life, p. 188.
  6. ^ Zivkovic, Georg. (1971). Heer- und Flottenführer der Welt; Army and navy-leaders of the world, p. 587.
  7. ^ Great Britain Foreign Office. (1930). Documents of the London Naval Conference, 1930, p. 96.
  8. ^ "Italy Will Retire 130,000 tons of Navy; Two Battleships, All That She Owns, Are Included in the Sweeping Economy Move. Four New Cruisers to Go [plus] Eight Old Ones, 25 Destroyers and 12 Submarines Also to Be Taken Out of Service," New York Times. August 18, 1932.
  9. ^ Estratto Bolletino d'Informazioni, Marzo 1934
  10. ^ a b Honor awarded in 1906 -- "Cruiser 'Livia' in Kobe to Greet Italians," Osaka Mainichi. July 28, 1922.
  11. ^ appointment to Order of the Bath, p. 1 and appointment, p. 2
  12. ^ Légion d'honneur: diploma
  13. ^ Order of White Rose of Finland: diploma
  14. ^ Peru: diploma, Order of the Sun
  15. ^ See Talk:Ernesto Burzagli#Order of Ouissam Alaouite
  16. ^ Order of Orange-Nassau
  17. ^ Presidencia da Republica, Chancelaria das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Anuário: Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas, Ciadadãos Estrangeiros, 1910-2006, p. 75. Archived 2008-03-14 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Spanish Order of Naval Merit: diploma
  19. ^ Augusto B. Leguía, President of Peru: diploma, Medal of the Centenary of Peru
  20. ^ Medaglia d'onore per lunga navigazione: diploma


Altrefoto (2)
The RN Count of Cavour (RN Conte di Cavour), one of the many ships on which Burzagli served.
  • This article also derives significantly from the content and style of the "Ernesto Burzagli" article on the Italian Wikipedia.

External links

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