Historical story

Paolo Thaon di Revel, the Duke of the Sea of ​​the Italian navy

Paolo Thaon di Revel (1859-1948) born Paolo Camillo Margherita Giuseppe Maria Thaon di Revel, was one of the great protagonists of the military history of the kingdom of Italy, he was in fact the first, and only, man to receive, in May 1924, the title of Duke of the sea and he too was the only admiral in the entire history of the Italian navy, monarchist and republican, to be promoted to the honorary title of Grand Admiral in November 1924.

The reason why Paolo Thaon di Revel in 1924 obtained these honors is mainly political, Italy, more precisely Fascist Italy, was trying to build its own "mythology" linked to the First World War, granting honors and recognitions to those who , during and after the conflict, they had distinguished themselves in a particular way, and Paolo Thaon di Revel was, in the eyes of the fascists, the hero who had fought in Paris for the respect of the London Pact , de facto a precursor of the mutilated victory theory, but other than that.

The Great War of Thaon of Revel

When the great war began, in 1915 Thaon di Revel was chief of staff , however, following various disputes with the then commander in chief of the army, Vice Admiral Luigi Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta, Duke of Abruzzi, Thaon di Revel resigned to King Vittorio Emanele III to which he apparently introduced himself with the following words

«Maestà devo combattere e guardarmi dagli austriaci, dagli Alleati e dagli ammiragli italiani. Le assicuro che i primi mi danno meno da fare degli altri due».

No longer chief of staff, Revel obtained the appointment of commander in chief of the maritime military department of Venice, where, with great foresight, he promoted the massive use of new war technologies , such as armed trains and armed torpedo boats , better known as MAS , practically means of maritime incursion, very agile and fast. He was also a great supporter of the theory of the supremacy of the air, promoting the enhancement of nautical aviation, a precursor of the Italian military air force.

After the war, Revel participates, together with Foreign Minister Sonnino , as naval delegate, to the Paris conference , where he defended “Italian rights over Dalmatia” and demanded compliance with the London Pact. His political battle in Paris was highly regarded by future supporters of the mutilated victory theory.

From the ministry of war to disputes with Mussolini

In 1922 he joined the first Mussolini government, as Minister of the Navy and, together with general Pietro Armando Diaz (Minister of War) and of Giovanni Gronchi , future president of the republic, at that time, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce , he represented one of the King's trusted men in the "first national government" .

During his tenure as minister, Revel promoted the construction of two sailing ships to be used as a training ship, the Cristoforo Colombo and the Amerigo Vespucci , the first was sold, after the end of the Second World War, to the Soviet Union as part of the war payments, the second is still in service as a training ship for the Italian Navy.

Revel was a man of mystical monarchical faith, descendant of an ancient noble family very close to the Savoy family, and, on the political level, his faith in the monarchy never ceased to exist, even in the face of Mussolini's persuasion attempts. , with whom, during his tenure as Minister of the Navy, he clashed on several occasions, to the point that, in May 1925, faced with yet another controversy, he did not agree with the reform of the military order which established a supreme command of all the armed forces, de facto subordinated the Navy to the army, Revel, who had long called for a system of coordination of the armed forces, resigned once again from the role of chief of staff.

Revel, an “anti-fascist” hero of fascism.

During the Second World War, Revel participated as a trusted man of the King in the weekly meetings that were held every Thursday at the Quirinale , however it seems that he was not directly involved in the negotiations for the Armistice probably because he is already very old.

Even if for Mussolini's propaganda Revel was a "hero of fascism" , when Mussolini betrayed the king and promoted an Italian secession by founding the RSI, Thaon di Revel remained loyal to the royal house by refusing to join the RSI. His inexhaustible faith in the monarchy was "rewarded" with his appointment as president of the senate and subsequently joined, following the abdication of Vittorio Emanuele III, he became part of the small circle of councilors of King Umberto II.

In view of the referendum of June 46, Revel sided, for obvious reasons, in favor of the monarchical bloc, subsequently, with the advent of the republic, Paolo Thaon di Revel retired to private life, only to die in 1948 at the ripe old age 89 years old.

Some information about Revel's Thaon family

The story of Paolo Thaon di Revel represents only the last chapter in the history of one of the ancient Italian noble families, a family that played a very important role in Italian history, in the history of the Kingdom of Italy and above all, in the history of the Savoy dynasty. .

Since their arrival in Piedmont, which took place in the 15th century, the Thaon, then Thaon di Revel following the Savoy's appointment as lords of Revel, have always watched their backs on the Savoy, it was they who raised the Thaon, from warlords to head of a company of fortune, with noble rank, first as lords of Revel and then as Marquises, Counts and Dukes.

For centuries the Revel were faithful servants and protectors of the Savoy dynasty, a small but tenacious Italian-French noble house and their proximity to the House of Savoy projected the Thaon di Revel into the heart of the Italian Risorgimento.
Ottavio Thaon di Revel, father of Paolo Thaon di Revel, was one of the closest collaborators and advisers of Carlo Alberto di Savoia, he was a deputy of the kingdom of Sardinia continuously between the first and sixth legislatures and was a senator of the kingdom of Italy, moreover , in 1848 he was Minister of Finance of the Kingdom of Sardinia, under the three governments of Bolbo, Alfieri di Sostegno and San Martino that followed one another in that year, but not only. Also in 1848, Ottavio Thaon di Revel was co-signer of the Albertino Statute, the first Italian "constitution", which remained in force until the republican constitution came into force.


Card Senator Paolo Thaon di Revel
Grand Admiral Paolo Thaon of Revel
Pact of London on JSTOR