Fulco ruffo di calabria

Prince Fulco Ruffo di Calabria
6th Duke of Guardia Lombarda

Spouse Luisa Gazelli dei Conti Rossana
Maria Cristina
Prince Fabrizio, 7th Duke of Guardia Lombarda
Queen Paola of the Belgians
Father Fulco Beniamino Tristano Ruffo di Calabria, 5th Duke of Guardia Lombarda
Mother Laura Mosselman du Chenoy
Born (1884-08-12)12 August 1884
Naples, Kingdom of Italy
Died 23 August 1946(1946-08-23) (aged 62)
Marina di Massa, Italy

Fulco VIII, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, 6th Duke of Guardia Lombarda (Naples 12 August 1884 – Ronchi di Apuana 23 August 1946) was an Italian World War I flying ace, senator under the fascist regime of Mussolini in World War II for which he was convicted. He was also posthumous father-in-law of King Albert II of the Belgians, and grandfather of King Philippe of Belgium.

Family history

Ademarus Rufus, who died in 1049, held the title of Comes in southern Italy. Siggerio Ruffo became Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II's grand marshal of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1235. The family divided into two branches after the 14th century: the Ruffo di Calabria and the Ruffo di Scaletta, to the former of which Fulco belonged.[1]

Don Fulco was the son of Fulco Beniamino Tristano Ruffo di Calabria, 5th Duke of Guardia Lombarda (1848 - 1901), and Laura Mosselman du Chenoy, a Belgian noblewoman, whose maternal grandfather was Count Jacques André Coghen, Belgium's second finance minister. Beniamino Ruffo di Calabria was the younger brother of the head of the House of Ruffo, Fulco Ruffo di Calabria-Santapau, 10th Principe di Scilla and 2nd Duca di Santa Cristina.

Don Fulco was made, by decree of 15 March 1928, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, in the Kingdom of Italy. By inheritance he was also the 6th Duke of Guardia Lombarda and 17th Count of Sinopoli.[1] The family Ruffo di Calabria represents one of the most ancient lineages of Italy and includes Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo. Fulco was related to historically eminent Roman and southern Italian noble families, including the Colonna, Orsini, Pallavicini, Alliata and Rospigliosi. Among his distinguished ancestors of the French aristocracy were the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of American Independence, and the Dukes of Noailles.

Since the fall of the Italian monarchy in 1947 the Princes Ruffo di Calabria have become connected by marriage to such formerly reigning dynasties as the Orléans, the Savoys, the Bonapartes and the Windisch-Graetz.[2]

Early life and prewar military service

Fulco Ruffo di Calabria was born in Naples, Kingdom of Italy on 12 August 1884. His noble family's patriotism was prominent in Italian military history since at least 1797. He thus volunteered for reserve officer's training with the 11th Foggia Light Cavalry Regiment on 22 November 1904. On 31 May 1905, he was promoted to Caporal; on 30 November, he was again promoted, to Sergente. On 20 February 1906, he was commissioned into officers' ranks as a Sottotenente. Subsequently, he became deputy director of the Belgian Wegimont shipping company's African station. He returned from Africa as World War I broke out.[3]

World War I service

Ruffo di Calabria returned to military duty before Italy's entry into World War I, and was assigned to the Battaglione Aviatori (which later became the Corpo Aeronautico Militare on 20 December 1914. After pilot's training, on 28 September 1915, he was posted to the 4a Squadriglia Artiglia, an artillery coordination unit that later morphed into 44a Squadriglia. On 26 January 1916, he moved to 2a Squadriglia (later 42a Squadriglia). He won two Bronze awards of the Medal for Military Valor—in February and April 1916—while still a two-seater pilot with them.[3] His personal emblem was a black skull and crossbones painted on the fuselage of his plane,[4][5] whether it was his original Nieuport 11s, or his later Nieuport 17, and SPAD VII airplanes.[3]

Ruffo di Calabria underwent further training on Nieuports at Cascina Costa in May 1916. On 26 June,[3][6] he was assigned to 1a Squadriglia as a fighter pilot. He won his first victory there, shared with Francesco Baracca on 23 August 1916,[7] and had a second one go unconfirmed. His performance was good for a Silver Medal for Military Valor in August, followed by a Bronze in September 1916.[3]

By 16 September, when he shared a victory with Baracca and Luigi Olivari, he was scoring for his new unit, 70a Squadriglia. He ran his score with them to four confirmed and four unconfirmed by 28 February 1917.[3]

In March 1917, he was transferred out of the reserves when he was promoted to Tenente. In May he then switched to flying a Nieuport for 91a Squadriglia.[7] He was awarded both a Silver and a Bronze Medal for Military Valor that same month. His promotion to Capitano came through in August 1917. By that time, his confirmed victories totaled 13. He ended 1917 with his total victories at 16.[3]

Ruffo di Calabria's records for 1918 are incomplete, but credit him with four more victories. On 5 May 1918, he was granted the ultimate Medal of Military Valor, the Gold award. After Baracca's death on 18 June 1918, Fulco assumed command of the renowned "Squadron of Aces". He relinquished command of 91a Squadriglia on 18 September to Ferruccio Ranza, after suffering a nervous breakdown.[8][9] After recovery, he was handed command of 10th Gruppo, on 23 October 1918, but was shot down by artillery fire near Marano on 29 October 1918. In the end, he shot down 20 enemy airplanes in 53 combats,[3] making him the fifth highest scoring Italian flying ace of World War I.[3][10]

Post World War I service

On 1 February 1919, the Bongiovanni commission's military intelligence report verified all 20 of Ruffo di Calabria's confirmed victories, though still denying the five that were unconfirmed.[3][10] Di Calabria remained in the military, though without assignment. By 1925, his main activity was management of his family estates[7] located near Paliano.[3]

In 1934 he was named senator of the kingdom by king Victor Emmanuel III.[11] He also continued in the military, eventually rising to the rank of Tenente Colonello in 1942.[7] Ruffo di Calabria served in the Italian senate until 1944.

During World War II he was a supporter of the Italian fascist leader Mussolini. He was subsequently convicted postwar by an Italian court for complicity in the crimes of fascism, and that ruling was upheld on 10 January 1946 despite his appeal. [12]

Fulco Ruffo di Calabria died in Ronchi di Apuania, Italy on 23 August 1946.[3]


Ruffo Di Calabria was awarded the following distinctions:

Italian awards

  • Knight of the Military Order of Savoy ‑ R.D. 10 September 1918
  • Gold Medal of Military Valor ‑ D.L. 5 May 1918
  • Silver Medal of Military Valor ‑ D.L. 15 March 1917
  • Silver Medal of Military Valor (combat merit on the field) - D.L. 20 January 1918
  • Bronze Medal of Military Valor ‑ D.L. 15 October 1916
  • Bronze Medal of Military Valor ‑ D.L. 24 May 1917
  • Bronze Medal of Military Valor - D.L. 10 June 1917.
  • Bronze Medal of Military Valor‑ D.L. 16 June 1917
  • War Merit Cross - 1918
  • Badge for the war effort (with four service stars) - R.D. 21 May 1916
  • Commemorative medal of the Italian- Austrian war 1915-1918 (with four service stars) - (R.D. 29 July 1920)
  • Italian World War I Victory Medal - (R.D. 29 July 1920)
  • Commemorative Medal for the Unification of Italy (R.D. 19 October 1922)
  • Order of the Crown of Italy
    • Commander (30 November 1939)
    • Officer (22 December 1938)
    • Knight (29 January 1929)

International awards

He also served as a senator.[1]


On 30 June 1919 he married, in Turin, Luisa Gazelli (1896–1989), daughter of Augusto Gazelli dei Conti di Rossana, and of Maria Cristina dei Conti Rignon. Luisa served as a lady-in-waiting at the Italian court.[1]

They had seven children :[1]

  • Donna Maria Cristina Ruffo di Calabria (1920–2003), married Casimiro San Martino d´Aglie dei Marchesi di San Germano in 1940 :
    • Emanuela San Martino d'Agliè, married 1962 Count Ernesto Rossi di Montelera (born 1938) :
      • Lidia Rossi di Montelera (born 1963), married 1990 Count Alexander zu Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg.
      • Maria Cristina Rossi di Montelera (born 1965), married 1994 Baron Hans-Ulrich von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allmendingen.
      • Ginevra Rossi di Montelera (born 1967).
      • Antonella Rossi di Montelera (born 1970), married 2003 Count Alois von Waldburg-Zeil.
    • Antonella San Martino d'Agliè, married 1970 Count Ippolito Calvi di Bergolo Rocca Saporiti.
    • Giovanna San Martino d'Aglie (born 10 April 1945, Campiglione), married 24 May 1974 Campiglione, Italy, Don Alvaro de Orléans-Borbón y Parodi Delfino (son of Infante Alvaro de Orléans-Borbón, Duke of Galliera), divorced with issue in ?
    • Nicolo San Martino d'Aglie (born 3 July 1948, Campiglione) married 4 June 1974 Princess Catherine Napoléon (daughter of Louis, Prince Napoléon), divorced without issue in 1982.
    • Filippo San Martino d'Agile di San Germano (born 24 Septembre 1953, Torino) married 16 Novembre 1984 Cristina Maria Margherita Flesia.
  • Laura Ruffo di Calabria (1921–1972), married Bettino, Baron Ricasoli Firidolfi in 1946.
  • Fabrizio, Prince Ruffo di Calabria-Santapau (1922–2005), head of the House of Ruffo from 1975, 13th Prince of Palazzolo, 14th Prince of Scilla, 7th Duke of Guardia Lombarda, 13th Marquis of Scilla and 18th Count of Sinopoli[1] who, by his first marriage to Maria Vaciago, had :
    • Don Fulco, Prince Ruffo di Calabria, (born 29 July 1954), current head of the House of Ruffo di Calabria, married and divorced Melba Vincens Bello; married secondly 2005 Luisa Tricarico.
    • Augusto Ruffo di Calabria, (born 1 October 1955), married HSH Princess Christiana zu Windisch-Graetz in 1980 with issue.
    • Imara Ruffo di Calabria, (born 7 July 1958), married firstly Uberto Imar Gashe (grandson of Princess Yolanda of Savoy) in 1986; married secondly Baron Marco Tonci Ottieri della Ciaia in 1993.
    • Umberto Ruffo di Calabria, (born 23 October 1960), married Leontina, Marchesa Pallavicini in 1987.
    • Don Alessandro Ruffo di Calabria, (born 4 November 1964), married HRH Princess Princess Mafalda of Savoy-Aosta in 1994, divorced without issue in 2000.
  • Augusto Ruffo di Calabria (1925–1943), killed in battle at sea on 2 November 1943 near Pescara.
  • Giovannella Ruffo di Calabria (1927–1941).
  • Antonello Ruffo di Calabria (born 1930), married to Rosa Maria Mastrogiovanni Tasca in 1961.
    • Covella Ruffo di Calabria (born 4 February 1962, Rome).
    • Lucio Ruffo di Calabria (born 14 April 1964, Rome).
    • Domitilla Ruffo di Calabria (born 9 May 1965, Rome) married 16 July 1990 Don Giovanni dei Baroni Porcari Li Destri.
    • Claudia Ruffo di Calabria (born 30 August 1969, Rome) married 27 May 1989 Marcello Salom.
  • Donna[13] Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria (born 1937), Queen consort of the Belgians, married to Albert II, King of the Belgians (then Prince of Liège) in 1959.


Sources of information


  • de Badts de Cugnac, Chantal; Coutant de Saisseval, Guy. Le petit Gotha: Collection Le Petit Gotha. Le Petit Gotha, 2002. ISBN 2950797431, 9782950797438.
  • Ehrenkrook, Hans Friedrich von; Hueck, Walter von; Franke, Christoph; Strachwitz von Groß-Zauche u. C. Moritz; editors. Genealogisches Handbuch der Fürstlichen Häuser. Band XVI (2001), Volume 124. Walter von Hueck, Christoph Franke, Moritz. Starke, 2001. ISBN 3798008248, 9783798008243.
  • Norman Franks, Russell Guest, Gregory Alegi. Above the War Fronts: The British Two-seater Bomber Pilot and Observer Aces, the British Two-seater Fighter Observer Aces, and the Belgian, Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Fighter Aces, 1914–1918: Volume 4 of Fighting Airmen of WWI Series: Volume 4 of Air Aces of WWI. Grub Street, 1997. ISBN 1-898697-56-6, ISBN 978-1-898697-56-5.
  • Guttman, Jon. SPAD XII/XIII Aces of World War I. Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN. 1841763160, 9781841763163.

External links

  • Photo of Ruffo di Calabria's restored Spad VII fighter [1]

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