De Brazza, Pierre Savorgnan

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de Brazza, Pierre Savorgnan Gender: M
Pietro Paolo Savorgnan di Brazzà
born on 25 January 1852 at 10:00 (= 10:00 AM )
Place Castel Gandolfo, Italy, 41n45, 12e39
Timezone LMT m12e39 (is local mean time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Geslain
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 04°37' s_mo.18.gif s_piscol.18.gif 20°25 Asc.s_aricol.18.gif 06°49'

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Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza


Italian/French explorer, born in the Papal States and later naturalized as a Frenchman. With the backing of the Société de Géographie de Paris, he opened up for France entry along the right bank of the Congo that eventually led to French colonies in Central Africa. His easy manner and great physical charm, as well as his pacific approach among Africans, were his trademarks. Under French colonial rule, the capital of the Republic of the Congo was named Brazzaville after him and the name was retained by the post-colonial rulers.

Born in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, Pietro Savorgnan di Brazzà was the seventh son of Count Ascanio Savorgnan di Brazzà, a nobleman of Udine with many French connections, and his wife Giacinta Simonetti. Pietro was interested in exploration from an early age and won entry to the French naval school at Brest. He graduated as an ensign and sailed on the French ship Jeanne d'Arc to Algeria.

Brazza first encountered Africa in 1872, while sailing on an anti-slavery mission near Gabon. His next ship was the Vénus, which stopped at Gabon regularly and in 1874 Brazza made two trips, up the Gabon and Ogooué rivers. He then proposed to the government that he explore the Ogooué to its source. With the help of friends in high places, including Jules Ferry and Leon Gambetta, he secured partial funding, the rest coming out of his own pocket. He also became a naturalized French citizen at this time, adopting the French spelling of his name.

In this expedition, which lasted from 1875–1878, 'armed' only with cotton textiles and tools to use for barter, and accompanied by Noel Ballay, a doctor, naturalist Alfred Marche, a sailor, thirteen Senegalese laptots and four local interpreters, Brazza charmed and talked his way deep inland.

The French authorized a second mission, 1879-1882. By following the Ogoue River upstream and proceeding overland to the Lefini River and then downstream, Brazza succeeded in reaching the Congo River in 1880 without encroaching on Portuguese claims. He then proposed to King Makoko of the Batekes that he place his kingdom under the protection of the French flag. Makoko, interested in trade possibilities and in gaining an edge over his rivals, signed the treaty. Makoko also arranged for the establishment of a French settlement at Mfoa on the Congo's Malebo Pool, a place later known as Brazzaville; after Brazza's departure, the outpost was manned by two Laptots under the command of Senegalese Sergeant Malamine Camara, whose resourcefulness had impressed Brazza during their several months trekking inland from the coast. During this trip he encountered Stanley near Vivi. Brazza did not reveal that he just signed up Makoko - it took Stanley some months to realise that he had been beaten in the 'race' (set by his sponsor King Léopold).

In 1883, Brazza was named governor-general of the French Congo in 1886. He was dismissed in 1897 due to poor profitability of the colony and journalist reports of conditions for the natives that some would say were "too good."

By 1905, stories were reaching Paris of injustice, forced labour and brutality by the Congo's new governor, Emile Gentil in laissez-faire conjunction with the new concession companies set up by the French Colonial Office and condoned by Auguoard, Catholic Bishop of the Congo. Brazza was sent to investigate and the resulting report was revealing and damning, in spite of many obstructions placed in his path. When his deputy Félicien Challaye placed the embarrassing report in front of the National Assembly, it was suppressed and those oppressive conditions remained in the French Congo for decades.

The last tour of the Congo took a hard physical toll of Brazza, and on his return journey to Dakar he died of dysentery and fever (amid rumours that he had been poisoned) on 14 September 1905, age 53. His body was repatriated to France and he was given a state funeral at Sainte-Clothilde Church in Paris prior to interment at the cemetery of Père Lachaise. His widow, Thérèse, dissatisfied with the politicians' subsequent behaviour, had his body exhumed and reinterred in Algiers (capital of present-day Algeria). The epitaph for his burial site in Algiers reads: "une mémoire pure de sang humain" ("a memory untainted by human blood").

In February 2005 Presidents Nguesso of Congo, Ondimba of Gabon and Chirac of France gathered at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for a memorial to Pierre de Brazza, a mausoleum of Italian marble.

On 30 September 2006, de Brazza's remains were exhumed from Algiers along with those of his wife and four children. They were reinterred in Brazzaville on 3 October in the new marble mausoleum which had been prepared for them and had cost some 10 million dollars. The ceremony was attended by three African presidents and a French foreign minister, who paid tribute to his humanitarian work against slavery and the abuse of African workers.

Mausoleum's controversy

The decision to honor de Brazza as a founding father of the Republic of the Congo has elicited protests among many Congolese, questioning the best use of the money and why a colonizer should be revered as a national hero instead of the Congolese who fought against colonization. The Congolese historian professor Théophile Obenga stated that in honoring de Brazza, the government disregarded salient information, including an account of de Brazza's rape of a Congolese woman passed down by oral tradition.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Death by Disease 14 September 1905 (malaria, dysentry)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Misc. : Find something 30 September 2006 (remains exhumed from Algiers and transported to Brazzaville, Congo)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Other Misc. 3 October 2006 (remains buried in mausoleum in Brazzaville)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

time on baptismal record

A transcript of the baptismal record which was made in 1873 is in the Geslain archive. Geslain had classified it as illegible. A. Treindl studied it (it is written in Latin) and interprets it as recording the baptism of the infant on 26 January 1852, which was born 'yesterday' at 10 am (Latin: natum heri hora 10 ant.). The reading of the digit 0 in 10 is uncertain, but as there was no 24 hour clock system, but only a 12 hour clock system, the second digit can only be a 0, 1 or 2. Of these, 0 is by far the most likely.

Grazia Bordoni has confirmed this reading of the document.

Most other sources give 26 January as his birthdate, which is clearly wrong. He was born the day before on the 25th. As a rare astrological comment: the soft Pisces Moon in close trine with Jupiter and no negative aspect would just give him the humanitarian and romantic soul as which he is described.


  • Vocation : Travel : Adventurer