Jules Dumont d'Urville

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Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville

Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d'Urville , also Jules Sébastien César , (born May 23, 1790 in Condé-sur-Noireau , †  May 8, 1842 in Meudon ) was a French navigator and polar explorer . Its official botanical author abbreviation is " d'Urv. "

Life and research trips

Early years

Dumont chose a senior officer career in the Navy at the age of 17. He graduated from the officers' academy with honors. Dumont was a gifted botanist and spoke seven languages ​​fluently - including German , Greek, and Hebrew .

In 1820, during a cartographic expedition in the Aegean Sea , he managed to acquire for France the Venus de Milo , which had been excavated on the island of Milos in the same year . From August 1822 to March 1824 Dumont took part on the ship Coquille under the direction of Louis Isidore Duperrey (1786-1865) in a botanical and hydrographic expedition through the South Seas . Also on board was René Primevère Lesson (1794–1849), Prosper Garnot (1794–1838), Victor Charles Lottin (1795–1858), Charles Hector Jacquinot (1796–1879), Charles Félix Victor Lesage (1785–1839), Théodore Julien de Blois de la Calande (1799–1836), Auguste Bérard (1796–1852) and Jules Alphonse René Poret de Blosseville (1802–1833).

Own expeditions to the South Seas

A year later the Navy granted him his own expedition through the South Seas. Dumont set sail from Toulon on April 22, 1826 on the Coquille, renamed Astrolabe . This expedition took him to the South Pacific, in search of traces of the explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse, who disappeared there in 1788 . In February 1828 a wreck was found in Vanikoro , which was probably de la Pérouse's ship Astrolabe . Parts of New Zealand were re-mapped on this trip, which lasted from 1826 to 1829 . Dumont also visited the Fiji Islands, New Caledonia , New Guinea , Tasmania (which was then called Van Diemens Land), the Carolines and Celebes . He brought over 1,600 plant samples, around 900 rock samples and records of the languages ​​on the islands he visited. The division of Oceania into Melanesia , Micronesia and Polynesia goes back to an essay by Dumont from 1832. He relied on the languages ​​(closely related languages ​​in Polynesia, a large number of unrelated languages ​​in Melanesia) and on the appearance and behavior of the inhabitants (light-skinned Polynesians with a complex social structure, dark Melanesians in "fragile" tribal societies). On March 25, 1829, the expedition returned to France. Under the title Voyage de la corvette ‹l'Astrolabe›, 1826–1829 he published a report on this expedition.

On his return, despite the excellent research results, he fell out of favor. He was accused of arrogance and selfishness, and accused of treating the team cruelly and exaggerating research results.

Expedition to the South Pole

The ships Astrolabe and Zèlée in the ice
Tomb of d'Urville in Paris

He had to work at a desk for seven years before he was given a new command. In addition to the astrolabe, King Louis-Philippe even gave him a second ship, the Zèlée . This time the trip should go to the South Pole first, "as far as the ice allows" - according to the king's order. For every degree above the 75th parallel - the record set by James Weddell at the time - the team should receive an additional bonus.

On September 7, 1837, the two ships set out to sea. The trip to the South Pole was not very happy. After the ship had crossed the Strait of Magellan , the expedition reached the pack ice at 63 ° 29'S and 44 ° 47'W. The poor equipment, however, did not allow sailing in the pack ice, the ships got stuck in the ice and had to be laboriously floated again. While the ships sailed over 300 miles along the pack ice border and discovered the Joinville Islands , Louis Philippe Land and Astrolabe Island , half the crew fell ill with scurvy , and after the two ships made it back to Chile with the last of their strength, many deserted Crew members.

In the summer of 1838 the journey went through the South Seas to the Solomon Islands and the north coast of New Guinea . Here d'Urville named a bay after his ship, which is still called Astrolabe Bay today .

The next winter, d'Urville started a second attempt to penetrate Antarctica from Hobart , Tasmania , among other things in the hope of finding the magnetic south pole , which was suspected to be in the undiscovered area between 120th and 160th longitude. This time the trip was happier and d'Urville discovered Adélieland , located on the Antarctic continent and since then claimed by France , where a station still bears his name today. He named the area after his wife Adèle Dorothée born. Pépin (1798-1842).

His return took him around the world for the third time via New Guinea and St. Helena in the Atlantic . On November 6, 1840, the two ships reached their home port of Toulon again after three years and two months . D'Urville was promoted to Rear Admiral, and the Geographical Society gave him its highest honor. The report of this trip was entitled: Voyage au Pole Sud et dans l'Océanie, 1837-1840 . The government presented the 130 survivors with a special bonus of 150,000 gold francs .

Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville died less than two years later on May 8, 1842, as a passenger in the Versailles railroad accident, together with his wife and son. He was buried in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris .


An island north of the South Island of New Zealand, an island of the Joinville archipelago in Antarctica, a rock face on the east coast of the Antarctic Victoria Land, a river in New Zealand, Cape d'Urville, Western New Guinea , Indonesia, Mount d'Urville , Auckland Island, the Dumont-d'Urville station in Antarctica, a ship of the Ponant Explorer class , the rue Dumont d'Urville, a street near the Champs-Élysées and the Lycée Dumont D'Urville in Caen are named after him. The plant genus Urvillea Kunth from the soap tree family (Sapindaceae) is named after him.

In 1844 a memorial was erected to him in his hometown.


  • Voyage de la corvette ‹l'Astrolabe›, 1826–1829 . 12 vols. Text and 6 sections atlas. Paris ( 1830 - 39 )
  • Notice sur les îles du Grand Ocean et sur l'origine des peuples qui les habitent. Bulletin de Société de Géographie de Paris . 17/1, 1832, 1-21.
  • Voyage au Pole Sud et dans l'Océanie, 1837–1840 . 23 vol. Text and 6 Dept. Atlas. Paris ( 1841 - 54 )

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Andreas W. Daum: German Naturalists in the Pacific around 1800. Entanglement, Autonomy, and a Transnational Culture of Expertise . In: Hartmut Berghoff, Frank Biess, Ulrike Strasser (ed.): Exploration and entanglements: Germans in Pacific Worlds from the Early Modern Period to World War I . Berghahn, New York 2019, p. 93 .
  2. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names . Extended Edition. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Free University Berlin Berlin 2018. [1]

Web links

Commons : Jules Dumont d'Urville  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files