The careers of a navigator. Albert I of Monaco and the sea (1848–1922)

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Les Rendez-Vous de l’Histoire

The sea meant many things to Prince Albert I. A source of emotion, a longing for the shores of childhood, it quickly became the focus of his work. Navigation was a serious activity for the Sovereign, going beyond the Belle Époque craze for yachting.

The Prince, who commanded several vessels, organised 28 scientific expeditions between 1885 and 1915, surrounded himself with the best scholars, explored the various depths down to the abyssal plain, was driven by the challenges of understanding living things, took samples for his collection and made observations thanks to the advances in instrumentation, was a true pioneer and proponent of oceanography. The sea also provided a backdrop to the travels and meetings of a humanist Prince who, from 1898, took advantage of Kiel Week to attempt to mediate between France and Germany, an informal diplomatic effort driven by an ideal of peace. Finally, the Prince foresaw the need to safeguard the ocean’s biodiversity. He denounced the damaging effects of overfishing in his famous Speech on the Ocean (Washington, 1921), which resonates with the challenges we face today.



Laura Bergougnou, historian

Erik Orsenna, Académie Française

Philippe Taquet, Académie des Sciences

Georges Vigarello, historian