Albert I of Monaco (Honoré Charles Grimaldi)

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Albert I of Monaco (Honoré Charles Grimaldi)

(b. Paris, France, 13 November 1848; d. Paris, 26 June 1922)


Albert was the son of Charles III of Monaco (Honoré Grimaldi) and Antoinette Ghislaine, countess of Mérode. He succeeded his father on 10 September 1889. In 1870 he fought against Germany as a lieutenant-commander in the French navy.

His career as a navigator actually began in 1873, when he bought a 200-ton schooner, the Pleiad, and renamed it the Hirondelle. By 1885 he had decided to devote himself to the study of the sea, and each following year, for nearly forty years, he made voyages in the North Atlantic, taking soundings wherever he went. He made four cruises in the Hirondelle; six, between 1892 and 1897, in the Princesse Alice I; and twelve, between 1898 and 1910, in the Princesse Alice II. He used the Hirondelle II until his death, making five cruises between 1911 and 1915. He may truly be considered one of the founders of oceanography.

In physical oceanography, Albert studied currents, especially the Gulf Stream (1885). He set out floating mines to study drift in both the North Atlantic and the Arctic. Using the Richard bottle, he took samples of water at various depths in order to determine the differences in temperature. Albert also established three observation centers in the Azores in order to study the meteorology of the ocean regions. One of his major achievements was a general atlas to the millionth, which had twenty-four plates and illustrated the bathymetry of all the oceans; it represented a synthesis of all previous findings.

Albert conducted valuable physiological research as well. Interested in the venom of Physalia, a pelagic coelenterate, he crushed its tentacles, filtered the product, and injected it into experimental animals. The result was a deep state of anesthesia, and the toxin was therefore called hypnotoxin. This was a first step toward the discovery of anaphylaxis.

Plankton was another concern of Albert’s—from the surface to depths as great as 5,000 meters. His huge, baited polyhedral nets brought forth abundant evidence of a rich and varied bathypelagic fauna. In the waters off the Cape Verde Islands he broke the previous record of 5,800 meters by dredging at a depth of 6,035 meters. Some of his ideas, accepted today, were far ahead of his time: his protests that the depths were being overfished, the use of airplanes to spot schools of fish, and the creation of underwater preserves.

In order to display his collections, Albert founded the Musée Océanographique de Monaco in 1910 and the Institut Océanographique, Paris, in 1911. He also established publications for these institutions: Builetin du Musée Océeanographique in 1904, which became Bulletin de l’Institut Océanographique in 1906, and Annales de I’Institut Océanographique in 1910. Since he was also interested in man’s origin and evolution, Albert founded the Musée Anthropologique de Monaco and the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine in Paris.

Albert was a corresponding member of the Académie des Sciences, Paris, and later a foreign associate member (1909), succeeding Lord Kelvin; a foregign associate member of the Académie de Médecine; and a member of the Académie d’Agriculture (for the model farming practices on his property at Marchais, Aisne).


I. Original Works. Between 1885 and 1915 Albert published numerous reports in the Comptes rendus de I’A cadémie des sciences (Paris), Comptes rendus des Séances de la Société de Biologie (Paris), Bulletin de la Société Géographie (Paris), Bulletin du Musée Océanographique, and Revue scientifique (Revue rose), among others. His works include Sur le Gulf-Stream... (Paris,1886); “La pêche de la Sardine sur les côtes d’Espagne,” in Revue scientifique, 3rd ser... 13, no. 17 (1887), 513–519—a very similar work with the title L’industrie de la Sardine sur les côtes de la Galice was published separately with the notation “taken from the Revue scientifique” (Pairs 1887); “Sur les filets fins de profondeur employés à bord de l’Hirondelle,” in Comptes rendus des séances de la Société de Biologie, 8th ser., 4 , no. 37 (1887), 661–664; “Sur l’alimentation des naufagés en pleine mer,” in Comptés rendus de l’Académie des sciences, 107 (Dec. 1888), 980–982, “Recherche des animaux marins...,” in Congrés International de Zoologie, 1 (1889), 133–159; “Sur le dévelopent des tortues (T. caretta),” in Comptes rendus des séances de la Sciété de Biologic, 10th ser., 5 , no. 1 (1898), 10–11; La carriére d’un navigateur (Monaco 1901 1951, 1966), the 1966 ed. with intro by J.Y. Cousteau and preface by J. Rouch; “Les progeés de l’océanographie,” in Bulletin du Musée Océnographique, no. 6 (1904), 1–13 “Progrès de la biologie marine,” ibid., no. 14 (1904), 1–7; “Sur le lancement de ballons pilotes au-dessus des océans,” in Comptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences, 141 (1905), 492–493; “L’outillage moderne de l’océanographie,” in Bulletin du Musée océanographique, no. 25 (1905), 1–12; “Vingt-cinquiéme campagne scientifique (Hirondelle II),” in Bulletin de l’Institut Océanographique de Monaco, 10 , no. 268 (1913), 1–4; “Marche des mines flottantes dans l’Atlantique nord et l’océan Glacial pendant et après la guerre,” ibid., 16 , no. 357 (1919), 1–8; Sur les résultats partiels des deux premiéres expériences pour déterminer la direction des courants de l’Atlantique nord (Paris, n.d); and “Discours sour l’océan” (delivered 25 Apr. 121 to National Academy of Sciences, Washington), in Bulletin du Muée Océanographique no. 392 (1921)1–16

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Albert are C. Carpine, “Les navirés océanographiques dont les noms ont eété choisis par S.A.S. le Prince Albert let pour fingurer sur la façade du Musée Océanographique de Monaco...,” in Bulletin de l’Institut Océanographique, spec no. 2(1966) 627–628; R. Damien, Albert ler Prince Sourverain de Manaco, précédé de l’historique des origines de Monaco et de la dynastic des Grimaldi (Villemomble, 1964); M. Fontaine, “La découverte de l’anaphylaxie,” in Bulletin de l’Institue Océanographique, no. 997 (1951), 3–9; “Liste des campagnes scientifiques de S.A.S. Prince Albert ler de Monaco,” in Bulletin des amis du Musèe Océanographique, no.5 (1948), 9–14; L. Mayer, “S.A.S. Albert ler, Prince de Monaco. L’homme et l’oeuvre” in Bulleting de l’institut Océanongraphiqe, no. 421 (1922), 1–8 P. Portier, “La carriére scientifique du Prince de Monaco,” in Revue générale des sciences pures et appliqués, 33 , no. 19 (1922), 542–544, and in Bulletin des amis du Musée Océanographique, no. 6 (1948), 2–7; J. Richard Les compagnes scientifiques de S.A.S. le Prince Albert ler de Monaco (Monaco, 1900), and many articles on Albert’s cruises and the apparatus used on board his vessels in Bulletin du Musée Océanographique and Bulletin de l’Institut Océanographique between 1904 and 1941; J. Rouch, “Le Prince Alber let et Jean Charcot....,” in Bulleting de l’Institut Océanographique, spec no. 2 (1967); and J. Thoulet, “S.A.S. le Prince Albert ler de Monaco,” in Bulletin de amis du Musée Océanographique, no. 5(1948), 1–6.

Georges Petit

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Albert I of Monaco (Honoré Charles Grimaldi)

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