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MŒA One-to-one interviews: Jean-Yves Giraudon, Expert of Monaco's Heritage. Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology reveals a new ecological side to celebrate Prince Albert I.

Updated: Feb 10

This year is particularly emblematic for the history of the Grimaldi Family, recurring the 100th anniversary of the death of Prince Albert I of Monaco. A commemoration that is heartfelt by the whole Principality of Monaco. The Monaco Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology, directed by Elena Rossoni-Notter, is being organizing a series of meaningful initiatives to pay tribute to this distinguished Monegasque ancestor who founded this prestigious research and educational institution in 1902 to safeguarding the legacy with the ancestral roots of the territory. On the 15th March 2023 a targeted conference was held at the Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique to unveil an unprecedented portrait of the Prince who stand out for His pioneering spirit at that time (Between 1800s and 1900s). « Les aventures de chasse du prince Albert Ier de Monaco, pionnier de l'écologie » (The Hunting Adventures of Prince Albert I of Monaco, Pioneer of Ecology) offered the audience a unique moment to plunge themselves in an era of great scientific and cultural ferment in Monaco.

Photo >> Cover of the book "Albert Ier de Monaco, un Prince Chasseur", by Professor Jean-Yves Giraudon © Montbel Editing

MONACŒCOART® asked Professor Jean-Yves Giraudon, great expert of the historical heritage of the Principality as well as passionate about hunting and fishing, to tell us some anecdotes and background, as integral part of his research study to build up one of his latest books on this subject.


 




MONACŒCOART®: Professor Giraudon, to what ecological values was Prince Albert I of Monaco related? Can we consider Him as a pioneer of the modern concept of ‘Sustainability? What lesson can we learn from His sustainable hunter spirit?


Jean-Yves Giraudon: What I would like to highlight in my conference is a quite unknown aspect of His life. This results from a written article that was released in the last issue of the Annales monégasques(Monegasque Annals), within the magazine Jours de chasse (Days of Hunting), and especially in my book Albert Ier de Monaco, un prince chasseur (Albert I of Monaco, a Hunter Prince), published by Editions de Montbel in December 2022.

The Prince was a hunting enthusiast, being certainly one of his greatest passions (60 years of hunting on average 70 days a year). According to Him, as for many hunters, hunting can only go hand in hand with the protection of nature, following a humanist reflection on the relationships between human beings and wild fauna. Although 150 years ago the term “sustainability” was not used yet, the Sovereign Prince had already applied a sustainable approach without knowing he was doing it, both during his scientific and hunting expeditions. He was constantly willing to protect Nature and animals in his whole literary work, notably in “La Carrière d’un Chasseur” (The Career of a Hunter) as well as in His private diary (a publication of 4,500 pages) and on the occasion of numerous public speeches. He went straight to the point to condemn every practice like intensive beating and court hunts within His keynote before the Saint- Hubert Club de France of which He was a member. Just to mention one of His initiatives. He was also a great admirer of the great American national parks (The US President Theodore Roosevelt, who created them, was a great hunter as well). Thus, He was inspired by that model during His staying in the Pyrenees. We can therefore consider Him as a true pioneer of ecological and sustainable hunting.

Photo >> Portrait of Professor Jean-Yves Giraudon © PEN Club Monaco

MONACŒCOART®: What inspired you to focus on this unique side of the Prince and to write a book about it?


Jean-Yves Giraudon: I have been working for a long time for the Archives du Palais, as part of the Annals Monégaques for which I write articles in a wide variety of fields, particularly the study of Princely libraries and the translation and commentary of documents in Latin. It was there that I was introduced to Prince Albert I by Madame Jacqueline Carpine, my greatest friend, sadly missed, considered as the most skilled expert of the Prince’s life. In 2016, she had the opportunity to write a catalogue for the exhibition held at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris “Un Prince à la Chasse” (A Prince to Hunt), wondering about this aspect of the Prince (note: passion for hunt), somewhat incompatible with His humanism. As she knew I was fond of hunting she asked me about it, which led me to deepen the matter trying to find out how much the Prince was a naturalist and a hunter aware of His (eco) responsibilities and involved in key activities for the protection of wild nature.


Photo >> Downhill view of the Prince's Castle from La Condamine district © MonacoEcoArt

MONACŒCOART®: Hunting was a passion, and also a status symbol for many members of the European nobility. Today, it is almost a hobby. How to be in hunting or fishing in contemporary times? Can a nature lover be a hunter at the same time?


Jean-Yves Giraudon: The Prince’s fondness for hunting was not part of the conventional of education given to aristocrats at His times, for which this pivotal practice was meant to train them to assume their social duties with their peers. Since the early age, the Prince discovered nature, animals and hunting on His own, spending long time at the Marchais Castle, the Grimaldi’s mansion at Aisne. He then developed His naturalistic knowledge throughout his life, being fascinated since His childhood. This background made himbe respectful of biodiversity while hunting and fishing.

So, he was a pioneer, 150 year earlier, compared to contemporary hunters and fishers. Moreover, the members of the hunting club I belong to recognized themselves in the Prince’s thought and practices, despite the remoteness of the time and the difference in environment. And they are still attached to the land from which they come from, loving nature and animals, unlike the majority of ecologists, followers of anti-speciesism and other animalists.

I am so convinced of this that I decided to donate half the earnings of the book sale to a couple emblematic associations: Cantaperdrix hunting club and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation for its commitment in ecology. ***


To know more about the Monaco Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology please visit: Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique de Monaco

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By Maurice Abbati







Springer International Publishing
















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