Gabriel Monod (1844 - 1912)

Gabriel Monod


Journalists & intellectuals

A cautious Dreyfusard who wanted to "enlighten minds without wounding sincere convictions," Gabriel Monod was born into a well-known French Protestant family in Le Havre in 1844.

He was admitted to the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1862, and received top marks in the competitive examination to become a history professor in 1865. He founded the Revue historique in 1876, was a member of France's Institute and defended a positivist approach to history. With respect to Dreyfus's innocence, Monod initially had "negative proofs and moral certainties," based on the captain's bearing during his demotion and his background, as well as on statements by Dreyfus's lawyer, Edgar Demange. However, in 1895, he advised the family to first search for the guilty party.

Even if he rejected the idea of an immediate history, the analysis of the bordereau convinced Monod that it was not written by Dreyfus, and he was infuriated "seeing religious and racial hatreds mixed in with a simple question of justice and patriotism." On 6 November 1897, in a letter published by Le Temps, he stated his conviction that Dreyfus was innocent and demanded that his case be reviewed, denying that it would be an insult to the army: "There is no shame in a error that is consciously committed and consciously rectified."

Monod, co-founder of the League of Human Rights, gave evidence before the Court of Cassation in January 1899, and, under the pseudonym Pierre Molé, published An Impartial Exposé of the Dreyfus Affair. During the Rennes trial, he was deeply shocked: "it is a hideous thing to see [the military] working furiously to ruin an unfortunate man against whom they cannot find a single indictment."

After the pardon, he commissioned book reviews from Alfred Dreyfus for the Revue Historique and assured him that, come what may, he would always understand and defend him. In his Carnets, the captain described "a scholarly historian and a great soul, blessed with unflagging kindness-a lay saint."

The hatred of the Action Française followed Gabriel Monod, and Maurras continued to denounce the État-Monod and its "mixed-blood influence" until Monod's death in 1912.