History of Monaco

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The name of the Principality of Monaco is perhaps derived from the Ligurian tribe of the "Monoikos" who lived in the 5th century BC. Chr. This area are said to have inhabited. According to another explanation, the name comes from the pre-Christian Heracles cult, which was particularly widespread in Monaco. Herakles was often given the nickname "Monoikos", "the unique", in ancient times.

Monaco until the Grimaldi family came to power

The oldest traces of human settlement in what is now Monaco go back 5000 years. Traces of this first settlement have been discovered in the caves of the St. Martin Gardens. Approx. 2000 BC Chr. , The area of the Ligurians was settled, which also gave the neighboring Italian region its name. After the Ligurians were pushed north, Greeks and Phoenicians settled the area. In the 1st century BC Chr. Falls the area to the Romans and is part of the province of See-Alps . The famous " Tropaeum Alpium " building in the neighboring town of La Turbie dates from this time . After the fall of the Roman Empire , the coast was ravaged by various barbaric peoples, pirates and the Saracens from the 5th century onwards . This period ended when the Saracens were expelled by Count William of Provence in 975 . At the time, Provence belonged to the Kingdom of Arelat and so it was later the Emperors Friedrich Barbarossa and Heinrich VI. (in 1191) who placed the coastal region under the control of the Republic of Genoa . June 10, 1215 is believed to be the founding date of Monaco. On this day the foundation stone was laid for a Genoese border fortress on the rock of Monaco, where the princely palace now stands. Settlers were also attracted by free land distribution and tax exemptions. In Genoa at that time, as in many northern Italian cities, there was a civil war between Ghibellines and Guelphs , the Italian offshoot of the German dispute between Guelphs and Staufers . The Ghibellines stood for the emperor's party , the Guelphs (Welfen) for the pope's party .

Fulco del Casello , leader of an influential patrician Genoese Ghibelline family, is said to be the founder of the Monaco Fortress. The Genoese civil war also affected Monaco. Ghibelline families such as the Dorias and Spinolas and Guelf families such as the Fieschis and the Grimaldis replaced each other in rule over the rocks.

The Grimaldi family

Genoa was one of the leading powers of the Mediterranean at the time. The oldest known ancestor of the Grimaldis is Otto Canella (1100–1143). Since the time of the Crusades , Genoa has been ruled as a city ​​republic by consuls . Canella was consul of Genoa in 1133. His son, Grimaldo Canella (1130–1184) was elected consul three times. His son Oberto (1170-1252) was the first to use the nickname Grimaldi (meaning "son of Grimaldo"). From 1270, the conflict between the Guelfs and Ghibellines in Genoa became particularly bloody. The ruling Ghibelline families, the Dorias and the Spinolas, tried to drive the Guelfs out of the city. In 1296 the Guelphs and with them the Grimaldi family were expelled from the city. The Grimaldis, then a large family with many different branches, settled in different cities on the Mediterranean. So they married the rule Boglio (today Beuil in France ), ruled Nice for a time on behalf of the Savoy and were also able to win Antibes in 1348 . The lords of Boglio in particular succeeded in building a cohesive territorial rule, whose striving for independence from the Savoy was not ended until the 17th century.

The Grimaldi in Monaco

The beginnings of the Grimaldi rule in Monaco

When the Grimaldis were driven out of Genoa, the fortress of Monaco was still firmly in the hands of their opponents, the Ghibellines. On January 8, 1297 soldiers of the Grimaldis and their allied Guelfi families disguised as Franciscans and under the command of Francesco Grimaldi (called "the clever") invaded Monaco and conquered the fortress. This was the first time that Monaco fell into the hands of the Grimaldis. Francesco's older cousin Rainier took over as head of the family. However, the Grimaldis could only stay there for four years and in 1301 lost control of the rock again.

After the expulsion from Monaco, Rainier served the French King Philip IV , the Handsome (1268-1314), and commanded the royal fleet on his behalf, with which he was able to win the decisive naval victory of the French over the Flemings at Zierikzee in 1304. In gratitude, he was appointed Admiral of France by the king. Rainer I. became the progenitor of the Monegasque branch of the Grimaldi family.

His son, Charles I , who fought on the French side in the Hundred Years War in the Battle of Crécy (1346) and the Siege of Calais , succeeded in retaking Monaco in 1331 and acquiring the neighboring lords of Menton (1346) and Roquebrune (1355). He was the first to hold the title of Lord (Seigneur) of Monaco. Genoa, under the rule of his Doge Boccanegra , managed to retake Monaco in 1357. Charles I fell during the siege of the fortress by the Genoese.

Rainier II. (1350–1407), the son of Charles I, served in the army of Queen Joan I of Naples . He managed to hold Menton and retake Roquebrune. However, he never entered the fortress of Monaco itself; this remained in the hands of the Genoese. His three sons Ambrosius, Anton and Johann managed to recapture Monaco in 1419. After a division of the estate in 1427, Johann I (1382–1454) ruled alone. He was captured by the Duke of Milan , who threatened his execution if Monaco did not return to Genoese rule. John I remained steadfast and instructed his wife Pomelline, who remained in Monaco as regent, not to respond to the demands of the Duke of Milan from his captivity. Eventually the Duke of Milan had to dismiss him. Johann I died in 1454.

His son, Catalano , only survived him by three years, during which time he leaned politically close to King Charles VII of France. He died in 1457 without a male heir. To prevent the family from becoming extinct, he arranged the marriage of his heir Claudine (1451-1515) to Lambert (1420-1498), his nephew from the Antiber line of the Grimaldis. He was his successor in 1457. Lambert, an excellent diplomat, was steward and adviser to the French King Charles VIII (1470–1498). Today's Monaco's coat of arms “Deo juvante” (through God's help) goes back to him. Thanks to his clever diplomacy, he succeeded in getting the French king and the Duke of Savoy to recognize Monegasque independence in 1489. Since then, the independent state of Monaco has also existed under international law. However, Genoa was not yet ready to recognize the independence of Monaco.

Securing independence and Spanish protectorate

After Lambert's death in 1494, his eldest son Johann II (1468–1505) took power. He died in an argument with his younger brother Lucien , who was also his successor; it is unclear whether it was an accident or fratricide.

In 1507 Genoa made one last attempt to retake Monaco. Genoese troops besieged the rock for 100 days, during which Lucien and his troops resisted. The Genoese had to leave without having achieved anything. King Ludwig XII. von France (1462–1515) wrote in 1512 that “the rule of Monaco had been held in the hand of God with the help of the sword”, thus once again recognizing Monegasque independence. Lucien was murdered in 1523 by Bartholomäus Doria, his nephew and supporter of the famous Genoese admiral Andrea Doria .

Since his son Honoré was still a child when he died, his brother Augustin I , who was also Bishop of Grasse, took power as regent in Monaco. Andrea Doria, the strong man of Genoa, who was responsible for the murder of Lucien, was allied with the French King Francis I (1494–1547). Under Augustine I, the Monegasque-French relationship deteriorated. Augustine I therefore made contact with the Roman-German Emperor Charles V in his capacity as King of Spain , the archenemy of Francis I of France. In 1525, the Treaty of Burgos and Tordesillas was signed between Augustine I and Charles V. The treaty placed Monaco under Spanish protection. The alliance with the Spanish lasted until 1641. Spanish soldiers were stationed in Monaco. The alliance was financially expensive for Monaco, however, as the country had to pay almost all of the costs for the Spanish garrison.

When Augustine died in 1532, Honoré (1522–1581) was still a minor, so that initially a Grimaldi from the Genoese branch of the family, Stefan, took power. After Honoré I came of age, he himself assumed the rule, which was peaceful until his death in 1581. Honoré was followed by his son Charles II (1555–1589). He made special efforts to manage the fiefdoms that Charles V gave him in southern Italy, including the Margraviate of Campagna. Charles II died in 1589. He was followed by his younger brother Hercule.

Monaco becomes a principality, end of the Spanish protectorate, bloom under Honoré II.

Hercule was murdered in 1605. At that time, his son, Honoré II , was still a minor. The reign fell to his uncle, the Spanish Prince of Valdetare, who exercised it until 1616. On his advice, Honoré II took on the title of Prince and Lord of Monaco in 1612, which was recognized by the Spanish court.

Honoré II's government led to a heyday in Monegasque history. In order to free himself from the large financial obligations for the Spanish garrison, the prince planned a rapprochement with France. In 1630 negotiations with the French crown began, which would drag on for 10 years. Honoré II was supported by Cardinal Richelieu , his nephew, the Marquis of Courbons and Lord of Cagne, Johann Heinrich Grimaldi and the Governor of Provence , the Marshal of Vitry. On September 14, 1641 the time had finally come: Honoré II and the French King Louis XIII. (1601–1643) sign the Treaty of Péronne . France recognized the independence of Monaco and became its protective power, which is why a French garrison was stationed in Monaco under the supreme command of the prince. This ended the Monegasque-Spanish alliance of 1525. However, the problem of the Spanish garrison in Monaco initially remained. This had barricaded itself on the rock and refused to leave. Honoré II had the citizens of Monaco armed, who succeeded in defeating the Spaniards on November 17, 1641, who then had to surrender and withdraw.

Spain then withdrew the northern Italian fiefs once given under Charles V Monaco. As compensation, the Prince of Monaco was enfeoffed by the French king with the Duchy of Valentinois, the County of Carlat in Auvergne, the Margraviate of Beaux and the dominion of Saint-Rémy in Provence. Honoré II returned several times to the French court and was received with the highest honors in Paris by the King and Cardinal Mazarin . The young King Louis XIV became the godfather of his grandson Louis I.

Honoré II also converted the old castle on the rock in Monaco into a representative palace. The south wing with the state apartments, which can still be visited today, go back to him. With a collection of over 700 paintings, he also laid the foundation for the famous art collection of the Princes of Monaco.

Honoré II died in 1662. As his son Hercules had died in an accident in 1651, his grandson Louis I took over the government.

Louis I and his wife, who held an important position at the French court as the daughter of Marshal von Gramont, stayed only briefly in Monaco. Louis fought in the war of the United Provinces of the Netherlands against England and took part in battles in Flanders and Franche-Comté. Louis XIV then appointed him his ambassador to the Holy See . His mission there was to secure the Pope's support for a French successor in the event of the Spanish Habsburgs becoming extinct . Louis I tried to achieve this through an elaborate court holding and expensive bribes, for which he also used part of the private fortune accumulated by his grandfather Honoré II. Louis I died in Rome in 1701 . Since the last Spanish Habsburg, Charles II , had died only a short time before, Louis I was no longer able to negotiate the question of the succession in Spain. Instead, the War of the Spanish Succession broke out.

Antoine I , the son of Louis I, succeeded him on the throne. He was married to Maria von Lorraine , from one of the first French noble families. He spent his youth in Paris and in the military , where he was called Goliath because of his size .

After his accession to the throne, Antoine practically never left Monaco because of his poor health, while his wife lived mostly in Paris because of her position at the French court. This led to alienation among the spouses. In 1707 the Duke of Savoy invaded Provence, and Monaco, although neutral, feared being drawn into the conflict. Antoine I therefore had important fortifications built in Monaco. Only with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 did the threat from Savoy end.

With the death of Antoine I in 1731, the Grimaldis died out in the male line. His eldest daughter, Louise-Hippolyte (1697–1731) married Sire von Martignon in 1715, from one of the most distinguished Norman aristocratic families. In 1731 she was the first female regent to ascend the Monegasque throne, but died after ten months of reign. Her husband then renounced his French title and his coat of arms, received the title of Duke of Valentinois from Louis XIV and ascended the Monegasque throne as Jacques I.

However, he was not recognized as a native by the Monegasque population and therefore thanked his son Honoré III on November 7, 1733 . from. He lived the rest of his life in Paris, where he devoted himself particularly to his art collection, his house, the Hôtel Martignon, is now the seat of the French Prime Minister.

Honoré III. spent much of his youth in Paris and made a career in the French army. When his father abdicated, he was still a minor, the reign was initially Anton Charles ( le Chevalier Grimaldi ), an illegitimate son of Antoine I and thus half-brother of his mother Louise-Hippolyte. During the War of the Austrian Succession Monaco was besieged by Austro- Sardinian troops. In 1767 Eduard August, Duke of York and Albany , the younger brother of the English king, died in the Prince's Palace of Monaco , where he was staying due to an illness that had befallen him on a trip to Genoa. Honoré III. married an Italian noblewoman, from whom he soon separated, but who initially gave birth to two sons. The older of them, Honoré IV. , Married the niece and heiress of Cardinal Mazarin, with which the family acquired further large estates in France.

The French revolution

The Grimaldi family was also badly hit by the French Revolution . In 1789 all feudal rights were abolished by the French parliament. The Grimaldi family, who drew much of their income from their feudal property in France, were also expropriated. Honoré III. tried in vain to be recognized as a foreign, non-French prince and to obtain special rights for himself with reference to the Treaty of Péronne. Two parties were formed in Monaco, one that wanted to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the prince, and a second, called the People's Party, that wanted to bring the gains of the French Revolution to Monaco as well. With the French invasion of the neighboring county of Nice, the People's Party gained the upper hand. With a decree of February 14, 1793, the National Convention decided to unify (" réunion ") the Principality with France. Monaco was annexed to France under the name of Fort Hercules . It was initially the capital of an arrondissement until it was moved to San Remo .

Honoré III. was thrown into dungeon in Paris, where he died in 1795. The wife of his second son Josef died under the guillotine in 1794 at the age of 27 . The members of the princely family spent the period of the French Revolution in France, some in custody, some under difficult material conditions. The princely palace in Monaco had been looted and served first as barracks , later as a hospital and municipal poor house.

Regaining independence

On April 6, 1814, Napoleon had to abdicate. The independence of the principality was restored by the first treaty of Paris. Honoré IV was unable to take office because of his poor health and initially nominated his brother Joseph as regent. When his son, who later became Honoré V , protested, Honoré IV returned to his principality. When Napoleon escaped from his exile on Elba and briefly returned to France, Honoré IV was arrested and brought before the emperor. After the emperor was finally overthrown and again exiled (to St. Helena ), the independence of the principality was restored with the second treaty of Paris (November 20, 1815), but this time it was placed under the protection of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In 1817 the relationship between the principality and its new protecting power was regulated in a treaty with King Victor Emmanuel I (Treaty of Stupinigi, November 8, 1817). The alliance with Sardinia was far less advantageous for Monaco than the old relationship with France, based on the Treaty of Péronne. The principality, already in financial difficulties due to the events of the French Revolution, had to go into debt. Honoré IV died in 1819 and his son, Honoré V, ascended the throne. This tried to fight the economic difficulties of the principality with draconian measures that led to resentment among the population. In 1833 there were protests against the prince in Menton.

Honoré V. died unmarried and without children. This is why his younger brother Florestan ascended the princely throne in 1841 .

Florestan himself was more interested in his literary studies than in the government of the principality, but his wife Carolina Gibert de Lametz actively supported him in the government. However, they too did not succeed in clearing up the principality's financial problems. In addition, the country was again affected by political developments beyond its national borders. King Charles Albert I of Sardinia had given his population a liberal constitution. The citizens of Monaco, especially in Menton , which had favored independence for some time, called for a similar constitution for Monaco (Monaco had no constitution at that time, but was governed in an absolutist way). Florestan twice offered a constitution, but it did not go far enough for the citizens of Menton. The February Revolution of 1848 reinforced the citizens of Menton in their demands and deepened the conflict.

The loss of Menton and Roquebrune

The Free Cities of Menton and Roquebrune are split off

Florestan finally saw no other option than to retire from active politics, and his son, Charles III. to be appointed regent. But it was already too late to stop the independence movement in Menton. On March 2, 1848, a “Provisional Government Committee” took power in Menton, and on March 21, 1848 the independent republic of the Free Cities of Menton and Roquebrune , which placed themselves under the protection of the King of Sardinia, was proclaimed. The place Monaco itself remained loyal to its prince.

Shortly afterwards, the Kingdom of Sardinia “provisionally” took over the administration of the two cities, but did not formally annex them in order not to provoke a conflict with France.

After Florestan's death, Charles III ascended. 1856 also officially the princely throne. His attempts to reintegrate Menton and Roquebrune into the Monegasque state association failed. In 1860 Italy had to cede the surrounding area, the counties of Savoy and Nice, to France (Treaty of Turin). Menton and Roquebrune, which had been administered by Italy until then, also came de facto under French control. Charles III therefore saw no more possibility of holding the two cities. On February 2, 1861, he signed with the French Emperor Napoléon III. a treaty with which Monaco finally ceded the two cities to France.

Rise to economic prosperity under Charles III.

Monegasque postcard (late 19th century)

In the reign of Charles III. the rise of Monaco fell. With the treaty of 1861, the principality lost over 80% of its national territory. At the same time, however, France recognized the independence of the principality under the sole sovereignty of the prince. For the first time in its history, the principality was completely sovereign and no longer tied to a protective power. France also allowed the establishment of a customs union with the principality. As a result, there was no longer a customs border, which significantly increased trade in Monaco. Finally, France agreed to build a coastal road between Menton and Nice (Moyenne Corniche) and to set up a train station on the Nice – Genoa railway in Monaco. This opened up the principality in terms of traffic, which laid the foundation for tourism to begin . Charles III also opened a post and telegraph station, the first stamps were printed, and the company's own gold coins were minted. Monaco opened its first embassies and consulates abroad. The diocese of Monaco was founded and the country received its canonical independence from France.

Particularly important, however, was the economic boom in the principality under Charles III, which resembled an economic miracle and laid the basis for today's prosperity. Charles III, supported in the government by his mother, the princely widow Caroline, wanted to open up a new source of income for the principality in order to put the finances of the state on a solid economic basis. In 1863 he therefore founded the Société des bains de mer , which was to build a casino . The company was unsuccessful under the first two directors, but that was to change when François Blanc was awarded the concession to run the casino for 50 years. Blanc, the “Magician of Monaco”, made the casino a global success, the first luxury hotels were built on the rock of Spelugues, and more and more well-heeled foreign tourists visited the principality. In 1866 the area around the casino was officially named after Charles III. renamed Monte Carlo. The state gained so much income from the casino that direct taxation was abolished as early as 1869. The Monaco Opera House was inaugurated in 1879 and the current red and white flag was introduced in 1881.

Monaco in the 20th century

In 1914, the Principality of Monaco celebrated the 25th anniversary of Albert I's throne with a simulated knight tournament.

In 1889 after the death of Charles III. his son Albert I the princely throne, who had previously emerged as a scientist and researcher specializing in oceanography and paleontology. He founded u. a. the world-famous Oceanographic Museum and Institute in Monaco, which would later be under the leadership of Jacques Cousteau for many years . In 1911 he gave the country the first Monegasque constitution.

Louis II succeeded his father on the Monegasque throne in 1922. He managed to lead the country through the difficult times after the First World War and the Great Depression without major problems . In 1918, Monegasque independence was guaranteed again in a new treaty with France.

As early as 1933 the National Socialists had become aware of Monaco's tax and currency advantages through the President of the Reichsbank and later Minister of Economics, Hjalmar Schacht . He intended to set up an international bank as an outpost of the German Reich, with the expectation of a Monegasque currency decoupled from the French franc . Later, an externally independent commercial bank under the influence of the Third Reich acted as a foreign exchange procurement office .

The Second World War reached Monaco from June 11, 1940, when Mussolini declared war on France. Motorized Italian units set up along the Mediterranean coast with the aim of occupying Monaco. However, Hitler was more important to Monaco as an externally independent, neutral state in order to be able to earn foreign currency and buy strategic goods via Monaco even during the war . Similar to other transactions with the neutral countries Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Portugal, a few selected German companies and banks with international connections were involved. Prince Louis II demonstratively declared his appreciation for Marshal Pétain and his Vichy regime in order to prove his apparent independence. On July 3, 1941, following German pressure, a law was passed to register Jews, most of whom had come to Monaco while fleeing the Germans. The art historian and art collector August Liebmann Mayer was in February 1944 at the instigation of the German Consul General Walter Hellenthal arrested in Monaco and the Auschwitz deported . After the Allies landed in North Africa, when "unoccupied France" was occupied by the Wehrmacht , Monaco was also occupied by German troops on November 11, 1942 and from September 8, 1943 to September 3, 1944, but initially as were perceived as less threatening than the Italians. This apparent sovereignty of the Monegasque prince over fascist Italy and the Third Reich would have compromised the dynasty if his grandson Rainier had not joined the armed forces of Free France de Gaulle in good time . After the Allies landed in Provence, de Gaulle could have appointed a prefect in Monaco and thus end Monegasque independence, if the succession had not been settled in Rainier's favor. This ensured that with Rainier a prince would come to the throne who was in harmony with de Gaulle.

Louis II died without a male heir. His daughter, Princess Charlotte , had married a French nobleman, Count Pierre von Polignac. The future Prince Rainier emerged from this marriage. Although Monegasque law does not rule out female succession to the throne in principle, Princess Charlotte renounced all rights to the Monegasque throne in favor of her son as early as 1944. In 1949, on the death of his grandfather Louis II, he ascended the royal throne as Rainier III. from Monaco . In 1956 he married the American film actress Grace Kelly . Through her work, which as princess took on the name Gracia Patricia, Monaco finally became a playground for the rich of this world. In 1958 the Hereditary Prince Albert , Margrave of Baux , was born. In 1982 Princess Gracia Patricia died in a traffic accident.

Monaco joined the World Health Organization on July 8, 1948 .

The present constitution has been in force since December 17, 1962. Active and passive women's suffrage at the national level was introduced on December 17, 1962. The women's suffrage at local level since May 24, 1945 was law.

In 1993 Monaco joined the United Nations .

Since Prince Rainier was no longer able to govern due to illness, the business of government was transferred to his son Albert II on March 31, 2005 . Rainier III died on April 6, 2005, and Albert II officially ascended to the throne on July 12, 2005. He married Charlene Wittstock on July 1, 2011, and in church on July 2, 2011.


  • Thomas Veszelits: Monaco AG. How the Grimaldis gild their principality . Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / M. 2006, ISBN 3-593-37956-2 .

Web links

Commons : History of Monaco  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Oliver Dörr: The incorporation as a fact of state succession , 1995, ISBN 3428085523 , page 206, online
  2. ^ Mart Martin: The Almanac of Women and Minorities in World Politics. Westview Press Boulder, Colorado, 2000, p. 261.
  3. - New Parline: the IPU's Open Data Platform (beta). In: data.ipu.org. May 24, 1945, accessed October 5, 2018 .