History of the Principality of Monaco

Dazzling history of Monaco defies any explanation, especially when you know the size of the territory of the principality. A great tenacity of ruling dynasty of Grimaldi and unique geographical location of the country are the main secrets of inviolability of the principality that, in spite of wars and other historical shocks, could save its stainless influence, attractiveness and sovereignty.

There are different hypothesis about the origin of name of Monaco. According to the first of them, in the 6th century B.C. the area, now known as Monaco, was settled in by the colony of Ligurians, named Monoikos. The other hypothesis arises from a legend about Hercules, who passed through French Mediterranean coast, having formed there the «road of Hercules», and founded the "port of Hercules". Some people suppose that the principality took its name from Greek god Monoikos, who lived all the time alone because of his envy and jealousy.

After the Gallic War, Monoikos (Monaco), which served as a stopping-point for Julius Caesar on his way to Greece, fell under Roman control until the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476. During the occupation, the Romans erected in Turbie, the Trophy of Augustus, which celebrated the triumph of their military campaigns and served a border between Gaul and Italy.

By 11th century the territory of the principality was again populated by Ligurians, speaking Romanic language of the north Italy. In 1162, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted the dominion over the region, from Porto Venere as far as Monaco, to the Republic of Genoa. In 1191, Roman Emperor Henry VI, in his turn, granted the governance of Monaco to Genoa, the native city of Ligurians.

Monaco's modern history began in 1215, when a colony of the Republic of Genoa was formed on the territory of the principality under the governance of Fulco del Cassello. New governor began the construction of a fortress of Monaco, which even today encircles the Prince's Palace. As the colonialists intended their fortress to be a strategic military stronghold and center of control of the region, they set a settlement around the base of the rock to support the garrison. In an attempt to lure the residents of Genoa and surrounding cities, they granted lands to new settlers and exempt them from tax.

At that epoch, a civil war in Genoa opposed the Guelphes, supporters of the Pope, and the Ghibellins, supporters of the Roman Emperor. On 8 January 1297, the Guelphs, led by Franco Grimaldi, known as Malizia, seized the fortress. According to one chronicler, Franco Grimaldi entered the fortress in the guise of Franciscan monk. This was the first capture of Monaco by the Family of Grimaldi. The event was commemorated on the National Emblem, where we find an image of two monks armed by swords.

From the historical viewpoint, that time became the starting point of the governance of the dynasty of Grimaldi and existence of the sovereign state of Monaco. The Grimaldi Family has ruled Monaco for over 700 years except of the period from 1793 to 1861, when the Principality was annexed by the French Republic and then was under the protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

On 30 May 1861, under the Treaty of Paris, Charles III ceded Monaco's authority over the towns of Menton and Roquebrune to France in exchange for total independence from French political influence. The Principality thereby lost 80% of its territory, so Charles III inherited one of the smallest European kingdoms. In its turn, France undertook to connect Nice to Monaco by a coastal road, to create a stop in Monaco on the pre-existing railroad line between Nice and Genoa, and, above all, to conclude a customs union between Monaco and France in order to facilitate commerce between two countries.

Prince Charles III governance was noted by an active international position and implementation of many economic reforms that renewed and developed the economy of Monaco. Thanks to his skillful diplomacy, Prince established strong relations with the most important rulers of that epoch.

In order to attract rich international clientele and boost the country's economy after loosing of Menton and Roquebrune, Prince Charles III decided to create a Monte Carlo quarter with its famous Casino. Widely-known Monaco's Casino opened its doors in 1865. The Principality of Monaco became a unique place, joining luxury, comfort and entertainment. In 1866, the new quarter with Casino got his famous name of Monte Carlo.

High incomes from Casino allowed to Prince Charles III to abolish all forms of direct taxation for the residents of Monaco. The population of Monaco was diligently growing and the number of tourists from all over the world increased considerably, so that state infrastructure required a widening and modernization.

Charles Garnier began the construction of the theatre and big hall of Casino. At the same time, the Hôtel de Paris was extended, thanks to a new wing, the famous restaurant "Rotonde". In 1882, the Café Divan made way for the Café de Paris. In 1897, the original modest building was replaced by a magnificent building in Moorish style. In 1900, the Hôtel Hermitage was transformed into a luxurious holiday residence.

Monaco's history, lied with scientific studies of oceans, dates to 1860s, when the second Prince Albert I conducted numerous maritime expeditions, having pursued his scientific interests. Prince Albert I was known as «Marine Prince» or «Wise Prince», glutton of sciences, sea observations, ocean's flora and fauna exploration. He learnt ocean cavities and conducted searches in the depth of the sea, never explored before. On 29 March 1910, Prince Albert founded a renown Oceanographic Museum, within which a lot of scientists still work now.

During the reign of Albert I Monaco endured a scientific and technological boom. Also in 1911, Prince Albert created the Monte Carlo Rally that was a start of automobile race. In 1929, there was the first tour of Formula 1.

On 5 January 1911, democratic and modern monarch, Prince Albert I, granted Monaco a Constitution, thanks to this fact he became very popular among the population of the Principality. Having established the International Institute of Peace in Monaco, Albert I gained a reputation of wise governor among the European rulers. On 26 June 1922, Prince, famous for his charity and sponsorship work, interested in science and education, being a father of oceanography, died in the prime of his life.

It is impossible to divide the history of Charles III and Albert I reign, the second one continued the initiatives of the first one, having developed and improved them. Governance of both monarchs led the economy of Monaco to growth and prosperity, promoted strengthening of its reputation of stable and developed European state, as well as prestigious and luxurious touristic centre.

In 1949, Rainier III became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, known as Prince-Builder. He promoted industrial development and diversification of Monaco's economy. In 1971, a new quarter of Monaco, named Fontvieille, was constructed. The quarter was reclaimed from the Mediterranean Sea and became an important area for the development of local industry.

Though, Prince Rainier III was well known outside of Europe for having married American actress, Grace Kelly, on 18 April 1956. He had three children from that marriage: Princess Carolina, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie.

Rainier III continued to carry out an international policy, aimed to the strengthening of relations with neighbor countries. The most important achievements of this policy were entry into United Nations Organization, in 1993, and Council of Europe, in 2004.

After 50 years of reign, marked by active political, diplomatic, economical and social activities, as well as a lot of work in education, sport, health, culture and public relations, Prince Rainier III died in 2005, having left his people in sorrow.

On 12 July 2005, after official three months sorrow period, direct heir of Rainier III, his son Albert II, ascended the throne.

Present Prince of Monaco, Albert II, travels a lot all around the world, trying to strengthen diplomatic relations with other countries. Being interested in topics of ecology and environmental protection, Prince went to expedition to Antarctica in 2009, where he visited scientific outposts and met with climate-change experts in an attempt to learn more about the impact of global warming on the continent. In 2006, Prince Albert created the Prince Albert II Foundation, devoted to environmental protection and fair management of natural resources.

For a period of more than 700 years, Grimaldi dynasty surmounts all the trials and tribulations of the history. Throughout the centuries, the Principality of Monaco has managed to preserve its independence due to the wise governance of its Princes. Each of them made an important contribution in development of the Principality, having turned it into modern Monaco - highly developed independent state, reputable all over the world. One of the oldest dynasties of Europe - dynasty of Grimaldi - invites you in Monaco - magnificent, developed and economically stable sovereign state.


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