A Brief History of Monaco


Today, Monaco is an important centre for commerce and tourism; property in Monaco is highly sought-after, the yachting industry is booming and visitors flock from all over the world to the principality. However, there have been many twists and turns in Monaco’s history leading to the establishment of the Principality that we know today.

La Costa Properties Monaco takes a brief look at the fascinating history of Monaco and its royal family from the 13th Century.

Monaco takes its name from ‘Monoikos’ in Greek; the surname attributed to the mythological hero Hercules. This is a reference to an ancient temple built on the Monaco headland honouring Hercules.

The Grimaldi rise to power began in 1297, when Francois Grimaldi seized the fortress of Monaco from a rival Italian faction. Taking the disguise of a monk, he successfully led a small army into the fortress, reclaiming it in the Pope’s name. This feat was honoured in Monaco’s coat of arms, which shows two monks brandishing swords.

The French revolution affected many European royals, including the Grimaldi family. Monaco was annexed to France in 1793 after being independent for 800 years and members of the royal family were imprisoned. However, with the abdication of Napoleon in 1814, the Grimadi family’s rights were restored.

In the Franco-Monegasque treaty of 1861, Monaco relinquished one-half of its territory to France in an agreement that left the Principality as an independent state under French guardianship. The exchange also rewarded Monaco with additional funds. The Principalities reigning Monarch Prince Charles III realised that much of Monaco’s natural resources had been lost with the land and that a new economic base was badly needed. His answer was tourism and gambling and in 1863, he established the ‘Societe des Bains de Mer’. This new company brought a small number of hotels, a theatre, and a casino to the Principality, providing the foundations of the district of Monte-Carlo as we know it today.

The next chapter in Monaco’s history is more firmly ingrained in the world’s consciousness, with the marriage of Prince Rainier III to the celebrated actress Grace Kelly. Kelly tragically dies in 1982, after suffering a stroke that caused her to lose control of her vehicle and crash.

Prince Albert, the son of Princess Grace and Prince Ranier III, stands as the current Monarch and is married to Charlene (née Wittstock) a South African former Olympic swimmer.

In 1997, the Grimaldi family celebrated the 700th anniversary of its reign in Monaco and the dynasty looks set to continue for many years to come.

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