The House of Grimaldi has ruled the tiny
principality of Monaco on the Mediterranean coast for over 700
years. In 1997, Monaco celebrated the 700 year reign of the
The first Lord of Monaco, a pirate called
Lanfranco Grimaldi; Italian by birth and a member of the Genoan
Guelphic family, invaded the area in 1297.
On January 8, he dressed as a Franciscan monk
and seized the fortress protecting the famous rock of Monaco and
the port of Herculus. An economic dispute followed with rival
clan, the Ghibellines. When Lanfranco (François) died in
1309, he was succeeded by his first cousin, Rainier I, from whom
all subsequent Monegasque monarchs are descended. Rainier was
also a seafaring man, but unlike those of his predecessor, the
new leader's trading activities were legitimate, and eventually
earned him the respect of the French monarch who appointed him
Grand Admiral of France in 1304.
Monaco became a principality when the
Honoré II gave himself the title of prince in 1612. At that
point the territory was still under the protection of Spain, with
whom it had been linked since 1524, but the Treaty of Peronne in
1641 allied it instead with France. Subsequent Monegasque
sovereigns upped their title count by marrying a string of French
heiresses, which explains why; in addition to the title of
Sovereign Prince of Monaco, the head of the principality can lay
claim to 19 other titles.
Although the Grimaldi family was exiled from Monaco in 1793
following the French revolution; during which time the
principality reverted to its ancient name of Fort d'Hercule, its
members returned in 1815, following the Treaty of Paris, and have
been its monarchs ever since.
Conquering these trials and tribulations of
history and throughout the dark periods of foreign domination,
Monaco has managed to assure its identity and preserve its
independence throughout the centuries due to the wise guidance of
The country gained its current constitution
in 1911 during the reign of Prince Albert I. He was succeeded in
1922 by his son, French army general Prince Louis II. Shortly
before his death in 1949, Louis was succeeded by his grandson,
Rainier III, who died in April 2005. Monaco became world famous
in 1956 when Prince Rainier married American movie star Grace
Unfortunately Princess Grace died on September
14, 1982 in Monaco Ville in a car accident when she was 52 years
old. The car plunged down in an embankment. Grace Kelly is buried
at the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Prince Rainier died on April 6, 2005, after
fighting a long battle with lung, heart, and kidney problems. He
was 81 years old at the time of his death. He is buried next to
his wife, Princess Grace of Monaco.
Their only son, Prince Albert II, inherited
the throne after his father's death. Prince Albert is not married
and according to changes made to the constitution in 2002, if
Prince Albert does not have children, on his death the throne
will pass to his sister Princess Caroline.
Next in the order of succession are Caroline's
children, Andrea Casiraghi, Pierre Casiraghi, Charlotte
Casiraghi, and Princess Alexandra of Hanover ; followed by
Caroline's younger sister, Princess Stephanie, and Stephanie's
legitimate children, Louis Ducruet and Pauline Ducruet.