Grimaldi Family

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 Grimaldi dynasty.

Grimaldi HouseThe 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 its Princes.

Prince Rainier and Grace KellyThe 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 Kelly.

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.


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