THE OLD HISTORY OF THE PRINCIPALITY.
THE History of Mentone is in fact that of Monaco, with which it has been
linked in almost all the varied vicissitudes of its fortune, and the history of
Monaco is scarcely more than that of the Grimaldi family, who have been its
rulers, and whose good and bad qualities have been like a thermometer of the
prosperity of the State, ever since it sprang into existence.
Until towards the commencement of the 13th century Monaco was only a deserted
rock, at the foot of which, ships, coasting along the shores of Liguria and
Provence, were wont to seek a refuge from the storm.
According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and other writers, Hercules built a
temple to his own honour on this spot, after a victory over the ancient Ligurian
inhabitants of the territory; ("Monoeci similiter arcem et portum ad
perennem sui memoriam consecravit,") which temple was served by a single
priest, a hermit, a monk, (Monachus), whence some derive the name. Others
believe that the name was due to the Phocians, who gave this temple the
distinctive title of μονος
Long before the city of Monaco existed, the ancient Portus Herculis at its
foot was known and valued. Here Augustus Caesar embarked for Genoa, on his way
to Rome, after having set up his victorious trophies at La Turbia. "Aggeribus
socer Alpinis atque arce Monoeci descendens."
The neighbourhood of the Port became the scene of the combats between Otho
and Vitellius, and there Fabius Valens, a general of Vitellius, lauded the
troops intended for the support of Marius Maturius, against a Gallic rebellion.
In 286 the emperor Maximin returned by this way from his expedition against the
Bogandes, a fact recorded by Claudius in the words, "Tu modo Galliae oppida
illustraveras; jam summas arces Monoeci Herculis praeteribas."
The scattered Ligurian village, which occupied these shores, were constantly
pillaged and destroyed by the Saracens, who in 814 took possession of the
heights of Esa, Turbia, and St. Agnese, whence they descended from their
mountain castles to ravage the neighbourhood, the Portus Monoeci itself falling
entirely into their hands, and lying utterly waste during the 8th, 9th, and 10th
centuries. At length among the Christian champions who appeared to do battle in
their behalf, was a noble knight of Genoa, called Giballino Grimaldi, who after
a great victory over the Saracens, was welcomed as a deliverer by the
inhabitants, and received the lands along this beautiful gulf, as the reward of
his valour. This was the beggining of the Grimaldi rule, and the first cause of
the Genoese power in Monaco. All the land of the Ligurian Riviera, from Monaco
to Porto Venere, was afterwards granted in fief to the Genoese by the emperor
Frederick 1st; a grant which was recognised by their neighbour Count Raymond, of
Provence, in a charter which gave them "Podium et montem Monaci, cum suis
pertinenciis ad incastellandum." This cession was again renewed by the
emperor Henry IV, on condition that the Genoese would build a castle at Monaco,
for the better defence of the Christians against the Saracens. Hitherto no
building had occupied the heights of Monaco, except a chapel, which had been
built on the site of the ancient temple in 1078, by two inhabitants of La Turbia;
but in consequence of this, on the 6th of June, 1191, three galleys from Genoa,
containing a number of noble Genoese citizens, with one Fulco di Castello at
their head, and followed by galleys laden with timber, iron, and other materials
for building, disembarked at Monaco, when having defined their rights, in the
presence of the imperial commissioners, by making the circuit of the desolate
rock with olive boughs, they built a fortress, with four towers and circular
walls, around which a new town soon began to spring up. The cession of Monaco to
Genoa was ratified by the emperor Frederick II, on condition that its
fortifications should be always at the service of the empire.
From 1270 to 1340, Monaco, an almost impregnable citadel, served as a refuge
to the Guelfs and Ghibelines alternately, the former being represented by the
Grimaldis, the latter by the Spinolas. Each party twice besieged the other
within its walls, and each was twice supplanted by its opponents. On the
Christmas Eve, however, of 1306, while all the inhabitants were celebrating the
solemn midnight-mass, Charles Grimaldi, contrived to enter Monaco disguised as a
monk, and having cut the throats of the sentinels, to let in his accomplices.
From this period, with the exception of eleven years (1327—1338) the place
remained in the hands of the Grimaldis, of whom Rabclla Grimaldi bought a formal
investment of his rights from Genoa, for 1200 gold florins.
In 1346, Charles (Grimaldi) 1st, bought part of Mentone from Emmanuel Vento
of Genoa, and Roccabruna from Guiglielmo Lascaris, Count of Ventimiglia, for
16,000 florins, to which his title of Prince was recognized in 1353. The rest of
Mentone was bought by another branch of the Grimaldi
family. In 1357, the Genoese, jealous of its rising importance, besieged Monaco
by sea and land, and obliged it to surrender, but the exile of the Grimaldis on
this occasion only lasted for a few months.
It may not be uninteresting to give a list of the earlier Princes of Monaco,
merely noting the principal events of each reign.
1346. Charles 1st. First recognized Prince of Monaco, who was
besieged by Genoa, and took refuge at Nice, whence he soon returned in
1363. Regnier. A brave warrior mixed up in papal politics. He first
took part with Urban VI, and seized the anti-papal cardinals on their way to
Avignon, as they passed through Mentone; but afterwards he changed his
polities, and did equal service to the anti-Pope Clement VII. Monaco was
seized and taken during his reign by Jean Grimaldi, Baron de Beuil, and his
brother Louis, but not content with this conquest, they attacked Ventimiglia
also, where they were both taken prisoners, and Monaco was restored to Regnier
by the Genoese in 1401. Regnier was Prince of Monaco alone; his brother
Charles inherited Mentone, with the title of Conseigneur. 1407. Ambroise.
1424. Jean I. As Genoa had fallen into the hands of the Viscontis,
this prince, with the Conseigneur of Mentone and Roccabruna, found it prudent
to espouse their cause. As a reward he received the command of the Genoese
fleet, with the title of Admiral, in which capacity he gained a great victory
over the Venetians, when 28 galleys and 42 transport vessels were taken, and
3000 men were killed. Returning to Genoa covered with glory, he received the
sister of Doge Thomaso Fregosa in marriage. On the expulsion of the Milanese,
Jean Grimaldi was so afraid that the Genoese, in order the better to
strengthen their power, might take part of his dominions away from him, that
he offered the suzerainty of his outlying possessions of Roccabruna and the
half of Mentone, to Louis, Duke of Savoy, to whom he did homage in 1448. From
this time the Grimaldis continually did homage to the Dukes of Savoy, for
their domain of Mentone and Roccabruna, presenting themselves before them,
bare-headed, without boots or spurs, and receiving again the investiture of
their lands as fiefs of Savoy, by the outward sign of a sword, and a kiss on
the mouth, according to ancient custom. This fact was alleged as a reason for
the late revolution of 1849, when Mentone and Roccabruna deserted from the
government of the Princes of Monaco, and placed themselves under the
protection of the King of Sardinia, declaring that they only appealed to their
true Sovereign, from his provincial governor. 1454. Catalan.
1457. Lambert. This prince received Ventimiglia as the reward of
services rendered to Francesco Sforza, the new Lord of Milan. But after his
death, refusing allegiance to his successor Galeazzo, he was besieged in
Monaco by the Duke of Savoy, ally of Genoa; but after two months blockade,
agreed to the terms of a capitulation, which resulted in peace. Lambert bought
from his cousins, Honorius and Luca Grimaldi, the rights which they retained
over Mentone, and thus re-united all that had belonged to the Monaco Grimaldis
before 1346, when the territory was divided on the death of Charles I.
1493. Jean II. This prince was made lieutenant of the Riviera, by
Charles VIII of France, whose cause he espoused. He was murdered by his
brother Lucien in 1505.
1505. Lucien. During the government of this prince, Genoa shook off
the yoke of France, which caused many of its principal families to take flight
and seek a refuge in Monaco. This led to a blockade of the town by the
Genoese, which lasted five months, at the end of which time, aided by the
troops of the Duke of Savoy, who occupied the heights of La Turbia, Lucien was
able to make such a successful resistance, that the Genoese raised the siege.
Emboldened by this triumph, Monaco shook off the yoke of the Republic. In 1515
Lucien bought from Anne de Lascaris, Countess of Villars, the feudal rights
which her family still retained over Mentone, and died in 1523, murdered by
his nephew Bartholomew Doria, of Dolceaqua, in the palace of Monaco.
1523. Honorius I. Augustino Grimaldi, Bishop of Grasse, became the
guardian of this prince during his minority, and in order the better to avenge
himself on the murderers of his brother Lucien, he deserted Francis I. of
France, and swore allegiance to the emperor Charles V., whence began the
Spanish protection of Monaco. Charles V. paid the Grimaldis a visit in 1529 at
Monaco, where they had already received Pope Adrian VI. in 1522. On the death
of Augustino in 1532, Stefano Grimaldi succeeded to the guardianship of the
prince. He restored the Church of St. Nicholas and enlarged the palace, where
he received Pope Paul III. on his way to the council of Nice. Prince Honorius
himself was remarkable for his bravery, wisdom, and valour.
1581. Charles II., protected by Spain, was the first prince who
refused to do homage to the Dukes of Savoy, for Mentone and Roccabruna, which
he was consequently declared to have forfeited, after a solemn trial in 1583.
1589. Hercules, relying on the protection of Spain, persisted in
refusing to do homage to Savoy for Mentone and Roccabruna. From this time the
protection which Spain had granted to the Grimaldi family, became a yoke over
their possessions. Hence the remains of the Spanish language which are still
perceptible in the more remote parts of the principality. Hercules, being
accused by some of the inhabitants of Monaco of dishonouring their daughters,
was summarily thrown into the sea by them and drowned, in 1604.
1604. Honorius II. Advantage was taken by Philip III. of Spain of
the minority of this prince, to introduce a fixed Spanish garrison into
Monaco, but on his coming of age, he determined to shake off the Spanish yoke;
and having placed Monaco under the protection of France, by a treaty with
Richelieu at Peronne, he contrived to surprise the Spanish garrison by night
and expel them for ever. The government of this sovereign, which lasted 58
years, was wise and paternal, and his death was the cause of universal
mourning; but the foreign tyranny still continued, the only difference being
that Monaco was occupied by a French instead of a Spanish garrison. Honorius
was succeeded by his grandson.
1662. Louis I. This prince, equally remarkable for his own vices,
and for the severe laws which he drew up to guard the virtue of his subjects,
was made ambassador from France to Rome, where he was so ruined by his
luxurious mode of living, that in order to replenish his coffers, he forced
his subjects to relinquish their rights over the oil-mills which belonged to
them; a usurpation of which the Princes of Monaco till very recently continued
to take advantage. Louis died at Rome.
1701. Antoine, who in 1714, after an appeal on the part of the Duke
of Savoy to the Assembly General of Utrecht, which referred it to the Courts
of France and England, was obliged to renew the homage due from the Princes of
Monaco to the Dukes of Savoy, for Mentone and Roccabruna. This prince had no
sons, but married his eldest daughter Louise Hippolyte Grimaldi to Jacques de
Torigny, Count de Matignon, who consented to bear the arms and name of
Grimaldi, and who, by the marriage contract, was appointed the successor of
Antoine, contrary to the law regulating fiefs of the empire, by which women
have no right of succession. Antoine was the only Prince of Monaco, except
Honorius II., who devoted himself to the welfare of his people, and the only
one who was really regretted by them.
1731. Louise Hippolyte. The Count de Matignon, entitled by his
marriage contract to succeed his father-in-law, came to take possession, of
Monaco; but the people refused to accept him as their ruler, and conferred the
sovereign title upon the Princess Louise Hippolyte. The Count yielded to this
manifestation of the popular will, and retired to Paris. In consequence of the
authority with which she was invested, the Princess, in 1731, did homage to
Charles Emmanuel III. for the fiefs of Mentone and Roccabruna, after the
manner of her ancestors, but died within the year. In her became extinct the
ancient house of the Monaco Grimaldis. She was succeeded by her eldest son.
1731. Honorius III. of Grimaldi Matignon, who did homage to King Victor
Amadeus III. for the fiefs of Mentone and Roccabruna. The marriage of this
prince gave a curious example of the aristocratic bondage which preceded the
French Revolution. Falling passionately in love with the beautiful Catarina do
Brignole, niece of the Doge of Genoa, he demanded her hand of her father, and
his proposals being favourably received, a deputy was sent to fetch the bride
from Genoa to the Port of Hercules. A question, however, of etiquette which
arose on her arrival, was near putting an end to every thing; and this was,
whether the bride should land to meet the prince, or, whether the prince
should go on board to meet the bride. As neither would yield, the Countess
mother declared that she should carry her daughter back to Genoa, when after a
furious discussion, she was at length induced to agree to a flying bridge
being thrown from the galley to the shore, on which the prince and his
fiancée both agreed to advance half-way. Honorius had two sons, Honorius IV.,
who married Louise d'Aumont, Duchess of Mazarin, and Joseph, who married a
daughter of the Marechal de Choiseul.
The French Revolution, in its general overthrow of governments, did not pass
over that of Monaco. Early in 1790, a deputation was sent to Honorius III.,
representing the grievances of the people, and demanding a municipality with
popular suffrage. His only answer was to hurry back to his state, resolved to
crush the new ideas in the bud, but the attitude of the people was so
threatening on his arrival, that he was thankful to grant all they demanded, and
to return to France as quickly as possible.
A year afterwards, imagining that the Revolution had passed over, he withdrew
the concessions which fear had forced from him, and made the yoke of his
absolute power weigh more heavily upon his people than ever. It was not long
before the French army crossed the Var, took possession of Nice, and proclaimed
the abolition of the feudal system in the possessions of the Prince of Monaco,
who was thus deprived of his sovereignty. Prince Honorius III. was a man of
intelligence and distinction, but of dissolute manners; a prince celebrated for
his magnificence, but detested for his tyranny, he died at Paris in 1795.
Incorporated with France by a decree of the Convention of the 15th February,
1793, and comprised in the department of the Maritime Alps, the ex-principality
of Monaco followed the revolutionary movement in all its phases, only remaining
free from its sanguinary excesses. The people burnt Pope Pius VI. in effigy in
the Piazza of Monaco, yet, only a few months later, when the vessel which bore
his remains, was forced by a tempest to seek shelter in the Port of Hercules,
all the town came together like one man to do him honour, and his coffin was
deposited in the principal church, where funeral honours were rendered to him. A
similar welcome was given 13 years later to the living Pius VII., when he passed
through Mentone in 1814, on his return to Rome from exile.
When the European powers, united at Paris, were dividing the empire, which
victory had given to Napoleon, the tiny principality of Monaco seemed at first
to be forgotten, and likely to be restored as part of Nice to the house of
Savoy, to whom all the territory of the Republic of Genoa was given up. But, by
a strange exception, due, it is said, to the interested intervention of
Talleyrand, a line was allowed to be inserted in the 8th article of the treaty,
which declared that "the principality of Monaco should be replaced in the
relations in which it existed before the 1st of January 1792."
By this unexpected exception in their favour, the house of Matignon-Grimaldi
recovered the sovereignty which it had lost for twenty-one years; the article of
the treaty of Peronne, which placed their State under the protection of France,
being maintained by the Powers.
The new Prince Honorius IV. (oldest son of Honorius III.) was
incapacitated from governing by illness, and his duties devolved on his brother
Joseph, who was justly popular with the inhabitants. Unfortunately his rule was
of short duration; the government fell into the hands of his nephew, the Duke of
Valentinois, who took the name of Honorius V. of fatal memory.
The tranquillity of this reign and of that which followed, though unmoved by
the sufferings of the people, was long and seriously disturbed by another cause,
which was no less than the appearance of a rival branch of the Grimaldi family,
who laid claim to the throne of Monaco, and whose rights, never wholly
disproved, are still believed in by many persons.
The direct male line of Grimaldi had become extinct in the year 1748, in the
person of Honoré François, Archbishop of Besançon. This personage had however
before yielded his rights to his niece Louise-Hippolyte, Countess of Goyon
Matignon, who was enabled by the virtues of her father Antoine, and the love and
gratitude with which he had inspired his subjects, to succeed to his Sovereignty
in 1731, in spite of the law which prohibited females from inheriting, if any
agnats, that is to say, males descended from males of the family, were still in
At the time, however, that Louise Hippolyte took possession of her
sovereignty, two agnat branches of the families were still in existence, one
nearly related, the issue of Gaspard Grimaldi, Marquis of Cagnes, the other more
distantly, the issue of Luchetto Grimaldi, Seigneur della Pietra, who lived in
the 15th century.
When Louise Hippolyte took possession, the Marquis of Cagnes was too young to
contend with her in behalf of his rights, and no one could be found who was
willing to act for him; afterwards he grew up too indolent to support his own
cause; but on Jan. 12, 1761, one of his sons, the Marquis of Sauveur Gaspard,
addressed a protestation to the court of France against what he called the
usurpation of the Counts of Matignon. In 1774 he renewed this protest at Vienna
before the aulic council, where his pretensions were taken into consideration.
It was placed beyond dispute that the fiefs of Monaco, Mentone, and
Roccabruna, were true imperial fiefs, and consequently that Louise Hippolyte de
Grimaldi, married to Count Jacques de Matignon, could not have taken possession
without violating the well-known laws which regulated the succession in all
fiefs of this kind. No further notice was taken at the time of the application
of the Marquis Sauveur Gaspard, and 15 years later the French revolution swept
away, for the time, both the dispute and the cause of it.
After the restoration, this branch of the house of Grimaldi, revived their
claims. Thus on Jan. 21, 1841, before King Charles Albert could give to Prince
Florestan the investiture of Mentone and Roccabruna, the Marquis Charles
Philippe Auguste de Cagnes, at that time residing at Saint Marcellin in France,
addressed a memorial to the Sardinian government to justify his rights of
preference, and to demand the suspension of the infeudation. The king, being
doubtless of opinion that this infeudation, which was only a repetition of those
which had already taken place in 1716, 1733, 1775, 1812, 1816, could not injure
the rights of the Marquis if they were well founded, did not think it right to
yield to his request, and conferred the investiture in question upon Prince
Florestan. The Marquis de Cagnes formally protested against the validity of this
act, in a note which he sent on Jan. 16, 1842, to the Cabinet of
Turin, but the feeling excited in his favour was of short duration, and though
this branch of the house of Grimaldi have never ceased to assert their rights to
the sovereignty of Monaco, the descendants of Louise Hippolyte still enjoy it.