The Grimaldi's

The Origins of the Grimaldi's in Monaco : 8 January 1297

The Grimaldi's, one of the most influential Guelf families of Genova, were twice chased away from their city by the Ghibellines. In 1270, they retorted by seizing Ventimiglia, Menton and Roquebrune. After the insurrection of December 1270, the defeated Guelfs retreated to Provence, where Rainier Grimaldi, who was head of the family, began arming his fleet to retaliate.

On January 8, 1297, Francois Grimaldi took power of the Monaco fortress. In the book, "Monaco, its Origins and History", the indisputable authority on Monaco's history, author Gustave Saigne relates the details of this paramount turning point in the history of the Principality : "During the night of January 8, 1297, a monk appeared at the gates of Monaco. Inconspicuously, Francois Grimaldi was let through. Barely having entered the enclosed grounds, the imposture monk threw himself over the guards, apparently few were holding watch, and a full pledged attack was launched as the large Guelf troops, which had been hiding closely behind concealed by the obscurity of the night, forced the gates before the guards could react."

By his actions, Francois Grimaldi forever engraved the family name on the flanks of Monaco's rock. Until that moment, its situation had remained precarious as events of the years preceding 1297 witnessed:

- the political fall down of the Saintly Roman-Germanic Empire.

- the internal disarray in many Italian cities fallen prey to the gutting wars between the rivaling Guelf and Ghibellines families.

- the indecisiveness of Charles II of Anjou, Count of Provence.

The rock belonged to Genova since 1215. To seize it was a clear act of war, but also a symbolic act with respect to the Ghibellines, who remained in power in their home land.

Francois Grimaldi in monk frock, by fooling his adversaries and seizing the fortress, avoided a siege which would have been costly in terms of means and lives. Seizing the strategically located harbor and fort also gave him the best chances by which to reconquer Genova. The Grimaldi's and their partisans maintained their position on the rock for just over four years, during which time, they pursued a merciless chase of the Ghibellines fleets and trade ships sailing between Italy and the ports of Languedoc.

Throughout this period, Charles II of Anjou was digging himself deeper into an increasingly difficult situation facing the accentuating threats of the Aragons territorial claims. He needed support which he was hoping to receive from Genova ,to reinforce his fleet of ships.

Recognizing the value of the circumstances, Rainier Grimaldi deployed his naval forces and put his maneuvering talents into action. It was no longer a matter of fighting solely for his personal interests, but to offer his forces to serve a Prince who would one day know how to compensate him well. He did the same with the King of France, Philippe le Bel, for whom in 1304, he brought back the victorious naval conquest of Zeriksee against the Flemish fleet, honoring him the title of 'Admiral of France'. Rainier displayed unique comportment and model behavior, the tradition of which the Grimaldi's have continued : recognition as a force that a powerful neighbor will appreciate, and find in its own interest to take advantage of, under the reciprocated conditions of obtaining aid and protection, towards the common interest of political emancipation.

Under the benevolent initiative taken by Charles II to return Monaco to Genova, the Grimaldi's conducted negotiations with perseverance and shrewdness commanding respect for their conditions. Past were the days of surrender and being treated as defeated, now transformed to the pursuit of discussions with regard for one another as equals.

The restoration of Monaco to the heart of the Republic of Genova, which was for many at the time, considered a return to the former situation, although not considered so by the Grimaldi's. However, Rainier, leader of the dissidents, preferred to retreat to Provence, demonstrating his desire for independence. He was the historical instigator of Monegasque independence.


Prince Rainier III, grandson of Prince Louis II on his mothers side, Princess Charlotte and son of Prince Pierre, Count of Polignac, succeeded his grandfather on May 9, 1949.

During the course of his reign, one of the longest in the history of Monaco, Prince Rainier III intensified, expanded and diversified the enterprises committed to during the preceding three reigns : from the political, diplomatic, international, economic and social domains, to the educational, scientific, cultural, communications and sports domains. To this he adds the industrial dimension. Through bold land retrieval from the seas, he expanded national territory by one fifth of its surface.

The most significant political reform due to the initiative taken by Prince Rainier III, consists of the promulgation of a new constitution, establishing modern principles without repudiating tradition.

Concerning foreign relations, a good relation exists with France, consolidated by new agreements, and confirmed by visits to Monaco by French Presidents ; Vincent Auriol, Rene Coty, Charles de Gaulle and Francois Mitterrand, as well as by the visits paid to the Elysee by the Sovereign Monegasque Princes. The legations of Monaco have been elevated to Embassy status, whiles the Bishopric of Monaco has risen to Archbishop status. An embassy was established in Spain.

New Honorific Orders have been instituted : to recognize artistic talent, the Order of Cultural Merit ; for services rendered to the head of state and for contributions to the radiance of the Principality, the Grimaldi Order.

The Principality has become a member of numerous international organizations, notably the UPU, the AIEA, the UIT, etc... Monaco was admitted to the United Nations on May 28, 1993.

In the economic sector, Prince Rainier III has taken measures to protect and enrich the hospitality sector. The infrastructure for tourism is modern and the technical installations necessary to host international conferences and professional congresses are excellent.

Adding to the touristic and business activities, Prince Rainier III further develops the economic tapestry by encouraging the growth of the industrial and service business sectors, which today account for a major portion of the national income.

Meanwhile, major construction projects are underway : enhanced harbor installations, underground placement of the train station and railway tracks, construction of administrative offices, land retrieval from the sea, renovation and extension of the hospital, modernization of urban equipment, piercing of tunnels to facilitate traffic circulation, construction of parking houses, building of a nautical stadium, construction of a new stadium and installation of another Heliport.

A new law for educational training has been designed for modern and diverse skills training at school. New schools are opening to increase capacity and improve conditions responding to the increasing need for scholastic establishments, as well as fulfilling the need for numerous and varied sports activities.

In the scientific sector, the endeavors of Prince Albert I, are pursued at the Oceanographic museum, the Prehistoric Anthropology Museum, the Observatory Grotto, the Exotic Gardens, and at the CIESM. The creation of the Scientific Center, the radioactive marine laboratory, the underwater reserve and the establishment of the RAMOGE project (see text in annex) complete the program.

Music and dance retain the privileged position they have always had in Monaco. Prince Rainier III created an award for musical composition and will open the Honorary Court of the Palace for Monaco's Philharmonic Orchestra's summer concerts. Princess Grace created the Art Festival, Princess Caroline created a new ballet troop. Prince Rainier III founded the literary prize awarded to French authors. In 1954 he inaugurated the Monte-Carlo television station and created the International Television Festival in 1961.

At the threshold of the third millenary, 1997 commemorates the 700th anniversary of the arrival of the Grimaldi family to the rock of Monaco. 1999 will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the succession to the throne of HSH Prince Rainier III, who has in store the program of his upcoming projects for Monaco : the urbanization of land retrieved from placing the railway tracks and station underground ; construction of a dam protecting the Hercules harbor which will also serve as a mooring destination for leisure cruise ships, and last but not least the building of the lacustrian village adjacent to Fontvieille, using offshore oil rig construction techniques.

HSH Hereditary Prince Albert

Hereditary Prince Albert, Alexandre, Louis, Pierre, Hereditary Prince of Monaco, Marquis of Baux, was born on March 14, 1958.

Prince Albert's godfather was the late Prince Louis de Polignac, and godmother the late Her Majesty Queen Victoria-Eugenia of Spain.

HSH the Sovereign Prince bestowed upon HSH Hereditary Prince Albert the Grand-Cross of the Grimaldi Order with the enactment of April 18, 1958, and the Grand-Cross of the Saint-Charles Order with the enactment of March 13, 1979.

During his official visit in May 1977, SEM Leopold Sedar Senghor, President of the Republic of Senegal, bestowed upon the Hereditary Prince Albert the dignified title of Grand Officer of the Lion of Senegal National Order.

To commemorate his 21st birthday, the Postal-Stamp Office printed a stamp with his portrait. On January 19, 1984, during an official visit to Monaco by the President of the Republic of France, Francois Mitterand , he received the distinguished title of Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.

Since June 1989, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert is Knight of the Maltese Order.

The Hereditary Prince Albert went to school at the Lycee Albert I of Monaco, and received his baccalaureate diploma with distinction in 1976. Between 1977-1981, he went to University in the United States, Amherst College in Massachusetts where he studied political science, economics, psychology, English literature, art history, anthropology, geology, philosophy, sociology, German language, and music. On May 30, 1981, he received his Bachelor of Administration in Political Science in the presence of Their Serene Highnesses the Sovereign Prince and Princess of Monaco and HSH Princess Caroline.

Throughout his youth, scholarly studies and University years, the young Prince continues to shine in numerous sports disciplines :

- Athletics : Prince Albert was the best middle distance runner at the Lycee Albert I, and was on the cross-country team between 1972-74.

- During his studies at Amherst, he trained in the javelin

- Soccer : On the Monaco soccer team for four years, he still plays often with the team he created and baptised the 'Barbagiuans'.

- Hand-ball, Judo black-belt, academic champion in swimming, tennis, sailing, skiing, squash, fencing, rowing, are amongst the many sports he enjoys.

- During his summer holidays at Camp Tecumseh (USA), he competed and won two gold medals and one silver, in his swimming category. He won two gold medals in fencing. Twice he was in the finals in the camp championships in 1971-72, and 1973-74.

- Since 1986 he has taken up Bobsleighing, and competed in the Olympic games in Calgary, Albertville and Lillehammer.

- Keen on music, he was part of the University chorus, 'Amherst College Glee Club' with which he toured throughout Europe and the Middle East during the summer of 1979.

From September 1981 to April 1982, Prince Albert engaged in the French Navy as second grade sub-lieutenant, on board the helicopter-carrier 'Jeanne d'Arc', aboard which he traveled around the world. Currently, he is first grade sub-lieutenant.

By Sovereign Order on December 17, 1982, Prince Albert was nominated President of the Monaco Red-Cross. He fulfills this position together with the board of directors to participate in the vast array of international aid programs of the International Federation of the Red-Cross, whiles also actively taking their own aid program initiatives.

In 1982, he is also nominated Vice-President of the Princess Grace-USA Foundation which vocation is to continue the endeavors in which Princess Grace engaged in the artistic world. The foundation grants scholarships to young talented artists in the disciplines of : dance, music, theater....

From January to May 1983, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert does a finance administration internship at the Morgan Guaranty Trust of New-York, complemented by a marketing training at the banks Paris headquarters from January to May 1984.

At the end of 1983, the Prince spent a few months at Moet-Hennessy in Paris gaining a rich experience of the management challenges of a rapidly expanding multinational corporation.

On October 10, 1983, he becomes President of the Monegasque Swimming Federation which activities he follows closely.

On May 15, 1984, he is nominated President of the Monaco Yacht Club, thus reviving his ancestors sea-faring traditions, as did Albert I who in 1906 founded the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco. The Yacht Club's multiple activities range from : Sailing school, international sailing and motorboat races (Monaco-New York Transatlantic of 1985), race gatherings for Maxi-raters, 'Monaco Classic Week'. At the Olympic games of Seoul in 1988, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert was the representative of the International Olympic Committee for the sailing and yacht races which took place in Pusan.

On July 17, 1984, Prince Albert is nominated President of the Monegasque Athletic Federation. He takes a very active role in the organization of the annual meeting of the 'Grand Prix IAAF-Herculis'.

He is also Honorary President of the Monaco Sports Associations' (ASM) volley-ball division.

In July 1984, he assists the Los Angeles Olympic games as a private person accompanying the Monegasque Olympic Delegation.

In the winter of 1985, Prince Albert goes to New York for an internship at the international law firm Rogers & Wells.

A multi-disciplined sportsman, in 1985 the Prince part-takes in the Paris-Dakar Race. During his participation in the race, the Prince is struck by the misery and poverty of the regions crossed, and decided to do something for the inhabitants. With support from the Monegasque - Monaco Aid and Presence Association (MAP) of which he is founder and Honorary President, in May 1988 he arranged for the construction of a free health center in Agades, Nigeria which bares his name. Recently a maternity ward was added. Other similar projects are in the makings in war-ridden countries such as in ex-Yugoslavia, and in developing countries such as Sri-Lanka, Brazil, Rumania....

In June 1985, he was co-opted as a fellow member of the International Olympic Committee during the organizations' 90th session held in Berlin.

On September 3, 1986, he is nominated Honorary Member of the International Human Rights Institute which headquarters are located in Geneva.

By Sovereign Order of November 11, 1986, Prince Albert is elevated to the rank of Colonel of the Police Forces by the Sovereign Prince.

In 1987, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert receives the 1986 Sports Academy Award, "Prix Claude Foussier", decorated by M. Claude Foussier, President of the Academy in Paris.

HSH Hereditary Prince Albert participated, along with the members of the Monegasque Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federations (which he created), in the winter Olympics of Calgary in February 1988, Albertville in February 1992 and Lillehammer in February 1994.

By Sovereign Order on June 1, 1988, the Hereditary Prince Albert is nominated President of the Organizing Committee of the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, an international annual event which draws hundreds to the Principality during the month of February. The festival is a television movie market complemented by Imagina, the synthetic image market organized in conjunction with the INA.

In December 1988, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert is nominated Vice-President of the Athletic commission of the International Olympic Committee by Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranche. In 1990, he is also nominated member of the coordinating commission for the 1996 Atlanta Olympiad.

In March 1990, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert agrees to part-take in the support committee of the WWF France.

In March 1992, he agrees to be patron of the 'Outward Bound, France' Association which is dedicated to the concept of 'learning by doing' in its training of young people.

HSH Hereditary Prince Albert agreed to being patron of the French Patrols for the year 1993.

On May 28, 1993 when the Principality of Monaco was accorded full membership to the United Nations Organization, the Sovereign Prince designated the Hereditary Prince Albert as President of the Monegasque Delegation to the General Assembly of the UN. He thus participated in the opening of the 48th session in New York in September 1993.

In the same year, as Honorary President of the 101st session of the International Olympic Committee, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert organized for the session to take place in Monaco in September 1993. It was during this important reunion that the city of Sydney was chosen to be host city for the summer Olympic games of the year 2000.

In November 1993, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert is nominated President of the Monegasque Olympic Committee.

In November 1993, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert accepts to be Honorary President of the Friends of Opera Association in Monaco.

By Sovereign Order on August 29, 1995, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert is nominated President of the committee in charge of research and organizing the events commemorating in 1997 the "700th Anniversary of Grimaldi reign in Monaco".

In October 1995, in his position as President of he Monegasque Delegation, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert was, with HSH Princess Caroline alongside HSH the Sovereign Prince, present at the commemorative ceremonies for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations in New York.

On a daily basis, the Hereditary Prince Albert consults with HSH the Sovereign Prince on State affairs. He is interested in the management and administration of governmental affairs and participates in numerous social and official functions of the Principality.

Information supplied by the Monaco Centre de Presse

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