Monaco: 1662 to 1815
|See 1215 to 1662
Honoré II died in 1662. He had had only one son, Hercules, who had died as a result of an accident in 1651, leaving a son, Louis, and several daughters. Honoré II had the pleasure of witnessing the brilliant alliance of his grandson with Catherine-Charlotte, daughter of Marshal Gramont. The young princess occupied an important post at the French Court.
Her residence in Monaco was only short ; however, she used it to found the Convent of the Visitation, which later became a college and today is the Albert I Grammar School.
She then returned to Paris and became Lady in Waiting to the Princess Palatine. Louis I, who had followed her, took part in the War of the United Provinces against England and at the head of his regiment, the Monaco Cavalry, fought in battles which took place in Flanders and Franche Comté. He later returned to Monaco because of his poor health and it was there that Louis XIV came to call him to entrust him with the embassy to the Holy See. His mission was to obtain the support of the Pope to ensure that the succession of the King of Spain, Charles II, should pass to the Dauphin, the son of Maria Theresa. The unheard of magnificence which he displayed in Rome obliged him to empty the Palace of the riches which his grandfather Honoré II had gathered there. He died in 1701 without having had to intervene in the Spanish succession.
He had had two sons by Charlotte de Gramont : Antoine, the elder, succeeded him and François-Honoré became Archbishop of Besancon. Antoine was forty years old when he ascended the throne. He had spent a lot of time living in Paris where he had forged links with the great French aristocracy, in particular with the Duke of Orleans, the future Regent. He had had a brilliant career in the army as Colonel of the Soisson Infantry Regiment. His considerable height and dynamic spirit earned him the nickname of "Goliath". In 1688, he had married Marie de Lorraine who belonged to one of the greatest families allied to the throne of France. She filled a splendid position at the French court and only rarely visited Monaco. In addition, all was not well between husband and wife. Because of his health, Antoine I hardly ever left Monaco. During the invasion of Provence by the Duke of Savoy in 1707, the Principality, in spite of its neutrality, had grounds for fearing invasion. Large-scale fortification work was undertaken by the Prince, including the tower commands the ramp "Oreillon" ("the Ear") which commands the ramp leading to the Palace and which was completed in 1708. The Principality remained on the alert until the Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713.
Antoine I maintained voluminous correspondence with the most outstanding personages of his time ; that which he kept up with Marshall Tesse has been published. His great taste for music placed him in contact with François Couperin and André Cardinal Destouches, the directors of the Paris Opera.
In 1731 the male line of the Grimaldis of Monaco died out with Prince Antoine as Marie de Lorraine had only given him daughters. In 1715, he gave the eldest, Louis-Hippolyte, away in marriage to Jacques-François-Léonor de Matignon, heir of one of the most illustrious families of Normandy and owner of a great deal of land and possessor of many lordships ; he held the County of Torigni, the Duchy of Estouteville and the Barony of Saint-Lô. Jacques de Matignon, as a result of arrangements made by the parents of his bride, gave up his name and coat of arms for those of the Grimaldis. Louis XIV agreed to confer on him the title of Duke of Valentinois.
On the death of his wife ten months later, he was recognized as Prince of Monaco with the title of Jacques I, then held the regency during the minority of his elder son, the future Honoré III, in favor of whom he abdicated on 7th November 1733. Jacques I lived out his days in semi-retirement devoting his time to the magnificent art collections assembled in his house in Paris which is still known today under the same name, the Hotel Matignon, while it has become the official residence of the French Prime Minister.
Honoré III was to be Sovereign Prince of Monaco until 1795. During the first years of his reign, he had taken part in campaigns in Flanders, Rhine and the Low Countries and was promoted in 1748 to the rank of Field Marshal.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, from 1746 to 1747, Monaco was blockaded by the Austrian-Sardinian forces ; these latter were repulsed after several months by the troops of Marshall de Belle-Isle. This was the only crisis of the reign which ended in peace. The Prince spent more time in Paris and on his land in Normandy than in the Principality. He was, however, there during the summer of 1767 when the young Duke of York, the brother of King George III of England, on his way to Genoa, suddenly fell ill and had to be landed in the harbor of Monaco. He was immediately taken to the Palace but, in spite of the care and attention he was given, he died several days later. The English Court expressed its deep gratitude to Honoré III for his hospitality. One may still visit the room in the finest of the great apartments of the Prince's Palace in which the Duke of York died.
The wedding of Honoré III with Marie-Catherine of Brignole-Sale was celebrated in 1757. The Brignole family was one of the richest and most powerful families in Italy.
The marriage, however, did not last long. Irritated by the social success of his wife in the entourage of the Prince de Condé, Honoré demanded and obtained a separation. Before the quarrel between the spouses, two sons had been born, Honoré, who was later to become Prince of Monaco, and Joseph. The elder married Louise d'Aumont Mazarin in 1776 ; as a result of this union the Sovereign's House acquired all the property left by Cardinal Mazarin to his niece Hortense Mancini, including the Duchy of Rethel, the Principality of Château-Porcien and many other estates.
The situation of the Princes and their subjects was therefore at its most brilliant when the French Revolution broke out. Owing to the wise administration of the Governor, the Chevalier de Grimaldi, the people lived rather well in spite of the lack of resources in the territory of the Principality. Maritime commerce and the revenue arising from taxes levied on ships making their way to Italy contributed to a considerable extent to the economy of the country.
The Princes, with their fiefs of Valentinois, in the Auvergne, Provence and their land in Normandy, enjoyed a large income which was made even larger by the contribution from the lordships in Alsace. All these sources of income were removed by the suppression of feudal rights voted by the French Constituent Assembly during the night of 4th August 1789. Honoré III tried in vain to have his rights respected by invoking the Treaty of Péronne ; on his death, which took place in 1795, his family found itself in dire financial straits.
In Monaco, two opposing parties came into being ; one was the supporter of sovereignty, the other, the Party of the People, wanted to hand the government of the country over to the people and its representatives and it was this latter which was the victor.
The entry of French troops into the County of Nice hastened the establishment of the new order. On 15th February, 1793, the Convention decided upon the incorporation of the Principality into France ; first of all, it was a canton and then the chief town of an arrondissement which was later removed to San Remo.
All the riches of the Palace were dispersed - the paintings and articles of artistic worth being sold at auctions. The Palace, after first being used to provide billets for officers and soldiers in transit, was converted into a hospital and then into a home for the poor.
Throughout the whole of the Revolution, the members of the Prince's family had undergone severe trials. First they were imprisoned and then freed, with the exception of Marie-Thérèse de Choiseul-Stainville, the wife of Prince Joseph (the second son of Honoré III) who perished on the scaffold. They found themselves in all sorts of difficulties and were obliged to sell nearly all their possessions. Two of them, Honoré-Gabriel and Florestan, served in the French army.
The situation changed completely after the abdication of Napoleon on 30th May 1814. The first Treaty of Paris returned to the Principality all the advantages which it had enjoyed before 1st January, 1792. Prince Honoré IV, son of Honoré III, unable, because of his poor health, to assume power, first of all nominated his brother Joseph to replace him but his son, Honoré-Gabriel, vigorously opposed this notion and his father, owning him to be in the right, passed sovereignty to him. Honoré therefore returned to Monaco in March, 1815. On his arrival in Cannes, he learned of the departure of Napoleon from Elba ; he was arrested by General Cambronne and taken in the middle of the night to Napoleon with whom he had a conversation.