What is the history of Monaco

History of Monaco

With a toll for ships to prosperity

In Genoa, the noble family got caught up in the armed conflicts between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the so-called loyal to the pope and the emperor, which shook northern and central Italy during the Middle Ages.

The Grimaldis fought on the side of the Guelphs loyal to the Pope and had to flee Genoa at the end of the 13th century after the party of the Ghibellines loyal to the emperor had seized the city.

Francesco Grimaldi, the ancestor of Monaco, conquered the Neapolitan fortress on the rock of Monaco in 1297 after, according to legend, he had entered the castle disguised as a monk.

The protruding rock was a strategically important point to control shipping traffic in the Mediterranean. The Grimaldis capitalized on this position. They levied a toll on ships that wanted to drive past Monaco in the direction of Genoa.

The Grimaldis were able to establish themselves politically and economically through the customs revenue. Due to the advantageous location of Monaco, the kingdoms of Spain and France vied for the favor of the Grimaldis. After changing alliances, once with the Spanish and another time with the French crown, the small state was firmly attached to France from the 17th century.

The second smallest state in the world

In 1861 the state became completely sovereign. Only two years later the casino opened its doors, which laid the foundation for the monegasque wealth in modern times.

The income from gaming was so high that direct taxes were abolished as early as 1869. In the course of the casino building were under Prince Charles III. (1818-1889) also pulled up the first luxury hotels.

The new opera, which opened its doors in 1879 with a performance by the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), became another crowd-puller.

The great glamor in Monaco was spread during the "Belle Epoque" period by Russian nobles. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, they traveled with special trains across Europe to the Côte d’Azur. Far away from all the political turmoil in their homeland, they drunk and gambled away their wealth here.

During the 1930s and 1940s Monaco was a neutral state, which - and this is the darkest chapter in the history of Monaco - made it possible for the National Socialists to conduct their banking business from the Côte d’Azur.

After the Second World War, Monaco was able to maintain its sovereignty, among other things, because Prince Rainier III. (1923-2005) had fought on the French side in the war.

The wedding between Rainier III. and Hollywood star Grace Kelly (1929-1982) brought new splendor and glamor to the principality in 1956. The media presence of the new princess made Monaco a playground for the rich and beautiful.

Her son Albert II, Prince of Monaco since 2005, tries to combine the luxury mile of the jet set with the requirements of Monaco for a modern business location. Even in the event that the royal family would one day die out, the state of Monaco would not fall to France. The Versailles Treaty of 1919 stipulates that the Grimaldis can appoint an heir to the throne to preserve their dynasty through adoption.

After the principality had to relinquish parts of its territory over and over again for financial reasons, Monaco today has a size of a good two square kilometers and is the second smallest state in the world after the Vatican. A little more than 37,000 inhabitants live in the dwarf state, including just over 8,000 Monegasque.

Citizenship can only be acquired by those who have rendered outstanding services to the principality. The chief Prince Albert II personally decides who will receive this honor. However, all foreigners living in the country enjoy the privileges of the Monegasque state, i.e. they do not pay any income tax.

SWR | Status: 04/27/2020, 2:12 pm