House of Grimaldi
The House of Grimaldi has historical
links to the Republic of Genoa (eventually part of Italy) and the
Principality of Monaco. In 1160, 1170 and 1184 Grimaldo, a Genoese
statesman became a consul in the City of Genoa. He may have been a son
of Otto Canella, a consul to the Republic of Genoa in 1133. The numerous
sons and grandsons of Grimaldo led maritime expeditions throughout the
Mediterranean, Black and North Seas to become one of the most powerful
families in Genoa, and they defended their interests ‘with the sword’.
Alliances were formed and treaties signed but the Grimaldis and
their allies by 1276 found themselves with less influence in Genoa after
signing treaties with Charles of Anjou, King of Naples and Count of
Provence (1271); and they also accepted a peace under the auspices of
the Pope (1276). But the civil war continued and not all the Grimaldis
returned to Genoa but chose to settle in the Fiefdoms where they could
raise their armies. In 1297 Francis Grimaldi and his supporters
conquered the castle of Monaco disguised as Friars. In 1299 their rivals
the Spinolas were ousted from Genoa.
In 1353 sixty galleys under
the command of Anthony Grimaldi in support of Genoa battled with a fleet
of eighty Venetian and Argonese galleys off Sardinia. Only nineteen of
the Genoese vessels survived. By 1395 the Grimaldis took advantage of
the ongoing discords in Genoa to consolidate their hold on Monaco, and
ruled it as a Condominium. During this period feudal branches of the
Grimaldis also arose in Antibes, Beuil, Nice, Puget and Sicily.
As a part of political reforms in 1528 the Grimaldi became one of the 28
Alberghi (Corporations) of the Republic of Genoa, and over time provided
doges, cardinals, cabinet ministers and military officers of historical
From 1731 until 1949, it was determined that the ‘male
line’ only of the French noble house of Goyon-Matignon rule as Princes
of Monaco. James de Goyon de Matignon who became Prince from 1731 to
1733, adopted the name and arms of Grimaldi. The right of succession was
through his wife Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi who abdicated in her
husband’s favour. In a similar manner when Charlotte Louvet was made
legitimate in 1911 and made successor her husband Count Pierre de
Polignac adopted the name and arms of Grimaldi.
Well you might ask what has all this got to do with
The link of Douglas to Grimaldi is through
Lady Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton (1850 – 1922), also known as Lady Mary
Hamilton who was the daughter of William Douglas, 1st Earl of Selkirk,
11th Duke of Hamilton and the 8th Duke of Brandon (also Marquess of
Douglas and Clydesdale) (1811 – 1864) who married Princess Marie Amelie,
the daughter of the Grand Duke of Baden and his French wife Stephanie de
Beauharnais. On her mother’s side Princess Marie Amelie was a cousin of
Lady Mary their daughter married Albert Honore I,
Prince of Monaco (1848 – 1922) a Grimaldi (her first of two husbands).
Louis II, Prince of Monaco and Duke of Valentinios (1870 – 1949), son
of Lady Mary and Prince Albert I, had an affair with Marie Juliette
Louvet, a cabaret singer. The daughter from this affair named Charlotte
(1898 – 1977) was given the surname of Grimaldi by her father and made
the Duchess of Valentinois when her father adopted her. (Louis II was an
only child and was without a legitimate heir to the throne of Monaco. A
solution was found by the passing of a law in 1918 which allowed the
adoption of an heir, with succession rights).Charlotte Grimaldi
married Count Pierre de Polignac, who took the surname of Grimaldi.
Their son Rainier III, Prince of Monaco (1923 – 2005) who was thus a
Grimaldi married the Hollywood actress and film star Grace Kelly. At the
time when Rainier III and Grace Kelly married it was seen by many as
unusual that a such a Prince would marry an actress, but really not so
in this case for Rainier’s grandmother was a cabaret singer/actress!
Prince Albert II (1958) the son of Rainier III and Grace Kelly is the
reigning Monarch of Monaco and the head of the House of Grimaldi. Albert
II married Charlene Wittstock in 2011. (Prince Albert II before his
marriage had two publicly acknowledged illegitimate children – Jazmin
Grace Grimaldi and Alexander Coste). It will be interesting to see who
succeeds Prince Albert II.
Kindly contributed by Sally Douglas - 6th October, 2014
See also:Pedigree of Prince Rainier
Any contributions will be
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