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House of Grimaldi










Grimaldi coat of armsGRIMALDI
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 note.

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 Douglas?

  • 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 Napoleon III.
  • 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 of Monaco


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