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History of Monaco

Monaco's early history saw the land change hands a few times. One of its first notable governors was the rulers of Genoa in Italy, when they obtained the land in 1215. By the end of that century though the land had exchanged hands to the Grimaldi family as the two fought over the land throughout the 1300s.

By the early 1400s the powerful state of Aragon (in present-day Spain) took possession of the land, but sold it to the Grimaldi family in 1419, who then ruled over the land without much challenge for the next couple hundred years.

In the early- to mid-1600s Monaco was threatened by Spain, so the Grimaldi family sought French protection. This move made Monaco a vassal state of France and many members of the Grimaldi family moved to Paris to rub elbows with the French aristocracy.

This relationship with the French worked quite well for Monaco for a number of years, but with the fall of the French monarchy in the late 1700s, Monaco was taken over and occupied by the new French government, led by Napoleon. When Napoleon finally fell in the early 1800s Monaco was made a protectorate of Sardinia, but in the mid-1800s it again gained its independence with the help and support of France. Shortly after re-gaining independence, Monaco lifted all sales taxes and became a haven for the wealthy as early as the 1870s.

In the early 1900s the Grimaldi family gave into pressure and adopted a constitution, although it took some time to implement. After World War I they needed additional changes to their government and gave France authority to represent them diplomatically and militarily. During World War II (WWII), Italy occupied Monaco and as Italy began to crumble, Nazi Germany took over the occupation.

Since WWII the most notable event to be released from Monaco was the Prince's (Prince Rainier's) marriage to the American film star Grace Kelly in the 1950s. Much more important than this though, Monaco has since introduced many women's rights and has joined the United Nations (UN).

This page was last updated: March, 2013