Thursday, February 4, 2010

King Louis XIII of France

King Louis XIII of France occupies a special place in Monegasque history. Louis was born on September 27, 1601 to King Henri IV and Queen Marie de Medici and became King of France and Navarre in 1610. At this time the Principality of Monaco was within the sphere of influence of the Kingdom of Spain. However, the Monegasque monarch, HSH Prince Honore II, was planning to change that situation in the biggest political turnaround in the history of Monaco. His aim was to take Monaco from the Spanish camp to the French camp.

During the reign of King Louis XIII, thanks in large part to his cunning minister Cardinal Richelieu, the star of France was on the rise. This was a momentous time for such a decision as France and Spain were then on opposite sides of the Thirty Years War. Although usually generalized as a war between Catholics and Protestants things were not really that simple and Catholic France joined the Protestant side as a way to advance French power at the expense of their greatest continental rival the Catholic Hapsburgs of Austria.

Louis XIII saw the French nobility brought into line with the Crown, rescinded the privileges of the Protestant Huguenots (though their freedom of religion was maintained), modernized the ports and put France on the road to becoming a major naval power again. He also was a great patron of the arts and expanded French influence in North America. The framework was being laid for the unsurpassed greatness France was to achieve during the future reign of the “Sun King” Louis XIV. Prince Honore II of Monaco had already been going in a very French direction. He redecorated the Princely castle, making it more of the palace we know today, favoring French styles and even wearing his hair in the fashion of Louis XIII.

Everything had to be done in secret and Honore II succeeded so well in this that the Spanish never suspected a thing. On September 14, 1641 King Louis XIII signed the Treaty of Péronne which reestablished formal diplomatic relations between France and Monaco. Louis XIII wrote to Honore II saying, “I assure you that you will discover in me such sincere good will toward you and all your House that you will never come to regret the decision you made known to me”.

King Louis XIII recognized the sovereignty of Monaco and agreed to be the protector of the principality. He promised to send a garrison of 500 French troops which he would pay for but who would answer to the Prince of Monaco who would also be party to all future treaties signed by France. To make up for the estates in Italy the Spanish had granted to the Prince of Monaco Louis XIII promised to pay an annual pension of 75,000 livres from three French fiefdoms; a duchy, a marquisate and a comté. This was the foundation of the special relationship between France and Monaco that has endured, with few interruptions, to this very day.

Once Honore II pulled off his coup and subdued the Spanish garrison in Monaco he hurried to King Louis XIII who granted him several noble titles and decorated him with the Order of the Holy Spirit. As for King Louis XIII, he had some trouble producing an heir to the throne but when that day came he dedicated his kingdom to the Blessed Virgin Mary in thanks for her intercession. He died on May 14, 1643 leaving a stronger kingdom than the one he had inherited and with a foundation for further future greatness that would come during the long reign of his famous son.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...