Monday, August 2, 2010

Seigneur Honore I of Monaco

The first Grimaldi seigneur named Honore was born on December 16, 1522 to Lord Lucien of Monaco and his wife Jeanne de Pontevès-Cabanes. He was the youngest child and only son of the bold but controversial lord and he was involved in drama and danger from the very start. During the attempted coup that ended in the assassination of Lord Lucien the Princely Family were taken hostage by the plotters, held at knife-point and threatened with death if the murderers were not allowed to escape. So it was that Honore I, at only 9 months old, became the Seigneur of Monaco on August 22, 1523. His uncle, Bishop Augustin Grimaldi, was appointed regent for the young monarch and it was he who steered Monaco through the early years of the reign of Honore I. The most significant event of the period being his taking Monaco out of the French sphere of influence and putting it within that of the Spanish Hapsburgs.

When the good bishop died in 1532 young Honore I was still too young to rule at only ten years old. To replace him they reached out to the Genoese branch of the Grimaldi clan and appointed Etienne Grimaldi, known as the “Gubernant”. He was supportive of the Spanish but was also famously sensitive, volatile and short-tempered. His rule was only meant to be temporary but he ended up essentially ruling Monaco in place of Honore I for the rest of his life; about ten years in all. He focused on maintaining independence, strengthening defenses and beautifying the country but still loyal to the Emperor to the very end, which for Etienne came in 1561. All in all he had done well but, perhaps a little too well.

Lord Honore I was now master of Monaco in fact as well as in name but by that time he was 40 years old and had never really had to be responsible before and was a little like a fish out of water. Having been deprived of his position for so long he decided to stick to the path that Etienne Grimaldi had trod; remaining close to Spain. The Spanish were very flattering in their gratitude but gave little that was of much real value. He never visited the new properties Spain gave him and remained in Monaco as he always had, not knowing how to react to the increasingly problematic finances of his country. Most of this was due to the expense of maintaining the Spanish garrison but Honore I also spent money on improvements, such as to St Nicholas Cathedral and the Princely Palace, carrying on, once again, in the footsteps of Etienne.

Honore I was definitely a ‘home body’. In more than 50 years he never once left the confines of his property. If he had one great interest in his life it was the small but time honored Monegasque navy. Unfortunately, the growing money crunch reduced his favorite hobby to literally nothing. Creditors repossessed the majority of his fleet and the last three galleys of his prized collection finally had to be sold off to make ends meet. Other than a visit from Emperor Charles V when he was quite young and a visit by Pope Paul III there was little excitement during the reign of Honore I. In 1545 he married Isabella Grimaldi by whom he had four sons; Charles, Francois, Horace and Hercule. After a long reign in which he only came to power very late and unprepared but which was nevertheless a calm, peaceful respite to the reigns of his predecessors Honor I died on October 7, 1581 leaving the throne to his 26-year-old son who became Lord Charles II.


  1. Hello MadMonarchist,

    At the moment, I'm busy writing a small book (in Dutch) about the royal history of Monaco. There's a lot of information to be found about all the Lords and former Princes of Monaco, but I can't seem to find some printable images of them (from the year 1400 until the year 1850). Do you perhaps know where I can find them (not small web pics)? Many thanks in advance.


    Peter Altink
    paltink <> xs4all <> nl

  2. Unfortunately there is a fair number for which no portraits exist. The originals for most of the portraits I have used here are all at the Princely Palace. Excluding pics from the web I don't know where you would go to find anything ready-to-print. Even the picture-heavy books I have give no other source but the palace.


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