Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today in Grimaldi History

It was one of the most controversial matches in Monegasque history and the search for a husband for Princess Louise-Hippolyte, daughter of Prince Antoine I of Monaco, was extremely contentious. The Princess was not supposed to have any say in the matter, her father had packed her off to the Convent of the Visitation at Aix-en-Provence for two years until he settled the matter for her. However, her mother, Princess Marie de Lorraine, slipped out of Monaco in the dark of night, without the knowledge of her husband (with whom she did not have the greatest relationship) and went to Paris where she and her father decided on the dashing nobleman Jacques de Mantignon, Comte de Thorigny. He was wealthy, 25-years-old and from a very good family and they considered him the best choice. However, Marie de Lorraine knew Prince Antoine I would oppose any choice she made so she and her father approached the Duchess of Lude to approach the Sovereign Prince of Monaco on the subject.

Prince Antoine was totally duped. The Duchess convinced him that Jacques was her own suggestion and not only did he agree but he extracted a promise from the duchess to keep the name “secret” from his wife. He thought he had put one over on his wife, not knowing she was behind the whole affair. Antoine wrote to Marie de Lorraine to inform her that the choice had been made and if King Louis XIV of France agreed (necessary because of the place the Grimaldis held in the French aristocracy) Jacques de Mantignon would be married to their daughter. Needless to say, Princess Marie wrote back to her husband congratulating him on such an excellent choice and asking to come back to Monaco. The marriage negotiations got underway but things came to a halt when King Louis XIV, who had been a great friend of Monaco, passed away. But, after his death, the young King Louis XV and his regent signed the marriage contract on September 5 and on October 20, 1715 the marriage of 18-year-old Princess Louise-Hippolyte and Jacques de Mantignon took place.

Unfortunately, problems seemed to plague the young couple from the very start. Before they were married even a year they lost a child, a tragic event for all concerned, and to make matters worse Prince Antoine and Princess Marie were at odds again. After having established something of a truce Prince Antoine found out how he had been fooled into accepting Marie’s candidate for husband to their daughter and he was furious. Always known for his short-temper, Antoine made things so heated that Princess Louise-Hippolyte and Prince Jacques could not stand the atmosphere in Monaco and moved to Paris. Prince Antoine also came into conflict with his daughter and (more so) his son-in-law after the death of his wife in 1724. Marie de Lorraine (as per her own marriage agreement) left her fortune to her daughter and the cash-strapped Prince Jacques sued for control of the estate of his late wife, accomplishing nothing in the end but making some lawyers wealthier and himself all the poorer.

Princess Louise-Hippolyte and Prince Jacques would go on to have plenty of problems of their own, ended only when the life of the Princess was cut short not long after succeeding her father as Sovereign Princess of Monaco. However, the marriage was an extremely significant event as it made Princess Louise-Hippolyte the mother of a whole new branch of the Grimaldi princely house. Despite their problems Princess Louise-Hippolyte and Prince Jacques had nine children together, though two did not long survive. Because of their marriage the rule of the Grimaldi family in Monaco would go on in the person of their oldest (surviving) son who in due time became Prince Honore III of Monaco.

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