Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Sad Day in History

It was on this day in 1793 that HSH Prince Honore III was deposed as Sovereign Prince as the French Revolution overflowed into Monaco. The Prince had rushed to Paris in 1790 when the trouble there began to try (unsuccessfully) to safeguard his lands and titles in the French aristocracy (as the Duke of Valentinois). In 1792 French revolutionaries and those whipped into a frenzy by them had already declared Monaco, Menton and Roquebrune "Free Towns" before, on January 13th, deposing Honore III and declaring, "the perpetual downfall of the sovereignty of the House of Grimaldi". The Prince of Monaco had already been thwarted in his efforts in Paris following the imprisonment of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette in the Tuileries. The Assembly had recognized that he had a case but nothing was done about it and as the Assembly had turned on their own monarch and were treating their own Royal Family as political prisoners, the foreign Prince of Monaco seemed totally out of luck. His only remaining hope was that the more moderate faction of Mirabeau could make France a constitutional monarchy and some level of normalcy could be restored. However, in the meantime, the so-called "People's Councils" of Monaco, Menton and Roquebrune had formed a Conventional Assembly and deposed Prince Honore III. So it was that while he was trying to restore his properties in France, the Prince had lost his very throne in his own country.

We can at least be thankful that this outbreak of revolution in Monaco was not accompanied by the sort of horrific bloodlust that was seen in France. Nonetheless, it was a terrible blow to the Princely Family and the start of what would be a long, dark period in the history of Monaco. No longer having a place in their own country, the Grimaldis were at the mercy of the increasingly radical "government" in France which soon saw them arrested (even the elderly Honore III) and in real fear of their lives as a succession of French aristocrats were sent to the guilotine. Helpless in a foreign land, Honore III tried to gain the good graces of those in power but it was to no avail. The French revolutionary madness was not to be turned back and little Monaco had been swamped by the flood that had burst through in Paris. It would be twenty years before the Prince of Monaco (by that time Honore IV) would be restored to his country and Monaco again restored to the status of a sovereign country.

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