Thursday, September 6, 2012

An English Debt to Monaco?

Not many people today know, but regular readers of this blog certainly will, how several of the earliest Grimaldis, and the first Lords of Monaco, made their fortune, at least in part, in the service of the King of France fighting against the English at sea. Charles Grimaldi in particular made some 1,280 gold florins (a vast sum at the time) raiding the English coast and used this fortune to buy the Spinola lands in Monaco as well as Castillon, Roquebrune, Menton and Eze. Historian Adolph Smith therefore wondered if, perhaps, England might owe a debt of gratitude to the Lord of Monaco for, in a rather rough way, bringing them to their senses:

"How many pleasure-seekers on their holiday jaunts think, as they gaze at the romantic walls and battlements of Monaco, or admire the quaint old palace still occupied by the Grimaldis, that this family, the oldest reigning family in Europe, first made itself distinguished by sweeping the English off the sea ; and, what at the time was much more difficult, annihilating the fleet of the Flemish in their own waters, the Scheldt. To the Grimaldis, Rainier, Charles and the second Rainier the
English should feel deeply indebted. They taught us most effectively that an island cannot be defended without a strong fleet. When first he came on the scene, Rainier Grimaldi trained his inexperienced French recruits by setting them upon the English ships. It is worth repeating that the only real sailors were the Flemish, and therefore Rainier sent his untrained hands to acquire necessary skill and strength by attacking the badly equipped and inefficiently manned English ships."

Could it be possible then that, in those early days, it was the forefathers of the Princes of Monaco who (inadvertently) put England -and thus later Great Britain- on course to becoming the dominant force on the seven seas? You be the judge.

1 comment:

  1. Many nations have been touched by Monaco, that is why it is one of my favorite Monarchies today.

    If either England or Monaco would have been republic, every single of the 1,280 gold florins would have been squandered buying votes or something.


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