by An Ard Rí and Susan Flantzer
Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297, when Francesco Grimaldi of Genoa in Italy and his men captured the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco while dressed as Franciscan monks. The ruler was known as Lord of Monaco until 1612 when the Council of Monaco recognized Honoré II as Sovereign Prince of Monaco. For more information about Lords of Monaco, see Rulers of Monaco.
The first parish church in Monaco was built sometime between 1247 and 1322, and was dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of sailors. Over the years, the Lords and Sovereign Princes of Monaco along with the people of Monaco generously gave funds to decorate and enlarge the Church of Saint Nicholas.
Prince Charles III (reigned 1856-1889) decided to build a new and larger building on the original site of the Church of Saint Nicholas. The original church was destroyed in 1874 and the first stone of the new building was laid in 1875. The new Cathedral of Monaco was dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception with Saint Nicholas and Saint Benoît as secondary patron saints. Although the new building was only two-thirds completed, the first services were held in 1886. The cathedral was inaugurated in 1903 and consecrated in 1911. The current cathedral was built over the areas of the previous church and the old cemetery, so that the sovereign princes and consorts originally buried at the Church of Saint Nicholas are now buried in the Cathedral of Monaco. All but two of Monaco’s sovereign princes and many of the consorts are buried at The Cathedral of Monaco.
The Sovereign Princes of Monaco
- Honoré II, reigned November 29, 1604 – January 10, 1662
- Louis I, reigned January 10, 1662 – January 2, 1701
- Antoine I, reigned January 2, 1701 – February 20, 1731
- Louise Hippolyte, reigned February 26, 1731 – December 29, 1731
- Jacques I, reigned February 20, 1731 – November 7, 1733
- Honoré III, reigned November 7, 1733 – January 19, 1793
- French Occupation of Monaco (1793-1814)
- Honoré IV, reigned May 30, 1814 – February 16, 1819
- Honoré V, reigned February 16, 1819 – October 2, 1841
- Florestan I, reigned October 2, 1841 – June 20, 1856
- Charles III, reigned June 20, 1856 – September 10, 1889
- Albert I, reigned September 10, 1889 – June 26, 1922
- Louis II, reigned June 26, 1922 – May 9, 1949
- Rainier III, reigned May 9, 1949 – April 6, 2005
- Albert II, reigned April 6, 2005 – Present
Honoré II was born on December 24, 1597, the son of Hercule, Lord of Monaco and Maria di Landi. He started his reign in 1604 as Lord of Monaco, but in 1612 he became the first Sovereign Prince of Monaco. On February 13, 1616, he married Ippolita Trivulzio. The couple had one son, Hercule Grimaldi, Marquis of Baux.
Honoré II died on January 10, 1662 and is buried at the Cathedral of Monaco in a common tomb with other family members.
Ippolita Trivulzio, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1616-1638
Wikipedia: Ippolita Trivulzio
Ippolita Trivulzio was from Milan, Italy and was the daughter of Carlo Emanuele Teodoro Trivulzio, Count of Melzo and Caterina Gonzaga. She married Honoré II in 1616 and was the mother of Hercule Grimaldi, Marquis of Baux.
The Princess died on June 20, 1638 and is buried at the Cathedral of Monaco in a common tomb with other family members.
Hercule Grimaldi, Marquis of Baux was the heir apparent and son of Honoré II and Ippolita Trivulzio. He married Maria Aurelia Spinola, the daughter of Luca Spinola, Lord of Molfetta, on July 4, 1641. They were the parents of Louis I of Monaco who succeeded his grandfather Honoré II.
Hercule Grimaldi, Marquis of Baux died as the result of a loaded firearm accident on August 2, 1651 and is buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Maria Aurelia Spinola died on September 29, 1670 and was buried at Église Carmelites, Aix-en-Provence, Bouches du Rhône, France.
Louis I, Prince of Monaco (reigned January 10, 1662 – January 2, 1701)
Louis I was born on July 25, 1642, the son of Hercule Grimaldi, Marquis of Baux and Maria Aurelia Spinola. On March 30, 1660, he married Catherine Charlotte de Gramont at Pau. The couple had six children including Louis’ successor Antoine. In 1662, Louis succeeded his grandfather Honoré II as Sovereign Prince of Monaco.
Louis I died in Rome on January 2, 1701 and is buried at the Cathedral of Monaco in a common tomb with other family members.
Catherine Charlotte de Gramont, Princess Consort of Monaco from January 10, 1662 – June 4, 1678
Catherine was born in 1639, the daughter of daughter of Marshal Antoine de Gramont and Françoise Marguerite du Plessis, a niece of Cardinal Richelieu. Catherine and her husband Louis I spent more time at the court of Louis XIV than they did in Monaco. She was a lady in waiting to Henrietta of England who was married to the brother of Louis XIV and a mistress of Louis XIV for several months.
Catherine died at the Palais Royal, Paris on June 4, 1678. Her remains were buried at the now destroyed Couvent des Capucins de Paris.
Antoine I, Prince of Monaco (reigned January 3, 1701 – February 20, 1731)
Antoine was born on January 25, 1661, the eldest son of Louis I and Catherine Charlotte de Gramont. On June 13, 1688, he married Marie of Lorraine at the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles. The couple had six daughters, but only two survived infancy, one of which was Louise Hippolyte who succeeded her father.
Antoine died on February 20, 1731 and is buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Marie of Lorraine, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1701-1724
Marie was born on August 12, 1674, the eldest daughter of Louis of Lorraine, Count of Armagnac and Catherine de Neufville. In June of 1688, she married the future Antoine I of Monaco.
Marie died on October 30, 1724 at the Prince’s Palace, Monaco and is buried at the Cathedral of Monaco in a common tomb with other family members.
Louise Hippolyte, Princess of Monaco (reigned February 26, 1731 – December 29, 1731)
Louise Hippolyte was born on October 10, 1697,the eldest surviving child of Antoine I, Prince of Monaco and Marie of Lorraine. On October 20, 1715, she married Jacques Goyon de Matignon, the future Jacques I. The couple had nine children, including their successor Honoré III. Following her father’s death in 1731, Louise Hippolyte became the first and only Sovereign Princess of Monaco.
Louise Hippolyte, Princess of Monaco died of smallpox on December 29, 1731. Her remains are buried at the Cathedral of Monaco in a common tomb with other family members.
Jacques I, Prince of Monaco (reigned December 29, 1731 – November 7, 1733)
Jacques was born on November 21, 1689, the son of Jacques de Matignon Goyon III, Count of Torigni and Charlotte Goyon de Matignon. Following the death of his wife in December, 1731, he reigned briefly as Sovereign Prince but was later forced to abdicate.
Jacques died at the Hôtel Matignon in Paris on April 23, 1751. His remains were buried at Église Saint-Laurent, Torigni-sur-Vire in France, but were lost during the French Revolution.
Honoré III, Prince of Monaco (reigned November 7, 1733 – January 19, 1793)
Honoré III was born on November 10, 1720 and was the eldest surviving child of Louise Hippolyte, Princess of Monaco and Jacques Goyon de Matignon. In 1733, he became Sovereign Prince of Monaco. He married Maria Caterina Brignole in 1757, but they divorced in 1770. The couple had two sons, Honoré IV and Joseph.
In January of 1793, during the French Revolution, Honoré III was officially declared deposed by the Monegasque National Convention who then immediately petitioned France for annexation. During the Reign of Terror, in September, 1793, Honoré III was arrested and imprisoned in Paris.
Honore III’s son Honore (IV) was also arrested as were Honore (IV)’s wife and son Florestan. Honore (IV) was released after 15 months and his wife and son were saved by their family doctor. The wife of Honore III’s other son, Joseph was not as lucky. Prince Joseph and his wife Françoise Thérèse Félicité de Choiseul had left France, leaving their children with friends. Françoise Thérèse missed her children, returned to France where she was arrested, condemned to death, and executed.
Honoré III was eventually released from prison. He died soon afterward in Paris on March 21, 1795 and his burial place is unknown.
Maria Caterina Brignole, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1757 – 1770
Maria Caterina was born in Genoa, Italy on October 7, 1737. Her parents were Giuseppe Brignole Sale, Marquis of Groppol and Maria Anna Balb. During the French Revolution, Maria Caterina settled in Germany and England. On October 24, 1798, she was married for a second time to Louis Joseph de Bourbón, Prince of Condé.
Maria Caterina died in Wimbeldon, England on March 18, 1813 and was buried at the Chapel of St Louis in Wimbledon.
Honoré IV, Prince of Monaco (reigned May 30, 1814 – February 16, 1819)
Honoré IV was born on May 17, 1758 and was the son of Honoré III and Maria Caterina Brignole. On July 15, 1777, he married Louise d’Aumont, Duchess of Aumont, Duchess Mazarin and of La Meilleraye. Both Honoré and Louise were imprisoned during the French Revolution and they divorced in 1798. The couple had two sons who were both Sovereign Princes, Honoré V and Florestan I. Following the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, Honoré IV returned to Monaco where he reigned as Sovereign Prince until his death.
Honoré IV died on February 16, 1819. His remains are buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Louise d’Aumont, Hereditary Princess Consort of Monaco from 1777-1798
Louise was born in Paris on October 22, 1759. She was the only child of Louis Marie d’Aumont, duc d’Aumont and Jeanne de Durfort, duchesse Mazarin et de La Meilleraye. After Louise and Honoré IV divorced, she married René François Tirnand-d’Arcis in 1801, but this marriage also ended in divorce.
Louise died in Paris on December 13, 1826. Her remains were brought back to Monaco and buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Honoré V, Prince of Monaco (reigned February 16, 1819 – October 2, 1841)
Honoré V was born on May 14, 1778, the elder son of Honoré IV and Louise d’Aumont. Following his father’s death in 1819, he became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. Honoré V never married and was succeeded by his brother Florestan I.
Honoré V died in Paris on October 2, 1841 and was buried at the crypt of Cathedral of Monaco.
Florestan I, Prince of Monaco (reigned October 2, 1841 – June 20, 1856)
Florestan I was born in Paris on October 10, 1785, the second son of Honoré IV and Louise d’Aumont. On November 27, 1816, he married Maria Caroline Gibert de Lametz. The couple had a son Charles III, who succeeded his father, and a daughter Florestine. Florestan succeeded his brother as Sovereign Prince in 1841.
Florestan I died in Paris on June 20, 1856 and was buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Maria Caroline Gibert de Lametz, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1841-1856
Maria Caroline was born in Coulommiers, France on July 18, 1793. Her parents were Charles-Thomas Gibert and Marie-Françoise Le Gras de Vaubercey. She originally was an actress and met her husband Florestan while he was an actor at the Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique in Paris. Florestan was not prepared to be Sovereign Prince and Maria Caroline had the real power during his reign.
Maria Caroline died on November 25, 1879 and her remains are buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Charles III, Prince of Monaco (reigned June 20, 1856 – September 10, 1889)
Charles III was born in Paris on December 8, 1818, the only son of Florestan I and Maria Caroline Gibert de Lametz. On September 28, 1846 in Brussels, he married Antoinette de Mérode-Westerloo. The couple had one child, Albert I, who succeeded his father. Charles III became Sovereign Prince of Monaco in June of 1856 following the death of his father. Charles III is responsible for the building of the Cathedral of Monte Carlo and the Monte Carlo Casino.
Charles III died on September 10, 1889 and is buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Antoinette de Mérode-Westerloo, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1856-1864
Antoinette was born on September 28, 1828 in Brussels, Belgium. Her parents were Werner de Mérode, Count of Mérode and Victoire de Spangen d’Uyterness. It was Antoinette’s dowry that allowed Charles III to build the casino and to make other improvements to Monte Carlo to attract tourists.
Antoinette died on February 10, 1864 and her remains are buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Albert I, Prince of Monaco (reigned September 10, 1889 – June 26, 1922)
Albert I was born in Paris on November 18, 1848, the only child of Charles III and Antoinette de Mérode-Westerloo. On September 21, 1869, he married Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton, but the marriage was annulled on July 28, 1880. The couple had one child Louis II, who succeeded his father. Albert became Sovereign Prince of Monaco in September of 1889. He made a second marriage to Alice Heine, Dowager Duchess Richelieu and Fronsac on October 30, 1889, but the marriage was childless.
Albert I died in Paris on June 26, 1922 and was buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
Lady Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton, Hereditary Princess Consort of Monaco from 1869-1880
Lady Mary Victoria was born on December 11, 1850. Her parents were William Douglas-Hamilton, 11th Duke of Hamilton and Princess Marie Amelie of Baden. After her marriage to the future Albert I was annulled, she married the Hungarian Count Tassilo Festetics von Tolna on June 2, 1880. Mary Victoria is the ancestor of the current princely family through her son Louis II.
Mary Victoria died on May 14, 1922 in Budapest, Hungary and was buried at the Festetics Family Mausoleum at Keszthely, Zala County, Hungary.
Wikipedia: Festetics Palace
Alice Heine, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1889 – 1922
Alice was born to a wealthy family in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 10, 1858. Her parents were Michael Heine who was from a German Berlin and Paris banking Jewish family and a cousin of poet Heinrich Heine, and Amélie Marie Miltenberger, a wealthy French architect’s daughter. Alice was brought up as a Roman Catholic from birth and first married Marie Odet Armand Aimable de La Chapelle, Marquis of Jumilhac, 7th Duke of Richelieu and of Fronsac, on February 27, 1875 in Paris. After her first husband’s death, Alice married Albert I in 1889. The couple separated in 1902, but remained married.
The Dowager Princess of Monaco died on December 22,1925 and was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
Wikipedia: Père Lachaise Cemetery
Louis II, Prince of Monaco (reigned June 27, 1922 – May 9, 1949)
Louis II was born on December 11, 1850, the only child of Albert I and Lady Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton. Following the death of his father on June 27, 1922, he became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. On July 24, 1946, he married the French comedy actress Ghislaine Dommanget.
Louis II died at the Prince’s Palace on May 9, 1949. His remains are buried at the crypt of Cathedral of Monaco.
Ghislaine Dommanget, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1946-1949, Princess Dowager of Monaco from 1949-1991
Ghislaine Dommanget was born in Rheims, France on October 13, 1900. She was the daughter of Colonel Robert Dommanget and Marie Louise Meunier. She first married French film and stage actor André Brulé. After the couple divorced, Ghislaine married Louis II on July 24, 1946.
The Princess Dowager died in Paris on April 30, 1991. Her remains are buried at Cimetiere de Passy in Paris, France.
Wikipedia: Cimetiere de Passy
Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois, Countess of Polignac (lived September 30, 1898 – November 16, 1977)
Charlotte Louise Juliette Louvet was born on September 30, 1898, the illegitimate daughter of Louis II and Marie Juliette Louvet, a cabaret singer. As Louis II was childless and without a direct heir, the throne of Monaco was due to pass to Wilhelm, 2nd Duke of Urach (Germany), Louis II’s first cousin once removed and a son of Princess Florestine of Monaco who was the daughter of the Sovereign Prince, Florestan I. To prevent this from happening, a law was passed recognizing Charlotte as Louis II’s daughter and as a member of the princely family. Later legislation made Charlotte legitimate, allowed her father to adopt her, gave her the surname Grimaldi and the title Duchess of Valentinois for life. Charlotte was, in effect, her father’s heiress presumptive. In March of 1920, Charlotte married Count Pierre de Polignac. The marriage later ended in divorce, but the couple did have two children, Princess Antoinette and Prince Rainier III. On the day before Prince Rainier’s twenty-first birthday, Princess Charlotte renounced her claim to the throne of Monaco in favor of her son.
Princess Charlotte died in Paris on November 16, 1977. Her remains were brought back to Monaco and were buried at the Chapelle de la Paix in Monaco.
Structurae: Chapelle de la Paix (in French)
Prince Pierre of Monaco, Duke of Valentinois, Count de Polignac (lived October 24, 1895 – November 10, 1964)
Count Pierre de Polignac Pierre was born in Brittany, France on October 24, 1895. He was the son of Count Maxence de Polignac and Susana de la Torre y Mier, who was born in Mexico. He married Princess Charlotte of Monaco in 1920, but the unhappy marriage ended in divorce in 1933.
Prince Pierre died from cancer on November 10, 1964 and was buried at the Chapelle de la Paix in Monaco (see photo and link above).
Rainier III, Prince of Monaco (reigned May 9, 1949 – April 6, 2005)
Prince Rainier III was born on May 31, 1923 and was the only son of Princess Charlotte and Prince Pierre. In 1944, his mother Princess Charlotte renounced her rights to the throne in favor of Prince Rainier. In May of 1949, upon the death of his grandfather Louis II, Rainier became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco. He married the American actress Grace Kelly on April 19, 1956. The couple had one son, Albert II who succeeded his father, and two daughters Caroline and Stéphanie.
Rainier III died on April 6, 2005 after a reign of nearly 56 years and was buried beside his wife at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
You Tube: Funeral of Prince Rainier II
Grace Kelly, Princess Consort of Monaco from 1956-1982
Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 12, 1929 to a wealthy Irish-German American family. Her parents were John Brendan Kelly, the son of Irish immigrants, and Margaret Katherine Majer, the daughter of German immigrants. In 1950, she started her acting career and went onto become an iconic award winning movie star. Upon her marriage to Prince Rainier III in 1956, she retired from acting and settled in Monaco.
Princess Grace died on September 14, 1982 as the result of a car accident. Her remains are buried at the crypt of the Cathedral of Monaco.
You Tube: Funeral of Princess Grace
Princess Antoinette of Monaco, Countess de Polignac, Baroness de Massy (lived December 28, 1920 – March 18, 2011)
Princess Antoinette was born on December 28, 1920 and was the elder child of Princess Charlotte and Prince Pierre. Her younger brother was Prince Rainier III. The Princess was married three times and was on April 6, 2005 estranged from the princely family for many years.
Princess Antoinette died on March 18, 2011 at age 90. Her remains are buried at the Chapelle de la Paix in Monaco beside her parents and her daughter Christine Alix de Massy who died in 1989. Stefano Casiraghi, second husband of her niece Princess Caroline, who died in a boating accident in 1990 is also buried at the Chapelle de la Paix.
You Tube: Funeral of Princess Antoinette
Structurae: Chapelle de la Paix (in French)