Part 5 in our History of Monaco series
Augustino’s choice to opt for the protection of Spain was courageous, but in practice it would turn out that the superpower occupied Monaco. According to the Treaty of Burgos, Emperor Charles V provided a Spanish garrison to defend the independence of Monaco, but the small country had to pay for the financing of this army unit itself.
Seventeen days after the conclusion of the Treaty of Burgos, a Spanish fleet unit entered the port under the Rock. From that moment, June 24, 1524, on Spanish soldiers determined what happened in Monaco. In fact, Augustino had given away the independence of his country to Spain in disguise. Perhaps there was an error of judgement, because there is no longer any question of an independent role in international politics. Monaco would be under Spanish influence until 1641.
Not much later, Andrea Doria also made the switch from France to Spain because the French had not fulfilled their agreements with him. For the admiral this meant a return to the Spanish court, but Charles V accepted him back into grace. This move was certainly ironic, because Augustino decided to choose Spain for fear of the powerful navigator from Genoa, who was thought to be willing to take Monaco for himself. With Doria in the Spanish camp, it was wise to remain loyal to Spain because with the admiral as an ally, Charles V had become even more powerful on the Italian peninsula.
But Charles V also needed Monaco, because he could attack the Italian coast from the port. He appointed Augustino as a personal confidant. The Spanish monarch even spent four days (from August 5 to 9, 1529) in Monaco when he was on his way to Bologna for a meeting with the Pope, who would present him with the imperial crown. The stay in Monaco was mainly festive, with the Monegasques sparing no expense to please the emperor. On the fourth day, Augustino escorted the Spanish fleet as far as Genoa, along with seven-year-old Onorato.
Augustino suddenly died on 14 April 1532. There are suspicions that he was poisoned by Spaniards because he was planning to secretly make an alliance with France. At the time, Onorato was only ten years old. To avoid a succession crisis, he was immediately appointed ‘seigneur of Monaco’ but he had to be accompanied by guardians. A cousin from Genoa, Stefano (Etienne) Grimaldi, would eventually be given the role of governor, ‘el gubernant’. He would hold this position for forty years (until 1561) and thus offered Onorato (Honoré) I the opportunity to grow up and live quietly, even when he was an adult from 1540 and could have been head of state himself.
The ‘Spanish century’ was certainly also a favour for Monaco, because there was permanent peace through the protection of Spain. Stefano used this situation to build the Rampe Major (the path between the port and the Rock), to strengthen the defensive walls of the Rock and to decorate the palace with a beautiful courtyard and colonnade. He also had built a well so that the people of Monaco would have sufficient water during a siege of at least two years. He also ordered the conversion of the castle at Roquebrune into a fortress.
Stefano was somewhat less dependent on Spain and even refused to receive the emperor in 1538, which was seen as an insult by the Spaniards. But he kept quiet and ensured that the Monegasques had little to complain about. Onorato was 39 when he finally came to power himself in 1561. He would rule his country for another twenty years. After his death, his son Carlo (Charles) II came to the throne, but he would only reign for eight years as he died at the age of 33. He was succeeded by his younger brother Ercole (Hercule), who was 27. As a child he never thought of becoming head of state because he had three elder brothers, all three of whom had died. He had graduated from the University of Pavia (his bull can still be seen in the palace).
However, he was not really appreciated by the Monegasques. This was also because he had married a Spanish baroness (Maria Landi) and because the hatred towards ‘the Spanish occupier’ increased after the Spaniards no longer fulfilled their financial agreements. The marriage to a Spanish woman was considered a provocation in 1595. In addition, he ruled as a tyrant and therefore had many enemies in Monaco and Menton. Because of the Spanish protectorate, Savoy (Carlo Emanuele I), France (Henry IV) and Genoa were hostile to Ercole.
On the evening of November 21, 1604, just after sunset, he was walking down a street on the Rock and was suddenly attacked by a group that initially surrounded him. Forty wounds from knife stabs were later found on the lifeless body, which was then carried down from the Rock over Rampa Major by the angry men and then thrown into the sea. The murder took place on the current rue du Comte Felix Gastaldi (which opens onto the Place du Palais). Ercole was only 42. The suggestion that Savoy now wanted to take the Rock permanently and was therefore behind this murder was never proven but was also not ruled out. The Duke of Savoy, Carlo Emanuele, supported the insurgents and seemed to be preparing a fleet from Villefranche to finally take the Rock.
There was also quick action on the Rock because the three children of Ercole (one son and two daughters) were immediately brought to safety in Menton. The son, Onorato II, was also immediately recognized as ‘seigneur of Monaco’ but because he was only seven years-old, an uncle, Federico Landi di Valditaro, ruled in his name until he himself reached the age of majority. He ruled in Milan in the name of the Spanish king. The Monegasques hoped that the situation would be restored quickly. Genoa sent a fleet to the port and then Savoy withdrew. Monaco remained independent.
MAIN PHOTO: Rampe Major