Good evening, now to wind down the week with something fun and frivolous. Today, we are going to look into the House of Grimaldi. The Grimaldis run the tiny principality of Monaco. The run time for this documentary is 52:42.
The Prince’s Palace in Monaco is the seat of power for one of the world’s smallest states. It is as high as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Construction began in 1215 and was built on a high cliff. It was a stronghold on the Mediterranean. It was nearly demolished in a siege and was rebuilt. There are hundreds of tunnels underground. Historians are continuing to learn more about the palace. How did this palace become the seat of power for its rulers?
The palace has been on the landscape for over 800 years. It is perched on a rock that juts into the Mediterranean Sea. It is easy to defend and one could control the flow of ships. The palace houses administrative offices, a chapel, and a princely family. All around the palace were the walls of the fort. These walls were at the heart of the defense strategy for the princely family. The palace provides a link between the princely family and the people. The palace is protected around the clock and has welcomed a variety of powerful people over the years. Prince Albert believes that the palace has helped contribute to Monaco’s fame and independence.
In 1191, the Genoese army took charge of a territory: Monaco. Genoa wanted to grow its power by expanding its borders. They would have built this fort fast and used the materials available locally. The Genoese built the original fort, unfortunately, few traces remain of this original fort. However, archives describe what this fort would have looked like. In the attics of the current palace, there seems to be a hint as to the remains of the original fort. However, the defenses had one failing: the port. A second fort would have to be built. These forts would have been equipped with a variety of weapons. The lords of Monaco would have ensured that they had the best equipment available and would have kept up with the maintenance.
However, the threat to Monaco would have come within its walls. Two men knocked on the door. They were seeking shelter for the night, so they were allowed in. One of the men was a man named Grimaldi and he was dressed as a monk. Once inside, he turned on the soldiers and seized control of the Rock. He was the first Grimaldi ruler. A century later a wall was built around the fort and the fort itself was expanded.
The Grimaldis worked to challenge Genoese domination. The Genoese wanted their heads and wanted to punish the Grimaldis for their occupation of the fort. So spies were sent to the rock to learn the layout of the fortifications. The Genoese planned a siege, dug tunnels, and deployed their artillery. They were going to take the fort. Finally, the Genoese were ordered to attack the form. The Genoese hit the walls with everything they had and a breach was opened. However, the soldiers did not attack right away and so the Grimaldis had another fortification built. When the Genoese started their attack, they were unable to take back Monaco. The Grimaldis demanded and were granted independence.
The fort was rebuilt and a palace was built for the sovereign of Monaco. The fort was rebuilt to the highest construction standards. High walls were constructed and holes were put in the walls so that the defenders could pour boiling oil on the attackers. The roads had sharp curves and there were many gates along the way. It was built quickly because the builders believed that attacks could happen at any time. How did this palace protect Monaco for decades to come? What did the Grimaldis do to continue to keep up the fort? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
It drove me nuts that the narrator called the Grimaldis a royal family, they are a princely family. I enjoyed Prince Albert talking about the palace. This would be a good documentary to show a geography class as well as a history class.
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