I recently posted about the fabulous Grimaldi Palazzo in Genoa. Interestingly, many Americans will recognize the Grimaldi name, for that was the fabulously wealthy and royal family from Monaco into which Grace Kelly married in 1956.
Here’s what Wikipedia reports about the family:
The Grimaldis descend from Grimaldo, a Genoese statesman at the time of the early Crusades. Grimaldo became a consul in 1160, 1170 and again in 1184. His numerous descendants led maritime expeditions throughout the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and soon the North Sea. They became one of the most powerful and wealthy families of Genoa.
The Grimaldis feared that the head of a rival Genoese family could break the fragile balance of power in a political coup and become lord of Genoa, as had happened in other Italian cities. They therefore entered into a Guelphic alliance with the Fieschi family and defended their interests with the sword.
But the Guelfs were banned from the City in 1271, and took refuge in their castles in Liguria and Provence. They signed a treaty with Charles of Anjou, King of Naples and Count of Provence to retake control of Genoa. In 1276, they accepted a peace under the auspices of the Pope which, however, did not put an end to the civil war.
In 1299, the Grimaldis and their allies launched a few galleys to attack the port of Genoa before taking refuge on the Western Riviera. During the following years, the Grimaldis entered into different alliances that would allow them to return to power in Genoa.
This time, it was the turn of their rivals, the Spinola family, to be exiled from the city. During this period, both the Guelphs and Ghibellines took and abandoned the castle of Monaco, which was ideally located to launch political and military operations against Genoa.
In the early 14th century, the Aragonese raided the shores of Provence and Liguria, challenging Genoa and King Robert of Provence. In 1353, the combined fleet of eighty Venetian and Aragonese galleys gathered in Sardinia to meet the fleet of sixty galleys under the command of Anthony Grimaldi. Only nineteen Genoese vessels survived the battle. Fearing an invasion, Genoa rushed to request the protection of the Lord of Milan.
Several of the oldest feudal branches of the House of Grimaldi appeared during these conflicts, such as the branches of Antibes, Beuil, Nice, Puget, and Sicily. In 1395, the Grimaldis took advantage of the discords in Genoa to take possession of Monaco, which they then ruled. This is the origin of today’s principality.
As was customary in Genoa, the Grimaldis organised their family ties within a corporation called albergo. In the political reform of 1528, the Grimaldi became one of the 28 alberghi of the Republic of Genoa, which included the Doria and Pallavicini families, and to which other families were formally invited to join. The House of Grimaldi provided several doges, cardinals, cabinet ministers, and military officers of historical note.