Monday, January 03, 2011

The House of Grimaldi: The Death of Louis I

It would be just my luck that the first entry in this new ongoing series of posts on the House of Grimaldi would concern one of history's least written about - not to mention least portraited - Princes of Monaco, Louis I. Despite being Europe's oldest royal family, tracing its lineage back to Grimaldo - who served as the consul of Genoa beginning in 1162 - a highly acquiescent Monegasque press has been as scrupulous in its protection of the Grimaldi's privacy as the neighbouring French media has been fervent in reporting it. Either that or yet again my fondness for the obscure has rendered the vast content of the Internet as puny as this picture...

PhotobucketBorn in July 1642 to the ill-fated Prince Hercule of Monaco and Aurelia Spinola, the man who would succeed his grandfather Honoré II to become the second Prince of Monaco first served France's King Louis XIV as an ambassador; while at Versailles with his lusty wife Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont*, whom he married in May 1660, the princely couple threw themselves into the social whirl of court, which essentially involved throwing themselves into other people's beds. His brother-in-law, the well-rounded debauché the comte de Guiche, scored the one-two punch of sleeping with both halves of one married couple - Philippe I of Orléans and Henrietta Anne Stuart - so you get some idea of what a fun place it was.

The so-called 'glorious and avaricious Italian' Duc de Valentinois ascended his throne as Louis I in 1662; despite his newly assumed princely status, and a lovely hillside domain where he could reign supreme, he and his wife preferred to spend most of their time at Versailles. In all the couple had six children: his heir, who succeeded him as Antonio I, Maria Teresa Carlotta, Anna Hippolyte, François Honoré (who became Archbishop of Besançon), Giovanna Maria, and Aurelia.

Louis I died in Rome on this day in 1701, but was buried in Monaco's St. Nicholas Cathedral, ensuring he'd more than make up for all the time he should have spent there as prince and ruler rather than wallowing in the fleshly pleasures of the French court.

*The daughter of Marshal Antoine III de Gramont, who was the King's mistress between Louise de la Vallière and Madame de Montespan, and described by Madame de Sévigné as 'greedy for pleasure'.

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