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Florestan I – A prince of Monaco through no choice of his own

HelloMonaco continues its series about the rulers of Monaco and today we will introduce you to Florestan I who was in power from 1841 to 1856. It must be said that little information is available about this Prince. Perhaps because he managed to lose more than half of his territory, namely: Menton and Roquebrune. Even though these two cities officially became part of France during the reign of Charles III, Monaco had lost them much earlier.

The Actor Prince

Florestan I
Florestan I

Florestan I was born on 10 October 1785 in Paris. He was the second son of Prince Honoré IV. Florestan spent his childhood and youth in Paris where he developed a passion for art. He later began to act in some theatre productions at l’Ambigu-Comique. At the age of 29, he met his future wife, Caroline Gibert de Lametz. The Grimaldi family did not approve of this union, so the couple had to legalise their relationship quietly and modestly. The Prince’s family income at the time was small and his marriage to Caroline turned out to be financially favourable for Florestan.

The newlyweds lived a quiet life in Paris in the Créqui hotel, which they later bought and restored. However, the death of Florestan’s older brother HonoreV put an end to their happy and carefree existence. By law, the throne passed to the younger brother. Florestan was not exactly pleased with these circumstances: he was never prepared for the role of being the Principality’s ruler.

The Loss of Menton and Roquebrune

From that moment on, Monaco began to face a number of problems. The financial situation in the Principality was deplorable. The treaty of 8 November 1817 placed the country under the protectorate of the Sardinian Kingdom. This agreement was even less favourable to Monaco than the one signed with France before the French Revolution. The country’s resources were considerably reduced. The municipalities, wards and hospitals were owed large sums of money. Protests had been held in reaction to the tough ruling style of Honoré V, and the residents of Menton were particularly unhappy.

Florestan and his wife naturally tried to take steps to mitigate the situation. The Prince thus made two proposals for a new constitution, but all his initiatives only caused resentment. As a result, Florestan and Caroline tightened government policy for the sake of the state’s well-being.

In the meantime, claims for independencewere being heardmore and more loudly in Menton. Its residents sought the adoption of a liberal constitution, such asthe one introduced by King Charles Albert in the Kingdom of Sardinia. At the same time, they absolutely rejected the constitution proposed by Florestan.

Roquebrune, 1812
Roquebrune, 1812

After the French revolution of 1848, the situation became even more serious. As a result, the Prince of Monaco and his wife decided to hand over the power to their son Charles. However, this decision was too late. The uprising was already underway Prince Florestan was dethroned, arrested and imprisoned, and the princely rule was abolished.

On 20 March 1848, Menton and Roquebrune declared their independence while formally remaining part of Sardinia and Savoy. In 1849 the Sardinian Kingdom issued a decree making these cities part of the district of Nice. Monaco never managed to regain these lands. However, in 1849 Florestan was restored to the throne.

In 1861 the new Prince Charles III and Napoleon III signed a treaty whereby Monaco officially relinquished these towns to France. The Principality thus received a compensation of 4 million francs and lost half of its territory.

Caroline Gibert de Lametz

Caroline Gibert de Lametz
Caroline Gibert de Lametz, wife of Florestan I

The reign of Florestan is inseparable from the name of his wife Caroline. Not only did she stand by his side, but she also helped him in taking some fateful decisions.

The future wife of Florestan was born on 18 July 1793, in Coulommiers, in the family of Charles Thomas Gibert, a lawyer. She spent her childhood in Lametz castle, a property of her mother’s third husband who was head of a military school.

In May 1814 the illegitimate daughter of Monaco’s Princess Louise, Amelie Aumont, married Caroline’s brother, Louis-Pierre Mauroy. That is how Florestan met Caroline. At that time he was 29 years old and she was 21. Her contemporaries described her as a dark-haired girl with expressive features. She was also intelligent and excelled at social skills.

Once Florestan took the throne of Monaco, Caroline helped him rule the country. After her husband’s death, it was Caroline who suggested to her son Charles III the idea of opening a casino. This decision was very wise, as gambling later became a major source of income for the Principality for many years. Caroline died at the age of 86, outliving her husband by 23 years.

So now that you know more about Florestan I and his family you can follow our future articles to learn more about other historical rulers of Monaco.

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