Honore IV was born on May 17, 1758 in Paris, to his parents Prince Honore III and Princess Maria-Caterina de Brignole-Sale. This prince, perhaps, experienced more life challenges than any other Grimaldi. Most of his hardships were caused by the French Revolution.
He was unlucky enough to be living in Paris when the reign of terror broke out in France. As a nobleman and prince he was soon arrested and thrown into prison. The same thing happened to his ex-wife, Duchess Mazarini (divorced from him in 1798). Their son Florestan, with the assistance of their family doctor, was the only one who managed to escape and be saved.
The wife of Honore’s younger brother Joseph, Princess Françoise-Theresa, suffered an even sadder fate. She went to the revolutionary Paris to help her daughters escape France. She was executed, seen as a “people’s enemy”. Of course, this could not leave prince Joseph unscarred.
As for Prince Honore, he was imprisoned for 1.5 years. This time in prison greatly undermined his health, and he never fully recovered from it afterwards. On March 21, 1795 his father died and Honore IV ascended the throne of Monaco. At that time the monarchy had just been banned and Monaco was once again annexed to the French Republic under the name of Port Hercule.
Even after prince Honore was released from prison, it took another seven years of negotiations before the French regime restored some of Honore IV’s and his brother Prince Joseph’s income. The future started to look brighter for the Grimaldi’s once the radical revolutionary regime was followed by the French consulate and, finally, by the First French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Prince Joseph was to continue his distinguished military career in the higher echelons of the French imperial forces. As for Honore IV, however, he hardly longed for such a fate. Sadly, his prolonged imprisonment left him so ill and frail that he had to avoid any physical strain. Meanwhile, his son Gabriel (born in 1778) joined his uncle in the regiment at the age of 20. Having earned his officer title with Marshal Grouchy, the young prince achieved notable military glory in the ranks of the French imperial army.
When the Napoleonic Wars finally came to an end, the status of Monaco was restored by the Congress of Vienna thanks to the efforts of Prince Talleyrand. However, Honore IV was too ill to take control of his principality. His brother Prince Joseph thus became a regent.
Once Prince Joseph left Monaco for Paris, Honore-Gabriel revolted against his uncle. To avoid further tension, Prince Joseph, who preferred his life in Paris, appointed Honore-Gabriel as his own father’s regent. He ruled Monaco up until the death of Honore IV (later becoming Prince Honore V). As for Honore IV, he lived in Paris, where he was eventually laid to rest on February 16, 1819.
As a prince of Monaco, Honore IV suffered three arrests and never actually ruled Monaco. He spent part of his life in a prison cell and the rest, trying to improve his health. Needless to say, there are very few mentions of the prince, even in the archives of Monaco. His most important contribution to the history of Monaco was the birth of his two sons – the future princes, Honore V and Florestan I, who consistently ruled the principality and left their mark on the state’s history.
Honore IV should not be severely judged by descendants, however. Sadly, he was not born in the most favourable period to be a royal. Life had many hardships in store for him. He adequately withstood them and left behind heirs for the Principality. But he never managed to rule his country himself.