Since the 13th century Monaco’s history has been that of the Grimaldi family, whose rule began in 1297. Charles VIII, king of France, recognised Monégasque independence in 1489. But during the French Revolution, France snatched Monaco back and imprisoned its royal family. Upon release, they had to sell the few possessions they still owned and the palace became a warehouse.

The Grimaldis were restored to the throne under the 1814 Treaty of Paris. But in 1848 they lost Menton and Roquebrune to France, and Monaco swiftly became Europe’s poorest country. In 1860 Monégasque independence was recognised for a second time by France and a monetary agreement in 1865 sealed the deal on future cooperation between the two countries.

Rainier III (r 1949–2005), nicknamed le prince bâtisseur (the builder prince), expanded the size of his principality by 20% in the late 1960s by reclaiming land from the sea to create the industrial quarter of Fontvieille. In 2004 he doubled the size of the harbour with a giant floating dyke, placing Port de Monaco (Port Hercules) among the world’s leading cruise-ship harbours. Upon Rainier’s death, son Albert II became monarch.