Last modified: 2001-11-16 by ivan sache
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by António Martins
Flag adopted 4 April 1881, coat of
arms adopted 15 March 1858
Proportion :4:5 (2:3 in Flaggenbuch [neu92])
Use: on land, national and civil flag, at sea, national and civil ensign.
Red and white are the heraldic colours of the Grimaldi family. The colours are attested as far back as 1339, but the flag design changed with time. In the XVIIth century, a banner of arms - red and white lozenges - was used.
Sources: W. Smith [smi76c], Dorling-Kindersely Pocket Flag Book [udk97]
The Principality is the second smallest sovereign state in the world (the smallest being Vatican), with an area of 151 hectares, and the most crowded one.
The early history of Monaco is linked to the Genoese civil wars
between the Guelphs (supporting the Pope) and the Ghibellines
(supporting the German Emperor). In 1297, the Guelph Rainier Grimaldi
captured Monaco's rock from the Ghibellines and founded a dynasty,
even if he was not able to keep Monaco for a long time.
In 1342, Charles Grimaldi, from the same family, proclaimed himself Lord of Monaco, and bought in 1346 the seigniories of Roquebrune and Menton.
In the XVIth century, Monaco became the first historical example of a protectorate. During the Spanish protectorate (1525-1641), the Lords of Monaco upgraded their title to Princes. In 1641, by the treaty of Perone, Monaco was transfered under French protectorate.
In 1793, the Principality was annexed by the French Republic.
In 1814, after the fall of Napoleon I, the Grimaldi were restored and the Principality was put under Sardinian protectorate by the second treaty of Paris. The economical and political situation was very bad and led to the proclamation of the free cities of Roquebrune and Menton in 1848 (which were rattached to France in 1860 with the County of Nice). Count Cavour took the opportunity of these events to abandon the Sardinian protectorate.
The real birth of Monaco started in 1863 with the creation of
gambling, which was forbidden in the neighbouring countries. The
suppression of most taxes in 1869 and the achievement of the railway
line between Nice and Monaco in 1868 were also important events. All
of them had been promoted by Prince Charles III, who is also
responsible of the adoption of the current national flag.
The small city of Spéluges became Monte-Carlo in 1866, and the casino was added a theater in 1879, designed by Garnier on the model of the Paris opera. From 1949 onwards, the current Prince Rainier III favoured business with the help of very advantageous fiscal laws.
The current Constitution was enacted on 17 December 1962. The Prince holds executive and judicial powers, and a part of the legislative power. The State Minister (equivalent of a Prime Minister) is chosen by the Prince among proposals of the French government. Ordinary governmental councellors are chosen by the Prince. The National Council (18 members elected by universal suffrage for 5 years) can only propose laws and vote those proposed by the Government. Only the Prince can dissolve the National Council. Justice is rendered by courts on behalf of the Prince.
Monaco, although sovereign and independent, has signed "particular conventions with France". French is the national language and the Monegasque franc has the same value as the French franc. There has been a French-Monegasque customs union since 1865. According to a treaty signed in Paris on 17 July 1918 and officialized on 28 June 1919, Monaco must "exert its sovereignty rights in perfect agreement with the political, military, naval and economic interests of France". There was a severe French-Monegasque crisis in 1962 for political and economical reasons. After 11 months of difficult discussions, a new fiscal status was adopted for Monaco.
Monaco is still a fiscal paradise: the Monegasque citizens and the non-French foreign inhabitants of Monaco do not pay any income tax. To have the same status, French citizens need to have settled in Monaco at least five years before the 13 October 1962. Companies realizing more than 75% of their benefit in Monaco also do not pay any corporation tax. Local taxes are also inexistant. Therefore Monaco has attracted several members of the jet-set, show-biz, professional sport etc... Among the genuine Monegasque citizens is to be mentioned the poet and singer Leo Ferre (1916-1993)
Source: Guide Gallimard Alpes-Maritimes
by Santiago Dotor
State and war flag and ensign, with proportion 4:5 according to
The height of the arms is almost exactly 3/4ths that of the flag. Flaggenbuch [neu92], however, shows the Arms occupying 17/20ths the height of the flag (proportion 2:3), and describes the flag as:
"Fürstliche Flagge, gleichzeitig Standarte des Fürsten und Dienstflagge, darf an Land auch von Privaten geführt werden"
i.e. "Princely flag, at the same time standard of the Prince and state ensign, private individuals are also allowed to fly it on land". I do not quite understand the difference between "Princely flag" and "standard of the Prince", unless here "Fürstliche" means "of the Principality" which I am not very sure of...
This flag is the Prince's Standard, flown from his yacht and at the palace according to Barraclough and Crampton [bcr81].
Santiago Dotor, 14 February 2000
I found a large, recent picture of a Monegasque Carabinier about
to hoist the State Flag above Saint Mary's tower in Monaco Castle.
This was published in Paisajes, a complimentary magazine
handed out to passengers in the Madrid-Seville high speed train, page
52, November or December 1999 issue. The picture is so large that
even the folds in the flag are apparent, and measuring the flag's
height and comparing it that of the Arms is straightforward.
The result: the Arms are 11/20ths (0,55) as high as the flag, which does not fit the images in either Smith [smi75c] or Flaggenbuch [neu92].
The motto (Deo Juvante) is shown in red letters, not gold ones as in some renderings.
Santiago Dotor, 16 February 2000
Origin of the coat of arms
The monks supporting the shield in the coat of arms allude to the conquest of Monaco in 1297, when a Grimaldi entered the city with soldiers dressed as monks, with swords hidden under their cassocks (therefore the monks bear swords on the arms). The collar surrounding the shield represents the Order of Saint Charles. The Grimaldi motto (Deo Juvante) reads "With God's help" (also related to the 1297 capture).
Sources: W. Smith [smi76c], Dorling-Kindersely Pocket Flag Book [udk98]
by Santiago Dotor
Smith [smi75c] shows the
"Princely Flag" with unofficial proportions 5:6, and saying about it:
"The cipher [sic] of Prince Rainier figures on his personal
The flag is shown as being 5:6 with the fringe - without it it would be quite exactly 3:4. The fringe appears to be one ninth of the height of the white field.
Barraclough and Crampton [bcr81] identifies this flag as the car flag of Prince Rainier III, adding that " The Prince's Standard, flown from his yacht and at the palace, is white with the whole Arms in the centre."
Santiago Dotor, 14 February 2000
by Olivier Touzeau, arms by Ralf Hartemink
White field with the city's coat of arms in the middle. Proportion 2:3.
Pascal Vagnat 14 December 1997
I saw the municipal flag of Monaco in only one place, near the city hall.
Olivier Touzeau, 9 February 2000