3 minutes 20 seconds
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Monaco is a tiny nation here nuzzled into
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the southern coast of France. Its people speak French and Italian.
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And as you'll likely know, during the early modern and modern periods, there was a real push to get people who spoke the same language to become a part of the same country. Yet Monaco,
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despite its size, managed to dodge conquest and nationalist sentiment to remain independent to this day. Which raises a pretty obvious question. Why does Monaco exist and how did it avoid becoming a part
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of France or Italy? Monaco has existed as an independent entity since the 13th century, and its ruling house, the House of Grimaldi, had 1 objective. Don't get conquered. And to do this it had 1 very clever plan. Placing itself under the protection and vassalage of
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its much more powerful neighbours.
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The Grimaldis were subjects of the Genoese, the French and later the Spanish whom they promised to
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be loyal to. That was, of course, until it was no longer convenient. And so, in
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the early 17th century, Monaco's rulers instead approached the French king for protection. He said yes, of course, because no self-respecting king of France could resist an opportunity to deprive Spain of subjects. And after this, Monaco remained a French protectorate for nearly 200 years. Things changed though when some chaps in France got some new ideas about monarchs and stuff. In 1793 the French Republic conquered Monaco and incorporated it into the country.
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And soon it
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was Napoleon's turn to fight everyone and after he lost the Great powers opted to restore Monaco to its independence in 1814. The King of Sardinia was none too happy with this arrangement because kings like having more land. And so, to shut him up, Monaco was made a Sardinian protectorate the next year. And interestingly, this decision to make it a puppet state was what saved Monaco from becoming a part of another country. As you'll be aware, the Sardinians had plans for building in Italy, and given that Monaco was already a protectorate, there was no need for Sardinia to conquer it.
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In fact, like much of Europe, Monaco wasn't free from the forces of revolution in 1848. As
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a result of its revolution, most of the country broke away, and soon after became a separate protectorate of Sardinia, although Sardinia didn't annex these lands because they didn't want to upset the French who had their eyes on the region. In return for French support in defeating the Austrians, Sardinia ceded these lands to them. And for the French, the unclear status of these lands meant that France was free to take it for itself, which the ruling Prince
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of Monaco had to accept because, well, what was he going to do about it?
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The French decided not to annex all of Monaco at this point because Napoleon III didn't want
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to give the rest of the Great Powers, who had agreed that Monaco should be independent, to have any reason to oppose him, which allowed Monaco to remain independent without France thinking too much about it. You see, after Monaco had lost most of its land it needed to find other ways to make money, and it did this via 2 methods, gambling and later on, evasive accounting. Charles de
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Gaulle was annoyed that his citizens could dodge taxes in Monaco,
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and so he closed the border with the country.
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The Prince of Monaco panicked because he thought that de Gaulle was going to annex his country and so he made a deal. Monaco would clamp down on the French dodging taxes there and France would, in return, calm down. This worked and thereafter Monaco's independence was secure so long as
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it didn't act against France's interests. Jordan Longley, Rod D. Martin, Wyan Hockey, Marcus Arsner, Captain Psydog, Marvin Casale, Spencer Lightfoot, Winston K. Wood, Boogily Woogily, Daniel Tabean, Camoon Yoon, Miss Izzet, Gustav Swann, Aaron the White, Anthony Beckett, The McWhopper, Maggie Paskowski, Copper Tone, Spinning 3 Plates, Shuenin, Words About Books podcast, and Charles I.
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