The pas week has been a hectic ping-pong with several events I had to squeeze in my program and diligently prepare, though I cannot complain for taking part in any of them since they are direct fruits of either my work or my resolute desires across the last few years.

I’ve been invited to make a visit to the town residence of the Royal House of Romania and been (briefly) received by Princess Marguerite, I’ve had to pull through an essay meant to be my entry for quite a promising contest then finish the editing of my novel novella (“Vicious“) to be able to publish it in time and handled its launch concomitantly with that of my author blog. This, plus a couple of other troubles.

No wonder the “Parties of the Past Century” series has yet to be completed.

However, here’s the next roaring social gathering which brought together most of the era’s elite:

Le Bal du Siecle

Ball of the Century

The Mexican multimillionaire Charles Beistegui, a professed eccentric also known as the modern “Count of Monte Cristo”, was the host to the most lavish, flamboyant and altogether magnificent masked ball ever given in honor of the old aristocratic times. His Venice Palazzo Labia, a splendid 17th century residence, was put to its use glamorously and costly decorated to fit the magnitude of the event Charles promised to be the assembly of the century.

bal

Luxurious rococo gowns of rich materials were displayed with a profusion of jewels and thus the elegantly adorned guests could only be distinguished from the likewise decor by the mere barrier of movement. Famed names such as Orson Welles, the Aga Khan, Barbara Hutton, Dali, Gene Tierny or Jacqueline de Ribes relished the extraordinary parade of refinement, the presence of exotic black people with their peculiar animals (camels included), the amazing atmosphere.

It was an evening of perpetual wonder, the sort wars exclusively can impel one to organize just for the most humane need of forgetting one’s misery.

We’re all familiar with the legendary icon Grace Kelly became soon after marrying the Prince of Monaco and more than likely recognize the newest consort of House Grimaldi, obnoxious Charlene Wittstock with her annoying flatulence, so I thought of presenting something on the same lines but clearly diverse: a titular heiress to the Monaco throne.

Her Serene Highness Sovereign Princess Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi of Monaco, Princesse de Château-Porcien, Marquise de Les Baux, Chilly and Guiscard, Comtesse de Carladès Baroness of Calvinet and Buis-les-Baronnies and Massy, Sovereign Dame of Mentone and Roccabruna, Dame de Saint-Rémy de Province (wonder how long did it take to call her that way) was born one October evening, 1697, at Prince’s Palace, the sixth child of Antoine I and wife Marie of Lorraine, yet the first one to survive infancy, alongside her future sister, Marguerite Camille Grimaldi (1700–1758), who had no  issue despite wedding French Prince d’Isenghien.

Prince's Palace

Her education had been complex and vast from the very beginning, considering she was the sole hope of continuity for the Grimaldis, in a situation quite similar to Queen Victoria’s but decidedly less rigid compared to that of the renowned sovereign. Foreign languages were a priority and, as any refined aristocrat, she also played the piano, fashionable instrument at royal courts. Notice, though, Louise had no political training as her prospective spouse was expected to undertake the real power of governing. Her father even arranged, with the permission of the extravagant Louis XIV, that her husband should assume their dynasty’s surname, Grimaldi, in order to rule Monaco, because their other relative bearing the title were either too poor in finances or too old for Louise Hippolyte.

Louise of Monaco

The prospect of having their own Principality through union with Louise attracted a few nobles, especially considering the girl on stake wasn’t a negligible beauty at all, sure, not as charming as the Marquise de Montespan, Sun King’s most celebrated maîtresse en titre, but very graceful nonetheless, with nice, proportional, facial features and dark cat eyes.  Among her suitors, Jacques François Goyon de Matignon, a rather boorish Count whose candidature had been proposed by his family and explicitly supported by Louis XIV, distinguished himself more. This lead to a short engagement and, on 20 October 1715, one stylish wedding ceremony like those we’ve gotten used to watching Grace Kelly and Charlene, gathering the main crowned heads of Europe.  The bride, 10 days before celebrating 18, was simply stunning, obviously eclipsing the groom, 8 years her senior, and making an entrance to remember, principally for the little Louis XV, who was there as part of his first formal act during the Regency of the Duke of Orléans.  Jacques’ sponsor, Louis the Great, had died a month earlier of gangrene.

Louise and Jacques of Monaco

Louise Hippolyte bore Jacques 9 children, 6 boys and 3 girls, but, due to the numerous diseases haunting the society that time,  just Honoré Camille (1720-1795) and Charles Maurice (1727-1790) managed to pull through babyhood.

Like most arranged alliances, Hippolyte’s was an emotional failure, with her bored husband preferring to live at his Parisian residence, Hôtel Matignon (currently the official domicile of the French Prime Minister), and do routine visits to Versailles between two rollings in the hay (evidently, he had his share of lovers).  Ironically, she was pretty captivated by him, as  her romantic letters evidence. The swain.

Louise of Monaco

On 20 February, 1731, Antonio I  passed away, making Louise Hippolyte, his dear offspring, Princess of Monaco in her own right, the only one ever recorded.

She went straight to Paris, where the royal administrators threw a spirited reception to honor her newly acquired position; when Jacques came, though, some witness sustain that the festive clamor chilled a bit. Was it solidarity for her abandoned-wife state? Historical sources don’t mention.

coin

Unfortunately, Providence wasn’t, for mysterious reasons, by her side, and Louise Hippolyte’s reign lasted merely306 days, until smallpox destroyed her after Christmas, on 29 December of the same year.

Her earthly remains were buried in Saint Nicholas Cathedral , the traditional tomb of the Grimaldi’s, in a relatively small commemoration, putting an end to Princess Hippolyte’s regrettably undeveloped potential.

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