Article from Number 45 - 2021 - Gold and blood. The Spanish garrison in Monaco (1605-1641)
“Todas las cosas del mondo pasan presto su memoria sinon la fama i la gloria” [“All things are quickly forgotten in this world except fame and glory”]. This strange inscription, engraved in March 1548, mixing Italian, Latin and Spanish, is written on a door lintel in the alley of La Miséricorde, in Monaco-Ville. It is one of the very rare testimonies left by Spain, as a political protector from 1524 of the seigneury, then principality of Monaco. It was not until 1605 that it imposed a permanent garrison on the Rock. How did these soldiers, who stayed in the place until their expulsion in 1641, “put up” with the local population? And what reception was given to them by the inhabitants of the little city? Were the human links, which were created between “occupiers and occupied”, forced, without real collusion? Or were they established more durably, between men and women brought together by political issues that went beyond their daily lives?
This article attempts to identify these Spanish soldiers, who pass from the rank of foreigner to that of neighbour and, gradually, are perceived differently by those who welcomed them. Only the study of a few elements that enabled them to integrate into the local population (marriages, godparent, the practice of religion, transactions and work), and that of the values they shared with civilians such as poverty, language and solidarity, will lift the veil on a discreet, but anything but tasteless character.
Text in French