Independent principality in SE France, on the Mediterranean Sea, near the French-Italian border. Probably Phoenician in origin, it was annexed by Marseilles in the first century a.d. Part of the Lombard kingdom in the seventh century and of Arles in the eighth century, it came under the Grimaldi family in 1070. An independent principality in the 13th century, it was subsequently under Spanish protection between 1542 and 1641, under French protection from 1641 to 1793, and annexed to France in 1793. The Treaty of Paris of 1814 restored the family’s domination, but the next year it fell under Sardinian protection. After 1861 it again came under French protection. The princes ruled as absolute monarchs until 1911, when Prince Albert I granted a new constitution. In 1962 Prince Rainier established the present liberal constitution. In 2000 Monaco was accused of being a center for money-laundering, and France threatened to force the principality to tighten the regulation of its banks. Prince Rainier died in 2005 and was succeeded as ruler by his son, Albert II. Notable buildings include the 16th-century palace, the 19thcentury Byzantine-style cathedral, and the famous casino of Monte Carlo.