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Nations on a Small Scale

Nations on a Small Scale
When asked about past lives, no one claims to have been a tax collector or a scullery maid.  No, so-called psychics flatter their customers with glittering visions of past lives as royalty--or at least aristocracy. Royalty populates the legends, myths, and popular literature of every culture. Can it be a surprise that some people with delusions of grandeur and a penchant for making their own rules grew the gumption to start their own countries with themselves as the rulers?

These tiny nations, some entirely tongue-in-cheek, may comprise as small an area as only a few square acres. In a list of micronations published on Wikipedia, the earliest, Republic of Fredonia, was founded in 1826 by English settlers who attempted to secede from Mexico and ignited the Texas Revolution that resulted in the state being added to the United States of America. In 2016, Igor Ashurbeyli established the nation of Asgardia for the specific purpose of launching satellites into space without the restrictions imposed by the U.N.’s current space law framework.

Most micronations popped into existence in the 20th century, centuries of small nation-states having mostly ended with the unification of Germany, Italy, and other modern countries. Of the micronations established before 1900, no current sovereign state of supranational organization recognizes them.

Kingdom of Redonda (1865 - 2012): Although no documentation exists, Methodist lay preacher Matthew Dowdy Shiel claimed that Queen Victoria granted him the kingdom of of a tiny island in the Caribbean, provided that he did not rebel against England. His son, Matthew Phipps Shiell, wrote adventure and fantasy fiction and recorded the nation’s founding and early history, which may or may not have been fictional. The micronation’s crown remained disputed until 2012.
Principality of Seborga (954 - Present): The effort to unify the many nation-states on the Italian peninsula officially began in 1831 and finally succeeded in 1871, after rebelling against Austrian rule. The tiny, ancient town of Seborga in the region of Liguria near the French border claimed never to have agreed to inclusion within united Italy and had since maintained its independence as a constitutional monarchy.

Principality of Trinidad (1893 - 1895): American author and journalist James Harden-Hickey proclaimed himself prince of an uninhabited island and established a military dictatorship. Great Britain shortly thereafter attempted to claim possession of the island’s strategic position to use as a telegraph station; however, Brazil asserted a prior claim based on the island’s discover in 1502 by Portuguese explorers.

 Republic of Ploiești (1866 - 1870): A 2-day revolt against the ruling family of Romania resulted in the creation of a tiny nation founded on constitutional principles, rather than as a monarchy. The Romanian king’s army quickly subdued the revolt and imprisoned its leaders.

By Karen M. Smith

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