I've been thinking about today's post for a while. The topic is, in a sense, revolution. And pure cussedness as well.
On his blog site, Rett recently posted an item about Sealand. (And before I forget, thanks Rett for your kind permission to steal your thunder as it were.) Maybe all of you have heard about Sealand and I'm the only one that's remained in the dark, but if that isn't the case here's the story:
In 1967, some guy named Paddy Roy Bates "invaded" a former UK naval installation, HM Fort Roughs, situated about six miles from the coast of Suffolk, England. The fort, which is not on an island but is actually a man-made structure resembling an oil rig, was occupied by a few other folks at the time, and Bates physically kicked their asses off it and set up shop himself.
Shortly afterward, the Royal Navy showed up to remove Bates from the fort. Bates fired some warning shots at the ships, and soon thereafter they hauled his ass into court for it because he was still a British citizen at the time. He won his case, however, since it was determined that HM Fort Roughs was outside of the 3-mile territorial limit.
In 1975, Roy Bates set up the independent principality of Sealand, with a constitution, passports, currency and a flag (image on the left). He himself became Prince Roy I, and his son became the Prince Regent Michael. Imagine growing up with that particular albatross tied around your neck.
It gets better. In 1978, the Sealand Prime Minister (that Bates had appointed) attempted a coup. He and a Dutch businessman kidnapped the Prince Regent and took control of the fort. No shit. Our boy Bates, no stranger to the rough-and-tumble, employed mercenaries and retook Sealand; he held the coup attempters as prisoners-of-war before releasing them. Now perhaps some of you remember my fondness for failed coup attempters from this post, Ukranians Ate My Goulash. It sounds like the Sealand coup attempters had it a little better than Captain Solo, however, "released" being the operative word here.
Well, it gets better still. It turns out that Sealand is currently for sale. Some people who run a BitTorrent site were trying to organize a movement to buy it so they could bypass copyright laws etc. etc. I say 'were' because the latest news seems to indicate that the Sealanders aren't returning emails so it's somewhat up in the air. As Rett says, check out the forum (the previous link), it's fascinating.
So that's the story. Isn't it great? Underdog takes on the UK and the Royal Navy and establishes his own country. And there was a coup attempt. And people are trying to buy the place. I love it.
I should also mention that I don't normally do news reporting so most of the above is lifted more or less intact from Rett and the Wikipedia site. Thanks again, Rett, and Wikipediaphiles for the first time.
What's funny is that in doing the research for this post I came across another tiny little upstart nation, Ladonia. Their web site narrative is a little disjointed, but it would appear that it started out as an art project in a remote and desolate corner of Scandinavia and eventually ended up as an independent nation that went to war with Sweden! Holy smokes, these little brat countries are popping up like mushrooms. Anyway, check out their web site. The green thing next to this paragraph is the Ladonia flag, by the way. One of the really cool things about Ladonia is that you too can become a Ladonian citizen. As they say, "Common citizenship is free. nobility costs $12." For twelve gringo bucks you can be a countess! Or a baroness! Or a friherrinna, whatever the hell that is. "Countess Heather of Ladonia" has a lovely ring to it I think, even better than Heather Hullesdottir. If you're wondering, I personally chose "common citizen" because I have a creepy feeling that otherwise there might be a guillotine out there with my name on it. Plus I'm broke. But you pays your money and you takes your chances; go for baron if you want.
One of the reasons I'm so fascinated by these tiny insolent little countries is that it runs in the blood. My great great granduncle, Isaac Roop, founded an independent territory in California in the 1860's called Nataqua. It seems the people there weren't ecstatic about paying taxes to California so they decided to form their own damn territory, bless their hearts. Uncle Isaac was the governor of Nataqua for a while. Eventually the California revenuers came to collect and there was actually a battle fought between the Nataquans and the Californians, the so-called "Roop County War" or "Sagebrush War" of February 1863. As it turned out, we Nataquans fought the evil Californians to a standstill then let 'em head back to Encino or wherever they came from with their tails between their legs. Yippee! Go Unca Isaac!
I have to echo a sentence here that I found in this history of the war: "About 9 o'clock that night a group of overzealous Roop citizens at Toadtown heard of the latest arrest and release of their officials and rode to Susanville to set things right." Toadtown? Not quite as romantic a name as Nataqua, the Paiute Indian name for "woman". (See? See? It isn't just me it's my whole damn family!) I'm also pretty okay with the overzealous part; I seem to have gotten those genes just fine as well.
Currently my plan is to find a picture of the flag of Nataqua somewhere and get a tattoo of it. I've looked for a flag but I have not yet found one -- surely they had one, otherwise it would be a sorry territory indeed. I'll let you know if I find it.
So who knew that all this shit was going on (besides Rett)? It seems the revolutionary spirit is still doing just fine in the world today: I found not one but two spit-in-your-eye little countries in a week. And just so you know, I'm doing my bit to help my fellow citizens in the downtrodden and beleaguered country of Ladonia: today I volunteered such skills as I have to the cause. Uncle Isaac would be proud.