Wednesday, January 31, 2007

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.

-- Hulles


cK said...

Cool stories. I didn't know of either Ladonia or Sealand...though at first I paused thinking that you'd intended to write Zealand, which is the Danish island on which the city of Copenhagen can be found. Copenhagen has, as you perhaps know, a peculiar, somewhat independent free-state within it called Christiania which was found in the early 1970s essentially by squatters who refused to leave a derelict military compound. Today it has less than 1000 residents, too much of a pot-tourist draw (which pisses off the people in Christiania), and some really expensive apartments.

Last time I was in Copenhagen that neighborhood was nursing the wounds of losing a 200-year-old structure on the water to fire. I took a boat tour past the ruins.

It's a beautiful place, that Copenhagen.

Ben said...

Hi Hulles, I gotta stand up for my friend Rett. In your first line you refer to Rett as a "her", but he's definitely a HIM :)

Rett said...

thanks Ben...I'm glad I didn't have to be the one to break it to you Hulles...that smokin hot girl on the About Rett page is actually my wife (Rebekah).

So you don't feel bad, you're not the first to confuse me for a girl. In fact, when I was around 12 years old I had a skater haircut where my hair was really long and it was shaved on the sides so that I could pull it up in a pony tail. I was at some department store walking into the changing room and the ancient woman said "Excuse me honey, the girl's room is that way." I cut my hair the next day.

Hulles said...

Ben, you sound pretty sure of yourself. I won't ask how....

Rett, ever so sorry! I'll change the post now. Yeah, the hot woman did throw me, please give her a hug from me. I feel like a dope. I wondered after a couple hints in your writing but I didn't pursue it, obviously.

I might point out that I'm keeping your entry in the Mythos intact, even though I thought you were of a different gender when I wrote it.

Hulles said...

There, I fixed the reference, hopefully just the one. So that's what crow tastes like. Ptui! Again, my apologies.

Hulles said...

Oh, and cK, yeah, I had forgotten about Christiania. I followed that story with interest as it broke in the heady 70's. Never went there when I was in Copenhagen, though.

The place sounds like the Gay 90's now.

Heather Harper said...

Ladonian nobility for $12...what a hoot. Cheaper than naming a star in the national registry.

Mosilager said...

That's hilarious! I do wonder if they have a flag.

Hulles said...

Heather, I think you should go for it. I'm serious. I rarely have flashes of insight (which you know since you've been stopping by for a while) but I really feel strongly that you should sign up for nobility. Seriously. Good things will follow. At worst, like I said it's a good story for when you get together with those other people whose pictures you posted in your blog a while back.

Mosilager, I imagine you're referring to the Nataquans since I posted the other two flags, and yeah, I wonder too. I'm sort of stumped on where to go from here to find out, other than trekking to Lassen County CA and burrowing into the archives. I might just end up making one up myself. I'll have to enlist the help of someone who studied graphic design in college and is now working in a dead-end job and cursing their own stupidity, but they're a dime a dozen.

Good thing more of you didn't comment or this would have turned into Remembrance of Things Past.

Jen said...

There's a paper called Nataqua News that was started in 1997.

Maybe they could help you with your flag search.

Hulles said...

Thanks lots, Jen! I'm going to try and get a post out then I'll head over there and check 'em out.

Anonymous said...

Nataqua was one of the communities along the Eastern Sierras that seeded the Provisional Territory of Nevada, in which Roop became the first governor. There is, indeed, a flag and seal from that time, to be found in the Nevada gazetteer of the 1960's. If memory serves, it figured a pick and shovel in the canton. You might field a question to Guy Rocha or other such Nevadan historians on the subject.

It will warm you to know that your Uncle Roop is still revered by Nevadans as our first governor. Despite the Californians' locating a prison at Susanville, the area is still very much alive with succession grumbles and warm affinities to Nothern Nevada. His portrait hangs among others in Carson City.

Now, if only we can shuck the lead at the south end of the state...

Hulles said...

Thank you so much for your comment! I really appreciate the information. I am going to pursue my research using the leads you gave me. Hopefully I'll end up with a real Nataqua tattoo. Thanks again for commenting. Good luck losing the southern end....

Anonymous said...

Cool article, I especially appreciate the part about Nataqua. I grew up in Lassen though now live in alaska. Those flatlanders from the south havn't yet wearied of screwing us over: constantly stealing with our water, forcing their ignorant politically motivated mandates on us, dumping their trash on us, wreaking havoc on our economy, not allowing us to manage our own resources, the list goes on and on. I guess they are still trying to compensate huh? I heard of a recent attempt to split off from California(of several as I understand) was in the late nineties if I remember correctly. My Friend's grandfather,now retired, was a prominent member of the standish-buntingville community and a well respected hay farmer. He was a key leader in the attempt. It would have been good, but alas, those who used underhanded sleezerey won that round.
sorry no screen name, I'm not too proficient with computers and stumbled onto this site while looking for history.

Hulles said...

Thanks lots for your comment. Sorry about not getting back to you sooner; I was without a PC for a few months as mine "walked off". Anyway, I appreciate the feedback. If I ever get time to do the research properly, I plan on creating a Nataqua / Lassen County web site. You might be amused to know that Susanville (now Ca.) was named after my Xth cousin, Isaac Roop's daughter (if I recall correctly). Take care and thanks again.