Nicholas I, Grand Duke of Flandrensis
|H.R.H. Nicholas de Mersch d'Oyenberghe, Grand Duke of Flandrensis|
|Photo by Léo Delafontaine (2021)|
|Predecessor||Maarten of Arkel|
15 October 2012
|Predecessor||Maarten of Arkel|
2009 - 2012
|Prince||Maarten of Arkel|
January–June 2010 & July–October2012
|Successor||James von Puchow & Daniel Morris|
October 2011 - July 2012
March 2013 - Augustus 2013
|Born||23 February 1988|
Nicholas of Flandrensis (aka Nicholas de Mersch d'Oyenberghe) is the founder and the head of state of the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis. He is one of the co-founders of the Antarctic Micronational Union and was elected as its first Secretary-General on January 15, 2010. Well-known for his disapproval toward micronational conflicts and the foundation of the Union Against Micronational War he was awarded with three micronational peace-awards and in 2022 he awarded with the Micronational Hall of Excellence. Transforming Flandrensis from a temporary hobby into a serious project he has been interviewed and mentioned in several international media (regional and national newspapers, television network channels, radio, books, scientific / cultural magazine, etc.) about Flandrensis or micronationalism in general. Within the non-profit “vzw Groothertogdom Flandrensis” Nicholas is the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Creating a new nation
Nicholas interest for micronationalism started when he discovered information about the Beauluna, Sealand and Molossia. Those days Nicholas was a student History and Religion, with a great interest in the medieval county of Flanders. On September 4, 2008 he official founded the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis, primarily inspired on the ‘Pagus Flandrensis’ (oldest Latin name of Flanders) and the Flemish history. Starting as a virtual micronation, he carefully searched unclaimed territory. On November 22, 2008 he transformed Flandrensis into an Antarctic micronation. The Antarctic Treaty prevented any new claims on Antarctica by countries. To get around this, he claimed the land as an individual and then founded a country, the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis, upon it.
Nicholas started Flandrensis in September 2008 but joined the micronational community at the end of that year. Between 2009 and 2011 he was mainly active in the MicroWiki community and represented Flandrensis in several micronational organisations (Grand Unified Micronational, Organisation of Active Micronations, League of Secessionist States, Antarctic Micronational Union, etc.). He became notorious in the community because of the diplomatic dispute with the micronation of Westarctica, which of course ended without any blood or violence. Nicholas is also one of the first who introduced the concept of ecological micronationalism. In 2009 he was one of the co-founders of the Antarctic Micronational Union and was elected as its first Secretary-General. He was later re-elected twice, until he left office in 2013. In 2016 he surprised the micronational community by leaving the AMU, also known as the FLEXIT. Nicholas also tried to develop micronationalism in Belgium and the Netherlands and helped several people with the foundation of their own micronation. Between 2010 and 2016 they cooperated together within the Flandrensisian Commonwealth with Nicholas as the Secretary-General. However, confronted with inactive citizens most of those micronations collapsed after a few years so Nicholas decided to disband the Commonwealth in 2016. Since 2016 he’s also involved in the Francophone micronational community and member of the MicroFrancophonie. At present day he spend most of his time dealing with Flandrensian affairs, contact with other micronations and raising awareness for climate change.
Niels is one of the first who introduced the concept of environmental micronationalism, using micronationalism to raise awareness for climate change. Due this unique concept Niels and his micronation receives attention from media and academics in publication on micronationalism. He is the co-author of several ecological charters. After President Trump announced in 2017 to withdraw the U.S.A. from the Paris Agreement, Niels took the initiative for the “Micronational Declaration on Ecological Stewardship”, signed at the international micronational convention MicroCon in Atlanta (U.S.A.). In May 2022 Niels was invited as a speaker on ChangeNow, an international climate summit in Paris to tell about environmental micronationalism.
Nicholas is great opponent of micronational wars and could be described as a micronational pacifist. Although, early 2009 he was involved in the Siple War with the Grand Duchy of Westarctica. Later he confessed he regret his decision to support Finismund in the conflict, a result of a lack of micronational experience. The dispute ended on September 24, 2010 with the signature of the ‘West-Antarctic Treaty’ between the AMU and Westarctica, a result of negotiations between Nicholas and Travis McHenry. Learning from his mistakes Nicholas changed the Flandrensian policy toward micronational conflicts, resulting in a permanent neutrality of the country. Considering that all wars are a failure of diplomacy, he founded the Union Against Micronational War on July 10, 2009. For his attitude toward micronational conflicts he was awarded with five micronational peace-awards. In 2014 the French newspaper “Le Journal du Dimanche” called him the “Woodrow Wilson of micronationalism”.
Micronational Hall of Excellence
At MicroCon 2022 in Las Vegas, he was honored with a nomination and election to the Micronational Hall of Excellence. Belonging to a group of 8 micronationalists with a significant impact on micronationalism the past 250 years.
Grand Duke Nicholas of Flandrensis was born Niels Vermeersch in Belgium in 1988. A product of what is regarded by some as the “golden age of the young micronationalist,” the future Grand Duke founded the Grand Duchy of Flandrensis on 4 September of 2008.
Inspired by the examples of existing nations like Sealand, he began his foray into hobby micronationalism by building a virtual nation drawing heavily upon elements from Flemish culture. It would not be long before the Grand Duke refocused his efforts, claiming a portion of Antarctica and beginning his longstanding advocacy for awareness of the threats posed by climate change.
In the ensuing years, Grand Duke Nicholas has been a vocal champion of conservation, once being referred to as the only micronationalist who doesn’t want to live in his nation. Flandrensis, led by Nicholas, has been at the forefront of climate activism. From letter-writing campaigns to demonstrations, education, and other ecological initiatives, it is regarded by many as a shining example of how to use a nation’s identity to springboard to social action.
In addition to efforts within his own nation, Grand Duke Nicholas is known for investing in young micronationalists and their success. Regulated by a selective but non-exclusionary diplomatic policy, Flandrensis has taken steps to make sure their relations with fledgling nations helps guide them on the path towards success. The Grand Duke was a founder of the first union of Antarctic micronations and has remained a leader in keeping peaceful, productive relations between nations who might otherwise have competing claims and hostile interactions. He actively represents his nation in La MicroFrancophonie despite the fact that he is not a native French speaker. In forums and groups, Grand Duke Nicholas is often regarded as a voice of rationality and diplomacy who is always quick to welcome new participants and direct them to reliable resources to help them get started. Not only is he a vocal and public face in micronationalism, he serves as one of the best known in the community that is not a native English speaker, acting as a gateway figure to large swaths of the world.
His existence as one of the loudest voices for peace, cooperation, and positive change in the world places him amongst the most outwardly-focused members of the micronational community.
Flandrensian titles and orders
- Grand Duke of Flandrensis
- Grand Master in the Order of Flandrensis
- Grand Master in the Order of the Melting Mountain
- Grand Master in the Order of Saint Polycarpus
Awards and decorations
- Prince of Siple
- Grand Duke of Imvrassia
- Knight Commander of the Austenasian Order
- Knight Grand Commander in the Order of Beauluna
- Knight of the Order of the Sovereign Eagle
- Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Hawk
- Knight in the Order of the Wyvern
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Snowflake
- Grand Officer of the Order of the Royal House of Ruthenia
- Knight of the Order of the Edelweiss
- Cross of Independence
- Honorary Colonel of the Imperial and Royal Regiment of Uhlans
- Grand Officier de l'Ordre Princier de la Grande Croix de Saint Paul
- Chevalier du Grand Ordre du Flamand Rose
- Commandeur du grand ordre Princier de l'Académie St Louis
- Chevalier du Ordre du Sextant
- Megas Domestikos of the Imvrassian Royal Guard
- Cross of Independence
- Grand-Croix de Ordre du Mérite Ecologique
- Grand Commandeur de Ordre du Fleur-de-lis d'Or
- Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Lotus
- Mahadeshabandhu (Great Friend of the Nation)
- Knight in the the Order of the Sanghamitra
- Commemorative Medal of the Crystal Jubilee of the Foundation of Vishwamitra
- Collar grade of the Most Esteemed Supreme Order of the Hibiscus
- Knight in the Order of Pedro II
- Knight in the Order of the Blue Blood
- Knight in the Order of Prince Ludwig Gaston of Saxe-Coburg and Braganza:
- Knight in the Order of the Queen
- Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Black Star
- Officer in the Order of A1
- Officer of the Order of the Blue Star
- Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Ladder
- Knight in the Order of the Dragon
- Grand Officer in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Atlantis
- Member of the Order of Parsons
- Member of the Order of Lenin and the June Revolution
- Knight Companion of the Community of Landashir
- Member of the Order of Yabloko
- Grand Cordon in the Order of the Lion
- Tiarna of St George
- Lord in the Royal Order of Saint Christopher
- Knight in the Order of St. Edward the Confessor
- Count-Palatine of the Imperial Order of Reyla
- Knight in the Order of the Southern Cross
- Order of the People's State
- Knight of the Earth in the Sakasarian Federation
- Order of Royal
- On 1 October 2009 the first Slinky Award of Appreciation for Peace was given to Nicholas for the formation of the Union Against Micronational War.
- Legion of Peace
- The Invictus Cross (defunct)
- Hero of the Republic of Subenia
- Schneider Awards for promoting Peace
- Vision for Yabloko Award for promoting peace and unity among the micronational world
- Chief Judge's Citation for Peace and Diplomacy
- Micronational Hall of Excellence: the inaugural class of 2022
- Secretary-General (15 January 2010 - 14 June 2010)
- Secretary-General of the AMIS (1 January 2011 - 24 October 2011)
- Commissioner of Foreign Affairs (17 October 2011 - 31 December 2011)
- Commissioner of Foreign Affairs (1 January 2012 - 7 July 2012)
- Secretary-General (8 July 2012 - 24 October 2012)
- Vice-Secretary (1 March 2013 - 22 August 2013)
- Administrative-General (22 August 2013- 18 September 2014)
- Secretary-General (24 October 2010 - 11 April 2016)
- Prime Minister (12 July 2010 - 7 January 2012)
- Prime Minister (14 January 2010 - 14 October 2012)
- Prince (15 October 2012 - 11 April 2016)
- League of Secessionist States: Third Chief Justice (August 2011 - September 2011)
- Hobbs, Harry; Williams, George (2022). Micronations and the Search for Sovereignty. Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-009-15012-5. https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/micronations-and-the-search-for-sovereignty/B0414A3A322695D9EE71E4CDDFDA06DE.
- ChangeNow – official website. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
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