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Nicholas I, Grand Duke of Flandrensis

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H.R.H. Nicholas de Mersch d'Oyenberghe, Grand Duke of Flandrensis
Photo by Léo Delafontaine (2021)
Grand Duke of Flandrensis
Assumed office
September 2008
Predecessor Throne established
Prince of Arkel
Assumed office
2012-2016
Predecessor Maarten of Arkel
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Flandrensis
Assumed office
15 October 2012
Predecessor Maarten of Arkel
Prime Minister of the Principality of Arkel
Assumed office
2009 - 2012
Prince Maarten of Arkel
Secretary-General of the Flandrensisian Commonwealth
Assumed office
2010-2016
Predecessor Function established
Secretary-General of the AMU
Assumed office
January–June 2010 & July–October2012
Successor James von Puchow & Daniel Morris
Commissioner of Foreign Affairs of the AMU
Assumed office
October 2011 - July 2012
Predecessor Federico Curridor
Vice Secretary of the AMU
Assumed office
March 2013 - Augustus 2013
Administrative-General of the AMU
Assumed office
Augustus 2013
Predecessor Travis McHenry
Personal information
Born 23 February 1988 (1988-02-23) (age 34)
Citizenship Flandrensisian
Nationality Belgian
Religion Roman Catholic

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.

Micronational influence

Micronational carreer

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.

Environmental micronationalism

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.[1] 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.[2]

Micronational conflicts

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.

Titles

Flandrensian titles and orders

Awards and decorations

Foreign titles

Defunct

Orders

Defunct

Awards

Other functions

GAMA vlag.jpgAntarctic Micronational Union:

  • 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)

COF.pngFlandrensisian Commonwealth:

  • Secretary-General (24 October 2010 - 11 April 2016)

Albion.pngKingdom of Albion

  • Prime Minister (12 July 2010 - 7 January 2012)

Flag of Arkel.pngArkel:

  • Prime Minister (14 January 2010 - 14 October 2012)
  • Prince (15 October 2012 - 11 April 2016)

Others:



References

  1. 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. 
  2. ChangeNow – official website. Retrieved 27 May 2022.