Principality of Seborga
| Principality of Seborga |
(it) Principato di Seborga
(fr) Principauté de Seborga
Sub umbra sed
(latin: Seat in the shade)
|Official language(s)||Italian, |
|- Prince||Marcello Menegatto|
|Area claimed||15 km2|
The Principality of Seborga (Italian: Principato di Seborga) also known as Seborga is a small town, and self-proclaimed principality, located in the flowery back hills of Liguria, in north west Italy, near the French border and the sovereign principality of Monaco.
History and principality
Unlike most micronations, Seborga does have an indisputed past as a feudal state, albeit not as a hereditary principality, but an ecclesiastic one which clearly no longer exists. In 954 its territory was ceded by the counts of Ventimiglia to the monks of Lerino, the Cistercian monastery was founded. In 1079 its abbots were also made Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, temporally in chief of the principality of Seborga.
On 20 January 1729 however it was annexed to the Savoy dynasty's kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. Since then it has never been recognized by any state or admitted to an international organisation.
On 23 April 1995 an informal referendum, illegal under Italian law, allegedly voted in favor of "independence" from Italy, which was never recognized by Italy.
In the early 1960s Giorgio Carbone, head of the local flower-growers co-operative, began promoting the idea that Seborga retained its historic independence as a principality, which also calls itself 'the principality of the flowers'. By 1963 the people of Seborga were convinced of these arguments and elected Carbone as their Head of State. Henceforth he was to be known as Giorgio I, Prince of Seborga. In 1995 Seborgans voted, 304 in favor, 4 against, for the Principality's Constitution and its general rules.
These facts do not imply that Seborga is indeed a principality. Some consider these claims as a form of folklore and the Republic of Italy considers and treats Seborga (unlike San Marino or the Vatican City, also enclaved in the peninsula) as an integral part of its own territory.
The argument for Seborga's independent status is that Seborga was an independent Principality until January 20, 1729, when it was sold to Victor Amadeus II, Prince of Piedmont and King of Sardinia. However, it appears the sale was never registered by the Kingdom of Sardinia, letting Seborga fall in a kind of twilight zone. Subsequently, in 1815, the Congress of Vienna overlooked the village in its efforts to redistribute European territories after the Napoleonic Wars, and there is no mention of Seborga in the Act of Unification of Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
Whatever the validity of these claims, it is worth noting that the establishment of statehood doesn't rely only on formal acts. When the princely abbacy ceased to exist, Seborga, if not bought by Piedmont-Sardinia, would have reverted to Ventimiglia (which since 1139 was subordinate to Genoa) or else become terra nullius. The new state of Italy thus either inherited Seborga, as successor state to both Genoa and Piedmont-Sardinia, or annexed it. Seborga thus became an ordinary Italian commune, as the democratically elected mayor explicitly acknowledges.
Moreover, there is no tension between the "Principality" of Seborga and the Italian government. Law enforcement, public health, telecommunications, school services and all other public services are provided as in the rest of Italy. Seborgans regularly pay taxes, participate in the Italian administrative life, and vote in local and national (Italian) elections. For instance, in the elections of the Italian Senate in 2001 the voter turnout was 84.21%.
Economy, folklore and tourism
Thanks to the publicity as a principality, tourism expanded. The principality's historic town centre was also restored, ensuring that its charms were protected from commercial overdevelopment.
A local currency, the Luigino, was issued from 1994 to 1996. The Luigino is accepted inside the city (along with the legal currency, the Euro, and before that both Italian Lira and French Franc); it is recognized by the International Bank, but without legal value outside the town. Some claim that the Italian government did not welcome this initiative. It is not clear what is the total amount of Luigini issued.
Stamps are also issued but only have a philatelic value, since the only post office is the Italian one. Tourist Office currently issues a Tourist Passport.
- Supporting the argument for independence
- The local internet-point
- On the Luigino
- The Seborga Times
- B&B in Seborga
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