Showing posts with label napoleon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label napoleon. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

How the Bernadottes Came to Sweden

What do Napoleon, the son of a French lawyer, and being kind to prisoners of war have to do with the Swedish monarchy? Significantly more than you would think. In 1810, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was elected Prince Royal of Sweden, and eight years later became the founding king of the dynasty that rule Sweden to this day, proving that, contrary to what Michael Palin said, sometimes you do vote for a king.

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Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, the hero of our tale.
To understand the Bernadotte's rise to power, you have to understand late eighteenth century Europe. In the summer of 1789, Louis XVI, an absolute monarch from a long line of absolute monarchs attempted to solve his financial issues using the nominal democratic system France already had in place. This went poorly, and resulted in the common people calling for a new constitution, taking the Bastille, forcing Louis and his family from their opulent home in Versailles, and culminated in a lot of very wealthy and important people losing a very important appendage to the guillotine. "What does this have to do with the price of meatballs in Sweden", you ask? Well, the act of dethroning and de-heading Louis, scion of the long and noble line of Bourbon, sent a shock across Europe. After all, if the French monarch could be thrown out of power, and a 'democracy' instituted in less than two years, were any of the other absolute monarchs of Europe safe?

With the English kicked out of their American colonies, and the French monarchy quite literally headless, it seemed that the age of the 'enlightened despot', or the benevolent philosopher dictator was coming to an end. This was particularly worrying to the Swedish king Gustav III who was a great admirer of Marie Antoinette. He was a little more politically savvy than Louis XVI, and he survived his initial summoning of the Riksdag--or the (at the time) nominal Swedish democratic system. However, he made enemies, and bit a bullet Abraham Lincoln style  in 1792.

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Gustav III
Gustav III left his throne to his thirteen year old son, Gustav IV, or Gustav Adolf. The years in which Gustav IV's uncle served as regent were the best of his reign. Gustav Adolf grew into a paranoid and arrogant king, which lead to him losing Finland, Pomerania, and the Aland islands. He was forced to abdicate, and handed the throne to his uncle, Charles XIII.

Charles XIII wasn't so much the best choice for king as he was the only choice for king. The House of Vasa had been struggling since the abdication of Queen Kristina in 1654, and Charles had only tenuous claims to the throne himself. Furthermore, Charles was childless and a bit senile. It was clear to Charles and the ruling class of Sweden that if they wanted to continue to have a monarchy, they would have to elect somebody. The year was 1809.

Now, the 'election' of a monarch wasn't an uncommon thing, the Vasa's themselves had been elected. In cases where a royal line was dying out without an heirs, or in the case of creating an entirely new country, the nobility of a country would take a look at all the princes of Europe, and see who they liked. This sort of thing had been happening since medieval times, and in the tumultuous world of nineteenth century Europe, it was nothing to balk at.

Two distant cousins of Charles XIII were nominated as heirs, but one was an idiot, and the other died. There was a whole host of unsuitable candidates for Crown Prince of Sweden, and a significant portion of the Riksdag were sick of it. They wanted a successful monarch, someone who wasn't an idiot who would lose Finland. And who was more successful than the plucky young Corsican ruling France?

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Bernadotte again
There was no way in hell that any self respecting Swede was going to invite Napoleon to be their king--they were an independent country after all. But maybe one of his brothers, or one of his Marshals, the military geniuses who had won Napoleon his vast empire.

Enter Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. A commoner from Southern France, he ran away from his apprenticeship as a lawyer at age eighteen to join the French army. Like Napoleon, he had used the chaos of the French Revolution to rise rapidly through the ranks, eventually becoming a general. He supported Napoleon on his campaigns, eventually being made the French Minister of War, a Marshal, and then the Prince of Ponte-Corvo, a small principality in Italy.

Bernadotte was an attractive candidate for a number of reasons. He was a proved general, a proved administrator, and he already had an heir. He was extremely popular in Sweden, having received and made peace with Swedish officers independently of Napoleon's commands. He was also unemployed, which was very convenient for the Swedes.

Most importantly, he had been kind to the right person back in the day. Baron Otto Morner was about to become the brother-in-law to the Swedish Chancellor, and he was a big fan of Bernadotte. Bernadotte had been a major player in the Battle of Lubeck, during which Bernadotte and the French had roundly kicked Prussian and Swedish ass, but, like, nicely. Bernadotte captured a contingent of Swedish soldiers, and was so nice to them that Otto Morner was still a huge Bernadotte stan four years later. While in Paris, Morner brought the proposition to Bernadotte, who was incredulously flattered.

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Jean's wife, Desiree Clary. She and Napoleon
used to date.
There was a lot going against Jean Baptiste Bernadotte however, and he knew it. He didn't speak Swedish, he wasn't Lutheran, and all of this was seemingly happening behind Napoleon's back. Napoleon and Jean Baptiste had never been great friends, and they certainly weren't bosom friends at the time, but Bernadotte said that the religion and the language thing could be fixed easily, and that, should Emperor Napoleon and King Charles agree, he would be happy to have his name up for consideration.

There was a hiccup. Morner hadn't been acting entirely officially. He was just a lieutenant, not an ambassador. An ambassador had, in fact, been sent to Napoleon, asking him on his opinion on who should succeed Charles XIII. Napoleon had backed King Frederick VI of Denmark-Norway, hoping to unite Scandinavia under a friendly flag. When he found out that Jean Baptiste had been offered the position, he wasn't crazy about Bernadotte being on the Swedish throne, but he loved the idea of a Frenchman on the throne. He went to his ex-stepson, Eugene, the Viceroy of Italy, and offered the position to him. Eugene refused. Napoleon decided to, well, not support Bernadotte, because if Bernadotte failed it would be embarrassing for Napoleon, but he wasn't not not supporting Bernadote.

Jean Baptiste discussed it with his wife, and after getting Napoleon's 'do it if you want', formally submitted his name for consideration. Baron Morner was an enthusiastic hype-man, campaigning for Bernadotte much like how modern pundits campaign for elected officials. Though there was a significant faction in favor of Frederick VI, and King Charles still wanted to elect his idiot cousin, Jean Baptiste was elected unanimously.

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Some of today's Bernadotte's.
Pictured: King Carl Gustav XVI, his daughter,
Crown Princess Victoria, and her eldest child,
Princess Estelle.
There were a few hurdles that had be overcome before Jean Baptiste could become Prince Royal, however. He had to become a Lutheran, that was non-negotiable. He also had to promise not to give any Swedish posts to Frenchmen, and allow Charles XIII to adopt him. Jean acceded, and took the name Charles John, becoming king Charles John XIV, or Carl Johann XIV to the Swedes.

The new Charles was good to his word, and any worries of a French takeover of Sweden were assuaged for good in 1813 when Charles and Swedish forces joined the sixth coalition to fight against Napoleon. Charles was Crown Prince for about eight years, from 1810 to 1818. During this time, he conquered Norway, and unified Sweden and Norway again. By the time he became King, he had thoroughly won over his new people.

Jean Baptiste Bernadotte's legacy lives on today in the ruling family of Sweden. The current king, Carl Gustav XVI is the great, great, great, great grandson of Jean Baptiste. When Carl Gustav's daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, becomes Queen Regnant, she will be the eighth Bernadotte monarch.

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 Sources
Bernadotte: Napoleon's Marshal, Sweden's King by Alan Palmer
Karl Johann XIV-King of Norway and Sweden
Charles XIV, King of Sweden and Norway
The Bernadotte Dynasty
The House of Bernadotte
Charles John XIV, King of Sweden and Norway
         

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

General Frost vs. Europe

When making a 'Top Ten Places Not to Invade In The Winter' list, Russia inevitably comes in number one (with Greenland and Canada following close after.). There were multiple occasions in history, when European leaders thought it might be a good idea to poke the Russian Bear with a stick. Some, like the Mongols, were successful, most, like pretty much everyone else, were not.

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St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow.
Russia's pretty big, which makes it difficult to defend and control. Russia's long history of internal conflicts (more recently in Georgia and Chechnya) prove this. However, Russia has a secret weapon-General Frost.

You've probably guessed this, but General Frost is a poetic name for winter. Russia is far north, and has some pretty gnarly cold spells. We're talking spit freezing before it hits the sidewalk cold. The winter snows cover everything, and the country more or less goes into hibernation. Nothing grows, and game isn't always plentiful. If you haven't prepared, you're dead. 

So, despite its size, Russia is pretty well defended. They have reasonable armies (and more recently nuclear weapons) to help the in the summer, and unlivable conditions in the winter. However, that hasn't stopped some people from trying to invade Russia in the winter.

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Charles XII
The Swedes were the first (as far as I can dig up) to try invading Russia in the winter. They were the first, so they get a bit of a pass. Sweden itself is northerly, and it's not like they had someone else's mistakes to learn from.

Although, quite frankly, even if there had been someone else's failed attempts to learn from, it is doubtful that that would have stopped Charles XII, the young, brash, and ridiculously successful King of Sweden. Charles was a genius military commander, and dangerous risk taker. He frequently dove into battles with forces that vastly outnumbered his own, and usually came out victorious. Charles was That Kid. You know, that kid in school who claimed to never study for a test, and then got full marks. Charles was the monarchy equivalent of that kid, and, quite frankly, the rest of Europe was a little sick of it.


See, Sweden at the time was something of a world power. They'd taken most of the land around the Baltic sea. The only things they didn't own was Denmark and Norway (Norway belonged to Denmark). This worried the Danes, as well as the newly minted Czar of Russia, Peter the Great. So, to combat the Swedish, the Danes, Russians, Poles and Saxons (part of modern Germany) all decided to gang up on Charles. They were banking on his youth and inexperience (Charles was only 18 at the time). Bad decision. Charles was not only something of a genius, but he had good advisers, ad he listened to them. When the Danes came for Sweden, Charles snck into Denmark, and took them down. Then he turned his eyes to Poland, and successfully installed a King favorable to Sweden. Done with Poland, he turned his eyes to Russia.

Charles had had great success with small armies that attacked quickly and unexpected. He adopted the same strategy in Russia. In 1700 he attacked Narva, a town in Modern Estonia. He was outnumbered about 3 to 1, and it was the middle of a blizzard. Remarkably, but also unsurprisingly, Charles won.

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Peter the Great, czar of Russia at the time
of Charles XII's invasion.
The Swedes continued across Russia like this, but the Russians, as per the usual, implemented a scorched earth policy, leaving nothing for the Swedes to eat. The Russians then cut off the Swede's supply lines. Despite all this, the war wasn't going too badly for the Swedes, until General Frost stepped in.

1709 was one of the coldest winters of that era. 2,000 Swedish soldiers died from cold in a single night. Northern Russia wasn't a good place to hang out, so, against the council of his advisers, Charles decided to winter with his buddy Mazeppa in the Ukraine.  

Ivan Mazeppa was a former Russian ally who wanted to get the Russians out of Ukraine. He told Charles of his plan to start an Ukranian rebellion, and invited Charles to invade. Never one to pass up new territory, Charles agreed.

Thing was, most of Charles' forces were very ill, and couldn't fight. Charles himself had been wounded. Additionally, the Russians found out about the planned uprising, and moved to quash it before it even began. So when Charles arrived in Ukraine he had much fewer Ukrainian troops than expected, and only the skeleton of an army.

Realizing the fight was already lost, Charles escaped with 2,000 of his sickest men, leaving the rest of the army behind. The Russians caught up with them, thoroughly defeating the 16,000 Swedish forces left behind.

Next up to the plate was the young French protegee, Napoleon. The year was 1812, and Napoleon had had it with Russia. Russia was supposed to be his ally. They were buds. They were part of the continental system, they had no reason to fight each other, and they promised each other that neither of them would trade with England. It was a good arrangement. For France.

What Napoleon failed to realize was that this arrangement wasn't helping out Russia very much. Russia needed trade with the English to bolster its economy, and France had done the unthinkable--they helped Poland.

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Napoleon Bonaparte, making sure
his ribs are still there.
Well, Napoleon couldn't handle that sort of betrayal, not from an ally, so he invaded Russia to teach Czar Alexander a lesson. He gathered some 450,000 men (give or take), the largest military force ever assembled in Europe to that point (probably). With his typical modesty, Napoleon named his forces the 'Grande Armee'

Now, I have absolutely zero historical evidence to back this up, but I imagine Czar Alexander's reaction to Napoleon's invasion was something like 'lol wut?', and he slipped on his shades, and watched the French armies confidently walk into his territory, just knowing that they wouldn't last a year in Russia.

As I mentioned, there's no historical evidence, but it's a pretty amusing picture.

What is fact, though, is that the Russians put up very little resistance to the French at first. Instead of standing to fight, they let the French take the towns of Vilna, Vitesbk, and Smolensk, virtually without a fight. Instead of fighting the Russians torched the cities and all surrounding crops, leaving the French to die of starvation, exposure, and sporadic attacks. This worked very well. Tens of thousands of soldiers died of starvation, exhaustion, and dehydration. Many more deserted.

The Russians didn't stand and fight until the French were just 75 miles from Moscow. The French and Russians were fairly evenly matched, and each suffered heavy losses. The Russians, however, decided not to stick around. They set fire to Moscow, all of Moscow's food storage, and left, leaving only a large amount of hard liquor behind.

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Czar Alexander I
So, while they French may have been merrily drunk, they were also starving. Napoleon had decided to stay in Moscow for a while, and wait for Czar Alexander to make peace, but Czar Alexander decided to sit back, and let winter take care of things. Eventually, Napoleon threw in the towel, and decided to head back to France, just as winter was approaching.


Now, this went as well as you might expect, which is to say, poorly. The Russians were determined that the French stay out, so they drove the remnants of the Grand Armee along the same route they came in on. If the food options had been picked over before, they were completely nonexistant on the way back. The Russians kept the French from ranging further afield to find further sustenance. Added to that was the cold. Many men froze overnight. Dead bodies were stacked up against walls to provide insulation, and tales were told of men slitting open their horses, and climbing inside them to keep warm. The French died in massive waves, and only 20,000 of them returned home to France.

Then there's Hitler. As I'm sure you well know, nothing good ever starts with Hitler, and this is no different. Stalin was in charge of Russia at the time, and both of these repugnant knaves should have studied their history. Had they done so, many lives would have been saved, because:

  1. Hitler would have known better than to invade Russia. 
  2. Stalin wouldn't have insisted that no city be surrendered, and instead adopted the scorched earth tactics that has kept Russia independent for so many generations.
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Adolf Hitler, looking unfriendly as usual.
Instead, Hitler and the Germans were the ones scorching the earth, and the citizens of the USSR were being attacked by not only the Germans, but their own government. Stalin ordered that deserters and suspected traitors be shot, not to mention his abhorrent policy of relocating ethnic minorities to Siberia.

Having conquered France, Hitler needed to get on with the rest of the world. Conquering the UK would be a difficult, and not entirely worthwhile endeavor, so he decided to go after his land and resource rich neighbor, the USSR. This was the start of 'Operation Barbarossa'. 

Germany and the USSR had signed a non-aggression pact two years before, but Hitler still considered communism a major threat to the German Empire he wanted to build. Because Nazi Germany didn't do anything by halves, Hitler planned to completely wipe out the communist population of the USSR, not just the Jews, Romani, Homosexuals, and political dissenters that he usually went after.  

Hitler started by forming a group of elite troops called the Einsatzgruppen. He sent these soldiers into Russia to murder Jewish males, communist leaders, and anyone who looked like they might start a resistance, en masse. He then gathered a force of more than three million soldiers, and stormed Russia's frontier. While Allied powers had repeatedly warned Stalin about a German invasion, Stalin had refused to listen, and was caught by 'surprise'. 

Unlike his predecessors, Stalin refused to give ground. He ordered that no city surrender or be abandoned. As a result of that three million USSR soldiers were taken captive in Kiev. Instead of evacuating the countryside, and torching all the crops, villagers were ordered to stay put, and anyone suspected of disloyalty or cowardice was shot. Because of this the Germans were able to subsist off the crops of the small Russian villages, and were able to penetrate further into USSR territory.

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Josef Stalin
Looking through the lens of history, Hitler has done far better than expected. However, according to Hitler and company, the invasion of the USSR was taking far longer than expected. Hitler had expected the invasion of Russia to go like the invasion of France, quick and relatively painless. But the Russians held out far longer than he'd expected. By the time the Germans were ready to head to Moscow, winter wasn't too far away.

And, in a move that will surely have you banging your head against the nearest flat surface, the Germans did not have any winter supplies. They hadn't expected to stay the winter, and so they were completely unprepared. They started to slowly retreat, but before they could get out of Russia entirely, war had flared up again in the west with the invasion of Normandy. 

Unlike previous invasions, the failure of Operation Barbarossa was not a decisive win for the Russians. Had another front not opened up Hitler would have most likely started the invasion up again in the spring. The German soldiers were able to subsist off the food they found in the countryside, all they lacked was warm clothing. Had Stalin stuck to the proven tactics of his forerunners, and set everything on fire, WWII may have gone much differently.

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Sources

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Microstates of Europe-Overlooked Corners of a Continent

There's something fascinating to me about microstates. It's the 'micro' part really. There's something that's just inherently interesting to me about these tiny, tiny, countries that, by all sense of reason, should have been absorbed into a bigger country a long time ago. I also find it interesting that these countries still keep their traditions alive, and maintain a semi stable population, despite the lure of big cities elsewhere.

For those of you who are unaware, a microstate is a very small country that has (and this is the important bit) received international recognition of sovereignty. International recognition is necessary, it's what divides say, San Marino, the oldest republic, from my living room, which I now officially declare to be the Duchy of High Westnerdia.

There are a least a couple dozen microstates all over the world, with the most of them being in the Caribbean or Polynesia. We'll talk about those later, but for now, let's go over the European ones.

Vatican City

Image result for vatican city flagYou've undoubtedly heard of this one. The Vatican sits smack dab in the middle of the Italian capitol of Rome, and is the epicenter of the operations of the Catholic church, still the largest Christian religion in the world. The Vatican is the home of the Pope, currently Pope Francis, and his college of Cardinals. As far as microstates go, the Vatican is very small, covering less than a square mile of land, so if there's ever a smallest country competition, the Vatican will definitely win.


Despite it's small size (and the fact that more than half of its citizens live abroad!), the Vatican is a more or less functioning country. They print their own currency, issues passports, participate in the Olympics, and participate in international organizations. The only thing the Vatican government doesn't do is tax its citizens, instead relying on donations and stamp sales to generate revenue.

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St. Peter's Basilica
This shouldn't be as surprising as it is. After all, the Vatican, formerly known as the Papal States, were an enormous world power from the middle ages up until about the age of enlightenment. The Papal States had an army (they still do!), and held power over Kings. They've been known, more than once, to get involved in international wars, and to defend their interests with assassination, espionage, and all out war. But we'll delve into more of that later. ;)

The Vatican is an absolute monarchy, one of the last few in existence. In the Vatican, the Pope is In Charge. And while the Cardinals may have the power to elect him, they don't have the power to remove him, and once elected the Pope becomes ruler of the Vatican for life. (Or until he decides to retire, and Pope Benedict XVI did in 2013)

Monaco

Image result for monaco flagMonaco, home of the wealthy and glamorous, home of Princess Grace, is a tiny principality (meaning it's ruled by a prince, more on that later.) wedged between France and the ocean. You would think that, being next to France, a once notorious power and land hungry behemoth, Monaco would have ceased to exist long ago, and for a while it did. Monaco was annexed during the French Revolution, and was not restored until 1814. It has since then been a protectorate, first of Sardinia, then France, who protects it to this day.

The country of Monaco is a constitutional monarchy, headed by members of the Grimaldi family since the 1200s. The current Prince is Albert II, son of Prince Ranier III and the actress-turned-princess  Grace Kelly. As far as actual governing goes though, unlike in many constitutional monarchies, Prince Albert actually has a lot of power. He is the head of the executive branch of the government, with a Minister of State beneath him. Prince Albert, however, seems to focus his attentions outside of Monaco, focusing mainly on lobbying against climate change.

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The Monegasque Princely Family
One of the reasons that so many people move to this tiny French and Monegasque speaking country is because of the lack of income tax in the principality. Taxation was abolished in the 1800s, when the Grimaldi family decided to throw the common people a bone. Besides, tax money didn't really matter to the Grimaldis, the casino had already made them fabulously wealthy.
Monaco's economy is driven by its tourism. Tourists flock from around the world to visit its world famous casino, to soak up the sun and the stunning scenery. The Monaco Grand Prix is held there every year, as is the Monte-Carlo television festival.

San Marino

San Marino is the oldest republic in the world, and they are very proud of that fact. They were established in 301 CE by St. Marinus, a christian stonemason who was seeking refuge from the Christian hating Romans who, as we have covered, were dicks.

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St. Marinus scrambled up Mt. Titano, one of the major defining geographical (and geological!) features of San Marino today. From there he established his highly improbable republic.

Why is San Marino highly improbable? Glad you asked.

You see, San Marino is a tiny country located smack dab in the middle of Italy (the country formerly known as Rome), a region known for conquering and being conquered. In fact, before the unification of Italy in the 1800s Italy was made up of several city states just like San Marino (if somewhat larger, more autocratic, and land hungry). Yet San Marino has, in its entire history, been occupied only twice, and never conquered. Napoleon respected the sovereignty of San Marino, and San Marino remained neutral and unmolested during WWII.

Of course, this might be because San Marino honestly doesn't have a lot worth taking. The country is mainly mountain, with only 16% of their land useful for farming. Their main export was stone, until they over mined their mountain. They don't have a large population, and no army worth bothering. (The current Sammirinese army is comprised of 50 citizens.) 

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Guaita Fortress
Today, San Marino is a peaceful, prosperous, if not quite self-sufficient state. Extensive quarrying since the early CEs has sadly left San Marino with limited mineral resources, so like many micronations it's main revenue comes from tourism and, surprise surprise, stamps! San Marino stamps, while not the rarest in the world (those would be the stamps of the tiny island of Tristan da Cunha), are still highly prized by collectors. San Marino relies heavily on Italy for electricity, as well as printing its coinage. The official currency of San Marino is the euro, even though San Marino has yet to join the EU.

Lichtenstein

Image result for liechtenstein flagSo we've talked a little about Lichtenstein before, and how Switzerland keeps attacking it, but there's more to this tiny country. Squeezed between Austria and Switzerland, Lichtenstein is one of the worlds foremost tax havens, and is also the only country you can rent on Airbnb. 

For years Lichtenstein's primary stream of revenue comes from international corporations who establish skeleton 'offices' in Lichtenstein to take advantage of the country's lenient business tax laws. However, due to international pressures, Lichtenstein revised its tax laws in 2009, and is making an effort for more transparent banking practices.

Lichtenstein came into being when the Counts of Hohenems, being short of cash, had to sell off some land, namely the county of Vaduz and the dominion of Schellenberg. Both areas were purchased by Prince Johann Adam, and he united them into an independent principality, though a ditch still divides the area to this day. It took a while for the tiny principality to become a fully functioning independent state; it was occupied first by Austria, then by France, and later by Germany until 1866 when Napoleon recognized Lichtenstein as a sovereign nation.

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Lichtenstein Castle
Today, Lichtenstein is a quiet country, and the largest manufacturer of false teeth in the world. They rely heavily on their neighbor Switzerland, both for trade and for defense. Lichtenstein has also adopted the Swiss franc. The country is ruled by Prince Hans Adam II, though most administrative details are taken care of by his son Alois. The Lichtenstein princely house has an unusual amount of power for a European monarchy--Prince Hans is able to both veto bills put forward by parliament, and fire the entire government should he feel like it.

Andorra

We've talked a bit about Andorra before as well, but let's talk a little more. Andorra is a tiny, Catalan speaking, oft forgotten, country sandwiched between France and Spain. There aren't a lot of natural resources, so Andorra makes money off its scenery and its loose tax laws. (a running theme among micronations) Andorra isn't a member of the EU, but it holds a 'special status' with them, and uses the Euro.

Image result for andorra flagAndorra was a little late to the modern scene. In 1607 France and Spain decided that they were going to share Andorra in a feudal type situation. During this time the Andorran people were ruled over absolutely by the French and Spanish delegates, and had to pay tribute to both countries. While this may have been pretty normal seeming when the situation started, that sounds pretty insane in the modern era. The insanity continued until 1993 when Andorra adopted it's first constitution, and joined the UN. Even today the president of France, and the bishop of Urgell (Spain) are 'heads of state' of Andorra, though the title is more honorary than anything.
A good way of summing up Andorra's situation is to describe it as the child of France and Spain, and France and Spain have divorced. Andorra is supported militarily by both countries, trades with both countries, and has a titular head of state from each country. France kept Andorra safe while Spain was fighting itself, and Andorra passed notes (and goods) between the two during WWII. And in WWI, when France declared war on Germany, so did Andorra.

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Andorra la Vella
This co-parenting situation between France and Spain came about in the late 1200s when the related princes of France and the Bishops of Urgell were arguing over who got to inherit Andorra. They fought a merry war over the whole thing until the Lord of Aragon told them that they had to share.

Today Andorra is a full functioning independent country. They're known for their ski resorts, and their liberal banking laws. Andorra's a place to play, and they receive some 8 million tourists every year. Not bad for the fifth smallest nation in Europe.

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