Monday, 30 April 2018


This overview of medieval European microstates (micronations can be equally idiosyncratic but with severely limited recognition) that came into being either through omission, neglect or force, with nearly half still in existence, struck us a fascinating material and urged us to learn more. One favourite that we had not heard of was the outpost Fraxinet, a stronghold founded and held by Muslim pirates (a press-gang) sailing from Andalusia (al-Andalus) in the vicinity of Saint-Tropez in the late ninth century.
The settlement expanded and was as much a centre of trade and commerce as a place of piracy, if not more, and peace was negotiated among other Frankish ruling families in the area. The uneasy peace held for an astonishing eighty years with the Andalusis bringing all sorts of innovations to the indigenous people, including medical skills, tar, ceramics and the tambourine, but Fraxinet finally ended with the Battle of Tourtour when a group of nobles from Provence dispatched with the raiders, worried that they would seize control of an important Alpine pass nearby, conveniently spurred to action at the ransoming of an influential abbot.