|Seigneur:||Jehan Alois Robert III|
|Last Election:||November 5, 2010|
181 sq. mi.
Argenteau, officially the Principauté d'Argenteau (Eng.: Principality of Argentau), is an enclaved microstate in northwestern Faeland, located along the mountain borders of Ríocht Fíl and Vhallonesia. Its inhabitants are called Argentoise. Originally an isolated Çelathi settlement with discernible economic and cultural connections to Visentine culture, it is today a prosperous state because of tourism and its status as a tax haven. The people of Argentau are predominantly of French descent and francophone. It has recently become the only European territory still utilizing a classic feudal system, as Sark is instituting reforms.
Its historic and strategic importance dates back to its founding as a Roman era fortress site and later a castle site for Louis I, the Pious. It was an important bastion along the "Roman Road" when Pentapolis was still the principal economic power exporting to the whole island in the 15th century.
Argentau lies along the cultural divide between native Romance Faeland (as opposed to colonial Romance Faeland in the south) and the Faelish heartland, borrowing customs from each of the distinct traditions yet maintaining a strong Provençal identity. Officially a monolingual country, Vallo and Faelish are heard as often as Languedoc; although most people identify with only one linguistic group.
Tradition holds that Charles the Great (Charlemagne) granted his son, Louis I, the Pious, a charter to recruit Faels to fight the Basques in Aquitaine. To do so, a small fort was set up and overlordship of the territory passed to the local chief-made-count in fealty to Louis. Eventually, disputes with the Pentapolis caused the bishop of Falcatta to intervene, and the hamlet was passed from Louis' successors to the the bishop. Some time later, the bishopric officially returned control to the Marieux family, who had inherited the title. The town remained relatively obscure as the need for troop recruitment faded and drove the County into obscurity.
During the later middle ages, the County and city of Argentau saw a new rise to prominence as its situation on the "Roman Road" proved an excellent location on the route from the Latin Coast to the interior. Many Faelish and Latin nobles enriched the city with their steeple-like palaces and, for a brief time, the politics of the whole island were often decided in Argentau, as it was a neutral meeting ground.
Huguenots have often sought refuge in Argentau, and although the country is still largely Catholic, there is a large Protestant presence.
During the Colonial Period, title passed to the governor of the French colonies on the island. When the French were expelled from Faeland, the city was forced to resign fealty from the French monarch. Though hotly contested, Argentau was still rather obscure and unimportant, and the French Revolution made the point moot.
In the period following and during Napoleonic times, Argentau became a haven for minor nobles escaping the guillotine. This fact may contribute to the strong identity and traditionalism to be found later.
After Faeland wrested itself free of British imperialism, the Principality was declared to avoid Argentau being incorporated into a larger neighboring state.
The strict feudal system was kept, based on the traditional county established during the 8th century. Given its relative isolation, Argentau has largely existed outside the mainstream of world and even Faelish history. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry along with developments in transportation and communications have removed the country from its isolation. Its political system was partially modernized in 1993, when the count issued a permanent edict guaranteeing human and civil rights to his "subjects."
Argentau is considered the last feudal state of the Atlantic. Formally, the Seigneur (Lord), the highest official in the territory, holds it as a fiefdom, re-enfeoffing some of the land outside the city to respective chevaliers ("knights"), of which there are precisely 23. The political consequences of this construction were abolished in recent years, so that the current knights will retain their lands and titles in perpetuity. Any deaths without an heir will find the Seigneur naming a new chevalier.
These "knights," however, do not wield any inherent political authority and are the descendants of the original military body designed to protect medieval Argentau.
The Seigneur appoints a Privy Council, and the city of Argentau itself is permitted its own legislative body and administration, subject to the Seigneur. It should be noted, however, that the 1993 edict limits the interference of the Seigneur in city affairs.
Due to its location in the northwestern Aemili, Argentau consists exclusively of rugged mountains. These are intersected by three narrow valleys in a Y shape that merge and drain into the river Vinder. The river flows out of the country into Riocht Fíl (at Argentau's lowest point of ___). Total surface surface area is 468 km².
Argentau's climate is similar to that of its neighbors' temperate climates, but its higher altitude means that there is, on average, more snow in winter and it is slightly cooler in summer.
New surveys using more accurate measurements of the country's borders in 2006 have set its area at 465.98 km2, with borders of 161.58 km (100.4 mi). Thus, Argentau discovered in 2006 that its borders are 1.9 km (1.2 mi) shorter than previously thought.
Argenteau is the one of two landlocked Member States in Faeland—wholly surrounded by Vhallonesia and Ríocht Fíl (the other being Cautillo). Argentau is the third-smallest independent state in the the confederation.
The Principality of Argentau is divided into 23 parishes. The parishes mostly consist only of a single town or village in a valley or mountainside, in some cases there are no permanent residents (resort staff and/or guests being classified as itinerant).
- Mont St. Victoire
- St. Parish
- Pont Dappui
- Pays de Nouvelle Aix
- Nouvelle Aix
- St. Bartholomeu
- Longue Terre
- La Torse
- Pays Fallón
- Ville Vachelour
- St. Marguerite Voix
- Pays de Romaines
The economy is downright medieval. Tourism, the mainstay of Argentau's tiny economy, accounts for roughly 70% of GDP. An estimated 1 million tourists visit annually, attracted by its duty-free status and by its "national" living-history museum.
Agricultural production is limited —only 14% of the land is arable— and most food has to be imported. Some specialty herbs are grown locally. The principal livestock activity is domestic pig and sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of stamps and other paper products. Argentau's natural resources include hydroelectric power, mineral water, timber, and limited amounts of iron ore.
The majority of the population of Argentau is nominally Roman Catholic, and there is also a large minority of Huguenots. Despite the large percentage of the citizen population (72% and 21%, respectively), claiming Christianity as their faith, further surveys conclude that only 27% of the population regularly attend services and 46% claim they believe in the existence of God.
Since its inception, Argentau has always had strong links to first Provence and then France. Inasmuch, the cultures are very similar.
Although French is the official language, there is strong pressure to recognize the common speech of the locals, which shares many similarities with Occitan, due to the historic link to Aquitania (it is still a popular destination for many natives of the region of France). In fact, for most of its history, residents of Argentau used Occitan for daily communication (called Lenga d'òc) and Latin for formal writing. It was only during the colonial period that French was instituted as the language of government. Being isolated and feudal, as it was, Occitan was never officially recognized by its own people in Argentau. When France organized a colony, Parisian was given official status.
Now, with recognition and independence secured, there is a movement to see the "Lenga", as it is called, recognized.