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The forgotten country: Neutral Moresnet

A short post, on a small country, that seized to exist. Neutral Moresnet.

Well, country is probably not the right word. Condominium is the more correct term. Neutral Moresnet existed between and 1816 and 1918, and was located between The Netherlands (and after 1830 Belgium) and Prussia. It was the result of negotiations at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15 where the borders of Europe were redrawn after Napoleon had been defeated. The Prussian Kingdom and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (that included Belgium at that time) failed to reach an agreement on the borders in the region around Moresnet. This was mainly because of an important zinc spar mine that was located there. As a compromise, the mine and the nearby village of Kelmis became neutral territory, under joint administration.

The triangular formed condominium was small: it measured area around 900 acres. It was directed by a mayor appointed by officials of the Netherlands and Prussia. Because no agreement on a legal code was reached, Moresnet remained under the Napoleonic Code, which in part was responsible for the low taxes and lack of import tariffs, which made Moresnet a bit of a smugglers and drinkers paradise. After WW1, the region was annexed by Belgium.

Neutral Moresnet

This postcard shows the peculiar triangular form of the Territory, with its Western and Eastern border converging near the Vaalserberg. This resulted in a 'four-country-point', or as it is shown in German on this map, a Vierländerpunkt, after Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830.

The card shows the head of state of the surrounding countries: Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, King Leopold II of Belgium, and Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. This dates the postcard between 1890 and 1909.

The lower right corner is explicitly empty.. No room for the Mayor of Neutral Moresnet.



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