The reason for our stroll through the history of these microstates is the search for antidotes against the essentialist discourse of the territory and of the State.
According to legend, Andorra was founded by Charlemagne, but the true history of this small state starts in 1278 with the signature of the first Paréage. In virtue of this treaty, Andorra, which had previously been under domination of the bishop of Urgell, though under protection of the Count of Foix, formally came to be a domain shared by both feudal lords.
The destiny and history of Andorra follow the course of the diputes between the House of Foix and the bishop of Urgell. Andorra managed to maintain its autonomy in most cases, thanks to the willingness of their feudal lords to forget their disputes, but for the same reason, it remained in a state of war with Germany for 25 years. And above all, it kept some institutions of the Middle Ages around until well into the twentieth century.
This willingness to forget reached its end when one of their feudal lords considered events in Andorra to be disobedience. June 17, 1933, the Consell General unilaterally established universal suffrage masculine and on the request of the bishop of Urgell, the President of the French Republic sent a detachment about the police to re-establish order. A further disobedience, a year later, was the naming Boris Skossyreff as the first king of Andorra.
Boris Skossyreff, King of Andorra?
Borís Skossyreff was born in Vilna in January of 1896. For 15 years, he roamed Europe, and in 1933, arrived at Andorra. The 17th of May, 1934, he presented a writ to the Consell General d’Andorra in which he explained his intentions, promised modernization of infrastructure, international investment, and status as a fiscal paradise. He was threatened with expulsion, which occured five days later, the 22nd of May, 1934, when was he expelled by French and Spanish administrators of justice.
July7, 1934, Trustee General of Andorra convoked the General Council of the country to proclaim him King. And with the image that Andorra would be like Luxembourg or as Monaco – and it should be said that he wasn’t far off – all of the Counselors (except one) supported him, and he ruled from a hotel, for nine days.
Following the end of World War II, Andorra started a slow but continuous modernization, benefitting greatly in the ’60s and later from its status as a fiscal paradise and from mountaineering tourism. Political modernization advanced, with universal suffrage in 1970, the constitution of the first Govern d’Andorra in 1982 and, finally, with the Constitution of 1993, which came to eliminate the last feudal structures.
Why do the histories of European microstates particularly interest us?
Certainly this tour has allowed us to rescue important elements so that today’s Europe can begin to make sense. But the reason for our stroll through the stories of these microstates is the search for antidotes against the essentialist discourse of the territory and of the state. It’s never bad to remember that prior to State-nations, there were royal houses, before constitutions or political dynasties, and that territory is merely an accident that in no way defines us. There is no territorial essence. There never was. There are social contracts whose ultimate expression of freedom is being able to separate, to break the contract.