Moresnet Neutre (French)
|-Agreement at Aachen|
Neutral Moresnet, often referred to simply as Moresnet, was a neutral territory that existed from 1816 to 1920. It was initially a condominium shared between the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Prussia, but upon the independence of Belgium in 1830, the Belgians took over the Dutch role in the territory.
Following the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, the Congress of Vienna changed the borders of many European countries, with the intent of creating a balance of power. One of the borders to be redefined was the border between the newly established Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Prussia. Both countries agreed on the larger portion of the territory, but because Vieille Montagne, a valuable zinc mine, was located in the district of Moresnet, the area proved to be very problematic for negotiations. Representatives of both parties met at Aachen in 1815, and on June 26, 1816, reached a compromise which divided the Moresnet district into three parts. The village of Moresnet was incorporated into the Dutch province of Liège, Prussian Moresnet was made part of the Prussian Rhine Province, and the mine and adjacent village became a neutral territory pending future agreement. The Belgians took over the Dutch role in Moresnet upon Belgium's independence in 1830.
When the Vieille Montagne mine was exhausted of its resources in 1885, doubts arose as to whether or not the territory would continue to survive. There were several attempts to establish the territory as a more independent identity. Wilhelm Molly, an avid philatelist, tried to create a local postal service with Moresnet's own stamps, but his enterprise was eventually thwarted by Belgium. A casino was opened in the territory in August 1903, but the venture was ended by Kaiser Wilhelm II, who threatened to partition Moresnet or cede it to Belgium to end the gambling. Wilhelm Molly proposed founding an Esperanto-speaking state named Amikejo ("place of friendship"). While his efforts at this were unsuccessful, Kelmis (the capital of Neutral Moresnet) is today considered an important part in the history and culture of Esperantists.
On August 4, 1914, the German Empire invaded Belgium and Neutral Moresnet, the latter being annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia without any international recognition. The Germans withdrew from Moresnet after an armistice between France and Germany was signed at Compiègne in 1918. The Treaty of Versailles settled the dispute that created the national territory by giving Neutral Moresnet, Prussian Moresnet, and Eupen and Malmady to Belgium in 1920, thus ending the status of the neutral territory.
The economy of Neutral Moresnet was heavily reliant on the Vieille Montagne mine, which was a major employer and operated residences, shops, a hospital, and a bank. The territory benefited from low taxes, the absence of tariffs from its neighbors, and relatively low prices.
Neutral Moresnet used the French franc as legal tender. The currencies of Prussia (and then Germany after 1871), Belgium, and the Netherlands were also in circulation. A local currency began circulating in 1848, which consisted solely of coins denominated at 2 francs. Such coins were not considered as official medium for the territory. They are currently listed in Krause's Unusual World Coins under a section entitled "BELGIUM MORESNET".
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