The truth about the Principality of Seborga
The Abbey Principality of Seborga was a tiny territorial entity, of about 14 km2, autonomous from an unspecified date, but for some from 954 until 30 January 1729, according to an ancient deed of donation of Count Guidone of Ventimiglia to the Cistercian Fathers of Lerino. It was governed by an abbot elected among the monks of the Abbey of Lerino, on the island of Saint Onorato, opposite Cannes (F). The island of Lerin, through the “Seborca”, was an enclave of the Republic of Genoa and depended territorially on the county of Provence, then on the Kingdom of France and today belongs to the French Republic, while the abbey principality of Seborga became a garrison of Savoy and is today a municipality of the Italian Republic.
In order to clarify the situation of Savoy, not wanting to give up the coveted strategic territory, they persuaded the Abbot of Lerino to convene the congregation of the Fathers of Lerino on 11 December 1728 and confirm the much sought-after alienation to the king of the House of Savoy, and then to make the sale in Paris on January the 30, 1729.
In an exchange of communications of January the 12, 1729, between the lawyer Lea and the Archbishop Prince of Embrun, Pierre Guérin de Tencin, Apostolic Commissioner and Pope’s delegate for the approval of the sale, which cites among other things the already attempted sale of 1697, there is mentioned a letter of Pope Benedict XIII of October 13, 1728 (Nostra Apostolica Petitum) which authorizes the sale on condition that the debts of the Pricipato be paid. This letter says verbatim (source: State Archives of Turin): “…in exstravaganti ambitiosa contrabona Eccelsia alienantes statutis…”.
The Archbishop and Prince of the Metropolitan City of Embrun, Pierre Guérin de Tencin, was delegated by the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XIII to settle the dispute between the Republic of Genoa, which could count on the friendship of the Podestà of Seborga, Mylord Giuseppe Biancheri, and the Abbot of Lerino, who was pushed by the Savoy family to alienate the old Abbey The Apostolic Commissioner carried out a thorough investigation, which began in Paris and ended in Versailles on July 8, 1728. This document provided for the observance of 9 points. It is considered essential to point out that for the definitive alienation, the authorisation of the Fathers of the Abbey of Montmajour d’Arles was necessary, since in the original donation document of Count Guidone, dated 954, in the event of attempted alienation by the Cistercian Fathers and monks of the island of Lerino, of the aforementioned territory of Seborga, including the Chaplaincy of Saint Mickael in Ventimiglia, the bequest would be automatically transferred to the Fathers of Mont Majour of Arles.
The delegate of the Sovereign Pontiff, Archbishop and Prince of Embrun, therefore asked the aforementioned Pardi of Arles, who quantified the amount of the compensation in 15,000 lire of Savoy money.
The amount of the sale, we remind you fixed at 147,000 Savoy Lira, was to be reduced by the sum of 15,000 Savoy Lira, fixed for the compensation of the Fathers of Montmajour of Arles. The remaining sum of 132,000 lire of Savoy money, according to the document available in the Archives of Turin, drawn up by the delegate, archbishop and prince of the metropolitan city of Embrun, should have been paid to the Republic of Genoa to settle the debts contracted in 1584, the corresponding receipt having to be attached to the deed of alienation.
It is not, however, understandable that the debts contracted with the monastery of Grasse and the French nobleman should have been forgotten.
In any case, the Archbishop and Prince of the Metropolitan City of Embrun, delegated by the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XIII, authorized the conditional sale without further papal authorization.
The contract of vedita was stipulated by the lawyer Francesco Lea, in the presence of a representative of the last mitrat, the Prince Abbot Fauste de Balon, the reverend bursar of the Abbey of Lerino, Father Benedict of Benedict. The sum was set at 147,000 lire of the Savoy currency. The sale was carried out in Paris in the presence of a notary who registered the effects.
A copy of the aforementioned deed of alienation in favour of Savoy is kept in the State Archives of Turin (I).
Since 2 June 1946 the territory of Seborga has been a municipality of the Italian Republic and is administered by its mayor elected from among the citizens and residents of Seborga.
Some of them, led by the Siborghino floriculturist Giorgio Carbone, in order to restore Seborga’s independence, abusively elected, in the 1960s, their own prince of Seborga, called :Giorgio I.
This vote was carried out in the absence of detailed historical and legal knowledge.
Upon Giorgio Carbone’s death, Marcello Menegatto was elected, succeeded by his ex-wife, Nina Dobler, following her resignation.
These elections have no historical, legal or religious basis, so it is presumed that they are considered by the Italian authorities to be of a goliardian and purely folkloric nature.
In fact, they have drawn attention to the small Ligurian village, which has become a destination for many tourists.
In order to bring to light many extravagant ideas for reconstructing the ancient principality of Seborga, without any title or legal-historical basis, it was considered appropriate to carry out this historical-legal relationship, using official sources, texts and online journals.
In any case, we would like to thank the late Giorgio Carbone, as he was a source of inspiration for these studies, which were written by the writer and completed on May the 23, 2019.
As a result of this research, in collaboration with a group of historical researchers passionate about theology, it was decided to create the Monastic Order of Seborga, within the Polish National Catolich Church of Monaco, in collaboration with the Italian Orthodox Church Ancient and Oriental Autocephalous, in full ecumenical spirit, in order to rebuild the ancient abbey principality of Seborga.
On December 28, 2019, a presbyter was elected as Abbot Mitrate of Seborga and the solemn inauguration ceremony was celebrated.
The main aim of this epoch-making event was to claim autonomy within the Italian Republic, in order to promote economic and social development and to have the first Cistercian State of mankind, today without territorial possession, recognised in the appropriate seats.