Our story begins in England during the eighteenth century with a young ambitious man called Paul Alexander Munro-Smith. Born in 1730 to educated Anglo-Scottish parents of moderate means, they farmed in the English county of Essex. Paul Alexander would later found the royal dynasty of Paulovia.
In 1747 aged seventeen and mainly through his father’s connections, Paul Alexander served in the Royal Navy for three years as a midshipman. An unaccomplished career was rewarded by an unexpected small fortune gained through prize money following the capture of a privateer in the Mediterranean Sea. He subsequently bought himself out of the navy and embarked on the life of a gentleman.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centurys it became fashionable and an essential part of a gentleman’s education, to embark on a cultural Grand Tour of Europe. An admiration for the classical civilizations, especially Rome, spurred thousands of Englishmen and women to tour the great art cities of Italy – Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. Paul Alexander Munro-Smith joined the tourists and in 1754 found himself captivated by southern Italy, especially Volturno near Naples.
Athens during the period of the Grand Tour c1809
By 1756 Paul Alexander found himself without funds and in need of employment. His naval experience gave him the opportunity to offer his services to the Duke of Volturno who readily employed the young Englishmen as an officer in his militia. Paul Alexander served the Duke with diligence and eventually gained promotion. In 1759 after two years courtship, he married Anna, the youngest daughter of the Duke of Volturno. In early 1761, aged twenty-nine, Paul Alexander's first son, Paulo Alessandro was born. Three further sons and two daughters followed in succession. Sadly, Anna died of cholera in 1768. Paul Alexander Munro-Smith committed himself to raising his family through faithful service to the Duke and people of Volturno. Tragically he was killed at the age of 46 in a dual over an insult to his deceased wife.
Paulo Alessandro grew-up under the protection of his grandfather, the Duke of Volturno. Following a period of education in England, he also served in the Duke’s militia and in the army of King Ferdinand IV of Naples (Ferdinand III of Sicily). Paulo Alessandro remained in Volturno when King Ferdinand sought British protection in Sicily from Napoleon’s control. Wounded during a melee’ with French cavalry, Paulo Alessandro briefly retired to the countryside in May 1805 with his Neapolitan aristocratic wife, growing family and small retinue.
Throughout the French occupation of the Kingdom of Naples, Paulo Alessandro fought a guerilla war to protect the Volturno estates and the King of Naples claim. By 1809 Napoleon had occupied the Papal States and the city of Rome and had tightened his grip on Naples. Neapolitan resistance ceased by the end of 1810 but Paulo Alessandro remained on the family estates at Volturno and was subsequently killed by French troops whilst protecting his second great love after his wife and children - his wine cellar!
At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, southern Italy was restored to the Bourbon monarch Ferdinand. The two Kingdoms of Sicily and Naples merged into the single Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, with Ferdinand assuming the title Ferdinand I. In gratitude for Paulo Alessandro’s service and loyalty, his eighteen year old eldest son Alberto Paulo, was awarded the title Duke of Nuevo Volturno by King Ferdinand I and granted a small estate north west of Naples near the Volturno River, and a number of small unoccupied islets in the Tyrrhenian Sea. By a quirk of geography the only town situated on the estate was known as St. Paulo. Alberto saw this as a fortuitous beginning and named the estate Paulovia.
Italy’s earliest revolutionary groups such as the Carbonari, now turned their attentions from the French to the restored royal dynasties. King Ferdinand I was forced to invite Austrian troops into the kingdom to regain control. Although unpopular with Alberto Paulo and his people, the estate still owed allegiance to King Ferdinand I. The year of revolutions in 1848 passed Paulovia by almost without incident until 1852, when discontent and armed struggle began to change the status quo in the Italian peninsular.
Old Volturno Castle Crest
In the 1850s Savoy became the hope of Italy's nationalists - most of Italy's northern territories were either Austrian provinces (Lombardo-Venetia) or principalities closely associated with Austria (Parma, Modena, Tuscany). The Papal State and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies were regarded backward. The estates known as Paulovia ruled by Albert Paulo, Duke of Neuvo Volturno, was in turn regarded by Neapolitans as backward, and not considered significant by anyone outside of Volturno.
Savoy's prime minister, Count Camillo Cavour, had supported the Anglo-French side in the Crimean War of 1854 and had gained the sympathies of these two powerful states. In 1859 Cavour secured an alliance with Napoleon III of France. In the Franco-Austrian War of 1859 the French defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Solferino and forced Austria to cede Lombardy to Savoy-Piedmont (which again ceded Savoy and Nice to France), and recognized the various coups which toppled the monarchies in Parma, Modena and Tuscany. Nationalists declared unification with Savoy and the Kingdom of Italy was established, at least in name.
The revolution swept over into the Papal State. In the Romagna and the Marche the revolutionaries took power and declared unification with Italy. French troops landed in Latium and secured the continued existence of a reduced Papal State. Giuseppe Garibaldi, at the head of 1000 Redshirts, landed on Sicily and began a campaign which lead to the conquest of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
Handshake at Teano
The purpose of Garibaldi's expedition was the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy of Sicily and Naples and by this act, the complete unification of the Italian peninsula. The Piedmontese government, wary of a venture that it was unable to prevent due to Garibaldi's popularity, withheld support until it became clear with the fall of Palermo that the project stood an excellent chance of success. A plebiscite which followed the final defeat of the Bourbon army at Volturno on October 1st, 1860 (at which Garibaldi commanded an army of 30,000 men) indicated overwhelming support for the participation of Naples and Sicily in a united Italy under the rule of Victor Emmanuel II.
On October 25th, 1860, Garibaldi met King Victor Emmanuel at Teano, and in the famous Handshake of Teano he handed over the Two Sicilies to the Kingdom of Italy. However, the Duke of Neuvo Volturno and the people of Paulovia, north-west of the main battlefield, had refused to participate and were against inclusion in the new Kingdom of Italy. In the bureaucratic confusion and euphoria of unification, Paulovia remained forgotten and was omitted from official documents.
The loyal people of Paulovia and Neuvo Volturno, incensed at Garibaldi's arrogance and presumption, elected Alberto Paulo Munro-Smith, the Duke of Neuvo Volturno, as their Prince, and declared Paulovia's sovereignty from the Kingdom of Italy on 30 October 1860. With the exception of Paulovia and Seborga, the unification of Italy was virtually complete. The Principality of Paulovia, a small 350 kilometre square enclave on the Tyrrhenian coast, north west of Naples on the Volturno river, remained outside the new Italy by oversight and clerical error. Paulovia was never included in any treaty or declaration regarding annexation to the unified Italy from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
From 1861 the Principlaity of Paulovia thrived under the guidance and rule of Prince Alberto. At sixty-three, the first monarch of Paulovia astounded visitors to his small court when he talked of grand and ambitious plans to expand and build the economy of the Principality. By 1881, the economy of the region had blossomed whilst surrounding southern Italian regions felt the ravages of drought and starvation. During this period the population of Paulovia grew as immigrants came to settle in the curiosty that was Paulovia. The town of St Paulo was redeveloped and attracted favourable comments from visiting foreign dignataries, including Italian politicians who eyed Paulovia enviously.
1860: First National flag
Greek blue cross with Italian tricolore surmounted by Royal Neapolitan Arms
During the closing decade of the nineteenth century, Paulovia was still essentially an agriarian economy. However, due to the openess of Prince Alberto's rule and his Anglo-Scottish ancestry, British entrepreneurs began to invest in the Principality and international trading companies becoming rapidly established. By the time of Prince Alberto's death in 1885, aged eighty-eight, the economy of Paulovia rivalled that of larger southern Italian states and its population had trebelled to over 100,000. Prince Alberto's eldest son Charles Paulo took over the grand project and was crowned Prince Charles I.
Whilst Prince Alberto had been busy building the Principality, his two younger brothers had extended the Munro-Smith family throughout Europe. Gordon Munro-Smith had made a career for himself in England as an naval engineer and the youngest brother, James Munro-Smith, served in the British Army and returned to Paulovia to become founder and senior officer of a small Paulovian Army in 1880. Prince Alberto's two daughters, Nigella and Sophia, had married into wealthy Russian and Greek aristocratic families and this offered migrant Paulovian workers opportunities to work on their respective estates in the Black Sea region, in Greece and Cyprus. This provided essential currency earnings for the Principality and attracted migrants to the islands and mainland regions of the Principality. In 1898 royal family connections also resulted in the Treaty of Barcelona by which Spain ceded the Isabella Islands to Paulovia in return for undisclosed financial and trading advantages.
A trading empire was developed with the assistance of international family links with many educated Paulovians working in technical positions with overseas companies. From 1885 migrant manual workers from the Principality spent their time picking tea in the Black Sea estates of the Princess Sophia, mining iron ore in Greece on Duchess Nigella's estates, or mining copper and building roads under contract to the British in Cyprus from 1888.
Greek Paulovian tea pickers, eastern Black Sea region, Russia c1910.
[Photo by Prokudin-Gorsky. Copyright acknowledgement US Library of Congress]
Royal Paulovian Navy
Gordon Munro-Smith used his connections and experience as a naval engineer to act as a negotiator for Paulovia in 1899. This resulted in the purchase of two elderly warships from the British for the fledgling Royal Paulovian Navy. The St.Paulo was built in 1878 and the St.Georgio in 1879. Both ships were obsolete and in need of constant repair but they provided a good grounding for the young officers and crews. It is significant that many senior officers were previously in the service of the Greek and Russian navies. Several British naval advisors were employed by Prince Charles I to train and educate the new force.
RPS Principe Charles, St.Paulo c1907
This small maritime presence, coupled with the establishment of a regular army in 1880, irritated Italian diplomats and pressure was increased towards the assimilation of Paulovia into the Kingdom of Italy. This would have been achieved had it not been for the support of British, Greek, and Russian business concerns and diplomats who saw the Principality as a strategic backdoor to Italy and a useful maritime station in the region.
By 1905 the Royal Paulovian Navy comprised of six vessels. Its principle task was to protect maritime traffic and trading routes to and from Paulovia, and defend the Principality's ports from foreign incursion. Essentially outgunned by its larger neighbours, the Paulovian fleet was modern and built by British and Russian yards, instilling a confidence and national spirit in the Paulovian people. The stability and spirit of this small but dynamic state impressed European finance houses and attracted significant investment.
Volturno Accord 1906
Paulovia continued to prosper through its diverse family enterprises and business connections in Europe. Prince Charles I invested heavily into developing the small islands and estates owned by the family in Greece, Cyprus, Russia and Britain. Paulovian territory on the Italian peninsular including the traditional estates of the Duke of Neuvo Volturno, came increasingly under political pressure from the Italian government as the Kingdom of Italy embarked on an imperialist expansion programme abroad. The struggle between socialist entities in Italy spilled over into the peaceful Principality with civil unrest and agitators marring the daily life of urban Paulovians in St.Paulo.
However, Paulovia's position was untenable without international support which begain to wane. Diplomatic pressure from Italy and declining support from major European governments forced Paulovia to negotiate and sign the Volturno Accord with the Kingdom of Italy in July ,1906. This recognised the monarchy and territorial right of Paulovia to exist but forced Prince Charles I to concede foreign diplomatic affairs to the Kingdom of Italy. Paulovians immediately gained dual nationality. With the blessing of the Pope and the silent approval of Britain, Greece and Russia, Paulovia moved into a new era. Under the Volturno Accord the Royal Paulovian Navy ceased to exist and its vessels transferred to Italy from January 1911 or scrapped. Paulovia retained its small army of 2,500 men, but in essence it became little more than a police force.