Podcast #4 – Pope v Mongol Emperor, micronations and international law

This week we were joined by Rowan Nicholson, a Ph.D student working on a thesis in international law at the University of Cambridge. Listen here:


Rowan told us about the exchange between Innocent IV and Güyük Khan in 1246. Here is an illustration showing Pope Innocent sending the Dominican and Franciscan monks on their dangerous mission:


Illumination from Le Miroir Historial, vol.4 by Vincent of Beauvais (c.1400-10), now in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands)

You can read the full text of the Pope’s letter. Below is the original of Güyük Khan’s letter, written in Persian:


Guyuk Khan’s letter to Pope Innocent IV

You can visit the website of the self-proclaimed state of the Kingdom of Heaven here, though we do not recommend following their tax advice or legal advice, or attempting to drive on a Kingdom of Heaven licence. Here are their ‘founding fathers’:

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 7.09.37 pm.png

Taken from the Kingdom of Heaven website



You can read about devoted father Jeremiah Heaton’s quest to make his daughter a princess here. Uncommon Knowledge finds this story touching but slightly disturbing at the same time. The Guardian asks: ‘Are white people actually still allowed to do this kind of thing in the 21st century?’

You can read about the assertion of sovereignty by the  indigenous Yindinji people in Australia here.


Further reading:

Brett Bowden, ‘The colonial origins of international law: European expansion and the classical standard of civilization’ (2005) 7 Journal of the History of International Law 1.

Gerrit Gong, The Standard of ‘Civilization’ in International Society (Clarendon Press, 1984)

Imanuel Hsü, China’s Entrance into the Family of Nations (Harvard University Press, 1960)


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