The Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia was established by French lawyer Orélie-Antoine de Tounens (regnal name Antoine I) in 1860 as the result of his election as king by a group of local tribal leaders in the Mapuche region, now part of Chile. He established his capital at Perquenco, minted coins with the name Nouvelle France, devised a national flag and founded chivalric orders, all with the aim of ensuring that the Mapuche nation could assert its independence and separate identity in the face of active hostility from its neighbours.
The Mapuche at that time were engaged in armed struggle against Chile and Argentina, which sought to conquer their lands. This resistance proved unsuccessful and within a year of his accession Chile had invaded and occupied the country and imprisoned King Orélie-Antoine I. Eventually released, he spent the remainder of his life in exile in France seeking to regain his kingdom. Before his death in 1878, he appointed a successor as king-in-exile, Gustave Achille Laviarde (1841-1902), who succeeded him as Aquiles I. His subsidiary titles were Prince of Aucas, Duke of Kialeou and Count of Alsena. During his reign in exile, he made strenuous efforts to have the Kingdom and the rights of its people recognised by the French government, but without success.
Laviarde was of noble descent and was born in Rheims. He travelled widely as a young man and spent time in the service of the Bey of Tunis. Returning to Rheims, he was active in the support of the imperialist candidate for mayor, Edouard Werle, and pursued professional interests as a merchant. He allied himself with the Bonapartist cause and was an official invitee at the funeral of Emperor Napoléon III. He was a member and Patron of the Order of the Crown of Thorns.
Dying on March 6 1902 without issue, his heir in the Kingdom was Antoine Hippolyte Cros (Antoine II). The Kingdom continues to exist today and maintains an official website.
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