Kingdom of Talossa – Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Atlas Obscura

Kingdom of Talossa

A trailblazing sovereign nation tucked in the American state of Wisconsin. 


The territory lines of the Kingdom of Talossa started out small, its boundaries encompassing just the bedroom of a 14-year-old Milwaukee boy who had just lost his mother. 

It was December 26, 1979, when young Robert Ben Madison decided to secede from his country, declaring his bedroom to be the sovereign nation named after the (quite lovely) Finnish word for “inside the house”. On that day, Robert became the founder of one of the longest standing micro-nations still in existence, The Kingdom of Talossa.

At first, the constitutional monarchy created by the lonely boy was something to keep him busy—relatives and friends humored him by agreeing to become citizens. As Madison traveled through adolescence, he created a flag and published a newspaper and created an emblem that read in Finnish “A Man’s Room Is His Kingdom”. His subjects probably assumed it was a passing obsession, and Madison would grow out of it eventually. Then, the internet happened. Madison made his kingdom a website in the mid-90s, and suddenly Talossa was big news. The media caught wind of Madison’s little hobby, and he and his micro-nation, a term he claims to have coined, went viral. The Kingdom expanded out of Madison’s bedroom—first to a whopping 5 sq. miles, and eventually claimed a decent portion of Milwaukee, as well as several random locations around the world. (One of the more amusing land claims is a large portion of Antarctica, which they have dubbed “Penguin-Land.”) The fantasy grew more and more detailed, playing out a bit like a very long-running role-playing game. Talossa developed a government with its own political parties, a culture, a fictional pre-history, and it’s own anthem. Talossa eventually even developed its own language, which has been carefully curated and fine-tuned over the decades and has its own 28,000-word dictionary. 

Like any growing nation, the Kingdom of Talossa had its troubles. In 2004, some citizens of the seceded nation seceded themselves, developing the Republic of Talossa. Madison reigned as king until 2005, when he abdicated due to more trouble in little Talossa. Immigration policy had come under fire, and the king decided that maybe he should hand the keys of the kingdom over to someone a little younger, someone who had the energy to rule—his wife’s 8-year-old grandson seemed up for the task, and King Louis was crowned. A year later, the 4th grader had had enough, and King John (a citizen named John W. Wooley) was elected into the office, where he still sits as head of state. Under his rule, the 18 disgruntled Republic members eventually came back into the fold, and Talossa is once again a peaceful, single nation.

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