Sark, the smallest of the Channel Islands, is the last bastion of feudalism in Europe. Rob Crossan of the Guardian writes:
Nobody has tried to change things on Sark for some time. Its arcane
system dates back to Elizabethan times, with the head of the feudal
government, or seigneur, owning everything, including anything that
gets washed up on the island's shores. The present incumbent, Michael
Beaumont, has held the position for more than 30 years. Sark's tenants
are required to own a musket - a relic of the time Elizabeth I sent 40
Jersey men there to quell debauchery and piracy in the 16th century.
There are no paved roads or cars, and bucolic harmony has reigned
pretty much unchallenged (bar occupation by the Nazis) for more than
Now Sark has fallen afoul of the EU because, as Seigneur Beaumont so disarmingly puts it, "Nothing much is human-rights compliant here." So,
The tenants have three options. They can vote to retain the status quo
and risk the wrath of Strasbourg, decide to bring in democracy straight
away, or adopt a transition phase, which would mean a parliament of 28
people, of whom 16 would be elected.
And, very probably, we will have to bid godspeed to Elizabethan Sark. The ruffs, the stomachers, and even the codpieces will have to go into mothballs, all for the sake of modernization.