The Duchy of Grand Fenwick
is a tiny fictional country
created by Leonard Wibberley
in a series of comedic novels
beginning with The Mouse That Roared
(1955), which was later made into a film.
History and Topography
The Duchy of Grand Fenwick is no more than five miles (8 km) long and three miles (5 km) wide and lies in a fold in the Northern Alps. It features three valleys, a river, and a mountain with an elevation of two thousand feet. On the northern slopes are four hundred acres of vineyards. The hillsides where the ground is less fertile supports flocks of sheep that provide meat and wool. Most of the inhabitants live in the City of Fenwick that is clustered around Fenwick Castle, the seat of Government. Two miles from the City of Fenwick is a 500 acre (2 km²) Forest Preserve.
The Duchy, ruled by Duchess Gloriana XIII, is described as bordering Switzerland and France in the Alps. It retains a pre-industrial economy, based almost entirely on making Pinot Grand Fenwick wine. It takes its name from its founder, the English knight Sir Roger Fenwick, who, while employed by France, settled there with his followers in 1370. (The story of his grandson's repulse of a French attempt at reconquest in the 1450s, after the Battle of Formigny, is told in Wibberley's 1958 book, Beware of the Mouse.) Thanks to Sir Roger, the national language is English. Also stated in Beware of the Mouse is that Grand Fenwick's constitution is amended to state that no more modern weapon than the longbow will be used by the nation's army. The longbow is a vital part of the country's history, its borders originally determined by the distance a platoon of bowmen could fire in each direction.
In the novels, Wibberley goes beyond the merely comic, placing the tiny nation (15 square miles / 39 square kilometers) in absurd situations so as to comment satirically on contemporary politics and events.
A double-headed eagle
saying "Yea" from one beak and "Nay" from another. Sir Roger recorded that he only learned three things in his two years at Oxford University
1) That "Yea" might be turned into "Nay" and vice versa if a sufficient quantity of wordage was applied to the matter.
2) In any argument the victor is always right
3) Though the pen is mightier than the sword
, the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given moment...
In The Mouse That Roared
(1955), the Duchy seeks to stop American counterfeiting of Pinot Grand Fenwick. Grand Fenwick's formal protests are ignored by U.S. State Department employees, who think the documents are pranks. Grand Fenwick then plans an attack on the United States, certain this will lead to immediate defeat followed by generous American aid. The Grand Fenwick Expeditionary Force
(consisting of 20 bowmen selected from 700 in the Duchy and three men-at-arms
selected from 20 who have the right to carry spear and mace), clad in chain mail
and armed with longbows
, arrive in New York
during a civil defense
drill and can find no one to fight. Ultimately they take prisoners and return to Grand Fenwick. One captive is the inventor of the Q-bomb, and the Duchy finds itself the possessor of the only working model of this devastating weapon. Grand Fenwick forms an alliance of small nations, the Tiny Twenty,
and uses its control of the bomb to obtain world peace.
In The Mouse on the Moon (1962), Grand Fenwick beats the U.S. and the Soviet Union in a space race by using a new rocket fuel, the secret ingredient for which is found in a "premier grand cru" crop of Pinot Grand Fenwick.
In The Mouse on Wall Street (1969), the Duchy disrupts the world's finances. In an attempt to dispose of a sizable royalty payment from an American chewing gum company by investing it in failing companies, Duchess Gloriana finds she has the Midas touch for the stock market, and in a flurry of rumor and assumption, the Duchy becomes a financial superpower.
In The Mouse that Saves the West, written during the energy crisis of the 70's, it is discovered that the Duchy is sitting on the largest oil deposit in the world.