Ever heard of that man (part of my personal travel notes on Vietnam, where I live since October 2007 and where I travel constantly, being on retirement) ??? To arrive in his "capital" Kon Jari, you just follow the river road ????
Marie the First, King of the Sedang (1888-1890)
Marie-David de Mayrena was a Frenchman from Saigon married to a Cham and speaking Vietnamese and Cham fluently. He was living from menial jobs. In 1888, fearing that the Siamese, encouraged by the Germans, penetrate into Laos through the Highlands, the French Governor of Indochina gets the idea of creating a League of the Highlands Minorities, the bahnar, jaraï, moï and sedang, and asks de Mayrena to go there without an official and try to create that league.
De Mayrena arrives in Kon Tum through Qui Nhon and An Khe and makes a tour of the local tribes dressed in a diplomat uniform, a saber in a golden and nacre scabbard, and a flag bearer. He manages to convince the bahnar and writes a Constitution of the Banhar Confederation. He continues with the Sedang and the Jaraï (all those tribes were in perpetual wars). He manages to convince the banahr so much that they ask him to become their king. He writes a second constitution with him as King under the name Marie the First. That constitution establishes a government with one of his French friends as Minister of Foreign Affairs and War, a missionary as Great Almoner, and includes 2 articles, one prohibiting human sacrifices and the other Catholicism as the Kingdom’s religion. He also creates 2 Orders: the Order of Sainte Marguerite to reward military value, and the Order of the Sedang Merit for good services towards the Kingdom. He also prints money and stamps.
A funny kingdom, but nevertheless de Mayrena manages to establish peace between the warring tribes, and is consequently thanked by the French Governor. Alas, that Governor changes and the new one does not appreciate at all what he considers a bad joke. De Mayrena leaves for France, then Belgium in order to find support and makes money by selling his kingdom’s aristocratic titles, which is not a success ; he sails back to Vietnam with a few rich young Belgians to whom he had promised an Eldorado, but, in Singapore, the French Consulate explains to him that he is Persona non grata in Indochina. Obsessed by his kingdom and desperate, de Mayrena turns to the Germans, and is accused of treason by the French. He then hides in the Malaysian island of Tio Man and dies alone and dirt-poor in 1890, probably by poisoning himself with a needle. However, his Sedang Confederation lasted until 1897, when it was incorporated into the French Indochina Protectorate.
Malraux writes a lot about him in his Anti-memoires and it seems that he wanted to make a movie about the whole story.