The legal status of the Portuguese Brotherhoods and Orders of Saint Michael of the Wing

Brotherhoods and Orders of Saint Michael

In history, there have been several Orders of Saint Michael. The most prominant ones are listed hereafter.

Bavarian Brotherhood and Order of Saint Michael

Guido Reni’s Michael (in Santa Maria della Concezione church, Rome, 1636) tramples Satan. A mosaic of the same painting decorates St. Michael’s Altar in St. Peter’s Basilica.

On 8 May 1693, Joseph Clemens, duke of Bavaria, then Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, formed the Bruderschaft des hl. Erzengels und Himmelsfürsten Michael, that still exists today and has about 800 members, mostly in Germany and Austria. On 29 September 1693, Joseph Clemens created the Bavarian Orden zum Heiligen Michael or Königlicher Verdienstorden vom heiligen richael, as a Military order. Initially, the latter was only open to the Catholic nobility. On 16 February 1837, the Order was abolished by king Louis I of Baviaria.

Portuguese Brotherhoods and Orders of Saint Michael

The original Knights of St. Michael’s Wing founded an order in the Cistercian monastery of Alcobaza about 1171, by Alfonzo I, King of Portugal, in commemoration of victory over the Moors, in which, according to tradition, he was assisted by St. Michael in person. The knights were placed under the jurisdiction of Abbot of Alcobaza and were pledged to recite the same prayers as the Cistercian lay brothers. Some authors state that the Order only existed briefly in the 12th century (Alston, George Cyprian “The Benedictine Order”. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company 1907); some claim it lasted until 1732 (James Anderson. Royal genealogies: or, The genealogical tables of emperors, kings and princes, from Adam to these times; in two parts. London), and some claim it existed until 1910, the year Portugal became a republic (Rodrigues Lima, Carlos [2009-01-09]. “Nuno da Câmara Pereira ganha batalha judicial a D. Duarte”Diário de Notícias. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-01-21Juíza vinca que Portugal é uma República, desvalorizando herança. O Tribunal Cível de Lisboa acaba de dar razão a Nuno da Câmara Pereira num conflito que o opunha a D. Duarte de Bragança, obrigando este último a desistir da denominação Real Ordem de São Miguel de Ala, uma ordem que criou em 2004. (Judge stresses that Portugal is a Republic, and values heritage. The Civil Court of Lisbon had initially ruled in favor of Nuno da Câmara Pereira in a conflict with Dom Duarte de Bragança, forcing the latter to give up the name the Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing, an order created in 2004.)

The history of the ancient Order is obscure, but the current Order’s predecessor was revived sometime in the 19th century (Almeida, Gomes Abrunhosa Marques de and Manuel Ângelo (2007), Precedentes histórico-teóricos dos regionalismos dos Açores e da Galiza. Santiago de Compostela: Univ Santiago de Compostela) as a secret society – not as a knighlty order – with political motives, aiming to restore Miguel’s branch of the Bragança family to power in Portugal.

The newly created entity in 2004 is not a dynastic award of the House of Bragança (Carlos Rodrigues Lima. “Nuno da Câmara Pereira ganha batalha judicial a D. Duarte“, 9 January 2009).

American Royal Brotherhood of Saint Michael of the Archdiocese for Military Services

The Royal Brotherhood of Saint Michael of the Archdiocese for Military Services was canonically erected by Decree of His Excellency Archbishop Timothy Broglio STD (2016), specifically as an Association of the Faithful for active or reserve military personnel. Dedicated to Saint Michael it is headquartered in the Military Archdiocese of the United States Armed Forces. The Commandry is a registered non profit Charity 501 C3. Its activities, fall under the canonical jurisdiction of Royal Brotherhood of the Archdiocese governed by the Canonically confirmed Judge, Col. Stephen Michael Besinaiz. The Royal Brotherhood was canonically erected in 2016 in the Archdiocese for Military Services, and is a Member of the Federation of Royal Brotherhoods of Saint Michael of the Wing. This branch of the Order is affliated with Dom Duarte Pio.

French Order of Saint Michael

The French Order of Saint Michael (French: Ordre de Saint-Michel) was a French chivalric order, founded by Louis XI of France in 1469, in competitive response to the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece, that was founded by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. As a chivalric order, its goal was to confirm the loyalty of its knights to the king. Originally, there were a limited number of knights, at first thirty-one, then increased to thirty-six including the king. An office of Provost was established in 1476. The Order of St Michael was the highest order in France until it was superseded by the Order of the Holy Spirit.

The Order was abolished by the French authorities in 1830. However, in 1929-1930 Jaime, Duke of Anjou and Madrid, and in 1960 Infante Jaime, Duke of Anjou, Segovia and Madrid, granted membership of the Order to their confidants, thus de facto reviving the Order.

Intellectual Property issues

Nuno da Câmara Pereira ganha vitória em tribunal contra D. Duarte Pio
Fadista ganha em tribunal a exclusividade de título da Ordem de São Miguel da Ala. Saiba que outros temas falaram nos ‘Sem Papas na Língua’. 29 March 2016.

On 4 August 1981, Nuno da Câmara Pereira, José da Câmara Gonçalves, Gonçalo da Câmara Pereira, António de Sousa Lara and João Ferreira Rosa established the association Ordem de São Miguel da Ala by public deed at the Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado, which was recorded in the database of the Institute, the Registo Nacional de Pessoas Colectivas. Nuno da Câmara Pereira is the great grandson of Dom Vasco António de Figueiredo Cabral da Camara, 3rd count of Belmonte. As a monarchist, Nuno da Câmara Pereira disputes the validity of the dynastic claims of the Miguelist Branch of House of Bragança, of which the current pretender is Dom Duarte Pio de Bragança, his distant cousin. Dom Nuno de Figueiredo Cabral da Câmara Pereira, is Marques de Castelo Rodrigo and President of the Council of the Portuguese Nobility and Chancellor of all Knightly Orders of the House of Loulé, the second major claimant to the dynastic rights to the throne of Portugal.

In 2004 Dom Duarte Pio de Bragança registered the association Real Irmandade (=Brotherhood) de São Miguel de Ala. In 2007, Câmara Pereira sued  Dom Duarte on charges of breaching the intellectual property rights of his Ordem de São Miguel da Ala and won the case in 2009.

The judge noted that in the current legal-constitutional order, which configures Portugal as a Republic and enshrines the principle of separation between Church and State, it is irrelevant whether the association is a dynastic order,  if the use of the insignia is exclusive to the putative heir of the royal house (which is not recognized in the legal order of the Republic), or if it was canonically erected. Despite the historical arguments put forward by the Dom Duarte, the judge determined the problem as “purely legal”. In this respect, the simple apposition of the word ‘Real’ (royal) before the name already used by the association “Ordem de São Miguel da Ala” is not enough to achieve an effective and objective differentiation between the two associations. In 2011, Dom Duarte, saw 17 of his properties seized as well as a bank account worth more than 260 thousand Euros, as a result of a judicial execution.

Dom Duarte appealed and on 1 October 2015, the Portuguese Supremo Tribunal de Justiça (Supreme Court of Justice) finally condemned Dom Duarte, forbidding him to use the name and insignia of the “Ordem de São Miguel da Ala“, forcing him to indemnify the rightful holders and preventing him from even requesting a new appeal in the face of that process. However, the case was turned upside down when on 3 November 2015 Nuno da Câmara Pereira’s intellectual property rights to use the symbols expired. Subsequently, on 7 December 2016 Dom Duarte regained the intellectual property rights to use the insignia. Although admirers of Dom Duarte, often mention that the legal procedures show that Dom Duarte is the dynastic successor to the historical Order of Saint Michael of the Wing, the matter was a legal one (not historical) and solely a matter of intellectual property law.

The revived Order is organised as an entirely new private entity and not a dynastic award of the House of Bragança. Aspirant members can apply for membership and subsequently pay a fee to members of the House of Bragança or their representatives. In recent times, it has been alleged that Dom Duarte himself no longer approves membership in his society. The Order is said to be de facto controlled by other members. Many members of the Order today are Americans and citizens of the British Commonwealth.

Current holder of the intellectual property rights

The European Union Intellectual Property Office shows the IP registration for the word combination “QUIS UT DEUS” and the accompanying graphic representation in the name of “Duarte Pio De Bragança, Rua do Campo, 4, San Pedro P-2710, Sintra, Portugal” since 7 November 2016. This registration (nr. 016009748) also shows that the registered trade mark has been published for opposition, at which time one or more challenges to registration were filed but they have not yet been decided. On 23 March 2020 the case was still pending before the Board of the Office. The representative of the opposition is Mr António José Caeiro da Mota Veiga (b. Lisbon, 8 June 1951), a lawyer, who married in Sintra on 31 October 1974 to Maria José Trigueiros de Aragão Acciaioli de Avilez (b. Lisbon, Santa Maria de Belém, 21 June 1954), youngest of the only three daughters of José Maria de Avilez Juzarte de Sousa Tavares (Lisbon, 14 August 1926 -), 7th Count of Avilez, Representative of Viscount of Torre do Terrenho, of the Viscounts of Reguengo, and his wife (m. Castelo Branco , Alcains, 28 September 1947) Ana Maria de Portugal Lobo Trigueiros de Aragão ( Fundão , Aldeia de Joanes, 16 August 1923 -), of the Counts ofIdanha-a-Nova and Viscounts of o Outeiro.


Under Portuguese law, the dynastic rights to the ancient Brotherhoods and Orders of Saint Michael of the Wing are not recognised. There is a tradition of affiliation between the House of Bragança and the Brotherhood/Order, but the headship of the House is disputed. The jurisprudence in this case shows that the intellectual property rights regarding the insignia of the Order are irrelevant to the question of whom the legal successor is to the dynastic rights regarding the Order. Simply, because Portuguese law is not interested in the historical aspects, but judges the matter in terms of IP-rights only. The holder of the IP rights to the insignia can be anyone. It is only a matter of who registered the IP-rights first (or forgot to reregister them).

In my opinion, (knightly) orders or brotherhoods should not be subject to costly legal battles. Historical evidence should be the key to the question if an order or brotherhood has historical substance. An example of a total escalation is the long-running intellectual property dispute between two knightly orders:  the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta on the one hand, and the  Florida Priory of the Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta, the Ecumenical Order on the other hand.

SMOM alleged that The Florida Priory had infringed on five of its registered trademarks including its cross and shield imagery. The organization also alleged that The Florida Priory engaged in false advertising by claiming a historical background that belongs to the SMOM.

The legal costs for both parties have been enormous. Such a waste of money and effort is an insult to their donors, who think that their money benifts the poor. Instead, their donations end up in the pockets of overpaid lawyers. In a published opinion, one district judge wrote the following disparaging comment (Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, October 15, 2015, Case: 14-14251, Page: 9 of 49):

“The parties present themselves as Christian charities. The Court struggles with the parties’ characterizing themselves in that manner, however. The amounts of money each party has raised for charitable purposes are unimpressive, which leads the Court to believe that the members of both [the Sovereign Order] and the [Florida Priory] are more interested in dressing up in costumes, conferring titles on each other and playing in a “weird world of princes and knights” than in performing charitable acts.”

The Michael of the Wing-dispute has similar characteristics.


Lines of succession of the Peerage, created by William III of England, Ireland and Scotland

The reign of William III

Willem III of Orange by Benjamin Arlaud. Collection: Rijksmuseum.

In December 1653, Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) was appointed ‘Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the dominions thereto belonging’, with powers akin to those of a monarch. Cromwell was an English general and statesman who led the Parliament of England’s armies against King Charles I during the English Civil War and ruled the British Isles as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658. He acted simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republican commonwealth. After the Protectorate collapsed, Charles II, the eldest surviving child of Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and Henrietta Maria of France had very wide support for his taking of the throne in 1660. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651 and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the 1660 Restoration of the monarchy until his death in 1685. Charles’s wife, Catherine of Braganza, bore no live children, but Charles acknowledged at least twelve illegitimate children by various mistresses. He was succeeded by his brother James II with widespread support in England, Ireland and Scotland, largely based on the principle of divine right or birth. James was not a supporter of religious tolerance, as his time in France had exposed him to the beliefs and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. He and his wife Anne became drawn to the Roman Catholic faith.

In June 1688, two events triggered a constitutional crisis. First, in April 1688, James re-issued the ‘Declaration of Indulgence’ and subsequently ordered Anglican clergy to read it in their churches. William Sancroft, the archbishop of Canterbury, and six other bishops petitioned him against this and were prosecuted for seditious libel. In reaction, they were arrested and tried for seditious libel. Secondly, their acquittal almost coincided with the birth of a son, James Francis Edward, on 10 June 1688, to James’s Roman Catholic queen, Mary of Modena. Because James’s only possible successors were his two Protestant daughters, the English establishment could see his pro-Catholic policies as a temporary phenomenon. The birth, however, of his son James Francis Edward promised an indefinite continuance of his policy and brought wide discontent. Several influential Protestants had already entered into negotiations with the Protestant Stadholder William III of Orange when it became known the Queen was pregnant. In the same year, seven eminent Englishmen, including one bishop and six prominent politicians of both Whig and Tory persuasions, wrote to the Protestant Stadholder (Dutch: Stadhouder) William III of Orange, inviting him to come over with an army to redress the nation’s grievances and to help expel James II.

William was both James’s nephew and his son-in-law, and, until the birth of James’s son, William’s wife, Mary, was heir apparent. William’s chief concern was to check the overgrowth of French power in Europe. Between 1679 and 1684, England’s impotence and the emperor Leopold I’s preoccupation with a Turkish advance to Vienna had allowed Louis XIV to seize Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Casale Monferrato, and other places vital to the defense of the Spanish Netherlands, the German Rhineland, and northern Italy. By 1688, however, a great European coalition had begun to form to call for a halt to aggressions. Its prospects depended partly upon England. Thus, having been in close touch with the leading English malcontents for more than a year, William accepted their invitation. Landing at Brixham on Tor Bay (November 5 1688), he advanced slowly on London as support fell away from James II. James’s daughter Anne and his best general, John Churchill, were among the deserters to William’s camp. Thereupon, James fled to France (source:

After his successful invasion, William and his wife, Mary Stuart, were crowned king and queen King of England, Ireland and Scotland.  William III was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. In his capacity of King of Scotland, he is known as William II and is informally also known as “King Billy” in Northern Ireland and Scotland. For the next half century, James II and his son James Francis Edward Stuart and grandson Charles Edward Stuart claimed that they were the true Stuart kings, but they were in exile, and attempts to return with French aid were defeated.

Granting of titles

The following is an examination of three cases: the ennoblement by William III of William Bentinck, of Arnold van Keppel, of and of Alexander Hume. Described below are the similarities and differences among the three cases and an analysis of the questions that arise in the line of succession of the awarded titles.

Earl of Portland

The title ‘Earl of Portland’ was created for a second time in 1689 in favour of Hans William Bentinck (20 July 1649, in Diepenheim, Overijssel – 23 November 1709, in Bulstrode Park, Buckinghamshire), the Dutch favorite and close advisor of King William III. He made Bentinck Groom of the Stole, first gentleman of the bedchamber, and a Privy Counsellor. In April 1689 Bentinck was created Baron Cirencester, Viscount Woodstock and, in its second creation, Earl of Portland. The first creation of the earldom had been made for Richard Weston in 1633, but it became extinct in 1688. On the death of Bentinck, his eldest son Henry or Hendrik in Dutch (1680-1724) succeeded as second earl. He was created marquess of Titchfield and duke of Portland in 1716.

Hans Willem Bentinck (1649 – 1709), 1st earl of Portland, created 1689

  1. Henry Bentinck (1682 – 1726), 2nd earl and 1st duke of Portland
    1. William Bentinck (1709 – 1762), 2e hertog en 3e graaf van Portland
      1. William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Bentinck (1738 – 1809), 3rd duke and 4th earl of Portland; change of name to Cavendish-Bentinck in 1801
        1. William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck (1768 – 1854), 4th duke and 5th earl of Portland; change of name to Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck
          1. William John Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck (1800 – 1879), 5th duke and 6th earl of Portland
        2. William Chalrles Augustus Cavendish-Bentinck (1780 – 1826)
          1. Arthur Cavendish-Bentinck (1819 – 1877)
            1. William Cavendish-Bentinck (1857 – 1943), 6th duke and 7th earl of Portland
              1. William Cavendish-Bentinck (1893 – 1977), 7th duke and 8th earl of Portland
        3. Frederik Cavendish-Bentinck (1781 – 1828)
          1. George August Cavendish-Bentinck (1821 – 1891)
            1. William George Frederik Cavendish-Bentinck (1856 – 1948)
              1. Ferdinand Cavendish-Bentinck (1888 – 1980), 8th duke and 9th earl of Portland
              2. Victor Cavendish-Bentinck (1897 – 1990), 9th duke and 10th earl of Portland
  2. Willem Bentinck (1704 – 1774)
    1. Christiaan Frederik Bentinck (1734 – 1768)
      1. Johan Karel Bentinck (1763 – 1833)
        1. Karel Anton Ferdinand Bentinck (1792 – 1864)
          1. Hendrik Karel Adolf Bentinck (1846 – 1903)
            1. Robert Bentinck (1875 – 1935)
              1. Henry Noel Bentinck (1919 – 1997), 11th earl of Portland
                1. Timothy Bentinck (* 1953), 12th earl of Portland


Earl of Albemarle

Arnold van Keppel (baptized Zutphen 30 January 1670  –  The Hague 30 May 1718), 1st Earl of Albemarle, became Groom of the Bedchamber and Master of the Robes in 1695. In 1696, he was created the Viscount Bury in Lancashire, and the Baron Ashford of Ashford, Kent. On 10 February 1697, William made Van Keppel the Earl of Albemarle. In 1699, he was awarded the command of the First Life Guards. After the death of William III, who bequeathed to him ƒ 200,000 and the lordship of Bredevoort, Albemarle returned to The Netherlands, took his seat as a noble in the States-General, and became a general of cavalry in the Dutch army.

1. Arnold Joost van Keppel, 1st earl of Albemarle (1670–1718)

1. Willem Anne van Keppel, 2nd earl of (1702–1754)

1. George Keppel, 3rd earl ofvan Albemarle (1724–1772)

1. William Charles Keppel, 4th earl of Albemarle (1772–1849)

1. William Keppel, Viscount Bury (1793–1804)

2. Augustus Frederick Keppel, 5th earl of Albemarle (1794–1851)

3. George Thomas Keppel, 6th earl of Albemarle (1799–1891); through whom is descended Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

          1. William Coutts Keppel, 7th earl of Albemarle (1832–1894)

1. Arnold Allan Cecil Keppel, 8th earl of Albemarle (1858–1942)

              1. Walter Egerton George Lucian Keppel, 9th earl of Albemarle (1882–1979)

1. Derek William Charles Keppel, Viscount Bury (1911–1968)

1. Rufus Arnold Alexis Keppel, 10th earl of Albemarle (1965-)

1. heir apparant: Augustus Sergei Darius Keppel, Viscount Bury (2003-)


Earl of Dunbar

Sir Alexander Home of Manderston.

1. George Home, 1st Earl of Dunbar (ca. 1556 – 20 January 1611) died without male issue. In the last decade of his life, George Home, KG, PC was the most prominent and most influential Scotsman in England. He was knighted on 4 November 1590, and known as “Sir George Home of Primrose Knowe”, then in 1593, “Sir George Home of Spot”. Spott is a village in East Lothian. Upon James’s accession as James I of England in 1603, Home accompanied his sovereign to Westminster, where he became Chancellor of the Exchequer (and ex officio the Second Lord of the Treasury) from 1603 to 1606. In 1603 he was also appointed to the Privy Council of England, and on 1 June of that year, he received a grant as Keeper of the Great Wardrobe for life. On 7 July 1604, he was created Baron Hume of Berwick in the Peerage of England. In 1605 he was appointed a Knight of the Garter, and on 3 July was created Earl of Dunbar in the Peerage of Scotland.
2. John Home, de jure 2nd Earl of Dunbar (a 1628), brother of 1st Earl, according to the Lord Advocate in 1634, he “conceiving his fortune too mean, forebore to assume the dignity.” He died without male issue.

    • George Home, de jure 3rd Earl of Dunbar (a 1637), son of Alexander Home of Manderston and nephew of 1st Earl, certified his claim in 1634 by the same Lord Advocate.
      • Alexander Home, de jure 4th Earl of Dunbar (d 1675), son of 3rd Earl, is said to have been confirmed in title by Charles II in 1651, but does not appear in The Great Seal of Scotland and died without male issue.

Creation by William III

Alexander Hume, of Manderstone, de jure 5th Earl of Dunbar (b. 1651, d. 4 Jan. 1720 Aurich, Germany), nephew of 4th Earl. Capt. of a troop of horse in the service of the States of Holland, later Geheimrat in Aurich, Germany. To him 14 Oct. 1689, William III, King of England, Ireland and Scotland confirmed the Earldom of Dunbar exemplifying the previous confirmation thereof by Charles II. It is not known if Alexander Hume styled himself “Earl of Dunbar” in Germany, where he and his descendants rather are known as Grafen (Counts) Hume of Manderstone. He married the daughter of Leonard Fewen, General Steward of Emden, who inherited the manor house and estate of Stikelkamp at Hesel, East Frisia. His son – Leonard Hume (1684-1741), de jure 6th Earl of Dunbar – inherited the estate in Stikelkamp from his father. Leonard married Gesina Bruncken (1701-1763). An alleged son of Leonard – Heeres Andries Hume – was de jure the 7th Earl of Dunbar (b. 1738 in Norden). Leonard’s daughter Helena Hume of Manderstone (1722-1784) inherited the estate of Stikelkamp; she married Bebäus Scato Kettwig; their daughter Isabella (1742-1797) married Eger Carl Christian Lantzius-Beninga (1744-1798); the Lantzius-Beninga family owned the Stikelkamp estate untl 1971, when it was purchased by the Landkreis Leer. Note: No claimant has progressed his claim before the House of Lords Committee for Privileges to a satisfactory conclusion. This Committee was – until the Dissolution of Parliament on 12 April 2010 – the only body which was authorised to decide whether or not a claimant may be confirmed in the title. The Lord Advocate of Scotland, for instance, has no authority in these matters, especially in the 17th century, given the corruption and nepotism rampant at that time. The usual way to establish the right to inherit a title is to apply for a Writ of Summons to attend Parliament (a procedure that will have to be reviewed in the light of new legislation abolishing the hereditary parliamentary rights of peers). Then the Committee for Privileges examines the validity of the documentation supporting the line of descent of the claimant and his relationship to the previous holder of the peerage title. Source: Wikipedia.


In the case of Keppel and Bentinck, the succession to the peerage was confirmed by the subsequent heads of state of the United Kingdom:

  1. The Peerage of England — titles created by the Kings and Queens of England before the Act of Union in 1707; The Peerage of Scotland — titles created by the Kings and Queens of Scotland before 1707.
  2. The Peerage of Great Britain — titles created for the Kingdom of Great Britain between 1707 and 1801.
  3. The Peerage of the United Kingdom — titles created since 1801 to the present.
Coat of arms Sir George Home, 1st Earl of Dunbar, KG. Artwork by R. S. Nourse on WikiCommons.

In the case of Hume, the succession to the title is not confirmed. The genealogical lines from the creation by William III to the current descendants is clear, however no state recognition, by incorporating the title to Peerage of the United Kingdom, has been granted. As the original title was created by the House of Stuart, it could be said that the current head of the House still has the fons honorum to recognize the title dynastically as an alternative to recognition by the United Kingdom.

After the Battle of Culloden, the Jacobite army of Charles Edward Stuart was decisively defeated by a British government force under William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, on Drummossie Moor near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The House of Stuart lost its position as a dynastic alternative to the Hanoverians. The movement of the supporters of the House of Stuart called ‘Jacobitism’ went into a rapid decline, and in 1788, with the death of Charles, the ‘Young Pretender’, the Jacobite succession lost its political importance. His younger brother, Henry, Cardinal of York, died in 1807, and the male line of the House of Stuart thereby became extinct. According to the Royal Stuart Society, the claim to the Headship of the House of Stuart takes its descent from Henrietta-Anne (1644-1670), daughter of King Charles I, and her husband Philippe, Duke of Orléans. It was inherited by their heirs, the House of Savoy. Marriages of the subsequent heirs then saw it pass to the House of Modena-Este and later to the House of Wittelsbach (Bavaria), with whom it rests today, and the Head of which is Franz Bonaventura Adalbert Maria Herzog von Bayern:

House of Savoy (Sardinia) Charles IV 1807-1819
Victor 1819-1824
Mary II* 1824-1840
House of Este (Modena) Francis I 1840-1875
Mary III 1875-1919
House of Wittelsbach (Bavaria) Robert I and IV 1919-1955
Albert 1955-1996
Francis II 1996-

According to the Society, the elder daughter of King James II and VII, who was married to William III and styled herself Mary II, was not part of the de jure succession, with her father and brother being alive at the time. I do not quite agree with this statement, as Duke Franz has declined such a claim. It is therefore perfectly legitimate for other successors to come forward.

Marie Anne de Mailly-Nesle by Jean-Marc Nattier. Marie Anne de Mailly-Nesle, duchesse de Châteauroux (5 October 1717 – 8 December 1744) was the youngest of the five famous de Nesle sisters, four of whom would become the mistress of King Louis XV of France. She was his mistress from 1742 until 1744. Photo: Public Domain.

An even more obvious authority who could recognize the use of the title Earl of Dunbar would be the successor of William III, since he was the most recent monarch to create the title. However, in 1702, the first House of Orange-Nassau became extinct with the death of William III. John William Friso, Prince of Nassau-Dietz, inherited part of the possessions and the title “Prince of Orange” from his cousin, William III. From then on, the rulers used the title Fürst von Nassau-Oranien in Germany and the title Prins van Oranje-Nassau (English: Prince of Orange-Nassau) in The Netherlands. When the branches of Nassau-Dillenburg and Nassau-Siegen died out in 1739 and 1743, all Nassau areas of the Ottonian Line were reunited and inherited by the branch of Orange-Nassau. The Prince of Orange-Nassau from then on had two seats in the Council of Princes of the Reichstag: Hadamar-Nassau and Nassau-Dillenburg. On 31 May 1815, Prince William VI of Orange-Nassau signed a treaty at the Congress of Vienna with his Prussian brother-in-law and first cousin, King Frederick William III. The treaty ceded the Principality of Orange-Nassau to the Kingdom of Prussia in exchange for Luxembourg which was elevated to a Grand Duchy. On the same day, the Prussian King gave most of the principality to the Duchy of Nassau (thereby uniting the areas of the Ottonian Line and the Walram Line of the House of Nassau). Only Siegen remained with Prussia. Thus, naming a successor to the dynastic rights of William III is difficult. Rival claims to the title ‘Prince of Orange’ have been made by German emperors and kings of the House of Hohenzollern.

Another claiment to the title “Prince of Orange” is the head of the French noble family of Mailly. In 1673, Louis XIV bestowed the titular princedom on Louis Charles de Mailly, Marquis de Nesle, whose wife was a direct descendant, and heiress-general by primogeniture, of the original princes of Orange. After the marquis (who died in 1713), the next holder was Louis of Mailly-Nesle, marquis de Nesle (1689–1764). Although no longer descended from Louis-Charles, a branch of the Mailly family still claims the title today.

Therefore, the current claimants to the title “Prince of Orange” are: Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands (Amsberg), Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia and/or Philip Kirill Prince of Prussia (Hohenzollern), and Guy de Mailly, Marquis de Mailly-Nesle (Mailly). In my opinion, all three have the dynastic authority to recognise the title “Earl of Dubar” as issued by William III. This authority is based on dynastic succession. In addition, the Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms also has the authority in her capacity of legal successor of William III. This authority is based on constitutional law.


In Britain, who is entitled to the suffix of “Esquire” (“Esq.”)?


The Right Honourable The Lord Rees-Mogg Kt. William Rees-Mogg, father of politician Jacob Rees-Mogg, was a British newspaper journalist who was Editor of The Times from 1967 to 1981. In the late 1970’s he served as High Sheriff of Somerset, and in the 1980s was Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain and Vice-Chairman of the BBC’s Board of Governors. In 1988, William Rees-Mogg was made a life peer as Baron Rees-Mogg, of Hinton Blewett in the County of Avon. Photo: National Portrait Gallery London.

British politician Jacob Rees-Mogg has marked his arrival as a senior minister in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government by issuing a detailed style edict (see appendix) for his departmental staff. Under the new rules, “untitled” men are to be described in writing as “Esquire” rather than “Mr.”  In this respect, it is interesting to see who in Britain is entitled to the suffix of “Esq.” from both a modern and historical perspective.

Historically, the term “Esquire” has an exclusive bearing. An esquire (Latin: scutarius; shield-bearer) originally was a personal attendant to a knight. Over time, the title evolved into that of an apprentice knight and later into a lord of a manor. With the rise of the use of the term “Gentleman” as a rank, it became increasingly difficult to know where the lower limit should be drawn. Traditionally, Esquire ranked socially above Gentleman but below Knight.

In the post-medieval world, the title of ¨Esquire” came to be attributed to all men of the higher landed gentry. Sir John Fearn, in his Glory of Generositie of 1586, referred to four sorts of esquires; by creation, birth, dignity, and office. He commented that this title “is no less abused and profaned” than that of Gentleman, and that,

the degree of esquire is through custom tolerated to many other sorts of gentlemen, but they all, or most of them, are…in function of some offices of justice or government in the King’s palace, as…annexed to the dignities of judges and barons of the benches and courts of justice; to the advocates and procurators of the sovereign; to the degree of sergeants at the coif; to the office of sheriff, escheator, and serjeant at arms; to the eldest born of a baron and peer of the realm or of a knight, besides many others. But that the same should descend from the father to the son, as the state of gentry doth, is mere fabulous. For the title of esquire of common right doth appertain to none, except that by creation he receives the same at the sovereign’s hand, or else through the bearing of such an office as a dignity anent to the same, or else by right of birth as in cases aforesaid, and that through custom.

Based on this definition and on other literature, the entitlement to the suffix of “Esquire” included the following persons:

Category A: Esquires by birth

  • The eldest sons of knights and their eldest sons in perpetual succession;
  • The eldest sons of younger sons of peers and their eldest sons in perpetual succession;
  • Eldest sons of esquires created by letters patent or other investiture, and their eldest sons;
  • Foreign noblemen.

In this context, the term is used to pay an informal compliment to a male recipient by way of implying noble birth.

Category B: Esquires other than by birth

  • Lords of the Manor;
  • Esquires created by letters patent or other investiture;
  • Esquires by virtue of their offices: as the heralds and serjeants at arms and some others, who are constituted esquires by receiving a Collar of Esses; Judges and other officers of state, justices of the peace, and the higher naval and military officers who are designated esquires in their patents or commissions; Doctors in the several faculties and barristers at law.

None  of these offices or degrees convey gentility to the posterity of their holders.


There are protocols for identifying those to whom the suffix should properly be given, especially in very formal or official circumstances. However, no fixed criteria distinguishing those designated “Esquire” exist. They differ over time and have the character of customary law. A number of authorities have tried to create criteria, but none of these are entirely correct or complete. The use of the term “Esquire” essentially remains a matter of impression as to whether a person qualifies for this status. For example, British men have ‘Esq.’ after their names whereas all men from overseas are called ‘Mr.’ on the envelope containing an invitation to Buckingham Palace. The same counts for letters sent to employees of the Royal Household. This protocol does not convey gentility. It is different when the suffix is used in official diplomas issued under the auspices of HM the Queen. In such cases, the suffix implies noble birth (category A, above).

The context of the use is therefore crucial to establishing the meaning of the suffix and determining whether the suffix is correctly used or not. The same is true for the prefix “Sir.” This prefix is used for men titled Knights, i.e., of orders of chivalry, to baronets and other offices. Since the Late Modern era, “Sir” has been increasingly used also as a respectful way to address any commoners of a superior social status or military rank.

Therefore, the specific context can be linguistic, involving the linguistic environment of the suffix “Esquire”, as well as situational, involving extra linguistic elements that contribute to the construction of the meaning of the suffix.


Appendix 1: Use of the suffix of “Esquire” by the Dutch in the East Indies (currently Indonesia) during the British period

Screenshot from 2020-04-10 23-00-19
Regerings-Almanak Nederlandsch-Indië of 1815, p. 39 (during the British period). From 1811 to 1816, Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, FRS (5 July 1781 – 5 July 1826) was Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies.

Appendix 2: full text of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s writing style document


To combat a shocking decline in standards, all but myself must obey the following rules. I shall not be bound by them, as evidenced in my recent excellently-written, well-received and best selling book, ‘Eminent Victorian’s’.

Do not use the Metric System. Or any other French invention, including pasteurisation, mayonnaise or aspirin. Use good, honest British alternatives or, better still, do without. Show some pluck!

Do not use decimal currency. Pounds, shillings and pence will suffice, but florins and groats for preference.

Terms of address. Untitled men are ‘Esquire’, after the totally most excellent example set by our colonial cousin Mr. Bill S. Preston, Esq, of California.

Unmarried women are ‘spinster of the parish’. Correspondence to married women should be addressed to their husband.

Use multiple spaces after a full stop. The more white space you can leave the better, in order to camouflage the lack of meaningful content.

FACT-CHECK YOUR WORK. If you find any, remove them immediately.

Certain words and phrases are strictly forbidden in communications, including

’I understand your concerns’ – I have never understood anyone’s concerns and I do not propose to start now.

’Get’, as in ‘Can I get a coffee?’ – I would immediately sack any member of the cast of Friends, and I will do the same to you if you speak like them.

’Friends’ – I watched it once. Awful moving daguerreotype ‘programme’. Do not mention it.

’Hopefully’ – There shall be no hope during my tenure.

’Unacceptable’ – Nothing is forbidden, everything is acceptable. This applies only to the actions of the Prime Minister.

’Equal’ – Equality has no place in our administration.

’Disappointment’ – this will go without saying.

‘Flaps’ – Can people please stop saying this to me? I do not understand it but makes me feel funny.


Zijn familiewapens auteursrechtelijk beschermd?

Het antwoord op deze vraag luidt: ‘nee’ als het gaat om oude familiewapens. In een vonnis van de rechtbank in Brussel uit 2017 wordt dit verder uitgelegd. Ik zal de zaak in dit artikel bespreken.

De zaak Zara Home – Damiaens

Zara Home is een Spaanse onderneming die onderdeel uitmaakt van de Inditex group, en zich richt op het produceren van betaalbare kleding, in steeds wisselende collecties, en volgens de allerlaatste trends.

Justitiepaleis van Brussel. Foto: Lotusvogel.

Patrick Damiaens is een Vlaamse meester ontwerpsnijder, die internationale faam geniet als een vakman op het gebied van het maken van familiewapen in hout en van ornamenten en ander houtsnijwerk.

In  2012 aanvaardde Damiaens opdracht van de Nederlands familie Odink om een 3D-versie van het recent opgefriste wapenschild in hout uit te snijden. Nadat Damiaens het familiewapen in hout had uitgesneden, plaatste hij een foto van zijn handwerk op zijn website en begon hij aan een ander werk. In 2014 ontving de vakman een telefoontje uit Parijs. Een vriend deelde hem mee dat deze tijdens het shoppen in meubelketen Zara Home een versierde kaars had gezien met een afbeelding, die als twee druppels water leek op de werk van Damiaens. De ontwerpsnijder accepteerde dit niet. Samen met opdrachtgever Odink, nam hij een advocaat in de arm.

  • Afbeeldingen van het door Damiaens vervaarde houtwerk en de kaars van Zara Home zijn te vinden op de website van Damiaens.

De uitspraak van de rechtbank in Brussel

Uiteindelijk deed de Brusselse rechtbank op 19 juni 2017 uitspraak.  Deze hield in dat Zara Home een schadevergoeding moet betalen voor het gebruik van een Nederlands familiewapen.

Damiaens en de familie Odink vorderden dat het ontwerp van het familiewapen en het beeldhouwwerk van eisers als oorspronkelijke werken worden beschermd door het auteursrecht. Verder vorderden zij dat Zara Home door de reproductie van de werken in de Zara Home kaars, de mededeling aan het publiek en de verkoop van de kaars hun auteursrechten heeft geschonden. Zara Home betwiste de originaliteit van het familiewapen.

De rechtbank verklaarde echter voor recht dat het houtsnijwerk auteursrechtelijke bescherming geniet en dat Zara Home door de reproductie van dit werk op de kaars de auteursrechten van Damiaens geschonden heeft. Zara Home werd veroordeeld tot een schadevergoeding van EUR 7.500, conform de vordering. 

De rechtbank oordeelde ook dat het familiewapen van Odink als zodanig niet auteursrechtelijk beschermd is en wees de door hen gevorderde schadevergoeding van EUR 17.500 af. De wijzigingen in het origineel weerspiegelden niet de vrije en creatieve keuzes van de auteur. Het aspect van identificatie waarbij aan een lid van een familie het recht toekomt om het familiewapen te gebruiken verzet zich tegen het toekennen van exclusieve rechten aan één persoon onder de vorm van een auteursrecht. Dit zou de auteursrechthouder in staat stellen om familieleden het gebruik van het familiewapen te ontzeggen.

Ook moest het vonnis worden gepubliceerd in het Heraldisch Tijdschrift.

Nederlandse situatie

De nationale wetten in verschillende landen op het gebied van het auteursrecht kunnen van elkaar afwijken. Het Nederlandse auteursrecht is vastgelegd in de Auteurswet van 1912. Deze is voor gebaseerd op de Berner Conventie van 1886, een verdrag dat is opgesteld om auteursrecht internationaal te beschermen. Andere belangrijke internationale verdragen op dit gebied zijn het TRIPS-verdrag (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) opgesteld door de Wereldhandelsorganisatie in 1994 en de Universele Auteursrecht Conventie van 1952. Naar mijn mening is de Belgische uitspraak ook in Nederland toepasbaar.


Kortom: familiewapens op zich zijn niet auteursrechtelijk beschermd, maar de afbeelding wel als deze bestanddelen bevat die de uitdrukking vormen van de eigen intellectuele schepping van de auteur. De auteur moet bovendien vrij en creatief kunnen kiezen, waardoor hij een ‘persoonlijke noot’ die zijn ‘persoonlijkheid weerspiegelt’ aan het werk kan aanbrengen (gebaseerd op jurisprudentie van het Hof van Justitie van de Europese Unie).

In de uitspraak is een belangrijke overweging opgenomen, die tot op heden veelal over het hoofd wordt gezien (p. 17):

Ondanks de afwezigheid van enige gecodificeerde bescherming van familiewapens, ook naar Nederlands recht, lijkt prima facie zich niets te verzetten tegen de bescherming van familiewapens tegen manifest onrechtmatig gebruik door een derde (1382 BW) [onrechtmatige daad, JvBQ]. Onder onrechtmatig en dus foutief gebruik zou desgevraagd het gebruik van een familiewapen door een derde begrepen kunnen worden.

Dit laatste was echter niet gevorderd, maar de Brusselse rechtbank oordeelde dus wel dat er een mogelijkheid bestaat dat een schadeplicht ontstaat tegen een derde die een familiewapen onrechtmatig gebruikt, ook in Nederland. Hetzelfde geldt naar mijn mening ook voor heerlijkheidswapens en -titels.

Ik ben van mening dat nieuw ontworpen familiewapens wel auteursrechtelijk zijn beschermd als deze openbaar zijn gemaakt, omdat deze moeten worden aangemerkt als een werk met een eigen oorspronkelijk karakter, dat het stempel van de maker draagt. In dat geval gaat het immers – in tegenstelling tot oude familiewapens – om scheppende menselijke arbeid, waarbij creatieve keuzes zijn gemaakt.


American Royalty – Succession to the dynastic rights of the Hawaiian monarchs


The Crown Jewels of Hawaii – Photo by the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii.

The formation of the Kingdom of Hawaii started in 1795 with the unification of the independent islands of Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi. In 1810, all of the Hawaiian Islands became unified in one kingdom when the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau were voluntarily added. Two major dynastic families ruled the kingdom subsequently: the House of Kamehameha and the House of Kalākaua until the monarchy was abolished in 1893. This article examines the legitimacy of the current claimants regarding the dynastic rights to the former throne of Hawaii.

Monarchs of Hawaii

The following historical chronology and biographies of Hawaiian monarchs were originally documented in Encyclopedia Britannica.

Kamehameha I (1758?-1819). reigning 1795-1819 – Founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii. A shrewd businessman, Kamehameha amassed a fortune for his kingdom through a government monopoly on the sandalwood trade and through the imposition of port duties on visiting ships. He was an open-minded sovereign who rightfully deserves his title Kamehameha the Great. Acclaimed as the strongest Hawaiian ruler, he maintained his kingdom’s independence throughout the difficult period of European discovery and exploration of the islands—a task that proved too great for his successors (source:

Kamehameha II (1797-1824), reigning 1819-1824 – Kamehameha resisted conversion to Christianity, allegedly because he refused to give up four of his five wives as well as rum drinking. In 1823 he sailed on a visit to England, in a delegation that included two of his wives. Stricken with measles in London in June 1824, Kamehameha and his favourite wife, Kamamalu, died there (source:

Kamehameha III (1813 – 1854), reigning 1825-1854 – Only 10 years of age when he succeeded to the throne, he was initially under the regency of Kamehameha I’s favourite wife, Kaahumanu, who had been regent ever since Kamehameha II had visited England in 1824 and died there. Converted to Christianity in 1824, she became known for her wise and beneficent rule. On her death in 1832 the regency fell to Kamehameha I’s daughter Kinau, but in the following year Kamehameha III assumed power in his own right. After hearing a series of lectures on government delivered by an American clergyman, William Richards, Kamehameha III promulgated the Declaration of Rights, called Hawaii’s Magna Carta, on June 7, 1839, the Edict of Toleration on June 17, 1839, and the first constitution on Oct. 8, 1840. This first written constitution for Hawaii contained several innovations, including a representative body of legislators elected by the people. It also set up a supreme court. The first compilation of laws was published in 1842. With Richards’ aid, Kamehameha also obtained diplomatic recognition of Hawaiian independence by the United States in 1842 and by Great Britain and France in 1843 (source:

Kamehameha IV (1834-1863), reigning 1855-1863 – Kamehameha IV, original name Alexander Liholiho, was known for his firm opposition to the annexation of his kingdom by the United States. As Kamehameha IV, he strove to curb the political power of the American Protestant missionaries in the Hawaiian Islands. Dedicated to protecting his people, who were rapidly dying out because of disease, he sponsored many social and economic reforms. He established Hawaii’s commercial and political relations with other nations on a solid base and tried to balance each country’s influence on island life. The son of Kekuanaoa, governor of Oahu, and Kinau, a woman chief who had been kuhina nui (prime minister), Prince Alexander Liholiho was adopted as a child by his uncle, Kamehameha III. He was rigorously educated by Protestant missionaries and attended the Chiefs’ Childrens’ School. To prepare him further for his future role, Prince Alexander and his brother, Lot, accompanied by the missionary-doctor Gerritt P. Judd, toured the United States, England, and France in 1849. Crowned in 1855 at the death of Kamehameha III, he became a popular monarch and was virtually an idol to the Hawaiian people. The annexation movement of 1853–54, championed by many American missionaries, caused Kamehameha to take steps to ensure the independence of his kingdom. In order to balance foreign relations, which had formerly been dominated by the United States, he invited the Church of England to establish itself in the islands. Impatient with the puritanical American missionaries and suspicious of American businessmen, he gradually removed all American members from cabinet posts and encouraged Hawaii’s commercial interests with other nations (source:

Kamehameha V (1830-1872), reigning 1863-1872 – Succeeding to the throne on the death of his younger brother, Kamehameha IV, he immediately revealed his intention to rule with a strong hand, refusing at his inauguration to take the oath to maintain the existing, comparatively liberal constitution. After calling and dismissing a constitutional convention, he himself wrote and promulgated a new constitution (1864), which remained in effect for 23 years. He also imported the first wave of Japanese labourers, by a contract made in 1868. Kamehameha V never married, and the Kamehameha dynasty ended with his death. The legislature elected a cousin, William Charles Lunalilo, to succeed him (source:

Lunalilo (1835-1874), reigning 1873-1874 – Prince William Charles Lunalilo was born to High Chiefess Miriam ʻAuhea Kekāuluohi (Kuhina Nui, or Premier of the Hawaiian Kingdom and niece of Kamehameha I) and High Chief Charles Kanaʻina. Lunalilo’s grandparents were Kalaʻimamahū (half brother of Kamehameha I) and Kalākua (sister to Kaʻahumanu). His great grandfather was Keōuakupupāikalaninui (father of Kamehameha I).Kamehameha V had not named a successor to the throne before he died on December 11, 1872. Lunalilo wanted his people to choose their next ruler in a democratic manner and requested a plebiscite to be held on New Year’s Day. Prince David Kalākaua and others not in the Kamehameha lineage chose to run against Lunalilo. The people on every island unanimously chose Lunalilo as King. At noon on January 8, 1873, the Legislature met, as required by law, in the Courthouse to cast their ballots to elect the next King. Lunalilo received all 37 votes. The coronation of Lunalilo took place at Kawaiahaʻo Church in a simple ceremony on January 9, 1873. He reigned for one year and 25 days, succumbing to pulmonary tuberculosis on February 3, 1874. As a proponent of democracy and more freedom of choice for his people, he did not name a successor before his death because he believed that the people should, again, choose their leader. His trait of “Lokomaikaʻi” followed him in death because of his desire to do what was best for the people (source:

Kalakaua (1836-1891), reigning 1874-1891 – The son of a high chief, Kalakaua was a candidate to the throne in 1873 but lost the election to Lunalilo. When Lunalilo died the following year, the legislature then elected Kalakaua, who inaugurated a decidedly reactionary and pro-American reign. In 1874 he visited the United States, and in 1881 he took a trip around the world. Although he secured a somewhat favourable reciprocity treaty with the United States in 1876, he yielded in 1887 to demands to give the United States the exclusive right to enter Pearl Harbor and maintain a naval coaling and repair station there. There was an ever-increasing endeavor by King Kalakaua to restore the ancient Hawaiian social order with its customs and ideas of absolutism and divine right, but it was accompanied by extravagance, corruption, personal interference in politics, and fomentation of race feeling, until he was compelled to promulgate (1887) a new constitution providing for responsible ministerial government and other guarantees. The struggle continued, however, not only until the end of his reign (1891), during which there was an armed insurrection (1889) by the opposition, but even more hotly during the subsequent reign of his sister, Liliuokalani. Kalakaua died on a visit to the United States, amid rumours that he was about to sell his kingdom (source:

Liliuokalani (1838–1917) – reigning 1891-1893.  On the death of King Kalakaua in January 1891, Lydia Liliuokalani ascended the throne, becoming the first woman ever to occupy it. Kamakaeha was of a high-ranking family. Her mother, Keohokalole, was an adviser of King Kamehameha III. Reared in the missionary tradition deemed appropriate for Hawaiian princesses, she received a thoroughly modern education, which was augmented by a tour of the Western world. After a time as a member of the court of Kamehameha IV, she was married in September 1862 to John Owen Dominis, son of a Boston sea captain and himself an official in the Hawaiian government. In 1874 her brother David Kalakaua was chosen king, and in 1877, on the death of a second brother, W.P. Leleiohoku, who was heir apparent, she was named heir presumptive. She was known from that time by her royal name, Liliuokalani. Over the next 14 years she established herself firmly in that role. She served as regent during King Kalakaua’s world tour in 1881, and she was active in organizing schools for Hawaiian youth. During a world tour in 1887 she was received by U.S. Pres. Grover Cleveland and by Britain’s Queen Victoria (source: Ka’iulani (1875-1899) was born as the daughter of Archibald Scott Cleghorn and Princess Miriam Likelike. Her mother was a sister of King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last Queen of Hawaii. She was baptised on Christmas Day at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. She passed her first years with her nurse May Leleo and later her governess Miss Barnes. In 1889, Kaʻiulani was sent to England to receive a private education at Great Harrowden Hall, and although she found her lessons hard, she liked them. Her uncle died in 1891 and was succeeded by her aunt, now Queen Liliʻuokalani. Queen Liliʻuokalani immediately appointed Victoria as Crown Princess. Despite this, she continued her studies in England. In 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, and her aunt was deposed. Kaʻiulani released a statement to the press in England (source:

The end of the Hawaiian monarchy

Newspaper article, announcing the appointment by the King of Hawaii of Mr. J.D. van der Made as vice-consul in Dordrecht, The Netherlands. Source: “Binnenland. Rotterdam, 21 Maart.”. “Rotterdamsch nieuwsblad”. Rotterdam, 22-03-1887. Geraadpleegd op Delpher op 02-07-2019,

The United States began exercising direct influence over the Hawaiian monarchy with the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. In exchange for exclusive use of Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, Hawaiian sugar would enter U.S. markets under favorable tariff rates. Sugar was suddenly the islands’ premier crop, and revenue more than tripled. This economic boom granted the Big Five sugar companies (Ladd & Company, H. Hackfeld & Company, C. Brewer & Company, Castle & Cooke, and Alexander & Baldwin) enormous leverage, that triggered them to organize a political revolution in 1887 (source:

In 1893 the last monarch of Hawaii, Queen Lili’uokalani, was overthrown by a group of businessmen, who subsequently installed a provisional government. Thereupon, President Benjamin Harrison proposed the Unites States Sanete to annex the Hawaiian islands. In 1897, this initiative was blocked because the native Hawaiian Patriotic League, successfully petitioned the Unites States Congress in opposition of the initiative. In February 1898 however, at the start of the Spanish American War, the establishment of a mid-Pacific fueling station and naval base became crucial for the United States. The Hawaiian islands were an obvious choice in this respect. In July 12, 1898, a Joint Resolution to annex the Hawaiian islands passed Congress and the Hawaiian islands were officially annexed by the United States (source: The annexation of the Hawaiian islands marked the end of a long struggle between native Hawaiians and white American businessmen for the control over the country.

In 1993, president Bill Clinton signed legislation that apologized for the U.S. role in the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The apology, meant as a means of reconciliation with Native Hawaiians, acknowledges the historic significance of the event. It did not however, provide Federal recognition to native Hawaiians as other Federal laws provide to American Indian tribes.

Legal soap

In the 1990’s, two friends, Lance Paul Larsen and David Keanu Sai prepared a strategy to fabricate a recognition of the self-proclaimed “Hawaiian Kingdom”. A classic formula for ‘recognition’ of fantasy claims is to provoke an arbitral award and then claim that this award is proof of the recognition by a judge of the desired claims. Larsen and his friend followed this strategy and managed to bring their fabricated dispute before an arbitral tribunal established under auspice of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague (Netherlands). The parties in the case were designated Lance Paul Larsen as Claimant and the “Hawaiian Kingdom” as Respondent. The appointed arbitrators were Dr. Gavan Griffith QC, Professor Christopher J. Greenwood QC and Professor James Crawford SC (President of the Tribunal). The essence of the case was the question regarding the legality of the annexation of Hawaii by the United States in 1898 and the claim of the continuing existence of the Kingdom as an independent State in international law. The arbitral tribunal did not tackle any of these issues since it concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over the dispute submitted by the Parties. It also noted that it did not recognize anything by designating the Respondent ‘Hawaiian Kingdom’ (par. 1.2):

In the Notice of Arbitration of 8 November 1999 the Respondent is expressed to be “the Hawaiian Kingdom by its Council of Regency”. Without prejudice to any questions of substance, the Respondent will be referred to in this award as “the Hawaiian Kingdom”.

The summary of the case reads as follows.

In 1999, Mr. Lance Paul Larsen, a resident of Hawaii, brought a claim before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Netherlands against the Hawaiian Kingdom by its Council of Regency (“Hawaiian Kingdom”) on the grounds that the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is in continual violation of: (a) its 1849 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with the United States of America, as well as the principles of international law laid down in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969 and (b) the principles of international comity, for allowing the unlawful imposition of American municipal laws over the claimant’s person within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In determining whether to accept or decline to exercise jurisdiction, the Tribunal considered the questions of whether there was a legal dispute between the parties to the proceeding, and whether the tribunal could make a decision regarding that dispute, if the very subject matter of the decision would be the rights or obligations of a State not party to the proceedings.

The Tribunal  underlined the many points of agreement between the parties, particularly with respect to the propositions that Hawaii was never lawfully incorporated into the United States, and that it continued to exist as a matter of international law. The Tribunal noted that if there existed a dispute, it concerned whether the respondent has fulfilled what both parties maintain is its duty to protect the Claimant, not in the abstract but against the acts of the United States of America as the occupant of the Hawaiian islands. Moreover, the United States’ actions would not give rise to a duty of protection in international law unless they were themselves unlawful in international law. The Tribunal concluded that it could not determine whether the Respondent has failed to discharge its obligations towards the Claimant without ruling on the legality of the acts of the United States of America – something the Tribunal was precluded from doing as the United States was not party to the case.

I agree with Dr. Kenneth R. Conklin’s conclusions regarding the case:

Gullible people see an opera and mistake it for real life. This staged performance had the backdrop of a building used for the genuine International Court at the Hague, where disputes between nations are resolved and where international war crimes trials are held. Naturally, Keanu and Lance refer to their arbitral panel as “The International Court at the Hague,” which creates a false impression of grandeur.


In this paragraph I will discuss five claims to the dynastic rights of the former Hawaiian monarchs.

Wilcox Salazar claim

The claim to the headship of the Royal House of Hawaii by Mrs. Owana Ka`ohelelani Kahekili Mahealani-Rose La`anui Wilcox Salazar is summarized  below.

The Succession to the throne is named by the sovereign under a proper royal proclamation or a ratified and approved constitution, naming the heir to the throne or a line of succession according to the law. In 1844, King Kamehameha III ignored wide claims to the dynasty from other chiefly relatives, and thereby, submitted an official list to the Legislature as the Order-in-Council of a selection of the highest ranking native ali’i eligible to rule under the pertaining Articles of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s constitutions. Article 22 states that upon failing to name an heir to the throne, and if the throne should become vacant, the Legislative Assembly, who shall elect by ballot some native ali`i of the Kingdom as successor to the throne. The Legislative Assembly calls on royal candidates of the highest ranking native ali`i from the list of eligibles to the throne submitted by King Kamehameha III. The list of the highest ranking native ali`i to be rulers was never expanded officially after Kamehameha III by any sovereign, including  Kalakaua who was elected from the list in this manner and reigned for 17 years with legal heirs to the throne naming Lili`uokalani. The deposed Queen Lili`uokalani failed to secure a legal heir to the throne after Princess Ka`iulani and dies in 1917 under an illegal occupation, leaving the throne vacant.  In 1917, Queen Lili`uokalani’s cousin, the High Chiefess Elizabeth Keka`aniau La`anui is the hereditary head of the royal house and now the only highest ranking ali`i alive on the list of eligibles to the throne provided for the Legislative Assembly for Article 22. Given the fact of the overthrow and that the Legislative Assembly is no more, the head of the royal house and preemptive to the throne, High Chiefess Elizabeth Keka`aniau, by the Grace of God has the natural right under international law to continue as “de jure” sovereign under the illegally occupied Hawaiian Kingdom in 1917. Princess Elizabeth Keka`aniau announces her status as head of the royal house, a direct descendant of King Kamehameha’s brother and also a cousin of Queen Lili`uokalani. Elizabeth claims the next head of the royal house by primogeniture will be her niece, Princess Theresa Owana Ka`ohelelani and then to her primogeniture descendants, which has been handed down from generation to generation to her great grand daughter, Princess Owana Ka`ohelelani Salazar (source:

Baker claim

The Baker claim is more modest. The proponent of the claim, Mr. Darrick Baker, substantiates his claim as head of the House of Kamakaheleias and as protector (instead of the head) of “the Royal House” as follows:

The Kingdom of Hawaii was founded by King Kamehameha I in 1795 after unifying the individual Kingdoms of the Hawaiian Islands. Then in 1893 the throne was vacated after a coup d’état against Queen Lydia Liliʻuokalani, who was the last sovereign of Hawai’i. Today there remain descendants of the pre-unication Royal Houses and prominent among them are the House of Kawananakoa and the House of Kamakahelei. H.R.H. Prince Darrick Lane Hoapili Liloa Kamakahelei Baker is the head of the House of Kamakahelei. The House of Kamakehelei is closely related to the former ruling Houses of Kamehameha and Kalakaua and also with the House of Kawananakoa, which is currently headed by Prince Quentin. And as per Hawaiian customs, both Prince Darrick and Prince Quentin are equally positioned to be elected to the Head of the Royal House of Hawaii should the Kingdom be restored.

As Ali’i and a senior member of the Royal House of Hawaii, Prince Darrick considers it his duty to be the protector of the Royal House, actively preserving its legacy and authenticity by maintaining its rich traditions and culture to the maximum extent possible (source:

The claim is well-documented in a social-cultural study, named: Prince Darrick Baker and the Royal House of Kamakahelei.

Mr. Quentin Kawānanakoa

Mr. Quentin Kawananakoa is a Hawaiian politician and great-grandson of Prince David Kawananakoa — who was a cousin of King David Kalakaua. His great-grandfather’s brother was Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole.

Some Hawaiians also consider Quentin Kawananakoa an heir to the Hawaiian monarchy. However, Mr. Kawananakoa has stated that he neither claims nor rejects the title and it has never been formally bestowed on him. Such a title would be honorific, rather than a source of actual political power, except in the sense that it emphasizes heritage and Island roots, he states in an interview with the Honolulu Advertiser in 2006:

I don’t allude to myself in that fashion, but I certainly am proud of my forefathers who in fact were of the royal family,” he said. “But today what we have is perhaps a remembrance of our culture, and in that respect, I think many Hawaiians do recognize that we do come from our prior ali’i family lines.

Mrs. Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa

Mrs. Kawānanakoa (1928-) is the only child of Lydia Liliuokalani Kawānanakoa and William Jeremiah Ellerbrock. Her great-grandfather was James Campbell, a 19th-century Irish industrialist who made a fortune as a partner in a Maui sugar plantation. At the age of six, Mrs. Kawānanakoa was legally adopted in the Hawaiian tradition of hānai by her grandmother, Princess Abigail Campbell Kawānanakoa. It was the intention that she remain a direct heir to a possible restoration of the monarchy. As Liliʻuokalani’s great grand niece, Mrs. Kawānanakoa is seen as the heir apparent to the Hawaiian throne, should restoration of the monarchy occur. She has been described by US Senator for Hawaii and President pro tempore of the United States Senate, Daniel Ken Inouye as “a member of the family with the closest blood ties to the Kalākaua dynasty” (source: Senator Daniel Ken Inouye, “Anniversary of Coronation of King Kalākaua”, Congressional record 10,098 (27 April 1983, cited in Van Dyke, J.M.  (2009). Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai’i?, p. 370). Mrs. Kawānanakoa has been active in various causes for the preservation of native Hawaiian culture, including the restoration of ‘Iolani Palace.

Mr. Sammy Amalu

Also worth mentioning is Mr. Sammy Amalu (1917–1986), a longtime columnist at The Honolulu Advertiser. The 1972 book by Doris Jividen describes the life of this gentleman in much detail. Amalu styled himself as High Chief Kapiikauinamoku, Prince of Keawe and Duke of Konigsberg. He attempted to buy up several Waikiki hotels with counterfeit checks in the 1940s and ended up in prison. Under the alias Kapiikauinamoku, he later wrote “The Story of Hawaiian Royalty” and “The Story of Maui Royalty” in a series of columns written for The Honolulu Advertiser. These articles include genealogies of Hawaii’s aliʻi families including his ancestress, Miriam Auhea Kekāuluohi Crowningburg Kamai (c. 1839–1899). Mrs. Auhea was a high chiefess during the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was a cousin of King Lunalilo and namesake of his mother Kekāuluohi, however was rarely referred to as Kekāuluohi II. Mr. Amalu’s claim ended with his imprisonment.


  1. It is quite peculiar that the anonymous Facebook page “Prestor John Institute” defames the Baker claim on the basis of a book by Mr. Amalu (alias “Samuel Crowningburg-Amalu”), mentioned above. The page states in its Facebook post of 9 April 2019: “Princess Owana Salazar is the undisputed Head of the Royal House and Senior Heir to the Throne.“. Because there exists at least one more claimant (Mrs. Kawānanakoa, mentioned above), this statement is obviously false.
  2. The Larsen  vs. the Hawaiian Kingdom case shows that private persons or entities cannot recognize a state that does not exist. At least, such a recognition does not have legal consequences from a public law perspective. The only authoritative body that could recognize (in a sense of attributing public law consequences) one or more Hawaiian dynastic rights, is the State of Hawaii or the Federal government. Such a recognition could have the form of Act by the government.
  3. Contrary to the Larsen vs. the Hawaiian Kingdom case, there exist transparant and genuine ways to recognise native hereditary rights. In Africa, for example, Botswana has passed several laws to recognise the authority of traditional leaders. These include the Chieftaincy Act; Customary Courts Act, Tribal Territories Act, Marriages Act, and House of Chiefs Act. In Zimbabwe, traditional leaders are selected by their families through rules of succession and eventually endorsed by the executives, a process embedded in the Traditional Leaders Act. In the United States, the Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs of the Department of the Interior (Department) implements Part 83 of Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations (25 CFR Part 83), Federal Acknowledgment of American Indian Tribes. This acknowledgment process is the Department’s administrative process by which petitioning groups that meet the criteria are given Federal acknowledgment as Indian tribes and by which they become eligible to receive services provided to members of Indian tribes. These examples show that governmental recognition of native groups is achievable. Similar legislation by the State of Hawaii or the Federal Government would bring genuine recognition to Hawaii’s heads of dynastic families.
  4. I do not recommend Hawaiian heads of dynastic families to seek recognition from other non-reigning (European) claimants, since this only emphasizes a lack of official recognition. Hawaii’s dynastic families do not need recognition from private parties to show that they are genuine. I recommend sending a petition with scientific, anthropological, genealogical, and historical research to the state of Hawaii to achieve recognition. Hawaii itself is the only authoritative body in this respect.
  5. At the moment, a single Royal House of Hawaii does not exist and a head of the Royal House cannot be elected, since there is no legislature to institute a council of Hawaiian nobles, elected by the High Chiefs. Princess Victoria Ka’iulani did not appoint a successor. In my opinion, the situation before the unification of the Hawaiian dynastic families has currently been revived, and therefore there can only be heads of the pre-unification dynastic families. The Baker-claim is the only claim that is transparent, precise and honest in this respect.


  • Dumberry, Patrick, The Hawaiian Kingdom Arbitration Case and the Unsettled Question of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s Claim to Continuity as an Independent State Under International Law (October 23, 2008). Available at SSRN: or
  • Webb, N. B., & Webb, J. F. (1998). Kaiulani: Crown princess of Hawaii. Honolulu: Mutual Publishing.
  • Fornander, A., & Stokes, J. F. (1969). An account of the Polynesian race, its origin and migrations and the ancient history of the Hawaiian people to the times of Kamehameha I. Rutland (Vt): Tuttle.
  • Kamehiro, S. L. (2009). The arts of kingship: Hawaiian art and national culture of the Kalākaua era. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • McKinzie, E. K., & Stagner, I. W. (1986). Hawaiian genealogies: Extracted from Hawaiian language newspapers. Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, Brigham Young University-Hawaii Campus.
  • Peleioholan, L. S. (1908). Genealogy of the Robinson family & ancient legends and chants of Hawaii. Honolulu: Bulletin Publishing.
  • Düsing, S. (2002). Traditional leadership and democratisation in Southern Africa: A comparative study of Botswana, Namibia, and Southern Africa. Münster: Lit.
  • Jividen, D. (1972). Sammy Amalu: Prince, Pauper Or Phony? Erin Enterprise.
  • Van Dyke, J.M. (2009). Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai’i? HonoluluUniversity of Honolulu Press.


I gratefully acknowledge the most interesting comments of Dr. Matt Bray.

Nederlandse adeldom via de vrouwelijke lijn

Een afstammeling – via de vrouwelijke lijn – van een Nederlandse adellijke familie vroeg mij onlangs of hij kon worden erkend te behoren tot de Nederlandse adel. Ik moest hem helaas teleurstellen.

Juridisch kader

Volgens vaste jurisprudentie van de Raad van State gaat adeldom in Nederland alleen over via de mannelijke lijn:

Gelet op de vaste rechtspraak van de Afdeling (uitspraken van 5 april 2006 in zaak nr. 200505679/1 en van 22 juli 2009 in zaak nr. 200807914/1), is van discriminatie geen sprake als er voor het maken van onderscheid in het licht van de doelen van de van toepassing zijnde regeling redelijke en objectieve gronden bestaan. In dit verband dient de vraag te worden beantwoord of er voor het verschil in behandeling tussen buitenechtelijke kinderen van een adellijke vader geboren vóór 1 augustus 1994 enerzijds en buitenechtelijke kinderen van een adellijke vader die daarna zijn geboren anderzijds een objectieve en redelijke rechtvaardiging bestaat. De adel is een historisch gegroeid instituut dat zijn bestaansrecht uitsluitend ontleent aan dat historische karakter. Met het naar eigentijdse denkbeelden wijzigen en inrichten van het instituut zal dit instituut zijn grondslag verliezen. Uitgangspunt bij het wetsvoorstel was gelet daarop, het beleid ten aanzien van adeldom en het geldende adelsrecht te handhaven. De modernisering is daarom beperkt tot na 1 augustus 1994 buiten het huwelijk geboren kinderen van een adellijke vader. Gelet hierop bestaat voor het onderscheid een objectieve en redelijke rechtvaardiging.


Poster van de Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht.
Bron: Collectie IAV-Atria, kennisinstituut voor emancipatie en vrouwengeschiedenis. Vervaardigd door Th. Molkenboer, 1918.

De logica waarom een historisch gegroeid instituut zijn bestaansrecht uitsluitend ontleent aan dat historische karakter en zijn grondslag verliest als adeldom via de vrouwelijke lijn overgaat, ontgaat mij. Naar mijn mening is de overweging van de Raad van State denigrerend ten aanzien van vrouwen; het zijn kennelijk (als je de overweging leest) inferieure wezens die niet in staat zijn om een historisch instituut ‘in ere’ te houden. Laat het helder zijn: zonder vrouwen kan er geen adel zijn omdat alleen vrouwen kinderen kunnen krijgen. Voorgaande standaard-overweging van de Raad van State is een uitvloeisel van een politiek spelletje en heeft niets met recht te maken. Het is zeer ernstig dat de Raad van State zich hiervoor leent. Ik zal dit nader toelichten aan de hand van een vergelijking met het vrouwenkiesrecht.

Vergelijking met vrouwenkiesrecht

In de grondwet van 1882 werd gesproken van ‘Nederlanders’ als het ging om het kiesrecht. Vrouwen waren volgens de letter van de wet dus niet uitgesloten van het kiesrecht. Toen de arts Aletta Jacobs zich in 1883 als eerste vrouw op de kiezerslijst wilde laten zetten in Amsterdam, werd zij geweigerd. Tot drie keer toe kreeg mevrouw Jacobs nul op haar rekest: eerst van de gemeente Amsterdam, vervolgens van de arrondissementsrechtbank en tenslotte van de Hoge Raad.

Hoewel de grondwet het kiesrecht aan meerderjarige Nederlanders met een bepaald inkomen toekende, stelde de Hoge Raad dat ‘Nederlander en ingezetenen alleen slaat op de mannen, anders ware dit afzonderlijk vermeld’. Ons hoogste rechtscollege overwoog dat (Schokking 1958, p. 24):

de rechtbank (…) terecht heeft beslist, dat het ten enemale onaannemelijk is, dat het in de bedoeling van de Nederlandsche wetgever bij de herziening der Grondwet in 1848 zoude hebben gelegen, om, in afwijking van destijds bestaande toestanden en geldende beginselen van Staatsrecht, het stemrecht aan vrouwen toe te kennen; dat toch, ware deze uitbreiding van het kiesrecht door de wetgever beoogd, dit allergewichtigst beginsel ongetwijfeld in duidelijke en ondubbelzinnige termen in de Grondwet en diensvolgens in de Kieswet van 1850 zoude zijn uitgesproken, wat echter niet is geschied.

Net als met de weigering van de adeldom via de vrouwelijke lijn werd ‘de geest der wet’ belangrijker geacht: “. Bij de Grondwetsherziening van 1887 werd het kiesrecht uitgebreid tot kiezers die ‘over tekenen van welstand en bekwaamheid beschikten’, maar er werd ook uitdrukkelijk opgenomen dat alleen mannelijke ingezetenen kiesrecht hadden. Er zou dus een nieuwe grondwetswijziging nodig zijn om vrouwenkiesrecht mogelijk te maken. Pas in 1917 werd in Nederland het passief kiesrecht voor vrouwen ingevoerd. Vrouwen konden toen voor politieke functies gekozen worden, maar mochten niet zelf stemmen. In 1919 kregen vrouwen eindelijk het felbegeerde actief kiesrecht, waardoor ze zelf mochten stemmen.

Aan het weigeren om adellijke titels (die volgens het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens een onderdeel van de naam zijn; zie de door mij behandelde zaak: EHRM 18 mei 1999, zaaknr. 45908/99) over te laten gaan via de vrouw, liggen dezelfde ‘objectieve’ overwegingen ten grondslag: de geest van de wet. Ik meen dat de term zombie overwegingen beter de lading dekken. Zelfs in 2007 werden dergelijke zombies nog van stal gehaald bij de totstandkoming van de uitspraak van de Raad van State. Hierin werd beslist dat de Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij gesubsidieerd moest worden ondanks dat de partij een vrouw-onvriendelijk beleid hanteert ten aanzien van het kiesrecht. Zoals J. Peeters en K. Bleeker in 2008 terecht constateren, een niet te vatten redenering:

Het blijft voor ons toch moeilijk te vatten dat een partij als de SGP, die vrouwen rechtstreeks discrimineert, nog steeds serieus genomen wordt (was zelfs recentelijk nog even bij de kabinetsformatie betrokken). Men kan dit toch moeilijk afdoen als een gevolg van de eis van pluriformiteit die ons democratisch bestel kenmerkt? Dat wordt toch niet minder gekenmerkt door het verbod van discriminatie van vrouwen? Misschien wordt de SGP door velen gezien als een rariteit in ons bestel en niet bedreigend. Men moet dan niet vergeten dat de SGP lokaal in sommige gemeenten een dominante rol speelt. Zelfs wanneer men in de afweging tussen de pluriformiteit van de ABRS [Afdeling Bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State, red.] en het discriminatieverbod van het Hof kiest voor pluriformiteit betekent dat toch niet per se dat de SGP actief gesteund moet worden middels subsidie. Wat dit aangaat zijn de vrouwenrechten er niet op vooruitgegaan met de uitspraken van de ABRS en het Hof.


Het is voor mij – en gelukkig voor veel anderen – een enigma dat vrouwen nog steeds geen adeldom kunnen overdragen omdat daarmee het ‘historisch instituut zijn grondslag verliest’. Alleen als de vrouw lid is van het Koninklijk Huis wordt de zombie teruggestuurd naar de plaats waar hij vandaan komt; dan is overerving van adeldom in de vrouwelijke lijn wel mogelijk en verliest het historisch instituut zijn grondslag kennelijk niet. Ik begrijp het niet.


  • Atria; BWN; BWSA; PDC ; W.F. Bynum and Helen Bynum red., Dictionary of Medical Biography (Oxford 2007);  Bonnie Smith red., The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Women in World History (Oxford 2008).
  • Schokking, J.C. De vrouw in de Nederlandse politiek. Emancipatie tot actief Burgerschap, Assen, 1958.
  • Peters, J. & K. Bleeker (2008). Staat moet SGP aanpakken maar ook subsidiëren: over botsende competenties en grondrechten, NJB nr. 10, 7 maart 2008, p. 556-563.

Bijlage – Wet op de Adeldom

Wet van 10 mei 1994, houdende regeling inzake de adeldom

Wij Beatrix, bij de gratie Gods, Koningin der Nederlanden, Prinses van Oranje-Nassau, enz. enz. enz.

Allen, die deze zullen zien of horen lezen, saluut! doen te weten:

Alzo Wij in overweging genomen hebben, dat op grond van additioneel artikel XXV van de Grondwet een voorziening moet worden getroffen ter zake van de adeldom;

Zo is het, dat Wij, de Raad van State gehoord, en met gemeen overleg der Staten-Generaal, hebben goedgevonden en verstaan, gelijk Wij goedvinden en verstaan bij deze:

Artikel 1

Adeldom wordt verleend bij koninklijk besluit. De verlening kan uitsluitend geschieden aan Nederlanders.

Artikel 2

1 De verlening van adeldom geschiedt door verheffing, inlijving of erkenning.

2 Verheffing in de adel bij koninklijk besluit kan uitsluitend plaatsvinden ten aanzien van leden van het koninklijk huis en van voormalige leden daarvan binnen drie maanden na verlies van het lidmaatschap van het koninklijk huis.

De verlening van de titels «Prins (Prinses) der Nederlanden» en «Prins (Prinses) van Oranje-Nassau» wordt bij of krachtens de Wet lidmaatschap koninklijk huis bepaald.

3 Inlijving in de Nederlandse adel kan slechts plaatsvinden ten aanzien van personen wier geslacht behoort tot de wettelijk erkende adel van een staat met een vergelijkbaar adelsstatuut en die het verzoek tot inlijving hebben gedaan.

    • a.te zamen met het verzoek tot verlening van het Nederlanderschap;

    • b.te zamen met het afleggen van de verklaring ter verkrijging van het Nederlanderschap door optie;

    • c.te zamen met het bereiken van de meerderjarigheid bij de verkrijging van het Nederlanderschap van rechtswege indien de vader van de verzoeker het Nederlanderschap niet van rechtswege heeft verkregen.

4 Erkenning te behoren tot de Nederlandse adel kan uitsluitend plaatsvinden ten aanzien van personen die behoren tot een geslacht dat voor 1795 reeds tot de inheemse adel behoorde.

Artikel 3

Adeldom gaat ook volgens de bestaande regelingen met betrekking tot adeldom over op buiten het huwelijk geboren kinderen.

Artikel 4

Bij de verlening van adeldom zijn taxa verschuldigd. Bij algemene maatregel van bestuur worden nadere regels omtrent de taxa gesteld.

Artikel 5

Adeldom wordt vermeld op officiële documenten waar dit vereist is, tenzij de betrokken persoon verzoekt, de vermelding achterwege te laten of te verwijderen.

Artikel 6

1 Er is een Hoge Raad van Adel.

2 De Raad heeft tot taak Onze Minister van Binnenlandse Zaken te adviseren over verzoeken tot verlening van adeldom.

3 De Raad is samengesteld uit vijf leden, die bij koninklijk besluit worden benoemd en ontslagen.

Artikel 7

1 [Red: Bevat wijzigingen in andere regelgeving.]

2 De bestaande regelingen met betrekking tot adeldom en de Hoge Raad van Adel kunnen worden gewijzigd bij algemene maatregel van bestuur.

Artikel 8

Inlijving in de Nederlandse adel kan plaatsvinden ten aanzien van personen wier geslacht behoort tot de wettelijk erkende adel van een staat met een vergelijkbaar adelsstatuut en daartoe een verzoek om inlijving hebben gedaan binnen vijf jaar na de datum van inwerkingtreding van deze wet.

Artikel 9

Deze wet kan worden aangehaald als Wet op de adeldom.

Lasten en bevelen dat deze in het Staatsblad zal worden geplaatst en dat alle ministeries, autoriteiten, colleges en ambtenaren wie zulks aangaat, aan de nauwkeurige uitvoering de hand zullen houden.

Gegeven te ‘s-Gravenhage, 10 mei 1994


De Minister van Binnenlandse Zaken,

E. van Thijn

Uitgegeven de tweede juni 1994

De Minister van Justitie,

E. M. H. Hirsch Ballin

Legal opinion: the legitimate successor of king Kigeli V of Rwanda


King Rwanda
King Rudahigwa Mutara III (1911-1959) in Belgium in 1949 with mr. Kamuzinzi ka Rusagara behind him. Photo: Mrs. Majolie F. Uwase. Rudahigwa Mutara III became a Rwandan King in 1931 and effectively worked under the Belgians influence. Rudahigwa, who died in in Bujumbura, is said to have been the first victim of the ID’s introduced by Belgians.

According to tradition, Ruganzu I Bwimba, a Tutsi leader, founded a kingdom in the Bwanacambwe region near Kigali in the 15th or 16th century. What is now central Rwanda was absorbed in the 16th century, and outlying Hutu communities were subdued by the mwami (“king”) Ruganzu II Ndori in the 17th century. In some areas of the country, independent Hutu principalities continued to exist, and in other areas, Tutsi and Hutu lineages lived in interdependent cooperation under the nominal control of the king. The borders of the kingdom were rounded out in the late 19th century by Kigeli IV Rwabugiri, who is regarded as Rwanda’s greatest king. By 1900 Rwanda was a unified state with a centralized military structure (source: Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Upon the arrival of the Belgians in 1916 after the First World War following the defeat of Germany, the Belgians endorsed the Tutsi’s power over the Hutus as a means of controlling the country. The Belgians considered the Tutsis to be superior to the Hutus. They considered the Tutsis as more like themselves. For this reason they supported them to be the upper-class of Rwandan society. Identity cards that distinguished Hutu from Tutsi became mandatory, like the Jews were categorized in during the Nazi regime. Belgium’s worst crime was the introduction of a racial theory aimed at providing proof of the Tutsi’s apparent greater purity and closer ancestry to Europeans. Skull measurements showing larger brain size, greater height, and lighter skin tones all reaffirmed the Tutsis’ superiority over the Hutus.

The final step in Belgium’s racial policy was implementing ‘Corvée’: peasant farmers, for the large part Hutus, were obligated to grow coffee beans on their land for Tutsi officials. Corvée is a system similar to slavery.

When Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutus took their place. Over subsequent decades, the Tutsis were portrayed as the scapegoats for every crisis. The oppressed Hutus decided to take revenge. During Grégoire Kayibanda’s regime (1961-1973), there was an increasing exodus of Tutsis from Rwanda into neighboring nations. The above mentioned developments culminated eventually in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that left nearly one million people dead.

Rwanda’s peacekeepers

In 1961, with the support of the Belgian government, Hutu politician Dominique Mbonyumutwa led a coup d’état that took control of the Rwandan state and abolished the kingdom on 25 September 1961. King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa of Rwanda (1936 – 2016) was the last ruling king (Mwami) of Rwanda, from 28 July 1959 until the abolition of the Rwandan monarchy. Like his ancestors, he was a peacekeeper and preserved the unity in his country under the difficult times of Belgium oppression. Their support to overthrow the king as head of state was the last act of betrayal by the Belgians to the Rwandan people: the destruction of its centuries-old cultural identity.

The last official king of Rwanda led a life in exile for almost 60 years, both as a refugee and a consistent advocate for the immediate, safe and unconditional return home of all Tutsi exiles. One of the first to help the king was the Monarchist League, a 70-year-old British group that campaigns for the preservation and restoration of kingdoms the world over. In order to fund this great achievement, Kigeli V turned to westerners who were willing to support him financially in exchange for noble titles and other honors. Such a practice is not an uncommon business model for monarchs (whether reigning or in exile) to fund their court.

However, the living circumstances of this great man remained far from optimal. In 2013, Washingtonian magazine found the former monarch living in subsidized housing in Virginia and living off food stamps. He told the magazine that Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda and a fellow Tutsi, had permitted him to return to his home country but said that he could not resume the throne. In retrospective, I doubt that this was the right decision.

As the return to monarchy could be instrumental in preserving unity and peace in Rwanda and thus preventing further violence, it is interesting to investigate the question of who can be seen as a legitimate successor to king Kigeli V.

Line of succession

During the colonisation by the Belgians, all legislation governing the country was made by Belgian authorities and the mainstay of criminal and civil legislation was the civil and criminal codes of the then Belgian Congo. Though criminal law had universal application, written civil laws was applied only to whites. Customary law continued to apply to the natives. Hence the current Rwanda Civil Law Legal system is based on German and Belgian civil law systems and customary law. It is important to note that Rwanda is a civil law legal system that in the beginning of the 21st century was undergoing a transformation from purely civil law to a merge between civil law and common law. The evolutionary process has led to the reform of several laws such as the penal code, and the law of evidence among others.

During the time that Rwanda was a kingdom, the central government was manned by the Abiru through a complex and secret polity known as ubwiru. The Abiru were ritual loyalists who lived in the king’s palace. Their purpose was to explain occurrences and forecast the future. For instance, the Abiru alone could secretly determine the next king and define his mission during his reign (source:

In my opinion, there currently is no formal law to derive a successor, since the kingdom has been replaced by a republic. The same cannot be said about the Abiru: this ancient institute cannot be abolished by the president of the Rwandan republic as it is part of the king’s personal entourage. Therefore, in respect to the legitimacy of a claim, customary law adopted to general principles of law that are recognized by civilized nations, should be seen as coming close to a law of succession and it is along these lines that I have formed an opinion about the legitimate successor of king Kigeli V.

Legal opinion

Acclamation of the new pretender to the vacant throne of Rwanda Yuhi VI by mr. Benzinge (9 January 2017).

There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Boniface Benzinge was a close friend and reliable confidant of the king. In many instances he can be seen by his side in the Kigeli V’ company, for example at the king’s last public interview of 30th August 2016. Mr. Benzinge also accompanied the king on his last visit to the United Kingdom in June 2016. The close relationship both men held, was mentioned by the Washingtonian in the 2013 article. Mr. Benzinge was Kigeli’s boyhood friend (source: Mr. Chris Kamo). He played various roles for the King, including his chancellor, counsellor, secretary and interpreter. He stayed with his friend for nearly six decades when almost all other Rwandans abandoned him and only a handful of Westerners circled around the former king with the sole purpose of obtaining royal titles and awards.

Based on the oral evidence, publicly given by Mr. Benzinge on 9 January 2017, in my opinion, the current claimant, Mr. Emmanuel Bushayija (1960), should be regarded as a legitimate successor to the headship of the Royal House of Rwanda. Bushayija is the son of HRH Theoneste Bushayija and grandson of HM King Yuhi V Musinga. He has assumed the title “Yuhi VI” and should be addressed as His Royal Highness in formal correspondence.


  • I recommend to form an Abiru, consisting of Rwandans, who are able to act in accordance with the ancient traditions of customary law but are also open to implementing fundamental rules of modern law (for example regarding gender-neutrality). An Abiru, consisting of Westerners is not acceptable, since this would be in breach with customary law.
  • The composition of the Abiri also needs to be transparent in order not to trigger discussion regarding future successors. The names of the members of the Abiri should be published on the website of the Royal House.


Authoritative bodies regarding the recognition of knightly orders

Is there a generally accepted standard regarding the recognition of orders of knighthood?

James Watt (1736-1819) by Carl Frederik von Breda (Photo: NPG). The famous inventor, James Watt grew up within the Barony of Cartsburn. His father and namesake, James Watt, was contracted to enlarge the mansion house of Sir John Shaw, 2nd Baronet at Greenock, and his grandfather, Thomas Watt, was Bailie of the Barony of Cartsburn. In 2010, the dignity Baron of Cartsburn was transferred by assignation to Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, scholar and nobiliary law expert.

No, there is not. If this were the case, it would be rather simple to decide whether a given order is legitimate or not. A recognized and accepted standard of what an order of knighthood is does not exist. However, an attempt was made in the 1960’s to establish such a standard; the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry, also known as  “ICOC” or in Italian: “Commissione internazionale permanente per lo studio degli ordini cavallereschi“. The organization is a privately run, privately funded, and privately managed entity composed of scholars on chivalric matters and systems of awards. Its purpose is to examine orders of chivalry to determine their legitimacy. Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, Baron of Cartsburn, has been its president since 1999. The seat of the organization is in Milan, Italy.

ICOC principles

In 2015, the ICOC stated that orders were considered knightly only when they are historical. Other types of orders are listed in appendices in order to inform the public of their existence, but without evaluation. New creations, currently being made by Heads of former ruling Houses, are considered as awarding systems without the designation ‘knightly’. The ICOC uses the below mentioned standard (source: website ICOC) to evaluate whether it is considered ‘knightly’ or not. I have copied the first five standards and added my personal comments. The sixth principle addresses the Sovereign Order of Malta and is not relevant for the questions raised in this article.

Principles involved in assessing the validity of Orders of Chivalry

1) Every independent State has the right to create its own Orders or Decorations of Merit and lay down, at will, their particular rules. But it must be made clear that only the higher degrees of these modern State Orders can be deemed of knightly rank, provided they are conferred by the Crown or by the “pro tempore” ruler of some traditional State.

Comments. An independent state does not need the recognition of the ICOC to decide whether an order is knightly or not. As an example, article 111 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of The Netherlands states that orders of knighthood are constituted by law. Based on this article, Dutch law established two orders of knighthood for civilians: the Order of the Dutch Lion and the Order of Orange-Nassau. Both are explicitly named ‘orders of knighthood’ independent of the issued rank. The first principle of the ICOC is therefore incorrect.

2) The Dynastic (or Family or House) Orders which belong jure sanguinis to a Sovereign House (that is to those ruling or ex-ruling Houses whose sovereign rank was internationally recognised at the time of the Congress of Vienna in 1814 or later) retain their full historical chivalric, nobiliary and social validity, notwithstanding all political changes. It is therefore considered ultra vires of any republican State to interfere, by legislation or administrative practice, with the Princely Dynastic Family or House Orders. That they may not be officially recognised by the new government does not affect their traditional validity or their accepted status in international heraldic, chivalric and nobiliary circles.

3) It is generally admitted by jurists that such ex-sovereigns who have not abdicated have positions different from those of pretenders and that in their lifetime they retain their full rights as “fons honorum” in respect even of those Orders of which they remain Grand Masters which would be classed, otherwise, as State and Merit Orders.

Comments. These two principles have already been established centuries ago by Hugo de Groot (1583-1645), a Dutch jurist (Grotius, Hugo, 1583-1645. (1964). De jure belli ac pacis libri tres / by Hugo Grotius ; trans. by Francis W. Kelsey ; with the collaboration of Arthur E.R. Boak, Henry A. Sanders … [and others]. New York : Oceana). Along with the earlier works of Francisco de Vitoria and Alberico Gentili, he laid the foundations for modern international law. They are therefore not original principles of the ICOC, but nonetheless correct principles.

4) Although, at one time – many centuries ago – private people of high standing could and did create some independent Orders of Knighthood, some among which came, in due course, to gain considerable prestige and obtained formal validity from the Church and the Crown, such rights of creation of Orders have long since fallen into desuetude and, nowadays, Orders of Chivalry as we understand the term must always stem from or be – by longstanding uninterrupted tradition – under the protection of Chiefs or of Houses of recognised sovereign rank.

Comments. The Order of the Knights of Rizal is an order of knighthood in the Philippines. The Order has been created in 1911 by Colonel Antonio C. Torres, to honor and uphold the ideals of Philippine national hero and polymath Dr. José Rizal. The ranks and insignia of the order are recognized in the Honors Code of the Philippines as official awards of the Republic. The Order has been granted a legislative charter by President Elpidio Quirino as a non-sectarian, non-partisan, non-racial civic, patriotic, and cultural organization under the Republic Act 646 on June 14, 1951. The Order’s insignia have been approved to be worn by the Philippine diplomatic corps. The fourth principle of the ICOC that only “many centuries ago” private persons could create an independent order of knighthood, is therefore incorrect. The recognition of knighthood depends on the official recognition by a state and not on antiquity.

5) The recognition of Orders by States or supranational organisations which themselves do not have chivalric orders of their own, and in whose Constitutions no provisions are made for the recognition of knightly and nobiliary institutions,cannot be accepted as constituting validation by sovereignties, since these particular sovereignties have renounced the exercise of heraldic jurisdiction. The international “status” of an Order of Knighthood rests, in fact, on the rights of fons honorum, which, according to tradition, must belong to the Authority by which this particular Order is granted, protected or recognised.

Comments. The signing of the treaties of Westphalia in 1648 significantly changed the nature of international relations, since it illustrated the beginning of two important principles: state sovereignty as well as the notion of non-interference. These principles are also part of the United Nations’ (UN) charter which says that “the Organization’s foundation depends on the equal sovereignty of all its members.” As such, state sovereignty has been an undeniable pillar of international relations for decades, and it is essential in the present international community. The fifth principle of the ICOC is incorrect, because it is in breach of the sovereignty of states as generally accepted in international law. The same is true regarding supranational entities like the European Union and the World Trade Organization.


There exist a number of websites that purport to be authoritative bodies, but have proven to be landing pages for medal mills. They trigger the public to make inquiries about orders and decorations, subsequently offering their services as an ‘independent’ intermediary. The final step is to sell the medals of formerly ruling houses in exchange for a so-called ‘passage fee’. In this respect, I would like to mention the following websites.

  • The “International Commission and Association on Nobility” is run by a UK-company of the same name, of which the director is Mr. Salvatore Caputo, born in 1942, with the Italian nationality and living in Guatemala (Companies House nr 07457100). The website states that it is affiliated with the United Nations and the European Commission, which is not the case.
  • The ‘Instituto Preste João / Prester John Institute’ is a Facebook page run by the Portuguese “Centro de Informação do Castelo de Ourém“, which, in turn, has a separate web page that has been “under construction” for years.  The Facebook page also states that the ‘Institute’ is recognized by the “CIAN-International Confederation of Nobility Associations”, a non-existing entity. It further states that the ‘Institute’ is a “Royal and Imperial Council of Foreign Nobility”. The meaning of this designation remains unclear, but the Facebook page lacks authority in these matters.


Screenshot of the Prester John Institute Facebook page with its truncated  uploaded banners.

I prefer to see the ICOC as a highly respected learned society. Its work and publications cannot be overestimated. I very much appreciate the fact that the ICOC’s knowledge and principles develop constantly. It is this attitude and transparency that make the ICOC an important contributor to the body of knowledge regarding knightly orders.  I also hold Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in heraldry, reward systems and nobiliary law, in high regards. Due to Dr. degli Uberti’s effort, the ICOC has become the leading learned society regarding knightly orders and nobiliary law. On their website, the ICOC shows that its aim is to genuinely contribute to the body of knowledge:

Today, the Commission considers the Register always open and does not exclude the possibility of modifying its positions or decisions, provided that there is solid documentary scientific evidence to do so. Moreover, the Commission favours open discussions on subjects between persons with differing points of view.

In the twenty-first century the Commission needs to expand its horizons, widening its principles in order to bring them into line with the objective reality of today’s society and the inevitable historical changes. The compilation of the Register cannot be limited to the chivalric material of the past, thus the Commission has to offer, to those who are not scholars in the field of award systems, a valid publication from which one can learn and understand. Above all this publication must open the eyes of the uninitiated to diverse award systems which exist in today’s world.

Voorgestelde aanpassingen in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen

In de wereld van de orden, decoraties en medailles wordt vaak de term ‘ridderlijk’ gebruikt, in de zin van ‘ridderlijke orde’. Volgens Van Dale (jaargang 1898) betekent ‘ridderlijk’:

wat een ridder of de ridders betreft: de ridderlijke stand, de ridderstand; een ridderlijk landgoed, slot; — als een ridder: zich ridderlijk gedragen; ridderlijke avonturen; dapper, moedig; — ridderlijk antwoorden, bekennen, eerlijk, rondborstig.

Het betreft dus een redelijk brede term, waardoor het vrijwel onmogelijk wordt om van overheidswege over te gaan tot het al dan niet erkennen van ‘ridderlijke orden’. Toch doet de overheid dit wel in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen (zie onderaan dit artikel). De term ‘ridderlijke orde’ betekent iets anders dan de term ‘ridderorde’. Een ridderorde kan alleen bij wet worden ingesteld (artikel 111 Grondwet). De drie Nederlandse ridderorden zijn de Militaire Willemsorde (ingesteld bij wet van 30 april 1815, Stb. 33), de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (ingesteld bij wet van 29 september 1815, Stb. 47), en de Orde van Oranje-Nassau (ingesteld bij wet van 4 april 1892, Stb. 55).

In zijn buitengewoon interessante proefschrift over Nederlandse ridderlijke orden, komt jhr. dr. Versélewel de Witt Hamer tot een aantal belangrijke conclusies ten aanzien van de erkenning van de drie ridderlijke orden die zijn opgenomen in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen (zie hieronder bij de letter D: “Erkende (ridderlijke) orden”. Zijn conclusies (Versélewel de Witt Hamer, p.97) op dit punt luiden als volgt.

  • Alleen voor de Duitse Orde geldt dat deze orde bij wet is ingesteld en daarmee in juridische zin door de Nederlandse overheid is erkend.
  • Anders ligt het bij de Johanniter orde en de Orde van Malta (SMOM) die beide als vereniging zijn opgericht en waarvan de statuten bij koninklijk besluit zijn vastgesteld, net als van elke Nederlandse vereniging voor de invoering van boek 2 van het Burgerlijk Wetboek in 1976, waarna de toets van bezwaar tegen de erkenning van rechtspersoonlijkheid verviel.

In deze bijdrage wordt kritiek gegeven op de plaats van ridderlijke orden in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen. Betoogd wordt dat deze orden daaruit moeten worden verwijderd.

Het Koninklijk Besluit voor de goedkeuring van de statuten is geen erkenning van overheidswege van de Johanniter Orde of de Orde van Malta als ridderlijke orde

Keizer Wilhem II als Herrenmeister van de Johanniter Orde (1888). Foto: WikiCommons.

Een Koninklijk Besluit was in Nederland in de jaren 1855 tot en met 1976 noodzakelijk als een vereniging verzocht om rechtspersoonlijkheid. Dit laatste is noodzakelijk om registergoederen te kunnen aankopen (bijvoorbeeld een kantoorgebouw). In dat geval dienden de statuten van de vereniging te worden goedgekeurd door het Ministerie van Justitie. Voor verenigingen die korter dan 30 jaar waren aangegaan werd de goedkeuring en daarmee de rechtspersoonlijkheid verleend bij koninklijk besluit, voor een duur langer dan 30 jaar bij wet. Om deze laatste, moeilijker weg te ontlopen werden verenigingen doorgaans voor iets korter dan 30 jaar aangegaan, waarna een verzoek tot verlenging kon worden ingediend.

De goedgekeurde statuten werden in de Staatscourant gepubliceerd en bijgehouden in het Verenigingenregister bij het Ministerie van Justitie. Over de periode 1875-1976 bevat dit register (aanwezig bij het Nationaal Archief) ongeveer 80.000 dossiers, waaronder  de in 1968 opgerichte “Ridders van de Soevereinde Orde van de Heilige Johannes van Jeruzalem, Ridder van Malta OSJ“. Naar laatstgenoemde ridderlijke orde hebben het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, het Openbaar Ministerie en de Rijksrecherche onderzoek gedaan wegens het misbruiken van de term “Royal Decree”. Enkele brieven en rapporten van de Nederlandse overheid over deze orde zijn hieronder opgesomd (zie

De koninklijke goedkeuring kon volgens art. 7 van de Wet van 1855 alleen worden geweigerd op grond van het algemeen belang. De koninklijke goedkeuring verdween bij de invoering van Boek 2 van het Nieuw Burgerlijk Wetboek in 1976. Vanaf dan heeft elke vereniging rechtspersoonlijkheid, met de aantekening dat de bestuurders hoofdelijk aansprakelijk zijn zolang de statuten niet door een notaris in een authentieke akte zijn opgenomen en deze bij de Kamer van Koophandel is geregistreerd. Van een erkenning door middel van een Koninklijk besluit van de Maltezer en de Johanniter Orde is dan ook geen sprake.

Juridische aspecten

Artikel 1:3, eerste lid, Algemene wet bestuursrecht bepaalt dat van een besluit sprake is bij een schriftelijke beslissing van een bestuursorgaan inhoudende een publiekrechtelijke rechtshandeling. Volgens vaste jurisprudentie van de Raad van State, moet de vraag of met een handeling een rechtsgevolg is beoogd en het al dan niet om een besluit gaat, worden onderscheiden van de vraag of degene die de handeling heeft verricht bevoegd was namens een bestuursorgaan dat besluit te nemen. Een gepretendeerde bevoegdheid of het geheel ontbreken van een bevoegdheid staan er niet aan in de weg, dat sprake is van een besluit als bedoeld in artikel 1:3, eerste lid, Awb (bijvoorbeeld: ECLI:NL:RVS:2006:AW1297). Dit betekent dat de opname van het Maltezer en de Johanniter Orde in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen kan worden aangemerkt als een besluit, maar door het ontbreken van de wettelijke bevoegdheid, wel een onrechtmatig besluit. De onrechtmatigheid geldt ook ten aanzien van andere ridderlijke orden, die een dergelijke erkenning van overheidswege niet hebben gekregen, zoals de oecumenische Orde van Sint Lazarus en de Rooms-katholieke Orde van het Heilig Graf van Jeruzalem. Het wordt een interessante casus als, bijvoorbeeld de Orde van Sint-Lazarus, aan aanvraag doet om te worden opgenomen op de lijst van het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen.


Het voorgaande betekent dat de Maltezer Orde en de Johanniter Orde niet door de Nederlandse overheid als ridderlijke orde zijn erkend, behalve in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen. Hiervoor is geen wettelijke grondslag.

De erkenning door de regering van de huidige Duitse Orde als ridderlijke orde is twijfelachtig

De Duitse orde, balije Utrecht, is op 27 februari 1811 door Napoleon opgeheven en weer hersteld bij wet van 8 augustus 1815, nr. 55, (zie Stbl. nr. 1815, 43). Het eerste artikel van deze wet luidt als volgt:

De Duitsche Orde, Balye Utrecht, wordt hersteld, zodanig als derzelve, ten tijde van derzelve suppressie, in den jare 1811, heeft bestaan, voorbehoudens nogtans Onze bevoegdheid, om aan derzelve Orde, in tijd en wijle, zoodanige andere en meer doelmatige inrightingen te geven, als Wij zullen goedvinden, en voorts op den voet en onder bepalingen, in de volgende artikelen vermeld.

Koning Willem I wees de titel van hoog- of grootmeester af, maar trok wel het aggregatierecht (de mogelijkheid van om de benoeming van nieuwe leden en alle bevorderingen goed te keuren) naar zich toe. Alle benoemingen en bevorderingen in de Duitse Orde vinden sindsdien plaats door middel van een Koninklijk Besluit. Onder de term “Wij” moet worden verstaan: Koning plus Ministers. In het licht van deze Koninklijke Besluiten zou kunnen worden gezegd dat de huidige Duitse Orde van regeringswege is erkend. Het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen heeft dan ook vanuit dit perspectief een wettelijke grondslag om de Duitse Orde op te nemen. Aan de andere kant is de huidige ‘Ridderlijke Duitsche Orde, Balije van Utrecht’ een particuliere vereniging, die is ingeschreven bij de Kamer van Koophandel (inschrijvingsnummer: 40478069). Of met de wet van 1815 ook deze vereniging is erkend (en de erkenning dus zonder meer doorloopt), kan worden betwijfeld omdat ook geredeneerd kan worden dat een nieuwe rechtspersoon is ontstaan.


Uitreiking van de Zilveren Anjer in 2012 door Koningin Beatrix aan Neeltje van der Ven-Blonk en Clemens van der Ven voor hun bijzondere bijdrage als moderne mecenas ten behoeve van kunst en cultuur. Beide waren medeoprichters van de wereldberoemde kunstbeurzen TEFAF en de PAN Amsterdam.

De Duitse Orde, de Johanniter Orde en de Orde van Malta in Nederland zijn lidmaatschap-orden, die tegen betaling van een jaarlijkse bijdrage recht geven op het bijwonen van een jaarlijkse vergadering en andere bijeenkomsten. Het lidmaatschap is gelimiteerd op grond van een combinatie van (adellijke) geboorte en godsdienstige achtergrond.

Lidmaatschap-orden behoren in het geheel niet van overheidswege te worden erkend, zeker niet in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen. De overige onderscheidingen die in het Besluit worden genoemd betreffen namelijk zonder uitzondering een eerbetoon voor een persoonlijke, maatschappelijke verdienste ten opzichte van de Nederlandse samenleving. Het zijn geen koopdecoraties voor de maatschappelijk elite. Het is te gek voor woorden dat het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen de ridderlijke orden plaatst boven een belangrijke orde van verdienste als bijvoorbeeld de Gouden Anjer. Deze laatste wordt uitgereikt als blijk van waardering voor personen van onbesproken vaderlands gedrag, die in enigerlei vorm van onverplichte arbeid uitstekende verdiensten hebben verworven voor de Nederlandse cultuur of voor die van de Nederlandse Antillen. In 2018 bijvoorbeeld werd de decoratie uitgereikt aan:

  • Piet de Boer (Dordrecht, 1942) voor zijn inzet als voorzitter voor het Volendams Opera Koor.
  • Alice van Romondt (Aruba, 1949) voor haar bijdrage aan de cultuur, de literatuur en de kunsten op Aruba.
  • Hans van der Ven (Den Haag, 1942) voor zijn hulp aan met name het Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam bij het verwerven van kunstwerken die belangrijk zijn voor het erfgoed van Nederland.

Een tweede punt van kritiek betreft de inconsequentie van indeling door de regering van ridderlijke orden ten opzichte van andere particuliere organisaties. Het is mij niet duidelijk waarom de ridderlijke orden niet gewoon worden gerangschikt onder “F. Onderscheidingen van Nederlandse particuliere organisaties”. Categorie F betreft organisaties met een veel grotere maatschappelijke impact dan genoemde ridderlijke orden. Voorbeelden zijn het Carnegie Heldenfonds en het Rode Kruis. Bovendien is de Orde van Malta een buitenlandse ridderlijke orde en zou om die reden al niet in het Besluit moeten voorkomen.

Een derde kritische opmerking is te maken over de voorkeursbehandeling door de overheid van genoemde ridderlijke orden. Door de overheid is aan deze particuliere orden het voorrecht toegekend van officiële erkenning van de decoraties. Dit geeft deze orden een bijzondere maatschappelijke status, die bijvoorbeeld een Orde van Sint-Lazarus mist. Erkenning geeft deze orden meer aantrekkingskracht en daarmee ook meer mogelijkheden om financiële middelen aan te trekken voor de doelstellingen die zij nastreven, dan de andere ridderlijke (lidmaatschap-) orden in Nederland. Versélewel de Witt Hamer geeft een voorbeeld van het maken van misbruik van het overheidsstempel door de Johanniter Orde ten opzichte van een van de eigen leden, die ook lid was van de Orde van Sint Lazarus (Versélewel de Witt Hamer, p. 152):

Ik werd lid omdat mijn vader lid was. Maar nadat ik een brief kreeg van de Johanniter Orde om dat lidmaatschap te beëindigen omdat het een niet-erkende orde betrof, heb ik dat gedaan. Ik heb toen alle spullen van die orde teruggestuurd.

Typerend voor de discriminerende (door de overheid geïnspireerde) eigendunk van de huidige “ridderlijke orden” is ook de opmerking van jhr. Van Citters, coadjutor van de Johanniter Orde, die in 2016 desgevraagd aan Versélewel de Witt Hamer meedeelde (proefschrift, p. 111):

De Orde van het Heilig Graf is geen ridderlijke orde, de leden zijn immers niet van adel.

Fresco van Giacomo Jaquerio in Saluzzo, waarop het kruis van de Orde van het Heilg Graf is afgebeeld, Noord Italië (circa 1420). Het symbool van de ridderorde is een Latijns krukkenkruis met vier Griekse kruisen in de armen. Het kruis is rood en wordt wel Jeruzalemkruis genoemd. Het door Godfried van Bouillon als wapen gekozen kruis in het wapen van het koninkrijk Jeruzalem is van goud.

De familie Van Citters is een familie van koopmanslieden en bestuurders, die voor het eerst in de archieven verschijnt met Cornelis van Seters, in 1522 burgemeester van Breda. De familie is in 1828 en 1872 verheven in de Nederlandse adel. Met ridders heeft de eigen familie van de coadjutor dus niets uit te staan. Zijn in 1946 nieuw opgerichte Johanniter Orde heeft dat ook niet. Van Citters vergeet dat de door hem als inferieur beschouwde Orde van het Heilig Graf wel zijn oorsprong in de riddertijd heeft (1114), volledig onder pauselijk gezag staat (en dus officieel erkend is) en een belangrijke internationale charitatieve impact heeft; de orde met zijn 23.000 leden is onderverdeeld in 52 commanderijen, gevestigd in meer dan 30 landen (24 in Europa, 15 in de Verenigde Staten en Canada, 5 in Latijns-Amerika en 6 in Australië en het Verre Oosten). Van Citters’ opmerking is daarom ongepast.

Met het voorgaande wil ik aangeven dat het weigeren van bijvoorbeeld de Orde van het Heilig Graf en het opnemen van de Johanniter Orde in de categorie Erkende (ridderlijke) orden in het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen volstrekt willekeurig is en bovendien niet wordt gelegitimeerd door maatschappelijk toegevoegde waarde.

Een vierde punt van kritiek is dat de genoemde Ridderlijke Orden niet van overheidswege dienen te worden erkend omdat zij statuten hebben met discriminatoire bepalingen. Nu is het waarschijnlijk verenigingsrechtelijk toegestaan om personen van adellijke komaf te verenigen en dus personen van niet-adellijke komaf te weigeren (discrimineren), maar het wordt anders als deze verenigingen door de overheid bevoordeeld worden ten opzichte van andere particuliere organisaties bij het dragen van onderscheidingen. Het opnemen in het Besluit van verenigingen waaraan de adellijke status gekoppeld is en die godsdienstige voorwaarden stellen, is strijdig is met nationale en internationale anti-discriminatie bepalingen omdat deze verenigingen en hun discriminerende statuten daarmee van overheidswege worden gepromoot.


In het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen moet categorie D (Erkende (ridderlijke) orden) vervallen en moet Categorie E (Door Z.K.H. Prins Bernhard der Nederlanden ingestelde onderscheidingen) worden toegevoegd aan Categorie B (Huisorden).




De heer Erik Müller, decoratie-deskundige (LinkedIn 23 maart 2019)

Op hoofdlijnen ben ik het met je eens, echter:

  • de banden van het Koninklijk Huis met zowel de Johanniter Orde (waar altijd een lid van het KH als erecommandeur is geïnstalleerd geweest) en de Orde van Malta (waar meerdere leden van het KH een band mee hebben gehad) hebben hun het voorrecht verworven om al vanaf de eerste draagvolgordelijst in 1952 opgenomen te zijn. Ditzelfde voorrecht is de Orde van Sint Lazarus (waar dan weer wel meerdere ministers en staatssecretarissen lid van zijn geweest) en de Orde van het Heilige Graf nooit gegund. Ik ben het echter wel met je eens dat in ieder geval de laatste gewoon opgenomen zou moeten worden. Voor wat betreft de eerste: welke linie is de oorspronkelijke? Je hebt de Spaanse en de Franse linie, welke beiden claimen de oorspronkelijke orde te zijn. De familie De Bourbon-Parma is verwant aan het Koninklijk Huis, dus ik vermoed dat die de strijd dan wel zullen winnen ;-)
  • De prinselijke decoraties zijn zeker geen huisorden. Het zijn particuliere onderscheidingen, net als de hofmedailles, die niet door het staatshoofd, maar door een lid van de Koninklijke familie zijn verleend. In het overzicht mist nog de reddingsmedaille die door Koningin Emma werd verleend. Verder zou ik ze inderdaad tussen de herinneringsmedailles en particuliere onderscheidingen laten staan. Ik denk dat er maar één manier is om te achterhalen of het Besluit Draagvolgorde aangepast gaat worden en dat is een request met deze strekking aan de Kanselarij te richten.


Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen

10 oktober 2017

Nr. KNO/17/7632

De Kanselier der Nederlandse Orden,

Overwegende dat het wenselijk is het bij zijn besluit van 25 juli 2013 vastgestelde Besluit draagvolgorde van de erkende onderscheidingen te herzien;

Gelet op de instemming van de Minister van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties;


Vast te stellen het herziene Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen.

Artikel 1

Indien een persoon de hem toegekende Koninklijke of Ministeriële onderscheidingen draagt, dan worden deze links op de borst gedragen in de in artikel 2 aangegeven volgorde, waarbij de onderscheiding met het laagste rangnummer het dichtst bij het hart wordt gedragen.

Artikel 2

De volgorde waarin onderscheidingen worden gedragen, luidt als volgt:

Rangnummer Benaming onderscheiding Graden/klassen/medailles
A. Ridderorden en vergelijkbare onderscheidingen
1 Militaire Willems-Orde 1.1 Ridder Grootkruis

1.2 Commandeur

1.3 Ridder der 3e klasse

1.4 Ridder der 4e klasse

2 Kruis (Medaille) voor Moed en Trouw
3 Eresabel
4 Verzetskruis
5 Eerepenning voor Menschlievend Hulpbetoon in goud
6 Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw 6.1 Ridder Grootkruis

6.2 Commandeur

6.3 Ridder

7 Orde van Oranje-Nassau 7.1 Ridder Grootkruis

7.2 Grootofficier

7.3 Commandeur

7.4 Officier

7.5 Ridder

7.6 Lid

7.7 Eremedaille, verbonden aan de Orde, in goud

7.8 Eremedaille, verbonden aan de Orde, in zilver

7.9 Eremedaille, verbonden aan de Orde, in brons

B. Huisorden
8 Huisorde van de Gouden Leeuw van Nassau 8.1 Ridder
9 Huisorde van Oranje 9.1 Grootkruis

9.2 Groot Erekruis

9.3 Erekruis

10 Kruis van Trouw en Verdienste van de Huisorde van Oranje 10.1 in goud

10.2 in zilver

11 Eremedaille voor Voortvarendheid en Vernuft
12 Eremedaille voor Kunst en Wetenschap
13 Kroonorde 13.1 Grootkruis

13.2 Groot Erekruis met plaque

13.3 Groot Erekruis

13.4 Erekruis met rozet

13.5 Erekruis

13.6 Eremedaille in goud

13.7 Eremedaille in zilver

13.8 Eremedaille in brons

C. Overige staatsonderscheidingen
C1. Onderscheidingen voor dapperheid
14 Eervolle Vermelding
15 Bronzen Leeuw
16 Verzetsster Oost-Azië 1942-1945
17 Bronzen Kruis
18 Kruis van Verdienste
19 Vliegerkruis
20 Eerepenning voor Menschlievend Hulpbetoon 20.1 in zilver

20.2 in brons

C2. Onderscheidingen voor verdiensten
21 Erepenning voor Verdiensten jegens Openbare Verzamelingen (Museumpenning) 21.1 in goud

21.2 in zilver

21.3 in brons

22 Onderscheidingsteken ter erkenning van uitstekende daden bij watersnood verricht (Watersnoodmedaille) 22.1 in zilver

22.2 in brons

23 De Ruytermedaille 23.1 in goud

23.2 in zilver

23.3 in brons

24 Medaille van het Nederlandsche Roode Kruis (Regeringsmedaille)
25 Erkentelijkheidsmedaille 25.1 in zilver

25.2 in brons

26 Ereteken voor Verdienste (Defensie) 26.1 in goud

26.2 in zilver

26.3 in brons

27 Eremedaille voor verdienste politie in goud
C3. Herinneringsonderscheidingen voor militaire operaties
28 Ereteken voor Belangrijke Krijgsbedrijven (Expeditiekruis)
29 Oorlogsherinneringskruis
30 Verzetsherdenkingskruis
31 Ereteken voor Orde en Vrede
32 Nieuw-Guinea Herinneringskruis
33 Mobilisatie-Oorlogskruis
34 Kruis voor Recht en Vrijheid
35 Herinneringsmedaille VN-Vredesoperaties
36 Herinneringsmedaille Multinationale Vredesoperaties
37 Herinneringsmedaille Internationale Missies (voorheen Herinneringsmedaille Vredesoperaties)
38 Herinneringsmedaille voor Humanitaire Hulpverlening bij Rampen (voorheen Herinneringsmedaille Rampenbrigade)
39 Kosovo-medaille
C4. Onderscheidingen voor trouwe dienst
40 Onderscheidingsteken voor Langdurige Dienst als officier (Officierskruis)
41 Onderscheidingteken voor Langdurige en Trouwe Dienst (Trouwe Dienst Medaille) 41.1 in goud

41.2 in zilver

41.3 in brons

42 Onderscheidingsteken voor trouwe dienst bij de Militaire (Marine) kustwacht voor vrijwillig dienende militairen beneden de rang van officier 42.1 in goud

42.2 in zilver

42.3 in brons

43 Onderscheidingsteken voor trouwe en langdurige dienst Nederlandse Politie
44 Vrijwilligersmedaille Openbare Orde en Veiligheid (voorheen Vrijwilligersmedaille)
C5. Overige herinnerings- en vaardigheidsonderscheidingen
45 Herinneringsmedaille 1926
46 Herinneringsmedaille Erewacht 1933
47 Huwelijksmedaille 1937
48 Inhuldigingsmedaille 1948
49 Herinneringsmedaille 1962
50 Huwelijksmedaille 1966
51 Inhuldigingsmedaille 1980
52 Medaille Bezoek Nederlandse Antillen 1980
53 Huwelijksmedaille 2002
54 Inhuldigingsmedaille 2013
55 Herinneringsmedaille bezoek in 2013 aan het Caribisch deel van het Koninkrijk
56 Herinneringsmedaille Buitenlandse Bezoeken
57 Herdenkingspenning komst Ambonezen naar Nederland (Rietkerk-penning)
58 Marinemedaille
59 Landmachtmedaille
60 Marechausseemedaille
61 Luchtmachtmedaille
62 Herinneringsmedaille Vrijwillige Politie 1948-1998
63 Ereteken Meester-Scherpschutter voor Schepelingen van de Koninklijke Marine
64 Ereteken Meester-Kanonnier voor Schepelingen van de Koninklijke Marine
65 Vaardigheidsmedaille KNIL
66 Schietprijsster KNIL
D. Erkende (ridderlijke) orden
67 Soevereine Militaire Hospitaal Orde van Sint Jan van Jeruzalem van Rhodos en van Malta 67.1 Ridder/Dame van eer en Devotie

67.2 Ridder/Dame van Gratie en Devotie

67.3 Ridder/Dame van Magistrale Gratie

68 Johanniter Orde in Nederland 68.1 Erekapittelridder/Erekapitteldame

68.2 Rechtsridder/Rechtsdame

68.3 Ridder/Dame

69 Ridderlijke Duitsche Orde, Balije van Utrecht 69.1 Commandeur

69.2 Ridder

E. Door Z.K.H. Prins Bernhard der Nederlanden ingestelde onderscheidingen
70 Zilveren Anjer geen
71 Orde van de Gouden Ark 71.1 Commandeur

71.2 Officier

71.3 Ridder

F. Onderscheidingen van Nederlandse particuliere organisaties
F1. Onderscheidingen voor dapperheid
72 Medaille van het Carnegie Heldenfonds 72.1 in zilver

72.2 in brons

F2. Onderscheidingen voor verdiensten
73 Kruis van Verdienste van het Nederlandse Rode Kruis
74 Medaille van Verdienste van het Nederlandse Rode Kruis 74.1 in zilver

74.2 in brons

75 Medaille van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Vereniging voor Luchtvaart 75.1 in goud

75.2 in zilver

75.3 in brons

76 Prins Mauritsmedaille
77 Medaille voor Bijzondere Verdiensten van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Vereniging ‘Onze Luchtmacht’
F3. Onderscheidingen voor bijzondere inzet
78 Herinneringsmedaille Luchtbescherming 1940-1945
79 Herinneringskruis 1939-1940 (Nederlandse Rode Kruis)
80 Herinneringskruis 1940-1945 (Nederlandse Rode Kruis)
F4 Onderscheidingen voor trouwe dienst
81 Medaille voor 10 jaar Trouwe Dienst (Nederlandse Rode Kruis)
F5. Herinnerings- en vaardigheidsonderscheidingen
82 Kruis van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Bond voor Lichamelijke Opvoeding voor betoonde marsvaardigheid (Vierdaagsekruis)
83 Nationale Sportmedaille NOC*NSF (voorheen Vaardigheidsmedaille NSF)
84 Nationale Vijfkampkruis NOC*NSF
85 Kruis van de Koninklijke Vereniging van Nederlandse Reserve Officieren (TMPT-kruis)
86 Elfstedenkruis
G. Onderscheidingen van internationale organisaties
87 Verenigde Naties (VN)
88 Noord-Atlantische Verdragsorganisatie (NAVO)
89 West-Europese Unie (WEU)
90 Multinational Force & Observers (MFO)
91 Europese Gemeenschap (EG)
92 Europese Unie (EU)
93 Baltic Air Policing-Medal
H. Buitenlandse onderscheidingen
In de volgorde van de graden van hoog naar laag. Bij gelijke graad op alfabetische volgorde van de Franse benamingen van land. Bij meerdere onderscheidingen van één land dient de daar gebruikelijke draagvolgorde te worden aangehouden.

Artikel 3

  • 1.Dit besluit treedt in werking met ingang van heden.

  • 2.Dit besluit zal worden geplaatst in de Staatscourant.

Aldus vastgesteld te Den Haag, 10 oktober 2017

De Kanselier der Nederlandse Orden,H. Morsink


Het Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen is laatstelijk gewijzigd op 25 juli 2013 vanwege het opnemen van enkele onderscheidingen. Het thans voorliggende besluit dient aan een breed publiek inzichtelijk te maken welke gedachte aan de draagvolgorde ten grondslag ligt. Het besluit kent daarom de volgende wijzigingen:

  • aanpassing volgorde onderscheidingen in categorie C. Overige staatsonderscheidingen,

  • aanpassing volgorde onderscheidingen in categorie F. Onderscheidingen van Nederlandse particuliere organisaties,

  • aanpassing volgorde internationale organisaties in categorie G. Onderscheidingen van internationale organisaties,

  • toevoegen nieuw ingestelde onderscheidingen,

  • afvoeren onderscheidingen voor eenmalige gebeurtenissen die niet meer kunnen worden toegekend en waarvan de laatste toekenning meer dan honderd jaar geleden heeft plaats gevonden,

  • aanpassing nieuwe naam Herinneringsmedaille Vredesoperaties,

  • aanpassing volgorde draagwijze buitenlandse onderscheidingen,

  • toevoegen graden ridderlijke orden.

Aanpassing volgorde onderscheidingen in categorie C. Overige staatsonderscheidingen

Deze wijziging in de indeling van categorie C (‘Overige staatsonderscheidingen’) beoogt de indeling inzichtelijker te maken, mede met het oog op het rangschikken van eventueel in de toekomst toe te voegen onderscheidingen. Daartoe worden vijf subcategorieën gecreëerd:

  • C1 Onderscheidingen voor dapperheid,

  • C2 Onderscheidingen voor verdiensten,

  • C3 Onderscheidingen voor militaire operaties,

  • C4 Onderscheidingen voor trouwe dienst,

  • C5 Herinnerings- en vaardigheidsonderscheidingen.

Binnen de subcategorieën worden de onderscheidingen ingedeeld op basis van de datum waarop de onderscheiding bij Koninklijk Besluit, Algemene Maatregel van Bestuur of ministeriële regeling is ingesteld.

Er is om praktische redenen gekozen om in de subcategorie ‘C5 Herinnerings- en vaardigheidsonderscheidingen’ de herinneringsonderscheidingen te laten prevaleren boven de vaardigheidsonderscheidingen binnen deze categorie teneinde volgorde in het huidige besluit zoveel als mogelijk in stand te houden. De onderscheidingen voor operationele inzet van de Nederlandse krijgmacht (Marinemedaille, Landmachtmedaille, Marechausseemedaille en Luchtmachtmedaille) zullen gelet op de aard van de onderscheiding en de uitvoerbaarheid gehandhaafd blijven in de categorie ‘C5. Herinnerings- en vaardigheidsonderscheidingen’.

Door deze categorisering hebben enkele onderscheidingen een andere positie gekregen in de draagvolgorde. Gelet op de instellingsdatum van de Erepenning voor Verdiensten jegens Openbare Verzamelingen (1817) en de De Ruytermedaille (1907) zijn deze onderscheidingen van plaats gewisseld.

Aanpassing volgorde onderscheidingen in categorie F. Onderscheidingen van Nederlandse particuliere organisaties

Ook de onderscheidingen die worden toegekend door particuliere organisaties zijn opnieuw gerangschikt conform de categorie C. Overige staatsonderscheidingen:

  • F1 Onderscheidingen voor dapperheid,

  • F2 Onderscheidingen voor verdiensten,

  • F3 Onderscheidingen voor bijzondere inzet,

  • F4 Onderscheidingen voor trouwe dienst,

  • F5 Herinnerings- en vaardigheidsonderscheidingen.

Binnen de subcategorieën worden de onderscheidingen ingedeeld op basis van de datum waarop de onderscheiding bij Koninklijk Besluit van staatswege is erkend.

Aanpassing volgorde organisaties in categorie G. Onderscheidingen van internationale organisaties

Gelet op de veelvuldige bijdragen van de Nederlandse krijgsmacht en andere organisaties aan vredesoperaties en wederopbouw in internationaal verband is het nodig om deze categorie nader in te vullen om de indeling inzichtelijker te maken. Er is gekozen voor de onderstaande indeling op basis van de oprichtingsdatum van de organisaties of, in het geval van multinationale verbanden, naar de instellingsdatum van de afzonderlijke onderscheiding. Daaruit is deze volgorde af te leiden:

  • Onderscheidingen van de Verenigde Naties (VN),

  • Onderscheidingen van de Noord-Atlantische Verdragsorganisatie (NAVO),

  • Onderscheidingen van de West-Europese Unie (WEU),

  • Onderscheidingen van de Multinationals Force & Observers (MFO),

  • Onderscheidingen van de Europese Gemeenschap (EG),

  • Onderscheidingen van de Europese Unie (EU),

  • Baltic Air Policing Medal (BAP).

Bij meerdere onderscheidingen van dezelfde organisatie geldt de binnen de organisatie geldende volgorde. Indien deze niet formeel is vastgelegd dienen onderscheidingen te worden gerangschikt, eerst op basis van aard (onderscheiding voor verdiensten of herinneringsonderscheiding) en daar binnen op basis van de instellingsdatum van de onderscheidingen.

Om verwarring te voorkomen zijn onderscheidingen van afzonderlijke militaire missies en bijzondere inzetten onder auspiciën van internationale organisaties niet afzonderlijk vermeld.

Toevoegen en afvoeren nieuwe of erkende onderscheidingen

In de draagvolgorde worden de volgende nieuw ingestelde onderscheidingen toegevoegd:

  • ‘Eremedaille voor verdienste politie’ in goud in categorie ‘C2. Onderscheidingen voor verdiensten’. Op basis van de instellingsdatum is de onderscheiding ingevoegd na het Ereteken voor Verdienste (Defensie),

  • ‘Herinneringsmedaille bezoek in 2013 aan het Caribisch deel van het Koninkrijk’, welke is geplaatst in de categorie ‘C5. Overige herinnerings- en vaardigheidsonderscheidingen’ en op basis van de aard van de onderscheiding ingevoegd na de Inhuldigingsmedaille 2013 en voor de Herinneringsmedaille Buitenlandse Bezoeken,

  • Het Ereteken voor Verdienste van het Ministerie van Defensie in brons als aanvulling op de reeds bestaande varianten in goud en in zilver.

Uit de draagvolgorde worden de volgende onderscheidingen verwijderd omdat de onderscheiding is ingesteld voor een eenmalige gebeurtenis welke niet langer kan worden toegekend en waarvan de laatste toekenning meer dan honderd jaar geleden heeft plaats gevonden:

  • Lombokkruis,

  • Inhuldigingsmedaille 1898,

  • Huwelijksmedaille 1901,

  • Herinneringspenning van de Tweede Haagse Vredesconferentie in 1907.

Tevens zijn de volgende historische onderscheidingen opnieuw opgenomen:

  • Onderscheidingsteken ter erkenning van uitstekende daden bij watersnood verricht (Watersnoodmedaille),

  • Ereteken Meester-Kanonnier voor Schepelingen van de Koninklijke Marine.

Aanpassing benaming Herinneringsmedaille Vredesoperaties

De naam van de Herinneringsmedaille Vredesoperaties is op grond van het besluit van 2 juni 2016, houdende wijziging van het Besluit Herinneringsmedaille Vredesoperaties, gewijzigd in Herinneringsmedaille Internationale Missies (HIM). De reden was dat de term ‘vredesoperaties’ geen recht deed aan de missies waarin men zich in feite in oorlogsgebied bevindt en in het hoogste geweldsspectrum wordt opgetreden.

Draagvolgorde buitenlandse onderscheidingen

Vanwege een misdruk in de vorige vaststelling van de draagvolgorde is er een misverstand ontstaan over de wijze waarop buitenlandse onderscheidingen dienen te worden gedragen.

De regel is dat buitenlandse onderscheidingen moeten worden gedragen naar de aard van de onderscheiding, d.w.z. eerst de ridderorden gerangschikt aan de hand van de graad en daarna de overige onderscheidingen. Indien een persoon gerechtigd is tot het dragen van twee onderscheidingen van gelijke graad van verschillende landen, dan worden deze gerangschikt op de alfabetische volgorde van de Franstalige benamingen van de landen. Indien de gedecoreerde gerechtigd is tot het dragen van twee onderscheidingen van hetzelfde land, dient hij deze naast elkaar te dragen, ook indien de daaropvolgende onderscheiding van een ander land hoger is in gradatie.

Samenvattend, de draagvolgorde van buitenlandse onderscheidingen wordt eerst bepaald aan de hand van de graad en bij gelijke graad per land op Franse alfabetische volgorde. Heeft een gedecoreerde meerdere onderscheidingen van hetzelfde land, dan moeten deze aansluitend worden gedragen, ongeacht de hoogte van de graad van andere landen.

Graden erkende (ridderlijke) orden

In tegenstelling tot de ridder- en huisorden bevatte categorie D geen nadere vermelding van de bij de in deze categorie opgenomen orden. De afzonderlijke graden zijn alsnog toegevoegd.

Verkorte draagvolgorde

Er is om praktische redenen voor gekozen om geen officiële verkorte draagvolgorde vast te leggen. Op basis van het nieuwe besluit kan er in de brochure Draagwijzer (Kanselarij) en het Handboek Onderscheidingen (Defensie) een nader in te vullen verkorte volgorde worden opgenomen.

Lines of succession to the former Portuguese throne


Dom Manuel II, last King of Portugal, in full robes during a 1911 Order of the Garter procession. His reign ended with the dissolution of the monarchy in the 5 October 1910 revolution. Dom Manuel lived the rest of his life in exile in Twickenham, southwest London. His death on 2 July 1932 (via suffocation by an abnormal swelling in the vocal folds of his larynx, or tracheal oedema) has been regarded as suspicious due to the fact that he had been playing tennis on the day before and did not have any health issues. Detective Inspector Harold Brust (a member of Scotland Yard Special Branch in charge of protecting public figures) describes in his autobiography an incident surrounding Dom Manual’s sudden death. Brust mentions an incident which probably occurred in 1931. An intruder was discovered in the grounds of Fulwell Park who turned out to be a prominent member of an international secret terrorist group called the “Carbonária”. On 1 February 1908 King Carlos I of Portugal and his eldest son and heir Luis Filipe were assassinated by Alfredo Luís da Costa and Manuel Buíça in a conspiracy involving the Carbonária. By 1910 the Carbonária had some 40,000 members and was instrumental in the Republican 5 October 1910 revolution. Until today, the identity of the intruder remains a mystery. [photo: WikiCommons]
After the death of King John VI of Portugal in 1826, the Braganzas were divided into three main family-branches: (1) the Brazilian branch, with its chief King John VI’s eldest son, Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, (2) the Constitutional branch, with its chief Emperor Pedro I’s eldest daughter, Queen Maria II of Portugal, and (3) the Miguelist branch, with its chief King John VI’s second eldest son and seventh child, King Miguel I of Portugal. The Brazilian branch became the House of Orléans-Braganza. This branch is divided by the Vassouras branch, led by Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza, and the Petrópolis branch, led by Prince Pedro Carlos of Orléans-Braganza. The Constitutional branch of Maria II became extinct with the death of King Manuel II (who’s reign ended with the dissolution of the monarchy in revolution on 5 October 1910) in 1932.

It is generally accepted that the claim to the Portuguese Crown, and therefore to the chieftainship of the House of Braganza, passed to Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza. Another well-known pretender is Pedro, Duke of Loulé. In this article I will show that the Duke of Loulé has an equally serious claim to the defunct throne of Portugal – both from a historical as a legal perspective – as the Duke of Braganza. Apart from the Portuguese parliament, there is currently no authority to decide who’s claim is the most credible. I think it is interesting to see how the two main claims are derived and which facts are relevant to decide which claim is preferred. My conclusion is that this is a matter of opinion, because both claims are quite transparent and none of the two claims can be dismissed on grounds that cannot be challenged.

Family Relations

The genealogical relations among the heirs to the throne of Portugal since the late 18th century are shown below:

I. King John VI (1767–1826), King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves from 1816 to 1825. Children:

  1. Emperor Pedro I (fourth child), follow IIa.
  2. King Miguel I (seventh child) , follow IIb.
  3. Queen Maria (ninth child), follow IIc.


IIa. King Pedro I (1798–1834), nicknamed “the Liberator”, was the founder and first ruler of the Empire of Brazil, as King Dom Pedro IV between 1822-1831, he reigned briefly over Portugal in 1826. Daughter:

IIIa. Queen Maria II (1819–1853), reigned as Queen of Portugal from 1826 to 1828, and again from 1834 to 1853. Maria II’s throne was usurped by Dom Miguel (see below, IIb), Pedro I’s younger brother. Sons:

IVa.1 King Pedro V (1837–1861), nicknamed “the Hopeful” (Portuguese: o Esperançoso), was King of Portugal from 1853 to 1861.

IVa.2 King Luís I (1838–1889), King of Portugal from 1861 to 1889. Son of Luís I:

Va. King Carlos I (1863–1908), known as “the Diplomat” (also known as “the Martyr”; Portuguese: o Diplomata and Portuguese: o Martirizado), King of Portugal 1889-1908 (murdered). Son:

VIa. King Manuel II (1889–1932), “the Patriot” (Portuguese: “o Patriota”) or “the Unfortunate” (Portuguese: “o Desventurado”), was the last King of Portugal, ascending the throne after the assassination of his father, King Carlos I, and his elder brother, Luís Filipe, the Prince Royal. Before ascending the throne he held the title of Duke of Beja. His reign ended with the dissolution of the monarchy in the 5 October 1910 revolution. Manuel lived the rest of his life in exile in Twickenham, South London.


IIb. Miguel I (1802 – 1866), “the Absolutist” (Portuguese: “o Absolutista”) or “the Traditionalist” (Portuguese: “o Tradicionalista”), usurper of the Portuguese throne, regent of Portugal from February 1828 and self-proclaimed king from July 1828 to 1834, though his royal title was not  recognized everywhere.

Miguel went with the rest of the royal family to Brazil in 1807, escaping from Napoleon’s armies, but returned with them in 1821 to Portugal. He was then—and remained—much under the influence of his Spanish mother, Queen Carlota Joaquina. On his return, King John VI accepted the liberal constitution of 1821, but Queen Carlota refused to take the oath. When in 1823 the French overthrew the radical regime in Spain, Miguel led a military rebellion that dissolved the discredited Cortes in Portugal. His father promised an amended constitution but appointed liberal ministers, and on April 30, 1824, Miguel again led a military rebellion. When it faltered, his father reluctantly exiled him to Vienna (June 1824). When John VI died (March 10, 1826), his elder son, Pedro I, emperor of Brazil, became Pedro IV of Portugal but constitutionally abdicated in favour of his daughter Maria, then seven years of age. She was to marry Miguel, who was to accept Pedro’s constitutional Charter. Miguel swore to accept the Charter, returned to Portugal, and assumed the regency (Feb. 22, 1828); however, he promptly fell under his mother’s influence, settled old scores, and had himself proclaimed king (July 7, 1828). He was so recognized by the Holy See, Spain, the United States, and Russia but not by the liberal monarchies. In 1830 the Duke of Wellington’s government in Britain was about to recognize him, but it fell. In 1831 Peter abdicated in Brazil, returned to Europe, and initiated a civil war. Michael lost Porto, but the struggle was protracted; he was finally forced by foreign intervention to leave Lisbon and surrendered at Évora-Monte on May 26, 1834 (source: Encyclopaedia Britannica).

In December 1834 the Portuguese Cortes banished Miguel and all his descendants from Portugal upon pain of immediate death. Article 98 of the Constitution of 1838 excluded the collateral Miguelist line from the throne. The 1834 ban remained in effect until revoked in May 1950. Son:

IIIb. Miguel Januário de Bragança (1853 – 1927), Miguelist claimant to the throne of Portugal from 1866 to 1920. He used the title Duke of Braganza. Son:

IVb. Duarte Nuno, Duke of Braganza (1907 – 1976). In 1952, when the Portuguese Laws of Banishment were revoked, Dom Duarte Nuno moved his family to Portugal, where he spent the rest of his life attempting, without success, to restore the Brigantine assets to his family and reestablish the image of the Miguelist Braganzas in Portuguese society. Dom Duarte Nuno’s overall aim was to restore the Portuguese monarchy under the Braganzas. Son:

Vb. Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza (1945 -), claimant to the defunct Portuguese throne, President of the King Manuel II Foundation, married Dona Isabel Inês de Castro Curvello de Herédia.


IIc. Infanta Ana de Jesus Maria of Braganza (1806 – 1857), married Royal Ajuda Palace, 5 December 1827 Dom Nuno José Severo de Mendonça Rolim de Moura Barreto (1804-1875), then Marquis of Loulé and Count de Vale de Reis. As leader of the Historic Party, he was three times appointed President of the Council of Ministers and Prime Minister (1856 – 1859; 1860 – 1865 and 1869 – 1870). Dom Nuno was created 1st Duke of Loulé  by Luís I of Portugal in 1862. He was awarded the Grand Cordon in the Order of Leopold (1857) and was Member of the Military Order of Christ and of the Order of the Tower and Sword. Son:

IIIc. Pedro José Agostinho de Mendoça Rolim de Moura Barreto, 2nd Duke of Loulé, 10th Count of Vale de Reis (1830–1909), married Constança Maria de Figueiredo Cabral da Câmara. Daughter:

IVc. Ana de Jesus Maria de Mendoça (1854 – 1922), married João Maria dos Enfermos da Câmara Berquó (1859 – 1934). Daughter:

Vc. Constança Maria da Conceição Berquó de Mendoça (1889 – 1967), condessa de Vale de Reis (11th, 29 May 1932), married Dom Pedro José de Basto Feyo Folque (1888 – 1969), succeeded to the dukedom of Loulé on 20 April 1947. Son:

VIc. Alberto Nuno Carlos Rita Folque de Mendoça Rolim de Moura Barreto (1923 – 2003), 5th Duke of Loulé married Dona Maria Augusta Amelia de Moraes Cardoso de Menezes. Son:

VIIc. Pedro José Folque de Mendoça Rolim de Moura Barreto, 6th Duke of Loulé (1958 -), claimant to the defunct Portuguese throne, entrepreneur, married Margarida Vaz Pinto and lives in Portugal.

Note: The Government of the Order of Saint Sebastian, called the Arrow is entrusted to the Dom Filipe, Count of Rio Grande, brother of VIIc. This Order was revived in January 1994, by Dom Filipe, with express authorization of his father, Dom Alberto, Duke of Loulé (VIc.).


Dom Pedro José de Mendonça Bragança e Bourbon, was born in Lisbon, Portugal March 9, 1958. He is the son of Dom Nuno Alberto and Maria Augusta Dona Amelia, 5th Duke of Loulé. Dom Pedro completed his studies in Portugal, after having completed training in business management in the United States. He was professionally active in the oil sector in Brazil, Angola and Nigeria and is now engaged as a successful entrepreneur in Portugal.

The Duke of Braganza and the Duke of Loulé share a common ancestor: King John VI of Portugal. Both dukes claim the headship of the defunct throne of Portugal. When validating these claims, it should be taken into account that the direct ancestor of Dom Duarte Pio, Miguel I, usurped Maria II’s throne and that the legitimate Portuguese government banished Miguel I and all his descendants (like Dom Duarte Pio) from Portugal, as well as excluded the collateral Miguelist line from the throne. These facts do not contribute to the legitimacy of the claim of the Duke de Braganza.

However, a formal statement by the Portuguese government in 2006 (see below, sources), makes it clear that the Duke of Braganza is seen as the legitimate claimant to the defunct Portuguese throne. The Duke of Braganza even has the right to grant titles and to name new members of the royal dynastic orders of chivalry, although titles granted after 1905 are not recognized by the Republic. The Duke and Duchess of Braganza are entitled to use their royal title and style in Portugal based on the law that permits those who had a noble status prior to 1905 to use their styles and titles in Portugal. Only the Duke and Duchess of Braganza and their eldest son, the Duke of Beira, have the right to use the style of HRH. Very interesting and an act of social recognition is the fact that the document states that it has long been the custom of the Portuguese Republic to invite the head of the House of Braganza to participate in solemn ceremonies and to represent the country abroad as a living symbol of Portuguese history.

The Duke of Loulé descends from King John VI in the female line and from a younger child than the Duke of Braganza. I think these facts might not entirely fit into the traditional lines of succession, but they do not hinder a legitimate claim regarding the defunct throne of Portugal, especially taking into account that the line of succession in the past already included females. The mentioned statement by the Portuguese government does not exclude or dismiss the Duke of Loulé’s claims. The statement only concerns the legitimacy of the claim of mr. Rosario Poidimani, an Italian businessman.

Modern diploma of the Order of São Sebastião. By a letter dated the 19th July 1999, the Duke of Loulé (Dom Alberto) confirmed in writing the authorisation granted years before, to his son, Dom Filipe, so that he would deal with its registration and ensured the activity of the “Old Order of São Sebastião, said of the Frecha”, expressly declaring “that him (Dom Filipe) and his successors shall be the perpetual Administrators, as Representatives of a Branch of Our House which is in the first line of Succession to the Crown of Portugal”. This document clarifies any doubt about the legitimacy of the “Fons Honorum” underlying the restoration of the Order (See James J. Algrant y Cañete, “El Fons Honorum”, in the magazine “Revista Ibero-Americana de Heráldica”, Colégio Heráldico de España y de las Indias, Madrid, nº 3, January 2004, pages 65-78).

Articles 87 and 88 of the Constitutional Charter of 1826 stated that the throne passed first to the descendants of Queen Maria II, and stipulated that only in the case this line was extinct, the throne succeeded to her collateral heirs. Article 89 of the same Charter stipulated that “no foreigner may succeed to the crown of the kingdom of Portugal”. Maria II had living descendants in 1932, but none of these had the Portuguese nationality. These facts and circumstances make the matter even more complex. The so-called Dover and Paris Pacts (two supposed agreements regarding the line of succession between the Miguelist and the Braganza-Saxe-Coburg branches of Portugal’s royal family in exile) cannot be seen as authoritative in this matter. The existence of both Pacts is a subject of debate (to say the least), since no signed versions have ever been published and Princess Aldegundes de Bragança later announced that the parties had not reached an agreement and that the whole story was just a propaganda stunt with the intention to validate the unsuccessful Miguelist claims. Between 1920 and 1928, Adelgundes acted as the regent-in-absentia on behalf of her nephew and Miguelist claimant to the Portuguese throne, Duarte Nuno (IVb), who was twelve years old when his father Miguel (IIIb) renounced his claim to the throne in favour of his son. These circumstances only contribute to the idea that the last King of Portugal did not want the Miguelist line to succeed him.

Preference for one of the two claims remains either a matter of opinion or a political choice, since there are no absolute legal criteria from which a judgment can be derived. My personal opinion is that both claims are transparent and are based on a reasonably arguable position, but in the end it is for the Portuguese people to decide who has the best claim. Since only about 25% of the Portuguese population wants to return to a monarchy, it is unlikely that the matter will ever be resolved. This is odd because a monarch would create political stability in the country, similar to, for example, The Netherlands. Due to its constant, senseless political quarrels, Portugal saw its credit rating downgraded to junk status. I am certain that this would not have happened when Portugal were a monarchy. In the times of the monarchy, Portugal was an economic super power. Its current status is far from that.


Legal Opinion: the status of adult adoption in the context of the German nobility

On a German website, focussing on selling titles of nobility, it is stated that German nobility can be obtained by adoption:

Members of Germany’s historical nobility up to the Royal Rank offer the rare opportunity to acquire a genuine title of nobility. If you were not born into the noble class, you can acquire a highly prestigious German nobility title by adoption, marriage or, for your firm or product, licensing by a legal title-holder.

In this article, I will answer the question to what extend this statement is correct.

Legal framework

German law

Article 109 of the Weimar Constitution, inter alia, abolished all privileges based on birth or status and provided that marks of nobility were to be valid only as part of a surname. Pursuant to Article 123(1) of the present Constitutional Law,  that provision remains applicable today. It is common ground that under German law a surname which includes a title of nobility continues to vary according to the sex of the bearer if that was the case for the former title of nobility.

Adolf II. Fürst zu Schaumburg-Lippe (23 February 1883 – 26 March 1936) was the last ruler of the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe. He was succeeded as head of the House of Schaumburg-Lippe by his brother Wolrad (1887-1962), who was succeeded by Philipp-Ernst (1928-2003). The current head of the dynasty is Alexander (1958).

Any head of a dynasty who did not reign prior to 1918 but had held a specific title as heir to one of Germany’s former thrones (such as, Erbprinz (“hereditary prince”)). In a similar way the heirs to a title of nobility inherited via primogeniture, and their wives—were permitted to incorporate those titles into elements of the personal surname. These specific titles were not heritable (1). With the death of the last person styled “Kronprinz” (=crown prince) before 1918, the title Kronprinz ceased to exist as a part of German surnames. Traditional titles exclusively used for unmarried noblewomen by birth, such as Freiin, were also transformed into parts of the legal surname. The could be changed after marriage or upon request (2). All other former titles and designations of Nobility are currently inherited as part of the surname, and protected by German family law as such.

Sections 1297 to 1921 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) (BGB) contain rules regarding family law. The competent court of first instance is the District Court (Amtsgericht) (section 23a, Law on the System of Judicature) (GVG). Court hearings are generally held in private (section 170, GVG). Remedies in family cases go to the regional Courts of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht) (section 119 I a and b, GVG).

Adoption of children is possible if it serves the best interests of the child and it is anticipated that a parent-child relationship will arise between the adoptive parent and the child (section 1741 I, BGB). With adoption, the child becomes the legal child of the adoptive parents/person/couple who receives parental custody by law. The legal relationship to the previous parents, to former siblings, grandparents, great-grandparents or cousins ends. In addition, the child receives the surname of the adoptive family.

Austrian Law (3)

In 1919 the Law on the abolition of the nobility, (Gesetz vom 3. April 1919 über die Aufhebung des Adels, der weltlichen Ritter- und Damenorden und gewisser Titel und Würden (Adelsaufhebungsgesetz), which has constitutional status in accordance with Article 149(1) of the Federal Constitutional Law (Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz) abolished the nobility, secular orders of knighthood and certain other titles and dignities, and prohibited the bearing of the corresponding styles. Under Paragraph 1 of the implementing provisions adopted by the competent ministers (Vollzugsanweisung des Staatsamtes für Inneres und Unterricht und des Staatsamtes für Justiz, im Einvernehmen mit den beteiligten Staatsämtern vom 18. April 1919, über die Aufhebung des Adels und gewisser Titel und Würden), the abolition applies to all Austrian citizens, regardless of where the relevant privileges were acquired. Paragraph 2 indicates that the prohibition covers, inter alia, the right to bear the particle ‘von’ as part of the name and the right to bear any title of noble rank, such as ‘Ritter’ (knight), ‘Freiherr’ (baron), ‘Graf’ (count), ‘Fürst’ (prince), ‘Herzog’ (duke) or other corresponding indications of status, whether Austrian or foreign. Under Paragraph 5, various penalties may be imposed for contravening the prohibition.

This prohibition has been applied by the courts with certain adjustments where those bearing a German surname including a former German mark of nobility were concerned. Where a German citizen bore such a surname and acquired Austrian nationality, that name could not be reinterpreted as including a title of nobility and could not be changed. Moreover, an Austrian woman acquiring such a name by virtue of marriage to a German citizen was entitled to bear the name in its entirety; however, she must bear exactly the same surname as her husband, and not a feminine form of the name.

Under Paragraph 9(1) of the Federal Law on international private law (Bundesgesetz vom 15. Juni 1978 über das internationale Privatrecht (IPR-Gesetz), the personal status of natural persons is determined by the law of their nationality. Under Paragraph 13(1), the name which they bear is regulated by their personal status, regardless of the basis on which the name was acquired. Paragraph 26 provides that conditions governing adoption are regulated by the personal status of each adopting party and of the child, while its ‘effects’ are regulated, when there is a single adopting party, by the personal status of that party.

The ‘effects’ thus regulated extend only to those in family law and not to the determination of the adopted child’s name (which remains governed by Paragraph 13(1)). According to a report drawn up by the International Commission on Civil Status (ICCS) in March 2000 (‘Loi applicable à la détermination du nom’) at which time Austria was a member of that organisation, in response to the question ‘What is the law applicable to the determination of the name of an adopted child?’, Austria stated: ‘The (change of) name of an adopted child is one of the effects of the adoption and is determined according to the national law of the adopting party or parties. When the adopting parties are spouses of different nationality, their common national law, failing which their previous common national law if it is still the national law of either spouse, applies. Formerly, the applicable law was that of the habitual residence‘.

Under Paragraph 183(1), read in conjunction with Paragraph 182(2), of the Austrian Civil Code (Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch) a child adopted by a single person takes that person’s surname if the legal ties with the parent of the other sex have been dissolved.

Until a court case in 2018 decided otherwise, the noble prefix “von” was tolerated in Austria when having the meaning of originating from a certain geographical location (thus not designating a noble title). The non-noble designation “van” is still tolerated.

Court cases (4)


Graf Christian Ludwig Casimir zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg-Ludwigsburg) (13 July 1725, Berleburg – 6 May 1797, Rheda) (WikiMedia Commons)

Ms Ilonka Sayn-Wittgenstein, an Austrian citizen resident in Germany, following her adoption, in 1991, by Mr Lothar Fürst von Sayn-Wittgenstein, a German citizen, acquired the surname of the latter as her name at birth, with his title of nobility, in the form “Fürstin von Sayn-Wittgenstein” (“Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein”). The Austrian authorities proceeded to enter this new name in the Austrian register of civil status. They also renewed and issued a passport and certificates of nationality in the name of Ilonka Fürstin von Sayn-Wittgenstein.

In 2003, the Austrian Constitutional Court held, in a similar case, that the 1919 Law on the abolition of the nobility – which is of constitutional status and implements the principle of equal treatment – precluded an Austrian citizen from acquiring a surname which includes a title of nobility by means of adoption by a German national who is permitted to bear that title as a constituent element of his name. Prompted by that judgment, considering that the birth certificate issued to Ms Ilonka Fürstin von Sayn-Wittgenstein following adoption was incorrect, the civil registrar of Vienna corrected the entry of the surname in the register of civil status to “Sayn-Wittgenstein”. The correction was based on Paragraph 15(1) of the Law on civil status, that requires a registration to be rectified if it was incorrect at the time the entry was made.

Mrs. Sayn-Wittgenstein challenged this decision before the Austrian Supreme Administrative Court, arguing that the non-recognition of the effects of her adoption on her name constituted an obstacle to her right to freedom of movement – since this forces her to use different names in two Member States – and interference with her right to respect for family life – on account of the amendment of her name which she had nevertheless used continuously for 15 years.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) considered that the justification relied upon by the Austrian Government, i.e. the application of the 1919 Law on the abolition of the nobility and more generally the constitutional principle of equality of all Austrian citizens, should be interpreted as reliance on public policy. After having recalled the margin of discretion of the Austrian authorities and the fact that the Union respects the national identities of its Member States, it considers that it is not disproportionate for a Member State to seek to attain the objective of protecting the principle of equal treatment by prohibiting any acquisition, possession or use, by its nationals, of titles of nobility or noble elements which may create the impression that the bearer of the name is holder of such a rank.

Consequently, the ECJ replies that the refusal by the authorities of a Member State to recognise all the elements of the surname of one of its nationals, as determined in another Member State at the time of his or her adoption as an adult by a national of the latter, where that surname includes a title of nobility which is not permitted in the first Member State under its constitutional law, does not unjustifiably undermine the freedom to move and reside enjoyed by citizens of the Union.

Bogendorff von Wolffersdorff

Mr. Nabiel Peter Bogendorff von Wolffersdorff changed his name while living in the United Kingdom to Peter Mark Emanuel Graf von Wolffersdorff Freiherr von Bogendorff. He has dual German-UK citizenship. Mr Bogendorff von Wolffersdorff lived in the United Kingdom between 2001 and 2005. He changed his name under United Kingdom rules and became a citizen of both countries. On his return to Germany, Mr. Bogendorff von Wolffersdorff requested the registry office of the city of Karlsruhe to register his new name, which would allow him to update his German identity papers. The Karlsruhe registry refused.

Mr Bogendorff von Wolffersdorff stated that this has created problems with identity documents, including getting German officials to recognise his passport. He also has trouble convincing people that his young daughter is related to him. Her (United Kingdom) name is Larissa Xenia Graefin von Wolffersdorff Freiin von Bogendorff. Mr Bogendorff von Wolffersdorff took his case to a district court in the town of Karlsruhe, which asked the ECJ for advice.

On 2 June 2016 the ECJ decided that Germany was not bound to recognise the name Bogendorff von Wolffersdorff when he also holds the nationality of another Member State in which he has acquired that name which he has chosen freely and which contains a number of tokens of nobility, which are not accepted by the law of the first Member State, provided that it is established, which it is for the referring court to ascertain, that a refusal of recognition is, in that context, justified on public policy grounds, in that it is appropriate and necessary to ensure compliance with the principle that all citizens of that Member State are equal before the law.

Case study: Schaumburg-Lippe

Coat of Arms of the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe (WikiMedia Commons). Artwork by Glasshouse using elements by Sodacan – Own work.

Schaumburg-Lippe was a county in Germany until 1807 when it became a principality. From 1871 until 1918 it was a state within the German Empire. The current heir apparent of the House of Schaumburg-Lippe (according to the traditional rules that were applied before 1919) is Ernst-August Alexander Wilhelm Bernhard Krafft Heinrich Donatus Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe (1994), the son of Ernst August Alexander Christian Viktor Hubert Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe (1958), head of the dynasty.

The House of Schaumburg-Lippe is an interesting subject to study in this respect because of the adult adoption by Prince Waldemar of Schaumburg-Lippe, a socialite. Officially Prince Waldemar is called Waldemar Stephan Ferdinand Wolrad Friedrich Karl Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe (born 19 December 1940 in Glienicke, Germany). He is a son of Christian Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe and Prinzessin Feodora of Denmark, and the great-grandson of King Frederick VIII of Denmark. Prince Waldemar’s fourth marriage was with Gertraud-Antonia Wagner-Schöppl, a politician, on 20 September 2008 in Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna. He adopted the adult son of his wife: Mag. iur. Dr. iur, Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe, MAS, LLM, a well-known actor and journalist.

Mario-Max Schaumburg-Lippe was born on 23 December 1977 as Mario-Max Wagner, in Salzburg, Austria. His father was Dr. Helmut Wagner, MD. Mario-Max Wagner was adopted in Austria in 2001 by Helga Claire Lee Roderbourg (1911-2005), widow of Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe (nephew of the mentioned Prince Waldemar) and daughter of the German industrialist Dr. Carl Roderbourg. In the process, he changed his surname from Wagner to Schaumburg-Lippe. At the occasion of the mentioned marriage of his mother, Gertraud-Antonia Schöppl to Prince Waldemar in 2008, Mario-Max was adopted again, this time by Prince Waldemar. Due to his (German) adoption by Prince Waldemar he obtained the surname Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe and the German nationality. Mario-Max legally changed his given names to Mario-Max Prince Antonius Adolf Albert Eduard Oliver Gertraud Edith Helga Magdalena.

Under German law adults can be adopted (§ 1770 BGB), but the German law considers this to be a so called “weak adoption”, which means that the relationship is limited between the adopting parents and the adoptee (thereby excluding other familial ties of the adopting parents). This also implies that in general the German citizenship is not passed on to the adult adoptee. According to § 1772 BGB, however, adults can also be adopted according to the rules of the adoption of a minor (full adoption) with the same legal effects. This way, the family name is also inherited. According to his birth certificate, shown on his personal internet page, this type of adoption has taken place in the case of Mario-Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe.

I disagree with the negative attitude towards adoptees who have been adopted (being adult or minor) by members of the German nobility when the intensions of such an adoption are genuine. I am convinced that this is the case in the Schaumburg-Lippe situation. During the legal proceedings, this is also tested by the judge who decides whether or not the adoption should be ratified. I therefore do not have any problem with the change of name from Wagner to Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe.

Whether an adopted child can legally be treated as descendent depends upon the law in the particular jurisdiction. In America e.g., the States have different rules and statutes. Some allow a person to inherit from both his/her biological parents and the adoptive parents, while others preclude an adoptee from inheriting from his/her biological parents and allow them only to inherit from his/her adoptive parents. Under Florida law e.g., adopted children are considered descendants for the purposes of Probate. Applying these remarks to the Schaumburg-Lippe case, it would be incorrect for Mario-Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe (who often resides in America) to e.g. designate Feodora of Denmark as his grandmother or to state that he descends from King Frederik VIII of Denmark, since in everyday language, as well in a legal context, a descendent is a blood relative in the direct line of descent (Black’s Law Dictionary):

One who Is descended from another; a person who proceeds from the body of another, such as a child, grandchild, etc., to the remotest degree. The terms the opposite of “ascendant,” (?. v.). Descendants is a good term of description in a will, and includes all who proceed from the body of the person named; as grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Amb. 397; 2 Hil. Real. Prop. 242.

In the context of family law, an adoptee can be treated in the same way as a descendent, but this is a legal construct and therefore not identical to actually being a descendent. Mario-Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe is an heir to his adoptive father, but not a descendent. There is no biological relation between the adoptee and the dynasty of Schaumburg-Lippe and the genealogical chart that is presented on the website of Mario-Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe is misleading. This observation is without prejudice to Mario-Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe’s achievements in life.

Genealogical chart showing that Mario-Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe is a descendent of King Frederik VIII.of Denmark. This impression is false. The addition “of Germany” is misleading, since Mario-Max nor the House Schaumburg-Lippe have been rulers over Germany. “from Germany” would be the correct description. Source:


Traditionally (especially before 1918), adult adoption has been used as a way to save a noble family from extinction.

Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Fürstliche Häuser Band XIX, C.A. Starke Verlag, Limburg a.d. Lahn 2011. Example of an adoption with the consent of the German nobiliary law association, obtained after the adoption agreement was ratified by the court and the change of name had been processed in the public registers.

In such cases, in order to be accepted as belonging to the nobility, the adoption had to be followed by a Royal consent; after 1918 replaced by a declaration of no-objection (“adelsrechtliche Nichtbeanstandung der Führung ihres adeligen Namens”) from the German nobiliary law association (“der Deutsche Adelsrechtsausschuß“). Adoptees who obtain(ed) the mentioned consent are treated as founding father of a new family (Heiner Baron v. Hoyningen gen. Huene, Der Deutsche Adelsrechtsausschuss (ARA), pp. 1,4,5,6 ):

Als auch nach 1945 die DAG und mit ihr die Nachfolgeorganisation der APA zu existieren aufhörte, bildete sich nach wenigen Jahren im Jahre 1949 – noch vor der Gründung der Vereinigung der Deut- schen Adelsverbände (VdDA) – der Ausschuss für adelsrechtliche Fragen. Initiator war Hans Friedrich v. Ehrenkrook, der bereits seit 1925 zusammen mit früheren Mitgliedern des aufgelösten Heroldsamtes dem APA angehört hatte und der bis zu seinem Tode 1968 stellvertretender Präsident des ARA war. Er war somit Garant für die erstaunlich kontinuierliche Arbeit in adelsrechtlichen Fragen in einem langen Zeitraum, seit der Auflösung des Heroldsamts bis in die jüngste Vergangenheit, in einer Zeit, die durch ständige Veränderungen geprägt war. Der Ausschuss, der seit 1977 nicht mehr “Ausschuss für adels- rechtliche Fragen der deutschen Adelsverbände” sondern “Deutscher Adelsrechtsausschuß” heißt, wur- de und wird gebildet von Vertretern der einzelnen Deutschen Adelsverbände bzw. historischer deut- scher Landschaften, für die kein Adelsverband besteht.


Für alle diese Fälle, in denen der Adelsname nach dem staatlichen bürgerlichen Recht zurecht geführt wird, ohne indessen eine Zugehörigkeit zum historischen Adel zu begründen, hält sich der ARA als Rechtsnachfolger seiner Vorgänger, der von 1918 bis 1945 bestehenden Spruchorganisationen des deutschen Adels, für befugt, in besonderen Fällen die Führung eines Adelszeichens, die nach früherem Adelsrecht unzulässig gewesen wäre, adelsrechtlich nicht zu beanstanden mit der Folge, dass der Betroffene als zum Adel gehörend angesehen wird, in das Genealogische Handbuch des Adels aufgenommen und Mitglied eines Adelsverbandes werden kann. Hierbei handelt es sich aber um seltene Ausnahmen bei Vorliegen besonderer Umstände. Denn es kann nicht Aufgabe des ARA sein, Neuadel zu schaffen. Es muß sich um Fälle handeln, in denen angenommen werden kann, dass der Monarch früher eine Nobilitierung vorgenommen hätte.


Seit 1949 hat die II. Kammer (bis incl. 2016) 105 Entscheidungen getroffen, davon 49 positiv und 56 negativ. Die Probanden, deren Namensführung adelsrechtlich nichtbeanstandet worden sind, begründen adelsrechtlich eine neue adelige Familie, die im GHdA einen eigenen Artikel erhält.

Without the mentioned consent, adult adoption by a German noble person of a non-noble adoptee as such does not create German nobility in a historical sense. Therefore, these adoptees are not listed in e.g. the Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels that contains the genealogies of these families. The position of Mario-Max Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe could change when he would obtain a consent from the head of one of the former reigning German dynasties. 


(1) Several heirs filed suits against this regulation. On 11 March 1966 the supreme Federal Administrative Court of Germany ruled, based on Art. 109 of the Weimar Constitution and an earlier decision of the Reichsgericht, that German law on names does not recognise hereditary surname variants for heads of families distinct from the legal surname borne by other family members. (cf., N.N. Primogenitur – Nur eine Silbe (“primogeniture – only a syllable”), in: Der Spiegel, No. 15 (1966), p. 61.

(2) Das Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Rechtsprechung des Reichsgerichts und des Bundesgerichtshofes; Kommentare (=Großkommentare der Praxis (in German); “Civil Law Code with Special Attention to Jurisdiction of the Reichsgericht and the Bundesgerichtshof: Commentaries”), edited by members of the Bundesgerichthof, vol. 1: §§ 1–240, compiled by Kurt Herbert Johannsen, 12th, newly revised edition, Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1982, § 12 (p. 54). ISBN 3-11-008973-4.

(3) According to the Advocate General Sharpston, delivered on 14 October 2010, in case C‑208/09 (Ilonka Sayn-Wittgenstein) of the European Courts of Human Rights.

(4) ECJ, Case C-208/09 Ilonka Sayn-Wittgenstein vs. Landeshauptmann von Wien, judgment of 22 December 2010, summery of the judgment, provided by the court.

The legitimacy of issuing European-style titles of nobility by traditional leaders in modern Africa

The role of traditional leaders in modern Africa is complex and has many aspects. It is discussed by advocates of “traditionalists” and of “modernists.” The traditionalists regard Africa’s traditional chiefs and elders as the true representatives of their people, accessible, respected, and legitimate, and therefore essential to politics on the continent. “Modernists,” by contrast, view traditional authority as a gerontocratic, chauvinistic, authoritarian and increasingly irrelevant form of rule that is antithetical to democracy (C. Logan, working paper 93, Afro Barometer).

Togbe Osei III, 25th Togbe of Godenu, in a gathering with other traditional rulers (picture:

In modern Africa the “traditionalists” represent the more popular view. An Afrobarometer survey of 36 African countries in 2014-15 found that 61% of people trusted local chiefs. Faith in ancient power structures has increased as people have grown more wary of modern and democratic institutions and politicians (The Economist, 19 December 2017); which is more or less the same as in West Europe. One reason is because the state in Africa is often absent. It is far more effective to ask a chief than a far-ocourt to rule in a case. Because the chief is local, his ruling may be better understood and accepted. Another reason may be that traditional leaders are seen as less corrupt, even though they tend to follow unwritten customs rather than written laws (The Economist, 19 December 2017).

These unwritten rules and customs, also called “customary law”, are defined as meaning the customs and practices traditionally observed among the indigenous African people of South Africa, which form part of the culture of those people (Bekker Seymour’s Customary Law in Southern Africa (1989) 11-13). Some African countries have definitions, whereas in other countries only descriptions can be applied and thus rules are more complex to derive. Allott says about the definitions: “Whether these definitions of customary law contribute anything by way of precision or facilitation of choice of laws is an open question.” (Allott New Essays in African Law 1970, 157).

Modern African Legal Systems

Most African legal systems consist of a complex combination of customary law, religious laws, received law (such as common law or civil law) and state legislation. In particular customary law can be hard to define in a set of rules as we know in continental Europe. The complexity becomes apparent when the application of different sources of law leads to different outcomes in specific legal cases. In Bhe v The Magistrate, Khayelitsha; Shibi v Sithole; South African Human Rights Commission v President of the Republic of South Africa, for example, the Constitutional Court declared customary rule of male primogeniture, which allows only an oldest male descendant or relative to succeed to the estate of a Black person, unconstitutional and invalid. It also declared unconstitutional and invalid, section 23(7) of the Black Administration Act which unfairly discriminates against women and others with regard to the administration and distribution of black deceased estates. The court imposed, as an interim measure, the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act on estates previously dealt with under the Black Administration Act. It also made special provision for estates relating to polygynous marriages and that estates previously administered in terms of the Black Administration Act must be administered by the Master of the High Court in terms of the Administration of Estates Act.. (J.C. Bekker and D.S. Koyana, The judicial and legislative reform of the customary law of succession, De Jure, 45 Volume 3 2012 pp 568).

In this context some traditional African leaders have started to issue ancient European titles of nobility to westerners in order to help their people fund health care and education. The question arises to what extend such titles can be regarded as legitimate, both from a historic and legal perspective. I will discuss two cases in this respect.

Case study: Ghana

On the internet, examples of European-style titles of nobility can be found that are issued by Togbe Osei III. of Godenu. For example: “The hereditary noble title of “Baron of Todome” has been conferred on November 13, 2016 by H.R.H. Togbe Osei III., by the Grace of God The Dufia of Gbi-Godenu in the Volta Region, Ghana, The Lion of Godenu, officially recognized, protected and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.“. The passage fees are used to contribute to important local social projects.

Ghana has a mixed system of English common law and customary law. Article 11(3) of the 1992 Constitution defines customary law as the rules of law which by custom are applicable to particular communities. Customary law is now a question of law to be determined by the courts. In Muslim communities, the reference to customary law is a reference to Islamic law or the Sharia. Customary law is not codified. Under Sections 42 and 43 of the Ghana Chieftaincy Act, 1971 (Act 370), as amended by Chieftaincy (Amendment) Decree, 1973(NRCD 166), Chieftaincy (Amendment) (No. 2) Decree, 1973 (NRCD 226), Chieftaincy (Amendment) Law, 1982 (PNDCL25) and Chieftaincy (Amendment) Law, 1993 (PNDCL 307), the National House of Chiefs and/or a Regional House of Chiefs, can draft their declaration of customary law for approval and publication as a legislative instrument by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice (V. Essien, Researching Ghanaian Law, Hauser Global Law School Program, New York University School of Law, 2005).

I have not discovered in Ghana’s common law nor in Ghana’s customary law (as determined by the courts) a rule or basis that makes it possible to issue European-style titles of nobility. In particular, Ghana’s Constitution makes no mention of such a practice. Therefore, it seems to be the case that this practice has no legal basis. From a historical perspective, the mentioned practice has never occurred. Does this mean that such titles are not legitimate? More specifically, the question is: are there any objections regarding the issuance of western titles by Togbe Osei III and what is their value? I already addressed this question in my article about the former King Kigeli of Rwanda. That case involved a former head of state. In the Ghana-case it concernes a ruling traditional chief, as legally embedded in Ghana’s constitution.

It could be hard to embed a local nobility in Ghana’s regions, since there is no legal basis for it. Nobility can even be seen as unlawful. The President of the National House of Chiefs, the Agbogbomefia of the Ho Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV, recently said one of the objectives of his administration would be to restore the nobility and reverence of the chieftaincy institution to enable it to effectively play its roles in society as expected (Ghanaweb, 2 February 2017, Do not meddle in politics. Togbe Afede tells chiefs). Issuing European-style titles may currently be the only safe way to bestow honours, since Ghana law is neutral about them in the same way as e.g. Italian law.

Like other major Western noble titles, baron is sometimes used to render certain titles in non-Western languages with their own traditions (e.g. the Indian equivalent Rao and the Székely equivalent primor, historically used among a specific population of Hungarians in Transsylvania). From a historic perspective these titles are unrelated and thus hard to compare. They are considered comparable in relative rank. Even in Western Europe the term Baron can hardly be compared among the different European countries or even among different regions within a country. Therefore, when using the title in public, the source of the title should be mentioned; although the word is the same, internationally it has a different meaning.

In my opinion, European-style titles and honours might be unconventional, but can be accepted. There is no authority to forbid the Togbe (literally meaning “grandfather”, the Ewe (1) reference for a chief) to style Europeans and Americans in a European manner. I think the Togbe simply wants to make his titles more attractive to westerners, which is understandable. Issuing original Ghanese-style titles to westerners would be unconventional  as well and could even be unlawful. On the other hand, at least one example exists that contradicts the latter suggestion. Therefore, it remains an open question to what extend it is legitimate to issue European titles. I tend to see them as legitimate, but only when used in proper circumstances as described below.


  • African leaders might not have enough insight regarding the intentions of westerners that want to be involved in charity in Africa in exchange a title of some kind. Frankly, these intentions are not important as long as the titles are bestowed upon worthy individuals and the passage fee is used for the good. However, not taking into account the character and behaviour of the recipients might lead to situations in which the issuer is disgraced. Low passage fees will contribute to attracting gold diggers. More importantly, it also designates low value.
  • Today’s internet facilities attract numerous title hunters that make ridiculous appearances on the internet, thus jeopardising the reputation of the honour- or award-issuer. Such persons also decrease the value of the titles that are awarded. It is not easy to spot such title and medal hunters from an African perspective. Therefore, African leaders, that choose to issue titles to fund their regional charities are advised to carefully select a western intermediary of high reputation to represent them in such matters. Appointing the first person who comes knocking on the door is unwise.
  • The use of the title should not lead to confusion and irritation with European title holders. Therefore, on social media (e.g. the “Awards” section on LinkedIn) mentioning the title should e.g. read as: Baron of Todome (13 November 2016), title issued by the Togbe Osei III, 25th Togbe of Godenu. Extravagant use of the title should be avoided: less is more.
  • I have a problem with use of the terms “King” and “Royal”, without any further explanation. In the context of antiquity and contemporary indigenous peoples, the title can refer to tribal kingship. Germanic kingship is cognate with Indo-European traditions of tribal rulership (c.f. Indic rājan, Gothic reiks, and Old Irish , etc.), but it differs from the modern use of the term “King” (head of a state). It needs to be explained that the terms “King” and “Royal” refer to tribal kingship. I suggest that this explanation is put on the website of the House of Godenu.
  • I also have a problem with creating all kinds of “Royal” institutions, without any real substance. Some representatives of African Houses have e.g. created non-accredited Royal Universities, Honorary Guards, a Hall of Fame, a Royal Society, a Royal Warrant Holder Society, a Royal Commission of Nobility and Royalty, a Royal College of Technology Foundation, a Royal General Register of All Arms and Bearings and other institutions that try to mimic those of reigning European monarchs. All these institutions are presented in a manner that immediately shows a lack of good taste. In my opinion, these institutions are – to put it in a diplomatic manner – not appropriate and therefore should be avoided. African chiefs have their own identity and should not try to become European because of possible commercial gain. The result of these creations without any substance will be that ancient historic African families are again disgraced by westerners. They will be regarded as fake and ridiculous by the public. An example of a genuine and modest presentation, with a focus on history, research and good intentions, is the website of the House of Rwanda. I suggest this website is used as an example.

Comments and different points of view regarding this article are most welcome.


(1) Ewe (Èʋe or Èʋegbe [èβeɡ͡be]) is a Niger–Congo language spoken in southeastern Ghana by approximately 6–7 million people as either the first or second language.

Wat is de juridische status van “het recht om zich heer/vrouwe van [naam heerlijkheid] te noemen”?


Door de heer mr E.J. Wolleswinkel, voormalig secretaris van de Hoge Raad van Adel, wordt in Virtus, Jaarboek voor Adelsgeschiedenis 16, p. 210 (De boekstaving van distinctiegedrag) een vraag gesteld die mij al geruime tijd bezig houdt. Wolleswinkel uit zich terecht kritisch ten opzichte van de stelling dat er in Nederland een recht zou bestaan om zich “heer/vrouwe van/in” een bepaalde voormalige heerlijkheid te noemen. Zijn bedenkingen zijn correct: wat voor recht dit is, wordt in het door hem besproken werk niet duidelijk omdat deze hoedanigheden niet in de burgerlijke stand worden opgenomen. In deze bijdrage doe ik een poging om hierover duidelijkheid te geven.


Anna Quevellerius, Vrouwe van Sint Pancras van 1740 tot 1756. Geschilderd door Jan Abel Wassenberg Sr. (omstreeks 1720). Collectie Groninger Museum, Foto John Stoel.

In de achttiende eeuw, toen heerlijkheden nog bestonden, was het gebruik om aan de naam de betiteling “heer/vrouwe van [naam heerlijkheid]” toe te voegen. Professor J.P. de Monté ver Loren, hoogleraar oudvaderlands recht en secretaris van de Hoge raad van Adel, schrijft hierover in De Nederlandsche Leeuw van november 1961 (kolom 398):

“Vanouds was het gebruik, dat de bezitter van een heerlijkheid de naam daarvan achter zijn geslachtsnaam voegde ter aanduiding van het feit, dat hij heer van de betreffende heerlijkheid was. Ook tegenwoordig wordt dit gebruik soms nog gevolgd.

Aan de ambtenaar van de Burgerlijke Stand werd bij de invoering en daarna vaak de naam van de heerlijkheid ten onrechte als deel van de geslachtsnaam opgegeven en vervolgens door de ambtenaar ingeschreven. Aan deze onjuiste opgave kon de betrokkene geen rechten ontlenen. De circulaire die de minister van justitie in 1858 rond liet gaan, dat in officiële stukken een naam van een heerlijkheid nooit als deel van een geslachtsnaam mocht worden opgenomen, werd in de praktijk vaak genegeerd, maar bewijst wel dat het hier om een gewoonte ging. In Nederland’s Adelsboek en Nederland’s Patriciaat zijn talloze voorbeeld te vinden die deze praktijk bewijzen met concrete voorbeelden. Ook een recent artikel van mr J. van Wassenaer bevestigt dit.

Een belangrijke bijdrage aan de inventarisatie van de combinatie geslachtsnaam/heerlijkheid is geleverd door de heer C.E.G. ten Houte de Lange in zijn werken: Het Dubbele Namen Boek en Heerlijkheden in Nederland : welke namen van heerlijkheden worden nog gevoerd sinds 1848?. 

Met andere woorden, er kan worden gesteld dat er een gewoonte bestond en bestaat binnen de groep van (voormalige) heerlijkheid bezitters om (1) de betiteling heer/vrouwe van/tot [naam (voormalige) heerlijkheid] te voeren en (2) aan de geslachtsnaam de naam van de heerlijkheid toe te voegen, voorafgaand door een “van” of “tot”.


In de uitspraak van de Hoge Raad van 20 februari 2015 (ECLI:NL:HR:2015:395) is overwogen dat het karakter van oude zakelijke rechten kan wijzigen en dat hiervoor aansluiting kan worden gezocht bij hetgeen met voldoende zekerheid kan worden vastgesteld met betrekking tot de daadwerkelijke uitoefening van het recht gedurende de meest recente periode (r.o. 3.5.2):

Oude zakelijke rechten als dat van de dertiende penning worden, bij gebreke van een wettelijke regeling, beheerst door het gewoonterecht. Weliswaar moeten deze rechten krachtens art. 1 van de Wet van 16 mei 1829, Stb. 29, worden geëerbiedigd, maar dit betekent niet dat de sedertdien ingevoerde algemene regels van het Burgerlijk Wetboek ten aanzien van die rechten niet van belang zijn. Voorts lenen die rechten zich voor verdere ontwikkeling op grond van zich wijzigende maatschappelijke omstandigheden. Ingeval onzekerheid bestaat omtrent wat gewoonte is, kan aansluiting worden gezocht bij hetgeen met voldoende zekerheid kan worden vastgesteld met betrekking tot de daadwerkelijke uitoefening van het recht gedurende de meest recente periode (vgl. onder meer HR 1 juli 1994, ECLI:NL:HR:1994:ZC1414, NJ 1995/547 en HR 20 juni 1997, ECLI:NL:HR:1997:ZC2394, NJ 1999/302).


Naar mijn mening is het gevolg van voorgaande jurisprudentie dat het voeren van de betiteling en de toevoeging van de naam, moet worden gezien als een gewoonterecht. Dit recht is in de loop van de tijd van karakter veranderd. Er zijn immers geen eigenlijke heerlijke rechten meer. Dat de betiteling waarde heeft, blijkt uit het feit dat er in het economisch verkeer waarde aan gehecht worden: er worden nog steeds voormalige heerlijkheidsrechten en -titels verhandeld. IJdelheid is hiervoor de voornaamste drijfveer, denk ik. Er is sprake van een recht omdat het gebruik van titel en naam een bepaalde relatie met het goed impliceert die een inbreuk kan maken op de rechten van de eigenaar van dat goed en zodoende leidt tot een onrechtmatige daad, als hiervoor geen juridische grondslag is. Tot een vergelijkbare conclusie kwam mr W. Lunsingh Tonckens al een eeuw geleden (De Nederlandsche Leeuw, jaargang 39, kolommen 285-286):

“Heerlijkheden bestaan hier te lande dus niet meer. Daar het onmogelijk is om eigenaar te zijn eender niet bestaande zaak, kan men heerlijkheden niet erven of koopen”


“Hij, die ten onrechte den naam eener heerlijkheid als deel van een geslachtsnaam opgeeft of draagt, valt niet onder het bereik onzer strafwet en loopt alleen in het weinig waarschijnlijke geval, dat daardoor aan een ander nadeel wordt toegebracht, gevaar, dat eene burgerlijke rechtsvordering tegen hem wordt ingesteld (artikel 1401) van het Burgerlijk Wetboek).”

De conclusie is dus dat er sprake is van een immaterieel vermogensrecht dat ontstaan is door gewoonte. Het betreffende recht is een absoluut recht – dat kan worden geldend gemaakt tegenover in beginsel willekeurig welke derde – op het betreffende immateriële voorwerp (gebruik titel/benaming) en het geeft de rechthebbende een exclusief gebruiksrecht op dat immateriële voorwerp.

Vanaf het moment van het ontstaan van het recht wordt het in beginsel geabstraheerd van de persoon van de originaire rechthebbende en leidt het gewoonterecht een eigen leven dat niet meer beïnvloed wordt door omstandigheden waarin de originaire rechthebbende in de toekomst komt te verkeren. Zoals het eigendomsrecht op een fiets los staat van de wederwaardigheden van de oorspronkelijke eigenaar, maar enkel door de lotgevallen van de fiets wordt bepaald, zo staat het gewoonterecht los van de verdere levensloop van de eerste rechthebbende en is het voortbestaan van het recht hooguit afhankelijk van de lotgevallen van het immateriële voorwerp zelf. Een beetje vergelijkbaar met een auteursrecht dus.

Commentaar/alternatieve denkwijzen zijn van harte welkom.


Dr. Olaf van Hees (FB 26 juli 2018) 

  • Na de afschaffing van de heerlijkheden in 1848 hebben de leden van de familie Van Hees (Van Berkel en Rodenrijs en den Tempel) familiebreed besloten de naam Van Hees van den Tempel te voeren, ook door de 2e en 3e graad leden, immers afkomstig van eenzelfde stam. Het gebruik van de toevoeging is sinds het begin van de 20e eeuw zodanig verwaterd dat niemand dit meer gebruikt.

Mr Dries-Jan van Huykelom van de Pas (E-mail 26 juli 2018) 

  • “Naar mijn mening is het gevolg van voorgaande jurisprudentie dat het voeren van de betiteling en de toevoeging van de naam, moet worden gezien als een gewoonterecht. Dit recht is in de loop van de tijd van karakter veranderd. Er zijn immers geen eigenlijke heerlijke rechten meer”.

Ik heb bezwaar tegen de opvatting dat er geen heerlijke rechten meer zouden bestaan. Toonaangevende wetenschappers, waaronder Ketelaar, zijn van mening dat enkele, nog bestaande, heerlijke rechten een regale oorsprong hebben. Zo is het visrecht afgeleid van het stroomregaal. Ketelaar neemt afstand van het onderscheid dat De Blécourt aanvankelijk maakte tussen eigenlijke en oneigenlijk heerlijke rechten. Hij schrijft:  “het heerlijk karakter is juist een wezenlijk aspect van de ambachtsgevolgen” (F.C.J. Ketelaar, “Oude zakelijke rechten, vroeger, nu en in de toekomst”, Universitaire Pers Leiden, Tjeenk Willink 1978, p. 12-13.). Met andere woorden, heerlijke rechten bestaan nog steeds.

  • “De conclusie is dus dat er sprake is van een immaterieel vermogensrecht dat ontstaan is door gewoonte”

Deze conclusie deel ik. In de vroege Middeleeuwen konden alleen edellieden eigenaar zijn van een heerlijkheid. De titel ‘heer van’ (dominus) is van oorsprong de aanspreektitel voor een ridder. Hoewel het dus geen adellijke titel is duidde het gebruik van de aanspreektitel er destijds wel op dat de geadresseerde van adel was. In de oudste charters uit de Middeleeuwen wordt daarom iedere eigenaar van een heerlijkheid ‘heer van’ genoemd. Als het in de latere Middeleeuwen niet langer verplicht is om van adel te zijn om eigenaar van een heerlijkheid (met uitzondering van Zeeland) te zijn, wordt het woord ‘heer van’ niet genoemd in de charters, terwijl de eigenaars wel ‘heer van’ werden genoemd en als dusdanig werden erkend. Het ridderlijke ‘heer van’ is aldus in de loop van de tijd los komen te staan van het zijn van ridder en duidt sindsdien op het bezit van een heerlijkheid. Daarmee is een heerlijkheidstitel toen vooral een functie-aanduiding geworden voor de eigenaar van de heerlijke rechten, en met name van het recht op jurisdictie.In al mijn onderzoek naar (de status van) heerlijkheden ben ik nergens een bepaalde vorm van codificatie van het recht tot het voeren van de titel tegengekomen. Er zijn ook geen historici, noch rechtswetenschappers die van een wettelijke of anderszins juridische grondslag gewag maken. In dit licht is artikel 24 uit de staatsregeling van 1798 van belang, waarin – zonder enige onduidelijkheid – de heerlijke rechten en titels zijn afgeschaft:

Alle eigenlijk gezegde Heerlijke Regten en Tituls, waardoor aan een bijzonder Persoon of Lichaam zou worden toegekend eenig gezag omtrent het Bestuur van zaken in eenige Stad, Dorp of Plaats, of de aanstelling van deze of gene Ambtenaaren binnen dezelve, worden, voor zoo verr’ die niet reeds niet de daad zijn afgeschaft, bij de aanneming der Staatsregeling, zonder eenige schaêvergoeding, voor altijd vernietigd.”

Hiermee is zeer waarschijnlijk het recht tot het voeren van de titel ‘heer van’ afgeschaft, aangezien de revolutionairen uit die tijd sterk gekant waren tegen het feodalisme. Heerlijkheden, meer nog dan briefadel, waren hier een belangrijk onderdeel van. Zeker is wel dat met artikel 15 van de staatsregeling van 1801 artikel 24 van de staatsregeling van 1798 werd ingetrokken:

Alle algemeene Wetten en bepalingen, welke sedert het begin van den Jare 1795 gederogeerd hebben aan de waarde van Eigendommen of wettig verkregen Bezittingen, zyn aan herziening onderworpen. Een ieder die door dezelve benadeeld is geworden, kan zich deswegen aan het Staats-Bewind vervoegen, het welk, naar bevind van zaken de afschaffing of verbetering van die Wetten, alsmede eene billyke schadeloosstelling, voordraagt aan het Wetgevend Lichaam.

Heerlijkheden, c.q. heerlijke rechten, als verhandelbare vermogensrechtelijke zaak/zaken vallen hier onder. De titel, als die al was afgeschaft in 1798, is daardoor nog bestaand: er is na  1798 geen enkele wettelijke bepaling die er op ziet om (het gebruik van) de titel af te schaffen.

  • “De conclusie is dus dat er sprake is van een immaterieel vermogensrecht dat ontstaan is door gewoonte. Het betreffende recht is een absoluut recht – dat kan worden geldend gemaakt tegenover in beginsel willekeurig welke derde – op het betreffende immateriële voorwerp (gebruik titel/benaming) en het geeft de rechthebbende een exclusief gebruiksrecht op dat immateriële voorwerp.”

Zeer juist. Tot slot wil ik je nog op het volgende wijzen:

In 1814 zijn er een aantal Soevereine Besluiten uitgevaardigd door Willem I, waarmee een aantal heerlijke rechten werden hersteld. Je hebt daar een mooi artikel over geschreven, dus daarover zal ik niet uitweiden. Wel van belang is de tekst van deze artikelen. Hierin wordt namelijk vrijwel altijd gesproken over “ambachtsheeren”, “heeren”, slechts in één enkel geval ook over “voormalige heeren”. Uitgaande van een redactionele wetsinterpretatie zou ik durven stellen dat de titel inderdaad 1798 heeft overleefd en in deze artikelen wordt bevestigd.

Protection against illegitimate use of titles of nobility

Petronilla Queen of Aragon (ruling 1137 until 1164) and Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona depicted later in a 16th-century painting (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

In Italy a person may call him/herself by any title of nobility desired. Titles of nobility are not forbidden, nor recognized by the Italian state. The Italian judicial system does not forbid the use of titles of nobility, but remains totally indifferent regarding its use. This means that Italian law does not attribute any value (neither value nor disvalue) to noble titles (see e.g. a recent ruling by the Italian court of Reggio Emilia (Tribunale di Reggio Emilia) of 12 December 2017, translated here). In other countries, like e.g. The Netherlands, it is forbidden to use a national title of nobility without being entitled to it. The use of foreign titles is not prohibited. Does this mean that in Italy a person can use/issue any title he likes? And does this mean that in The Netherlands any foreign title of nobility can be used freely? In this article I will show that this is not the case and that the legal protection of titles in various legal systems can be very effectively pursued.


With some exceptions, in most jurisdictions it is not unlawful to impersonate someone per se. In numerous countries however, it is a criminal offence to dishonestly make a false representation with the intention of making a gain or causing a loss. Very often a false representation has the intention of causing some kind of tangible gain or loss. Gain or loss can be loss of money or property. Loss to reputation can have incalculable damage in this regard. It is very difficult to impersonate someone without then going on to commit another offence (either civil or criminal). Those who communicate with a impersonator, and share personal or confidential information, may have very serious damages claims.

One of the most common claims against an impersonator is passing off. In commerce, an example is where an individual misrepresents himself as a representative of a company, or his services to be those of company. In more personal cases, the result is the same, for example when someone falsely suggests that such a high-profile person has endorsed him. Impersonation takes place if any part of a person’s identity is used in a way that does not fit with the characteristics of the actual person concerned. Depending on the legal system, impersonation can result in a criminal offense and/or in civil liability.

Case study: impersonating and its consequences

Diploma, issued by mr Stefan Cernetic, bestowing a false knightly order.

Publicly impersonating being a descendant from a monarch and belonging to a specific royal family, thus not having a legitimate historical claim to a so-called fount of honor, in my opinion, can lead to both criminal and civil liability. One example would be when someone pays a fee to a illusionary royal descendant in order to obtain a noble title. Another example would be when a reputation is damaged if it turns out that a title of nobility has no historical background, such as in the case of Mrs Pamala Anderson, a famous actress and animal rights campaigner. Mrs Anderson was “officially” declared Countess de Gigli at a ceremony in Genoa (Italy) in 2015. The deed was carried out by the self-declared Prince of Montenegro, a man called Stefan Cernetic. The deed was a horrible act of abusing the trust of a vulnerable lady. Cernetic has been charged with impersonation by the Italian police in 2017.  Mr Cernetic is not in any way related to Nikola II Petrović-Njegoš, Crown Prince of Montenegro (born 7 July 1944), who is the legitimate Head of the House of Petrović-Njegoš, which reigned over Montenegro from 1696 to 1766 and again from 1782 to 1918. A third example of impersonation would be to use a title that is connected to an existing family of noble descent, e.g. Count Bismarck, thus giving the impression that the impersonator is part of that noble family.

Mr Cernetic with the Archibishop of Monaco, His Eminence the Cardinal Bernard Barsi (source: STEFAN CERNETIC/FACEBOOK)

It should be remembered that historical fact-finding is achieved through scientific reasoning and solid evidence, not via “approval” from a self-appointed “authority” or by somebody who happens to be descended from royalty. Violating these conditions and subsequently issue noble titles may lead to an impersonation. The recipient of the title is deceived. That impersonators gain social acceptance on the internet or edit entries on Wikipedia does not make them real. The recipient believes that the title has a historical background, but in fact this background is fabricated. In contrast, the mentioned criminal court ruling of the Italian court of Reggio Emilia (Tribunale di Reggio Emilia) of 12 December 2017 shows that Prince Thorbjorn Paternò Castello (see below) is not impersonating recipients of his honorific accessories, because the prince has a legitimate claim regarding such honors. This does not mean that such a claim cannot be challenged, only that the claim is reasonable (meaning: not fabricated or false), like in the Cernetic-case.

Breach of Intellectual Property rights

In most countries it is also a civil and criminal offense to falsely claim that someone is the author of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. It might seem odd to think of title of nobility as being included. Copyright can be seen as a law that gives a person ownership over the things created by that person (the author). As defined by the Berne Convention, the moral rights of the author include: the right to claim authorship of the work (1); the right to object to any distortion, mutilation or modification of the work (2) and the right to object to any derogatory action that may damage the authors honor or reputation (3). It is not always easy to establish whether a work falls within the definition of artistic works. Therefore, whether a title of nobility cannot be solved by detailed definitions of artistic works without creating the opposing problem that such a definition is too narrow. Cited in the 2011 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in Lucas films vs. Ainsworth, Judge Mann believes that in many cases it is only the artistic purpose of the artist which makes an otherwise banal object an “artistic work”. I believe that this factor for determining whether a work is an artistic work is crucial. It avoids judges becoming the arbiter of “what is an artistic work” and instead places the onus on the intentions of the artist. A title of nobility can be intended as a artistic work when its specific elements, which alone do not need to attract copyright, together form a ‘unity’ with an own, original character (compare Court of Appeal of Amsterdam 27 June 2002). The latter meaning that it carries the personal character of the maker.

Case study: IP-law protection of legitimate titles

Prince Thorbjorn Paternò Castello, descendent of an ancient Sicilian noble family and claimant to the dynastic rights of the former kingdom of Aragon, signing a nobility diploma.

To demonstrate originality, the question should be answered whether the author has made use of the creative space to produce an intellectual creation that can be considered the author’s own (Van Gompel 2014, p. 138). This is the case with titles created by Prince Thorbjorn Paternò Castello, in his capacity as claimant to the dynastic rights of the ancient Royal House of Valencia and Aragon. With the creation of the title, the prince becomes the author of the artistic work, consisting of a written description of the historic background, a description and a color image of the coat of arms that is connected to the title, a chosen and unique combination of words that are designated as a noble title (e.g. Count of Vall de Almonacid of the Sovereign House of Valencia) and can be used as an honorific accessory to a person’s name/identity, and the subsequent courtesy by the relevant community of addressing the person by his noble title. It can be said that the creation of such a title is intended to be an artistic work by both the issuer and the recipient, since it is intended to be a unique honorific accessory to the recipient’s name, based on the personal historical background of the issuer. The title has commercial value because the recipient often pays a fee for the transfer, that is used to fund charity projects of the prince. Therefore, the title is protected by IP-law.

Coat of arms beloning to a title of nobility, issued by prince Thorbjorn.

Such IP-rights are transferred in the diploma from the prince to the recipient with the right to transmit them perpetually from male to male in order of primogeniture, and, in the absence of heirs, to the firstborn of the closest line, and, in the absence of males, una tantum to females. Both male and female collaterals have the title of “Noble of the”, as is the custom, and in any case, the title of “Don” and “Donna” (letter of patent issued to John Wayne Rinkle, 28 September 2010).


In countries where there does not exist a direct protection against illegitimate issuance or use of titles of nobility, the law still offers a serious degree of protection against misuse. Historical legitimacy is required. Therefore, only under this condition, issuers and recipients of noble titles can claim legal protection as described above.

Van Gompel, S. (2014). Creativity, autonomy and personal touch: A critical appraisal of the CJEU’s originality test for copyright. In M. van Eechoud (Ed.), The work of authorship (pp. 95-143). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Koningin Juliana, een onderschatte vorstin

Een opinie-artikeltje met deze naam wilde ik al langer schrijven. Toevallig zag ik, voordat ik er aan begon, dat er al een boek was met dezelfde titel: Juliana, een onderschatte vorstin, door journalist Bert van Nieuwenhuizen. De auteur heeft veel artikelen op zijn naam staan, die de Nederlandse monarchie als onderwerp hebben.

In zijn boek legt Van Nieuwenhuizen de nadruk op de rol die Juliana heeft gespeeld bij de wederopbouw en het sociale gezicht van Nederland. Koningin Juliana heeft vaak gezegd dat zij graag maatschappelijk werkster was geworden als zij niet tot vorstin was geroepen. De biografie van Van Nieuwenhuizen is vooral interessant omdat hij deze mede heeft gebaseerd op biografieen van politici met wie Koningin Juliana nauw heeft samengewerkt, zoals Willem Drees en Louis Beel.

Anderen zijn kritischer over de koningin en noemen haar een goede actrice: ‘Juliana hoefde alleen maar in te stappen.’ en ‘Juliana is van alle vorsten die we hebben gehad de beste actrice geweest.’ (M.G.Schenk en M.van Herk, Juliana, vorstin naast de rode loper). Naar mijn mening is dit onjuist. Makkelijk instappen en aan boord blijven was er niet bij. Denk aan het moeilijke huwelijk met Prins Bernhard, de uitdagingen van de wederopbouw, de Greet Hofmans-affaire en het huwelijk van haar dochter Beatrix, waar een deel van Nederland (achteraf volkomen misplaatst) zo veel moeite mee had. Koningin Juliana heeft het allemaal weten te doorstaan.

Een prima voorbeeld van politieke behendigheid, is de rol die Koningin Juliana speelde bij de totstandkoming van het kabinet Den Uyl. Uit recent onderzoek van politicoloog Wilfred Scholten blijkt dat de koningin deze ultra linkse politicus in het zadel heeft geholpen. Koningin Juliana was namelijk de initiatiefnemer voor de zogenaamde “inbraak van Burger”. Met deze term wordt de succesvolle poging van PvdA-informateur Jaap Burger in 1973 aangeduid om de anti-revolutionaire prominenten Boersma en De Gaay Fortman te winnen voor een progressief kabinet-Den Uyl. Daarmee legde Burger de basis voor het beruchte kabinet-Den Uyl. Hiervoor was geen parlementaire meerderheid. Burger had kans gezien Boersma en De Gaay Fortman zover te krijgen dat zij wilden toetreden tot dit kabinet. De ARP-fractie, die van niks wist, stond perplex. Boersma kreeg als ‘verrader’ een stortvloed aan verwijten over zich heen. Het beeld van de simpele ziel aan de zijde van de flashy Prins Bernhard is dus onjuist. Net als het beeld van Den Uyl overigens (maar dan omgekeerd). Terwijl Nederland de jaren zeventig in de krant las dat ‘Joop en Liesbeth’ met de caravan naar het zuiden waren afgereisd, zagen mijn ouders en ik het echtpaar in een duur hotel in Zweden de meest exclusieve gerechten naar binnen werken.

Een wederdienst van de van huis uit koningsgezinde Den Uyl was op zijn plaats. Onderzoeker Anet Bleich ontdekte dat Den Uyl in 1976 van de ’Commissie van drie’ (1) sterke aanwijzingen ontving dat Prins Bernhard zowel van vliegtuigbouwer Lockheed als van concurrent Northrop steekpenningen had aangenomen. Den Uyl heeft die informatie echter achter gehouden. Hij was bang voor een koningscrisis en natuurlijk ook voor het feit dat zijn eigen positie daarin meegezogen zou worden. Hoewel Den Uyl met zijn torenhoge belastingen ons land op de rand van de afgrond heeft gebracht, moet ik hem nageven dat hij ten aanzien van de monarchie de juiste keuzes heeft gemaakt. De politiek van Den Uyl was een “afschrikwekkend voorbeeld van socialistisch beleid” (premier Rutte op BNR Radio, 25 augustus 2012), maar Den Uyl heeft (uit dankbaarheid) de monarchie wel gered.

Bij mij roept dit alles de vraag op waarom Koningin Juliana zo graag Den Uyl aan het roer wilde. Ik kan er geen eenduidige verklaring voor vinden. Ik denk dat Koningin Juliana oprecht geloofde in de linkse ideeën van Den Uyl. Zij vond het mooi om Koningin te zijn maar hechtte ook veel waarde aan een sociale samenleving. Uiteindelijk ben ik van mening dat Koningin Juliana onder de meest moeilijke omstandigheden haar rol als staatshoofd op een prima wijze invulling heeft gegeven.

Geraadpleegde Literatuur

  • W. Scholten, Mooie Barend. Biografie van B.W. Biesheuvel 1920-2001 (Uitgeverij Bert Bakker; Amsterdam 2012)
  • A. Bleich, Joop den Uyl 1919-1987. Dromer en doordouwer (Uitgeverij Balans; Amsterdam 2008)
  • B. van Nieuwenhuizen, Juliana, een onderschatte vorstin (Uitgeverij Oorsprong; Deventer 2010)


(1) Voorzitter van de Commissie van Drie was mr. A.M Donner, rechter bij het Europees Hof van Justitie. De overige leden waren dr. M.W. Holtrop (voormalig president van De Nederlandsche Bank) en de president van de Algemene Rekenkamer, drs. H. Peschar.


  • Holtrop (1902 – 1988) was op 30 aug. 1926 gehuwd met Josina Juchter (1901-1965). Uit dit huwelijk werden twee zoons en een dochter geboren.
  • PvdA-man-Peschar was in 1965 een van de vier leden van de PvdA-fractie die tegen de Toestemmingswet voor het huwelijk van prinses Beatrix en Claus van Amsberg stemden. Peschar had echter minder moeite met het accepteren van een koninklijke onderscheiding. Hij was Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw en Grootofficier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau.
  • De prinsen-titel voor Pieter van Vollenhoven stuitte destijds op politieke bezwaren. Op 25 maart 1966 schrijft minister-president (14 april 1965 tot 22 november 1966) Jo Cals ‘Allen tegen titel Prins der Nederlanden,’ behalve minister van Defensie De Jong, ‘die overigens geen uitgesproken voorkeur heeft.’ Verder zijn de bewindslieden tegen de verheffing van Pieter in de adelstand. De Hoge Raad van Adel was voor verheffing. Koningin Juliana was ook tegen: ‘Kwalificatie Prins der Nederlanden te hoog’, wel mag Pieter ‘lid van ons Huis’ worden. De koningin wijst een compromisvoorstel af om Pieter dan toch ‘Graaf van Buren’ te laten worden: ‘Dat is een on-Hollandse oplossing.’ (bron: Nationaal Archief). Enige decennia later werd daar gelukkig anders over gedacht bij de verlening van titels aan zijn kinderen.

Papal Nobility in the United States

This article (San Francisco Call, Volume 102, Number 121, 29 September 1907) has been transcribed from the original scan. I have added comments and biographical notes to provide more information about the titled persons. The article gives insight in the social background of the new nobility.

The Papal Nobility of America

Ida Ryan

Mrs. THOMAS FORTUNE RYAN has been made a countess by Pope Pius X. This announcement comes close on the heels of the report that her husband is to be made a prince of the church. It has been whispered in high church circles in New York and in Rome that for the flrst time in years the red hat of a cardinal would be bestowed upon -a man of the world – and an American. While this report may be groundless, the fact has come to light that during the last few years what may possibly be termed a papal nobility has been created in the United States. Theoretically Pope Plus IX was a friend of the United States and an admirer of the church in this country, but not until the reign of Leo XIII and of the present pontiff has there been any acknowledgment of the high standing of the church in this country other than the creation of two cardinals in a hundred years. “Nobility lies not in heritage alone, but in the deeds of the living generations.” was one of the epigrams of Leo XIII. Taking this for his maxim, he placed the ancient titles of Rome upon men and women whose lives distinguished them among the good doers of the generation. Pius X has followed his policy. During the four years of his reign he has created an unprecedented number of nobles in recognition of both scientific achievement and – philanthropic work. While Pope Pius has accepted the precedent set by Leo XIII, which accorded to Cardinal Gibbons the distinction of being “the American cardinal,” and has intimated that during the life of his eminence no other prelate will be given the red hat, he has in every other way possible elevated the standing of the American church.

Thomas Fortune Ryan, 1913 painting by Joaquín Sorolla

Thomas Fortune Ryan (1851–1928) was an American tobacco, insurance and transportation magnate. Although he lived in New York City for much of his adult career, Ryan was perhaps the greatest benefactor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond in the decades before the Great Depression. In addition to paying for schools, hospitals and other charitable works, Ryan’s donations paid for the construction of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond, Virginia. Ryan also made significant donations to Catholic institutions in New York City and Washington, D.C. (source: Wikipedia). As her husband’s wealth grew exponentially, Ida Barry Ryan began making large benefactions to Catholic charitable organizations in New York, Virginia, and across the country. The Ryans funded churches, convents and hospitals in Manhattan, including the architecturally important St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church on the Upper East Side. In Washington, D.C., they paid for a gymnasium and dormitory at the Jesuit-founded Georgetown University. Pope Pius X recognized the couple’s generosity by naming him to the papal nobility and giving Ida Ryan the cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for her work in the Diocese. The couple’s lifetime contributions to Catholic charities around the country totalled $20 million.

Ida Mary Barry Ryan (1854 Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland – 1917 (aged 62) Suffern, Rockland County, New York). Although there was a place for her in the crypt of Richmond’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, she was ultimately interred in the cemetery at St. Andrews-on-Hudson Seminary in Hyde Park, New York (now The Culinary Institute of America). Photo by R.C.

The raising of Mrs. Ryan (1854-1917) to the Catholic nobility was expected by many prelates in this country during Pops Leo’s administration. Decorations and privileges were accorded to her, but the rank of countess was held in the country only by Mils Annie Leary. Mrs. Ryan, the builder of churches and iiospitals and schools, the story of whose remarkable life was recently told in the Herald, never has sough any recognition for her deeds. While it Is known that she gives away $1,000,000 a year for charitable purposes, little Is known of her philanthropy. She has built more churches  and schools in the United States than any other person in the entire world. The number of these gifts alone exceeds 30 and there is hardly a Catholic church or Institution In the eastern states or in the southwestern section to which she has not lent material aid. In placing the title of “Countess Ida” upon Mrs. Ryan Pope Pius is said to have remarked that it was not alone for the cathedrals and churches and public institutions with which Mrs. Ryan has enriched the church in this country that she has been made a member of the Vatican nobility, but more especially because of the daily Christian life she leads. Few religious orders require from their nuns more of abstinence and labor and prayer than Mrs. Ryan gives every day of her life. She begins her morning by attending mass, and from that time until she retires at night her mind and her hands are ever busy in some good work. She is a lover of working men and women, and her munificence has done much to relieve the burdens of hundreds In New York and In the far west, where she has materially aided destitute consumptives. She gave to Virginia Its cathedral at Richmond, which cost $ 1.000.000.

Annie Leary

Annie Leary (b. 1832 – d. 1919), philanthropist, was born in New York City, daughter of James and Catherine Leary, who were also born in New York. She is descended on her mother’s side from The Netherlands, while her paternal grandfather came from Ireland to the United States during his boyhood.

The only other papal countess la the United States is the Countess Annie Leary, whose title was ctven by Pope Leo XIII, and expired at the pontiffs death. One of the first acts of Pope Pius’ administration waa to renew the Countess Leary’s title, with that of from other temporary nobility. Countess Leary received the title because of her extensive work for the “Welfare of working girls and emigrants. Years ago, when she very young girl, before the emigrants bureau was as well organized as it is now and prior to the time when State street was lined with homes for emigrant girls, terrible stories of the snares and temptations which were laid In the way of young girls coming as strangers to this land reached the ears of Miss Leery. She was horrified at such conditions and determined to try to find a remedy for the evil. She possessed an ample fortune and she resolved to share it with her less fortunate sisters. She gave freely to the support and management of the Irish emigrants’ home, at No. 7 State street, and also aided the German and Italian homes around Castle Garden, where a housed that steady stream of friendless girls coming to these shores to seek true honest living. But even those homes where the girls were taken on their arrival here did not solve the problem. Places of employment were found for them, and yet too often they went out Into a world they so little understood, unlearned of the ways of the world, unfitted to cope with the conditions friendless girl has to meet. Many ol those girls were of simple faith and trusting natures, and the stories which reached the ears of the clergy and those interestet in the question necessitated some action.

Countess Leary learned some of these facts from her own servant girls. She became Interested, made Investigations and then resolved upen a line of action. She was the mind and often the means of establishing working girls’ clubs and homes, there being a regular network of them throughout, the east and lower west sides. She has devoted most of her life to this work, giving her personal attention and encouragement to these institutions. She goes, among the girls and hears their stories, their little problems and their great troubles. Any woman’s heart oppressed finds eympathy and encouragement from Countess Leary. Her heart has a b!g place in it for all wage earning women.

Countess Leary is a stanch American and, realizing that the future of the state lies In the children of today, she spends much of her time and her wealth for the boys and girls of the poor. She has established boys’ clubs and gymnasiums and girls’, clubs and reading rooms and sewing clubs and playrooms for the youth of the other half. At Christmas and New Year’s and Thanksgiving and national feast days the countess arranges celebrations In the various Institutions she is interested in. Christmas eve of every year she assembles several hundred little tots and gives to each of them a warm, pretty cap and coat, besides candies and a book of some kind. “The Man Without a Country” Is one of her favorite books for boys, and she has given many copies of it. In addition to her charities among children and working women, Countess Leary has lent much aid to hospital work for the poor. She Is a patron’ of all the children’s hospitals and goes often with flowers and dainty foods and pleasing toys to visit  the unfortunate young folk. Countess Leary presented to Bellevue-hospital the fine chapel which was built there several years ago. Another pretty charity of hers is to send a beautiful quantity of pure, rich cream for the ward patients at various hospitals on hot days.

Annie Leary (1832 – 1919) was the daughter of the hatter James Leary who was a childhood friend of William Backhouse Astor Sr., then, later bought many beaver pelts from William’s father John Jacob Astor and operated a shop in the basement of the original Astor House Hotel across from New York City Hall. She had three brothers Arthur, Daniel, and George who made a fortune in shipping during the U.S. Civil War. Arthur was a bachelor who Annie accompanied to society functions in New York City as well as Newport, Rhode Island. It has been suggested that James friendship with the Astors is what led to Arthur and in turn Annie’s being the only Catholics to be included on Caroline Astor’s “The 400”. When Arthur died she inherited his fortune as well as his social prominence and recognition via the aforementioned 400 list. Coming into large sums of money Annie Leary soon became an ardent philanthropist. Among her notable bequests was the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at Bellevue Hospital (dedicated 1897 – razed 1938 in order to make way for a Bellevue administration building which encompasses a new chapel where the original stained glass panels including nine made in Munich remain today) the first Catholic chapel at Bellevue. It was dedicated in memory of her late brother Arthur (source: Wikipedia).

Archbishop Farley

To Archbishop Farley, whom Pope Pius greatly esteems, the pontiff has given a court of monsignor, which lends to any diocesan ceremony a dignity of splender which is found nowhere outside Rome. At the consecration of the cathedral, which occurs, it is planned, soon after the work is entirely finished on the Lady chapel, there will be, in addition to the archbishop and his coadjutor, Bishop Cusick, the archbishop’s seven diocesan bishops, 25 purple robed monsignori and seven lay nobles around the episcopal throne.

John Murphy Farley (April 20, 1842 – September 17, 1918) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of New York from 1902 until his death in 1918, and created a cardinal in 1911 (source: Wikipedia).

Joseph Florimond Loubat

Loubat was born in New York City to Alphonse Loubat and Susan Gaillard Loubat. His father was a French inventor and businessman who was engaged in transport infrastructure development in New York City and Paris.

The only papal duke the United States has ever claimed is the duke de Loubat., the last son of the aristocratic family of that name. The title was conferred by Pope Leo in recognition of the duke de Loubat’s generous support of Catholic and nonsectarian schools and colleges. Duke de Loubat lent his aid to every Catholic college in this country and to many in France. He gave a million dollar endowment to Columbia university at the time when is was in financial straits. He also added much to Columbia library. He was made duke in 1898.  He decides his time between New York and Paris and swell known in France as a man of great learning and philanthropy. Is a graduate of the University of Paris.

Joseph Florimond Loubat (January 21, 1831 – March 1, 1927) was a French and American bibliophile, antiquarian, sportsman, and philanthropist. He was ennobled as Duc de Loubat by Pope Leo XIII in 1893 (source: Wikipedia).

Loubat was a philanthropist who gave in 1898 Columbia University a gift of $1.1 million in property, and later gave Columbia money to fund the Loubat Prize. He also endowed chairs at several universities across Europe and the United States, including Columbia. He donated a statue of Pope Leo XIII to The Catholic University of America in 1891.

Loubat contributed monetary funds towards the founding of the Musée d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro and Musée de l’Homme in Paris. Loubat also donated to the American Museum of Natural History a large collection of Mexican archaeological artifacts assembled on his behalf by Edward Seler in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico; a series of casts of the original Cotzumalhuapa sculptures from the ruins of Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala, kept in the Ethnological Museum of Berlin; a photographic copy of the “Codex Legislatif,” an ancient Aztec codex, preserved in the Library of the Chamber of Deputies, Paris; and a facsimile of the “Codex Vaticanus, No. 3773,” an ancient Aztec book preserved in the Vatican Library, Rome (source: Wikipedia).

 John D. Crimmins

Crimmins had entered his father’s construction contracting business at the age of 20. He took over the firm in 1873 and by now the boy with a public school education was a director in at least a dozen corporations or banks. His company was responsible for constructing the Croton Aqueduct, multiple gas facilities, most of the elevated railroads and would construct the early subway system—what the New-York Tribune called the “underground trolley system.”

John D. Crimmins has recently made a count by Pope Pius X. Mr Crimmins is a trustee of St. Patrick’s cathedral and is a member of nearly all the boards of importance in archbishop’s Farley’s diocese. The scarlet cloak of the Knight of St. Gregory was given to Mr. Crimmins as a token of the pope’s of his work for the church in New York. Count Crimmin’s most distinguished gift in the diocese is the splendid monastery at Hunts point, where he established the Dominican Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. These nuns devote their lives to prayer, and some one of their order kneels every hour of the night and day before the chapel alter in the monastery.

Born in New York City to Irish immigrant parents, John Daniel Crimmins attended the College of St. Francis Xavier (now Xavier High School). After graduating he took a job at his father’s contracting firm, eventually taking over the business. His firm employed some 12,000 workers. It built more than 400 buildings in New York City and most of the elevated railways. He was also involved in local politics, serving as New York City Parks Commissioner. Crimmins was one of the few Catholic millionaires of his time and he was an active benefactor of the Archdiocese of New York. Among the building projects he aided was that of St. Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers. Crimmins was named a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great and a Papal Count. He was active in Irish-American organizations, particularly the American-Irish Historical Society. He wrote two books on Irish-American history (source: Pictures of his house van be found here.

Martin  Maloney

Marquis Maloney, beter known to the political and financial world as Martin Maloney, received his title about six years ago at the request of cardinal Satolli, whom the marquis met when the cardinal was papal delegate for this country. A strong friendship developed here between the prince of the church and the American millionaire. Some time after Cardinal Satolli was called back to Rome, Marquis Maloney went to Italy on a visit and the friendship was renewed. The American when taken to the dilapidated ruins of St. John’s cathedral asked how much it would take to reconstruct the ancient structure.

“How much money?” asked Cardinal Satolli. “Why, who ever thought about that? It would take at least $ 50.000 and that amount might be spent to better advantage.”.

“It might, but it won’t” remarked Martin Maloney, and the very next day saw work begun on the cathedral. It is said that twice $50.000 was spent on the work. While this gift is accredited as the cause of the bestowal of the noble title on Marin Maloney, it is by no means his largest gift to the church.

He has just given to to Pennsylvania a home for aged men and women, the building alone of which will cost $ 150.000. This home will be dedicated to Martin Maloney’s father and mother, who, when they emigrated to this country from Ireland many years ago, made their first humble home in Scranton. It was here that Marquis Maloney spent his boyhood.

At the time of the expulsion of the nuns in France four years ago Marquis Maloney went abroad with a definite purpose in mind. He purchased many of the small convents with the nuns had been ordered to vacate and held them as his private property in order that the religious might not be disturbed. Among the larger convents he purchased was that of the Little Sisters of the Assumption in Paris, where Marquis Maloney’s two daughters, Margaret and Katherine, were educated. After the death of the older daughter, Margaret, Marquis Maloney built near his summer house at Spring Lake N.J. one of the handsomest churches in this country, which he dedicated to his daughter and called St. Margaret’s.

Maloney Hall is the home of the Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America. It is located on the southeast corner of Catholic University’s main campus. Maloney Hall was named for Martin Maloney, a Philadelphia philanthropist and papal marquis (a layman who has received a high title of nobility from the reigning pope), who gave $120,000 for the main building and $100,000 for the auditorium. The building originally housed the Martin Maloney Chemical Laboratory, the laboratory where the chemical weapon lewisite was first invented by Julius Nieuwland and later Winford Lee Lewis, with the help of CUA and Army researchers, developed it into a now-banned chemical weapon. It served as a laboratory for Armyresearchers developing chemical munitions for World War I (source: Wikipedia).

John Goode

Count John Goode of Brooklyn and Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet of New York aro the only two Americans who, have been titled by Rome in recognition of signal scientific achievements. Count Goede, well known as an inventor, was given his title after evolvIng a machine for the making of ropes. Until this time all the rope made was twisted by hand, and for this labor young boys and girls were employed, the wages paid being too small for the employment of men. Count Goode at that time was a very rich man, having amassed a fortune in the cordage business. He used to stand and watch the boys and girls at the hard labor of rope twisting, and determined to evolve a method for lightening this work. The machine he invented resulted in revolutionizing the cordage enterprise In the world. Count Goude Is a very devoted Catholic and has given much of his wealth to the Brooklyn diocese. He enriched Brooklyn by the church of St. John.

Thomas Addis Emmet

Thomas Addis Emmet is the latest member of the papal knighthood. He was vested, with the scarlet cape and sword In Archbishop Farley’s residence last spring and will appear in his regalia at the formal celebration In the cathedral this fall. Dr Emmet is a proud descendant of Robert Emmet. He was Knighted in recognition of his medical research.

Charles Astor Bristed

Charles Astor Bristed, grandson of William Astor has for a ‘number of years been conspicuous at all the state ceremonies at St. Patrlck’s cathedral, where. with his cape and sword he has, according to the privileges of his title, knelt in the sanctuary to participate in the ‘ceremonies. Sir Charles Brlsted was knighted for his widespread philanthropies and his strict adherence to his church.

William J. Onahan

Onahan quickly became prominent in that Chicago’s civil affairs. He was a member of the city school board, president of the public library, city collector for six terms, city comptroller and jury commissioner. He was the chief architect of the American Catholic Congress at Baltimore in 1889.  This gathering of 1,500 Catholic lay people from all over the United States discussed and planned for the future of the Church in America. Photo: Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society. 

William J. Onahan of Chicago who was made a knight of St. Gregory by Pope Leo, has enjoyed the actual privileges of his title probably more than any other member of the nobility in this country. He spends a great  deal of his time abroad and is a frequent visitor at the Vatican. Accordingly to his rank, he can I enter the Vatican at any time without seeking permission for asking an audience. He was in the Vatican at the time of the death of Pope Leo and was in the very room where the late pontiff’s body was carried to be laid in state. According to ancient customs, the gates were locked at that time and Sir William Onahan was cloistered in the Vatican the remainder of the night.

After ,the death of his mother the family struggled along in Liverpool for a while. Then the voice that had called them from Ireland called again. The little home was again broken up and the Onahan family set sail for America. The voyage took six weeks in a sailing vessel and they reached the harbor of New York on St. Patrick’s day. There was a small boyish figure in the prow of the ship, and two little girls by his side all looking eagerly to the land in which their lot was to be cast. Bands were playing, men were marching, the green flag was flying everywhere. It was a happy omen to the young Irish lad whose staunch Americanism was to be all the hardier for the Celtic root from which it sprang.

Arrived in New York he immediately got a job in a lawyer’s office, sweeping and dusting and doing the usual office chores for the munificent sum of $1.00 per month and his board and clothes. Once in later life when he was testifying in a lawsuit the judge said to him: Mr. Onahan, from your answers you must have studied law.” No. your honor,” he replied, ^Hhe only law I ever studied was what I picked up in the sweepings of a lawyer’s office in New York when I was a lad.” But he had the legal mind (source: Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984) Vol. 11, No. 4 (Jan., 1919), pp. 636-653).

John Creighton

Count John Andrew Creighton (October 15, 1831 – February 7, 1907)

Count John Creighton of Omaha. Neb., who died, last month, was ono of the best known members of the papal nobility. He donated to Nebraska the Creighton university, the largest university In that state, and also gave several hospitals and a number of churches to Omaha.

Count John Andrew Creighton (October 15, 1831 – February 7, 1907) was a pioneer businessman and philanthropist in Omaha, Nebraska who founded Creighton University. The younger brother of Edward Creighton, John was responsible for a variety of institutions throughout the city of Omaha, and was ennobled by Pope Leo XIII in recognition of his contributions to Creighton University, the Catholic community in Omaha, and the city of Omaha in general. From its founding in 1878 to the time of his death in 1907 Creighton was said to have donated at least $2,000,000 to Creighton University. In 1888 Creighton financed the Creighton University Observatory, and in 1898 he gave money towards a medical school, which was named in his honor. In 1904 he created the Edward Creighton Institute.Creighton is also credited with establishing Omaha’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and bringing the first monastery of the Poor Clares in the country to the city. He paid for almost the entire cost of St. John’s Parish at Creighton, where the cornerstone was laid in 1888. Today Creighton University in Omaha is viewed as being named in honor of the entire Creighton family, particularly John and his brother Edward, as well as their wives Sara and Emily.He was named a Knight of St. Gregory on January 15, 1895 by Pope Leo XIII, and in 1898 was titled a Count by the same. In 1900 Creighton received the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre DameOmaha’s John A. Creighton Boulevard was named after him immediately after his death in 1907, as is the existent “John A. Creighton University Professorship” at Creighton University (source: Wikipedia).

Adrian Iselin

John Singer Sargent, Eleanora O’Donnell Iselin (Mrs. Adrian Iselin) 1888 oil on canvas.

Adrin Iselin Is amons the prominent New York men who have received titles from Rome. Mr. Iselin was vested with the cape and sword of the Knights of St. Gregory soon after the beginning of the present administration. One of Sir Adrian Iselin’s most valuable gifts to New York is the $150,000 chapel at New Rochells. This was presented to the diocese after the crest of St. Gregory was bestowed upon him.

Adrian Georg Iselin (January 17, 1818 – March 28, 1905) was a New York financier who invested in and developed real estate, railroads, and mining operations. For many years during his early business career he was engaged in importing with his brother, William Iselin, being one of the most successful merchants of New York in the middle of the century. After retiring from the importing trade, he established the banking house of Adrian Iselin & Co. He is considered the founder of the Iselin family in the United States.

Eleanora O’Donnell Iselin (1821–1897) was born into one of Baltimore, Maryland’s most prominent and wealthy families. In 1845 she married Adrian Iselin, an affluent banker and dry goods merchant. The Iselins lived in New York City, where they were active members of high society and supporters of the city’s cultural centers, including the Metropolitan Opera House, the American Museum of Natural History, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eleanora’s daughters Georgine and Emily commissioned the portrait from Sargent in the spring of 1888, as the artist’s first professional visit to America was nearing its end (source: National Gallery of Art). 

According to family tradition, when Sargent arrived at the Iselin home for the sitting, Mrs. Iselin entered the drawing room followed by a maid carrying an armful of ball gowns and asked him which one he wanted her to wear. To her dismay, Sargent insisted on painting her exactly as she stood without even removing her hand from the table. Some art historians have suggested that this interaction explains the sitter’s somewhat severe expression. When late in life Sargent was asked if he remembered Mrs. Iselin, he diplomatically replied, “Of course! I cannot forget that dominating little finger.” (Source: National Gallery of Art).

Richard C. Kerens

Richard C. Kerens (1842 – September 4, 1916) was an American contractor and politician.

Richard C. Kerens of St. Louis, railroadman and politician. Is a chamberlain to Pope Pius-X. Mr. Kerens, who came to America a poor emigrant boy, went west and amassed a fortune, has carried through his life the strong Roman faith instilled to him by his Irish mother. With his Increased prosperity he has given accordingly to his church. He has enriched the St. Louis university, which is under the direction of the Jesuits, and the Catholic university of America, at Washington, and has aided nearly every charitable institution in St. Louis. He has also done much for institutions in his native land and for Irish charitable enterprises in this country. It Is said that Mr. Kerens is trying to purchase a strip of land in Rome which will reach from the Vatican to the sea, in order to give to the pope a greater freedom and to relieve his present restrictions, which forbid him leaving the Vatican grounds. It is understood that Mr. Kerens has offered $5,000,000 for this purpose.

Kerens was born in Killberry, County Meath, Ireland, and was brought to the U. S. in infancy. He was educated in the public schools of Jackson Co., Iowa. Throughout the Civil War he served in the Union army. After the war he lived in Arkansas and at San Diego, Cal., and was contractor for the Overland Mail. In 1876 he moved to St. Louis, Mo., and thereafter was interested in the construction of railroads and was active in the Republican politics of Missouri. In 1892 he became a member of the Republican National Committee. From 1909 to 1913 he was Ambassador to Austria-Hungary (source: Wikipedia).

Eugene and Thomas Kelly

Among the younger members of the nobility in the United States areEugene and Thomas Kelly, sons of the late Eugene Kelly, a New York banker, who gave the white marble Lady Chapel to St. Patrick’s cathedral. Eugene and Thomas Kelly were made Knights of St. Gregory, with the title of sIr.

The Order of the Knights of St Gregory was reorganized by Pope Gregory XVI In 1831 since which time Catholics who are not of the state nobility or aristocracy have been vested with the title.

Ellen Ewing Sherman and Mary Caldwell

The late Mrs. Tecumseh Sherman was decorated several times by pope Leo for her charitable work. Mary Caldwell, the Virginia, beauty, now the Marquise de Merinville (Mary Gwendolen Caldwell, Marquise de Merinville, Laetare Medalist, VOL_0032_ISSUE_0023, 1899), and who before her marriage presented to the hierarchy of the United States the funds for the establishment of the Catholic university at Washington, was also decorated.

Ellen Ewing Sherman (October 4, 1824 – November 28, 1888), was the wife of General William Tecumseh Sherman, a leading Union general in the American Civil War. She was also a prominent figure of the times in her own right. Like her mother, Ellen was a devout Catholic and often at odds with her husband over religious topics. Ellen raised her eight children in that faith. In 1864, Ellen took up temporary residence in South Bend, Indiana, to have her young family educated at the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College. One of their sons, Thomas Ewing Sherman, became a Catholic priest. She also took an ongoing interest in Indian missions and was credited as the principal organizer of the Catholic Indian Missionary Association. In “the most absorbing and monumental work of her life,” Ellen played an active role in U.S. observances of the Golden Jubilee of Pope Pius IX (May 21, 1877) for which she later received the personal thanks of the Pope (source: Wikipedia).

Mary Elizabeth Breckenridge and Mary Guendaline Byrd Caldwell were the daughters of William Shakespeare Caldwell who made his fortune building and operating gas plants throughout the Midwest. Both daughters married titled European aristocrats. Mary Guendaline was first engaged to the Prince Joachim Murat, the grandson of the King of Naples, who was not only twice her age but an invalid. The engagement was canceled when the couple could not agree on how much of Miss Caldwell’s fortune was to be given to the Prince.




Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kulage

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kulage of St. Louis, Mo, are the latest additions to the Catholic nobility in the country. They were both knighted by Pope Pius X on August 20 with the Order of St. Gregory, and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Mr. Kulage is created a knight commander of the Gregorian Order, a distinction to few men outside of Rome, and Mrs. Kulage is termed a “Matronae” or lady knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the first tlma this honor has been conferred upon a woman.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, is one of the most ancient orders in existence, having been founded in the thirteenth century during  the crusades. The pope himself is the supreme master of the noble order. The insignia of the order is a Jerusalem cross, which is really a combination of five crosses In one. The insignia, is almost entirely of gold, but the obverse and reverse sides are overlaid with crimson enamel. In addition to the cross Mrs. Kulage will appear at all state functions in a mantle of white cloth upon which is embroidered in gold the Insignia of her rank. Mr and Mrs. Kulage been elevated to the Catholic nobility in recognition of their charitable and educational work, especially among the children of the poor in Rome. [the original article ends here]

Sarita Kenedy East (1889-1961). Mrs. East, like her mother and grandmother, gave generously to the Catholic Church, especially to the Diocese of Corpus Christi. She also gave many anonymous donations to museums, hospitals and other charitable organizations throughout South Texas. Mrs. East received two special honors from the Pope – the medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice and membership in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. She founded the The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation; her parents (source: The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation).

The historical origins of the Order are somewhat obscure, although according to an undocumented tradition they are traced back to the First Crusade. In fact, the first documentary evidence of an investiture of Knights referred to as “of the Holy Sepulchre” dates to 1336. Since this first testament to the Order’s existence, that is, from the  XIV century, the popes gradually and regularly expressed their desire to juridically annex the organization to the Holy See.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem has always benefited from the protection of the Popes who, over the centuries, have reorganized it, augmenting and enriching its privileges. Clement VI entrusted custody of the Holy Sepulchre to the Franciscan friars in 1342, but that was still during an era when Knights alone had the right to create other members of the Order. Alexander VI declared himself the supreme moderator of the Order in 1496, and delegated to the Franciscans the power to bestow a knighthood upon nobles and gentlemen pilgrims on pilgrimage to the Holy Land (power of investiture). Confirmation of this Franciscan privilege, either verbally or by papal Bull, was renewed by Pope Leo X in 1516, by Benedict XIV in 1746, until the restoration of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem by Pius IX in 1847.

Thus the pontifical delegation was transferred to the Patriarch when, in 1868,  Pius IX issued Apostolic letters announcing the restoration of the Order. The Order of Knights opened up with the appointment of the Dames of the Holy Sepulcher thanks to Leo XIII, in 1888. Moreover, in 1907 Pius X decided that the title of Grand Master of the Order would be reserved to the Pope himself.

In 1932 Pius XI approved the new Constitution and permitted Knights and Dames to receive their investiture in their places of origin and not only in Jerusalem. In 1940, Pius XII named a cardinal as Protector of the Order and centralized the organization in Rome, as part of the Grand Magisterium, transferring the title of Grand Master to Cardinal Canali. John XXIII approved the new Constitution presented by Cardinal Tisserant in 1962.

With the renewal of the Second Vatican Council, a new Constitution was approved by Paul VI in 1977.  Following this, John Paul II made the Order a legal canonical and public personality, constituted by the Holy See. Today the Order seeks to garner the commitment of its members in local churches hopeful for their sanctification. This is the essential and profound reason that motivated the revision of the Constitution during the “Consulta” that took place in 2013 (source: The Vatican).


Most persons that were ennobled, were of Irish catholic descent. Emigration to the United States increased exponentially due to the Great Famine in the mid 1800s. In the 19th century United States, Irish catholics faced hostility and violence. By the 20th century, Irish Catholics were well established in the United States. The extremely wealthy ones, who were also devoted to catholicism and donated large amounts of money to the church and other good works, were ennobled or obtained a knighthood from the church.  In this context it cannot be said that nobility was ‘bought’. Spiritualism and good works, in most cases, led to the rewards. The titles are part of this spiritual experience. Women played an important role in this context.

The Belgian National Orders and the Royal and Merciful Society of Bearers of Medals and Awards of Belgium

The Belgian Colonial Order of the African Star; Commander – in bronze gilt and enamels, 55 x 90mm. (photo:

There are currently five existing Orders of Chivalry in Belgium. Only three of them are currently awarded. The Order of the African Star and the Royal Order of the Lion have not been disbanded, but ceased to be awarded when the Congo gained its independence in 1960.

To unite persons who have been awarded a Belgium national honour, there exists a society, called: Koninklijke Menslievende Vereniging van Dragers van Eretekens en Medailles van België (Royal and Merciful Society of the Bearers of Medals and Awards of Belgium; hereafter: Society).

Persons who were honoured for their acts of either courage, self-sacrifice or charity by the Belgian state or a state recognized by Belgium, can be admitted as full members (article 9a Statutes). They must have an excellent reputation. In addition to the full membership, there are associate members who support the objectives of the Society (article 9b Statutes), benefactors (article 9c Statutes) and honorary members (article 9d Statutes). Only full members are allowed to vote.

The Society was not formed by the King, but enjoys Royal Protection since 1893 (most recently renewed on 3 October 2014 for a period of five years; source: letter of the Royal House, R/TD/A/0330.022). The mayor of Brussels acts as honorary president.

Belgian Orders of Chivalry

The current National Orders are established by the laws of 11 July 1832 and 28 December 1838 and the Royal Decress of 3 August 1832 and 16 May 1839 (Order of Leopold); Decrees of 15 October 1897 and 25 June 1898 (Crown Order); Decree of 24 August 1900 (Order of Leopold II). Today, the exact material differences among the Orders has disappeared.

  • The Order of Leopold was established in 1832 by King Leopold I and is the most distinguished Order in Belgium. The Order is awarded in three fields – Civil, Maritime, and Military (with each having 5 different classes) for contribution to the military, society or the Belgian State.
  • The Order of the Crown was established by King Leopold II, as ruler of the Free Congo State, in 1897. It was intended to recognize distinguished service in the Congo Free State. In 1908 the Order was made a national order of Belgium. It is currently the second highest order in Belgium, awarded for service to the Belgian state, as well as distinguished achievements. It was awarded in five classes, as well as two palms and three medals.
  • The Order of Leopold II was first established by King Leopold II as King of the Congo Free State. In 1908, when Congo became part of Belgium, the order became a Belgian national order. It is awarded for service to the Sovereign, in five classes and three medals.
  • The Order of the African Star was established in 1888 by King Leopold II as ruler of the Free Congo State. When the Congo was annexed by Belgium in 1908, it became one of the Belgian national orders. The order has not been awarded since Congo’s independence in 1960. It was never discontinued and remains the second highest order in Belgium. The Order was awarded in five classes with three medals.
  • The Royal Order of the Lion was established in 1891 by King Leopold II as ruler of the Congo Free State. Leopold’s reign in the Congo eventually earned infamy on account of the massive mistreatment of the local population. Just like the Order of the African Star, the Royal order of the Lion became a Belgian national order following the annexation of the Congo Free State in 1908 by the Belgium government. In 1960, after Congo’s independence, the Order ceased to be awarded, although it remains in existence. It is the third highest ranking order in Belgium. It was awarded in five classes with three medals.

Order of Leopold

The history of the Order of Leopold is quite interesting. On 8 June 1832 Count Felix de Mérode, Minister of State, proposes the creation of a national order, called “Ordre de l’Union”. After investigation by a commission it is decided to choose the name of “Order of Leopold” with the device “L’Union fait la Force” / ”Eendracht maakt Macht” (United we stand, divided we fall), a free translation of the device of the 1789 Brabantine Revolution “In Unione Salus”. In its early days, the Order was very much military-focussed. The military tradition remains until the current day.  The first knight in the Order of Leopold was the French sapper Ausseil, wounded during the siege of Antwerp (1832).

Air Vice Marshal Sir Charles Laverock Lambe, KCB, CMG, DSO (1875 – 1953), with the medals of Commander of the Order of Leopold, the Knight of the Order of the Crown and the (Belgium) Croix de guerre.

When King Leopold I inspected the front lines he met a stretcher carrying this soldier whose leg had been ripped off by a canon ball. The King told him : “you are badly wounded, my friend” and Ausseil, who did not know his interlocutor answered: “yes general, but it is my watch, for my country and amidst my comrades” and he shouted “Long live France!”.

The King, who knew what real courage was, immediately made him the very first knight of the newly created Order. When he was taken care off at the Antwerp hospital, the sapper was visited by the Queen, who gave him a gold coin (Louis d’or). After Ausseil had recovered, he was also decorated with the Légion d’Honneur.

The first Belgian military to be decorated as knight of the Order of Leopold was Engineer Captain H. Hallart. He was decorated by the King on 7 January 1833. On 30 January and on 5 February ten more Belgian officers were made knight. On 10 March 1833 no less than 304 French and three Belgian military were rewarded because of their conduct at the siege of Antwerp.  The majority of the Belgian servicemen, who had distinguished themselves in the campaigns of 1831 and 1832, had to wait the important nominations of 15 December 1833 before they received a decoration in the Order. No less than 450 crosses were assigned to the army, among those 150 to soldiers and petty officers. The first Belgian military to be decorated as knight of the Order of Leopold was Engineer Captain H. Hallart. He was decorated by the King on 7 January 1833 (source:

At the end of World War I, the Order of Leopold became internationally recognised for its famous members. In 1919 King Albert granted all Lieutenant-Generals of the Belgian Army the Grand Cordon in Brussels. The King bestowed the Major Generals with the Grand Cordon. After the Second World War, the Order of Leopold was bestowed on the several officers of foreign militaries who had helped to liberate Belgium from the occupation of German forces. Most illustrious was the grand Cordons with Palms given by the King to Sir Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945 (source:

Society Medals

Since 1865, the administration of the Society is allowed to design medals of the Society (article 31 Statutes). The Society itself awards four medals: the Honorary Cross for humanitarian merit (Kruis van Eer), the Order of the Belgian Cross (Orde van het Belgisch Kruis), Palms of Mercy (Palmen van Menslievenheid), Medal of the Belgian Crown (Medaille van Gekroond België). These awards are not recognized by the Belgian state and they are not Orders of Chivalry or National Orders. The awards have a purely private character.

Association of the Order of Leopold

The Society differs from the Association of the Order of Leopold. This non-profit association has the following mission: (1) the maintenance of the prestige emanating from the nation’s highest distinction; (2) material and moral assistance between the members, decorated with the Order, who voluntary join the Association. The titular member or patron has to justify that she/he has been awarded the Order of Leopold. In order to become an adherent member, one should prove his/her quality as a not remarried widower or widow, not remarried or new partner living together, or as an orphan under twenty-five, or a deceased member of the Order and be accepted by the board of directors (source: Statutes of the Association). The Association does not issue awards, like the Society. It has strict membership rules and thus remains a distinguished group.


The Society is an important cultural initiative with a solid historical background. In order to adapt the Society to modern standards, I suggest the following:

  • Upgrade the website to a professional level and delete all the regional websites in order to avoid confusion; create a blog on the website to update members.
  • Avoid attracting “medal hunters” and allow only Belgian official awards and the Society awards to be worn during official meetings, in order to avoid jeopardizing renewal of the Royal Protection. Require members to have a genuine link to Belgium and its National Orders. Never use non-Belgian titles of nobility in the diplomas to avoid recognising fake-nobility. Attract members with a proven professional background in order to avoid parvenus.
  • Decrease the number of members of the Regional Boards to three to make it less bureaucratic.
  • Decrease the number of Society medals to one: the Order of the Belgian Cross. It avoids becoming a “medal shop”.


  • Andre Charles Borne, Distinctions Honorifiques de la Belgique 1830-1985, ISBN 10: 2802200577 ISBN 13: 9782802200574, Publisher: Groep Bruylant, 1985.
  • Federale Overheidsdienst van het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, Buitenlandse Handel en Ontwikkelingssamenwerking, Dienst Nationale Orden, Karmelietenstraat 15, B-1000 Brussel. Mrs Rita Vander Zwalmen, Tel.: +32 2-501 36 60.
  • Law of 1 May 2006 “betreffende de toekenning van eervolle onderscheidingen in de Nationale Orden”, published in the Belgisch Staatsblad on 24 October 2006.
  • Royal Decree of 13 October 2006 “tot vaststelling van de regels en de procedure tot toekenning van eervolle onderscheidingen in de Nationale Orden”, published in the Belgisch Staatsblad on 24 October 2006.
  • R. Cornet, Recueil des dispositions légales et réglementaires régissant Les Ordres Nationaux Belges et considérations relatives aux décorations en général, Publisher: U.G.A., Brussels 1982.

Appendix: Statutes of the Society 2016 (in Dutch)


Vereniging zonder winstoogmerk – Identificatienummer: 515/53. – 1190 Brussel. – Nationaal Nummer: 408696434


Doorgaan met het lezen van “The Belgian National Orders and the Royal and Merciful Society of Bearers of Medals and Awards of Belgium”

Boek: Havezate Oosterbroek, een beschrijving van de eigenaren en hun families

Deze winter verscheen mijn werkje over de Drentse havezate Oosterbroek. Deze havezate, wordt al in het begin van de 17e eeuw als zodanig genoemd.

Sinds ik met mijn moeder als kind Oosterbroek bezocht, heb ik een interesse in deze “Havezate”. Mijn betovergrootvader was een van de eigenaren en mijn moeder vertelde mij allerlei boeiende verhalen over deze bijzondere man.

Wapen ontworpen voor de havezate Oosterbroek door de heraldicus P. Bultsma-Vos

Hoewel er het een en ander geschreven is over de Drentse havezaten, is er niet al te veel bekend over de families die op de havezaten woonden. Veelal is de beschrijving beperkt tot een lijst (al dan niet compleet) met eigenaren, soms voorzien van enige achtergrondinformatie over beroep en sociale komaf. Het is echter interessant om wat meer speurwerk te verrichten naar de bewoners en hun gezinnen. Hierdoor wordt meer inzicht verkregen in de sociaal-culturele context waarin de havezate en het bezit hiervan geplaatst kan worden. Ook werpt het soms een licht op de wijze waarop het bezit van de havezate tot stand kwam.

In het licht van het voorgaande, heb ik per opvolgende eigenaar een genealogisch fragment opgenomen, waar mogelijk voorzien van portretten en een familiewapen. Enige korte historische en juridische inleidingen gaan hieraan vooraf. Bij sommige personen of families is een wetenswaardigheid toegevoegd in cursief.

Havezathe (Ridderschap), Vestibule Oosterbroek, van A.H. van Bergen, (gem. Eelde), prov. Drenthe, Holland. 1902.

Hoewel havezaten geen heraldische traditie kenden, is in 2016 ter gelegenheid van het 125-jarig bestaan van VNN een wapen ontworpen voor de havezate door de heraldicus P. Bultsma-Vos. Het wapen is hierboven weergegeven en symboliseert het samengaan van de originele oorsprong met het huidige gebruik.

Vanaf 1993 was Bultsma officieel wapentekenaar van de Hoge Raad van Adel (E. Wolleswinkel, Wapentekenaars van de Hoge Raad van Adel, in: Wapenregister van de Nederlandse adel. Hoge Raad van Adel 1814 – 2014. [Zwolle, 2014], pp. 633-640). Hij werd bekend door de wapentekeningen die hij ontwierp voor enkele leden van de koninklijke familie: Máxima Zorreguieta (2002); de kinderen uit het huwelijk van Willem-Alexander der Nederlanden en Máxima Zorreguieta (2003); het grafelijk geslacht Van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg, voor nageslacht van prins Friso van Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg (2005).

Het boekje is te koop via Amazon.

De huidige juridische status van Nederlandse heerlijkheidsrechten

Gerard Martinus (Gerry) del Court van Krimpen, heer van Krimpen (1889 – 1944). Del Court behoorde tot een Amsterdams regentengeslacht.

In het werk van C.E.G. ten Houte de Lange, ‘Heerlijkheden in Nederland‘ wordt een heerlijkheid beschreven als: “een conglomeraat van rechten en plichten die betrekking hebben op het bestuur van een bepaald territorium en die in particuliere handen zijn“. Door de hoogleraar A.S. de Blecourt wordt een heerlijkheid in subjectieve zin gedefinieerd als het recht om regeermacht uit te oefenen (aanvankelijk van overheidswege, later door particulieren) met daaraan verknochte heerlijke rechten, krachtens een absoluut vermogensrecht. Heerlijkheid in objectieve zin is het grondgebied, waarbinnen heerlijke rechten kunnen worden uitgeoefend. Het is interessant om na te gaan in hoeverre heerlijke rechten momenteel nog juridische waarde hebben.

Rechtshistorische aspecten

In de nieuwe rechtsorde van 1795, die in Nederland de Bataafse Republiek invoerde, was het instituut van de ambachtsheerlijkheden moeilijk te verenigen met Liberté, égalité, fraternité. In dat licht  beoogde de Staatsregeling van 1798 definitief een einde te maken aan heerlijke rechten. De eigenlijke heerlijkheden in institutionele zin werden direct afgeschaft en de gevolgen werden voor voor onwettig verklaard. Bepaalde rechten werden met name genoemd, maar voor de zekerheid werd alles nog maar een keer samengevat in een soort technisch-juridische formule, die voor waterdicht werd gehouden: “mitsgaders alle andere regten en verplichtingen, hoe ook genoemd, uit het leenstelsel of leenrecht afkomstig, en die hunnen oorsprong niet hebben uit een wederzijdsch, vrijwillig en wettig verdrag”. Iedereen mocht nog wel op zijn eigen grond jagen. De honoraire (“honorabele”) rechten werden afgeschaft zonder enige schadevergoeding. Voor de geldelijke (“profitabele”) rechten moest binnen zes maanden na datum opgave worden gedaan.

In de nieuwe Staatsregelingen van 1801 en 1805 is de grondgedachte uit 1798 geheel overgenomen. Volgens de regeling van 1801 werd het leenrecht volledig afgeschaft. Alle leenroerige goederen werden als allodiaal (= vrije, oorspronkelijke, erfelijke eigendom van de bezitter) bestempeld. De wet zou aan de leenheren (feodaal) een schadeloosstelling toekennen. Dit laatste is in de Staatsregeling van 1805 nogmaals toegezegd, maar met de uitvoering is nooit een begin gemaakt. Deze bepalingen leidden er wel toe, dat de Hoge Raad in 1882 besliste, dat de rechten van de ambachtsheren in 1798 niet vervallen waren, maar dat zij mede door de regelingen van 1801 en 1805, van feodaal tot allodiaal geworden waren. In 1803 bracht de Raad van Binnenlands Bestuur het advies uit, dat een schadevergoeding voor het gemis der “eigenlijk gezegde” rechten (voortkomend uit de jurisdictie) billijk was te achten. Van de andere rechten oordeelde de Raad er een groot deel in strijd met de burgerlijke vrijheid waren. Deze rechten zouden afkoopbaar gesteld moeten worden.

Tot een genuanceerder advies kwamen in 1803 de landsadvocaten in hun rapport aan het Departementaal Bestuur van Holland. Volgens hen bestond er een recht op schadevergoeding, dat trouwens in de wet was vastgelegd. De financiën van de staat lieten dit echter niet toe.

Op 9 juni 1806 herstelde de regering de ambachtsheren in een deel van hun oude rechten. Voordat aan de nieuwe wet uitvoering was gegeven, werd Lodewijk Napoleon gekroond tot koning van Holland. De nieuwe koning wilde de afschaffing van alle heerlijke rechten tegen een schadevergoeding. Dit ging recht tegen het ontwerp van wet in. De koning droeg de Staatsraad op een nieuw voorstel te formuleren. In 1809 is een ontwerp aangeboden, dat in de grote lijn neerkwam op de afschaffing van de jurisdictie en de bevoegdheden, maar de profitabele rechten voor een groot deel wilde handhaven. Aan dit ontwerp onthield Lodewijk Napoleon zijn goedkeuring. Toen in 1810 Holland bij het Keizerrijk werd ingelijfd, besliste de Raad van Ministers het ontwerp tot regeling van de heerlijke rechten aan te houden. De wetten van het Keizerrijk, die sindsdien voor het land van toepassing waren, raakten de vroegere heerlijke rechten nergens direct. Alleen voor het recht van aanwas is een Keizerlijk decreet van betekenis geweest. In 1813, toen het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden ontstond, was in feite nog niets veranderd sinds de onduidelijke Staatsregeling van 1798 (een omvangrijke en ingewikkelde materie) wel was omgeploegd, maar niet geregeld.

Actuele status van heerlijke rechten

Apollonius Jan Cornelis Lampsins (1754 – 1834), Baron van Tobago (Lodewijk XIV, 1662), heer van Swieten. Lampsins behoorde tot de Zeeuwse redersfamilie.

Van oudsher zijn aan genoemde goederen verbonden zogenoemde eigenlijke heerlijke rechten en heerlijkheidsgevolgen (accrochementen), ook wel oneigenlijke heerlijke rechten genaamd. De eigenlijke heerlijke rechten waren oudtijds de in de handel zijnde rechten op overheidsgezag. Begunstigd door de omstandigheid dat in het oud-vaderlandse recht ten tijde van de Republiek geen scherp onderscheid werd gemaakt tussen privaat- en publiekrecht, hebben deze rechten zich tot de Bataafse omwenteling onverkort weten te handhaven. Met artikel 24 van de Burgerlijke en Staatkundige Grondregels van de Staatsregeling van 1798 werden zij afgeschaft,¹ maar zestien jaar later bij Souverein Besluit van 26 maart 1814 (Stb. 1814, 46) in getemperde vorm hersteld, namelijk als recht van voordracht voor de vervulling van belangrijke gemeentebedieningen en als recht tot aanstelling in kleinere gemeentebedieningen. Deze rechten werden bij de grondwetsherziening van 1848 afgeschaft ingevolge het eerste lid van het toenmaals ingevoegde additionele artikel. Bij de grondwetsherziening van 1922 werd de werking van deze bepaling uitgebreid tot het kerkelijk collatierecht (het recht iemand in een kerkelijke betrekking voor te dragen of te benoemen). De afschaffing van de in het eerste lid van additioneel artikel I vermelde rechten heeft dus in 1848 respectievelijk 1922 definitief zijn beslag gekregen.

De overige, de zogenaamde oneigenlijke heerlijke rechten, zijn de rechten die de heer kon uitoefenen naast zijn recht op overheidsgezag. Evenals de eigenlijke heerlijke rechten waren dit oudtijds zaken in de handel. De Staatsregeling van 1798 bevatte een drietal bepalingen welke de hier bedoelde rechten limiteerden, namelijk de artikelen 25, 27 en 53 van de Grondregels.²

Als gevolg van de verwarrende redactie van artikel 25 bleef voor tal van rechten grote onzekerheid bestaan. Voor wat betreft een aantal heerlijkheidsgevolgen, bijvoorbeeld het veerrecht, het recht op aanwassen en rechten betreffende dijken en wegen, kan wel als vaststaand worden aangenomen dat zij zijn blijven bestaan. Het eerdergenoemd Souverein Besluit van 26 maart 1814 herstelde onder andere de jacht- en visrechten.

Bij de grondwetsherziening van 1848 werd het niet noodzakelijk geoordeeld de oneigenlijke heerlijke rechten te schrappen, zoals dit met de nog resterende eigenlijke heerlijke rechten geschiedde. De wetgever zou zulks desgewenst later wel kunnen doen. In het tweede lid van het additionele artikel werd dit tot uitdrukking gebracht. Het artikellid maakt tevens gewag van schadeloosstelling van de eigenaren.

Sindsdien heeft de wetgever enige regelingen getroffen (de Verenwet (Wet van 5 juli 1921, Stb. 1921, 838), de eigenlijke heerlijke rechten 1923 (Wet van 2 juli 1923, Stb. 1923, 331) en verschillende opeenvolgende visserijwetten (laatstelijk de Wet van 30 mei 1963, Stb. 1963, 312)). Geheel verdwenen zijn de oneigenlijke heerlijke rechten echter nog niet, al worden zij niet geheel door oud-vaderlands recht beheerst (vgl. HR 20 februari 1931, NJ 1931, blz. 1563, handelend over een heerlijk visrecht). Nog bestaande oneigenlijke heerlijke rechten kunnen in de praktijk worden opgevat als gewone zakelijke rechten (Kamerstukken II 1976-1977, 14 457 (eerste lezing)).

De aard van genoemde rechten staat eraan in de weg dat het kan tenietgaan doordat er het gedurende lange tijd geen gebruik van wordt gemaakt; “non-usus”. De omstandigheid dat het bestaan van de rechten niet kan afleiden uit de openbare registers, brengt niet mee dat aangenomen moet worden dat de rechten niet (meer) bestaan (zie onder meer Gerechtshof Amsterdam 23 maart 2010, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2010:BM9231 en Gerechtshof Amsterdam 2 oktober 2012, ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2012:BY1161).

Door de advocaat J. van Wassenaer wordt in “Van Adel”, Nieuwsbrief van de Nederlandse Adelsvereniging, zomer 2017 (p. 44) de interessante vraag gesteld of heerlijke rechten zijn afgeschaft.

Met name na de Tweede Wereldoorlog werd, net als onze “gewone” adellijke titels, het voeren van de titel “Heer van ..” veelal maar beter achterwege gelaten. Ook hier lijkt echter te gelden, dat er zich sinds eind jaren negentig een kentering in de belangstelling voordoet. Zelfbewustzijn en historisch besef zullen hieraan zeker (mede) debet zijn. Leek voorheen het vaste credo: “de Heerlijke rechten zijn afgeschaft!”, sindsdien is het meer een vráág: “zijn die Heerlijke rechten nu eigenlijk afgeschaft?”

Van Wassener meent op basis van een overgangsartikel in het BW het antwoord te hebben gevonden, wat talloze deskundigen kennelijk over het hoofd hebben gezien.

Welnu: ze zijn afgeschaft maar korte tijd later ook weer herboren (…).

Artikel 150, eerste lid, van de Overgangswet Nieuw Burgerlijk Wetboek (van 3 april 1969) verklaart de van vóór 1838 bestaande oude zakelijke rechten tot register- goederen, hetgeen betekent, dat hun bestaan wordt erkend en dat levering (derhalve niet de verkrijging onder al- gemene titel) slechts kan geschieden door een notariële akte, gevolgd door de inschrijving in de openbare registers (kadaster).

Zoals hierboven uiteengezet, is dit onjuist. Het betreft hier alleen de restanten van heerlijke rechten in de vorm van zakelijke rechten. Het kenmerk van de heerlijke rechten, namelijk het overheidsgezag, is niet meer aan de orde. Het zijn dus geen heerlijke rechten meer, maar zakelijke rechten, die hun oorsprong in heerlijke rechten hebben gehad.


Mr. A.J.F. Fokker, heer van Crayestein en Rengerskerke (1857-1929), lid Eerste Kamer.

In Nederland was het gebruikelijk dat de eigenaar van een heerlijkheid de naam daarvan achter zijn geslachtsnaam voegde om aan te geven dat hij de heer was van de betreffende heerlijkheid. Deze toevoeging maakte geen deel uit van zijn wettelijke geslachtsnaam en is te beschouwen als een eigendomsaanduiding. De circulaire die de minister van justitie in 1858 rond liet gaan, dat in officiële stukken een naam van een heerlijkheid nooit als deel van een geslachtsnaam mocht worden opgenomen, werd in de praktijk vaak genegeerd. Aan de ambtenaar van de Burgerlijke Stand werd vaak de naam van de heerlijkheid ten onrechte als deel van de geslachtsnaam opgegeven en vervolgens door de ambtenaar ingeschreven. Aan deze onjuiste opgave kon de betrokkene geen rechten ontlenen. In de praktijk was de kans groot dat in latere akten de onjuiste naam werd overgenomen, net zolang tot een ambtenaar een onderzoek deed naar de naam. Er zijn dus voorbeelden te noemen van geslachtsnamen waaraan de naam van de heerlijkheid is toegevoegd zonder dat er sprake is geweest van een Koninklijk Besluit.

Het stond mensen wel vrij om zich, zolang het geen officiële stukken betrof, te schrijven en ook te noemen met de naam van de heerlijkheid achter de geslachtsnaam.

Bij de invoering van de Burgerlijke Stand in 1811 was het gebruikelijk dat de eigenaar van de heerlijkheid de naam van zijn heerlijkheid achter zijn geslachtsnaam voegde met daartussen het woord van. Kinderen van de heer lieten tussen hun geslachtsnaam en de naam van de heerlijkheid het woord tot zetten.

Tegenwoordig geldt nog steeds de ongeschreven regel dat iemand die een voormalige heerlijkheid alleen bezit, in het maatschappelijk verkeer de aanduiding van heer of vrouwe van gevolgd door de naam van de heerlijkheid voert. Als er sprake is van een gemeenschappelijk bezit, noemen de eigenaren zich heer of vrouwe in/tot gevolgd door de naam van de heerlijkheid. Volgens het huidige naamrecht maakt de naam van de heerlijkheid geen deel meer uit van de geslachtsnaam. De aanduiding ‘heer/vrouwe van’ of ‘heer/vrouwe in of heer/vrouwe tot’ wordt tegenwoordig met een komma gescheiden van de geslachtsnaam. De eigenaar van een huis/landerij hoeft dus niet dezelfde persoon te zijn die de heerlijkheid bezit. Omdat huizen en heerlijkheden vaak dezelfde naam hebben, en omdat de eigenaren zich er vaak naar vernoemden, kan het zijn dat de twee verschillende eigenaren dezelfde naam voeren.

Bewijs leveren van het bestaan van voormalige heerlijke rechten

Aardig (maar ook niet geheel juist) is Van Wassenaer’s poging om juridische advies te geven met betrekking tot het bezitten van voormalige heerlijke rechten. Van Wassenaer noemt (kort gezegd) onder meer:

  1. vergaar het bewijs dat u de rechtmatige opvolger bent van de “Heerlijke rechten”;
  2. vergaar bewijs van de locatie van de “Heerlijke rechten”;
  3. vergaar het bewijs wat deze rechten inhouden of in hebben gehouden.

Van Wassenaer bedoelt met “Heerlijke rechten”, naar mijn mening de voormalige heerlijke rechten of de resterende zakelijke rechten.

Bijzonder interessant is Van Wassenaer’s advies met betrekking tot het gebruik van voormalige heerlijkheidsnamen in combinatie met de geslachtsnaam (p. 45):

Dr. Maurits Willem Raedinck van Vollenhoven (1882 – 1976), heer van Kleverskerke, diplomaat en grootprior Orde van Sint Lazarus.

Voer, in de meer offciële stukken, (overlijdensbericht, testament, etc.) de naam (dus X van Amsterdam van Den Haag) en titel (Heer van Amsterdam en Den Haag) en neem een passage in uw testament op, waarin u deze zaken (de rechten, de naam en de titel) uitdrukkelijk benoemt en “doorgeeft”, al dan niet per legaat. Bij het testament zou u kunnen opnemen dat het uw wens is dat, de traditie getrouw, dit alles ook vervolgens telkens aan (bijvoorbeeld en afhankelijk van de bij uw familie levende traditie uiteraard) de oudste zoon en zo verder zal worden overgedragen aan de nazaten binnen de familie.

Ik kan het hier alleen maar mee eens zijn, wel met de aantekening dat hiermee geen zakelijk recht wordt beschermd maar – in juridische zin – eerder een naamsonderdeel. Ik moet erkennen dat ik hier nog niet precies de vinger op kan leggen. Een ander prima advies van Van Wassenaer heeft betrekking op registratie in het kadaster (p. 45):

Hoewel ik in het vorenstaande aangaf dat bij vererving geen inschrijving in het kadaster nodig is (slechts bij verkoop aan derden is dat nu voorwaarde), zou het de rechtszekerheid voor u, uw nakomelingen en derden zeer helpen, indien u deze rechtspositie via een notariële akte daarin zou (doen) registreren. Dan is het maar duidelijk. Bij latere verervingen verdient het dan aanbeveling om het kadaster up to date te houden.

Of dit mogelijk is met een “titel” heer van (….) is naar mijn mening nog maar de vraag omdat niet duidelijk is of sprake is van een recht. Zakelijke rechten kunnen wel in het kadaster worden opgenomen door de notaris. Naar mijn mening moet de titel “heer van (…)” eerder in historische zin worden bezien. Als de titel onterecht wordt gebruikt, kan onder omstandigheden sprake zijn van een onrechtmatige daad in die zin dat ten onrechte wordt gesuggereerd dat er een eigendom of bezit is van een onroerende zaak van dezelfde naam.

Relatie met de familie

Een voorbeeld van een heerlijkheidsrecht is het collatierecht (in het Latijn “præsentatio sive collatio” en in het katholiek kerkelijk recht “jus patronatus”). Deze term houdt in het recht om een geestelijke, een pastoor of een dominee, voor te dragen ter benoeming. Het recht was erfelijk en werd in Nederland in 1922 afgeschaft met de bepaling dat de eigenaar het recht tot zijn of haar dood mocht blijven uitoefennen. In een aantal gevallen was het collatierecht verbonden aan een havezate, zoals bij Oosterbroek (zie: Collatierecht – Encyclopedie Drenthe Online), waarvan A.H. van Bergen eigenaar was.

In de uitspraak van de Afdeling Rechtspraak van de Raad van State van 21 september 1990, nr. R02.88.1390 (p. 4), is bepaald dat een lid van de huidige generatie “in rechte mannelijke lijn afstamt van Anton Quast, die naar de Afdeling is gebleken, rechthebbende was ten aanzien van de heerlijkheid Odenkirchen“. Odenkirchen is gelegen in de omgeving van Mönchengladbach.


Dit artikel is voor een belangrijk deel ontleend aan de boeken van de heren Delahaye en Ketelaar.


C.E.G. ten Houte de Lange en V.A.M. van der Burg, Heerlijkheden in Nederland, Hilversum, Verloren, 2008.

F.C.J. Ketelaar, Oude zakelijke rechten, vroeger, nu en in de toekomst (Les survivances du ‘système féodal’ dans le droit néerlandais au XIXe et au XXe sciècle) (Leiden/Zwolle 1978).

J.Ph. de Monté ver Loren, ‘Bestaan er nog heerlijkheden en hoe te handelen met aan heerlijkheden ontleende namen?’, De Nederlandsche Leeuw 1961, kol. 394-400.

A. Delahaye, Vossemeer, land van 1000 heren, NV Ambachtsheerlijkheid Oud en Nieuw Vossemeer 1969.

A.S. de Blecourt, Kort begrip van het Oud-Vaderlandsch Burgerlijk Recht I, Groningen-Batavia, 1939, p. 328.

Memorie ter wederlegging der gronden en redeneringen, vervat bij nadere missive van den Raad der Binnenlandsche Zaaken der Bataafsche Republiek op den 11 April 1804 wegens de zaak der heerlijkheden aan het Staatsbewind geschreven van wegens een groot aantal geinteresseerdens bij Stichtse heerlijkheden aan het Wetgevend Lichaam der Bataafsche Republiek overgegeven : met eenige daartoe behorende bijlagen. – Utrecht : Wild en Altheer, 1805. – [2], 207 p. ; 23 cm – Note: Ex. RGS-GS gebonden bij: Korte verhandeling over de ambachtsheerlijkheeden en derzelver lot, zeedert den jaare 1795.


1. Artikel 24 van de Burgerlijke en Staatkundige Grondregels luidt: “Alle eigenlijk gezegde Heerlijke Regten en Tituls, waardoor aan een bijzonder Persoon of Lichaam zou worden toegekend eenig gezag omtrent het Bestuur van Zaken in eenige Stad, Dorp of Plaats, of de aanstelling van deze of gene Ambtenaaren binnen dezelve, worden, voor zoo verre die niet reeds met de daad zijn afgeschaft, bij de aanneming der Staatsregeling, zonder eenige Schaêvergoeding, voor altijd vernietigd.”

2. Deze artikelen luiden als volgt:
Artikel 25.
-1. Alle Tiend-, Cijns-, of Thijns-, Na-koops-, Afstervings-, en Naastings-Regten, van welken aard, midsgaders alle andere Regten of Verpligtingen, hoe ook genoemd, uit het leenstelsel of Leenrecht afkomstig, en die hunnen oorsprong niet hebben uit een wederzijdsch vrijwillig en wettig verdrag, worden, met alle de gevolgen van dien, als strijdig met der Burgeren gelijkheid en vrijheid, voor altijd vervallen verklaard.
– 2. Het Vertegenwoordigend Lichaam zal, binnen agttien Maanden, na Deszelfs eerste zitting, bepaalen den voet en de wijze van afkoop van alle zoodanige regten en renten, welke als vruchten van wezenlijken eigendom kunnen beschouwd worden. Geene aanspraak op pecunieele vergoeding, uit de vernieting van gemelde Regten voordvloeijende, zal gelden, dan welke, binnen zes Maanden na de aanneming der Staatsregeling, zal zijn ingeleverd.

Artikel 27.
Alle burgers hebben, ten alle tijde, het regt, om, met uitsluiting van anderen, op hunnen eigen of gebruikten, grond te Jagen, te Vogelen en te Visschen. Het Vertegenwoordigend Lichaam maakt, binnen zes Maanden na Deszelfs eerste zitting, bij Reglement, de nodige bepaaling, om, ten dezen opzigte, de openbaare veiligheid en eigendommen der lngezetenen te verzekeren, en zorgt, dat noch de Visscherijen bedorven, noch de Landgebruiker bij eenige Wet of Beding, belet worde, allen Wild op zijnen gebruikten grond te vangen, noch ook, dat een ander daarop zal mogen Jagen of Visschen zonder zijne bewilliging.

Artikel 53.
Bij de aanneming der Staatsregeling, worden vervallen verklaard alle Gilden, Corporatiën of Broederschappen van Neeringen, Ambagten, of Fabrieken. Ook heeft ieder Burger, in welke Plaats woonachtig, het regt zoodanige Fabriek of Trafiek opterigten, of zoodanig eerlijk bedrijf aantevangen, als hij verkiezen zal. Het Vertegenwoordigend Lichaam zorgt, dat de goede orde, het gemak en gerief der Ingezetenen, ten dezen opzigte, worden verzekerd.



Onlangs ontdekte ik een belangrijk stuk van mr W. Lunsingh Tonckens die – onafhankelijk van mij – tot een vergelijkbare conclusie komt (De Nederlandsche Leeuw, jaargang 39, kolommen 285-286):

“Heerlijkheden bestaan hier te lande dus niet meer. Daar het onmogelijk is om eigenaar te zijn eender niet bestaande zaak, kan men heerlijkheden niet erven of koopen”


“Hij, die ten onrechte den naam eener heerlijkheid als deel van een geslachtsnaam opgeeft of draagt, valt niet onder het bereik onzer strafwet en loopt alleen in het weinig waarschijnlijke geval, dat daardoor aan een ander nadeel wordt toegebracht, gevaar, dat eene burgerlijke rechtsvordering tegen hem wordt ingesteld (artikel 1401) van het Burgerlijk Wetboek).”

Napoleon’s Legacy to his Colonies


Museum and National Estate of Versailles and Trianon. Jacques-Louis David, The Coronation of Napoleon, 1807. Dimensions: 10 metres wide by over 6 metres tall. In 1808 David was commissioned by American entrepreneurs to paint a full size replica, immediately after the release of the original. David painted it from memory and finished the work in 1822. In 1947 the replica was returned to France.

Napoleon is widely seen as a military genius and perhaps the most illustrious leader in world history. Of the 60 battles, Napoleon only lost seven (even these were lost in the final phase). The leading British historian Andrew Roberts, in his 926 pages biography Napoleon: A Life (2015), mentions the battles of Acre (1799), Aspern-Essling (1809), Leipzig (1813), La Rothière (1814), Laon (1814), Arcis-sur-Aube (1814), and Waterloo (1815). Often forgotten is the battle that Napoleon lost in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). On 18 November 1803, the French army under the command of general Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau, and the rebel forces under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a self-educated slave with no formal military training, collided at the battle of Vertières. The outcome was that Napoleon was driven out of Saint-Domingue and Dessalines led his country to independence. It is interesting to see what Napoleon’s legacy was.

Saint-Domingue’s sugar

Saint-Domingue was a French colony on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola from 1659 to 1804. The French had established themselves on the western portion of the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga by 1659. The Treaty of Rijswijk (1697) formally ceded the western third of Hispaniola from Spain to France. The French then renamed it to Saint-Domingue. During the 18th century, the colony became France’s most lucrative New World possession. It exported sugar, coffee, cacao, indigo, and cotton, generated by an enslaved labor force. Around 1780 the majority of France’s investments were made in Saint-Domingue. In the 18th century, Saint-Domingue grew to be the richest sugar colony in the Caribbean.

Revolution in France

A plantation in the Caribbean was very labor intensive. It required about two or three slaves per hectare. Due to the importation of Africans the slave population soon outnumbered the free population. The slave population stood at 460,000 people, which was not only the largest of any island but represented close to half of the one million slaves then being held in all the Caribbean colonies (Klein: 33).

The French colony of Saint Domingue had a substantial agricultural economy featuring sugar, coffee, indigo and tobacco. The island was a huge importer of African slaves, at one point comprising a third of the entire trade in the Western hemisphere, with approximately 685,000 men, women and children arriving brought into the colony during the 18th century. Duke University Haiti Lab

Conditions on sugar plantations were harsh. During the eight-month sugar harvest, slaves often worked continuously around the clock. Accidents caused by long hours and primitive machinery were horrible. In the big plantations, the slaves lived in barracks. Planters primarily wanted males for plantation work. There were few women as these were only needed for propagation. Families did not exist. The result was a kind of rebelliousness among the slaves which manifested itself in various ways. Planters reported revolts, poisonings, suicides, and other obstructive behavior. These men, women and children did not have a life or history of their own.

Slavery was ultimately abolished in all French colonies in 1848 by Victor Schœlcher, the famous French journalist and politician who was France’s greatest advocate of ending slavery. On 10 May 2001, the French Parliament adopted Law 2001-434, of which the first article reads: “The French Republic acknowledges that the Atlantic and Indian Ocean slave trade on the one hand and slavery on the other, perpetrated from the fifteenth century in the Americas, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and in Europe against African, Amerindian, Malagasy and Indian peoples constitute a crime against humanity.”

The start of the French Revolution in 1789 was the initiator of the Haitian Revolution of 1791. When the slaves first rebelled in August of 1791 they were not asking for emancipation, but only an additional day each week to cultivate their garden plots.

The French Revolution began in 1789 as a popular movement to reform the rule of Louis XVI. However, the movement became out of control and between 5 September 1793 and 27 July 1794 France was in the grip of a Reign of Terror. This period ended with the death of Robespierre. In the aftermath of the coup, the Committee of Public Safety lost its authority, the prisons were emptied, and the French Revolution became decidedly less radical. In October 1795, the National Convention (the third government of the French Revolution) used Napoleon Bonaparte and the army to crush riots. During the night of 4 October, over 300 royalist rebels were shot dead in front of the Church of Saint Roch. The rest had scattered and fled. Under the Directory that followed between 1795 and 1799 bourgeois values, corruption, and military failure returned. In 1799, the Directory was overthrown in a military coup led by Napoleon, who ruled France as First Consul and after 1804 as Emperor of the French.

Napoleon’s attitude towards slavery

In 1794, during the Terror period of the French Revolution, slavery in France’s colonies was abolished. However, this policy was not fully implemented. When unrest broke out in Saint-Domingue, Napoleon wanted to renew France’ commitment to emancipation, mainly because of political reasons. Napoleon stated that slavery had not been formally abolished, since the abolition had not been realized. His politics aimed at the return of the former French colonists. Napoleon believed they were better able to defend French interests against the British that the revolutionaries. Thus as First Consul, by a decree of May 20, 1802, Napoleon restored slavery and the slave trade in Martinique and other West Indian colonies. The law did not apply to Guadeloupe, Guyane or Saint-Domingue:

Le décret du 30 floréal An X [May 20, 1802]

AU NOM DU PEUPLE FRANÇAIS, BONAPARTE, premier Consul, PROCLAME loi de la République le décret suivant, rendu par le Corps législatif le 30 floréal an X, conformément à la proposition faite par le Gouvernement le 27 dudit mois, communiquée au Tribunat le même jour.


ART. – Dans les colonies restituées à la France en exécution du traité d’Amiens, du 6 germinal an X [March 27, 1802], l’esclavage sera maintenu conformément aux lois et réglemens antérieurs à 1789.
ART. II. – Il en sera de même dans les autres colonies françaises au-delà du Cap de Bonne-Espérance.
ART. III. – La traite des noirs et leur importation dans lesdites colonies, auront lieu, conformément aux lois et réglemens existans avant ladite époque de 1789.
ART. IV. – Nonobstant toutes lois antérieures, le régime des colonies est soumis, pendant dix ans, aux réglemens qui seront faits par le Gouvernement.

Although Napoleon did not believe in the idea of racial equality, later in his life, his attitude towards the African slaves became more ethical. His change of attitude is reveled during his exile on St. Helena. During that time, Napoleon developed a friendship with an old slave called Toby. When Napoleon heard how Toby had been captured and enslaved, he reportedly expressed a wish to purchase him and send him back to his home country. His loyal friend, the French atlas maker and author Emmanuel-Augustin-Dieudonné-Joseph, comte de Las Cases (1766 – 1842) notes in his well-known memoirs (Las Cases 1823: 217):

Napoleon’s kindness of heart was also shown by his attitude toward the Malay slave, named Toby, who had care of the beautiful garden at The Briars. When no one was in it the garden was kept locked and the key was left in Toby’s hands. Toby and Napoleon speedily became friends, and the black man always spoke of the Emperor as “that good man, Bony.” He always placed the key of the garden where Napoleon could reach it under the wicket. The black man was original and entertaining, and so autocratic that no one at The Briars ever disputed his authority. His story was rather pathetic.

and (Las Cases 1823: 383):

What, after all, is this poor human machine? There is not one whose exterior form is like another, or whose internal organization resembles the rest. And it is by disregarding this truth that we are led to the commission of so many errors. Had Toby been a Brutus, he would have put himself to death; if an Aesop he would now, perhaps, have been the Governor’s adviser, if an ardent and zealous Christian, he would have borne his chains in the sight of God and blessed them. As for poor Toby, he endures his misfortunes very quietly: he stoops to his work and spends his days in innocent tranquility…. Certainly there is a wide step from poor Toby to a King Richard. And yet, the crime is not the less atrocious, for this man, after all, had his family, his happiness, and his liberty; and it was a horrible act of cruelty to bring him here to languish in the fetters of slavery.

Napoleon’s war in Saint-Domingue

Napoleon had an obvious personal relation with the colonies. In January 1796, Napoléon Bonaparte proposed to Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie and they married on 9 March 1796. She adopted the name “Josephine” that Napoleon had chosen for her. Josephine was born in Les Trois-Îlets, Martinique. She was a member of a wealthy white planters family that owned a sugarcane plantation, called Trois-Îlets. Josephine was the eldest daughter of Joseph-Gaspard Tascher (1735–1790), knight, Seigneur de la Pagerie, lieutenant of Troupes de Marine, and his wife, Rose-Claire des Vergers de Sannois (1736–1807). The latter’s maternal grandfather, Anthony Brown, may have been Irish. It cannot have been a coincidence that slavery was specifically re-established in Martinique.

The Morgan Library and Museum. Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802), Portrait of a Gentleman (Toussaint Louverture?) ca. 1802, Black, brown and white chalks on gray-blue laid paper. 20 1/2 x 16 1/4 inches (521 x 413 mm). Estate of Mrs. Vincent Astor.

In 1791, the slaves and some free people of color in Saint-Domingue started a rebellion against French authority. In May 1791 the French revolutionary government granted citizenship to the wealthier mostly light-skinned free persons of color, the offspring of white French men and African women. Saint-Domingue’s European population however disregarded the law. One of the slaves’ main leaders was François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, also known as Toussaint L’Ouverture or Toussaint Bréda. At first Toussaint allied with the Spaniards in Santo Domingo (the other half of the island of Hispaniola). The rebels became reconciled to French rule following the abolition of slavery in the colony in 1793, prompting Toussaint to switch sides to France. For some time, the island was quiet under Napoleonic rule. On 1 July 1801 Toussaint promulgated a Constitution, officially establishing his authority as governor general “for life” over the entire island of Hispaniola. Article 3 of his constitution states: “There cannot exist slaves [in Saint-Domingue], servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French.”. During this time, Napoleon met with refugee planters. They urged the restoration of slavery in Saint-Domingue, claiming it was essential to their profits.

Jefferson supplied Toussaint with arms, munitions and food. He was seen as the first line of defense against the French. He had already foreseen that Toussaint would put up considerable resistance, and anticipated on Napoleon’s failure in the West-Indies. It would prove to be one of the most important strategic choices in the development of the current United States.

On 25 March 1802 Napoleon signed the Treaty of Amiens. It turned out not be be more than a truce. The Treaty gave both sides a pause to reorganize. In 18 May 1803 the war was formally resumed. During this peace Napoleon made reestablishing France’s control over its colonial possessions a priority. In December 1801 he sent Charles-Victor-Emmanuel Leclerc (1772-1802) to the colony.

Meanwhile Toussaint enforced a hard regime on plantation laborers. By crushing a rebellion of the workers, he isolated himself and weakened his position. Leclerc landed at Cap-Français in February 1802 with warships and 40,000 soldiers. The French won several victories and after three months of heavy fighting regained control over the island. The revolutionary generals led a fanatic guerrilla war against the French troops and in a number of occasions were very successful. However, Toussaint faced a major setback when some of his generals joined Leclerc. Toussaint’s mixed strategies of total war and negotiation confused his generals who one after the other capitulated to Leclerc, beginning with Christophe. Finally Toussaint and later Dessalines surrendered.

Toussaint was forced to negotiate a peace. In May 1802 he was invited by the French general Jean Baptiste Brunet for a negotiation. His safety was guaranteed. On Napoleon’s secret orders Toussaint was immediately arrested and put on ship to France. He died in a prison cell in the French Alps of cold and hunger. It should be mentioned that Dessalines played a significant role in the arrest of Toussaint (Girard). Dessalines obtained 4000 francs and gifts in wine and liquor for him, his spouse and the officers involved (Girard). When in October 1802 it became apparent that the French intended to re-establish slavery, because they had done so on Guadeloupe, Toussaint’s former military allies, including Jean Jacques Dessalines, Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe, switched sides again and fought against the French. In the meanwhile disease took its toll on the French soldiers. The revolution was revitalized when Leclerc died of yellow fever in november 1802. The Haitian Revolution continued under the leadership of Dessalines, Pétion and Christophe.

After the death of Leclerc, Napoleon appointed the vicomte de Rochambeau (who fought with his father under George Washington in the American Revolutionary War) as Leclerc’s successor. His brutal racial warfare drove even more revolutionary leaders back to the rebel armies.

The revolutionary ideas spread

The situation in the Caribbean was chaotic. The situation in Europe was the direct cause, but the Haitian revolution contributed to uncertainty as well as illustrated by events that took place on the neighboring island of Curaçao.

Case Study: Curaçao

In September 1799, two French agents from Saint-Domingue, together with a Curaçao-resident French merchant, Jean Baptiste Tierce Cadet, were arrested for conspiring to overthrow Curaçao’s government and to liberate the slaves. They were deported without trial. Tierce Cadet was accused of being the local ringleader. He was accused of being part of a plan originating in Saint-Domingue: the liberation of the slaves in all the colonies in the Caribbean. Eight months after being deported from Curaçao, Tierce, en route to France, arrived in the Batavian Republic. He was travelling with an officer of the Batavian navy, Jan Hendrik Quast. Both men were arrested and questioned. The Batavian authorities intended to put Tierce on trial for trying for overthrowing the Curaçao government and plotting to liberate the slaves. However, it appeared very difficult to produce the necessary evidence against him (Klooster, 148-149).

Saint-Domingue becomes independent

The Battle of Vertières on 18 November 1803 was the final event that stood between slavery liberty in Saint-Domingue. It involved forces made up of former enslaved people on the one hand, and Napoleon’s French expeditionary forces on the other hand. Vertières is situated in the north-east, near the sea. By the end of October 1803, the revolutionary forces fighting the expeditionary troops were already in control over most of the island.

Haitians led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines and François Capois attacked a strong French-held fort of Vertières, near Cap François (in the north of Haiti) and won a decisive victory over French colonial army under General Comte de Rochambeau and forced him to capitulate the same night.

The revolutionary troops attacked the remaining French soldiers at Vertières. After heavy fighting the battle ended when heavy rain with thunder and lightning drenched the battlefield. Under cover of the storm, Rochambeau pulled back from Vertières. At the Surrender of Cap Français, Rochambeau was forced to surrender to the English. He was to taken England as a prisoner on parole, where he remained interned for almost nine years.

Although the fighting in Saint-Domingue during the time of the revolution had horrible moments and both parties committed gruesome war crimes, one particular event in the battle of could be seen as a sign of respect by Rochambeau towards the revolutionaries.

“At 4 a.m. on Nov. 18, 1803, part of the forces began an attack on Breda, one of the outlying forts. Rochambeau surprised, left Cap and took a position with his honor guard on the entrenchments at the fort of Vertieres, between Breda and Cap. To take the objective specifically assigned to him, François Capois and his troops had to cross a bridge that was dominated by the fort at Vertières.
Capois, on horseback, and his men met a hail of fire as they advanced. Despite a bullet passing through his cap, Capois urged his men forward. Even a bullet which leveled his horse and another which again passed through his cap did not stop Capois from flourishing his saber and leading his men onward with his continuing cry of Forward! Observing this, Rochambeau’s guards applauded. Rochambeau caused the firing to be stopped and sent a hussar forward with compliments for Capois! Then the battle recommenced.” (Burton Sellers)

Shortly after the battle, the first declaration of independence was read in Fort-Dauphin on 29 November 1803. It was signed by Dessalines, Christophe and Clerveaux. They all had been generals under Leclerc little more than a year earlier. The declaration did not mention the current name “Haiti”, but still spoke of “Saint-Domingue”. The second Act of Independence was read by Dessalines on the Place d’Armes of Gonaïves on 1 January 1804. The act marked the beginning of independence what from that moment on would be known as the republic of Haiti. It marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the colonies.

Napoleon’s Legacy

Because Napoleon had failed to re-enslave Saint-Domingue he was missing the plantation revenues. As war with England was inevitable and he could not raise enough assets, Napoleon abandoned his colonial policy. France’ immense territory of Louisiana was sold to the United States on 30 April 1803 by means of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. It was the birth of what now is considered the most powerful nation in the world, as Livingston made clear in his famous statement: “We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives…From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank.”

After the declaration of independence, Dessalines proclaimed himself Governor-General-for-life of Haiti. Between February and April 1804 he orchestrated the massacre of the white Haitian minority; between 3,000 and 5,000 people. On 2 September 1804, Dessaline proclaimed himself emperor under the name Jacques I of Haiti. He was crowned on 8 October 1804 (two months before Napoleon) with his wife Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité at the Church of Champ-de-Mars, Le Cap by Pere Corneille Brelle, later His Grace Monseigneur the Archbishop of Haiti, Duke de l’Anse, and Grand Almoner to King Henry I. Jaques I Promulgated the Constitution of Haiti on 20 May 1805 (Buyers: 2017).

Gustave d’Alaux describes the coronation of Faustin I in his book, Soulouque and his Empire: “His Imperial Majesty had the principal merchant of Port-au-Prince called one morning and commanded him to order immediately from Paris a costume, in every particular like that he admired in representing the ceremonies of Napoleon’s coronation. Faustin I besides ordered for himself a crown, one for the Empress, a sceptre, globe, hand-of-justice, throne, and all other accessories, all to be like those used in the coronation of Napoleon.”.

Former revolutionary Henry Christophe succeeded Emperor Jacques I I as provisional Head of State after his death on 17 October 1806. He was installed as Lord President and Generalissimo of the Land and Sea Forces of the State of Haiti with the style of His Serene Highness on 17 February 1807. Christophe was proclaimed as King of Haiti and assumed the style of His Majesty on 26 March 1811. He was Crowned by His Grace Monseigneur Corneille Brelle, Duke de l’Anse, Grand Almoner to the King and Archbishop of Haiti, at the Church of Champ-de-Mars, Le Cap-Henry, on 2 June 1811. Christophe was Grand Master and Founder of the Royal and Military Order of Saint Henry on 20 April 1811. He married at Cap Français on 15 July 1793, H.M. Queen Marie-Louise (b. at Bredou, Ouanaminthe on 8 May 1778; d. at Pisa, Italy, on 14 March 1851, bur. there at the Convent of the Capuchins). Christophe committed suicide at the Palace of Sans-Souci, Milot, on 8 October 1820, having had issue, three sons and two daughters. He was succeeded by another revolutionary general, Alexandre Sabès Pétion, who had as well been one of Haiti’s founding fathers (Buyers: 2017).

In 1825, France demanded Haiti compensate France for its loss of slaves and its slave colony. It threatened with a new invasion. In 1838, France agreed to a reduced amount of 90 million francs to be paid over a period of 30 years. In 1893 the final part of the principal was paid. By 1947 Haiti paid the modern equivalent of USD 21 billion (including interest) to France and American banks as “compensation” for being enslaved for centuries.

In 1849 the Napoleonic style was copied by Emperor Faustin I of Haiti who adopted the style of His Imperial Majesty. Faustin I was proclaimed emperor at the National Palace, Port-au-Prince, on 26 August 1849 and crowned at the renamed Imperial Palace on the same day. He was consecrated at the old Cathedral of Notre Dame de l’Assomption, Port-au-Prince, on 2 September 1849. The emperor promulgated a new Constitution on 20 September 1849 and was crowned at the Champ de Mars, Port-au-Prince, in the presence of the Vicar-General Monsignor Cessens according to Episcopalian (Franc-Catholique) rites, on 18 April 1852. Faustin was styled Chief Sovereign, Grand Master and Founder of the Imperial and Military Order of St Faustin and the Imperial Civil Order of the Legion of Honour 21 September 1849, and of the united Orders of Saint Mary Magdalen and Saint Anne 31 March 1856, all in three classes. Grand Protector of the Franc-Masonic Order 1850-1859. Patron Collège Faustin 1848-1859. He was founder of the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1856 (Buyers: 2017).


Alaux, Gustave D., Maxime Raybaud, and John H. Parkhill. Soulouque and his empire. From the French of Gustave dAlaux. Richmond: J.W. Randolph, 1861.

Burnard, Trevor G., and John D. Garrigus. The plantation machine: Atlantic capitalism in French Saint-Domingue and British Jamaica. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.

Burton Sellers, W.F. “Heroes of Haiti.” Windows on Haiti: Heroes of Haiti. Accessed July 08, 2017.

Buyers, C. “HAITI – Royal Ark.” Accessed July 8, 2017.  Website by Christopher Buyers on the genealogies of the Royal and ruling houses of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

Cases, Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné Las. Memorial de Sainte Hélène. Journal of the private life and conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at Saint Helena. Boston: Wells & Lilly, 1823.

Christophe, Henri, Thomas Clarkson, Earl Leslie Griggs, and Clifford H. Prator. Henry Christophe, a correspondence. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968.

Dwyer, Philip. Napoleon: the path to power, 1769 – 1799. London: Bloomsbury, 2008.

Dwyer, Philip G. Citizen emperor: Napoleon in power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015.

Girard, Philippe R. Slaves who defeated napoleon: toussaint louverture and the haitian war of independence, 1801-1804. Tuscaloosa: Univ Of Alabama Press, 2014.

Klooster, Wim, and Gert Oostindie. Curaçao in the age of revolutions, 1795-1800. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Klein, Herbert S. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

“The Louverture Project.” Accessed July 08, 2017. The Louverture Project (TLP) collects and promotes knowledge, analysis, and understanding of the Haitian revolution of 1791–1804.

Mentor, Gaétan. Dessalines: le̕sclave devenu empereur. Pétionville, Haïti: Impr. Le Natal, 2003.

Roberts, Andrew. Napoleon: a life. New York: Penguin, 2015.

Sloane, W. M. “Napoleons Plans for a Colonial System.” The American Historical Review 4, no. 3 (1899): 439.

Sortais, Georges. Important tableau par Louis David: “Le sacre de Napoléon”. S.l.: S.n., 1898.

Translating non-European titles into European equivalents

In 1961, King Kigeli was in Kinshasa to meet Secretary General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld when Dominique Mbonyumutwa, with the support of the Belgian government, led a coup d’état that took control of the Rwandan state. The monarchy’s rule was formally overthrown on 28 January 1961. The coup resulted in the 1961 referendum about the fate of the nation’s royal system. The King resided in the Unites States for the rest of his life.

In February 2007, during a discussion on a Google platform devoted to heraldry, the question of titles being awarded by former King Kigeli of Rwanda (1936-2016) was heavely dicussed. Following these discussions, the eminent Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, 15th Baron of Cartsburn, president of the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry, an academic body, issued an invitation on 19 February 2007 as follows:

I offer this possibility to those who have something to say against the idea of the King Kigeli to grant “honours” using name of “European nobiliary titles” (but I repeat they are not nobiliary titles but only honours): prepare a true study supported by due documentation, historical precedents, footnotes which quote precedent studies on the matter to be published in one of my reviews or better to participate in the next III International Colloquium of Genealogy organized by Institut International d’Etudes Généalogiques et d’Histoire des Families in San Marino from 28 September to 1 October 2007.

In the Economist of 3 October 2013 (Noble titles. Honours and offers. People still yearn for aristocratic titles, Some buy them), Pier Felice degli Uberti, is cited:

[Felice degli Uberti] finds Kigeli V’s trade in titles “very sad”. He has warned the ex-king that the titles do not form part of his historical tradition and should not be awarded. His majesty declined to comment but his secretary-general responded: “Who has the right to question his authorities but God and his countrymen?”

In the same article, the Economist further states that:

(..) titles can be issued for personal or political motives, as well as pecuniary ones. Prince Davit Bagrationi, pretender to the Georgian throne (vacant since 1801) has revived dormant orders. Some go to fellow-royals, such as the late King of Tonga, others to Georgian public figures.

In order to see if Felice degli Uberti raises fair objections, it might be interesting to find examples of non-European monarchies that copy the European system.

Japanese nobility

The Prussian courtier Ottmar von Mohl from 1887 to 1889 taught Western court etiquette to the members of the Imperial Household Ministry.

Ottmar von Mohl (1846 – 1922) was a German diplomat and government advisor in Meiji period Japan. He was recruited by the Meiji period Japanese government as a foreign advisor from 1887 to 1889. He and his wife, Wanda Countess von der Groeben, served with the Japanese Imperial Household Ministry in Tokyo, Japan to introduce European Court ceremonials and protocols to Japanese Emperor Meiji and his court. In his work Am japanischen Hofe – At the Japanese Court (Berlin, Reimer 1904), Von Mohl describes the way the European noble traditions were incorporated in the ancient, complex Japanese system (Takenobu, Yoshitaro (1863?-1930), The Japan yearbook; complete cyclopaedia of general information and statistics on Japan and Japanese territories), which in turn was based on the Chinese traditions. Von Mohl explains (pp. 70-71) that this mixture (see: Jacques Papinot: Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie du Japon illustré de 300 gravures, de plusieurs cartes, et suivi de 18 appendices, Tokyo et Yokohama/Shanghai/Hongkong/Singapore 1906 and (Earl Roy Miner, Robert E. Morrell & Hiroko Odagiri, The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature) resulted in a kind of Napoleontic nobility with ancient and “modern” titles:

Wie mir erklärt wurde, haben schon von altersher in Japan Rang- und Adelstitel bestanden, welche dem Vorbild in allen Dingen, China, entlehnt worden waren und mit chinesischen Buchstaben ausgedrückt wurden. Von den Europäern lernten sie nun die in England und Frankreich gebräuchlichen Titel Prince, Marquis, Comte, Vicomte, Baron kennen und übersetzten nun die chinesisch-japanische erbliche Rangklassifikation in diese Titel, deren Anerkennung bezw. Verleihung auf kaiserlichem Patente beruhte.


Die Japaner verbanden mit den europäischen Titeln ganz bestimmte geschichtliche Abstufungen und Anschauungen, und der Wunsch, diese den europäischen Titeln gleichwertig zu machen, veranlasste sie zur Annahme der uns geläufigen Bezeichnungen, was, ich läugne es nicht, auf Europäer zuerst einen komischen Eindruck machte. In neuerer Zeit sind die Kreierungen von Baronen, ja sogar von Marquis und Vicomtes, häufiger geworden, so dass eine Art napoleonischen Adels, eine Mischung von alten und neuen Familientiteln, in Japan entstanden ist.


In the case of Rwanda, the Royal Household officially states that (Guye Pennington, Guidance for Honors Publication):

Titles of nobility in the Kingdom of Rwanda historically consisted of the rank of Chief and Sub-Chief, but this was expanded by His Most Christian Majesty King Mutara III Rudahigwa. H.M. King Mutara III was in the process of revamping the honors system of Rwanda prior to his untimely death in 1959. As the fons honorum of the de jure Kingdom of Rwanda and an anointed King, His Most Christian Majesty King Kigeli V has the full legal right to create new traditions within his Kingdom and also finish the work previously began by his half-brother, Mutara III.

The example of Japan shows that such reforms are not uncommon. The choice of non-western monarchs (like e.g. the monarchs of Vietnam, Georgia, Ethiopia and Rwanda) to copy European nobility-traditions is sometimes criticized.

Nationaal Archief, Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Note the translated title of “Mesfin” to “Duke” of Harar. H.I.H. Prince (Le’ul) Pawlus Wossen Seged Makonnen, Duke of Harar (Mesfin Harar) was born at Addis Ababa on 21 August 1947. He was Imprisoned by the Dergue between 1974-1989 and is the Heir Presumptive since 17th January 1997. He is the son of Prince Makonnen Haile Selassie, Duke of Harar (baptismal name: Araya Yohannes; 16 October 1923 – 13 May 1957), who was the second son, and second youngest child, of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Empress Menen Asfaw. He was made Mesfin (or Duke) of Harar in 1934.

The case of Rwanda differs from the Japanese situation. If the King had created honours and awards during his very brief period as king (1959 to 1961), there would not have been a problem. They might have been unconventional but, in my opinion, they would have been widely accepted. There is no authority to forbid the King to style his nobility in a Europen manner. I think the King simply wanted to make his titles more attractive to westerners. Given his situation, I cannot disagree with him. Issuing original Rwandan titles to Americans would by unconventional as well.

Interesting comments by Mr Christopher Buyers (FB 11-12 March 2017)

The date of creation by special dispensation of the Crown Council was 9th May 1934. Please see…/f5.image.r=%22Duc%20de%20Harrar… The installation took place on 19th May 1934 at the Cathedral of Medhane-Alem, Dire-Dawa, 19th May 1934. Please see…/f3.image.r=%22Duc%20de%20Harrar… [Note that Le Courrier d’Éthiopie should be quite reliable as it was printed in Harrar]. I don’t know if you realise that there were earlier creations, though for Europeans. Duc d’Entotto for the former Governor of Djibouti and sometime French Minister and Envoy to the court of Ethiopia, Comte (Leonce) Legarde by Menelik II.


Antoine Marie Joseph Léonce Lagarde (b. at Lempdes-sur-Allagnon, Haute-Loire, France, 10th October 1860; d. at l’Hôpital du Val de Grâce, Paris, France, 15th May 1936, bur. Lempdes), educ. LLB (1878), employed by the Holy Sea in Rome 1881-1882, Sec to Governor of Indo-China 1882-1883, Under-Sec of State for Marine & Colonies 1883, Special Cmsnr for the Delimitation of of the Obock Territory 1883-1884, Cdt of Obock 1884-1887, Governor of Obock and its dependencies 1887-1896, and of French Somaliland 1896-1899, Special Envoy and Minister Plenipotentiary to Menelik II 1896-1897, Ambassador to Ethiopia 1897-1907, Officer in Charge of Services to Sailors Killed or Prisoners of War 1907-1914, Dir of Special Mission for Naval Prisoners of War 1914-1918, Permanent Delegate for the Liquidation of Products and Prizes of the Sea 1920, retd 1929, Conductor of the French Negotiating Delegates at Geneva 1920, High Councillor to Ras Tafari Makkonen 1924-1930, General Delegate for Ethiopia at the League of Nations 1934. Author of “Le Comte Arakoff, nouvelle russe” (1880). Granted the papal title of Count Lagarde de Rouffeyroux by Pope Leo XIII in 1881 (after 25th August, apparently by purchase), and Duke of Entotto in March 1897 (on or before 28th March). Rcvd: GC of the Orders of Solomon, and the Star of Ethiopia, Cdr of the Order of the Legion of Honour of France, etc.


Colonel Nikolai Stepanovitch Leontiev (b. at Novogrudok, Grodno, 30th May 1862; d. at Paris, France, 4th July 1910, bur. there at Montmorency Cemetary, later transferred to Tikhvin Cemetery, St Petersburg, Russia), educ. Nikaievsky Military Sch, St Petersburg, Russia. Cmsnd as Ensign Imperial Life Guards Grodno Hussaars, prom Lieut, Leader Russiaan Overland Riding Expedition from Tiflis to India through Persia 1891, transferred Kuban Cossacks 1892, prom Capt on the Staff 1894, Leader Russian Geographical expedition to Ethiopia 1894-1895, Attached to Ethiopian Mission to St Petersburg 1895, Military Adviser to Menelik II during 1st Italo-Ethiopian War 1895-1896, Special Envoy from Emperor Menelik II to Rome Feb 1896. Invested by Menelik II with the title of Count at Wallo in April 1896. The patent of nobility was subsequently delivered in present of Negus Mikael of Wallo at Dese. Special Envoy from Emperor Menelik II to Istanbul Dec 1896, second for Prince Henri d’Orleans in his duel with the Count of Turin Vaucresson Aug 1897, Governor-General of Equatorial Provinces 1897-1899 & 1901-1902, Colonel of Regt of Senegalese Volunteer Rifles 1899, served in Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905 with Kuban Cossacks, Caucasian Dvsn. Mbr Russian Geographical Soc, Academy of Sciences, Russian Red Cross Society, etc. Leontiev also received at some point the rank of Dejazmatch, probably when placed in charge of the Equatorial Provinces July 1897. Rcvd: GC of the Orders of Solomon, and the Star of Ethiopia (1895), Knt 4th class of the Order of St Vladimir, 4th class Cross of St George of Russia, etc.


There is no contemporary evidence for such title [Count of Abai], and there is no place in Ethiopia I can find called Abai. Rather it is the name of the father of an Ethiopian who was sent to study in Russia, Piotr Tekle-Hawariate Abai aka Petia Abissinetz. Some Russian writers confused Leontiev to be his father, then reconciled the obvious difference in supposed father’s name by assuming that Abai was Leontiev’s territorial title, and the whole thing appears to have spiralled out of control from there. As far as I can work out, 1) Leontiev was not conferred with the title of Count of Abai, 2) he was not Tekle’s father, 3) neither Tekle nor his actual father Abai received the title of Count, and 4) only one title of Count seems to have been conferred, i.e. Leontiev.

Important sources

  • Stefan Unterstein, website about the Japanese nobility
  • This post was inspired by the article “Granting of Orders and Titles by H.M. King Kigeli V of Rwanda, paper prepared by dr W.H. Jones, Sydney, Australia, BSc (Econ) London, MA, PGCertTESOL, EdD Macquarie, JP NSW, 16 March 2007”. This article was published by me on Nobility News. I have no copy of the original document.

The legitimacy of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem


This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a very interesting lecture, given by a good friend, regarding the history of the Knights Templar (1119-1307). The lecture mentioned the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH) as a modern successor of the ideology of this ancient and famous Order.

Detail of the Chinon Parchment, with details of the trail of the Knights Templar and the Pope's involvement (Vatican Museum secret archives library)
Detail of the Chinon Parchment, containing details of the trail of the Knights Templar and the Pope’s involvement (Vatican Museum secret archives library, reference number Archivum Arcis Armarium D 218. ASV, Archivum Arcis, Arm. D 217)

The original order of the Knights Templar was founded by Hugh de Payens, a French nobleman from the Champagne region, along with eight of his companions, in Jerusalem around 1119. In 1307, Philip IV of France arrested the Knights Templar on charges of blasphemy, idolatry, and sodomy. The investigation and trial into the alleged misdeeds of the Knights Templar took place in Rome between 1307 and 1312. On 18 March 1314 the Grandmaster and other knights of the Order were burned alive by order of King Philip. In September 2001, Barbara Frale, an Italian paleographer at the Vatican Secret Archives, found a copy of a document, known as the ‘Chinon Parchment’ in the Vatican Secret Archives. The document explicitly confirms that in 1308 Pope Clement V absolved Jacques de Molay and other leaders of the Order including Geoffroi de Charney and Hugues de Pairaud (Barbara Frale 2004, “The Chinon chart – Papal absolution to the last Templar, Master Jacques de Molay”, Journal of Medieval History 30 (2): 109–134). Another Chinon parchment dated 20 August 1308 addressed to Philip IV of France, stated that absolution had been granted to all those Templars that had confessed to heresy “and restored them to the Sacraments and to the unity of the Church” (Pierre Dupuy, Histoire de l’Ordre Militaire des Templiers Foppens, Brusselles 1751; Étienne Baluze, Vitae Paparum Avenionensis, 3 Volumes, Paris 1693. Nonetheless, the Pope suspended the order (see appendix 1, below for the details).

Wikipedia describes the OSMTH as follows:

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, (Latin: Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, OSMTH), is a self-styled order founded in 1945 by Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes (1878-1960), claiming to be a continuation of the self-styled l’Ordre du Temple founded in France, 1705, officially reconstituted in 1804 by Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat, and recognized as an Order of Chivalry by its patron Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805; Fernando Campello Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes succeeded his father as the head of the order in 1960.

It is interesting to see to what extend the current OSMTH can be seen as a successor of the ideology of the ancient Templer Order.


An important personality regarding the revival of Templer history was Andrew Michael Ramsay. Raised a Calvinist, Ramsay converted to Catholicism in 1709. Leaving England for Holland in 1709, he soon moved to Cambrai (France) where he lived with the well-known mystical theologian, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon (1651-1715), Archbishop of Cambrai.

Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686–1743)
Chevalier Andrew Michael Ramsay (1686–1743)

In 1713 or 1714, Ramsay moved to Blois where he was employed as secretary to a co-founder of Quietism (a Christian philosophy), Madame Guyon. In 1716 Ramay moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life in and near that city (Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, pp. 280-315 vol 81 (1968). Much of Ramsay’s life is only known from Anecdotes de la vie de Messire André Michel de Ramsay a manuscript dictated by Ramsay, and now in the Bibliotèque Méjanes at Aix-en-Provence. Cited AQC, vol 81 (1968). Cf. Mackey’s Encyclopedia for a 1680 birth date).

It was in Paris where Ramsay met the Duc d’Orleans who admitted Ramsay as a member of the Royal and Military Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem. This entitled him to use the prefix of Chevalier. James, the Old Pretender, granted Ramsay a certificate of nobility in 1723. In 1728 he succeeded in having a diploma of nobility registered by the King of Arms in Edinburgh (Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, pp. 280-315 vol 81, 1968). In his famous  Oration of 1737, Ramsay suggested that Freemasons were closely connected to the Knights Templar (Gould’s History of Freemasonry – Vol. III, page 11, Compiled and Edited by R.’.W.’. Gary L. Heinmiller, Director, Onondaga & Oswego Masonic Districts Historical Societies):

At the time of the Crusades in Palestine many princes, lords and citizens associated themselves and vowed to restore the temple of the Christians in the Holy Land, to employ themselves in bringing back their architecture to its first institution. They agreed upon several ancient signs and symbolic words drawn from the well of religion in order to recognize themselves amongst the heathen and the Saracens. These signs and words were only communicated to those who promised solemnly, even sometimes at the foot of the altar, never to reveal them. This sacred promise was therefore not an execrable oath, as it has been called, but a respectable bond to unite Christians of all nationalities in one confraternity. Some time after our Order formed an intimate union with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. From that time our Lodges took the name of Lodges of St. John. This union was made after the example set by the Israelites when they erected the second Temple who, whilst they handled the trowel and mortar with one hand, in the other held the sword and buckler.

Ramsay’s statements increased interest in Freemasonry. It also generated a strong desire among Masons to participate in orders with a knightly background. As a result, the Scottish Rite and York Rite branches of Freemasonry incorporated a number of knightly degrees. On 16 July 1782 a Masonic congress was held at Wilhelmsbad, near the city of Hanau in Hesse Cassel. The meeting was chaired by Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, who was at that time the Grandmaster of the Order of the Strict Observance. The meeting lasted for thirty sessions. When the congress was finally closed it concluded that ‘Freemasonry was not essentially connected with Templarism, and that, contrary to the doctrine of the Rite of the Strict Observance, the Freemasons were not the successors of the Knights Templars.” The result of its finding was that very soon many of the other Templars degrees and orders died out (Eugen Lennhoff, Oskar Posner, Dieter A. Binder, Internationales Freimaurerlexikon. 5. überarbeitete und erweiterte Neuauflage der Ausgabe von 1932. Herbig, München 2006; Ferdinand Runkel, Geschichte der Freimaurerei. 3 Bände. Reprint von 1932, Edition Lempertz, Königswinter 2006, Bd. 1, S. 193 ff.). The current Masonic order of Knights Templar derives its name from the medieval Catholic Order. However, it does not claim any direct lineal descent from the original Templar order.

l’Ordre du Temple

These events have been the seeds for a second important rivival of the Templar Order. In 1804 Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (29 May 1773 – 18 February 1838) founded the l’Ordre du Temple, The Order of the Temple (see the Manuel des Chevaliers de l’Ordre du Temple).

In 1804 two French Freemasons, Philippe Ledru (1754-1832) and Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (1775-1838) founded the Order of the Temple (l’Ordre du Temple). Fabré-Palaprat was made its grandmaster. The order attracted personalities like the Duke of Choiseul-Stainville. Fabré-Palaprat was the son of a surgeon in the French city of Cahors. He studied at the diocesan seminary and was ordained a priest. He left the priesthood to study medicine. Fabré-Palaprat was awarded the Legion of Honour for his defence of Paris in 1814. He received the July Medal for his actions during the Three Glorious Days of the Revolution of 1830. Napoleon I, who viewed freemasonry favourably, authorized and presided over a “solemn ceremony” for the Order in 1808 (Introvigne, Massimo (1995): “Ordeal by Fire: The Tragedy of the Solar Temple,” in The Order of the Solar Temple: The Temple of Death, ed. James R. Lewis, Ashgate, 2006, pp. 19-38 and Introvigne, Massimo (2005): “Fabré-Palaprat, Bernard-Raymond” entry in Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, ed. Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Brill Academic Publishers,  pp. 354-356). He allowed the Order of the Temple to carry on their activities, including solemn processions in the streets of Paris with mantles and toques (see Malcolm Barber (ed): The military orders : fighting for the faith and caring for the sick Aldershot, Great Britain, 1994; Variorum and the Manuel des chevaliers de l’Ordre du Temple. Paris, 1817 (2d ed.: 1825); The manual of Palaprat’s French order).

Palaprat’s order was not a continuity of the Knights Templar, although Fabré-Palaprat fabricated the so-called Larmenius Charter. This document, started in Latin in 1324, listed 22 successive Grand Masters of the Knights Templar from 1324 to 1804, with Fabré-Palaprat’s name appearing last on the list.

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, GCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS
Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, GCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS

In 1815, Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, GCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS (1764–1840) became associated with the French Order of the Temple. Smith was a British naval officer. Serving in the American and French revolutionary wars, he later rose to the rank of admiral. Napoleon Bonaparte said of him: “That man made me miss my destiny” (Thomas Pocock, “A Thirst for Glory: The Life of Admiral Sir Sidney Smith”, p.114, Pimlico 1998).

As admiral of the British navy Smith successfully defended Acre against Napoleon in 1799, and supposedly was given by the Greek archbishop a Templars’ cross (left in Acre by Richard Lionheart) in gratitude. This cross opened the doors for Sir Sydney who became a Templar and tried to create a branch of the Order in England, for which he was made Grand-Prior. His aim was to send the order to participate in the liberation and pacification of Greece and other areas under Ottoman control. He also tried to establish a base in Malta and taking over the old activities of the order of Saint-John (since Malta was then in the hands of the British). He managed to get Augustus-Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843) interested in the project. The duke of Sussex (6th son of George III) became Grand Prior of England. The duke was the Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England. In addition, the English politician Charles Tennyson d’Eyncourt (uncle of the famous poet Alfred Tennyson) was attracted to the Order. On the death of Fabré-Palaprat, Smith became Regent of the order, but his subsequent death soon followed by that of the duke of Sussex dissipated the order in England. D’Eyncourt himself lost interest and resigned from the order in 1849 (see: François Velde, Heraldica, Revived and Recently Created Orders of Chivalry). The succession of the French branch of the Order is described by Serge Caillet in his important study: Trois siècles de résurgences templières:

Au tout début du XIXe siècle, en France, la légende templière commence à se répandre en marge de la franc-maçonnerie, dans le cadre d’un Ordre d’Orient et de la loge parisienne des chevaliers de la Croix, dirigée par un certain Dr Ledru, qui prétend détenir la succession magistrale du dernier Grand Maître secret de l’Ordre du Temple, le duc Timoléon de Cossé-Brissac (1734-1792) . Élu Grand Maître en 1804 [le 4 nov.], Bernard Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (1773-1838), un ancien séminariste devenu médecin, propage véritablement ce nouvel Ordre du Temple, sous le patronage de l’empereur Napoléon 1er, ce qui lui vaut d’attirer quelques personnages de renom. Fabré-Palaprat revendique en ligne directe la succession de Jacques de Molay, et, pour attester son lignage, produit même une charte, portant la signature de tous les Grands Maîtres depuis le Moyen Âge… C’est un faux, qui sera vite reconnu et dénoncé comme tel. Il n’empêche que l’Ordre eut en France sa période faste, ses notables, son clergé. (…) Peladan passe aussi pour avoir été Grand Maître, de 1892 à 1894 dit-on, de la lignée templière de Fabré-Palaprat. Je ne puis le garantir. (…) Le 19 janvier 1932, des Templiers de la lignée de Fabré-Palaprat (Joseph Cleeremans, Gustave Jonckbloedt et Théodore Covias) fondent à Bruxelles l’Ordre souverain et militaire du Temple, dont l’enregistrement paraît au Moniteur belge, le 20 janvier 1933. (…) En 1934, un Conseil de régence de ce qu’il reste de l’Ordre de Fabré-Palaprat place à sa tête Émile Vandenberg – avec un intermède par un certain Théodore Covias, de 1935 à 1942 – qui, le 23 décembre 1942, transmet ses pouvoirs au Portugais Antonio Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes (1878-1960). En 1945, celui-ci fonde l’Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem (OSMTJ), qui a son siège à Paris. L’OSMTJ s’est divisé en 1970, quand Fernando Campello Pinto de Sousa Fontes, fils d’Antonio Campello Pinto, a fondé l’Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani (OSMTH), qui a son siège à Porto. Nouvelle scission en 1996 quand naît  l’Ordre Suprême Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem, dont les membres souhaitent servir, tout comme les chevaliers des origines ont servi. La devise de l’ordre Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam est tirée du Psaume 115, verset 1 ‘Pas à nous, Seigneur, pas à nous, mais à Ton Nom seul donne la Gloire’

Thus, Caillet’s study shows that the OSMTH has its roots in 1804.

Historical link to the OSMTH

A Belgian priory of the Order of the Temple was founded in 1815 by Albert-Francois marquis du Chasteler. After 1840, this Priory split into “Legitimate” and Masonic priories. After the death of Sidney-Smith in 1840, a compromise was reached in 1841 under the leadership of Jean-Marie Raoul (1766-1850). The Masonic Trinity of the Tower priory of the Order lasted until 1930, when it was abolished.

The original Order of the Temple had, however, lost most of its members. In 1871 one of Raoul’s successors, A.M. Vernois, made it dormant (Introvigne 1995: 22). Vernois was the last Regent of “the palaprien faction” and had “deposited the records of the Order into the National Archives of France” in 1871. The records can still be found at the Archives Nationales, Fonds “3 AS 1-34 (anc. AB XIX 125-158)” with additional material deposited in 1920 and 1921. According to Introvigne the Regency was handed over to the influential occultist Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918) by some of Fabré-Palaprat’s surviving members.

In Dutch historian Milko Bogaard’s “Gnostic Church History,” published by, Bogaard writes:

In 1892 Joséphin Péladan (1859-1918) receives the “regency” of the Neo-Templar Order … a connection is made with i.a. Lodge “KVMRIS”. Péladan had founded in 1891 his own order, “Ordre de la Rose-Croix Catholique et Esthetique du Temple et du Graal” … Belgian Martinists were also member of Péladan’s “Ordre de la Rose-Croix et Catholique”, among such men as Francis Vurgey, Nicolas Brossel, and Clement de Saint-Marcq. Brossel and Vurgey were directing Lodge “KVMRIS”, the former being its President … “the Gnostic elements which influenced the works of such lodge-members as Clement de Saint-Marcq were part of the doctrine of the Johannite church.” […] The book “Ordre des Chevaliers du Temple” reports an international Templar Congress held in Brussels in 1894. With the exception of the English branch of the Templars all other European Templar Orders were represented on the Convention of Brussels. It was decided to establish an “International Secretariat” under the direction of the leaders of Lodge “KVMRIS”, Brossel and Vurgey. They were later succeeded by Selliers de Moranville, Georges le Clément de Saint-Marcq, Georges le Roy van Daems, Oscar Jamar, Arthur van Hecke, Carlos Mosias and Joseph Daems. The next date which is given in the book is the date of the foundation of the “Ordre souverain et militaire du Temple de Jérusalem” (OSMTJ) or ‘Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem’ (SMOTJ) or ‘Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani ‘ in 1932.

Utilizing internal documents and archives of the Order, Jean-Pierre Bonnerot, in “Deodat Roche et L’Eglise Gnostique,” was more specific regarding Péladan’s regency: 1892-1894; which would correspond with the Belgian branch taking the reins afterwards through the “Secretariat International des Templiers” (source: the blog of Terry Melanson).

The reason for creating the “Secretariat International des Templiers” was that Vernois’ move was not accepted by the Belgian members of the Order. This body governed the Order until 1932. In 1932 several former members established a new Grand Priory of Belgium, restored the Catholic tradition, and adopted the name  Knights of the Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple (Chevaliers de l’Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple), having as its ‘Regent’ Théodore Covias. Shortly after, a move was made to restore the International Order with a Magisterial Council led by a regent.

Dom Antonio Campelo Pinto de Sousa Fontes (30-03-1878 / 15-02-1960) 50° Magnus Magister et Princeps Regens 1942-1960
Dom Antonio Campelo Pinto de Sousa Fontes (1878-1960) 50° Magnus Magister et Princeps Regens 1942-1960

The second regent, Emile-Isaac Vandenberg was of jewish descent and used the name of his wife “Vandenberg” to protect himself from the Nazis. He played a key role is the further development of the Order. Vandenberg married on 21 November 1921, to Josefina Vandenberg and with his father-in-law and brother-in-law they founded the company of Vandenberg & Isaac, Furniture Manufacturers, based in Mechelen. Vandenberg was one of the eight founding members of the Sovereign and Military Order of the Temple in 1932, and succeeded Theodore Covias as Regent on 8 August, 1935. On 1 October 1935, he was elected 49th Grand Master of the Order although he occupied this post for only a relatively short time. In 1941 Germany invaded Belgium. On 23 December 1942, he issued a Decree transferring the office and the custody of the archive to Antonio de Sousa Fontes, Grand Prior of Portugal. On 11 April 1943, the day after very heavy bombardments on Martsel, Vanderberg died when the car he was driving left the road and plunged into a small river called “Veste van Berchem,” near Antwerp, but, not being able to swim, he drowned. Vandenberg was buried at Mechelen. Unique documentation regarding his membership of the Order remains in the procession of his descendants.

Vandenberg’s main focus was to re-establish unity, in particular with priories in Italy, Portugal and Switzerland. The International Order became a confederation of Autonomous Grand Priories, known as OSMTH. To ensure Templar survival, Vandenberg made a temporary transfer of the archives to the care of the Portuguese Prior, Antonio Pinto de Sousa Fontes. It is often said that, once the war ended in 1945, de Sousa Fontes refused to return the archives. This cannot be the case, since Vandenberg died in 1943. After the sudden death of Vanderberg, de Sousa Fontes assumed the title of Regent. The International Order (OSMTH) became divided. Some Priories rejected De Sousa Fontes’ leadership. Two years later the Regent issued updated Statutes, in which he described the Order as being “traditionally Catholic, chivalric, cosmopolitan, independent and conservative.” In 1948 De Sousa Fontes designated his son, Dom Fernando de Sousa Fontes as his successor.

Crolian William Edelen (1920 - 2006)
Crolian William Edelen (1920 – 2006)

On 15 February 1960 De Sousa Fontes died. His son, Fernando de Sousa Fontes, succeeded him, assuming the title of Prince Regent. In the meantime, the Grand Prior of Switzerland, Anton Leuprecht, had been receiving Americans into the Swiss Grand Priory. As more Americans joined the Order, an American Grand Priory was formed. One of them was Crolian William Edelen. He was educated at the University of North Carolina, and was with Signal Intelligence in the India-Burma theatre of World War II. His actively pursued memberships numerous Orders. From 1966 until 1976, under the royal protection of the former King Peter II of Yugoslavia, he was Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta. As Emeritus remained a member of the Supreme Council. Formerly he had been Grand Prior of the U.S. Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, and held the Grand Cross from the autonomous Priory of Switzerland and from the Regent in Operto, Portugal. The Corporate Charter for the American Grand Priory was signed on 4 June 1962 by Edelen, William Y. Pryor, Herschel S. Murphy, Warren S. Hall, Jr., John D. Leet, Lawrence Stratton and George J. Deyo. The Grand Priory was incorporated in the State of New Jersey on 29 June. Edelen was chosen the first Grand Prior. The Prince Regent recognized the Autonomous Grand Priory of the United States (SMOTJ-GPUSA). In April 1964 the former king Peter II, became the Royal Patron of the American Grand Priory. He remained in this office until his death on 3 November 1970.

The International Order continued to have problems. In 1970 the De Sousa Fontes called together a Convent General of the Order to meet in three sessions: Paris, Chicago and Tomar, Portugal. Resolutions were passed that recognized the Order as “universal and not limited to any one nationality or Language”, and that the Order “shall be a Christian Order”. These efforts did not bring back unity to OSMTH.

Dom Fernando Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes, The Grand Master of the OSMTH
Dom Fernando Pinto Pereira de Sousa Fontes, The Grand Master of the OSMTH

With increasing opposition from European Grand Priories, De Sousa Fontes turned to the American Grand Priory, appointing members to the Grand Magistry. The situation remained calm until 1993 when de Fontes revised the Statutes so that he could become the “Grand Master”, a title his father previously assumed. Again the Prince Regent called a Convent General to meet in three sessions. At the first session in Santiago, Spain, the revised Statutes were presented, but no decisions were made. The final session held in London. In 1995, a proposed agenda, calling for basic reforms, was sent to De Sousa Fontes, now calling himself Grand Master. De Sousa Fontes cancelled the session. In reaction, the British Grand Prior, Major-General Sir Roy RedgraveKBE MC (16 September 1925 – 3 July 2011) called for an International Conclave, to explain his objections and concerns. At its meeting in June 1995 a list of reforms were drawn up to be presented to De Sousa Fontes. The Grand Priors agreed to meet in Salzburg, Austria on 3 November 1995 to receive the response. Besides the fate of De Sousa Fontes, during the Salzburg meetings, the future structure of the Order and its administration was discussed. On 2 November 2 1996, a document, known as the “Coordinated Statutes of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani” was adopted, stating the goals and structure of the Order as an international confederation of Autonomous Grand Priories. The separation from De Sousa Fontes was settled in New Orleans in 1999, where the Grand Magistral Council approved a previously drawn up Statement of Separation. A Grand Council of Grand Priors was formed to govern the Order, since the office of Grand Master was considered vacant (Source: personal notes from the archives of Sir Roy Redgrave – June 5, 2003). The current Order is therefore structured as a federation.

Conclusions and recommendations

OSMTH’s charitable works are of great importance to society. Therefore, it is essential to preserve a solid foundation of this internationally operating organisation. Despite OSMTH’s general disclaimer that it does not claim a direct heritage to the medieval Knights Templar, its aims, symbols and rites are obviously patterned after the medieval Order. The OSMTH can therefore best be described as a commemorative order. Nevertheless, in spite of these official disclaimers, other neo-templar groups insist that they have direct Templar origins.

The OSMTH cannot be seen as a self-styled or pseudo-order, as its direct predecessor (the Order of the Temple) was approved by Napoleon Bonaparte, by imperial decree in 1807. On 13 June 1853, it was given recognition by Napoleon III.  In 1918, the Order was re-registered in France in accordance with French law. The Grandmaster De Sousa Fontes was the direct link with the Order that was founded by Fabré-Palaprat. In my opinion, it is therefore a legitimate commemorative order. Wikipedia’s description of the OSMTH is incorrect.

I recommend the following regarding the future development of the OSMTH.

  • OSMTH enjoys the Patronage of HH Princess zu Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg (princess consort to the current Head of the Ducal House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg) and the Religious Protection of His Beatitude the Most Blessed Theodosius, Metropolitan (ret.) of the United States and Canada. These patronages are interesting but they have no historical relevance and therefore do not add to the legitimacy of the Order. The OSMTH should seek the patronage of a member of the House of Bonaparte to confirm the continuity with the original Order of the Temple. The headship of this family is in dispute between Charles, Prince Napoléon, (1950) and his son Jean-Christophe, Prince Napoléon (1986). The only other male member of the family is Prince Jérôme Napoléon (1957). A descendant of Napoleon’s sister Caroline Bonaparte is the American actor and singer René Murat Auberjonois. There are also a number of descendants of Napoleon’s illegitimate, but recognized son Alexandre Colonna-Walewski from his relation with Marie Countess Walewski. DNA studies have also confirmed the existence of descendants (the Clovis family) of Lucien Bonaparte, who was detained at sea by the British when on his way into exile in America. His son, Louis-Lucien Bonaparte, was a comparative linguist and dialectologist, and was born in England.
  • Another very good option is to seek the patronage of the current chief of the House of Murat, a descendant of Joachim Murat (1767-1815), Marshall and Grand Admiral of France, prince of the Empire and of the imperial family, the Great Duke of Berg and Clèves, King of Naples and the Two Sicilies, member of the imperial family.
  • Electing a Grandmaster is in accordance with the traditions of the Order. Try to find an honorary (or second) Grandmaster with historical connections to the OSMTH. Legitimate honorary Grandmasters sould be related to the persons mentioned in this article.
  • Adequately conserve the archives of the Order, by making a professional description of its content and then make sure the archives are stored in a solid public library, such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France (already containing important documents regarding the Order of the Temple) or the Library of Congress. Interesting documents can be found in city the archives Reims as well.
  • Use only one single website (instead of multiple local websites) to promote coherence and avoid confusion.

Appendix 1: Statement by the Vatican regarding the parchment of Chinon


Chinon, Diocese of Tours, 1308 August 17th-20th

Original document formed by a large parchment folio (700x580mm), initially provided with the hanging seals of the three papal legates who formed the special Apostolic Commission ad inquirendum appointed by Clement V: Brenger Frdol, Cardinal Priest of the titular church of the Most Holy Nereus and Achilleus and nephew of the pope, tienne de Suisy, cardinal priest of St. Cyriac in Therminis, Landolfo Brancacci, cardinal deacon of St. Angelo. In a reasonable state, even though there are some big violaceous stains, caused by bacterial attack. An authentic copy was enclosed to the original document, which is still kept in the Secret Vatican Archives, with the reference number Archivum Arcis Armarium D 218. ASV, Archivum Arcis, Arm. D 217.

The document contains the absolution Pope Clement V gave to the Grand Master of the Temple, friar Jacques de Molay and to the other heads of the Order, after they had shown to be repented and asked to be forgiven by the Church; after the formal abjuration, which is compelling for all those who were even only suspected of heretical crimes, the leading members of the Templar Order are reinstated in the Catholic Communion and readmitted to receive the sacraments. The document, which belongs to the first phase of the trial against the Templars, when Pope Clement V was still convinced to be able to guarantee the survival of the military-religious order, meets the apostolic need to remove the shame of excommunication from the warrior friars, caused by their previous denial of Jesus Christ when tortured by the French Inquisitor. As several contemporary sources confirm, the pope ascertained that Templars were involved in some serious forms of immorality and he planned a radical reform of the order to subsequently merge it into one body with the other important military-religious order of the Hospitallers. The Act of Chinon, which absolves the Templars, but does not discharge them, was the assumption required to carry out the reform, but it remained dead letter. The French monarchy reacted by triggering a true blackmail mechanism, which then urged Clement V to reach the ambiguous compromise ratified during the Council of Vienne in 1312: unable to oppose himself to the will of the King of France, Phillip the Fair, who imposed the elimination of the Templars, the pope removed the order from the reality of that period, without condemning or abolishing it, but isolating it in a sort of hibernation, thanks to a clever device of the canon law. After explicitly declaring that the trial did not prove the charge of heresy, Clement V suspended the Templar Order by means of a non definitive sentence, imposed by the necessity to avoid a serious danger to the Church that banned them, under penalty of excommunication, to use such name or their distinctive symbols.

Appendix 2: Grandmasters OSMTH and its predecessors

1804-1839  Bernard Fabre-Palaprat (Order of the Temple)
1839-1840  Sir William Sidney Smith
1840-1850  Edward VII, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India – George V., King of Hanover
1850  Narcisse Valleray (Regent)
1866  A.G.M. Vernois (Regent)
1892  Joséphin Péladan (Regent)
1894  Secretariat International des Templiers
1934  Conseil de Regence – Joseph Vandenberg (Ordo Supremus Miltaris Templi Heirosolimytani)
1935  Théodore Covias (Regent)
1935-1942  Emile Isaac (Vandenberg) (Regent)
1942-1960  Antonio de Sousa Fontes (Regent)
1960- 1999 Fernando de Sousa Fontes (Regent)

The current Grandmaster of the Order is Patrick E. Rea, Brigadier General – US Army (Ret.)

The relation between genealogical and judicial truth

At the Rootstech 2016 conference, American genealogist James Ison made an interesting remark regarding direct and indirect genealogical evidence. Ison is currently Manager of Strategy and Planning at the Family History Library, an important genealogical research facility in Salt Lake City. The library is operated by FamilySearch, the genealogical arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ison earned a Master’s Degree from George Washington University. He is recognized as an authority in the field of genealogy. Ison stated:

Direct evidence is awesome. A birth certificate will list the name of parents. It’s direct evidence. It answers a question. A marriage license will say what the bride’s maiden name is. A baptismal record will say the dates and the places of birth—just exactly what we want.


Indirect evidence is like a puzzle piece. You can’t answer any particular question just based upon this piece of evidence. You have to fit it together.

In cases where only indirect evidence is available, the Genealogical Proof Standard is helpful in establishing credible research. The Standard is based on a book written by mrs Christine Rose; Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. It includes five essential steps for accurate research:

  1. Reasonably exhaustive research has been completed.
  2. Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.
  3. The evidence is reliable and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted.
  4. Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.
  5. The conclusion has been soundly reasoned and coherently written.
Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne, original taken by Thomas Helsby in Santiago, January - February 1854
Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne, original taken by Thomas Helsby in Santiago, January – February 1854

Applying the Genealogical Proof Standard does not guarantee that the truth will prevail, but it serves accountability and transparency. In my opinion genealogical proof resembles Lakatos views on the concept of truth. Lakatos’ suggested that in science, a scientific theory should be seen as a succession of slightly different theories and experimental techniques. These theories all share a common hard core, called a research programme. The question of whether a theory is true of false is replaced by the question of whether a research programme is progressive or degenerating. A progressive research programme is characterized by growth and prediction of novel facts and more precise predictions. In contrast, a degenerative program is marked by a lack of growth and does not lead to novel predictions that are later verified (Imre Lakatos, Philosophical papers. Vol I: The methodology of scientific research programmes. I. Science – Philosophy 2. Mathematics – Philosophy. I. Title 11.). Genealogical research can also contain some of these characteristics. After establishing the basic facts (often in the form of a family tree), theories regarding missing facts can be based on indirect evidence. To a certain extend, they can be characterized as a prediction for finding direct evidence (e.g. a marriage certificate). If, for example, someone has lived and worked in England for all his life, it can be predicted that he has married in England and research regarding his marriage should not start in South America. A genealogical progressive research programme elaborates on certain basic findings and develops theories (in the form of predictions) about the missing information.

In some cases, genealogical evidence is used in legal matters. Legal evidence has a totally different character, in particular when court rulings are given. In such cases a progressive research programme can hardly be determined. The case ends in a decision in a relatively short period of time.

Judicial evidence

The judicial process can be seen as a a kind of black box, within which information from all kinds of sources is processed according to defined rules of evidence in order to produce a new form of truth: the ‘judicial truth’. This type of truth becomes, to a certain extent, simply one more competing version of truth. Like other versions, it can be accepted, refuted, celebrated or simply ignored. This is illustrated in two cases where genealogical evidence was essential for establishing judicial truth. In the first case, the evidence is in particular based on witness statements, with some degree of technical evidence. In the second case, conclusive evidence is given by a DNA-test.

The Tichborne case

The Tichborne case was a well-known legal dispute in Victorian England in the 1860s and 1870s. It concerned the claims by a man called Arthur Orton, later Thomas Castro, to be the missing heir to the Tichborne baronetcy. Orton failed to convince the courts, was convicted of perjury and served a long prison sentence.

Roger Charles Tichborne was born in Paris on 5 January 1829. He was raised mainly in France, although the Tichborne lands and fortune were based in Hampshire, England, where his uncle was the 8th baronet. As a result of his upbringing, Roger spoke English with a strong French accent.  At the age of 20, Roger joined the 6th Dragoon Guards in Dublin, but sold his commission three years later in 1852. In 1853, Roger’s father inherited the Tichborne baronetcy after the deaths of his two elder brothers. In the same year, Roger, now the heir to the Tichborne title and fortune, travelled to South America. In 1854, he boarded a ship, the Bella, bound for New York, but less than a week later, the Bella was lost at sea and Roger was declared dead in 1855. The Tichborne baronetcy was passed to Roger’s younger brother Alfred in 1862 when his father died. Alfred died only four years later, just months before the birth of his son, who inherited the title at birth in 1866.

Roger’s mother, Lady Henriette Tichborne, was devastated by the news of her son’s disappearance at sea. She remained hopeful that he had survived the shipwreck and sent out inquiries across the world as to his whereabouts. In November 1865, Australian solicitor William Gibbes sent Lady Tichborne a letter, informing her that a man, claiming to be her son, had contacted him. This man was a butcher from Wagga Wagga, calling himself Tom Castro. Although he was physically larger than Sir Roger, had lighter hair and spoke no French, these discrepancies did not bother Lady Tichborne, who had not seen her lost son for more than ten years.

After Lady Tichborne’s death in 1868, Orton was compelled to continue the pretence, as he needed the Tichborne inheritance to pay off his large debts. This led some of the Tichborne family to take him to court over his claim, beginning one of the most celebrated legal cases of the nineteenth century.

The first trial lasted almost a year, from 11 May 1871 to 5 March 1872. Tichborne v. Lushington was a civil trial to establish Orton’s claim to the Tichborne inheritance. Nearly one hundred people spoke in Orton’s defence, but the holes in his story soon became obvious, particularly his inability to speak French – Sir Roger’s childhood language.

Arthur Orton’s perjury trial, Regina v. Castro, began in 1873 and lasted over six months. This time a jury had to be convinced that Orton’s claim to be the lost Sir Roger Tichborne was false. Again, the evidence against Orton was damning, and in February 1874, he was convicted of two counts of perjury and sentenced to 14 years’ hard labour by Lord Chief Justice Sir Alexander Cockburn (source: State Library New South Wales).

An important issue was the degree of facial resemblance of Orton to the Tichborne family, which fact never has been fully explained. It may suggest that there was some kind of biological relation between Orton and the Tichborne family. In the University College London Galton Papers a document can be found, stating:

2225. [stamped in left margin]University College London Galton Papers 158/2M[end stamp] [underscore]MEMORANDUM We have had submitted to us, for Examination,[end underscore] enlarged authentic [italics]Photographs;[end italics] First, of Mr. Roger Tichborne, (date, 1854): Secondly, of the person claiming to be Sir Roger Tichborne, (date, 1874). [underscore]These Portraits have Geometrically Bisected[end underscore]: and the several divided sections we have ourselves affixed, interchanged, and transferred from one Portrait to another. [underscore]We are of Opinion that the Perfect Combination[end underscore] and Minute Correspondence of the several sections are [italics]bona fide[end italics] and unimpeachable, and fully justify the conclusion that [italics]one and the same person sat for each portrait.[end italics] Fredk. Snary, Photographer, [established, 1856] 26, Castle Street, Bristol. Louis Lowenthall, Photographer, [established, 1858] 14, N. Wine Street, Bristol. John Hayward, Print-Seller, [established, 1840] 1, Corn Street, Bristol. Frederick Bowden, Print-Seller, [established, 1850] 27, U. Arcade, Bristol. H. Gardiner, Ornamental Carver, [30 years] 28, Victoria Place, Clifton. T. Sherwood, Smith, Practical Surveyor and Land Agent [40 years] 30, Corn St. Bristol. [end]

The case however was finally solved by applying classic legal rules of evidence. There was no room for developing a research programme.

The Pringle of Stichill case

The law is a living construct. It develops with society, bringing new challenges and new opportunities into the courtroom. Currently, the law is changing rapidly as a result of the ongoing evolution of digital technology. In one specific field, that of evidence gathering for genealogical purposes, the Pringle of Stichill-case should be seen as a milestone case.

On 5 January 1683 Charles II granted the Baronetcy of Stichill (“the Baronetcy”) to Robert Pringle of Stichill “and the male heirs of his body”. The eighth baronet was Sir Norman Robert Pringle, who lived from 1871 to 1919. He married Florence Vaughan, who gave birth to Norman Hamilton Pringle (“Norman Hamilton”) and subsequently to two more sons, the first of which was Ronald Steuart Pringle (“Ronald Steuart”), who died in 1968. Norman Hamilton was enrolled without opposition as the ninth baronet. When he died in 1961 his son Sir Steuart Robert Pringle (“Sir Steuart”) was enrolled without opposition as the tenth baronet. Sir Steuart died in April 2013.

The two claimants in this matter are Sir Steuart’s son, Simon Robert Pringle (“Simon”), and Norman Murray Pringle (“Murray”), son of Ronald Steuart. Following Sir Steuart’s death, both Simon and Murray registered claims to succeed to the Baronetcy. Simon’s claim is made on the basis that, as Sir Steuart’s male heir, he is entitled to be enrolled as the 11th baronet. Murray, however, claims that Norman Hamilton was not the legitimate son of the eighth baronet and that accordingly the true ninth baronet was his late father, Ronald Steuart. Murray thus claims to be the true tenth baronet.

Murray’s claim relies upon DNA evidence obtained as part of “the Pringle Surname Project”. This was founded by Murray to determine the chieftainship of the clan Pringle, and the late Sir Steuart provided his DNA for the project. Expert opinion on the totality of the DNA evidence was that it provided “very strong support” for the view that the eighth baronet is grandfather to Murray but not Sir Steuart. Simon does not dispute the DNA evidence, but he raises four arguments as to why it should not be admitted on public policy grounds. By this reference the Board is required to advise Her Majesty as to (i) who is entitled to be entered on the Official Roll of the Baronetage as the Baronet of Pringle of Stichill and (ii) whether the DNA evidence should be admitted in order to determine the first question.

The Board finds that there is no legal ground for excluding the DNA evidence, which demonstrates to a high degree of probability that Norman Hamilton was not the son of the eighth baronet. The Board therefore concludes that (i) Simon is not the great grandson of the eighth baronet and is not the heir male of the first baronet; and (ii) Murray is the grandson of the eighth baronet and is, as the heir male of the first baronet, entitled to succeed to the Baronetcy (source: The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Privy Council Reference No 0079 of 2015).


The term ‘evidence’ is widely used in many different ways and in many different contexts. Genealogical evidence is often used for claims regarding the use of titles of nobility. Even when based on so-called ‘direct’ evidence, it is not certain whether these claims are true or not true, as the Pringle case shows. The concept of truth is the core of many philosophical discussions and it is my advice to be careful when claims of nobility or genealogy are either accepted, refuted, celebrated or simply ignored. In numerous cases regarding such claims, truth is no more and no less than a personal choice, often based on the assumption that written statements in official registers correspond with biological facts (see e.g. C.W. Delforterie, Liegen tegen de dominee: drie voorbeelden van het laten dopen van buitenechtelijke kinderen als zijnde tijdens een huwelijk verkregen / door C.W. Delforterie In: Liber Amicorum Jhr. Mr. C.C. van Valkenburg / [met een ten geleide van A. Snethlage en bijdr. van W.J. Kolff … et al.]. – ‘s-Gravenhage: Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, 1985. – P. 69-80: geneal. tab. Met lit. opg.). One thing is certain. Written statements cannot change biological/genealogical facts but such facts can change written statements.

Advice on buying manorial lordships


A very interesting document is available on the internet, called “Manorial Lordships and Statutory Declaration. A Cautionary Description“. On the first page it reads:

The principal interest lies in the paradox he explains – that the much used Statutory Declaration proves not that a vendor owns a manorial lordship, but rather that he probably does not.

Numerous manorial lords rely on a statutory declaration for proving that their manorial title is genuine. Does this mean that most of them actually cannot prove the ownership of the manorial title?


In the feudal system all legal and economic power belonged to the lord of the manor or king, who was supported economically from his land and from labour, goods, or coin from tenants under his authority.

In 1446 King Henry VI obtained parliamentary ratification of the many grants of land he had made to King's College of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Eton by a Consolidation Charter. The illumination of its opening letters, shown above, is a beautiful example of English 15th century art. In it the King kneels to offer his charter on the altar with the Cardinals, Bishops, Lords and Commons behind him.
In 1446 King Henry VI obtained parliamentary ratification of the many grants of land he had made to King’s College of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Eton by a Consolidation Charter. The illumination of its opening letters, shown above, is a beautiful example of English 15th century art. In it the King kneels to offer his charter on the altar with the Cardinals, Bishops, Lords and Commons behind him.

Feudal land tenure is the system by which land was held by tenants from their lords. Tenures were divided into free and unfree. Of the free tenures, the first was tenure in chivalry. The second form of free tenure was the spiritual tenure of bishops or monasteries. Their sole obligation was to pray for the souls of the granter and his heirs. In contrast to the free tenants, who’s services were always predetermined, the unfree tenure they were not. The unfree tenant never knew what he might be called to do for his lord. This uncertainty was later limited in a way that the tenant could not be ejected in breach of existing customs of the manor. The land was thus held according to the custom of the manor (written evidence from Dr Paul Stafford, Submission to the Justice Select Committee Inquiry into Manorial Rights). Court Rolls of the manor came to record the title of the tenants of the manor to their properties and the tenants were given a copy of the entry recording their title. A tenant who held land in this way was known as a copyholder (House of Commons Justice Committee, 2015).

The fundamental characteristic of the manorial system was economic. The peasants held land from the lord (French: seigneur) of an estate in return for fixed dues in kind, money, and services. An interesting question is that of the origin of the manorial organization; Roman or German origin. This question cannot be answered decisively because there is not sufficient evidence. Romanists state that during the decline of the Roman Empire, independent estates emerged. Germanists point to the likenesses of the manor to what can be seen as the ancient German system of landholding. It is now generally accepted that both German and Roman influences contributed to the development of the manorial system.

Manors were also judicial and administrative units with their own manorial courts, where lords were responsible for jurisprudence. Historically, landowners with significant holdings often retained ownership of any mines or minerals on the land even when it was sold on. In such cases they would own the land beneath the surface (known as ‘mines and minerals’) while another owner exercised the rights of the surface land. Landowners may also have specific rights relating to the surface of the land, for example, the rights to hunt, shoot or fish (written evidence from Christopher Jessel, author of “The Law of the Manor”, Submission to the Justice Select Committee Inquiry into Manorial Rights).

The manorial system was slowly replaced by money-based economies and other agricultural agreements. During the Tudor period many of the civil functions of the manor were removed. It led to a decline of the manorial system. Feudal tenures were formally abolished in 1660. In England, this led to the establishment of absolute property rights for big landowners, and to vociferous demands by Levellers (a political movement during the English Civil War; 1642–1651) and other radicals that copyholders — the majority of the peasantry — should receive equal security for their tenure. 


During the nineteenth century the holding of manor courts gradually came to an end, and in 1925 copyhold tenure formally ended in accordance with the Law of Property Acts, 1922 and 1924. Since then the holder was personally free and paid rent in lieu of services. The Manorial Documents Register was established in 1926 to record the location of documents and ensure that they could be traced if they were required for legal purposes. Some manorial courts continued to meet in the 20th century and technically courts can still meet, although they would have no real business to transact. Before the Land Registration Act 2002 it was possible for manors to be registered with HM Land Registry. Manorial incidents (the rights that a lord of the manor may exercise over other people’s land) lapsed on 12 October 2013 if they were not registered by then with HM Land Registry. Distinctive feudal remnants remain in the Isle of Man and in the Channel Islands (three distinct systems for Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney). The island of Sark was a remaining example of a feudal fief. Sark gave up being a feudal fife several years ago under EU pressure. Male primogeniture never applied to manorial or seignuer titles, as Sark has had a female Seignuer in its past. (see: Christine Alice Corcos, From Agnatic Succession to Absolute Primogeniture: The Shift to Equal Rights of Succession to Thrones and Titles in the Modern European Constitutional Monarchy, 2012 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1587, 2014).

Characteristics of Manorial Rights

Manorial rights are part of English property law (the law of acquisition, sharing and protection of valuable assets in England and Wales). As such they can be bought and sold as objects. Manorial Lordships can thus be transferred, conveyed or sold to other people. The lordship of the manor is simply the title by which the lord of the manor is known. In many cases the title may no longer have any land or rights attached to it. Because of its origin and lack of physical substance, it is known as an ‘incorporeal hereditament’. Incorporeal hereditament means ‘an interest having no physical existence’ (see: Walker vs Burton 2012, sub 47; UK Government, Practice guide 22, manors).

The brother of the late Princess Diana , Charles, Ninth Earl Spencer offered one of his many titles - that of Lord of Wimbledon - for sale at a public auction on June 26, 1996 as advertised in Financial Times on May 27, 1996:
The brother of the late Princess Diana , Charles, Ninth Earl Spencer offered one of his many titles – that of Lord of Wimbledon – for sale at a public auction on June 26, 1996 as advertised in Financial Times on May 27, 1996:

The Land Registry describes manorial rights as rights which were retained by lords of the manor when land became freehold. They can include rights to mines and some minerals, sporting rights such as hunting, shooting and fishing, and rights to hold fairs and markets. Manorial rights are “overriding rights” which may affect a property even if they had not previously been protected in the register maintained by the Land Registry.

Following the enactment of the 2002 Land Registration Act, which required manorial rights to be registered before 13 October 2013 if they were to be retained, more than 90,000 applications to enter a notice claiming manorial rights on properties in England and Wales had been made to the Land Registry prior to the deadline.

Lord of the Manor

Whoever owns the lordship of the manor is entitled to refer to themselves as lord of that manor, for example, Lord of the manor of Keswick (source: UK Government, Practice guide 22, manors). The right to use the term “Lord of the Manor of Keswick” should, in my opinion,  be seen as a legal custom right (to seek recognition that one is the owner of a specific manorial right) as it meets certain basic requirements in this respect (see e.g.: customary Law in Modern England, W. Jethro Brown, Columbia Law Review Vol. 5, No. 8 (Dec., 1905), pp. 571). The term can be seen as a synonym for ownership with a historical background. The term should not be seen as a titular dignity, but rather as a factual appellation, which – within the feudal social system – was used to describe the relationship between the Lord of the Manor in relation to his own tenants.

The vast majority of lordships belong to an individual or a trustee. A lordship might be held in a limited company, or a ‘corporation sole,’ such as the Lord Mayor and Corporation of the City of London, who are Lords of the King’s Manor, Southwark (source: Manorial Society of Great Britain, Advice on buying a manorial title).

Manorial lord and nobility

It is generally assumed that manorial titles are not titles of nobility. I tend to a more balanced view. In his book, The Constitutional History of England (Cambridge University Press, 1909 [1st Pub. 1908]), Professor F.W. Mailland notes:

Dark as is the early history of the manor, we can see that before the Conquest England is covered by what in all substantial points are manors, though the term manor is brought hither by the Normans. Furthermore, in the interests of peace and justice, the state insists that every landless man shall have a lord, who will produce him in court in case he be accused. Slowly the relation of man and lord extends itself, and everywhere it is connected with land. The king’s thanes then are coming to be the king’s military tenants in chief.

This description characterizes nobility. Shortly after the battle of Hastings in 1066, the invading Normans and their descendants replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England. William the Conqueror divided the land into manors which he gave to his Norman barons. The nobility of England were part of a single Norman culture and many had lands on both sides of the channel. Early Norman kings of England, as Dukes of Normandy, owed homage to the King of France for their land on the continent. The Norman barons were summoned by the king from time to time to a Royal Council where they would advise him. By the mid 13th century, these meetings would form the basis for the House of Lords (professor Marjorie Chibnall, The Normans).

Originally, only a noble could hold a manor (professor Marjorie Chibnall, The Normans).  Later, commoners could also own a manor. The current manorial lords may well be seen as a relic of the ancient Norman noble class.


It is essential to buy a manorial lordship from the legal owner. With Lordships, title is generally traced back 50 years or more (source: Manorial Society of Great Britain, Advice on buying a manorial title). Proof of ownership is sometimes found in family or estate documents like assents, probates, wills, mortgages and settlements. Statutory declarations (a written statement of fact that is signed in the presence of a solicitor) are another common way to prove legal ownership. In my opinion it is not correct to say that when a statutory declaration is used in combination with persuasive exhibits from secondary sources, the use of such a statutory declaration is rebutting evidence of the legal ownership of the manorial lordship. When ownership is disputed however, the presence of all deeds, correctly made up since 1189 is required. The absence of correct and complete sets of deeds requires Court approval to confirm ownership (Burton v Walker).

I therefore recommend to obtain a manorial title from a reputable company and consult a lawyer in advance.


  • Property Law Journal: 24 January 2011. Paul Stafford explains why those who hold a manorial title, or those who challenge it, must examine the foundations on which the particular title stands.
  • P. G. Vinogradoff, Villainage in England (1892, repr. 1968) and The Growth of the Manor (3d ed. 1920, repr. 1968)
  • N. S. B. Gras and E. C. Gras, The Economic and Social History of an English Village (1930, repr. 1969)
  • H. S. Bennett, Life on the English Manor (1937, repr. 1960)
  • M. Bloch, French Rural History (tr. 1966)
  • J. W. Thompson, Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages (2 vol., new ed. 1959) and Economic and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages (new ed. 1960).

Further reading



  • A spectacular example of a dispute over manorial rights comes from the recent and widely reported case of Burton v Walker. There are four decisions in Burton v Walker: the preliminary issue and substantive hearings before Adjudicators to the Land Registry; an appeal to the Chancery Division and a second appeal to the Court of Appeal. The references are REF 2007/1124 (Mr Edward Cousins, 14 May 2009); REF 2007/1124 (Mr Simon Brilliant, 10 Dec 2010); [2012] EWHC 978 (Ch), [2012] All ER (D) 131 (Mr Jeremy Cousins QC); and EWCA [2013] Civ 1228 (Mummery LJ giving the only substantive judgement).
  • Baxendale v Instow Parish Council (1982) Ch 14
  • Crown Estate Commissioners v Roberts (2008) EWHC 1302. The defendant claimed ownership as Lord Marcher of St Davids of historical rights in foreshores in Pembrokeshire. The claimants sought removal of his cautions against first registration.
  • Delacherois v Delacherois (1864) 11 HLC 62
  • Corpus Christi College Oxford -v- Gloucestershire County Council CA ([1983] QB 360)
  • Doe d Clayton Bart. v Williams (1843) 11 M&W 803
  • Re Holliday (1922) 2 Ch 698
  • Merttens v Hill (1901) 1 Ch 842
  • Morris v Smith and Paget (1585) Cro. Eliz. 38
  • Rooke v Lord Kensington (1856) 2 K & J 753
  • Simpson v Attorney General (1904) AC 476

Line of succession to the former throne of Germany

Heraldic Ring of Kaiser Wilhelm II with Royal Crown, Coat of Arms of Hohenzollern and The Prussian Order of The Black Eagle
Heraldic Ring of Kaiser Wilhelm II with Royal Crown, Coat of Arms of Hohenzollern and The Prussian Order of The Black Eagle.


The claims to the (combined) thrones of Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire are related to the Constitution of the German Empire (Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches) of 1871.  According to this constitution, the empire was a federally organised national state of 25 German states. The office of Bundespräsidium was held by the King of Prussia, who had the title of German Emperor.

The Wikipedia article about the line of succession of the former German throne reads:

The German Empire and Kingdom of Prussia were abolished in 1918. The current head of the former ruling House of Hohenzollern is Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia. The Law of Succession used is Agnatic Primogeniture.

The Telegraph of 26 December 2001  reads:

THE man (Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia) who has just won a legal victory to declare himself the head of Germany’s last ruling royal family says he is perfectly happy with life as a citizen of a republic.

Did the courts really rule in favour of Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia as being head of Germany’s last ruling family?

German law of succession to the throne

Wilhelm of Prussia, ex-crown prince, with the participation of former emperor Wilhelm II, named his second son – Louis-Ferdinand prince of Prussia (d. 1994) – as first heir (Vorerb).  After his death his eldest son (unborn in 1938) was to be the next heir (Nacherb), or, should that son not survive Louis Ferdinand, in his stead his eldest male offspring; in the absence of male issue his eldest brother (or in his stead his sons). The contract, however, made one exception to the rule on the succession of the next heir: any son or grandson of Louis-Ferdinand was ineligible to inherit if he were not the issue of a marriage made in accordance with the house laws of the house of Brandenburg-Prussia, or if he was in a marriage not in accordance with said laws (so-called ineligibility clause).

Legal disputes

This clause led to several legal disputes.

Crown of William II, Hohenzollern Castle Collection (photo Wiki Commons)
Crown of William II, Hohenzollern Castle Collection (photo Wiki Commons)

The legal question, which was a question of civil or private law, was whether the designation was valid, and the exclusion of unequally-married or -born offspring was valid. The matter decided was not “headship of the house” but inheritance of a certain estate; indeed, the term “head of  house” or some equivalent has not been decided.  The issue was a contract which set up a specific rule of transmission.  The court decided that the clause which Wilhelm had created in his testament was valid, because of the right to dispose of one’s estate. If Wilhelm had decided to impose a religious requirement, or a height requirement, or to leave his estate to his cat, the court might well have upheld it as well, because of the right to dispose of one’s estate without infringement of the personal rights of one’s offspring (see the important article of F. Velde, The Hohenzollern Succession Dispute, 1994-present).

The succession rules regarding the throne of Germany have ceased to exist when the Constitution of the German Reich (Die Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches), usually known as the Weimar Constitution (Weimarer Verfassung) came into effect. The constitution declared Germany to be a democratic parliamentary republic with a legislature elected under proportional representation and thus abolished the German Empire. Therefore, the courts of the German Federal Republic have no jurisdiction regarding the headship of the House of Hohenzollern. In the mentioned cases, the courts therefore never ruled regarding the headship. The media have not quite understood the rulings.


Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia was the third in succession to the throne of the German Empire, after his father, German Crown Prince William and elder brother Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. The monarchy was abolished in 1918. When Louis Ferdinand’s older brother Prince Wilhelm renounced his succession rights to marry a non-royal from the lesser nobility in 1933, Louis Ferdinand took his place as the second in the line of succession to the German throne after the Crown Prince. Louis Ferdinand married the Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia in 1938. The couple had four sons and three daughters. Their sons are listed below:

1. Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (9 February 1939 – 29 September 2015). Sons:

  • (a) Philip Kirill Prinz von Preußen (born 23 April 1968).
  • (b) Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Ferdinand Kirill (born 16 August 1979).
  • (c) Joachim Albrecht Bernhard Christian Ernst (born 26 June 1984).

2. Prince Michael of Prussia (22 March 1940 – 3 April 2014).

3. Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (25 August 1944 – 11 July 1977). Son:

  • (a) Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia (born 10 June 1976 Bremen).

4. Prince Christian-Sigismund of Prussia (born 14 March 1946). Son:

  • (a) Prince Christian Ludwig Michael Friedrich Ferdinand of Prussia (born 16 May 1986).

Louis Ferdinand’s two eldest sons (1) and (2) both renounced their succession rights in order to marry commoners. His third son, and heir-apparent, Prince Louis Ferdinand died in 1977 during military maneuvers. It is generally accepted that his one-year-old grandson Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia (3a, son of Prince Louis Ferdinand) became the new heir-apparent to the Prussian and German Imperial throne. According to these lines, Georg Friedrich became the pretender to the thrones and Head of the Hohenzollern family upon Louis Ferdinand’s death in 1994. However, a well-found alternative viewpoint is possible.

Since about 1.000 years, the Agnatic Primogeniture rules have been used to determine the succession of headship of the House of Hohenzollern. These rules do not have any legal binding in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1919. A “headship of the House of Hohenzollern” does not exist under German law. Renouncing the headship of a family or the claim to a non-existing entity (throne), therefore does not have any legal effect in Germany. The only legal fact that German law can determine is the fact that Philip Kirill Prince of Prussia (1a) is the oldest living relative in the male line of the last German emperor. If the head of the House Hohenzollern is, analogues to customary law, defined as the last living male relative according to German law, then Philip Kirill (1a) is – from an historical (dynastic) perspective – head of the House Hohenzollern. If the head of the House Hohenzollern is defined as the man who is selected as such by some members of the family (holding a certain authority), then Georg Friedrich (3a) is head of the House. The choice of definition is a personal one, not a legal one. Head of the House cannot mean a person who inherits or has a right of inheritance in the property of a family member following the latter’s death, since this can be anyone.

The legitimacy of modern knightly orders from a theological perspective

An early 14th-century German manuscript depicting a knight and his lady.
An early 14th-century German manuscript depicting a knight and his lady.

Remembering the past is an important theme in both the Old (e.g. Hebrews 13:2-3) and New Testament (e.g. John 14:26). I am working on a research project that will have a historical focus. In particular, I would like to focus on the history of a specific Christian knightly order from a practical theological (therefore empirical) perspective and examine to what extent its Christian traditions have survived the course of time. These religiously-based Catholic societies, originally established during the medieval crusades and mostly made up of confraternities of knights, were formed to protect the Christians against foreign aggression and persecution, especially against the Islamic conquests and Baltic Paganism in Easter Europe. The original features of these societies consisted of a combination of religious and military actions. Some of the Christian knightly order, in particular the Knights Hospitaller, also cared for the sick and poor.

Since 2007, I am working on a study that focuses on the legitimacy of modern Christian knightly orders. Such orders were originally characterized as orders, confraternities or societies of knights, often founded during or in inspiration of the original Roman Catholic military orders of the medieval crusades (circa 1099-1291). They were inspired by medieval notions of chivalry, being an ethos in which martial, aristocratic and Christian elements were fused together (Stair Sainty 2006; Keen: 2005). In modern days similar (mimic) orders have been established by monarchs (or their descendants) and governments with the purpose of bestowing honors on deserving individuals. Examples of ancient knightly orders that survived in modern times are the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George and the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus.

The legitimacy of Christian knightly orders is discussed heavily on the internet and in literature (Stair Sainty’s book of about 2000 pages focusses on the issue). The current study is inspired by a PhD thesis of Hoegen Dijkhof (2006), addressing the legitimacy of a number of knightly orders from a historical and legal perspective. In my study I will address the issue of legitimacy from a Christian perspective. A major and often overlooked problem is the definition of both the terms legitimate and knightly order. This aspect of the problem has been raised by Velde (1996).

Activities of modern knightly orders

Modern knightly orders have abandoned their original military mission and focus on spiritual and charity activities. Normally knightly orders demand of its members that the are living their lives as Christians and remain mindful of their obligations to undertake hospitaller assistance, as well as charitable and other good works. The Spanish Constantinian Order for example stresses that it is important for members to lead a life as “perfect” Christians:

Members of the Order are expected to live their lives as perfect Christians and contribute to the increase of religious principles both by action and example. They must be faithful to the traditional teachings of the Church and regularly participate in the solemn celebration of the Liturgy according to the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms and, when appropriate, the particular local forms (notably the Ambrosian, Latin-Byzantine or Mozarabic Rites).

Henri d'Orléans, aujourd'hui comte de Paris, duc de France et actuel chef de la maison royale de France, pose pour le photographe, le 10 juin 2002 au Sénat à Paris, avant un discours officiel qu'il doit donner au Sénat à l'occasion de la présentation de son livre : "La France à bout de bras". AFP PHOTO MEDHI FEDOUACH
The French branch of the Order of Saint Lazarus enjoys its official Temporal Protection from the Royal House of France. AFP PHOTO MEDHI FEDOUACH. Other branches of the Order enjoy the protection of the Duke de Borbon Parma and the Duke of Sevilla.

The hospitaller mission is also considered of great importance. The biggest and most effective knightly order (the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta or SMOM) has developed numerous projects in 120 countries of the world. The order organizes medical, social and humanitarian projects. The SMOM has 13,500 members, 80,000 permanent volunteers and qualified staff of 25,000 professionals, mostly medical personnel and paramedics (SMOM website, 2016). The SMOM’s relief organisation in South Africa, the Brotherhood of the Blessed Gerard, focusses on AIDS patients (mostly children) and runs a hospice in KwaZulu-Natal.

The historical foundations of the knightly orders and their current activities show that the Christian inspiration is one of the most important aspects and characteristic of Christian knightly orders. This inspiration is manifested by the hospitaller activities that Christian knightly orders promote. It is unthinkable that a modern Christian knightly order lacks Christ-inspired hospitaller activities.

The case study in my research will focus on the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, also known as Order of Saint Lazarus. The legitimacy of this Order has been heavily disputed by Stair Sainty (2006). Stair Sainty states:

The Order of Saint Lazarus, although it is to be complimented for its considerable charitable efforts (notably in Germany), need not pretend to an historical continuity to which its claims, at the very least, are unsubstantiated. Were it to assume the character of a private association, founded in 1910, to emulate the traditions of the ancient crusader Order, it could deflect much of the hostility it has attracted from those bodies which can be more properly characterized as Orders of Knighthood, founded by Papal Bull or Sovereign act or charter. Without such authority behind it, it is difficult to find any justification for this body’s claim to be considered an Order of Chivalry. Private individuals do not have the authority to form Orders, at least none that will be generally recognized.

It therefore serves as an interesting case study for the legitimacy of a knightly order from a Christian perspective.

Research questions

  • What is the background of the Order of Saint Lazarus and how did its history develop?
  • Which kind of goals are selected by the most well-known Christian knightly orders to help and support people who are in distress and which goals are specified amd implemented by the Order of Saint Lazarus?
  • Can the goals of the Order of Saint Lazarus and their implementations be considered effective?
  • To what extent is the Order of Saint Lazarus’ smart-strategy and its implementation of this strategy, Bible-based and therefore legitimate from a Christian perspective?

Literature Review

Adams, J.E. (1986). A Theology of Christian Counseling, More Than Redemption, Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Anderson, R.S. (2003). Spiritual Caregiving as Secular Sacrament, A Practical Theology for Professional Caregivers, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Baljon, J.M.S. (1900). Commentaar op het Evangelie van Mattheus. Groningen: J.B. Wolters

Bruggen, J. van (1993), Lucas. Het evangelie als voorgeschiedenis. Kampen: Uitgeverij Kok.

Bruggen, J. van (2004), Matteüs, Het evangelie voor Israël, Kampen: Kok.

Brotherhood of the Blessed Gerard (2008). Retrieved 15 January 2008 from

Grossheide, F.W. (1954). Het heilig evangelie volgens Mattheus. Kampen:   Uitgeversmaatschappij J.H. Kok

Hampton Keathley III, J. (1996), One Another’ commands of Scripture. Biblical Studies Press. Retrieved from .

Heitink, G. (1993). Praktische theologie, geschiedenis, theorie, handelingsvelden. Kok: Kampen

Hoegen Dijkhof, H.J., The legitimacy of Orders of St. John : a historical and legal analysis and case study of a para-religious phenomenon, 2006 Doctoral thesis, Leiden University.

Keen, M.H., Chivalry, Yale University Press, 2005

Klein, H. (2006), Das Lukasevangelium, übersetzt und erklärt, Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 2006

Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (2016a) website retrieved 10 July 2016

Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (2016b) website retrieved 10 July 2016

Stair Sainty, G., World Orders of Knighthood and Merit, 2006 Burkes Peerage.

Velde. F., Legitimacy and Orders of Knighthood, (retrieved 14 July 2016)

Watke, E. (1992). “Biblical Couseling Seminar Material”. Retreived on 21 July 2008 from

Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, website 2016)

Wierzbicka, A. (2001). What did Jesus Mean? Explaining the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables in Simple and Universal Human Concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Legal opinion: To what extend can the Hungarian title of “vitéz” be seen as a designation of nobility?

Order of Vitéz Breast Badge, bronze gilt, 57x36 mm, one side enameled, multipart construction, reverse with two clasps
Order of Vitéz Breast Badge, bronze gilt, 57×36 mm (photo:

Legal Question

The Order of Vitéz, founded in 1678, revived in 1920 by Hungarian Regent Horthy, and abolished by the Soviet-imposed Communist government of Hungary in 1946, has been an important symbol of Hungary’s historic commitment to independence and territorial integrity. It is often assumed that “the Regent had no powers to grant nobility, nor did he try” (e.g Wikipedia) and that therefore the title of vitéz cannot be seen as a title of nobility. Is this assumption correct?

The Order of Vitéz

This Hungarian Order was initially founded in 1678 by Count Imre Thököly de Késmárk, (1657-1705), a Hungarian nobleman, who lead a rebellion against Leopold I of Austria. This Holy Roman Emperor suspended the Constitution and placed Hungary under a Directorate headed by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. Thököly gathered behind him a force of disaffected Hungarians. This group was mainly composed of disbanded soldiers and peasants. Thököly’s followers were known as kuruc (crusaders). This  designation was also given to the followers of another rebel leader, György (George) Dózsa (1470-1514).

The Order of Vitézi was re-established (Prime Ministerial Decree number 6650 of 1920, 6650/1920 M.E. in Hungarian usage, included as paragraph no 77 in the land reform act, Law XXXVI of 1920) by His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary Miklós vitéz Horthy de Nagybánya. The Hungarian state was legally a kingdom, although it had no king. The Entente powers would not have tolerated any return of the Habsburgs. Horthy’s objective was to form an organization with strong national dedication in order to contribute to the stability of Hungary after the first world war. By 1943 about 14.000 vitéz designations were issued.

The treaty signed between the Soviet Union and Hungarian Government of National Unity in Moscow on 20 January 1945, included a list of organisations that were not allowed to be re-established under Soviet rule. The National Council of Vitéz, governing the Order, was placed on this list (Prime Ministerial Edict no. 1945/529).

The current Order of Vitézi, lead by HIRH Archduke Josef Arpád of Austria, is considered by the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry as the legitimate successor of the founder (HSH Miklós v. Horthy de Nagybánya) of the Knightly Order of Vitéz.

Title of vitéz

The word ‘vitéz‘ in late 19th and early 20th century Hungarian usage, meant ‘knight‘, or ‘hero‘. In the South Slavic languages; Bosnian, Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian and Macedonian, the word “vitez” literally means knight. In German, the title can be compared to “Ritter von” (Orden und Ehrenzeichen – Das Magazin für Sammler und Forscher, BDOS Jahrbuch 2003, p. 24). Therefore, the term “Vitézi Rend’ can be translated as ‘Order of Knights’. During Horthy’s reign, the title was recorded in official papers, for instance in birth, marriage or death certificates, and was usually written as ‘v.’ in front of the surname. In Hungary, the surname precedes the Christian name. In an honourable discharge document of a officer, the vitéz order is not mentioned as an award but as a title added to the name (Erik Naberhuis, The Hungarian Vitéz Order, 2005). Admission into the Order was accompanied by a land grant of 40 cadastral holds to an officer, 8 cadastral holds to other ranks based on need (1 cadastral hold = c. 1.43 acres). The honour of Vitéz was hereditary, and the grants (title, badge and land grant) were to be passed on by the recipient to his eldest son.

Hungarian law regarding noble titles

The knighting ceremony pictured above took place in 1929 in Székesfehervar, at the ruins of the original church where the early kings of Hungary were crowned and buried. The new vitéz’ were knighted with a sword, especially designed for the ceremony. This sword is now on display in the Military Museum of Hungary in Budapest.

Horthy was internationally recognised as His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary (and addressed as such by e.g. the United States).  He was head of state and appointed to administer the state because the monarch was absent. There are – next to Horthy’s vitéz order – other examples of regents who founded orders, such the Royal Guelphic Order (also known as the Hanoverian Guelphic Order) by George, Prince Regent in the name of his father King George III in 1815. In France, nobility and hereditary titles were abolished by the Revolutions of 1789 and 1848, but hereditary titles were restored by decree in 1852 and have not been abolished by any subsequent law. In order to grant noble titles it is not necessary to be a royal head of state. Therefore, theoretically, the President of the Republic could, in his capacity as head of state, create titles of nobility. The same counts for Horthy’s Hungary. It is not relevant that Horthy was not a king. He was head of state of a Kingdom.

In Hungarian law, Act IV of 1947 on the abolition of certain titles and ranks has abolished all Hungarian noble ranks and titles and prohibited their future bestowal. Article 1. § (1) of the Act declares annulment of the Hungarian aristocratic and noble ranks, such as duke, marquis, earl, baron, noble, primor, and primipilus (“lófő“). Article 3. § (1) prohibits the use of rank titles mentioned in 1. §. Furthermore, it explicitly forbids the use of the “vitéz” (“valiant”) title. § (2) prohibits the use of nobiliary particles, coats of arms, insignias or the use of any expressions referring to descent from a noble clan (“de genere“). § (3) forbids the use of honorifics referring to ranks or titles abolished by this Act, such as “főméltóságú” (His/Her Serene Highness), “nagyméltóságú” (His/Her Excellency), “kegyelmes” (His/Her Grace), “méltóságos” (The Honourable), “nagyságos” (The Worshipful), “tekintetes“, “nemzetesetc.

The Act of 1947 remains in force today, although it does not contain any explicit sanctions in case the law is not observed. Act I of 2010 on the Civil Registry Procedure prohibits the registration of titles and ranks which would be contrary to Act IV of 1947 [55. § (1a)]. The 1947 Act has survived two challenges before the Hungarian Constitutional Court (HCC) in 2008 [Decision 1161/B/2008] and in 2009 [Decision 988/B/2009]. The Court has held in the 2008 decision that the prohibition of ranks and titles is intended to guarantee the equality of Hungarian citizens, as any discrimination based on hereditary titles and ranks would be contrary to the values of a democratic state and society based on equality; the Act itself is based on a firm set of values that forms an integral part of the values deductible from the Constitution [specifically Article 70/A paragraph (1) of the Constitution of Hungary at that time (Act IV of 1949)]. In the 2009 decision the HCC has found that the 1947 Act is not contrary to human dignity (the petitioner had claimed that the right to bear a name, which is deductible from human dignity, had been infringed by the Act), as nobility titles did not form official parts of a name, and that the state had the right to decide what it accepts as part of name and what it does not. The HCC has also referenced these decisions following the entry into force of the Fundamental Law of Hungary (2011, replacing the previous Constitution) in a recent decision [27/2015 (VII. 21.)] (Ágoston Mohay – Norbert Tóth, What’s in a name? Equal treatment, Union citizens and national rules on names and titles, working paper, University of Pécs, 2016, p. 9).


Members of the Vitéz Order are addressed as “nemzetes úr/asszony”, in German: “Edler (-e) Herr/Dame”. Members with non-Hungarian names used to add the nobility suffix “-y” or “-i”.  The characteristics of the vitéz capacity (hereditary, estate-related, the touch on the vitéz‘ shoulders with the sword at the bestowing of his knighthood, the title/suffix, the registration as a title instead of award in official papers and the emblem) are in full accordance with a title of nobility as we know it in for example the United Kingdom. The Act IV of 1947 also places the title on the same level as the noble titles. It is therefore not correct to say that the vitéz title is not a title of nobility. In the context of the mentioned Act, the history of the Order, its characteristics, and the recent Hungarian court decisions, the vitéz title should – from a historical perspective – be seen as a noble title. It is not recognized by the Hungarian state.


Legal opinion: Lines of succession to the former Russian Empire


The Russian Imperial Romanov family (Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five young children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei) were brutally murdered in Yekaterinburg on 17 July 1918. The Tsar, his family and some servants were shot, bayoneted and stabbed in a room of the “House of Special Purpose of the Ural Soviet Committee” by Bolshevik troops led by Yakov Yurovsky under the orders of the Ural Regional Soviet. Therefore, the last Tsar does not have any living descendants. There exist however, a number of claimants to the former Russian throne. In this article I will examine the legality of these claims.


St. George's Hall, Grand Kremlin Palace. President Vladimir Putin with Prince Dmitri Romanovich of Russia and his spouse at a state reception devoted to National Unity Day. (Source: Wikipedia)
St. George’s Hall, Grand Kremlin Palace. President Vladimir Putin with Prince Dmitri Romanovich of Russia and his spouse at a state reception devoted to National Unity Day. (Source: Wikipedia)

Since 1992, the Headship of the Imperial House of Russia has been claimed by two branches of the Romanov family: the Vladimirovichi Branch and the Nikolaevichi branch. The Vladimirovichi branch descends of Tsar Alexander II (1818-1881),  the successor son of Tsar Nicholas I. The Nikolaevichi branch descends from Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich of Russia (1831–1891), who was the third son and sixth child of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and Alexandra Feodorovna.

I. Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855) x Princess Charlotte of Prussia (1798-1860). Nicholas was born in Alexander Palace, Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, the eldest son of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia (formerly Princess Dagmar of Denmark). Emperor Alexander III was born on 10 March 1845 at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and succeeded this father Emperor Alexander II of Russia. Alexander II succeed Tsar Nicolas I, son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg.


II a. Tsar Alexander II (1818-1881) x Princess Marie of Hesse (1824-1880). Son: Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909) X Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1854-1920) -> Vladimirovichi branch

II b. Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1831-1891) x Princess Alexandra of Oldenburg (1838-1900) -> Nikolaevichi branch


Vladimirovichi branch(es)

I. Cyril (Kirill) Vladimirovich, (Кирилл Владимирович Рома́нов), born 12 October [O.S. 30 September] 1876 – deceased 12 October 1938), Grand Duke of Russia (assumed the Headship of the Imperial Family of Russia and, as next in line to the throne in 1924).

HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Pope Benedict XVI and Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (Source: Paul Gilbert).
HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Pope Benedict XVI and Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (Source: Paul Gilbert).

II a. Maria Kirillovna (1907–1951), eldest daughter of Kirill Vladimirovich (I). She was born in Coburg when her parents were in exile because their marriage had not been approved by Tsar Nicholas II. The family returned to Russia prior to World War I, but was forced to flee following the Russian Revolution of 1917.

III. Emich, 7th Prince of Leiningen (1926-1991), titular Prince of Leiningen from 1946 until his death, x Eilika of Oldenburg.

IV. Prince Karl Emich of Leiningen.

II b. Vladimir Cyrillovich, (Влади́мир Кири́ллович Рома́нов) born 30 August [O.S. 17 August] 1917 – 21 April 1992), claimed the Headship of the Imperial Family from 1938 to his death, Grand Duke of Russia (1938–1992).

III. Maria Vladimirovna (Мари́я Влади́мировна Рома́нова), born 23 December 1953 in Madrid), has been a claimant to the headship of the Imperial Family since 1992 Grand Duchess of Russia (1992–present).

IV. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia

Nikolaevichi branch

I. Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia (1992–2014)

II. Prince Dimitri Romanovich of Russia (2014–present)

III. Prince Andrew Andreevich (born 1923)

 Applicable law

Karl Emich of Leiningen signs an address to Vladimir Putin aksing permission to assign a land in Ekaterinburg for creation of the Sovereign State Imperial See (Source: Wikipedia).
HSH Karl Emich Prince of Leiningen signs an address to Vladimir Putin aksing permission to assign a land in Ekaterinburg for creation of the Sovereign State Imperial See (Source: Wikipedia).

The Russian laws governing membership in the imperial house, succession to the throne and other dynastic subjects are contained in the Fundamental State Laws of the Russian Empire and the Statute of the Imperial Family (codification of 1906, as amended through 1911). These laws, referred to collectively as “the succession laws” in this essay, are sometimes described as “the Pauline law”, because their original version was promulgated in 1797 by Emperor Paul I.

At the present time, not one of the Emperors or Grand Dukes of Russia has left living descendants with unchallengeable rights to the Throne of Russia. When marrying a foreigner of Equal Rank, or member of a Reigning Family, family members were obliged to renounce their and their issue’s rights to the succession to the Throne of Russia.

Since 1917 the Russian Empire and its laws regarding social classes ceased to exist (Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars, Decree on the Abolition of Social Estates and Civil Ranks, 10 November  1917):

  1. All classes and class divisions of citizens, class privileges and disabilities, class organizations and institutions which have until now existed in Russia, as well as all civil ranks, are abolished.
  2. All designations (as merchant, nobleman, burgher, peasant, etc.), titles (as Prince, Count, etc.), and distinctions of civil ranks (Privy, State, and other Councilors), are abolished, and one common designation is established for all the population of Russia-citizen of the Russian Republic.
  3. The properties of the noblemen’s class institutions are hereby transferred to corresponding Zemstvo self-governing bodies.
  4. The properties of merchants’ and burghers’ associations are hereby placed at the disposal of corresponding municipal bodies.
  5. All class institutions, transactions, and archives are hereby transferred to the jurisdiction of corresponding municipal and Zemstvo bodies.
  6. All corresponding clauses of the laws which have existed until now are abolished.
  7. This decree becomes effective from the day of its publication, and is to be immediately put into effect, by the local Soviets of Workmen’s, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies.


In addition to the abolishment of the public laws regarding social classes, none of the current Romanov family members has unchallengeable rights to the Throne of Russia according to the Pauline Laws. Therefore the headship of the House of Romanov remains a political matter that cannot be determined from a legal perspective. The only authority that can restore the rights to the Russian throne is the Russian Federation. In my opinion, the imperial nobility and the titles it awarded may theoretically remain valid but for the Russian Federation they are quasi foreign.



Adellijke titels en het Nederlandse strafrecht

Wapen van Franz Arnold von Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht, Fürstbischof van Paderborn en Münster, op de St. Josephskirche in Delbrück-Westenholz - foto: Daniel Brockpähler
Wapen van Franz Arnold von Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht, Fürstbischof van Paderborn en Münster, op de St. Josephskerk in Delbrück-Westenholz – foto: Daniel Brockpähler

Oorspronkelijk was het bij de invoering van de Wet op de adeldom de bedoeling om de regels over verwerving van adeldom door afstamming te codificeren zonder daarin enige verandering aan te brengen. Aan een historisch gegroeid instituut, dat zijn wortelen heeft in een traditie die juist ongelijkheid van mensen accentueert, moet men niet gaan sleutelen, aldus de mening van de toenmalige minister Dales. Maar het parlement wilde anders: door middel van amendementen werd bepaald dat ook door adoptie en dat door buiten huwelijk geboren kinderen adeldom kon worden verworven. Een amendement dat voorstelde om het mogelijk te maken, dat ook adellijke dames hun adel aan hun kinderen kunnen doorgeven werd echter verworpen. Een dergelijke mogelijkheid zou het aantal leden van de adel te sterk doen toenemen, zo vond het parlement destijds. Wat hieraan zo erg is, wordt niet duidelijk. Deze kinderachtige opstelling kreeg jaren later een merkwaardig gevolg.

Op 8 juli 2011 veroordeelde de kantonrechter in Maastricht een zoon van een tot de Nederlandse adel behorende adelijke gravin Wolff Metternich tot een geldboete van € 300, subsidiair zes dagen hechtenis voorwaardelijk met een proeftijd van twee jaren. De moeder voerde rechtmatig de titel ‘gravin’ en de zoon verkreeg bij Koninklijk Besluit de naam van de moeder, maar de minister weigerde de titel ook in te schrijven in de filiatieregisters. De rechter vond dat art. 435 Sr. was overtreden:

Artikel 435. Met geldboete van de tweede categorie wordt gestraft: 1 hij die zonder daartoe gerechtigd te zijn een Nederlandse adellijke titel voert of een Nederlands ordeteken draagt; (…)

Het betrof een oude familie die bij besluit van Keizer Ferdinand II van 21 januari 1637 (in de persoon van Johann Adolf von Wolff Mettemich) werd verheven tot baron van het Heilige Roomse Rijk der Duitse Natie. Bij besluit van Keizer Karel VI van 17 mei 1731 werd Franz Joseph von Wolff-Metternich zur Gracht verheven tot graaf van het Heilige Roomse Rijk der Duitse Natie. Bij KB van 8 april 1884 werd Levin Max Paul Maria Hubert graaf Wolff-Mettemich (tak uitgestorven in 1972) en bij KB van 10 december 1925 werd Hermann Joseph Ferdinand Aloysius Hubertus Maria Anna graaf Wolff-Metternich ingelijfd in de Nederlandse adel met de titel van graaf en gravin voor al hun wettige nakomelingen. De laatste van dit Nederlandse adellijke geslacht is Eugenie Maria Mechtildis Huberta Theodora Thaddeus gravin Wolff Metternich (1923). Dat een (biologische) nakomeling-naamsdrager wel beboet kan worden en een geadopteerd kind niet, bewijst dat het Nederlandse systeem eerder een historisch gedrocht is geworden dan een historisch instituut is gebleven.

In het boek van E.J. Wolleswinkel over het Nederlandse adelsrecht en in het betreffende jaarverslag van de Hoge Raad van Adel wordt beweerd dat de zoon de titel ‘graaf ‘ voerde. Dit is een bewuste onwaarheid omdat de heer Wolleswinkel bij de behandeling van de zaak gezapig achterin de zaal zat te genieten en dus goed van de feiten op de hoogte is. In de uitspraak is expliciet de titel ‘Graaf ‘ opgenomen, zoals de zoon ook expres voerde om geen verwarring te laten ontstaan. Dit lijkt op het eerste gezicht irrelevant, maar de schijn bedriegt. ‘Graaf’  met een hoofdletter is immers een Belgische adellijke titel en een Nederlandse voornaam. De Nederlandse adellijke titel ‘graaf’ wordt met een kleine letter geschreven. Dit verschil wordt in het rode boekje altijd gemaakt. De rechter heeft dus in al zijn onnozelheid iemand bestraft die een Belgische adellijke titel in Nederland voerde, terwijl de wet alleen het wederrechtelijk voeren van een Nederlandse adellijke titel strafbaar stelt. Door J.W. Fokkens en A.J. Machielse is het verbod van art. 435 WvSr in het standaardwerk van Noyon, Langemeijer en Remmelink als volgt samengevat: “Reeds het voeren van een Nederlandse adellijke titel op zich zelf zou voldoende moeten zijn, tenzij er nochtans aanwijzingen zijn, dat men een buitenlandse titel voert, hetgeen dus met de in meer talen voorkomende titel baron het geval kan zijn (…)”. Bovendien is het voeren van “Graaf” als Nederlandse voornaam natuurlijk ook niet strafbaar. Een totale misslag dus van een rechter die er niks van snapte. Door Wolleswinkel is deze misslag op een goedkope manier verdraaid, nota bene in een proefschrift. Dit doet niet alleen ernstig afbreuk aan zijn wetenschappelijke en ambtelijke integriteit, maar ook aan zijn deskundigheid.


King of Arms of the Royal House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies

December 2013 – Duke and Duchess of Castro received by Pope Francis at the Vatican

A King of Arms is a principal herald. Originally, a herald is an officer in medieval Europe charged with carrying messages to and from the commanders of opposing armies. In the late 14th century the authority of the heralds was expanded. When the crown ceased to grant arms directly, its powers were delegated to the heralds as commissioners, with authority to issue letters patent. In modern times, a herald is a professional authority on armorial history and genealogy. Heralds in Europe generally record arms and pedigrees, grant arms, take part in high ceremonial, and settle matters of precedence.

The Kingdom of Sicily did not have actual heralds (to grant coats of arms) in recent times, but rather a Commission for Titles of Nobility based in Naples until 1861.

Seal of the King of Arms of the Royal House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies
Seal of the King of Arms of the Royal House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies

This Royal Commission was established by royal decree of 23 March 1833. By law of 26 April 1848 the responsibility for the Royal Commission was attributed to the ministry of the presidency of the Royal Council. By royal prescript issued by the Minister and royal secretary of state of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of 29 July 1853 it was determined that the Royal Commission was competent to determine, so as to remove all doubt, who among the nearest relatives was eligible to aspire to the succession to a noble title. Therefore, the Royal Commission concerned itself with administration of certain nobiliary institutions and recognition of titles of nobility, with little regulation of armorial heraldry (coats of arms). See also J. Debrett,  A Collection Of State Papers: Relative To The War Against France Now Carrying On By Great-britain And The Several Other European Powers, London 1794.


Fernando Muñoz Altea is the current King of Arms of the Royal House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. He is a Spanish/Mexican historian, specialised in the study of the aristocratic Spanish colonial families of the Americas. Muñoz Altea is born in Madrid (Spain) on 22 November 1925.

Fernando Muñoz Altea (left) with the Duke and Duchess of Castro.

Muñoz Altea was introduced to the study of heraldry, genealogy and nobility by Don José de Rújula y Ochotorena, Marqués de Ciadoncha, King of Arms of Spain’s king Alfonso XIII, Dean of the Corps of Chronicler King of Arms (Cuerpo de Cronista Rey de Armas), and by Don Julio de Atienza y Navajas, Barón de Cobos de Belchite, author of the well-known work “Nobiliario Español”. Both became his mentors and friends. On 10 November 1962 Muñoz Altea was appointed King of Arms of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies by HRH Prince Ranieri, Duke of Castro, Head of the Royal House. The Kingdom of Sicily did not have actual heralds (to grant coats of arms and issue certificates of nobility) in recent times, but rather a Commission for Titles of Nobility based in Naples until 1861. This commission concerned itself with the administration of certain nobiliary institutions, recognition of titles of nobility and heraldry. The appointment of the King of Arms continues this tradition. Certifications of arms and certificates of nobility issued by Muñoz Altea’s office in the name of the Royal House are, in effect, documents of a dynastic nature.

 Fernando Muñoz Altea (r) and the Queen consort of Spain
Fernando Muñoz Altea (r) and the Queen consort of Spain

The King of Arms of the Royal House of the Two Sicilies is the supreme officer of honour and counsel to the sovereign in all matters of armorial, genealogical, and nobility. He represents the Royal family in these matters. He does not have a governmental position but has the status of Private Officer of Arms.

In addition to his office as King of Arms, Muñoz Altea is delegate of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (Italian: Sacro militare ordine costantiniano di San Giorgio) being a Roman Catholic dynastic order of knighthood founded 1520-1545 by two brothers belonging to the Angeli Comneni family. The order is currently bestowed by the former royal House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies as heirs of the Farnese.

Historical work

Muñoz Altea is the author of several books, among them, the biographies of the 64 Viceroys of Mexico, The House of Los Pinos History (the Presidencial Residence of Mexico), the biographies of the Signers of the Independence Act, Los Virreyes de la Nueva España.

Fernando Muñoz Altea, signing a copy of Blasones y Apellidos.
Fernando Muñoz Altea, signing a copy of Blasones y Apellidos.

Muñoz Altea is also the author of Perfiles genealógico-biográficos and Blasones y Apellidos, first and second edition. first published his work which included approximately 250 last names. The books sold out in 10 days. The goal of its republication in 2016 is to preserve the original work and subsequent extensive investigation. The remastered three boxed set includes more than 750 names, genealogy, origin, code of arms, heraldry of Spanish, English, Italian and French settlers in Spain and Latin America. Muñoz Altea has also ordered and cataloged several historic archives of many municipalities in Spain. He is recognized as an important historian and one of the main genealogist in both Spain and Latin America.


  • 1951 Degree in History Hermanos Maristas de Madrid
  • Appointed Chronicler King of Arms of the Royal House of Borbon Two Sicilies since 1962
  • Commander with plaque of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George, delegate for Mexico
  • Grand Officer of The Order of the Star of Ethiopia
  • Heraldic Advisor to the Cuban Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
  • Knight of the Mexican Legion of Honor (Condecoración de la Legión de Honor Mexicano)  in the eminent grade
  • Consultant for the Mexican Mint House, Numismatic Division, for the commemorative emission of “Coins of the Federation” (2003)
  • President “Ad Vitam” and founder of the Mexican Academy for Genealogic and Heraldic Studies



I also published this article on Wikipedia.

Legal Opinion: The Fons Honorum of the House of Paternò Castello

Antonino Paternò Castello, Marquis di San Giuliano (Catania, 9 December 1852 - Rome, 16 October 1914), Italian diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Antonino Paternò Castello, Marquis di San Giuliano (Catania, 9 December 1852 – Rome, 16 October 1914), Italian diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

1. Introduction

It may be safely said that the legitimate claimants to the headship of formerly reigning families can continue the prerogative to award their dynastic Orders and, to the extent that the last constitutions of those particular monarchies so permitted, enjoy the right to create or confirm titles of nobility. From a historical point of view, such creations should be in accordance with the legal requirements established before the fall of the monarchy. This may be a problem because it may not always be possible for a head of a dynasty to comply with the precise requirements of the dynastic law. The disappearance of an historic office or position however, is a fact that does not stand in the way of exercising the ancient dynastic rights, since these rights are connected to a specific family. To the extent that it is possible and practical, such requirements should be met and the various acts properly recorded (see for example: W.H. Jones, Granting of Orders and Titles by H.M. King Kigeli V of Rwanda) in order to make the awards of Orders and titles in accordance with its historical origin and therefore acceptable.

This article examines the Sovereign right (fount of honour or in Latin: fons honorum) to grant noble titles (see appendix) and create and administrate dynastic orders of three members of the well known Sicilian House of Paternò Castello, more in particular of prince Roberto II Paternò Castello and his two sons, the princes Francesco and Thorbjorn Paternò Castello. The House of Paternò claims dynastic rights regarding the ancient kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia. In an earlier article I studied what is meant by a person having the fons honorum to grant e.g. titles. The research question of this article is: to what extend do Roberto II Paternò Castello and his two sons have the right to grand titles of nobility and the right to administer dynastic knightly orders? My approach will be to examine the relevant documents and literature and to answer the question from both a historical (legitimate) and legal point of view.

2. Family background

The House of Paternò Castello is among the most prominent historical families of Italy. Over the course of the centuries the family held more than 170 main fiefs. The Paternò family were Peers of the Realm in Sicily until 1860, when the Kingdom of Sicily was annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia to form the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Since the beginning of the 18th century members of the family possessed five hereditary seats in the Sicilian Parliament.

Palazzo Biscari, a private palace in Catania, Sicily, was built by will of the Paternò Castello family, the princes of Biscari, starting from the late 17th century, lasting for much of the following century.
Palazzo Biscari, a private palace in Catania, Sicily, was built by will of the Paternò Castello family, the princes of Biscari, starting from the late 17th century, lasting for much of the following century.

The House of Paternò traces its origins to Prince Robert of Embrun and to the Sovereign House of Barcelona and Provence. The family arrived in Sicily in 1060 as part of the entourage of King Roger, seizing the castle of Paternò and assumed its name. The family obtained numerous honors and titles of nobility (see: Libro d’oro della nobiltà italiana). Amongst the principal titles of nobility held by the house of Paternò are: Princes of Biscari, Sperlinga (1627), Manganelli, Val di Savoja e Castelforte (1633); Dukes of Carcaci (1723), Furnari (1643), Giampaolo, Palazzo (1687), Paternò, Pozzomauro e San Nicola; Marquises of Capizzi (1633), Casanova, Desera (1806), Manchi, Regiovanni, Roccaromana, San Giuliano (1662), Sessa, del Toscano; Counts of Montecupo (1772); Barons of Aliminusa, Aragona, Spedolotto Alzacuda, Baglia e Dogana di Milazzo, Baldi, Belmonte, Bicocca, Bidani, Biscari, Burgio, Capizzi, Castania e Saline di Nicosia, Cuba, Cuchara, Cugno, Donnafugata, Ficarazzi, Gallitano, Gatta, Graneri, Imbaccari e Mirabella, Intorrella, Manchi di Bilici, Mandrile, Manganelli di Catania, Marianopoli, Mercato di Toscanello, Metà dei Terraggi di Licata, Mirabella, Motta Camastra, Murgo, Nicchiara, Officio di Mastro Notaro della Corte Capitaniale di Catania, Oxina, Placabaiana, Poiura, Porta di Randazzo, Pollicarini, Pozzo di Gotto, Raddusa e Destri, Ramione, Ricalcaccia, Salamone, Salsetta, San Giuliano, San Giuseppe, Sant’ Alessio, Scala, Schiso, Sciortavilla, Solazzi, Sparacogna, Spedalotto, Terza Parte della Dogana di Catania, Toscano; Lords of Baglio, Collabascia, Erbageria, Gallizzi, Mandrascate, Sciari, Sigona, del jus luendi of Camopetro (see: Libro d’oro della nobiltà italiana and

3. Criticism

The fons honorum of the House of Paternò is heavily challenged by Guy Stair Sainty, stating that as a junior member of a junior branch of the family don Roberto has no right to claim any prerogative pertaining to its chief, whether or not such prerogative actually exists (Guy Stair Sainty and Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, World Orders of Knighthood and Merit 2006).

In 1973 Lt Col Robert Gayre published a booklet in which he states that “certain observations should be made which, in our opinion, destroy completely these historical claims. The Papal legitimation which is brought forward to allow the desired descent was, in itself, insufficient to transfer any title to the Crown of Aragon. Furthermore, as Aragon dit not have the Salic law, the descent of  the crown could pass through a female line. Consequently, even if the legitimization had put Don Pedro Sancho into the line of succession, that succession would have gone through a female line on the extinction of the male descent – and so to the house of Paternò would have been out of succession in any case.”. (…) It is clear that no matter how distinguished is the house Paternò, it cannot claim to be the heirs of the Kingdom of the Balearic Isles or of Aragon.” (Lt Col R. Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, A Glimpse of the Chivalric and Nobiliary Underworld, Lochore Enterprises (Malta) Ltd. Valetta, Malta, pp. 27-28).

Therefore, the question arises if the Paternò claims can be taken seriously (both legitimate and legal).

4. Legitimacy of the claims

The Crown of Aragon became part of the Spanish monarchy after the Marriage of Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469. This dynastic union laid the foundations for the kingdom of Spain. It is considered a de facto unification of both kingdoms under a common monarch. The Decretos de Nueva Planta (promulgated between 1707 and 1715) ended the kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia and Mallorca and the Principality of Catalonia, and merged them with Castile to officially form the Spanish kingdom (I. Ruiz Rodríguez, Apuntes de historia del derecho y de las instituciones españolas, Dykinson, Madrid, 2005, p. 179; Albareda Salvadó, Joaquim, (2010). La Guerra de Sucesión de España (1700-1714). Barcelona: Crítica. pp. 228–229. ISBN 978-84-9892-060-4). The Decretos de Nueva Planta were a number of decrees issued between 1707 and 1716 by Philip V, king of Spain (grandson of Louis XIV, during and shortly after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession by the Treaties of Utrecht (1713-1714). An important document in this respect is the will of James I.

Recognitions of the claims

At the end of the 18th Century, Ignazio Vincenzo Paternò Castello, prince of Biscari, a man who took a deep interest in history (see: Giuseppe Guzzetta, Per la gloria di Catania: Ignazio Paternò Castello Principe di Biscari), , made a visit to the Balearic Islands. The notes he made during this visit were the basis of the investigations of Francesco, duke of Caraci, in the succeeding century. The events that followed are described by the website as followed (documents retrieved from

A family conclave, on the initiative of the Duke of Carcaci Don Francesco Paternó Castello e Sammartino, was called on the 14th of June 1853, and held in Palermo in the palace of the Marchese di Spedalotto, head of one of the more senior branches of the family. After a review of the relevant evidence and a wide-ranging discussion, it was the finding of the conclave that the royal rights, which had been the subject of the debate, should be confirmed as belonging to Don Mario, son of the Duke of Carcaci’s younger brother Don Giovanni and his wife Donna Eleonora Guttadauro of Emmanuel Riburdone, the heiress of the House of Guttadauro. This conclusion which had in fact already received the assent of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (in whose realm they resided), subject to ratification by the conclave, was reached on the recognition that Don Mario alone had the royal blood of Aragon in his veins from two sources, through the separate descents of both his mother and his father from King James the Conqueror. A family pact was then signed, registered on 16 June 1853 and sealed in the Chamber of Seals and Royal Registers of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was decreed that during the minority of Don Mario, his father Don Giovanni should be Regent.

Important documents in this respect are the book “L’Ordine del Collare” by the 7th duke of Carcaci, Don Francesco Maria Giuseppe (1786–1854), 1849/51; the funeral eulogy for the 7th duke of Carcaci,  by Francesco Tornabene, 1854; the letter from the Attorney General of 18 May 1851 and the circular from the governor of the province of Catania, 30 March 1853.

The sealing of the family pact was but one of a series of events following the death of the last Prince of Cassano which determined and confirmed the dynastic rights of the House of Paternó Castello Guttadauro. The final endorsement came on 2nd February 1860 when the Royal Commission for Titles of Nobility recommended to the new king Francis II that a petition by the Most Excellent Lord Don Mario Paternó Castello Guttadauro of the Dukes of Carcaci be granted. The petition was that the Prince should receive all confirmation of the Sovereign’s assent for those “chivalrous distinctions” which he wished to bestow. On 11th February 1860 the king approved the recommendation of the Royal Commission and directed the Secretary of State for Sicilian Affairs to give effect to his approval.

Important documents in this respect are the communication of the Royal Secretary of State, Palermo, 8th March 1860, the decree of H.M. Francesco II, Gaeta, 16 September 1860 and the verification of authenticity regarding the decree, from the City of Padova

The designated Regent, Don Giovanni, worked vigorously to assert the dynastic rights of the family. In doing so he was crowning the work of his elder brother the great Duke of Carcaci who had died in 1854, having spent his life establishing his family’s Royal dynastic rights and regulating the succession.

This series of events shows that a number of members of the family established recognized claims regarding the dynastic rights of ancient independent kingdoms in Italy and Spain.


The line of succession is claimed by the House of Paternò as follows: After the death of the last Prince of Cassano the heads of the different branches of the Paternò family met in family council at Palermo and recognised that the family’s royal rights were vested in Don Mario Paternò Castello Guttadauro d’Emmanuel of Don Giovanni Paternò Castello iure maritale Prince of Emmanuel (son of Don Mario Guiseppe IV Duke of Carcaci) and his wife Eleanor Guttadauro, last of the house of the Princes of Emmanuel and herself a descendant of the Kings of Aragon ( The succession of the claim follows both the male and the female line:

  • 1859-1906 Mario I Paternò Castello, Prince of Emmanuel, m. Anna Spitaleri e Grimaldi of the Barons of Maglia and had issue:

1.  Giovanni (-1900) sp.
2.  Felice (-1880) sp.
3.  Enrico Prince of Emmanuel d. 1908 and was succeeded by his sister
4.  Eleanora who succeeded her brother

  • Eleanora Paternò Castello, princess of Emmanuel  m. 1906 her second cousin Roberto I Paternò Castello, Regent 1908-1934 B. of Francesco Mario I (1850-1915) 9th duke of Carcaci and had issue:
  • Francesco Mario II Paternò Castello,  prince of Emmanuel (1913-1968) succeeded when of age in 1934 m. (1) 1932 Angela Reboulet and had issue:
  • Roberto Enrico Francesco Mario Gioacchino Paternò Castello (1937-1996) married (1) Maria of the counts Fattori and has issue:

1.  Aurora (1962-), Duchess of Palma
2.  Francesco Nicola Roberto Paternò Castello (1964-), duke of Gerona m. on Jul 1990 Nob Guiseppina Campesi. Issue:

– Maria b. and d. 17 Mar 1991
– Roberto b. 15 Jul 1992 Duke of Palermo;
– Domenico b. 4 May 2001 Duke of Ayerbe

Prince Roberto m. (2) Bianca Monteforte (1948-1990), marchioness of Montpellier and had issue:

1.  Thorbjorn Paternò Castello (1976-), duke of Valencia

Don Roberto Paternò Castello abdicated in favor of his first son as well as in favor of his second son. To his first son (Francesco) he left the claims to the prerogatives the ancient kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca and Sicily. To his second son (Thorbjorn) he left the claims to the prerogatives of the ancient kingdoms of Valencia and Sardinia (see documents below).

Following these lines of succession, the legitimacy of the fount of honor of the House of Paternò in present circumstances is backed by the prestige of being a descendant in the female line of the early rulers of the ancient kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia, as well as the recognition of the fount of honor by the King of the Two Sicilies.

5. Legality of the claims

The pretensions of the House of Paternò Castello where also investigated more than once by various judicial courts in the 20th and 21st centuries. The little known 20th century cases were described as an example of the concept of fons honorum in and important Leiden PhD-thesis of Dr. Hans J. Hoegen Dijkhof. This section of the present article is also based on this thesis.

The Fount of honour and the power to grant nobility played a role in the various Paternò cases in Italy. On 1 April 1952, the ‘Pretura Unificata di Bari’, evidently a court of first instance in criminal cases, had to decide a criminal case against a certain Umberto Z., a resident of Bari, who had publicly presented himself as Count of St. Ilarico. Z. was prosecuted for violating article 496 of the Italian Penal Code, as he was denounced by an anonimous person for having committed this crime.

Important document: judgment of the Court of Bari (13 March 1952).

Retaining the Fons honorum
His decisive defense was inter alia that this title had been validly conferred upon him by the ‘Prince Emanuel Francesco Mario Paternò Castello di Caraci’. It appeared after a full investigation of all relevant documents by the Court, that this Prince belonged to one of the first families of Sicily, a family who are descendants of William I, the Conqueror, descendants of the Counts of Gascogne, the Kings of Navarre and Castil and that the Prince was a direct descendant of the Kings of Mallorca and the Baleares and was still Pretender to this throne. The Court found that on these grounds, he had retained his full rights of fons honorum, which meant according to the Court, that he had the power to nobilitate, to grant and confirm coats of arms and to award predicates, taken from places in which his ancestors in fact had exercised sovereign powers, not to mention his right to constitute, resuscitate, reform and exercise the ‘Grand Magistry’ of the chivalric Orders of the dynasty, which are passed from father to son as an insupprimable heredity of birth, which in the ascendants of the Prince had found in fact also a confirmation by Francesco II of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, in 1860. Z. was acquitted.

Legitimate power to grant honours
Then it was the Prince’s own turn. He was denounced on 14 July 1958 and prosecuted, as a resident of Brunate, before and condemned on 29 May 1962 by the ‘Pretore of Monsummano Terme’, the competent judge in first instance, to 4 months and 15 days imprisonment for having allegedly conferred false titles to a number of persons (Article 81 of the Penal Code and article 8 of Law 3.3.51 N.178.) but he was acquitted of several connected alleged counts (Articles 81cpv 640, 56, 640 of the Penal Code) for lack of evidence. He appealed with the ‘Tribunale di Pistoia’ and on 5 June 1964, this court of appeals confirmed his acquittal in first instance and annulled his condemnation in first instance. Basically, the Court said that the conferment to and acceptance of foreign honours, the honours conferred being foreign, by Italian citizens, was legal, while only the public use of these honours by Italian citizens was subject to authorisation by the President of the Republic, to properly safeguard the merits reserved to and represented by the honours bestowed by the Italian State. The Court had also investigated the fons honorum of the Prince and had found that he was the legitimate possessor of this faculty, which according to the Court was an expression of the honorific power of his house, which had been conserved by family tradition and had not suffered ‘debellatio’, the forced surrender of power. He was therefore entitled to grant the honours given by him, because the Court deemed that he had the legitimate power to grant these honours.

Important document: judgment of the Appeal Court in Pistoia (5 June 1964).

The quote from the website of the Corpo della Nobiltà Italiana Circolo Giovanilegt, section ‘Alcune domanda sulla nobiltà’, dated 24 December 2004, may further elucidate this point.

The Public Prosecutor did not institute cassation and it was therefore definitively established between the Italian State and the Prince that the Prince or his direct descendants, by using their fons honorum, can validly confer noble titles.

The courts involved had consulted independent experts who provided concurring opinions in arriving at their judgments. In this connection, reference can also be made to the well known legal  notion of res judicata (the principle that a matter may not, generally, be relitigated once it has been judged on the merits), which is based on the principle of public order of lites finiri oportet, the policy that there must be an end to litigation

6. Conclusions

Some critics regarding the dynastic claims of the House of Paternò lack objectivity. Their statements often do not express the idea that judging the Paternò-claims should not be influenced by particular perspectives, value commitments, community bias or personal interests, to name a few relevant factors. Stair Sainty’s remarks however are fully understandable. The question whether as a junior member of a junior branch of the family don Roberto had the right to claim any prerogative pertaining to its chief can be answered from both a legitimate and a legal point of view. From a legitimate perspective there are a number of cases where a junior branch came to eclipse more senior lines in rank and power, for example the Kings of Prussia and German Emperors who were junior by primogeniture to the Counts and Princes of Hohenzollern, and the Electors and Kings of Saxony who were a younger branch of the House of Wettin than the Grand Dukes of Saxe-Weimar. It is clear that the senior members of the House do not claim the any rights regarding the former kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia. Therefore it is perfectly legitimate that members of a cadet branch of the House pursue these claims.

Robert Gayre’s remarks concern the succession in the female line. He claims that succession is not possible in the female line. The House of Paternò’s claim is in accordance with the agnatic (or semi-Salic) succession, prevalent in much of Europe since ancient times. This succession is reserved first to all the male dynastic descendants of all the eligible branches by order of primogeniture, then upon total extinction of these male descendants to a female member of the dynasty. Former monarchies that operated under semi-Salic law included Austria (later Austria-Hungary), Bavaria, Hanover, Württemberg, Russia, Saxony, Tuscany, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Now that it clear that no male successors of the former kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia exist, the succession in the female line should also be considered as legitimate.

Over the last 60 years at least two independent judicial courts came to the conclusion that the fount of honor of the House is valid. It is very rare that the fons honorum of a family is backed by judicial decisions. As a matter of fact, the House of Paternò is one of the few royal Houses whose pretensions are not only raised by the family but also declared valid by the courts.

It is therefore surprisingly that in the 21st century the claims were again challenged in court in a matter regarding an interlocutory freezing order by an Italian public prosecutor. The seizure was lifted because the court (again) confirmed the fons honorum of the House of Paternò.

Important documents: Tribunale Ordinario di Roma dated 19 December 2013 and  A. Squarti Perla, Sulla sovrana prerogativa come patrimonio famigliare dinastico-titolarità delle sovrane prerogative e del patrimonio araldico della famiglia ex regnante spettanti, jure sanguinis, al re spodestato, purché non debellato, in «Studi della real casa di Savoia», Torino 2007..

The court explicitly states (appendix 2):

Well, on the basis of the voluminous documentation produced by the defense, the attribution to Paternò Castello of the power to confer honors, decorations and chivalric distinctions, cannot be doubted. The suspect is a descendent of the Paterno dynasty, whose consanguinity with the House of Aragon was recognized by numerous judicial findings; (…)

The House of Paternò Castello’s claims regarding the former kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia are therefore also perfectly legal.

Further reading

  • Abate, A. “Esequie del Duca di Carcaci” Catania 1854
  • Agnello, G. “Il Museo Biscari di Catania nella Storia della Cultura Illuministica del ‘700” in Archivio Storico della Sicilia Orientale, 1957, a. X p. 142
  • Amico, “Catana Illustrata”, 1741
  • Amico, “Sicilia Sacra” 1742
  • Maria Concetta Calabrese, I Paternò di Raddusa, C.U.E.C.M. 1998
  • G. Carrelli, Hauteville e Paternò, in Rivista Araldica, n.3, 1932
  • Enciclopedia Treccani Vol. XXVI, voce “Paternò”, curata dal prof. Giuseppe Paladino dell’Università di Catania
  • Francesco Gioeni, Genealogia dei Paternò, Palermo,1680
  • G. Libertini, Il Museo Biscari, Milano 1930.
  • V. Librando, Il Palazzo Biscari in Cronache di archeologia e di storia dell’arte, 3, 1964, p. 104 e ss.
  • Denis Mack Smith, “Storia della Sicilia Medioevale e moderna”, Universale Laterza (1970) pp. 367 e ss, 376-377.
  • Filadelfo Mugnos, Theatro Genealogico, 1650, s.v. “Paternò” p. 27
  • Filadelfo Mugnos, Teatro della nobiltà del mondo, 1654, s.v. “Paternò“, p. 297
  • Muscia, Sicilia Nobile, 1408, s.v. “Paternò
  • Scipione Paternò e Colonna, Storiografia della Casa Paternò, Catania. 1642
  • Francesco Paternò di Carcaci, I Paternò di Sicilia, Catania, 1935.
  • Vincenzo Notaro Russo, Genealogia della Casa Paternò, 1721, – Archivio Comune di Catania
  • Gaetano Savasta, Storia di Paternò, Catania, 1905
  • F. Ughello, Antonius Paternò, nobilis neapolitanus”, Palermo,1729
  • Bruno Varvaro, Nuove indagini sulla contea di Paternò e Butera nel sec. XII, in Rivista Araldica, n. 4 – dicembre 1931
  • Bruno Varvaro, Hauteville e Paternò in Rivista Araldica, n. 1 – 20 gennaio 1933 *G.E. Paternò di Sessa, F. Paternò, “Dell’origine regia e aragonese dei Paternò di Sicilia”, in Rivista Araldica Fasxcicolo n. 6, giugno 1913
  • Salvatore Distefano, Ragusa Nobilissima – Una famiglia della Contea di Modica attraverso le fonti e i documenti d’archivio, contributo alla Historia Familiae Baronum Cutaliae, Ancillae et Fundi S. Laurentii, Richerche (2006), 109-160, a pag.128 si ricorda che Eleonora Paternò e Tornabene, vedova Biscari, sposò Guglielmo Distefano, duca di San Lorenzo.
  • Librando, V. “Il Palazzo Biscari” in Cronache di Archeologia e di Storia dell’Arte, 1964, n. 3 p. 104 e ss.
  • Guzzetta, G.: “Per la gloria di Catania: Ignazio Paternò Castello Principe di Biscari” Agorà, Luglio- settembre 2001
  • Garuffi, Archivio Storico della Sicilia Orientale, anno IX, 1912
  • Garuffi, Gli Aleramici ed i Normanni, Palermo 1910, Vol. I
  • La Dinastia Sovrana Paternò-Ayerbe-Aragona – L Pelliccioni di Poli
  • 1956 Rome Nobiliario Internazionale – C Santippolito
  • 1985 RAM Messina Corpus Historiae Genealogicae Italiae et Hispaniae – J.W. Imhof 1702 Nurnberg
  • Los Condes de Barcelona Vindicados Cronologia y Genealogia – Prospero de Bofarull y Mascaro Secretario de SM Archivero de la Corona de Aragon
  • 1836 Barcelona Rivista Araldica 1922 p295-305, 343-346
  • Rivista Araldica 1913 p330-335
  • Anales de la Corona de Aragon by Jerònimo Zurita, Tom 1 libro IV cap.126
  • J Lee Shneidman, The Rise of the Aragonese-Catalan Empire 1200-1350, New York and London 1970



I wish to thank mr Stephen Screech for his contributions and help.

Appendix 1

A diploma of nobility, issued by Thorbjorn Paternò Castello typically contains the following considerations and conditions:

We, Our Royal Highness Thorbjorn I Paternò Castello di Carcaci Guttadauro di Valencia D’Ayerbe D’Aragona D’Emanuel etc… etc… For the grace of God and by right of hereditary succession, Sovereign Prince, Head of Line and Arms of the Royal House of Valencia and Sardinia, by land and by sea, to all those who will read the present paper, under the eternal protection of the Lord, Having evaluated the high merits and the illustrious and distinguished deeds of Faith, Virtue, Compassion, Feats and Intelligence and the worthy and beseeching requests by [name].(…)

We have decreed and proclaim, certain in science and out of our free will, with a decided and resolute spirit, for special grace and in the fullness of Our Royal Authority at every effect of the ius nobilitandi according to civil, religious, noble, heraldic and chivalric laws, and according to the ways and customs of any time and place, every Country and Nation, that We recognize, concede and bestow on [name] The title of [e.g. Count] with the predicate of [geographical name]. (…)

With the right to transmit them perpetually from male to male in order of primogeniture, and, in the absence of heirs, to the first born of the closest line, and, in the absence of males, una tantum to females. Both male and female collaterals have the title of “Noble of the“, as is the custom, and in any case, the title of “Don” and “Donna” to the most beloved Don [name] [title, e.g. Count] of [geographical name]of the Sovereign House of Valencia (…).

Appendix 2

N. 1080/2013 R.G. SEQ.

Ordinary tribunal of Rome
Section for appeal from attachment measures

Composed by the Messrs. Judges:
Dott. Filippo Steidi                                        President
Dott. Roberta Conforti                                  Judge
Dott. Laura Previti                                        Judge
Gathered in the council chamber, under dissolution of the reservation undertaken at the hearing of 19 December 2013, have pronounced the following

on the appeal from a preventive attachment measure, presented on behalf of Paterno Castello Dei Duchi di Carcaci Principi d’Emmanuel Thorbjorn Francesco Giuseppe Nicola Roberto, dated 9 December 2013, regarding a decree issued with respect to the suspect dated 26 November by the GIP of the Tribunal of Rome
– – – – –

The objection is well founded and is admitted.
Paterno Castello Dei Duchi di Carcaci Principi d’Emmanuel Thorbjorn Francesco Giuseppe Nicola Roberto has instituted appeal against the decree indicated above, by virtue of which are subjected to preventive attachment the bank accounts with Cariparma in the name of the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem with Branch 4 of Reggio Emilia and with Banca Intesa in the name of Delio Cardilli with branch Roma Ostia 12, in connection with the crime of forming a criminal association aimed at committing crimes of serious fraud through the constitution of a false chivalric order, of having committed continuous fraud in unison as well as the crime of illicit conferment of decorations under art. 8 of law 178/1951, better described in the provisional indictments which are deemed integrally inserted here.
The defense has contested the existence of suspicion of crimes committed, attaching a voluminous documentation, having examined which, the Court deems the exception well founded.
In the first place it must become clear that the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta O.S.J., according to the accusatory hypothesis mainly organized and promoted by Paterno Castello and used to confuse an indeterminate multitude of subjects, thus as to draw unjust profits through the conferment of false decorations, is a real order and operating at a supranational level falling under the list of the non authorized “non-national Orders”, as appearing from the annex C to f.n. M_D GMIL III 10 4/051891 of the Ministry of Defense, produced by the defense in Annex 7.
To correctly define the question, it is useful to recall the norms issued in the matter of conferment and use of decorations which were introduced after the birth of the republican order with law 178/1951 which, by instituting the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, sanctioned the general prohibition for Italian citizens if not authorized by the President of the Republic at the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to use in the Republic’s territory honors, decorations or chivalric distinctions conferred to them in non-national Orders or by Foreign States (art. 7).  The norm maintains the dispositions valid before with regard to the use of honors and chivalric distinctions of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Article 8 of the law cited on the other hand forbids the conferment of honors, decorations and chivalric distinctions on behalf of entities, associations and private parties.

On the basis of a systematic reading of the two norms, it appears that the subject law distinguishes with regard to the penal effects between the activity of conferment of honors and their use. In the case of Non-national Orders or foreign States, the conferment of honors, of which it may not be excluded this can also take place on the national territory, remains indifferent to the Italian national order which is only concerned with the use, which is prohibited, unless, it is repeated, the use is authorized. In all other cases (institutions and private parties) the possibility of conferment, with the measure of the criminal sanction, is fundamentally excluded
From this follows the permissibility, in abstracto, of the conferment of the honors granted by the O.S.J., being a non-national Order.
It remains in concreto to verify the possibility of Paterno Castello to confer these honors, or rather the entitledness of the suspect to the ius honorum (the faculty to create nobles and chivalric arms) which transfers itself iure sanguinis to the proper descendants, in the person of the Head of the Name and Arms of the Dynasty.
Well, on the basis of the voluminous documentation produced by the defense, the attribution to Paterno Castello of the power to confer honors, decorations and chivalric distinctions, cannot be doubted. The suspect is a descendent of the Paterno dynasty, whose consanguinity with the House of Aragon was recognized by numerous judicial findings; the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta, whose Grand Master was H.R.H. Prince Don Roberto II Paterno Castello di Carcaci Ayerbe-Aragona, ascendent of the present suspect, to whom the Grand Mastership was transferred by public act, is a branch historically derived from the original Hospital Order of Malta; from which follows that Paterno Castello as Grand Master of the Order and titulary to the fons honorum (including the ius honorum and the ius maiestatis) had and has the power to confer honors of the same Order.
Furthermore, in view of the existence of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the question might be raised of induction in error of ignorant subjects beneficiaries of the honors, through taking advantage of the similarity (in the symbols and the insignia) with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whose honors can be used on Italian soil.
However, this hypothesis can already be excluded by reading the document ” list of documents to be annexed to the request for admission” which is furnished to who wishes to become part of the order and wherein the difference between the O.S.J. and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is expressly set out.
In conclusion, the decree objected to, is annulled because of the non existence of suspicion of committed crimes with respect to the alleged crimes.


The decree objected to and orders the Chancery to do the necessary
Rome, 19 December 2013
The Editing Judge

Deposited at the Chancery
Rome, 31 December 2013
The Chancellor

Lines of succession: the case of Faustin Soulouque, emperor of Haiti

Adélina Soulouque (b. c. 1795-after 1859), née Lévêque, was Empress Consort of Haiti from 1849 until 1859, as wife of Faustin I of Haiti.

The order or line of succession is the sequence of members of a royal family in the order in which they stand in line to the throne. The basis for the succession is often determined in the nation’s constitution. As a matter of personal interest, I have examined the line of succesion of the emperors of Haiti, starting with Faustin I.

Legal basis of the succession

The legal basis for the line of succession at the time that it was in force, was the Constitution of 20 September 1849.

The Constitution made the Imperial Dignity hereditary amongst the natural and legitimate direct descendants of Emperor Faustin I, by order of primogeniture and to the perpetual exclusion of females and their descendants. The Emperor could adopt the children or grandchildren of his brothers, and become members of his family from the date of adoption. Sons so adopted enjoyed the right of succession to the throne, immediately after the Emperor’s natural and legitimate sons (Les constitutions dHaiti, 1801-1885).
Art. 108. — La dignité impériale est héréditaire dans la descendance directe, naturelle et légitime, de Faustin Soulouque, de mâle en mâle, par ordre de progéniture, et à l’exclusion perpétuelle des femmes et de leur descendance.
Art, 109. — La personne de l’Empereur est inviolable et sacrée.
Art. 110. — L’Empereur Faustin Soulouque est proclamé sous le nom de Faustin 1er.
Art. 112. — L’Empereur pourra nommer son successeur, s’il n’a point d’héritier mâle et s’il n’a point de fils adoptif. Cette nomination devra être secrète et enfermée dans une cassette déposée au palais impérial de la capitale.
Art. 115.— A défaut d’adoption et de nomination par l’empereur, le grand conseil de l’Empire nomme son successeur. Jusqu’au moment où l’élection du nouvel empereur est consommée, le grand conseil exerce le pouvoir exécutif.
Art. 134. — Les princes et les princesses de la famille impériale ne peuvent se marier sans l’autorisation de l’Empereur.
Art. 135. — Les enfants mâles deviennent membres à vie du Sénat lorsqu’ils ont atteint l’âge de 18 ans.
Art. 145. — Il est institué un grand conseil de l’Empire, composé de neuf grands dignitaires choisis par l’Empereur. L’Empereur préside le grand conseil ou en délègue le pouvoir à un de ses membres.
Art. 146. — Les attributions du grand conseil sont :
1° D’exercer l’autorité exécutive dans le cas où il y aurait empêchement pour l’Empereur de l’exercer lui-même;
2° De nommer le successeur de l’Empereur et d’exercer le pouvoir exécutif dans les cas prévus par l’article 115;
3° D’élire le régent dans le cas de l’article 141 ;
4° D’être le conseil de la régence ;
5° De procéder à l’ouverture de la cassette qui renfermera le nom du successeur de l’Empereur, conformément à l’article 112.
Sword with Scabbard of Faustin I (1782–1867), Emperor of Haiti. Inscription: Inscribed on the guard beneath the crowned coat of arms of Haiti: DIEU MA PATRIE ET MON EPEE LIBERTE INDEPENDENCE; on the obverse of the blade: HOMMAGE DU G•O•D’ HAITI; on the reverse of the blade: A L.’ ILL. FAUSTIN SOULOUQUE EMPEREUR D’ HAITI (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)


In order to see how the line of succession has developed, I have tried to make a fragment of the genealogy of the imperial family.

I. Marie-Catherine Soulouque. b. at Port-au-Prince, Saint-Domingue, 1744. A slave of the Mandingo race. She d. at Port-au-Prince, 9 August 1819.

IIa. H.I.M. Faustin-Élie Soulouque (Faustin I), by the grace of God , and the Constitution of the Empire, Emperor of Haiti. b. at Petit-Goâve, 1782. Freed by Felicite Sonthonax 29 August 1793. Fought in the War of independence as a private soldier 1803-1804, Cmsnd. as Lieut. and ADC to General Lamarre 1806, Lieut. Horse Guards under Presdt. Petion 1810, prom. Capt., prom. Maj. under Presdt. Rivière-Hérard, prom. Col. under Presdt. Guerier 1843, prom. Brig-Gen. and later Lt-Gen. and supreme commander of the guards under Presdt. Riche. Became President of the Republic of Haiti (*1) and took the oath of office 2 March 1847.

Crown Soulouque
Crown of Faustin-Élie Soulouque, decorated with emeralds, diamands, garnets, and other jewels. It had been exhibited in the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (MUPANAH)

Proclaimed as Emperor Faustin I, by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, and assumed the style of His Imperial Majesty, 26 August 1849. Crowned at Port-au-Prince, by the Abbe Cessens according to Episcopalian (Franc-Catholique) rites, 18 April 1852. Attempted to conquer, but failed to take, Santo Domingo in 1856. Founded the Military Order of St Faustin and the Civil Haitian Order of the Legion of Honour, 21st September 1849. Also founded the Orders of St Mary Magdalen and St Anne, 31 March 1856. Deposed 15 January 1859.

Founded the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1856. Fled to the French legation, seeking asylum, but was later taken into exile in Jamaica, aboard a British warship 22 January 1859 (1). Married at Port-au-Prince, December 1849, H.I.M. Empress Adélina (b. ca. 1795), raised to the title of Empress of Haiti with the style of Her Imperial Majesty 26th August 1849, Crowned with her husband at Port-au-Prince 18th April 1852, daughter of Marie Michel Lévêque. After the death of her husband, Adélina fled to the Dominican Republic and then went to Spain, where she was received by the King of Spain himself. She remained at the Royal Palace of Spain in Madrid from 1868 to 1874.

Adélina then left for France and remained there from 1875 to 1877. She ended her days in Rome, Italy in 1879, until her death at the age of about 84 years. She was buried first in Rome near the Vatican and then in Haiti near her husband in 1907, 28 years after his death (*2).

1) H.I.H. Princess Célita Soulouque, m. Jean-Philippe Lubin, Count of Petionville, who was very rich. Together they had four children: three daughters and a son who died at birth.
Adopted daughter:
2) H.S.H. Princess Geneviève Olive [Madame]. b. 1842 (quinze à seize ans in September 1858), d. 1936. Adopted by Emperor Faustin, raised to the title of Princess and granted the style of Her Serene Highness 1850. m. Amitié Lubin (b. ca. 1800), son of Jean Philippe Vil Lubin, Count de Pétion-Ville, by his wife, Elizabeth Ulcénie, née Amitié (*3). Princess Olive travelled around the world: France (1893-1894); Portugal (1894-1899) with her daughter Marie; Canada 1901; America (Philadelphia) (1902-1913); Dominican Republic (1913-1914); France (1914-1918); Dominican Republic (1918-1923); Thailand (1923-1927) as a guest of a friend of the Royal Family; Australia (1927-1929); Haiti 1929-1936) (*4) [Oliva Soulouque, Biografia].

Prince Mainville Joseph and Prince Jean Joseph Soulouque
Prince Mainville Joseph and Prince Jean Joseph Soulouque

IIb. (Prince) Jean-Joseph Soulouque. He d. after 1850, having had issue, eleven sons and daughters, including:
1. H.I.M. (Prince) Mainville-Joseph Soulouque, pretender under the name Joseph I, m. 1854 with Princess Olive (IIa,2). He did participate in some attempts to restore the monarchy in Haiti, without success and d. in 1891. Children:

a. “S.A.S. la princesse” Maria Soulouque, d. Portugal 1899.
b. H.I.M. (Prince) Joseph Soulouque, “prince impérial”, pretender to the throne as Joseph II, left for France with his mother in 1914, fought for the Allies in WWI, returned to the Dominican Republic in 1918 and lived there until his death on 18 June 1922. In 1930 Princess Geneviève Olive received a letter from the new pretender to the throne, her great grandson of 31 years told her that his wife was pregnant. Their names are unknown to me.
c. “S.A.S. le prince” Faustin-Joseph Soulouque, lived in the United States (Philadelphia) until his death in 1913.
d. Marie Adelina Soulouque, daughter of Mainville-Joseph Soulouque with Marie d’Albert. Daughter: Marie Adelina Soulouque, who married Johan Carl Sictus Weijgel Quast (*1, *5), pharmacist [Santa Domingo].


De Curaçaosche courant 24-07-1852
De Curaçaosche Courant 24-07-1852

H.I.H. Princess Célita Soulouque is said to have been the only daughter of Faustin. It has been reported in the Curacaosche Courant of 24 July 1852 that Faustin made preparations for his son “Bobo” to marry the actress Lola Montez. In 1846, the actress arrived in Munich, where she was discovered by and became the mistress of, Ludwig I of Bavaria. Ludwig made her Countess of Landsfeld on his birthday, 25 August 1847. Along with her title, he granted her a large annuity. In 1848 Ludwig abdicated, and Montez fled Bavaria, her career as a power behind the throne at an end. From 1851 to 1853, Lola Montez performed as a dancer and actress in the eastern United States, one of her offerings being a play called Lola Montez in Bavaria.

Interesting comments by mr Christopher Buyers (FB 27 January 2016):

Bobo was actually an escaped galley-slave who had been “candidate” for president several times, but was persuaded to join Soulouque’s cause. After the latter became Emperor, Bobo was ennobled and created a Prince. In April 1851, while serving as Governor and C-in-C of the Northern Province, he was suspected of rebellion and summoned to court. Fearing a certain death, he fled. Later captured and executed along with some other generals the following year. He is mentioned by Helen O’Donnell Holdredge in her biography “The Woman in Black: The Life of Lola Montez”, Putnam, 1955. There, he is described on p 141 as Grand Chamberlain to Faustin I, sent by him to persuade Lola Montez to visit his court in Haiti. Prince Bobo had a son named Alexandre, who was in turn the father of Dr Pierre François Joseph Benoit Bobo aka “Rosalvo”, who was a leading politician, Secretary of State for the Interior, and leader of the revolution which toppled President Sam II in 1915, prompting the US to intervene and occupy Haiti to prevent him becoming president.


(*1) Website of Chistopher Buyers


(*3) Roman Catholic Church Kingston (Jamaica) Marriages 1839-1869. Act of marriage: Pierre Joseph Amitie Vil Lubin, native of Haiti, lawful son of His Lordship Earl Philippe Vil Lubin and by his wife, Elizabeth Ulcénie. Lord Amitie Vil Lubin, maried on 26 December 1861 HSH Princess Geneviève Olive Soulouque, native of Haiti, lawful daughter of Emperor Faustin Elie Soulouque and Empress Adélina Lévêque. Witnesses: Alexandre Bravo, Charles Grant, widow Lubin, Amitie Lubin, widow of Louis Lubin, Elizabeth Grant, James Male, Jean Baptiste Vil Lubin, George Clermont, A.M. Lhoste, Felicite Faustin, Ameisima Amitie, Elina Mainvaille, L. Bedonet, Elizabeth Bourke, Caroline Crosswell. Source: website of Thierry Jean-Baptiste Soulouque Vil Lubin.


(*5) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Pedigree Resource File,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2015-11-14), submitted by rcsimon2749685.


  • Alaux. Soulouque and His Empire: From the French of Gustave d’Alaux. 1861. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. Print.      
  • Facebook Almanach Royal d’Hayti
  • Constitutions of the World from the late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century, The Americas. Multi-volumed work Constitutions of the World from the late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century Sources on the Rise of Modern Constitutionalism / Quellen zur Herausbildung des modernen Konstitutionalismus.  Ed. by Dippel, Horst The Americas Vol. 10 Constitutional Documents of Haiti 1790–1860 / Documents constitutionnels d’Haïti 1790-1860 / Verfassungsdokumente Haitis 1790-1860  Ed. by Dubois, Laurent / Gaffield, Julia / Acacia, Michel
  • Hartog, [dr.] Johan Curaçao; From Colonial dependence to autonomy. Oranjestad, Aruba: De Wit publishers 1968 (Faustin’s exile on the island of Curaçao)

Discovery (1)

Proof that Soulouque was a free masonI recently discovered that Faustin I was a member of a Masonic lodge in France. This was in tradition with other Haitian leaders. In 1743, after the death of Louis de Pardaillan de Gondrin , duke of Antin, Louis de Bourbon-Condé (1709-1771), count of Clermont, prince of the blood and future member of the Académie française, succeeded him as “Grand Master of all regular lodges in France”. He remained in office until his death in 1771. Around 1744 there were around 20 lodges in Paris and 20 in the provinces. Lodges in the provinces were most often founded by Masons out of Paris on business or via the intermediary of military lodges in regiments passing through a region – where a regiment with a military lodge left its winter quarters, it was common for it to leave behind the embryo of a new civil lodge there. The many expressions of military origin still used in Masonic banquets of today date to this time, such as the famous “canon” (cannon, meaning a glass) or “poudre forte” (strong gunpowder, meaning the wine). 

Discovery (2)

Imperial and Military Order of St Faustin
Imperial and Military Order of St Faustin

In France, only decorations recognised by the Chancery of the Legion of Honour may be worn publicly, and permission must be sought and granted to wear any foreign awards or decorations. Failure to comply is punishable by law. A non-exhaustive list of collectively authorised orders is published by the French government. According to a report in Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, XI, jan-jun-1859, pp. 150-152), the Order of Saint Faustin seems to have been recognized by the Legion of Honour. Further research is being conducted.

Who is entitled to the prefix of ‘Sir’?

Today, in the UK and in certain Commonwealth realms and in the Philippines, a number of men are entitled to the prefix of ‘sir’, including knights bachelor, knights of the orders of chivalry and baronets. The dignity of knighthood carries the prefix of ‘Sir’, but unlike a baronetcy it is only held for life. Although in the UK foreign nationals can be awarded these honours, they are explicitly excluded using the prefix. Instead they use the associated post-nominal letters. British nationals who have been awarded an honour by another country including countries of which the Queen is head of state, other members of the commonwealth and by all other foreign countries may not use any associated title, that the award might bestow, in the United Kingdom.

United Kingdom

  • Baronet (Bt.) is a British hereditary dignity, first created by King James I of England in May 1611. The baronetage is not part of the peerage, nor is it an order of knighthood. A baronet ranks below barons but above all knights except, in England, Knights of the Garter and, in Scotland, Knights of the Garter and of the Thistle. In England and Ireland a baronetcy is inherited by the male heir, but in Scotland ladies may succeed to certain baronetcies where it has been specified at the time of their creation.
  • Knight of the Order of the Garter (KG). The Order of the Garter is the most senior and the oldest British Order of Chivalry and was founded by Edward III in 1348. The Order, consisting of the King and twenty-five knights, honours those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally. The patron saint of the Order is St George (patron saint of soldiers and also of England) as well as of all orders of chivalry. The spiritual home of the Order is St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
  • Knight of the Order of the Thistle (KT). The Order of the Thistle represents the highest honour in Scotland. It is second only in precedence in the UK to the Order of the Garter.The Order honours Scottish men and women who have held public office or who have contributed in a particular way to national life.The date of the foundation of the Order is not known, although legend has it that it was founded in 809 when King Achaius made an alliance with the Emperor Charlemagne.
  • Knight Commander or Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (KCB/GCB). Originally membership comprised the British monarch, a great master of the order, and 36 knights. Membership regulations have undergone numerous changes over the centuries. Three classes of knights were instituted in 1815 to commemorate the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Corresponding classes were added in 1847 for a civilian division. The order currently includes the monarch, members of the royal family, foreigners (known as “honorary members”), and the classes of knights—115 Knights or Dames Grand Cross (GCB), 328 Knights or Dames Commanders (KCB or DCB, respectively), and 1,815 Companions (CB). Investiture into the two highest classes (Knight/Dame Grand Cross and Knight/Dame Commander) means induction into knighthood, if the candidate does not already hold that honour, and the right to the title of “Sir” or “Dame” as appropriate. (Knights and Dames Grand Cross, together with Knights of the Garter and of the Thistle, may be granted the use of supporters with their arms.) The officers of the order are the Dean (usually the Dean of Westminster), Bath King of Arms, Registrar, Usher of the Scarlet Rod, and Secretary. Ladies are admitted to all classes of the order.
    In 1725 King George I created a new military Order and called it the Order of the Bath; the civil branch was established in 1847. Broadly speaking, the Order is awarded to officers of the armed forces, and to high-ranking civil servants.
    The Order now consists of the Sovereign, a Great Master (presently the Prince of Wales, who was installed in 1975), and three classes of members, each of which is divided into civil and military divisions: Knights and Dames Grand Cross; Knights and Dames Commanders; Companions.
  • Knight Commander or Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG/GCMG). William IV instituted the three classes of knights of the order, which (in descending order of rank) are Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GCMG), Knight Commander or Dame Commander (KCMG or DCMG, respectively), and Companion (CMG). Membership is limited to 120 Knights Grand Cross, 390 Knights Commanders, and 1,775 Companions. Conferment of the two highest classes of the order entails admission into knighthood, if the candidate is not already a knight or dame, and the right to the title of “Sir” or “Dame” as appropriate. (Knights and Dames Grand Cross may be granted the use of supporters with their arms.) The order’s officers are Prelate, Chancellor, Secretary, King of Arms, Registrar, and Gentleman Usher of the Blue Rod.
  • Knight Commander or Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO/GCVO). The Royal Victorian Order is given by The Queen to people who have served her or the Monarchy in a personal way. These may include officials of the Royal Household, family members or perhaps British Ambassadors who have helped organise a State Visit to a particular country. The Order was founded in April 1896 by Queen Victoria as a way of rewarding personal service to her, on her own initiative rather than by ministerial recommendation. The Order was, and is, entirely within the Sovereign’s personal gift. The anniversary of the institution of the Order is 20 June, the day of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.There have never been any limits on the number of appointments made. Today, people receive their award either privately from The Queen or another member of the Royal Family, or during an Investiture.
  • Knight Commander or Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (KBE/GBE). The Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds.Today the Order of the British Empire is the order of chivalry of British democracy. Valuable service is the only criterion for the award, and the Order is now used to reward service in a wide range of useful activities. Citizens from other countries may also receive an honorary award, for services rendered to the United Kingdom and its people. There are more than 100,000 living members of the Order throughout the world.
  • Knight Bachelor (Kt.). A knighthood (or a damehood, its female equivalent) is one of the highest honors an individual in the United Kingdom can achieve. While in past centuries knighthoods used to be awarded solely for military merit, today they also recognize significant contributions to national life. Recipients range from actors to scientists, and from school head teachers to industrialists. A knighthood cannot be bought and it carries no military obligations to the Sovereign. The Queen (or a member of the Royal Family acting on her behalf) confers knighthoods in Britain, either at a public investiture or privately. The ceremony involves the ceremonial dubbing of the knight by The Queen, and the presentation of insignia.

Antigua and Barbuda

In Antigua and Barbuda, Knights Companion of the The Most Distinguished Order of the Nation may use the prefix ‘Sir’ in front of their forename, and their wives may use the title ‘Lady’ in front of their husband’s surname. Similarly, Dames Companion of the Order may use the title ‘Dame’ in front of their forename. No specific privilege exists for their husbands. The Order of the National Hero was first established and constituted by the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda under the National Heroes Act 1994, in 1998 reestablished and most recently amended in 2015.

See for the use of an Antiguan knighthood by a British national in the United Kingdom an article in the Mail on Sunday.


  • The honour of the Order of National Hero may be conferred upon any person who was born in Jamaica or is, or at the time of his or her death was, a citizen of Jamaica and rendered to Jamaica service of a most distinguished nature. National Heroes are entitled to be styled “The Rt Excellent” and the motto of the Order is “He built a city which hath foundations”.
  • Knight Commander, Knight Grand Cross, or Knight Grand Collar of the Order of the Nation (KCN/KGCN/KGN). The honour of the Order of the Nation (ON) may be conferred upon any Governor-General of Jamaica and upon any person who has been appointed as Prime Minister of Jamaica, not being a person upon whom the honour of the Order of National Hero has been conferred. A member of the Order is styled “The Most Honourable” and the spouse of the member is also entitled to be so styled. The motto of the Order is “One Nation Under God”
  • Members of these orders are not entitled to the prefix of Sir, contrary to my earlier remarks.


  • Order of Australia (AK; for male Australian subjects only). The Queen is the Sovereign Head of the Order of Australia and the Governor-General is the Principal Knight or Dame, as the case may be, and as Chancellor is charged with the administration of the Order. The Official Secretary to the Governor-General is the Secretary of the Order of Australia. From 1976 to 1986 there was provision for the appointment of Knights and Dames in the Order of Australia. On 25 March 2014, Knights and Dames were reinstated as the highest awards in the Order of Australia. Knights and Dames are already included in the Order of Wearing Australian Honours and Awards above Companion. Please note: this gain has been suspended by the current Prime Minister Mr. Malcolm Turnbull and his government in November 2015.


  • Knight of St. Andrew of the Order of Barbados (KA). The Order of Barbados was instituted by Letters Patent on July 25, 1980, as part of the Barbados National Honours and Decorations System. The Knight or Dame of St. Andrew is the highest order given by the Queen of Barbados, and is awarded for “extraordinary and outstanding achievement and merit in service to Barbados or to humanity at large”.

New Zealand

  • Knight Companion or Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM/GNZM).The New Zealand Order of Merit was instituted by Royal Warrant dated 30 May 1996. The Order is awarded to those “who in any field of endeavour, have rendered meritorious service to the Crown and the nation or who have become distinguished by their eminence, talents, contributions, or other merits”. On 10 April 2000 it was announced that The Queen had approved the discontinuation of titles (damehoods and knighthoods) within the Order. The new designations were principal companions and distinguished companions. The first appointments to the re-designated levels were made in The Queen’s Birthday Honours on 5 June 2000.
    On 8 March 2009 it was announced that The Queen had given approval for the reinstatement of the titles of Knight and Dame Grand Companion and Knight and Dame Companion. The first appointments to the redesignated levels were made in The Queen’s Birthday Honours on 31 May 2009.


  • Knights of the Order of Knights of Rizal prefix Sir to their forenames and add the relevant post-nominal according to their rank at the end of their names while wives of Knights prefix “Lady” to their first names. The Order of the Knights of Rizal is a fraternal and cultural organization created to honor and uphold the ideals of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal. Established on December 30, 1911, the organization was granted a legislative charter by the President of the Philippines as a civic and patriotic organization on 14 June 1951 by Republic Act 646. Although the Order is not a state entity, it enjoys state recognition. This means the state recognizes the insignia corresponding to its ranks. The sword and kneeling ceremony during dubbing states: “Vested upon the By-Laws of the Order, I dub (name of new member) – By virtue of the Order (he taps left shoulder with sword). Arise, Sir (name of new member).” (excerpt by Sir Justo P. Torres jr., KGCR Supreme Commander, Manila, Philippines, December 30, 1985). The prefix is mentioned in the diploma of the recipient. Some notable members of the Order, such as King Juan Carlos of Spain, former American Foreign Secretary and Nobel peace prize laureate, Henry Kissinger and other noted Filipinos who are recipients of the Order’s decoration certainly give credence and dignity to it. The Archbishop of Manila is also a member of the Order dispelling any notion that the Order could be Masonic. The late Jaime Cardinal L. Sin was honored with the highest degree of the Knighthood. He also blessed the building where the Order established its international headquarters in Manila. Other famous members include:

H.E. Sir Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III – President of the Philippines

H.E. Sir Fidel V. Ramos, KGCR – Past President of the Philippines

H.E. Sir Joseph Estrada, KGCR – Past President of the Philippines

Sir Halario Davide Jr., KGCR – Past Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

H.E Sir Anwar Ibrahim, KGCR – Past Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia

Sir Juan Ponce Enrile, KCGR – Senator

Sir Edgardo Angara, KGCR – Senator

Sir Jovito Salonga, KCGR – Senator

Sir Salvador H. Laurel III, KGCR – Senator

Sir Arturo Tolentino, KGCR – KGCR – Senator

Sir Cesar Virata, KGCR – Senator

Sir Feliciano Belmonte – KGCR, Speaker of the House of Representatives

Sir Jose H. Laurel III, KGCR – Senator

Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George

  • The first known British subject to be invested into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George was Lieutenant Colonel John Pritchard in 1798. Captain Sir William D’Arley was also invested in 1801, receiving the decoration from King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. In the same year, he obtained a Royal Licence from King George III of Great Britain which permitted him to be styled as “Sir William” and to wear the Order’s decoration at Court. However, please note that this is not currently being practiced.


The Cabinet Office is part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)


I would like to gratefully and sincerely thank mr Kevin Couling, Lord of the Manor of Little Neston and Hargrave, for his contibutions.

Sources: The London Gazette of 1 June 2016,,,,,,,, Blog by Christoph S. Eberle, Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George

Note: I published this article earlier on the nobility news blog

Important update:

A protocol from Buckingham Palace and the Foreign Office preventing such usage of foreign knighthoods was published in The London Gazette of 1 June 2016. It states that in line with the long-established convention concerning foreign titles, British nationals who have been awarded an honour by another country may not use any associated title, that the award might bestow, in the United Kingdom. Only those British nationals, including dual nationals, awarded a British Knighthood or appointed to a British Order of Chivalry as a Dame, may use the title ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ in the United Kingdom.

Comments by mr Christopher Buyers: You may like to check the Antigua & Barbuda section again. Commentary more relevant to Jamaica seems to have crept in. The 2016 Gazette notification does rely on some ‘smoke and mirrors’ and ‘eyewash’ to make its case. Perhaps because the writer knew that the reader would not necessarily understand the finer points of the Law. In English and British law there is, in fact, no such thing as a foreigner. There is only “subject” and “alien”. HM’s subjects from Commonwealth realms, indeed even those citizens of Commonwealth republics of which she is not Head of State, are not aliens in UK law. They are entitled to join the armed forces, be appointed to judicial positions, stand for parliament and take part in elections. The traditional exclusion regarding “foreign” titles is one that applied to aliens only.

I would like to gratefully and sincerely thank mr Christopher Buyers, for his contibutions.

Studie over echte en minder echte ridderorden

Op de website van de Rijkuniversiteit Groningen wordt vermeld dat de Jhr. Ing. Tom Versélewel de Witt Hamer bezig is met een interessant promotie-onderzoek, genaamd: “A sociological study of the functioning of contemporary Orders of Chivalry in the Kingdom of the Netherlands“. In deze aankondiging, waar natuurlijk inhoudelijk niet al te zwaar aan mag worden getild, staat vermeld (mijn onderstreping):

“Nowadays, the Dutch orders of chivalry are the recognized successors of the old religious military orders from the time of the crusades, not to be confused with orders of knighthood, which are state merit orders. Chivalry is a criterion of the Dutch Supreme Council of Nobility. It refers to a noble order which has formulated a clear admission policy in its charter like the Order of Saint John in the Netherlands and the Order of Malta. Any organization in the Netherlands is free to call itself an order of chivalry, although the guidelines of the Supreme Council of Nobility state that it will belong to the unrecognized orders.”

Is dit wel juist, kan men zich afvragen?

Johanniter Orde

Het is in deze blog wat onzinnig om diep in te gaan op de geschiedenis van de verschillende Orden die zich als Orde van Sint Jan presenteren (of iets wat hier op lijkt) omdat hierover al zeer veel is geschreven. Eigenlijk is met betrekking tot oorsprong van de Johanniter Orde in Nederland een enkel feit van belang. De Johanniter Orde in Nederland bij Koninklijk Besluit no. 33 van 5 maart 1946 gesticht, na het verbreken van de banden met de Duitse Johanniter Orde. Een opvolger van de Orde die in de middeleeuwen bekend stond als Orde van Sint Jan is het zeker dus niet. Het is niet integer dat de Orde de illusie propageert een oude Orde te zijn. Eerlijker zou het zijn om te spreken van een Orde die de ridderlijke traditie probeert hoog te houden. Daarvan zijn er echter honderden. Het Koninklijk Besluit geeft het geheel natuurlijk wat meer distinctie, maar niet meer historie.


De “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta” (Italiaans: “Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta”) wordt door de onderzoeker (voorlopig althans) kennelijk ook gezien als een opvolger van de Orde uit de tijd van de kruistochten. Naar de SMOM en andere Orders van Sint Jan is diepgaand onderzoek verricht door mijn collega Hans Hoegen Dijkhof. Hij komt tot de navolgende conclusie in zijn proefschrift: The Legitimacy of Orders of Saint John (p.218):

“The interim conclusion is that the original Order founded around 1050, carried on till 1154, respectively 1798 and in the course of its history, Anglican and Protestant split-offs occurred. In 1798, Napoleon dissolved this original Order. Czar Paul I was then validly elected in 1798 as Grandmaster of what States and Priories have seen as the original Order continued. Then in 1803, a ‘coup d’état’ by Pope Pius VII, facilitated by Czar Alexander I and a marionet provisional Sacred Council, took place and this started a new Papal Order in 1803. The new Order started in 1798 under Czar Paul I, in principle legally remained established in St. Petersburg and carried on somehow in Russia during the rest of the 19 th century.”

Napoleon heeft deze antieke Orde dus in ieder geval in 1798 opgeheven. In 1803 heeft de Paus een nieuwe Orde gesticht met een andere naam. Ook de SMOM is dus geen rechtstreekse opvolger van de oude middeleeuwse Orde. Wel kan worden gesteld dat zij in de traditie hiervan treedt, maar daarin is de SMOM niet exclusief, zoals blijkt uit onderstaande jurisprudentie.

In 2012 verloor de SMOM een belangrijke dispuut (door de SMOM zelf getart) over de rechtmatigheid van het exclusieve gebruik van het witte Maltezer kruis. Inzet was dat de SMOM de oudste rechten op het merk- en beeldrecht had. De US Federal Appeals Court heeft in zijn uitspraak (kort samengevat) bevestigd dat de Russische en de Vaticaanse Orde van Sint Jan, voorafgaande aan 1798 dezelfde wortels hebben en dat de SMOM heeft gefraudeerd bij de registratie van haar merken en schrapte de desbetreffende registraties. De SMOM had dus niet de exclusieve historische rechten; zie:


De Hoge Raad van Adel is ingesteld bij Besluit van de Soevereine Vorst van 24 juni 1814, nr. 10. De Wet op de adeldom van 10 mei 1994 (Staatsblad 360) regelt de samenstelling en bevoegdheid van de Raad. Als vast college van advies over de uitvoering in zaken van bestuur van het Rijk (ingevolge art. 79 van de Grondwet) adviseert de Raad (

  • de minister van Algemene Zaken over naamgeving, titulatuur en wapenverlening van leden van het koninklijk huis, het Rijkswapen en de Nederlandse vlag;
  • de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties over adelszaken en de samenstelling en wijziging van de wapens van publiekrechtelijke lichamen;
  • de minister van Justitie over verzoeken tot naamswijziging, waarbij de namen van adellijke geslachten of van heerlijkheden betrokken zijn;
  • de minister van Defensie over ontwerpen van emblemen en medailles van de krijgsmachtsonderdelen.

Op het gebied van erkenning van Orden heeft de Raad dus geen enkele wettelijke taak. Het probleem hier is dat er geen enkele staatsautoriteit bestaat. De Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden gaat hier immers ook niet over, zoals wellicht gedacht kan worden. De Kanselarij is bij Koninklijk Besluit (KB) van 3 juni 1844 ingesteld. Zij is de overheidsorganisatie die adviseert over voordrachten voor Koninklijke onderscheidingen en verantwoordelijk is voor het beheer en de uitgifte van Koninklijke onderscheidingen. De Kanselarij heeft de volgende taken:

  • adviseren aan de regering over het instellen of wijzigen van onderscheidingen en herinneringstekenen;
  • ondersteunen van het Kapittel voor de Civiele Orden en het Kapittel der Militaire Willems-Orde bij het adviseren over voordrachten voor Koninklijke onderscheidingen;
  • registreren en archiveren van verleende onderscheidingen;
  • verwerven, beheren en verstrekken van orde- en herinneringstekenen en bijbehorende oorkondes;
  • innemen van ordetekenen en registratie.

Het instellen van Ridderorden is dus geen taak van de Hoge Raad van Adel of de Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden. Zij hebben dus ook geen autoriteit op het gebied van de erkenning hiervan. Maar wie is dan wel de autoriteit op dit gebied?

Echte ridderorden

Nederland kent twee soorten orden: orden die door de regering en orden die door het hoofd van de regerende dynastie persoonlijk worden toegekend. Bij het verlenen van onderscheidingen uit de eerstgenoemde categorie is het ministerieel contraseign vereist, bij de tweede categorie, de zogenoemde huisorden, niet. Hoewel de tekst dit niet uitdrukkelijk bepaalt, heeft art. 111 Grondwet (“Ridderorden worden bij de wet ingesteld.”) alleen betrekking op de eerste categorie. De drie momenteel bestaande ridderorden in deze zin zijn de Militaire Willemsorde (ingesteld bij wet van 30 april 1815, Stb. 33), de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (ingesteld bij wet van 29 september 1815, Stb. 47), en de Orde van Oranje-Nassau (ingesteld bij wet van 4 april 1892, Stb. 55).

Behalve ridderorden bestaan er ook andere koninklijke onderscheidingen – niet zijnde ridderorden –, die sinds 1817 zijn ingesteld. Deze onderscheidingen dienen in het algemeen ter beloning van of  ter herinnering aan een bepaalde daad of een bepaald feit. Zij worden ingesteld bij koninklijk besluit. Een reëel verschil tussen de bij wet ingestelde ridderorden en de bij koninklijk besluit ingestelde koninklijke onderscheidingen bestaat vooral hierin dat deze laatsten geen ‘ridderorden’ in de zin van de wet zijn (zie

De Johanniter Orde, de Orde van Malta en de Duitse Orde behoren tot de door de Nederlandse regering erkende ridderlijke orden (zie: Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen van 25 juli 2013). Het zijn nieuw opgerichte Orden, hetgeen destijds door de overheid bij de oprichting uitdrukkelijk werd vermeld (zie: E. Renger de Bruin, p. 599). Het zijn ook geen ridderorden.


Mijn conclusie is dat geen van de hiervoor genoemde Orden eerlijkerwijs kan stellen dat hij een rechtstreekse historische opvolger is van de Orde van Sint Jan uit de tijd van de kruistochten. Dat deze pretentie wel bestaat, is (diplomatiek gezegd) niet correct ( “De Johanniter Orde is een Ridderlijke Orde met een protestants-christelijke grondslag. De Orde is bijna duizend jaar geleden door kruisvaarders gesticht als de Ridderlijke Orde van het Hospitaal van Sint Jan en heeft dan ook een rijke historie.

Naast de officiële ridderorden die door de wet zijn ingesteld, zijn alle “Orden” min of meer in gelijke zin legaal. De veronderstelling in de samenvatting van het onderzoek van Versélewel de Witt Hamer is dus niet correct. De Johanniters en de SMOM zijn geen “erkende” opvolgers van de oorspronkelijke orden uit de kruistochten, hoewel de Johanniter, Maltezer en Duitse Orde door de Nederlandse regering als ridderlijk zijn erkend.

Er zijn – naast de orden met enig indirect historisch fundament – veel fantasie-orden, zonder enige historische grondslag. Deze zijn (vanuit een internationaal perspectief) deels opgesomd in het standaard (maar niet foutloze) werk van Stair Sainty. De vraag naar de historische legitimiteit is dus wel interessant. Wellicht dat Versélewel de Witt Hamer hier op doelt. Het is te hopen dat de onderzoeker de moed heeft om een transparante en vernieuwende kijk op het fenomeen “ridderorde” te geven, zonder te vervallen in het nakwekken van gekleurd onderzoek van anderen. Gelet op de uitstekende reputatie van Versélewel de Witt Hamer, acht ik de kans van slagen groot.

Belangrijkste literatuur


1000_1000_259_Geloven-verplicht-voorpaginaOnlangs is het proefschrift van Versélewel de Witt Hamer uitgegeven door het Koninklijk Nederlandsch Genootschap voor Geslacht- en Wapenkunde. Het is een indrukwekkende studie geworden met veel materiaal dat weinig bekend was. Het boek is prettig leesbaar en opvallend neutraal. Kennelijk heeft Versélewel de Witt Hamer een objectieve houding tot het onderwerp weten te bewaren. Het is hem gelukt om met een zekere afstand naar het fenomeen ‘ridderlijke orde’ te kijken. De studie heeft een flinke diepgang en een goede opbouw.

Ik kan een ieder aanbevelen om dit verfrissende standaardwerk aan te schaffen. Het boek kan worden besteld via de webwinkel van het KNGGW.



Is het in Duitsland strafbaar om ten onrechte een adellijke titel te voeren?

Duitsland, dat moet worden beschouwd als rechtsopvolger van het Heilige Roomse Rijk der Duitse Natie, heeft de adel als stand in 1919 bij wet afgeschaft. Artikel 109, derde lid, tweede volzin, van de Grondwet van de Republiek Weimar van 1919 Weimarer Reichsverfassung) luidt immers als volgt: “Öffentlich-rechtliche Vorrechte oder Nachteile der Geburt oder des Standes sind aufzuheben. Adelsbezeichnungen gelten nur als Teil des Namens und dürfen nicht mehr verliehen werden”. Openbare voorrechten van geboorte en stand zijn middels deze bepaling sedertdien blijvend opgeheven. Onder meer de voorheen adellijke titel “Freiherr” maakt vanaf 1919 uitsluitend onderdeel uit van de geslachtsnaam. De overgang van dit onderdeel van de naam wordt in Duitsland niet beheerst door adelrechtelijke bepalingen, maar door regels van naamrecht, zoals geregeld in het Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch. De vraag kan worden gesteld hoe het zit met het onterecht voeren van adellijke titels in Duitsland. Doorgaan met het lezen van “Is het in Duitsland strafbaar om ten onrechte een adellijke titel te voeren?”

Haarlemse rechter ‘corrigeert’ het Europees Hof

In een zaak die in 2012 bij de rechtbank in Haarlem diende (ECLI:NL:RBHAA:2012:BW5042), ging het over de vraag of kinderen binnen hetzelfde gezin met dezelfde achternaam, allemaal hetzelfde adelspredicaat moeten kunnen voeren. Vader en grootvader hadden wel het predicaat maar het (klein)kind (verzoeker) niet.

De casus

De grootvader van verzoeker had een verzoek tot inlijving in de Nederlandse adel ingediend in 1994, vijf maanden voordat de Wet op de Adeldom (Woa) van kracht werd. Hoewel de (positieve) beslissing op het verzoek van de grootvader is gegeven na de invoering van deze wet, te weten 3 oktober 1995, was op dat verzoek niet het nieuwe, maar het oude adelsrecht van toepassing. Verzoeker, geboren in 1990, viel als erkende (klein)zoon om die reden buiten de werking van het toen geldende adelsrecht (aldus de Hoge Raad van Adel). Hoewel de Woa overgang van adeldom op buiten huwelijk geboren kinderen momenteel wel mogelijk maakt (artikel 3), heeft dit artikel volgens een uitspraak van de Afdeling bestuursrechtspraak van de Raad van State van 5 januari 2005 geen terugwerkende kracht en geldt daarom alleen voor kinderen geboren na de invoering van de wet, aldus de Hoge Raad van Adel.

Verzoeker had met brief van 17 maart 2008 verzocht om inschrijving in het filiatieregister van de Nederlandse adel, waarop bij brief van 29 april 2008 negatief is gereageerd. Verzoeker verzoekt de rechtbank de ambtenaar van de burgerlijke stand te gelasten zijn geboorteakte aan te vullen in die zin dat op de geboorteakte het predicaat jonkheer wordt aangetekend. Doorgaan met het lezen van “Haarlemse rechter ‘corrigeert’ het Europees Hof”

Lex Salica

Als het gaat om de erfopvolging binnen vorstenhuizen, wordt regelmatig een beroep gedaan op de zogenoemde Lex Salica. De Frankische koning Chlodowich I (Clovis) gaf tussen 507 en 511 de opdracht de zogenoemde Lex Salica op schrift vast te leggen. Het is interessant na te gaan in hoeverre een beroep hierop gerechtvaardigd is.

Verspreiding van de Lex Salica

De Salische Franken kwamen in 358 het Romeinse Rijk binnen bij Toxandrië (een gouw die zich uitstrekte van de Kempen in het zuiden tot de Maas in het noorden). In 440 stichtten ze een koninkrijk met als centrum Doornik. Ze breidden hun rijk steeds verder uit naar het zuiden. De Salische Franken leefden voorafgaande aan de Grote Volksverhuizing rond de IJssel, maar zij verplaatsten zich later naar het tegenwoordige Vlaanderen en Frankrijk. Onder Karel de Grote werden stammen in Duitsland, Zwitserland en Noord-Italië onderworpen. Hierdoor kwam een groot deel van West-Europa onder de Salische Wet (zie het proefschrift van W. J. D Boone, De Franken van hun eerste optreden tot de dood van Childerik, Groningen 1954). Doorgaan met het lezen van “Lex Salica”

De term “fons honorum”

In de literatuur over adel wordt regelmatig de term “fons honorum” gebruikt. Uitgereikte (adellijke) titels en decoraties worden pas als “echt” gezien als de verlenende persoon of instantie een fons honorum heeft. Mij is nooit geheel duidelijk geworden wat hieronder binnen een juridische context wordt verstaan. In een Italiaanse zaak, de zogenaamde Paterno-case, wordt wel duidelijk dat het al dan niet hebben van een fons honorum van groot belang is als het gaat om misleiding en fraude bij het verlenen van onderscheidende kwalificaties als “baron” en “ridder in de Orde van (…)”.

Juridische positie

De term “fons honorum” ben ik niet tegengekomen in nationale of internationale wetgeving. De verschillende definities hebben dan ook geen actuele juridische grondslag. Fons honorum is naar mijn mening gekoppeld aan het internationaal staatsrechtelijke beginsel van soevereiniteit omdat het recht om eerbewijzen te verlenen naar zijn aard een vorm van erkenning impliceert door een staat. Voor een definitie van het begrip staat wordt vaak artikel 1 van de Conventie van Montevideo aangehaald (Convention on the rights and duties of states; Montevideo, 26 december 1933 (165 LNTS p. 19). Het betreft hier de bekendste formulering van de criteria voor het ontstaan van een staat; Werner 2007, p. 166):

The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations.

In de onderlinge relaties tussen staten betekent soevereiniteit dat staten niet in een hiërarchische verhouding tot elkaar staan, maar dat zij in juridische zin aan elkaar gelijk(waardig) zijn (zie ook: art. 2, eerste lid, Handvest van de VN: “De Organisatie is gegrond op het beginsel van soevereine gelijkheid van al haar leden”). Doorgaan met het lezen van “De term “fons honorum””