The modern surviving entity of the ancient Order of Saint John – PART 1: Ancient history

This series of three articles addresses the question, to what extent the ancient Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as Knights Hospitaller, has one or more modern surviving entities.

Originally, the Knights Hospitaller were a medieval religious Order (Merriam-Webster: a group of people united in a formal way), but gradually, its military dimension became more dominant. The Knights Hospitaller had their headquarters in Jerusalem until 1291 (after the fall of Jerusalem), on Rhodes from 1310 until 1522, on Malta from 1530 until 1798 and in Saint Petersburg from 1799 until 1803. Today, several organizations continue the Hospitaller tradition, and many claim to be a legitimate continuation of the medieval Knights Hospitaller.

Historical background

In order to understand the context of the formation of the Knights Hospitaller, this article summarizes Jerusalem’s history since Alexander the Great (356–323 BC).

Hellenic period

Jerusalem fell under Hellenistic control and influence when Alexander the Great conquered the region in 332 BC. During the Hellenic period, Jerusalem was a prosperous and independent city, which had the status of a polis (city-state). It had a measure of autonomy in managing its own affairs and was known as “Haga Polis”.

Roman period

In 37 BC, Jerusalem was captured by Herod the Great (c. 72–4 or 1 BC), a Jewish vassal-king of the Romans, who ruled Judea. Herod rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city after the destruction in the First Jewish-Roman War (66–73). In the two centuries that the city was under Roman control, it remained a relatively unimportant pagan Roman town.

Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) period

Constantine I, byname Constantine the Great, Latin in full Flavius Valerius Constantinus, (born February 27, after 280 CE?, Naissus, Moesia [now Niš, Serbia]—died May 22, 337, Ancyrona, near Nicomedia, Bithynia [now İzmit, Turkey]), is the first Roman emperor to profess Christianity. He not only initiated the evolution of the empire into a Christian state but also provided the impulse for a distinctively Christian culture that prepared the way for the growth of Byzantine and Western medieval culture (source: Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash.

Emperor Constantine the Great (272–337) rebuilt Jerusalem as the center of Christianity. His major building project was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, started around 326 by replacing an ancient temple near his church. After the temple was torn down and its ruins removed, the soil was removed from the cave, revealing a rock-cut tomb that was identified by Constantin’s mother as the burial site of Jesus.

Persian period

In 614, during the Byzantine–Persian war (602–628), Jerusalem was captured by the Persians. The conquest of Jerusalem was a violent military operation that involved a mass killing of the local Christian population. However, all excavated sites in Jerusalem show a clear pattern of continuity, with no evidence of destruction by the Persian conquest of 614 or the Arab conquest of 636. In 630, Jerusalem was under Byzantine control again and the True Cross, which was taken by the Persians was returned, although not everybody believes that this was the original item (Constantin Zuckerman, “Heraclius and the return of the Holy Cross,” Travaux et mémoires 17 (2013), 197-218).

Early Muslim period

By the end of the Byzantine–Persian war, both sides had very little resources left and were vulnerable. The Muslim armies of the Islamic Rashidun Caliphate, the first caliphate to succeed the prophet Muhammad, took advantage of the vacuum and rapidly conquered the entire Sasanian Empire as well large Byzantine territories, including Jerusalem. The city is important to Islam as it is the last place the Prophet Muhammad visited before he ascended to the heavens and talked to God. The historical sources emphasize the fact that Jerusalem was not stormed in a violent invasion but rather surrendered peacefully to the Islamic forces. Christian communities remained active in the city throughout the Early Muslim period. By the middle of the 10th century, most of the population of Jerusalem was still Christian. Throughout the Early Muslim period (from 637–638 until 1099) Jerusalem retained a sizable Christian majority, and the city prospered.

Great Mosque of Damascus, also called Umayyad Mosque, the earliest surviving stone mosque, built between 705 and 715 CE by the Umayyad Caliph al-Walīd I, who proclaimed to his citizens: “People of Damascus, four things give you a marked superiority over the rest of the world: your climate, your water, your fruits, and your baths. To these I add a fifth: this mosque.” Adjacent to the mosque is the tomb of one of the most illustrious Muslim leaders, Saladin, who recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders Source: Photo by T Foz on Unsplash

In 1009, the (“mad”) caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (985– vanished 1021) destroyed the hospital and three thousand other buildings in Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. In 1023, caliph Ali az-Zahir (1005-1036) granted merchants from Amalfi and Salerno permission to rebuild the hospital in Jerusalem, in order to improve relations with Byzantium and the Christian subjects. Also, he allowed the rebuilding of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was carried out by workmen, who were sent by Constantine IX (c. 1004-1055). Around 1080, Gérard de Martigues, a lay brother in the Benedictine Order, started managing the hospital of Saint John in Jerusalem. Its purpose was to provide medical aid to pilgrims, and it included infirmaries, a clothing store, a church and an altar, a kitchen area, toilets, storerooms and stables. The hospital was built on the site of the Monasteries of Saint John the Baptist in the 1060s. It was an addition to a hospice that was rebuilt in the 1020s. What the hospitaller’s relationship to the two Benedictine monasteries, which were located on the same site as separate male and female institutions, is still unknown (see: Heinzelmann, D. and J. Krüger. The beginnings of the Order of Saint John in Jerusalem, or: Muristan revisited, Medievalista [Online], 30 | 2021; DOI:

In 1099, during the First Crusade under Godfrey of Bouillon, the Crusaders (consisting of nobles, knights and peasants) conquered Jerusalem from the Muslim Fatimid Caliphate. This created the foundation of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, which lasted almost two centuries. The siege led to the mass slaughter of thousands of Muslims and Jews and to the conversion of Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount into Christian shrines. Since then, Palestine was in Christian hands. In addition to the most important holy sites such as the tomb of Jesus Christ, the Crusaders controlled the entire eastern shore of the Mediterranean with their cities and castles.

Development of the Order

National Library of Malta, The Archives of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. Bull “Pie postulatio voluntatis” that was issued by Pope Paschal II in 1113 in favour of the hospital in Jerusalem. By virtue of this document, the pope granted the hospital papal protection and conformed its properties in Europe and Asia (source: WikiCommons).

There is much misconception regarding the transformation from Hospitallers to a recognized Order. Wikipedia states that the 1113 Papal Bull “Piae postulatio voluntatis” (English: the most pious request) “formally recognized the establishment of the Knights Hospitaller and confirmed its independence and sovereignty“. Professor Van Winter (Geestelijke ridderorden, organisatorisch met elkaar vergeleken Winter, Johanna Maria van. (1998) – In: Virtus. Bulletin van de Werkgroep Adelsgeschiedenis vol. 5 (1998) pp. 48-58) claims that the Bull granted the Hospitallers the right to choose their own “Grandmaster”. However, both claims are incorrect, as the text of the Bull immediately shows (see Appendix). An authoritative article by professor Hiestand confirms that the Bull only contains a general and common protection declaration, the (also common) right to freely elect its president and a tax exemption (Hiestand, Rudolf. (1980) Die Anfänge der Johanniter. In: Die geistlichen Ritterorden Europas, p. 50). It is not known when the Hospitallers first developed their military dimension. The first known military appearance was in 1136 when the Hospitallers were given land to fortify and defend Beit Jibrin, a village between Gaza and Hebron. Since the end of the 1140s, the Hospitallers (directly or with the aid of visiting warriors) defended the Crusader states and engaged in contracts to protect Latin strongholds and pilgrims (see: Hiestand, 1980, p. 70). Soon this military function overshadowed the original nursing purpose of the Hospitallers. Contrary to popular belief, it was not before the end of the 12th century, that the hospital was recognized as an Order (Hiestand, p. 64). At the time, it held over 20 strongholds in the Holy Land, including the Krak des Chevaliers, a medieval castle in Syria, first inhabited in the 11th century by the Kurdish military. 

In 1187, Jerusalem was reconquered by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb (“Righteousness of the Faith, Joseph, Son of Job”), also called al-Malik al-Nāṣir Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Yūsuf I, or Saladin (1137/38-1193). Saladin was the Muslim sultan of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine, and the founder of the Ayyūbid dynasty. The victory over the Christians made him a famous Muslim hero.

When Saladin entered Jerusalem, it was full of refugees and had few defenders. The worst was expected after Saladin’s mass slaughter of the Templars and Hospitallers, following the battle of Hattin (1187). However, Saladin’s treatment of prisoners was generous. He paid the ransom for thousands of poor Christians and let them go free (William J. Hamblin, Muslim Perspectives on the Military Orders during the Crusades, BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol.40:4, 2001).

The fall of Jerusalem was not the end of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The capital moved first to Tyre (currently Lebanon) and later to Acre (now Israel), which was recaptured from Saladin during the Third Crusade. When Saladin failed to pay the first installment of the ransom for the prisoners on schedule, king Richard I (the Lionheart) ordered that all 2.700 members of the Muslim garrison be marched outside the city and executed in view of Saladin and his army. Saladin responded by massacring most of his Christian hostages. This abhorrent action is one of the many reasons why Richard I has been viewed as irresponsible and hot-tempered by modern historians and scholars.

In Jerusalem, Saladin restored Muslim holy sites and generally showed tolerance towards Christians. He allowed Orthodox and Eastern Christian pilgrims to visit the holy sites freely — though Frankish pilgrims were required to pay a fee for entry. The control of Christian affairs in the city was handed over to the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.

In 1291, Acre came under assault of the Mamluks, descendants of slave-warriors who had been recruited (or enslaved) in various regions of the world, including the Balkans and East Asia. The Mamluks became a powerful military force in the Islamic world, establishing their own dynasty which ruled Egypt and Syria from the mid-13th Century. The era of Saladin’s great Ayyubid Dynasty was over. The Crusaders now had to deal with an even worse enemy, who was determined to drive the Christians out of the Middle East. After a chaotic and violent battle, Acre came into Muslim hands and Christian rule ended (John D. Hosler. The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle That Decided the Third Crusade. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018). The historian Abū al-Fidāʾ (1273-1331) – a descendant of Saladin’s nephew Taqi al-Din ‘Umar and one of the last Ayyubid rulers to be tolerated by the Mamluk sultans – stated that the region was purified of the Franks and the whole of Palestine was now in Muslim hands:

The descent of the Islamic armies upon [Acre] occurred in the first days of Jumada I of this year (AH 690, May 1291). The fighting became fierce; the Franks had not closed most of their gates, but rather they were open, with [the Franks] fighting in them. The location of the troops from Hamah was at the head of the right wing, according to their custom. We were beside the sea, with the sea on our right as we faced Acre. Ships bearing wooden vaulting covered with ox hides would come at us, shooting at us with arrows and [crossbow] bolts, so that there was fighting [coming] from in front of us, from the direction of the city, and from our right, from the sea. They brought up a ship upon which was a mangonel that shot at us and our tents from the direction of the sea, and we suffered hardship until one night strong galeforce winds arose, the ship was caught up and sank because of the waves, and the mangonel that was in it was broken in such a way that it was shattered and was not set up [again] after that.

During the time of the siege, the Franks came out by night and took the army by surprise. They routed the sentries and reached the tents, getting entangled in the guy-ropes. One of their knights fell into the latrine of one of the emirs and was killed there. The [Muslim] troops came to outnumber them, and the Franks fled, defeated, to the city. The troops of Hamah killed a number of them, and when morning came al-Malik al-Muzaffar, the lord of Hamah, hung a number of the Franks’ heads on the necks of the horses that the soldiers had taken from them and took them to the sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf [Khalil].

The [Muslim] troops’ attack on Acre became more aggressive until God, be He exalted, gave them its conquest by the sword on Friday, 17 Jumada II (17 June). When the Muslims stormed into [the city], some of its people fled in ships. Within the city were a number of towers that were resisting like citadels, which a large number of Franks entered and fortified themselves within. The Muslims killed [many people] and took in Acre a quantity of plunder greater than can be reckoned. Then the sultan called for the surrender of all who were resisting in the towers, and not one person hesitated. Then he issued orders regarding them, and they were beheaded, to the last man, around Acre. Then he gave orders regarding the city of Acre, and it was torn down to the ground and completely demolished.

A wondrous thing is the coincidence that the Franks took control of Acre, taking it from Salah al-Din (Saladin) at noon on Friday, 17 Jumada II 587 (12 July 1191), capturing the Muslims who were in it and then killing them, and God, be He glorified and exalted, with His advance knowledge decreed that it should be conquered in this year (690/1291) on Friday, 17 Jumada II, at the hand of the sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf Salah al-Din; its conquest was similar to the day that the Franks took possession of it, and likewise the laqabs of the sultans.

Source: ‘Imad al-Din Isma‘il ibn ‘Ali, known as Abu’l-Fida’. (1998–9) Al-Mukhtasar fi Akhbar al-Bashar. Ed. Muhammad Z.M. ‘Azab et al. Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif, Vol. 4, pp. 34–35.

Cyprus, Rhodes and Malta

After the fall of Acre, the Hospitallers moved to Cyprus, and in 1310, after more than four years of war, to Rhodes, which was in Byzantine hands. Rhodes remained the last Christian outpost in the East for more than two centuries. Rhodes stood halfway between Istanbul and Cairo as well as midway between Syria and Greece. It stood in the way of Ottoman communication and maritime commerce. During their residence on Rhodes, the Hospitallers were also referred to as the Knights of Rhodes. During this period, the knights withstood five invasions: four by the Egyptian Mamluks in 1440, 1444, 1457, 1469 and another in 1480 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, who captured Constantinople and conquered the territories in Anatolia and the Balkans that constituted the Ottoman Empire’s heartland for the next four centuries.

Young Süleyman the Magnificent by Hans Eworth (or Ewouts; c. 1520–1574), Flemish painter, active in England.

In 1522, after a second war, Ottoman sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, conquered Rhodes with an army of 400 ships and 100.000 men against 6.700 knights, soldiers, peasants, fishermen and women. The terms of the surrender were considered reasonable by the people of Rhodes: (i) the Knights would leave the island within 12 days; (ii) weapons and armory would be allowed to leave with them; (iii) other islanders were offered a time period of three years to leave the island; (iv) no churches would be destroyed or converted into mosques; (v) those remaining would not be subject to Ottoman tax for five years. After the departure of the knights, Süleyman broke his promises. He had thousands of the local civilians killed, plundered the city and converted local churches into mosques.

For seven years, the Knights were without a head quarters, but in 1530 Pope Clement VII reached an agreement with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, also King of Spain and Sicily, to grant the knights the island of Malta. This was not acceptable for sultan Süleyman. In 1565, he sent a military force of about 40.000 men to conquer Malta, defended by 700 knights and 8.000 soldiers. Süleyman’s goal was to create a new base from which he could launch another assault on Europe. After months of attacks, the Ottomans were on the brink of success when a small force of knights attacked the Ottoman camp. Thinking that the knights had Spanish reinforcements, their commander ordered the retreat and the advantage was lost. The Ottoman forces regrouped and prepared for a long battle. At that moment, the news arrived that a Christian relief force had landed on the north coast of the island. The Ottoman troops retreated, but the forces clashed and less than half of the Ottoman forces managed to escape. The battle ended in a disaster for the Ottomans and the Christian world became aware that the Ottoman expansion could be halted.

Under the knight’s rule, Malta flourished for centuries, however on the backs of innocent men, women and children (see: Fontenay, M., 2001. The slave market in Malta at the time of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem (1530-1798). Quaderni storici. 36. 391-413). Valetta, founded by the knights, would later become Christianity’s biggest slave trading city in the Mediterranean:

The institution of slavery formed one of the pillars of the economic fabric of the Order. Slaves were first and foremost a fruitful source of labour. They were employed as rowers in the galleys, as artisans in the manufacture of cotton sail-cloth and as labourers on the land works. In 1635, for instance, as many as 600 slaves were employed in such works in the towns of Valletta and Senglea alone. Their manumission was a good source of income; thus the money accruing to the Order in 1789 from the ransom of slaves amounted to over £1,600 out of a total state revenue of over £136,000. Slaves were sold, bartered, lent or donated as gifts. In the seventeenth century, for instance, the British Navy contemplated the acquisition of slaves from Malta for the manning of its ships in the Mediterranean. In 1662 one hundred slaves were made over to His Holiness the Pope for his naval squadron. In 1720 the Grandmaster again presented forty slaves to the Pope as the Order’s share towards the contribution of 150 Moslem slaves demanded by the Sultan to allow the Christians to repair the cupola of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Female slaves were donated to the Vice-reine of Naples on several occasions between 1637 and 1655.

Cassar P. A medical service for slaves in Malta during the rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Med Hist. 1968 Jul;12(3):270-7. doi: 10.1017/s0025727300013314. PMID: 4875614; PMCID: PMC1033829, p. 271.


No age was exempt from captivity in the bitter and incessant war between Christian and Moslem which came to an end, as far as the Knights of st. John were concerned, as recently as the close of the eighteenth century. For example, one comes across documents in the Order’s archives in Malta recording the enslavement of children from the age of two years onwards and of adults as old as seventy years and also mothers with their babies. Most of these slaves presented a sore spectacle at the time of capture which usually occurred after a fight at close quarters. Thus the injuries and diseases of 109 slaves captured by the knights in 1665 included fire-arms burns, cuts from swords and knives, lacero-contused wounds produced by musket balls and stones, mutilated fingers and wrists; ringworm of the scalp, naevi in the chest and face, squints, abscesses and ‘signs of plague’ in the thigh. There was also a youth with ‘tremors in his hands’.1 In another batch of slaves there were several with scars of smallpox, one with a speech defect and a hunchback. In 1685 an official of the Order complained that out of sixty slaves reaching the Island, twenty-four were found incapable of rowing in the galleys as they were either sick or maimed.

Cassar P. A medical service for slaves in Malta during the rule of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Med Hist. 1968 Jul;12(3):270-7. doi: 10.1017/s0025727300013314. PMID: 4875614; PMCID: PMC1033829. p. 270.

The Knights of Malta formed their own pirate fleet which would become the biggest Christian privateer fleet in the Mediterranean. Like the Barbary States (Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli), the Knights of Malta became a uncivilized pirate state, which was eventually cleansed in 1798 by emperor Napoléon Bonaparte.

Slavery was abolished in Malta by Napoléon during his invasion of Malta on 16 June 1798. He introduced radical health and education reforms intended to align Malta’s administration to the new revolutionary ideology of the French republic. Fifteen primary schools were founded and the university was replaced by an ‘Ecole centrale’. All feudal rights and privileges were abolished. A new administration was created with a Government Commission, and twelve municipalities were formed. In addition, twelve judges were nominated and public finance administration was arranged (Dictionnaire Napoléon, (ed. J. Tulard), Fayard, 1989, pp. 1125-6).

During the 16th century Protestant Reformation, large numbers of German Knights converted to Lutheranism. This did not go well with the Order’s Grandmaster, Jean de la Cassière. In 1581, he formally summoned the chief of the German branch, Martin Count of Hohenstein, to the Chapter in Malta. Hohenstein did not appear, and De la Cassière declared the exclusion of the Brandenburg members from the Order. This constituted a Protestant split-off within the Order, the Johanniter Order.

End of the Order

On 11 August 1790, the French National Assembly “decreed that those tithes possessed by secular and religious bodies, including the Maltese and other religious and military orders, were to be abolished;” (Cavaliero, pp. 184-185). The seizure of property included the commandery of Manosque (currently Département Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), which was the spiritual heart of the Knights Hospitaller, where Gerard, founder of the Order, was buried and a lamp had been maintained for centuries (Frederick W. Ryan, 1930, p. 174).

“Paul I in Coronation Robes,” by Vladimir Borovikovsky. Tsar Paul here is seen wearing a Maltese Knight’s crimson robe with a large Maltese cross on it. Source: Russian Museum. A copy (a gift to the Order by Emperor Nicholas II in 1908) hangs in a prominent place in the Grand Reception Room of the Magistral Palace in Rome.

After Napoleon’s taking of Malta, the Order was scattered and dissolved. A large number of refugee knights took shelter in Saint Petersburg, which was a logical step. Already in 1698, Tsar Peter had sent delegations and diplomats to Hospitaller Malta to negotiate a Russo-Maltese alliance against the Ottoman empire. In the 1760s a Russian diplomat was installed in Malta and the famous fleet of the Order was used by Russian officers for training. Malta and the Order played an important role in Tsarina Catherine’s politics: Malta was to serve as a bridgehead for a permanent Russian presence in the Mediterranean. In 1768, a plan was drawn up for a joint Russo-Maltese naval attack on the Greek mainland. Officially, France remained the main protector of the Order’s neutrality, so until the end of the Ancien régime the Order did not risk an open alliance with Russia. In the long run, Tsarina Catherine’s insistence had paved the way for extremely close Russo-Maltese relations to come when her son Paul became tsar.

Saint Petersburg, 1797, creation of the Grand Priory of Russia for the Order of Malta through six diplomatic documents, three signed by Paul I and three by his plenipotentiaries, Alexander Bezborodko, Alexander Kurakin and Giulio Litta. The documents were sold at Hôtel des ventes du Château, 13, avenue de Saint-Cloud – 78000 Versailles on 13 March 2021. Result: returned to Moscow. Price: €518,750. The documents mention Prince Bezborodko and Prince Alexander Kurakin as plenipotentiaries to the Order of Malta for the purpose of negotiating a convention to strengthen and extend the establishment of the Order in the Russian Empire: “Let it be known herewith that, wishing to give a striking proof of Our benevolence and consideration to the illustrious Order of Malta, by the consolidation and extension in Our Empire of the establishment of this Order, which existed in Poland and particularly in the provinces which have been united to Our Sovereignty, and with the intention of giving it consequently all its strength, value and execution, We have appointed and instituted (…) Count Alexander Besborodko, present Privy Councillor (…) and Prince Alexander Kurakin as Plenipotentiaries to the Order of Malta. ) and Prince Alexander Kurakin, Our Vice-Chancellor (…) to whom we give power, for ourselves and in our name, not only to enter into negotiations and talks with Jules Réné Bailli, Count of Litta, Minister Plenipotentiary of the illustrious Order of Malthe (…) who is also and sufficiently endowed with full powers on behalf of the said Order (…) but also to draw up, conclude and sign with him on this subject a convention and separate articles relating to it (…).”
On behalf of the Order, Giulio Renato Litta-Visconti-Arese played an important role in the negotiations between the Order and the Tsar. In 1794, he was the official ambassador of the Order, charged with pressing the Maltese claim to unpaid rents from the Ostrog Priory in the Polish-Lithunian Commonwealth, by then under the control of the Russian crown. Litta (Milan 1763 – Sain Petersburg 1839) studied at the Collegio Clementino in Rome and excelled especially in Latin and mathematics. At the age of 20 he entered the Order of Malta. Litta, who had very good nautical knowledge, equipped a warship at his own expense, with which he played an outstanding role in the pursuit and destruction of piracy. In 1788, he received the commandery of the Russian fleet. In 1788, he was given the commandery of the Russian fleet, which was operating against the Swedes in the Baltic Sea, and destroyed the Swedish fleet on 13 August 1789. For this outstanding victory he was honored and decorated many times, among others Vice Admiral of the Russian Navy, Minister of State and Grand Admiral of the Russian Navy, and Grand Chamberlain of the Tsar. Litta married to a niece of Potemkin, and lived highly honored at the Tsar’s court (see: La Gazzetta di Milano, 1893, n. 101; G. Greppi, Un gentiluomo milanese guerrierio diplomatico, 1763–1839, 1896; F. Coraccini, Storia dell’amministrazione del Regno ď Italia durante il dominio francese, 1823; G. Berti, Russia e stati italiani nel Risorgimento,1957).

After the loss of Malta, the Grandmaster of the Order, Ferdinand von Hompesh, sought Russia’s protection and financial backing.

Tsar Paul I, was pleased with the offer, which would allow him to strengthen his positions in the Mediterranean and set himself up as a defender of Catholics and Europe’s aristocracy. The two parties signed an agreement making the Orthodox Tsar the Grand Prior of the Catholic order. From a number of documents, it is obvious that Von Hompesch and the Order were most grateful to have found a European power which could afford them protection against the emerging Napoléon, and continue the foreign policy that had been planned before by Grandmaster De Rohan. In a letter written on 5 February 1798, the Grandmaster thanked the Tsar again for accepting the Protectorate of the Order (letters published in: Bonnici, A. (1999). Grand Master Fra Ferdinand von Hompesch and postal history. The PSM journal, 28(1), 3-3, pp. 28-29).

The ceremony was held on 29 November 1798. The Knights, wore black robes and hats with white feathers. They gathered in the throne hall of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. Russian historian and journalist Evgeny Karnovich (1823-1885) described the ceremony:

Count Giulio de Litta, on behalf of the Maltese knighthood, asked the Tsar to assume the title of Grandmaster. After that, Prince Kurakin and Count Kutaisov threw a black velvet mantle lined with ermine over the emperor’s shoulders, and Litta, kneeling, presented him with the crown of the Grand Master, which the emperor put on his head. Litta then presented him with a sword – or ‘dagger of faith’. Accepting the regalia of the new power, the Emperor was greatly excited, and those present noticed that tears of pleasure appeared in his eyes. Having drawn the sword of the Grandmaster, he crossed himself with it, giving this sign an oath of observance of the order’s statutes. At the same moment, all the knights drew their swords and shook them in the air, as if threatening the enemies of the order.

Евгений Петрович Карнович, Мальтийские рыцари в России, Историческая повесть из времен императора Павла I

On 21 July 1799 (Ukase 19.044), Tsar Paul I instituted “everywhere and forever” 20 hereditary “Family Commanders” chosen from the most illustrious families of the Russian nobility. In the following years, four hereditary commanders were added to the list:


Mr. Léon Naryshkin
Prince Nicolas Yusupov
Prince Boris Yusupov
Count Nicholas Sheremetev
Baron Alexandre Strogonov
Count Grégoire Samoilov
Prince Alexandre Beloselsky 
Prince Basile Dolgoruky
Mr Leon Davydov
Prince Ivan Bariatinsky
Mr Nicolas Demidov
Prince Basile Trubetskoy
Count Ivan Vorontzov
Marquis Constantin de Maruzzi
Mr Pierre Beketov
Prince Pierre Tufiakin
Mr Mathieu Olsufiev
Mr Alexandre Zherbetzov
Count Paul Stroganov
Mr Porphyre Buturlin


Mr Potemkin
Mr Chirikov

During Alexander I

Prince Khilkov

Prince Odojevski

In 1800, the Russian Grand Priory numbered about four hundred knights and ladies. The Catholic Grand Priory was much smaller, and numbered only about two hundred members.

After Tsar Paul’s death in 1801, his son Tsar Alexander I, did not succeed him as Grandmaster but remained its Protector until 1803, while Prince Nikolay Ivanovich Saltykov was Lieutenant Grandmaster of the Order from 1801 to 1803 on behalf of Tsar Alexander. Tsar Alexander did not assume the title of Grandmaster. The reasons for this decision are of a complex political matter, although as head of a sovereign state, he was perfectly authorised to do so, regardless of the Order’s internal statutes (Hoegen Dijkhof has a dissenting opinion, see: pp. 180-182).:

“Russia is a European power” was Empress Catherine’s II credo and programme. Although generally ignored in modern research on malta and the Order of St. John, her Maltese policy as of major importance. Catherine’s foreign policy concentrated on peace with the major Western powers and aggressive moves towards the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. In two wars against the Ottomans, the Russians won the Crimean peninsula and most of the northern coast of the Black Sea. Besides perceiving the strategic importance of a Russian fleet in the Mediterranean, the tsarina also became interested in the economic benefits of such an extension of Russian interests. Malta and the Order of St. John played an important role in Catherine’s plan. A Russian charge d’affaires was installed in Malta and the Order’s famous fleet was used by Russian officers as a training base. In 1768, in the course of secret negotiations, a plan was drawn up for a joint Russo-Maltese naval attack on the Greek mainland then occupied by the Turks. But the Russian proposal to Malta to use the island as a base for future operations apparently brought about the united opposition of the Mediterranean powers as well as of the British. Diplomacy at this time indicates that, even in such a “holy war” against their infidel arch-enemy, which would have perfectly tallied with its statutes, the Order of St. John could no longer act freely. This is clearly shown when the grand master received a note from Louis XV proposed by the Duke de Choiseul expressing the king’s deep discontent with the Order’s involvement in Russia’s ambitions. The French even threatened to confiscate the property of the Order in France should the Knights of Malta insist in joining the Russian forces. So until the ancien regime in France came to its end, the Order did not risk an open alliance with Russia. But in the long run, Catherine’s insistence had paved the way for extremely close Russo-Maltese relations later. The Order’s balanced policy and neutrality were abandoned in July 1797 when German Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch came to power and in August 1797 when Catherine’s son Tsar Paul I was officially acclaimed as the Order’s protector. To what extent it was political reasoning and calculated foresight (questions of strategic Mediterranean policies, symbolic loyalty to an Order which stood for the traditional values of the ancien regime), or just irrationality and romantic sentiments which made Paul such a fervent defender of the Order of St. John, is hard to determine. The fact is that when in October 1798 Paul was proclaimed the new Grand Master of the Order of Malta, a new pinnacle of Russo-Maltese relations had been reached. But by that date, Malta already had been lost to the French. Paul’s early death left many questions open. Whatever his reasons were for accepting the title of Grand Master, even had he lived longer there would have been very little hope of regaining Malta. His double role as tsar and Grand Master would have constituted an insurmountable obstacle in allowing the Order to regain sovereignity over the island. A new Europe shaped by the concept of national states would have prevented the Order from regaining its European possessions anyway. Tsar Alexander’s I decision to refuse the title of the grand master and to keep a distance from the Order can therefore be seen as an act of political as well as spiritual modernity.

Abstract of: Freller, T. (2003). Russia’s view of a new world – Catherine II and the Russian approaches to the Order of Malta. Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas. 51. 161-184.

On 9 February 1803, a Papal bull appointed Giovanni Battista Tommasi as Grandmaster of the Order. His appointment was ratified on 27 June 1803 during the General Assembly of the Order in the Church of the Priory in Messina. Tommasi died on 13 June 1805. Since then, the Order was led by a luogotenente del magisterio; governor of the Grand Magisterium. The Order’s return to Malta was provided for in the Treaty of Amiens (1802) but revoked by the Treaty of Paris (1814), which assigned Malta to Great Britain. During Tommasi’s short reign, the exiled Order moved to Italy where it finally settled in Rome from 1834. By 1806, what was left of the Order in Western Europe was dissolved and the Order became a loose group of (former) members without an organizational structure:

By 1806, Napoleon had suppressed all what was left of the original Order in France and in Italy. [Smith/Storace, Order of St. John of Jerusalem, p. 43, for further details.] During the period 1805-1810, the Commanderies of Germany, Italy and Bavaria were swept away, Portugal was ravaged and Sicily sequestrated the Sicilian Commanderies for the Royal Treasure. On 24 March 1806, the two Russian Grand Priories (through the marionet Sacred Council) accepted that customary procedure must be followed pending the confirmation of the Candidate for the Magistry (Caracciolo). On 12 July 1806, the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine expropriated the Priory of Germany. In the year 1806, also the Grand Priories of Venice, Lombardy and Germany were expropriated. On 13 July 1806, King Gustaf IV of Sweden offered Gotland to Guevara-Sardo, who declined. In 1807, Pius VII confirmed Guevara-Sardo to stay on as Lt. Grandmaster of the Papal Order and rejected Caracciolo.

Hoegen Dijkhof 2006, p. 195

This changed in 1879, when the office of Grandmaster was restored by Pope Leo XIII. He confirmed Count Giovanni Battista Ceschi a Santa Croce as the new Grandmaster after almost 80 years of vacancy. It should be noted that the Pope acknowledged the importance of the role of the Tsars:


Beloved Son greeting and Apostolic blessing. The Roman Pontiffs, Our Predecessors, always esteemed it most praiseworthy and honourable to protect and favour those institutions which they recognised as being for the glory of God and the health of Christendom, and therefore they accepted under their protection the Military Orders instituted for the growing of Religion and the defence of the Church, and they enriched them with many privileges, and if they found any development in them that departed from the rules and customs, they never neglected, with pastoral vigilance and according to ancient times, to call them back to the ancient and upright path.

No one is unaware of the distinction and the flourishing of the Order that took the name of the hospital of St. John the Baptist of Jerusalem, either because of its ancient origin and the dignity of its members, or because of its distinguished merits towards the Church, or because of the glory of its deeds and its victories over the common enemy. But this Order, too, as is the lot of human beings, has experienced the vicissitudes of time and the vicissitudes of fickle fortune, but it has never been so overwhelmed by the forces of fortune, nor has it been so abandoned by the help of God and of this Holy See, that it has perished altogether: This was most evident at the close of the last century and at the beginning of the present, when, having lost the island of Malta and dispersed the brotherhood, it seemed almost overthrown and destroyed: At that time, by the admirable providence of God, it found unexpected help in the most powerful Russian Emperors Paul I and Alexander I; and it found so much favour in our predecessor Pope Pius VII, of happy memory, that in the new seat where he had taken refuge, he was able to assemble legally and under legitimate superiors fulfil the proper offices of the institution, and as far as possible maintain to a great extent his ancient dignity. Now, although with the passing of the years things seemed to be moving in the right direction, Our Predecessor, considering the internal condition of the Order itself and the circumstances of the times, considered it neither safe nor opportune, after the death of Grand Master Giovanni Battista Tommasi, to confer such a title and honour on the head of the Order; But it was more prudent to postpone the election of the Grand Master, and to Inigo Maria Guevara Suardo, who acted as his successor, he was granted with the title of Lieutenant, the major faculties that seemed necessary for the regiment of the Order and the administration of the common goods, as appears from the Apostolic Letters addressed in the form of a Brief to the aforesaid Inigo Guevara on 21 October 1805. However, it was not the will of the most providential Pontiff that what he had only temporarily provided for, should last perpetually. On the contrary, he repeatedly declared that it was his fervent wish that as soon as the reason of the times permitted, a Grand Master should be appointed to the Order according to the Statutes. But since he passed away before this wish was fulfilled, and since there was no favourable opportunity to restore the ancient and honourable rank of the head of the Order, all those who were later called to that dignity, although by the clemency of this Holy See invested with the faculties, office and duties of supreme heads of the Order, had only the name and title of Lieutenants. Nor did the Roman Pontiffs fail at this time to provide for the good of the Order; for by two Apostolic Letters of happy memory, dated 23 December 1844 and 30 September of the following year, Gregory XVI established certain things that he considered salutary for the regular conduct of the affairs of the Order, and by letter of the Cardinal Secretary of State, dated 11 July 1815, he prescribed the manner and form in which the brethren of the Order should elect their Head. More recently, Pius IX of illustrious memory, Our Predecessor, in his Apostolic Letter of March 1, 1865, contemplated and decreed many things concerning the rights and duties of the Lieutenant and his Council, the observance of which he considered to be of benefit to the Order and the administration of its affairs, In the meantime, with God’s help, and with the help of the knights, especially those who were at the height of things, as well as with the benevolent favour of the European powers, the Order’s position was so firmly established and so happily increased, that not only is it to be rejoiced at its present authority and its happy undertakings for the benefit and adornment of the Church, but it is also to be hoped for greater and more prosperous things in the future. Therefore our venerable brother Antonino de Luca, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Archbishop of Palestrina, and protector of the aforesaid Order, having explained to us the happy and flourishing state of affairs in which this Order finds itself, begged us, with great solicitude for his intervention, that according to the laws and statutes of the Order we might restore to its head the name and dignity of Grand Master. And this we proved to be able to do without harm to anyone, and without a new election, since the people entitled to vote after the year 1805, when the appointment of the Grand Master was indefinitely postponed, in electing the Lieutenant they always sought to confer on him the supreme and permanent power over the entire Order, whatever title the circumstances of the times and things might allow, And the same venerable brother of ours, having moreover represented to us how Thy beloved son was elected to the council that is called complete, with legal suffrage not otherwise than the four Lieutenants of Thy predecessors, commended with various arguments and with much praise Thy diligence towards it and towards the knights of the Order. We have therefore well examined and evaluated everything, considering that those reasons for which Pius VII, Our Predecessor wished to postpone the appointment of the Grand Master; desiring as far as we are concerned to restore this most noble Order, so well deserving of Christian religion and civil society in the person of its head, to its former place of splendour and dignity; and wishing especially to favour you yourself (whom we judge to be most worthy of the highest honour) we thought to accept the prayers made, and gladly acceded to them. We therefore, in view of what has been set forth above, revoke and repeal what was prudently established by Pius VII in his Apostolic Letter of 21 October 1805 concerning the postponement of the election of the Grand Master. We therefore grant the said Order of St. John of Jerusalem the power to elect a successor whenever the post and title of supreme head of the Order is vacant (without prejudice to the Pontiff’s right to confirm him), taking again the name and title of Grand Master, as the laws and Institutes of the Order prescribed in ancient times. With regard to the form and ceremony of the election, we command that the same be observed as has been observed to date in the election of Lieutenant, in accordance with the prescriptions of Gregory XVI, in the letter of the Cardinal Secretary of State of 11 July 1815, which we wish and decree to remain in full force and effect. Likewise with regard to the exercise of the power and rights of the Grand Master, we wish that in the meantime what was established by Apostolic Letter of 17 March 1865 by our predecessor Pius IX with regard to the power and rights of the Lieutenant and his Council should remain in force and be preserved; nor do we wish that any changes be made to them, until such time as we or our successors provide otherwise. Finally, since You, beloved son, have been legally invested with the title of Lieutenant since the year 1872, as we have said above, with supreme and perpetual power over the entire Order, and confirmed in that office by Our predecessor Pius IX by apostolic letters in the form of a Brief of 23 February of the same year; And having continually held that power in such a manner that, by religiously exercising the duties of the most ample ministry, you valiantly promoted the decorum and usefulness of the Order and set an example of exalted prudence, industrious zeal and those other virtues that should shine in the head of this distinguished fellowship; We, certain that it would have been most pleasing to the entire Order if we had not only approved his actions in the choice of your person, but had further illustrated them with a new honour, We, according to custom, absolve you from any excommunication, interdiction, or other ecclesiastical sentences, in whatever manner or cause decreed (if by chance you had incurred them), in grace thereof absolving you, and considering you absolute, We elect and appoint you Grand Master of the Order of Jerusalem with all the obligations and duties in accordance with the Statutes of the Order and the Apostolic Constitutions, and with all the honours, graces and privileges that your predecessors have enjoyed, commanding therefore the individual Knights, the Chaplains of the entire Order and all its ministers and attendants to give you due obedience, and to honour and venerate you as Grand Master and Prince.

We therefore establish and command these things, decreeing that the present letters shall remain invariable, valid and effective for the present and the future, and that they shall have full and complete effect, notwithstanding the Apostolic Constitutions and ordinances, the Statutes and customs of the Order, and Chapter ordinations (even if they have been confirmed by Apostolic oath and confirmation or by any other immutability), and also notwithstanding any indult [a special often temporary dispensation granted in the Roman Catholic Church] or Apostolic letter granted in any way to the contrary, confirmed and renewed, from which all and singular, and from any other disposition to the contrary (which we deem to be wholly expressed herein and almost inserted from word to word, and which shall remain for all the rest in force) we specially and expressly derogate for this time only, and in order that the foregoing may have full effect. Trusting, finally, that these things, which we have so disposed and established, may, by Divine grace, by Thy activity, and by the solicitude of the entire Order entrusted to Thee, be directed to the glory of God and to the interest and honour of the Christian government, to Thee, beloved Son, we implore every happiness in Thy Magisterium, and we impart our Apostolic Blessing most lovingly.

Given in Rome at the Vatican under the fisherman’s ring, on the 28th day of March 1879, the second year of Our Pontificate. L.S.


D. JACOBINI, Substitute

Translated from: Leonis XIII Pontificis Maximis Acta, (Romae: Ex typographia Vaticana, 1881), I, 211-218.

Ceschi a Santa Croce restored the reputation of the Order by initiating many charities. His contribution to the Order cannot be overestimated. Ceschi played an important role in the formation and maintenance of hospitals and medical services in Italy and France. He restored the Villa del Priorato di Malta, one of the two institutional seats of the government of the Order. Ceschi a Santa Croce created national associations of the Order in Great Britain, France, Portugal and Spain, which were open to lay knights who did not take religious vows.

Subsequent Grandmasters led the Order into the modern era, focusing on charity. Currently, it is heavily debated whether the Order should be led by small group of priests or in the form of ​​a more democratic style of government.

In Paris, on 24 June 1928, twelve descendants of Russian hereditary commanders revived the activities of the Russian Grand Priory in order to preserve the cultural heritage of their ancestors. They were supported by four other Russian noblemen. Today, the Russian Grand Priory operates under the governance of its Grand Prior, Count Pierre Cheremetieff and his Lieutenant Grand Prior, Prince Stéphane Belosselsky Belozersky. The Russian Grand Priory counts about 250 knights, dames and donats spread over France, Italy, Belgium, Canada and the United States.


Over the centuries, the Order of Saint John developed from a group of monks in Jerusalem, successively into an international military power, a slave trading pirate state on Malta, a scattered group of unorganized refugees in Europe and Russia, a Russian State Order, an Order under Papal authority, and finally a non-governmental organization (NGO) under Papal control. Dr Hoegen Dijkhof summerizes its history as follows:

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 19th century. This Order was however internationally not recognised by States as an international legal person. No Order of St. John was so recognised since the Treaty of Paris and the Vienna Congress, except (later and then by about 30 % of the total number of States) SMOM. When a new Grandmaster (Tommasi) was appointed by Pope Pius VII in 1803, not elected, the Pope thus created a new Papal Order. This Order slowly died for lack of (adequate) corporate life. The successor of 1879 of this Papal Order (SMOM), created by Pope Leo XIII, was far more active than the Russian Order, which at best was only active in Russia. The facts then certainly had become stronger than law. SMOM grew and became also recognised as an international legal person by a number of states.

Hoegen Dijkhof, 2006, p. 218

Although there is little doubt that the current Order of Malta has it roots in the ancient Hospital of Saint John in Jerusalem, it remains to be seen whether the line of succession is continuous and whether there are other groups that can also legitimately claim to be routed in the ancient hospital. Another question is if the current NGO and the medieval monks can be considered the same Order:

The name [of an order of knighthood] has remained, and the badge, but the purpose and function is clearly very different. In a literal sense, ITT (International Telegraph and Telephone) is still the same US company it was 30 years ago, but today it doesn’t sell phone services, it runs hotels, until recently still under the name (ITT-Sheraton). Likewise, Westinghouse used to make nuclear plants, now it makes prime-time broadcasts (CBS). Is it the same company? If Coca-Cola moved to Taiwan and became a car manufacturer, would we think of it as being the same company?

F.R. Velde, Legitimacy and Orders of Knighthood

Part three draws up criteria to derive conclusions in this respect.


Mallia-Milanes, V. ‘The Order of St. John 1793-1797: Impending Collapse of a Glorious Heritage: The Dispatches of Antonio Miari, Venetian Minister in Malta’, in Hyphen III, 3, 1982.

Cox, Noel. (2008). The Continuing Question of Sovereignty and the Sovereign Military Order of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. SSRN Electronic Journal. 10.2139/ssrn.1140462.

Crawford, Paul. Studies on the Hospitallers after 1306: Rhodes and the West (review). The Catholic Historical Review. 96. 529-530. 10.1353/cat.0.0736, 2010.

Hoegen Dijkhof, Hans J. (2006). The Legitimacy of Orders of St. John: a historical and legal analysis and case study of a para-religious phenomenon. Doctoral thesis. Leiden: University of Leiden. ISBN9065509542.

De Taube, Baron Michel. L’Empereur Paul Ier de Russie, Grand Maître de l’Ordre de Malte et son “ Grand prieuré Russe ” de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem, Paris, 1955.

Greene, Molly. Catholic Pirates and Greek Merchants: A Maritime History of the Mediterranean. Princeton Modern Greek Studies. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Ryan, Frederick W. The House of the Temple’: A Study of Malta and its Knights in the French Revolution. London: Burns Oates and Washbourne Limited, 1930.

Avni, Gideon. “From Hagia Polis to Al-Quds: The Byzantine–Islamic Transition in Jerusalem”. Unearthing Jerusalem: 150 Years of Archaeological Research in the Holy City, edited by Katharina Galor and Gideon Avni, University Park, USA: Penn State University Press, 2021, pp. 387-398.

Avni, Gideon. “The Persian Conquest of Jerusalem (614 c.e.)—An Archaeological Assessment.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 357, 2010, pp. 35–48. JSTOR,

Cavaliero, Roderick. The Last of the Crusaders. The Knights of St John and Malta in the Eighteenth Century. London: Hollis & Carter, 1960.

Scicluna, Joe. By Order of Napoleon: The Taking of Malta, CreateSpace, 2014.

Lipschits, Oded. “Persian Period Finds From Jerusalem: Facts and Interpretations”. Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures VI: Comprising the Contents of Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Vol. 9, edited by Ehud Ben Zvi, Piscataway, NJ, USA: Gorgias Press, 2010, pp. 423-454.

Bonazzi, Francesco. Elenco Dei Cavalieri del S.M.Ordine Di S. Giovanni Di Gerusalemme Ricevuti Nella Veneranda Lingua D’Italia Dalla Fondazione Dell’ Ordine AI Nostri Gio. Nabu Press EAN: 9781295031771. ISBN: 1295031779.

Perta, Giuseppe. “A Crusader without a Sword: the Sources Relating to the Blessed Gerard.” F. Sabaté (a cura di), Life and Religion in the Middle Ages, Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-4438-7790-9. 2015: 125–139.

Karnovich, Yevgeny Petrovich. The Knights of Malta in Russia: a historical story from the time of the Emperor Paul the First / [composition] by Evgeny Karnovich. – St. Petersburg: Slavonic press IV Vernadsky, 1880. A brief history of the Order of Malta: extracted from the work of Ernst Berg “The Knights of Malta and its relationship to Russia.”.

Freller, Thomas. “The order of St. John and Russia’s great power plans during the rule of Tsar Peter the great and Tsarina Catherine II”. Journal of Early Modern History 8.1-2 (2004): 3-30.

Shepelev; L.E. Chinovnyi mir Rossii: XVIII – nachalo XX v (Officials of the world of Russia: KhVIII – the beginning of the twentieth century). Publisher: Iskusstvo, 1999. ISBN-13: 9785210015181 ISBN-10: 5210015181.

Hume, Edgar Erskine. “A Proposed Alliance Between the Order of Malta and the United States, 1794: Suggestions Made to James Monroe as American Minister in Paris.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 2, 1936, pp. 222–33. JSTOR,

Stegny. P. (éd.), La Russie et l’Ordre de Malte. 1697-1817. Moscow, Éditions Koutchkovo Polié, 2019. This publication is a joint publication prepared by the archival divisions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and the Sovereign Order of Malta (SMOM). The book contains a set of unique documents on relations between Russia and the SMOM between 1697–1817. The publication is based on materials of the Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire of the Historical and Documentary Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry. From the side of the Sovereign Order of Malta, documents were found in the Archives of the CFR and the National Library (Valetta), the National Archives of France, the Archives of the French Foreign Ministry, the Secret Archives of the Vatican, the Archives of the Grand Magistracy of Rome.

Cavaliero, Roderick. The Last of the Crusaders. The Knights of St John and Malta in the Eighteenth Century. London: Hollis & Carter, 1960.

Heinzelmann, Dorothee and Jürgen Krüger. The beginnings of the Order of Saint John in Jerusalem, or: Muristan revisited, Medievalista [Online]. URL:; DOI:

Hiestand, Rudolf. Die Anfänge der Johanniter. In: Die geistlichen Ritterorden Europas, published by Josef Fleckenstein und Manfred Hellmann (= Vorträge und Forschungen 26), Sigmaringen 1980, p. 31-80.

Castillo, Dennis. “‘… The Knights Cannot Be Admitted’: Maltese Nationalism, the Knights of St. John, and the French Occupation of 1798-1800.” The Catholic Historical Review, vol. 79, no. 3, 1993, pp. 434–53. JSTOR,


I would like to express my appreciation for Rev. Michael John Foster and Dr. Hans J. Hoegen Dijkhof, whose excellent research has been invaluable for this study.

The modern surviving entity of the ancient Order of Saint John – PART 2: Questionable claims

Wikipedia states that there are five legitimate successors of the ancient Order of Saint John:

The entities generally considered to maintain historical continuity with the Knights are the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, based in Rome and recognized by over 100 countries worldwide, as well as the chivalric orders in the Alliance of the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem: the Bailiwick of Brandenburg of the Chivalric Order of Saint John of the Hospital at JerusalemJohanniter Orde in NederlandOrder of Saint John in Sweden, and the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.


Without exception, the members of this ‘Alliance’ claim to be the historical successor of the ancient Hospital of Saint John, formed in the 11th century in Jerusalem:

We are also united in one fight against False Orders, those self constituted and self styled groups which lack both authenticity or legitimacy of origin but variously describe themselves as an “Order of St. John” or an “Order of Malta”. However the Johanniter Orden in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands is a legitimate and honoured ally.
We pledge ourselves anew to carry into the Twentyfirst Century the historical aims and obligations of our Orders.

See: Appendix 1 and 2

However, none of the members can substantiate their claim, as will be shown hereafter.

Sovereign Order of Malta

The current Sovereign Order of Malta claims to be founded in the 11th century:

The Sovereign Order of Malta is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. A lay religious order of the Catholic Church since 1113 (…). Founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century, the Order of Malta has a long history of service to the vulnerable and the sick. This 900-year history is reflected in its full name: Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.

Official website SMOM
Procession of the Knights of Malta at Versailles (1967). French commentary. MS. Procession of the Knights of Malta. VS. At ceremony at which the new Knights are ordained. VS. As small party visits a local hospital and see a little first aid, etc. VS. In the big church at Versailles a service for the Knights of Malta taking place.


The current Order of Malta cannot claim to be “founded in the 11th century”. The original Order was dissolved by Napoleon in 1798 (see also: Scicluna, 2014 and Part 1 of this article series):

By 1806, Napoleon had suppressed all what was left of the original Order in France and in Italy. [Smith/Storace, Order of St. John of Jerusalem, p. 43, for further details.] During the period 1805-1810, the Commanderies of Germany, Italy and Bavaria were swept away, Portugal was ravaged and Sicily sequestrated the Sicilian Commanderies for the Royal Treasure. On 24 March 1806, the two Russian Grand Priories (through the marionet Sacred Council) accepted that customary procedure must be followed pending the confirmation of the Candidate for the Magistry (Caracciolo). On 12 July 1806, the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine expropriated the Priory of Germany. In the year 1806, also the Grand Priories of Venice, Lombardy and Germany were expropriated. On 13 July 1806, King Gustaf IV of Sweden offered Gotland to Guevara-Sardo, who declined. In 1807, Pius VII confirmed Guevara-Sardo to stay on as Lt. Grandmaster of the Papal Order and rejected Caracciolo.

Hoegen Dijkhof 2006, p. 195

The current Order was revived by the Pope in 1879, when the office of Grandmaster was restored by Pope Leo XIII. He confirmed Count Giovanni Battista Ceschi a Santa Croce as the new Grandmaster after almost 80 years of vacancy (see Part 1). Therefore, the current Sovereign Order of Malta was formed in 1879, not in the 11th century as it unjustly claims.

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem

The British Order of Saint John also claims to be founded in the 11th century:

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem – commonly known as the Order of St John – has a unique combination of features and has its roots in a hospice (hospital) founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century.

Official website Order of Saint John
1926 – Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Duke of Connaught Grand Prior – attends celebrations at Clerkenwell. M/S of procession of choristers, choir boys and other men in religious robes walking down a narrow street under an arch. They are followed by men in velvet caps and cloaks, crowds watch from the pavement. Panning shot follows Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught walking in the procession, dressed in black cap and robes.


Historian François Velde gives a detailed account of the development of the British Order of Saint John:

This Victorian invention has its origins in the turmoil of the Napoleonic era. Following the capture of Malta in 1798 and the conquest of most of Europe by Napoleon, the Order was quite disorganized in 1814. The return of the Bourbons to France prompted the formation of a “capitular commission” of the French langues by an assembly of French knights in May 1814, which was initially recognized by Louis XVIII, and approved by a papal bull of August 10, 1814. It began lobbying for a return of the Order’s French properties, and acting at the Congress of Vienna for a return of the island of Malta. (…)

The French Commission, then controlled by its Chancellor Pierre-Hippolyte de Sainte Croix-Molay, then turned to the possibility of helping the Greeks in their war of independence, and a treaty was signed between the Commission and the Greek rebels in June 1823. The treaty promised the order several Greek islands and Rhodes (should it be conquered), and in exchange the Order would raise troops and 10 million Francs. To begin the process the Commission started making knights rather indiscriminately, at least 200 in the space of a few years. But the treaty was opposed by other Greek rebel groups, as well as England and Austria. (…). The Lieutenant of the Order dissolved the commission. The floatation of the loan in the form of bonds on the London market collapsed before it started.

The Commission nevertheless revived itself in 1826, under the presidency of Calonne d’Avesnes but still controlled by Sainte Croix-Molay, and continued in its attempts at raising money for its Greek operation. At this time it was totally unofficial, disavowed by the Order of Malta and unrecognized by the French government. The Commission decided to search private sources of funds in England, and opened negotiations with a Scot called Donald Currie, an acquaintance of Sainte Croix-Molay. In 1827 Instruments of Convention were signed between the Commission and Currie, enabling him to raise L240,000 by recruiting new members (even non-Catholics). Currie did not raise much money but he recruited avidly.

Greek independence having been achieved without any participation of the Order, Sainte Croix-Molay now turned to the possibility of settling in Algeria, conquered in 1830 by the French. But the same year Charles X was overthrown, and the Commission lost all influence with the French government, which also broke diplomatic relations with the Lieutenancy in Messina. Nevertheless the Commission continued to encourage the formation of an English Langue, which took place in January 1831, with the election of Sr Robert Peat, Bart, former chaplain of George IV, as “Prior ad interim of the Tongue of England”. However, a split amongst the British members occurred the next year. By 1837, the party which the French Commission had recognized had more or less disappeared, and the other party led by Robert Peat continued on its own. Peat was succeeded by Sir Robert Dymoke in 1838, Lt-Col. Sir Charles Montolieu Lamb, Bart, in 1847, Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Arbuthnot in 1860. (…)

The English group almost disappeared, but, led by Sir John Broun, it persisted in hoping for recognition, basing themselves on letters patent of 1557 recreating the order in England (although it was abolished again by Elizabeth I in 1560). Now called “the Sovereign and Illustrious Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem: Anglia”, it made contact again in 1857 with the Lieutenancy of the Order in Rome, through a Catholic member of the English group, John James Watts. Negotiations started, with the aim of establishing a Catholic priory, which in turn would form a Protestant branch (the existing group, of course). The Lieutenancy was initially favorably disposed, but the three English knights of Malta, led by Sir George Bowyer, and including John James Watts, who had just been received as members and were to form the Catholic priory decided to break off with the English group instead. A British Association of the Order of Malta was to be founded in 1876.

The English association nevertheless persisted in its efforts at some kind of recognition. It enlisted the support of the 7th duke of Manchester who became their grand prior in 1861. The group drew up a Constitution in 1871 and renamed itself more modestly “Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem in England”. A corps of ambulances was created in the 1860s, roughly around the same time as (or preceding) the real Order of Malta’s charitable activities and those of the Red Cross. The Princess of Wales became Lady of the Order in 1876, and she in turn secured the membership of the Prince of Wales.

The priory finally received a royal charter in 1888, which changed its name to The Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint-John of Jerusalem, and made the sovereign of Great Britain its Sovereign Head and Patron. The Prince of Wales was appointed Grand Prior in 1890 by Queen Victoria, and since then the Prior has always been a member of the royal family.

François R. Velde,

As Velde notes, the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem was formed in 1876, instead of the 11th century as it unjustly claims.

Johanniterorden (Germany)

The German Order of Saint John mentions that it has been formed in 1351:

Die seit 1351 nachgewiesene Balley Brandenburg, aus der sich der heutige evangelische Johanniterorden entwickelte, nahm schon im Mittelalter eine Sonderstellung innerhalb des deutschen Großpriorats und des Gesamtordens ein. Dadurch überdauerte sie die Reformation und blieb bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, auch wenn nur lose eingebunden, im Gesamtverband des Ordens.

[EN] The Bailiwick of Brandenburg, which has been documented since 1351 and from which today’s Protestant Order of Saint John developed, already occupied a special position within the German Grand Priory and the Order as a whole in the Middle Ages. As a result, it survived the Reformation and remained part of the Order as a whole until the 19th century, even if only loosely integrated.

Official website Johanniterorden
The knighting of the Order of St John took place on 24 II in the Friedenskirche in Potsdam under the protectorate of Grand Master von Hindenburg. [Paul] v. Hindenburg (left) and Prince Oskar of Prussia on the right walk at the head of the procession to the ceremony.


Today, the Order of Saint John (with the full name Bailiwick Brandenburg of the Knightly Order of Saint John of the Hospital of Jerusalem) is a Protestant religious community that claims to have emerged in 1538 from the Bailiwick Brandenburg of the Knightly Order of Saint John or Hospitallers, which in turn can be traced back to the original Hospital of Saint John.

In Germany, the Bailiwick of Brandenburg had already had a largely autonomous status since the Treaty of Heimbach (1382). After the conversion of the Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg to Lutheranism in 1538, this branch became Protestant (Wedekind, 1853).

In the Peace of Tilsit, Prussia committed itself to high payments to Napoleon. By edict of 30 October 1810 and deed of 23 January 1811, King Frederick William III therefore confiscated the possessions of the Bailiwick of Brandenburg and the associated commendations:

Edikt über die Einziehung sämmtlicher geistlicher Güter in der Monarchie

vom 30. Oktober 1810

Wir Friedrich Wilhelm, von Gottes Gnaden König von Preußen

In Erwägung daß
a. die Zwecke, wozu geistliche Stifter und Klöster bisher errichtet wurden, theils mit den Ansichten und Bedürfnissen der Zeit nicht vereinbar sind, theils auf veränderte Weise besser erreicht werden können;
b. daß alle benachbarte Staaten die gleichen Maasregeln ergriffen haben;
c. daß die pünktliche Abzahlung der Contribution an Frankreich nur dadurch möglich wird;
d. daß Wir dadurch die ohnedies sehr großen Anforderungen an das Privat-Vermögen Unserer getreuen Unterthanen ermäßigen, verordnen Wir wie folgt:

§. 1. Alle Klöster, Dom- und andere Stifter, Balleyen und Commenden, sie mögen zur katholischen oder protestantischen Religion gehören, werden von jetzt an als Staats-Güter betrachtet.

§ 2. Alle Klöster, Dom- und andere Stifter, Balleyen und Commenden sollen nach und nach eingezogen und für Entschädigung der Benutzer und Berechtigten soll gesorgt werden.

§ 3. Vom Tage dieses Edicts an, dürfen
a. keine Anwartschaften ertheilt, keine Novizen aufgenommen und Niemand in den Besitz einer Stelle gesetzt werden;
b. ohne Unsere Genehmigung keine Veränderungen der Substanz vorgenommen werden;
c. keine Capitalien eingezogen, keine Schulden kontrahirt, oder die Inventarien veräußert werden;
d. keine neue Pacht-Contracte ohne Unsere Genehmigung geschlossen, keine ältere verlängert werden.

Alle gegen diese Vorschriften unternommene Handlungen sind nichtig.

§ 4. Wir werden für hinreichende Belohnung der obersten geistlichen Behörden und mit dem Rathe derselben für reichliche Dotirung der Pfarreien, Schulen, milden Stiftungen und selbst derjenigen Klöster sorgen, welche sich mit der Erziehung der Jugend und der Krankenpflege beschäftigen und welche durch obige Vorschriften entweder an ihren bisherigen Einnahmen leiden oder deren durchaus neue Fundirung nöthig erscheinen dürfte.

[EN] Edict on the confiscation of all ecclesiastical property in the Monarchy

of 30 October 1810

We Frederick William, by the Grace of God King of Prussia

a. the purposes for which ecclesiastical foundations and monasteries have hitherto been established are partly incompatible with the views and needs of the time, and partly can be better achieved in a different way;
b. that all neighbouring states have adopted the same rules of measure;
c. that the punctual payment of the contribution to France is only made possible by this;
d. that We thereby reduce the already very great demands on the private property of Our faithful subjects, We decree as follows:

§1. all monasteries, cathedrals and other foundations, bailiwicks and communes, whether they belong to the Catholic or Protestant religion, shall henceforth be regarded as State property.

§ All monasteries, cathedrals and other foundations, bailiwicks and communes shall be gradually confiscated and compensation shall be provided for the users and beneficiaries.

§ 3. from the day of this edict, the following shall not be permitted
a. no entitlements shall be granted, no novices shall be admitted, and no one shall be placed in possession of a position;
b. no alterations of the substance may be made without Our permission;
c. no capital may be collected, no debts contracted, or inventories sold;
d. no new lease contracts shall be concluded without Our permission, and no older ones shall be renewed.

All actions taken in contravention of these provisions shall be null and void.

§ 4. We shall see to it that the highest ecclesiastical authorities are sufficiently rewarded and, with their advice, that the parishes, schools, charitable foundations and even those monasteries which are concerned with the education of the young and the care of the sick and which, as a result of the above provisions, either suffer from their present income or whose entirely new foundation may appear necessary.

Preußische Gesetzsammlung 1810, S. 32. Ernst Rudolf Huber, Dokumente zur deutschen Verfassungsgeschichte Band 1, Verlag Kohlhammer.

The King, however, wanted to suspend the execution of the aforementioned edict of 30 October 1810 for the Order of Saint John as long as his great-uncle, the Master of the Order, Prince August Ferdinand, whom he held in high esteem, was still alive. The Prince, who was 81 years old, declared that “for the sake of example and duty to the state, I do not wish to make use of this Royal Grace“. He obtained the consent of the chapter of the Order, and as early as 31 December 1810, an agreement, a recess, was reached between the commissioners of the state, the representatives of the Crown, and those of the Order, in which the detailed conditions of the transfer of the Bailiwick’s property to the state were determined. The Herrenmeister approved this recess by means of a “Cessions- und Verzichtsacte auf das Meisterthum Sonnenburg und die davon abhängigen Commenden” (Cession and Renunciation Act on the Master’s Estate of Sonnenburg and its Dependent Commands) issued on 12 January 1811. The King, for his part, was informed of this and issued an “Acceptance and Insurance Act” on 23 January 1811 and sent the thus executed recession with a handwritten letter to Prince August Ferdinand, in which he thanked him for his willingness to accept the recession (see: Die Säkularisation der Ballei Brandenburg im Jahre 1811 – Ende oder Weiterbestand in anderer Struktur, s.d. s.l.).

On 23 May 1812, King Frederick William III endowed the Royal Prussian Order of Saint John as an award for honourable service, as proof of royal grace and in memory of the dissolved Bailiwick Brandenburg. In the formation charter he clearly declared that the Order was abolished:

Wir bestätigen durch Unsere gegenwärtige Urkunde diese gänzliche Auflösung der Ballei Brandenburg des Johanniter-Ordens, des Herrenmeisterthums und der Commenden derselben, sowie die Einziehung der sämtlichen Güter des Herrenmeisterthums und der Commenden dieser Ballei als Staatsgüter; wollen und verordnen, dass es bei dieser gänzlichen Auflösung, Erlöschung und Einziehung in allen Folgezeiten verbleiben soll.

[EN] We confirm by our present document this complete dissolution of the Bailiwick of Brandenburg of the Order of Saint John, of the Herrenmeisterthum and the Commenden thereof, as well as the confiscation of all the properties of the Herrenmeisterthum and the Commenden of this Bailiwick as state properties; we want and decree that this complete dissolution, extinction and confiscation shall remain in all subsequent times.

Abschnitt II:

[EN] Section II:

Dagegen errichten Wir hiermit, zu einem ehrenvollen Andenken der nunmehr aufgelösten und erloschenen Ballei des St. Johanniter-Ordens, einen neuen Orden in der Eigenschaft und unter der Benennung: Königlich Preußischer St. Johanniter-Orden, welcher von nun an zu Unseren Königlich Preußischen Orden gehören soll.“

[EN] On the other hand, for the honourable memory of the now dissolved and extinct Bailiwick of the Order of Saint John, We hereby establish a new Order in the capacity and under the name: Royal Prussian Order of Saint John, which shall from now on belong to Our Royal Prussian Orders.

Gelbke, pp. 36-37.

By cabinet order of 15 October 1852, King Frederick William IV of Prussia formally restored the Bailiwick, but without restoring its previous possessions. The holders of the Order of Merit automatically became members of the restored Bailiwick . On 17 May 1853, Prince Carl of Prussia was installed as Master of the Order and announced his election as well as the revival of the Bailiwick directly to the Governor of the Grand Magisterium of the Order of Malta in Rome. The Grand Priory of Germany had ceased to exist in 1811 and the Order as a whole had no Grand Master between 1805 and 1879, but only a Governor ruling in his place. In a letter to the “Bailiwick Brandenburg of the Sovereign Order of St. John in Jerusalem” by the Governor of the Order of Malta Fra’ Philipp von Colloredo-Mels, this was noted, but any determination regarding the legal status of the Bailiwick was avoided (Wedekind, 1853; Herrlich 1886).

In the 1760’s, King Frederick the Great, as well as his Catholic counterpart, Grand Master Pinto de Fonseca tried to merge the Orders to an integral body. Ferdinand von Hompesch, later the last Grand Master to rule on Malta, was the mediator between the two. The Pope, however, insisted on his view that the Bailiwick, as a heretical organisation, could not be part of the Order. Therefore, the original German Johanniterorden was formed in 1538, dissolved in 1810 and revived in 1852, the formation year of the modern Balley Brandenburg des Ritterlichen Ordens Sankt Johannis vom Spital zu Jerusalem. Its claim, that it was formed in 1351 is unjustified.

Johanniter Orde (The Netherlands)

De Johanniter Orde is een Ridderlijke Orde met een protestants-christelijke grondslag. De Orde is in 1099 gesticht als de Ridderlijke Orde van het Hospitaal van Sint Jan en heeft dan ook een rijke historie. Het lidmaatschap is voorbehouden aan diegenen, die tot de Nederlandse adel behoren en voldoen aan de voorwaarden die de Orde aan het lidmaatschap stelt.

The Johanniter Order is a Knightly Order with a Protestant-Christian foundation. The Order was founded in 1099 as the Knightly Order of the Hospital of St. John and therefore has a rich history. Membership is reserved for those who belong to the Dutch nobility and who meet the conditions for membership set by the Order.

Official website of the Johanniter Orde
Prince Bernhard received membership of the Johanniter Order in the Netherlands at Paleis Huis ten Bosch Description : Prince Bernhard with members of the Johanniter Order in the Netherlands, in the garden of Paleis Huis ten Bosch Date : June 27, 1969 Location : The Hague, South Holland
Prince Bernhard received membership of the Johanniter Order in the Netherlands at Paleis Huis ten Bosch. Description : Prince Bernhard with members of the Johanniter Order in the Netherlands, in the garden of Paleis Huis ten Bosch. Date: June 27, 1969. Location : The Hague, South Holland.


A Johanniter Order branch of the German Johanniter Order in The Netherlands was formed in 1909 as a division of the aforementioned German Balley Brandenburg.

Prins Hendrik koestert het plan om de middeleeuwse orde in Nederland te doen herleven. Is de orde hier te lande dan dood? Nee, er zijn nog altijd Nederlandse Johanniter ridders. Van oudsher is de orde in deze contreien gevestigd geweest, met talrijke bezittingen her en der. Van een levende Nederlandse organisatie is echter geen sprake. Ten tijde van de Republiek zijn de bezittingen deels door de overheid overgenomen en deels in handen van de ordeheren gelaten. Zij blijft in naam bestaan, maar na 1795 is nauwelijks sprake meer van een reële Johanniter aanwezigheid. In het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden is de orde verdwenen. De ridders anno 1909 maken, net als de prins zelf, deel uit van de Duitse tak van de Johanniter Orde, de zogenoemde Balije Brandenburg, en die is sinds de reformatie een zelfstandige, los van het oude ordecentrum opererende instelling voor protestantse edellieden. Ook Nederlandse edellieden worden toegelaten tot het lidmaatschap: sommige families onderhouden al sinds generaties een band met de orde. De prins wil een Nederlands verband van Johanniter ridders tot stand brengen, een eigen Nederlandse afdeling oprichten die mogelijk, net als in Duitsland, een moderne invulling kan geven aan de oude ridderlijke opdracht. Op 22 februari 1909 organiseert hij op paleis Noordeinde een maaltijd voor de Nederlandse Johanniter ridders met de bedoeling hen ‘nauwer aan elkaar te verbinden’. Hierop volgen besprekingen die leiden tot de eenstemmig uitgesproken wens een Nederlandse afdeling op te richten, liefst onder leiding van de prins. Deze is hiertoe bereid en vertrekt enkele dagen later met twee rechtsridders, jonkheer P.O.H. Gevaerts van Simonshaven en G.D.C. d’Aumale baron van Hardenbroek, naar Berlijn om te onderzoeken of daar bezwaren tegen het voornemen bestaan.

[EN[ Prince Henry nurtures the plan to revive the medieval order in The Netherlands. So is the order dead here in the country? No, there are still Dutch Johanniter knights. From time immemorial, the order has been based in these parts, with numerous possessions here and there. However, there is no question of a living Dutch organisation. At the time of the Republic, the possessions were partly taken over by the government and partly left in the hands of the order lords. It continues to exist in name, but after 1795 there is hardly any real Johanniter presence. In the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the order disappeared. The knights anno 1909, like the prince himself, are part of the German branch of the Johanniter Order, the so-called Bailiwick Brandenburg, and this has been an independent institution for Protestant noblemen, operating separately from the old order centre, since the Reformation. Dutch noblemen are also admitted to membership: some families have maintained ties with the order for generations. The prince wants to create a Dutch connection of Johanniter knights, to establish his own Dutch branch that could possibly, like in Germany, give a modern interpretation to the old chivalric order. On 22 February 1909, he organises a dinner at Noordeinde Palace for the Dutch Johanniter knights with the intention of ‘linking them more closely together’. This is followed by discussions leading to the unanimously expressed wish to establish a Dutch section, preferably under the prince’s leadership. The prince was willing to do so and a few days later left for Berlin with two knights justice, Jonkheer P.O.H. Gevaerts van Simonshaven and G.D.C. d’Aumale baron van Hardenbroek, to investigate whether there were any objections to the plan.

De Grootmeester, prins Eitel Friedrich van Pruisen, verklaart mede namens de koning van Pruisen, protector van de orde, dat de oprichting van zo’n afdeling ‘met grote ingenomenheid zou worden begroet’. Ook wordt bezien of van Nederlandse zijde misschien bezwaren gemaakt worden. Integendeel, de minister van Justitie, Mr. A.P.L. Nelissen, geeft de verzekering ‘alles in het werk te zullen stellen, om de oprichting der afdeeling […] te helpen vergemakkelijken’. Er worden statuten ontworpen en op 22 mei 1909 vindt in Den Haag een tweede bijeenkomst (met maaltijd, à f 15 per persoon) plaats, nu in paleis Kneuterdijk. Inmiddels heeft de geboorte van een troonopvolgster plaatsgevonden – Nederland viert opgelucht feest. Ook de vijftien ten paleize verzamelde Johanniter ridders zijn ongetwijfeld opgetogen; zij besluiten bij acclamatie tot oprichting van een Nederlandse afdeling, oftewel Commenderij. Prins Hendrik wordt eveneens bij acclamatie tot Commendator gekozen. Het Kapittel te Duitsland stemt op 8 juli 1909 in met de oprichting, de statuten worden goedgekeurd bij Koninklijk Besluit van 31 juli 1909, en er wordt een convent gekozen. Op 28 oktober keurt de Koningin bij Koninklijk Besluit de benoeming van de prins tot Commendator goed. Als officiële stichtingsdatum wordt 30 april 1909, de geboortedag van prinses Juliana, aangehouden.

[EN] The Grand Master, Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia, declares, also on behalf of the King of Prussia, protector of the order, that the establishment of such a section would be ‘greeted with great welcome’. It also considers whether objections might be raised from the Dutch side. On the contrary, the Minister of Justice, Mr A.P.L. Nelissen, gives the assurance that ‘everything possible will be done to help facilitate the establishment of the section’. Statutes are drafted and a second meeting (with meal, at f 15 per person) is held in The Hague on 22 May 1909, this time at the Kneuterdijk Palace. Meanwhile, the birth of an heir to the throne has taken place – The Netherlands celebrates with relief. The fifteen Johanniter knights gathered at the palace are undoubtedly delighted too; they decide by acclamation to establish a Dutch branch, or Commenderij. Prince Henry is also elected Commendator by acclamation. The Chapter in Germany approves the establishment on 8 July 1909, the statutes are approved by Royal Decree of 31 July 1909, and a convent is elected. On 28 October, the Queen by Royal Decree approves the Prince’s appointment as Commendator. The official founding date is 30 April 1909, Princess Juliana’s birthday.

De koninklijke handtekeningen markeren een opmerkelijke wedergeboorte. Want zo vanzelfsprekend is het niet, dat een dergelijk aristocratisch instituut in Nederland nieuw leven wordt ingeblazen. De prins mag hieraan behoefte hebben, of anderen in Nederland ook in die mate van nut en noodzaak overtuigd zijn, is nog maar de vraag.

[EN] The royal signatures mark a remarkable rebirth. For it is not so obvious that such an aristocratic institution should be revived in the Netherlands. The prince may feel a need for it, but whether others in The Netherlands are convinced of its usefulness and necessity to this extent remains to be seen.

Bruin, K. (2006). Duitse connecties: De heroprichting van de Johanniter Orde in Nederland. Virtus, 13, 132-133.

The schism between the German mother Order and the division in The Netherlands took place in 1946:

Zolang de prins [Prins Hendrik der Nederlanden, JvBQ] leeft – en dat is tot juli 1934 – blijft de band van de Nederlandse Commenderij met ‘Duitsland’ onverminderd in stand. Ook de band met de voormalige koning van Pruisen blijft in stand. Op de ridderdagen zenden de ridders blijken van aanhankelijkheid naar de Protector van de Balije Brandenburg, nu te Doorn, en deze zendt prins Hendrik in de tweede persoon enkelvoud gestelde telegrammen om te bedanken. Na het overlijden van de laatste blijft het bestuur van de Nederlandse afdeling vertegenwoordigers naar kapittelvergaderingen in Berlijn sturen, tot in 1939 aan toe. Men heeft wel degelijk oog voor wat er in Duitsland gaande is, maar de verbondenheid met de organisatie aldaar blijft zwaar wegen. Er is een tweede wereldoorlog voor nodig om de door sommigen al lang gewenste afscheiding een feit te laten worden. De statuten worden gewijzigd, de naam wordt gewijzigd in die van St.-Jan, en er gaat in mei 1946 een brief van het kapittel naar prins Oscar van Pruisen, Herrenmeister te Potsdam, waarin gesteld wordt ‘daß nach all demjenigen das unser Land und Volk erfahren haben müssen und in Erwägung der Stellungnahme seitens der Führung der Balley Brandenburg, es unmöglich für uns ist, weiter Teil der Balley auszumachen’. Het partijkiezen van de Duitse broeders voor de nazi-machthebbers, bijvoorbeeld blijkend uit een felicitatie aan het adres van de Führer wegens de goede afloop van de veldtocht tegen Polen, wordt hun voor de voeten geworpen. Op 2 juli volgt een bevestigingsbrief uit Duitsland, waaruit niet alleen teleurstelling maar ook verontwaardiging spreekt. De ‘politisch-irdische’ gezichtspunten hebben gezegevierd boven de ‘christlich-göttlichen’, die toch bij de internationale christelijke organisatie als die van de Johanniters de voorrang zouden moeten hebben. Kennelijk hebben de heren in Holland niet de moeite genomen zich echt te verdiepen in wat de Duitse Johanniters tegen het nationaal-socialisme gedaan en daardoor geleden hebben, anders zou het oordeel wel anders uitgevallen zijn.

[EN] As long as the prince [Prince Henry of The Netherlands, JvBQ] lives – and that is until July 1934 – the Dutch Commendery’s ties with ‘Germany’ remain undiminished. The link with the former King of Prussia also remains intact. On the Knights’ Days, the knights send expressions of affection to the Protector of the Brandenburg Bailiwick, now at Doorn, and the latter sends Prince Henry telegrams in the second person singular to thank him. After the death of the latter, the board of the Dutch section continues to send representatives to chapter meetings in Berlin, until 1939. One does have an eye for what is going on in Germany, but the attachment to the organisation there continues to weigh heavily. It takes a Second World War for the withdrawal long desired by some to become a reality. The statutes are amended, the name is changed to that of St John’s, and a letter from the chapter goes to Prince Oscar of Prussia, Herrenmeister at Potsdam, in May 1946, stating ‘daß nach all demjenigen das unser Land und Volk erfahren haben müssen und in Erwägung der Stellungnahme seitens der Führung der Balley Brandenburg, es unmöglich für uns ist, weiter Teil der Balley auszumachen’. The German brethren’s partisanship of the Nazi rulers, as evidenced, for example, by a congratulatory letter to the Führer on account of the good outcome of the campaign against Poland, is thrown their way. A letter of confirmation from Germany followed on 2 July, expressing not only disappointment but also indignation. The ‘politisch-irdische’ views have triumphed over the ‘christlich-göttlichen’, which should have priority in the international Christian organisation like that of the Johannites. Apparently, the gentlemen in Holland did not bother to really delve into what the German Johanniters did against National Socialism and suffered as a result, otherwise the verdict would have been different.

Bruin, K. (2006). Duitse connecties: De heroprichting van de Johanniter Orde in Nederland. Virtus, 13, 139-140.

On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. It is questionable that the Dutch division of the German Order waited until 1946 to hypocritically distance themselves from the Germans. Especially, since at that moment it must have been known to them that a number of German members of the Order of Saint John had been executed in connection with the assassination attempt on Hitler:

Why did the withdrawal not take place in 1939?

The website statement by the Johanniter Order in The Netherlands regarding their origin is untruthful and misleads the public, from which it obtains donations. The Order was newly formed in 1947, not in 1099. It is dishonest that JO-member Jonkheer Dr. Tom Versélewel de Witt Hamer (alias: Iliwapcot) tries to camouflage this fact on Wikipedia by replacing the original, more or less correct article-version by a version that hides the 1947 formation date:

Johanniterorden i Sverige

The Swedish Order of Saint John claims to be formed in 1080:

Johanniterorden grundades i Jerusalem år 1080 för att ge sjukvård och erbjuda härbärge åt pilgrimer. Ordens syfte var då, liksom i dag, humanitärt.

The Order of St. John was founded in Jerusalem in 1080 to provide medical care and shelter for pilgrims.  The purpose of the Order was then, as today, humanitarian. 

Official website Johanniterorden i Sverige

In April 1920 the Swedish Order of Saint John was formed as a Swedish association with Count Walther von Hallwyl as its Commendator. The association was affiliated with the aforementioned Order of Saint John in Germany. After the end of World War II, the Swedish Order separated itself from the German Order. Therefore, the Swedish Order of Saint John was formed in 1920, instead of 1080. In November 1946, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Gustav V as the Johanniterorden i Sverige (Scheffer, 1970). King Carl XVI Gustav is the current High Patron, and Queen Silvia is the First Honorary Member of the Order.


In 1798, Napoleon abolished the Order of Malta, which was revived in 1879 by the Pope. In 1811, the King of Prussia initiated the “complete dissolution, extinction and confiscation” of the German Order of Saint John. This branch was revived in 1852. The British Order of Saint John was formed in 1876. The Swedish and Dutch Orders of Saint John were formed 1920 and 1946 respectively. Thus, the current Orders of Saint John are19th and 20th century revivals which use the badge and name of the ancient Hospitaller Order, without a substantial historical link. Royal nor Papal approval can change the historical truth.

The aforementioned Orders of Saint John are major international charities which provide crucial first aid, health care and support services around the world. Many donors have contributed essential financial and volunteer support. They have made choices regarding the beneficiary of their money, e.g. between the Order of Saint John and the Red Cross. It cannot be ruled out that many donors have chosen the Order of Saint John because of their illustrious history, as presented on their websites. Therefore, honesty regarding the formation date is not only important from a historical, but also from a financial perspective. A charitable organization may not misrepresent its nature. A misrepresentation may be accomplished by words or conduct or failure to disclose material facts. The narrative that an Order was formed in the 11th century to add more credibility to the organisation, instead of telling a potential donor that the Order is a nineteenth century revival, can be seen as misrepresentation. It gets even worse when an Order spends money from donations on lawsuits to fight competing charities instead of helping the sick and poor, as promoted in its publications.


The modern surviving entity of the ancient Order of Saint John – PART 3: The Russian tradition

This part investigates the question to what extent the SMOM is the only legitimate successors of the original Knights Hospitaller, as it is claimed. In particular, it raises the question whether the Russian branch of the Order, often designated as the Russian Tradition, can legitimately claim to have the same origin.

Nature of the Russian tradition

On 24 June 1928, twelve Russian descendants of Family Commanders of the Russian Orthodox Grand Priory formed the Union of Descendants of Hereditary Commanders and Knights of the Russian Grand priory of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem in Paris. In 1988, knightly order expert James J. Algrant (1926-2018) contacted Grand Duke Wladimir, who had a key role in the group. Algrant reports the following:

In Paris on 24 June 1928 a group of twelve exiled Russian noblemen, descendants of “family commanders” of the Russian Orthodox Grand Priory formed this union. Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, in exile in France, agreed to be the union’s “Grand Prior”. When the Union of Descendants was formed, he accepted to become its head and soon tried to effect a rapprochement with the S.M.O.M. The conditions offered by the S.M.O.M. that the Union subject itself to the via Condotti (4) and receive only Roman Catholic members was unacceptable to the Grand Duke and the reconciliation never took place. Thus, the Grand Duke remained Grand Prior of the Union until his death in 1933. After his death, the presidency of the Union passed to Grand Duke Andrei Wladimirovich (brother of Grand Duke Kyrill Wladimirovich, head of the imperial house of Russia who also became its “protector”.) Following Grand Duke Andrei’s death in 1956, the Union was directed by its Secretary General Georges de Rticheff. In 1962 the latter petitioned Grand Duke Wladimir Kyrillovich, head of the imperial house to become the Union’s “protector”. We personally asked H.I.H. Grand Duke Wladimir in August 1988 about his protection of the Union. He confirmed that both he and his father had indeed been its protector but that it never was or was ever meant to be a revival of the Russian Grand priory. Rather it was, what its name implied, merely a union of descendants of the original “family” or “hereditary” commanders. After de Rticheff’s death the group virtually disappeared from the scene in France, but a new “Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights Hospitaller of St.John of Jerusalem” (see XVII) claiming to be descended from this Union was created in the United States in 1977 in close cooperation with the Association of the Russian Nobility.

James J. Algrant, C.St.L.

The statement by HIH Grand Duke Wladimir in August 1988, is contradicted by the original formation statement of 24 June 1928 (bold font by me, JvBQ):

We, the undersigned representatives of titled families and Hereditary Commanders of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, instituted in virtue of the decree by Emperor Paul I for the Russian Nobility and in conformity with the regulations ratified by the Imperial Throne on 21st July, 1799, unanimously confirm the following:

The commanderies of our ancient ancestors were founded on their family fiefs, having the inviolable perennial privilege constituted on the same bases as the entailed estates of the Empire.

​Later events have limited the activity of the Grand Priory of Russia; a revolution had provoked a deficiency in the legitimate power throughout the Empire; yet nothing could weaken our hereditary right as a regular affiliation and as a sovereign order of chivalry. We were born with this privilege and we retain it without further question in law.

​Circumstances dictated that we should now sustain without futile and vain ostentation, the prerogatives acquired by our ancestors. The tragic test which overwhelmed our Fatherland calls us to an activity full of abnegation and sacrifice worth of the best traditions of the illustrious Order of St John of Jerusalem. It is, therefore, our duty that all of us shall initiate the following:

​1. Re-establish the activity of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta created and regularised by a treaty signed on the 4/13th of January, 1799, between the Throne of Russia and the Sovereign Order of Malta.

​2. Appeal to direct descendants of other Russian Hereditary Knights of Malta in order to urge them to rally with us with in the fold of the Grand Priory of Russia which we are reconstituting abroad.

​3. Solicit H.R.H. the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch, great grandson of the Emperor Paul I, Russian Grand Master of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, to take over during his lifetime the functions of Grand Prior of Russia, the first holder of which was the Grand Duke Heir to the Throne, who eventually became Czar Alexander I of Russia.

​4. Solicit His Imperial Highness to submit tot H.M. the King of Spain, who at the beginning of the Great War was so kind to accede to the request of the late Emperor Nicholas II to grant his High Protection to Russians abroad, the following request: To temporarily assume instead of the Emperor, the dignity as well the prerogatives of an August Protector for the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

​5. To invest our elected superior, His Imperial Highness with unlimited powers for life in all decisions relative to the regular re-establishment of the Grand Priory of Russia as well as its statutory regulations in conformity with the fundamental charter of old with eventual amendments necessitated by the exceptional conditions of Russian migrants abroad.”

 Statement Paris Group, 24 June 1928. Source: De Taube, 1955, pp. 40-41.

The original statement clearly specifies that the Paris Group sees itself “as a sovereign order of chivalry” with the intention to “Re-establish the activity of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta created and regularised by a treaty signed on the 4/13th of January, 1799, between the Throne of Russia and the Sovereign Order of Malta.“. This makes Grand Duke Wladimir’s 1988-statement untruthful. Probably, Grand Duke Wladimir did not want to jeopardize his ties with the Order of Malta, which invested him as Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion in 1961. The Order of Malta also claims – contrary to the Romanov-family’s official statements – that his daughter, Grand Duchess Maria, is the current head of the Romanov family:

On October 1, 2021, at St. Isaac’s Cathedral, a solemn wedding ceremony was held for the heir to the Romanov dynasty, the Grand Duke, Georgy Mikhailovich Romanov and the daughter of Italian diplomat, Rebecca Bettarini. According to the Russian Imperial House, this is the first wedding of a House representative to take place in Russia in over 120 years.

Georgy Mikhailovich Romanov is the son and heir of the head of the Russian Imperial House of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna – the only child from the marriage of Vladimir Kirillovich Romanov, the head of the Russian Imperial House in exile (son of the Russian Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, who proclaimed himself in 1924 the emperor in exile) and Leonida Bagration of Mukhrani., 2 October 2021

In the footsteps of the betrayal of Grand Duke Wladimir, his daughter also misrepresented the formation history and activities of the Paris Group:

The Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House occasionally receives inquiries from individuals and organizations about its relationship to groups that refer to themselves as the “Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” including so called “Orthodox” and “Russian” “Orders of Malta,” “Priories,” “Commanderies,” and so on.

In each such instance, it is necessary to clarify that no one has the legal right to use modified names or symbols of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (hereinafter referred to as the Sovereign Order of Malta), which has a unquestionable historical and legal continuity from the moment of its founding, and which is recognized as a sovereign entity under international law, and which maintains diplomatic relations with more than 100 States around the world.

The Orthodox Russian Grand Priory was founded by Emperor Paul I in 1798 and was abolished by Emperor Alexander I in 1817. Since then no legitimate authority has reestablished it. Local attempts to revive its activities on a legal basis have not been successful, and all “Orthodox Order of St. John” organizations are illegitimate and offer a means of deception, including the trafficking in false “knighthoods.”

Unfortunately, sometimes members of ancient Russian noble families, some of whose ancestors were members of the genuine Sovereign Order of Malta, have taken part (presumably out of ignorance or carelessness) in the activities of some of these pseudo-Order of Malta organizations. This is especially regrettable because it discredits historic traditional values, and damages the good name of these ancient families and the reputations of their descendants in Russia and the world over.

Source: Official Statement from the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia“, 30 April 2014.

This statement is echoed by a number of admirers of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna. However, the authority of the aforementioned statement is questionable because the Romanov Family Association does not accept the headship of Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna as head of the Russian imperial family (see: Appendix 7 and 8, bold font by me, JvBQ):

During my recent stay in St Petersburg I was repeatedly asked to comment upon several articles that have lately appeared in the media concerning my relative Maria Wladimirovna.

FIRSTLY: I would like to say it once more – as it has been stated so often in the past – that it is incorrect that Maria Wladimirovna be titled as Grand Duchess. The last Grand Duchess of the Imperial family was of course the sister of the martyred Tsar Nichols II, Olga Alexandrovna, who died in Canada in 1960. Today, the living members of the Imperial Family all bear the titles of Princes and Princesses.

SECONDLY: – as it has been stated so often in the past – it is misleading that MW should be titled Head of the Imperial Family, as by right and as recognized as such by all other members of the Imperial Family, it is my elder brother Nicholas Romanovich, who is the Head of our Family.

THIRDLY: I was told that Maria Wladimirovna intends to take up residence in Russia, which is not unusual as many other émigré Russian families have done so.

It is however very important to emphasize that if she decides to do so, she then does that as an individual, and certainly not to symbolize “a return of the House of Romanov”. Her entourage, who introduce themselves as representatives, advisers, lawyers or whatever other professionals, are not acting in the name of the Imperial House of Romanov. They are acting on behalf of Maria Wladimirovna as an individual – and as nothing else but that.

To terminate, I would like to refer to a meeting taken place in Paris in 1992 with the participation of all the then living senior male descendants of the House of Romanov: Without exception, and considering the great sufferings endured by the Russian people, we were all in agreement not to put forward any claims of any kind, or expect any kind of privileges.

July 2009

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It has come to my knowledge that George, son of Franz Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, Prince of Prussia, styling himself as ”The Tsarevich”, during a recent visit to Moscow, has bestowed the Imperial Russian Order of Saint Anne upon various persons.

This action was not only farcical, but it also lacks respect for the memory of a glorious Imperial Russian Order. Therefore this can only be condemned by the descendants of the Imperial Romanov Family.

April 2010

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

During the summer of last year, after a visit to Saint Petersburg, I issued a press release in which I informed the media that the entourage of my relative, Princess Maria Wladimirovna, was titling her as Grand Duchess and Head of the Imperial Family.
I did point out that both titles ware misleading as the last Grand Duchess of the Imperial family had been Olga Alexandrovna, the sister of the martyred Tsar Nicholas II, who died in Canada in 1960. Furthermore, I pointed out that the Head of the Imperial Family was my elder brother Nicholas Romanovich who not only by right but also is recognized as such by all other members of the Imperial Family.

These past days, I have learned that the same entourage of my relative, who introduce themselves as representative and advisers, are now titling her as

“Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess of Russia and de jure Empress and Autocrat of all Russias”.

It seems that there are no limits to this charade that wishes to resuscitate pompous and obsolete patterns, seeking servile homage and titles, honours and orders of a non-retrievable era, risking to fall into a Russia-wide ridicule.

As a Romanov, I firmly believe that all members of my family must first of all limit themselves to be a proud historical link with a past, which no great nation can ever forfeit.

26 May 2010

Press releases by the Romanov Family Association

It is very sad to see that the illustrious Russian noblemen in exile who, in 1928, legitimately revived the Russian Grand Priory have been betrayed by Grand Duke Wladimir and his daughter Grand Duchess Maria, driven by their membership of the Order of Malta. It is downright despicable that Grand Duchess Maria, who is rejected by her family, in 2014, unjustifiably defames the Russian Grand Priory by stating that they “are illegitimate and offer a means of deception, including the trafficking in false “knighthoods.” (see the aforementioned statement of 30 April 2014).

The nature of the 1928 Paris Group is simply what it states in its formation document, to: “Re-establish the activity of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta created and regularised by a treaty signed on the 4/13th of January, 1799, between the Throne of Russia and the Sovereign Order of Malta.“.

Case study: Dame Emma Hamilton

Royal Museums Greenwich. Emma, Lady Hamilton, 1765-1815, waring the cross of the Order of Malta. The pair to PAJ3939, showing Nelson, this pastel portrait of Emma is signed and dated by the artist in pencil lower left, ‘Schmidt / 1800’. Schmidt was artist to the ducal court of Saxony at Dresden. He drew this pair of portraits of Nelson and Emma Hamilton from sittings taken there at the Hotel de Pologne early in October that year, where they stayed during their return to England from Naples, with Sir William Hamilton. Nelson subsequently hung it in his cabin when at sea, including in ‘Victory’ from 1802 to his death at Trafalgar and, according to Emma, called it his ‘Guardian Angel’. While at Dresden Emma borrowed a number of gowns from a young Irish widow there, Mrs Melesina St George, who thought Emma’s ‘own taste in dress frightful’ (in Carola Oman’s account the visit [1947]): ‘Her waist’, wrote Mrs St George, ‘is absolutely between her shoulders’. Whoever the muslin gown shown belonged to, the high waist is evident, disguising both the weight that the 39-year-old Emma had then put on but also the fact that she was already about five months pregnant with Nelson’s daughter Horatia, born in January 1801. This item was acquired as part of the Ingram Collection in 1963. For details of Emma, see BHC2736, Romney’s 1786 oil portrait of her.

Emma Hamilton was the mistress of the British naval hero Admiral Horatio (afterward Viscount) Nelson. She facilitated Nelson’s victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile (1 August 1798) by securing Neapolitan permission for his fleet to obtain stores and water in Sicily. On 21 December 1799 (Gregorian calendar), the Tsar awarded Hamilton with the small cross of the Russian Order of Malta for paying for and organising the delivery of grain to the starving population of Malta during a famine (see: David Huntington. (1815). Memoirs of lady Hamilton: With illustrative anecdotes of many of her most particular friends and distinguished contemporaries, p. 279 and Hellman, Jesse. (2015). Lady Hamilton, Nelson’s Enchantress, and the Creation of Pygmalion. DOI Shaw. 35. 213. 10.5325/shaw.35.2.0213). The Tsar wrote in his appointment (in French): “Having learned with particular satisfaction the active part that you have taken in maintaining tranquility and good order among the inhabitants of Malta, we have kindly given you a proof of our benevolence by decorating you with the small Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, which you will find attached. Upon this we pray to God Milady Hamilton, that he may keep you in his holy and worthy guard.” (sources: Pettigrew, T.J. Memoirs of the Life of Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson (in Two Volumes, Vol.II) Publisher T. and W. Boone (London), pp. 618-623; Style, L. The Story of Emma’s Maltese Cross, published in the The 1805 Club’s Kedge Anchor magazine, autumn 2019). Horatia Nelson, christened as Horatia Nelson Thompson (1801 – 1881), was the illegitimate daughter of Emma Hamilton, and Horatio Nelson. The family tree can be found here.

Letter from the Tsar to Emma Hamilton, appointing her the small cross of the Order of Malta (source: Emma Hamilton Society)

Prior to 1812, British subjects often assumed foreign titles and honorific prefixes, the exception being that persons in the military (like Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté  and General Sir Charles Imhoff) required the King’s warrant to accept and wear a foreign decoration and assume the honorific prefix, which included “Sir” (source: communication from Mr. Stephen Lautens GCJ, B.A., J.D.). Since then, the regulations regarding these matters have become stricter (see my article: Regulations regarding the acceptance of foreign orders and titles by British nationals). This explains why Hamilton is mentioned as Dame Emma Hamilton in the diploma of the College of Arms, granting her a coat of arms on 19 November 1806, showing the Maltese cross; Per pale Or and Argent, three Lions rampant Gules, on a chief Sable, a Cross of eight points of the second):


To whom these presents shall cme Sir Isaac Heard Knight GARTER Principal King of Arms and George Harrison Esquire CLARENCEUX King of Arms of the South East and West parts of England from the River trent Southwards send Greeting.  Whereas DAME EMMA HAMILTON of Clarges Street Piccadilly in the County of Middlesex (only issue of HENRY LYONS of Preston in the County of Lancaster) Widow of the Right Honorable Sir William Hamilton K.B. hath represented unto the most noble Charles Duke of Norfolk Earl Marshal and hereditary Marshal of England that she intermarried with the said Sir William Hamilton in the Year 1791 and having attended him during his Embassy from our most gracious Sovereign to His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies and rendered great service at that Court during an important juncture as appears by the following clause in a Codicil bearing date the twenty first day of October 1805 and annexed to the last Will and Testament of the late Right Honorable Horatio Viscount and Baron Nelson Duke of Bronte in Sicily &c deceased “Whereas the eminent services of Emma Hamilton Widow of the Right Honorable Sir William Hamilton have been of the very great Service to our King and Country to my knowledge without her receiving any reward from either our King and Country First that she obtained the King of Spain’s letter in 1796 to his Brother the King of Naples acquainting him of his intention to declare War against England from which Letter the Ministry sent out Order to the then Sir John Jervis to strike a stroke if opportunity offered against the Arsenale of Spain or her Fleets, that neither of these were done is not the fault of Lady Hamilton the opportunity might have offered. Secondly the British Fleet under my Command could never have returned the second time to Egypt had not Lady Hamilton’s influence with the Queen of Naples caused Letters to be wrote to the Governor of Syracuse that he was to encourage the Fleet being supplied with every thing should they put into any Port in Sicily. We put into Syracuse and received every supply went to Egypt and destroyed the French Fleet. Could I have rewarded these services I would not now call upon my Country but as that has not been in my power I leave Emma Lady Hamilton therefore a legacy to my King and Country that they will give her as capable provision to maintain her rank in Life” 

And the said Dame Emma Hamilton not finding any Armorial Ensigns registered to her Family in the College of Arms and unwilling to use any without lawful authority she therefore requested the favor of his Grace’s Warrant for our granting and assigning each Armorial Ensigns as may be proper to be borne by her and her Descendants according to the Law of Arms.  And forasmuch as the said Earl Marshal did by Warrant under his Hand and Seal bearing date the twenty ninth day of September last authorize and direct Us to grant and exemplify such Armorial Ensigns for LYONS accordingly.  Know Ye therefore that We the said GARTER and CLARENCEUX in pursuance of his Grace’s Warrant and by virtue of the Letters Patent of our several Offices to each of Us respectively granted have devised and do by these Presents grant and exemplify to the said DAME EMMA HAMILTON the Arms following that is to say Per Pale Or and Argent three Lions rampant Gules, on a Chief Sable a Cross of eight points of the second ; as the same are in the margin here more plainly depicted to be borne and used for ever hereafter by the said Dame Emma Hamilton and her Descendants according to the Laws of Arms.

In Witness whereof We the said GARTER and CLARENCEUX Kings of Arms have to these Presents subscribed our Names and affixed the Seals of our several Offices this nineteenth day of November in the forty seventh Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six.

College of Arms MS Grants 24, pp. 73 and 74. published by the Emma Hamilton Society.

The case of Dame Emma Hamilton proves that the Russian Tsar awarded his Order to foreigners and that, at the time, these awards were accepted in England. The entitled the recipient to use the prefix Sir/Dame.

Founding fathers of the Russian tradition

In order to obtain insight regarding the historical context of the Paris Group, it is essential to learn more about its individual members. The section below is far from complete and additional information and corrections are most welcome.

Dmitri Alexandrovich Sheremetev/Cheremeteff

Victor Shtemberg.Portrait of Count D.A. Sheremetev, Cornet of the Chevalier Guards.

Count Dmitri Alexandrovich Sheremetev/Cheremeteff (1885-1963), buried Cimetière de Sainte Genevieve des Bois Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois, Departement de l’Essonne, Île-de-France, son of Count Alexander Dmitrievich Cheremetiev (1859-1931).

The Sheremetevs were one of the most prominent boyar families of the Russian monarchy. Field Marshal B.P. Sheremetev was the first in Russia to be granted (in 1706) the title of count (N. Novikov. Genealogical book of princes and nobles of Russia, pp. 124-128). The marriage of the son of B.P. Sheremetev with the heiress of A.M. Cherkassky marked the beginning of a colossal “Sheremetev fortune”. Count N. P. Sheremetev, remains in Russian history as a philanthropist who built and decorated the Ostankino and Kuskovo estates near Moscow, and also founded the Hospice House. In Petersburg, the Sheremetevs owned the Fountain House. In addition to the comital branch, there are less well-known untitled branches of the family; one of them owned Yurin Castle.

Prince Serge Constantinovitch Belosselsky Belozersky

Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace on Nevsky Avenue in St. Petersburg. The interiors of the palace have survived to our time in good condition. The decoration of a number of palace premises is of considerable artistic interest. The wide flights of the main staircase, fenced with an openwork forged lattice with monograms, lead to the mezzanine rooms. Steps of the stairs are processed with pilasters with caryatids. Sculptural figures supporting candelabra are installed in two niches. In the reading room of the library, the walls in their lower part are sheathed with wooden panels with gilded carvings, and in the upper part they are covered with light silk fabric. Above the fireplace made of white Carrara marble with high-relief figures of putti, there is a mirror in a gilded carved frame with a picturesque insert in the center. In the small Golden Living Room, decorated, like other rooms, in the rococo style, the walls are covered with damask. The doors and desudeportes with paintings of the French school of the 18th century are beautiful in design. In the small foyer there are desudeportes by Van Loo and French masters of the 18th century. In this room, the plafonds of the ceiling are molded and decorated with picturesque inserts with images of playing putti. The walls of the large foyer (formerly an art gallery) are cut through by wide rectangular openings decorated with caryatids.

Prince Serge Belosselsky Belozersky (1867–1951) was one of the largest landowners in Russia. He was the son of general Konstantin Esperovich Belosselsky-Belozersky and Nadezhna Dmitrovna Skobeleva (1847–1820), the sister of general Mikhail Skobelev.

In 1887, Belosselsky Belozersky graduated from the Corps of Pages, and was made cornet in the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment. Continuing to be listed, he was first attached to the Russian Embassy in Berlin, and then in Paris.

In 1894, Belosselsky Belozersky retired. Two years later, he returned to active service. In 1896-1905, he became adjutant of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich. In 1906, already in the rank of colonel, he was listed again in the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment. In August 1908, Belosselsky Belozersky was appointed commander of the 3rd Dragoons Novorossiysk Regiment and became an advisor of the Tsar. Soon afterwards he was promoted to major-general of Her Majesty’s Life Guards Lancer Regiment, and at the end of 1913, of the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Guards Cavalry Division, which involved him in the First World War.

Prince Serge Belosselsky Belozersky (1867–1951)

In November 1914 Belosselsky Belozersky temporarily commanded the 2nd Guards Cavalry Division, and then became Chief of the 3rd Don Cossack Division (1914-1915). On December, 29, 1915 Belosselsky Belozersky was appointed commander of the Caucasian Cavalry Division, with which he made the march across Persia through Kermanshah in the detachment of General Baratov. On 10 April 1916, Belosselsky Belozersky was promoted to lieutenant-general.

From 1917, by order of the Minister of War, Belosselsky Belozersky served on the staff of Lieutenant-General Mannerheim (his friend) and participated in the war between the Finnish White Army and the Red Army. In May 1919, at the end of the Finnish Civil War, he arranged several meetings between General Yudenich and General Mannerheim. In 1919, he was appointed representative in Finland of the Special War Mission in London to provide material assistance to the armies of Generals Miller, Yudenich and Denikin, and for Admiral Kolchak. In 1919, he participated in the formation and supply of the North-Western Army. After Mannerheim’s failure in the presidential elections in Finland, he remained in Helsinki until the end of 1919, as a representative of General Yudenich. Then (1920), he went to England and was a member of the Special Mission until its dissolution.

Belosselsky Belozersky was also one of the first international polo players and a member of the Olympic Committee. At the 1900 Paris Olympic games, Belosselsky Belozersky took part in equestrian events. Between 1934 and his death in 1951, Belosselsky Belozersky lived in Lyons Crescent (England), The Red Lion Hotel and finally in Dry Hill Road. He also spent time with his eldest son Serge in New York and an apartment in Kensington (source:

Belosselsky Belozersky has lived in England for more than thirty years. He died on April 20, 1951 in Tonbridge and was buried in the local cemetery.

Count Hilarion Woronzoff-Dachkoff

Irina Vasilievna Naryshkina (1879 – 1917), Woronzoff-Dachkoff’s first wife (since 10 September 1900), daughter of the famous and wealthy Vasily Lvovich Naryshkin (1841-1909) from his marriage to Princess Theodora Pavlovna Orbeliani (1852-1930). Her marriage to Vorontsov-Dashkov ended in divorce in 1914.

Count Hilarion Woronzoff-Dachkoff was third son of the cavalry general Count Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov and his wife Elizaveta Andreyevna Shuvalova (1845-1924). Upon graduation from the Corps of Pages (first class) in 1898, he was promoted to cornet in His Majesty’s Life Guards Hussar Regiment. Woronzoff-Dachkoff was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 6 December 1902, and to staff sergeant – on 6 December 1905. On 5 September 1909, he was appointed Adjutant to Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich and he remained listed in the Life Guards Hussar Regiment. Woronzoff-Dachkoff was promoted to captain on 11 March 1911, and promoted to colonel on 6 December 1913. On 23 August, 1914, he was appointed commander of the Kabardian Horse Regiment with the outbreak of World War I. In 1926, he was awarded the St George’s Weapon For Courage, which was a grade of the Order of St. George (according to the 1913 Statute of the Order). The St. George’s weapon was established to be awarded to generals, admirals and other senior officers “ for outstanding military feats that require undoubted dedication ”. Woronzoff-Dachkoff excelled during the battle at the river Stypa:

For being the commander of the Kabardian Horse Regiment in the battle on 10 September 1915, during the battle on the river Stypa, to determine the location of the enemy at the division front, commanding two companies of the 128th Infantry Stary Oskol Regiment, six guns and two cavalry regiments, he successfully performed the reconnaissance, and the capture of Hill 392 gave the division a firm foothold along the whole front and subsequently develop a successful advance in neighboring sections of the 11th Corps.

Воронцов-Дашков, Илларион Илларионович. Проект Русская армия в Великой войне.

On 24 March 1916, Hilarion Woronzoff-Dachkoff returned to the position of Adjutant to Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, and remained in the Guard Cavalry.

During the Civil War, Hilarion Woronzoff-Dachkoff participated in the White movement (a loose confederation of anti-communist forces that fought the communist Bolsheviks), in the All-Union Revolutionary Army and in the Volunteer Army. In May 1920, he arrived in the Crimea (see: Archives Nationales. Intérieur. Fichier central de la Sûreté nationale: dossiers individuels de WA à WZ (fin XIXe siècle-1940), Dossiers 12662 à 12765 [19940484/142]).

Prince Pavel Alexandrovich Demidov

Pavel Alexandrovich Demidov (1869-1935). Chest portrait of Prince Pavel Alexandrovich Demidov in the uniform of a junior lieutenant of the cavalry regiment. Original photographic print from the era, stamped with the photographer’s name at the bottom of the document and on the reverse. Signed in Russian “Pavel 1890 – 1905”. Hermitage Fine Art, Monaco

Prince Pavel Alexandrovich Demidov (1869-1935) was a representative of the second line of the senior branch of the Demidov family and author of the genealogy of the Demidov family. At the beginning of World War I, Pavel Demidov was appointed by Nicholas II as the HIM’s Stalmeister, and subsequently served as the General Director of the Russian Southwestern Red Cross Service. After the revolution, he emigrated to France.

The family descents from Nikita Demidovich Antufyev (1656–1725), a blacksmith and serf from the western Russian city of Tula, who assumed the surname Demidov in 1702. He began to accumulate his family’s fortune by manufacturing weapons and, after receiving land grants from Tsar Peter I the Great, by building and operating an iron foundry at Tula. Antufyev was ennobled by the Tsar in 1720.

Demidov was the great-great-great-great-grandson of the founder of the family, Nikita Demidov, and the son of chamber junker Alexander Pavlovich Demidov (1845 – 1893) and his wife Alexandra Alexandrovna, née Abaza (1853-1894) . The great-great-grandfather of P. A. Demidov, Alexander Grigorievich (1737 – 1803), was the brother of the founder of the Demidov Lyceum in Yaroslavl (now Yaroslavl State University), Pavel Grigorievich Demidov (1739-1821).

On 14 April 1958, Grand Duke Vladimir signed a diploma in favour of Paul Demidoff;

de faire droit à Votre requête et de confirmer Votre titre de Commandeur Héréditaire de l’Union des Descendants des Commandeurs Héréditaires et Chevaliers du Grand Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de St. Jean de Jérusalem en tant que descendant direct de Demidoff Nicolas fils de Nicétas qui, par grâce de Mon trisaïeul, S.M. l’Empereur Paul I-r Grand Maître de l’Ordre de St. Jean de Jérusalem avait été élevé le 2I Juillet 1799.”


to grant Your request and to confirm Your title of Hereditary Commander of the Union of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders and Knights of the Russian Grand Priory about St John of Jerusalem as a direct descendant of Demidoff Nicholas son of Nicétas which, by grace of My great-great-grandfather, H.M. the Emperor Paul I Grand Master of the Order of St John of Jerusalem had been elevated 21 July 1799.”


Dmitri Boutourline

Dmitri Boutourline was a member of an ancient Russian family, descending from the Moscow boyars. The genealogy is included in the Velvet Book (Russian: Бархатная книга, romanized: Barkhatnaya kniga) the (incomplete) official register of genealogies of Russia’s most noble families.

Serge Alexandrovitch Dolgorouky

Prince Serge Alexandrovitch Dolgorouky
by Bassano Ltd. whole-plate glass negative, 24 January 1922

Prince Serge Alexandrovitch Dolgorouky (1872 – 1933) was a former general. Dolgorouky was born in Saint-Petersburg on 22 May 1872 to Prince Aleksandr Sergeievich Dolgorouky and Countess Olga Petrovna Shuvalova. Prince Serge Alexandrovitch Dolgorouky married Irina Vassilievna Naryshkina and had one child. He passed away on 11 Nov 1933 in Paris, Île-de-France, France.

The Dolgorouky dynasty, also called Dolgoruky, Dolgoruki, Dolgorukov or Dolgorukii (Russian: Долгоруков), seems to descend from the Rúrikovich, being a minor branch of the rulers of the Principality of Obolensk. The House of Dolgorukov is a princely Russian family. They are a cadet branch of the Obolenskiy family (until 1494 the rulers of Obolensk, one of the Upper Oka Principalities) and as such claiming patrilineal descent from Mikhail of Chernigov (d. 1246).

The founder of the Dolgorukov branch of the Obolenskiy is Prince Ivan Andreevich Oblenskiy (15th century), who, for his vengefulness, was given the nickname of “Долгорукий Dolgorukiy“, i.e. “far-reaching”. Obolensk was incorporated into the expanding Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1494, and the House of Dolgorukov became a powerful noble family in Russia.

Denis Davydoff

[Denis Davydoff]

Leon Wassillijewitsch Narychkin

Leon (Lew) Wassillijewitsch Narychkin (1875-1931) married on 17 October 1908 in Paris Countess Alexandra von Zarnekau (1883-1957, Paris, Île-de-France), eldest daughter of Duke Constantine Petrovich of Oldenburg and his Georgian wife, Princess Agrippina Japaridze, Countess von Zarnekau, formerly married to the Georgian Prince Dadiani. Countess Alexandra married secondly to Lev Vassilievich Naryshkin. During World War I, Countess Alexandra worked as an administrator of the Russian hospital at Saloniki. After the war, she moved to Paris, France, where she died on 28 May 1957. See for the genealogy: Князь А. Б. Лобанов-Ростовский. Русская родословная книга, 2 тт. С.-Петербург: Издания А. С. Суворина, 1895. p. 18; Almanach de St-Pétersbourg: Cour, Monde et Ville, 1912 (St-Pétersbourg, 1912), p. 356; Almanach de St-Pétersbourg: Cour, Monde et Ville, 1912. St-Pétersbourg: Societé M. O. Wolff Editeurs, 1912. p. 356; C. Arnold McNaughton, The Book of Kings: A Royal Genealogy, in 3 volumes (London, U.K.: Garnstone Press, 1973), volume 1, page 216.

Prince Nikita Wladimirovich Troubetzkoy 

Prince Nikita Troubetzkoy (1902-1980), son of Vladimir Vladimirovich Troubetzkoy (1868–1931) and Helene Mikhaylovna Onou Troubetzkoy (1870–1955). Buried at the Batignolles Cemetery, Paris, France.

The Troubetzkoy is a boyar family of Lithuanian-Russian princes, who originally owned the Trubetskoy principality. The genealogy is included in the Velvet Book (Н. Новиков. Родословная книга князей и дворян Российских и выезжих (Бархатная книга). В 2-х частях. Ч. I. Тип: Университетская тип. 1787. Род князей Трубецких. С. 44-46). All representatives of the family lived after 1750 descend from Lieutenant General Yuri Yuryevich Trubetskoy (1668-1739), Russian statesman , privy council, senator, and the youngest of the two princes Trubetskoy of the end of the 17th century.

In 1700, without much success, Yuri Yuryevich Trubetskoy negotiated in Berlin with the Prussian elector about joining the Northern Union. Around 1710, he visited many countries and learned the Italian language, in which he communicated in Moscow with the Dutch traveler and artist Cornelis de Bruyn (1652 – 1726) for a “quite a long time” (see: Cornelius de Bruyn (1652 – 1726), “Travels in Muscovy, Persia and part of the East-Indies …,” Mapping Cultural Space Across Eurasia, accessed 19 January 2023,

Dmitri Jerebzoff (Zherbetzov)

[Dmitri Jerebzoff]

Nicholas Tchirikoff

[Nicholas Tchirikoff]

Count Dmitry Adamovich Olsoufieff

In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War broke out on the outskirts of the empire. In the Saratov province, mobilization activities were initiated everywhere. Food and fodder for the army were organized. The Saratov detachment of the Red Cross under the leadership of Count D. A. Olsufiev was sent to the front. Count Olsufieff personally led an ambulance train with 200 beds. Rescuing the wounded, he traveled hundreds of miles through the hills and valleys of Manchuria. In one of his letters, Olsufiev wrote: “ The Japanese are crueler than ours. They do not take care of the seriously wounded, on whom there is no hope for them to recover, while we (our sisters of mercy) lay down our lives for them. They look at us with subservience; as a superior race. The Japanese do not have chivalry; they, if profitable, scatter like mice; if necessary, they die … “. In the battles near Mukden, among 70 thousand Russian soldiers and officers, D. A. Olsufiev was taken prisoner. He remained in the city with the wounded Russians and was released 20 days later.

Olsoufieff (1862 -1937) was Russian public figure, statesman and land owner. He was district leader of the Kamyshinsky nobility (1893-1902), an elector from the Kamyshinsky district in the provincial Zemsky Assembly, an honorary magistrate of Dmitrovsky (Moscow province) and Kamyshinsky districts, the chairman of the Saratov provincial Zemstvo board (1902-1904), member of the State Council from Saratov provincial Zemstvo (1906-1916), chairman of the Saratov archival scientific commission, He was also chairman of the board of Saratov society of agriculture, chairman of the local board of the society of water rescue in Kamyshinsk, vice-president of the department of the Trust of the Empress Maria Alexandrovna for the blind, honorary inspector of the local four-class school, honorary trustee of the Kamyshinsk department of the diocesan school board (Source: Граф Д. А.Олсуфьев — патриот, политик, человек. Клуб исторических изысканий КамышинStar. Дата обращения: 26 декабря 2022).


The aforementioned members were joined by four other Russian nobles:

  • Count Wladimir Borch, Hereditary Commander of the Catholic Grand Priory of Russia
  • Prince Wladimir Galitzine (aspirant member)
  • Count Andre Lanskoi (aspirant member) and
  • Count Alexander Mordviboff (aspirant member)
Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933) 1899 copy of an original photograph of 1896. Photogravure | 7.6 x 5.3 cm (image) (image) | RCIN 2916233. Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich was the consort of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the eldest daughter of Alexander III, Emperor of Russia. They married at the Peterhof Palace in August 1894. Photo: Royal Collection Trust.

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, a dynast of the Russian Empire, naval officer, author, explorer, the brother-in-law of Emperor Nicholas II and advisor to him, became the Union’s Grand Prior. Mikhailovich tried to constitute reciprocity with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, but did not succeed.

The thirteenth Hereditary Commander, Andrei Alexandrovitch Bariatinsky, was not able to attend the meeting in June 1928. His uncle, Prince Vladimir Vladimirovitch Bariatinsky, was invited to join the Council of the Russian Grand Priory circa 1929. At the time the Council were seeking recognition from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and Prince Vladimir was a second cousin to Prince Don Ludovico Chigi della Rovere Albani, Bailiff of the Sovereign Council and later Grandmaster of the SMOM. Present at the gathering in 1928 was Count Vladimir Borch, a Hereditary Commander of the Catholic Grand Priory of Russia.

The conditions offered by the SMOM were unacceptable for the Union: the subordination to the SMOM and the condition that only Roman Catholic members were to be admitted. Mikhailovich remained Grand Prior of the Union until his death in 1933. After his death, the headship of the Union passed to Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich (1879-1956), brother of the head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duke Kyrill Vladimirovich (1876-1938).

 Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich (1879 – 1956). Source: Boasson and Eggler – (Archives of the Russian Federation).

In February 1955, Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich registered the Paris-based Grand Priory-in-Exile with the French administration as a foreign association, named “Russian Grand Priory of St. John of Jerusalem “. The statutes state that it is not a representation for France of the SMOM, but the organisation of the Grand Priory on French soil to “re-establish the activity of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta“. Under his direction, applicants who made claims to the hereditary commanders were carefully examined and those who qualified were admitted and obtained an official diploma. After the death of Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich in 1956, the Union was governed by its Secretary-General, Georges Sergueievitch de Rticheff, who died in 1975. In 1962, Rticheff successfully asked Grand Duke Wladimir Kyrillovich, head of the Russian Imperial House, to become the Union’s Protector.

By 1955, out of 14 possible commanders, only six were members of the Paris Group (Taube, p. 50). These family members were listed in italics, and the families in which the direct descendants had ended were marked by a Latin cross. The number of qualified commanders who belonged to the Paris Group continued to decline until the 1970s, and the lines of several hereditary commanders, who became extinct continued. For example, in 1974, Nicholas Tchirikoff, the Dean of the Paris Group, died without an heir to the Commandery.

Extension of the Paris Group: Priory of Dacia

There exists to this date a legitimate extension of the aforementioned 1928 Paris Group, called the Priory of Dacia:

There had been strong Imperial Russian links with Denmark prior to the Revolution. Emperor Nicholas II’s mother, Marie Feodorovna, had been the daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark After the Revolution, following a short stay in London, the Dowager Empress returned to her native Denmark, where she died 13th October 1928. In 1938, discussions took place between the Paris group, and a group of gentlemen in Denmark; Baron Palle Rosenkrantz., Prebend Ahlefeldt Bille, and Prebend Holger Christian Wenck von Wenckheim. In 1950 H. K Ostenfeld joined the “Danish Initiative Committee”. Authorisation for the creation of a Danish Priory was granted by Grand Duke Andrew, October 19th, 1938, and the Priory under the name of “The Ecclesiastical Knightly Order of Malta of Saint John of Jerusalem, Priory of Saint Andrew“, and began its formal life on April 10th, 1939. It was later to be known as “The Autonomous Priory of Dacia of the Order of Malta“.

In the summer of 1938, the Danish Committee wrote to Commander G. Gadd, Grand Duke Cyril’s personal representative in Copenhagen, about the possibility of joining the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Gadd suggested, that a direct approach to Grand Duke Cyril ought to be made. When Grand Duke Cyril received the Danish Committee’s letter, he passed it on to his younger brother Grand Duke Andrew, who had accepted responsibility for the Russian Grand Priory. Grand Duke Andrew, then asked Baron Michael de Taube the legal consultant to the Hereditary Commanders to discuss the matter with the Danes. Baron Michael de Taube had been Professor of Law at St Petersburg University and first legal adviser for the Russian Foreign Office, Senator of Russia and a member of the Council of the Empire.

Initially the first consideration was to widen membership of the Russian Grand Priory itself to include in a seamless way, a Danish group. The final conclusion of the discussions, was that a Priory would be created to serve the “North”, under the title of Dacia. Prebend Wenck von Wenckheim as leader of the group became the first Prior. The war years halted any real activity of the Priory, and Baron Michael de Taube and Grand Duke Andrew gave assistance in continuing the work in the post war period.

After the sudden death of Wenck von Wenckheim in 1957, John K Ostenfeld who had joined the Committee in the post war period, became the Prior but retired from Office in 1968 succeeded by Baron Niels Sandberg Stouge 1968-1969. In the period of 1968 to 1970 disputes caused the separation of a Swedish Commandery. Part of this period was during the leadership of acting Prior, Helmuth Kieldsen 1969-1971. The problems were put to a firm end when in 1971 John K Ostenfeld was re-appointed Prior. By the mid 1970s, the Priory and the Paris Headquarters had lost contact with each other. Two factors had conspired to bring this about; the disputes within the Dacia Priory and its changes of personnel, and the increasing isolationism of the aging Paris administration which was in stark contrast to the previous pro-active role undertaken by Baron Michel de Taube.

Author: The Reverend Dr Michael Foster SSC MIWO. Date of Publication. First published 8th May 1998. Revision 27th August 2001. Revision 28th July 2004. Revision 18th November 2004.

The Priory of Dacia enjoyed the patronage of Grand Duke Andrew, who also was the protector of the Paris Group:

Der Protektor desParis, den 17, Nov 1950
Russischen Grosspriorates
des Malteserordens

An den Ordensrat des
Priorates Dacia des russischen Grosspriorates

Das Protektorat, welches ich nach dem Tode meines Vetters S. K. H. Grossfürst Alexander über das russische Gross-Priorat des Malteserordens übernommen habe, umfasst natürlich auch das dänische Priorat – (Prioratus Daciae) – nachdem dieses als autonomer Teil des Gross-Priorates von Russland im Sommer 1939 errichtet wurde.

[EN] The protectorate which I took over the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta after the death of my cousin, H.S.H. Grand Prince Alexander, naturally includes the Danish Priory – (Prioratus Daciae) – after it was established as an autonomous part of the Grand Priory of Russia in the summer of 1939.

Sollte auch ein Mitglied des königlichen dänischen Hauses das Protekorat über das dänische Priorat unseres Ordens übernehmen wollen, würde ich es sehr begrüssen.

[EN] Should a member of the Royal Danish House also wish to assume the Protectorate over the Danish Priory of our Order, I would very much welcome it.

Grossfürst Andrie von Russland.

Geschäftführendes Mitglied
des rüssischen Ordensrates

Michael Frhr. v. Taube.


Letter to the Dacia Priory from Grand Duke Andrei of Russia confirming that he is the Protector of the Priory of Dacia. Source: Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. c. litra P nr. 1006-1.  

The forgoing documents prove that the Priory of Dacia is a legitimate extension of the 1928 Paris Group.

Authoritative witness statements

The Grand Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem, headquartered in Paris, and governed by its Grand Prior, Count Pierre Cheremetieff and its Lieutenant Grand Prior, Prince Stephan Belosselsky Belozersky makes the following statement on its website:

L’Empereur de Russie Paul Ier, Protecteur puis Grand Maître

Le 12 juin 1798, Bonaparte en route pour l’Egypte, s’empara de l’île de Malte. Il en expulsa l’Ordre. Les chevaliers, indignés de la capitulation de leur Grand Maître Ferdinand von Hompesh, le déposèrent et quelques deux-cent chevaliers trouvèrent refuge auprès du Tsar Paul Ier, chevalier et Protecteur de l’Ordre depuis 1797, qu’ils élurent 72ème Grand Maître le 27 octobre 1798. Le Tsar accepta cette dignité et fut revêtu des insignes des Grands Maîtres de l’Ordre le 29 novembre 1798. Cette élection fut, dans un premier temps, acceptée par le Pape. Elle fut aussi reconnue par une majorité de cours européennes.

Les 29 novembre et 28 décembre 1798, Paul Ier créa un Grand Prieuré de Russie pour ses sujets orthodoxes qui s’ajouta à la branche russe catholique existant en Russie depuis la Convention qu’il avait signée le 4 janvier 1797 à Saint-Pétersbourg avec le Grand Maître de l’Ordre François de Rohan, portant création « pour toujours » (littéralement, en russe « pour les temps éternels ») d’un Grand Prieuré de Malte en Russie. Dès cette époque, ce Grand Prieuré Russe reçut en son sein de nombreux gentilshommes russes orthodoxes mais aussi des sujets catholiques romains, surtout polonais et quelques protestants. En effet, il était, selon la volonté du Tsar – véritable précurseur à ce titre – mixte et ouvert à toutes les personnes jugées dignes d’y être admis sans distinction de nationalité, de confession et de classe sociale.

Le 21 juillet 1799, afin d’assurer la pérennité de l’Ordre quelque soit les vicissitudes de l’Histoire, le Tsar Paul Ier institua « partout et à jamais» vingt et un « Commandeurs de familles » héréditaires choisis dans les plus illustres familles de la noblesse russe auxquelles son fils, le Tsar Alexandre Ier, en ajouta deux autres. Ces vingt-trois Commanderies héréditaires constituèrent la véritable colonne vertébrale du Grand Prieuré Russe, qui en fonde et transmet, aujourd’hui comme hier, la légitimité à la fois historique et juridique.

Ces caractères font ainsi de ce Grand Prieuré, depuis sa fondation, un Ordre spécialement russe de Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem.

En 1800, le Grand Prieuré Russe comptait quelques quatre-cent chevaliers et dames (de son côté le Grand Prieuré Catholique n’en comptait que deux-cent).

Les Tsars successifs ont toujours reconnu et maintenu le Grand Prieuré Russe jusqu’au Tsar Nicolas II lui-même qui fut reçu bailli grand-croix ainsi que la Tsarine Alexandra et les oncles du Tsar, les grands-ducs Serge et Paul.

Depuis la Révolution de 1917, l’assassinat du Tsar Nicolas, de la Tsarine Alexandra et de leurs enfants ainsi que l’exil des familles des Commandeurs héréditaires, le Grand Prieuré Russe a été maintenu et confirmé par ces derniers et leurs descendants qui poursuivent la mission assignée à leurs familles par Paul Ier : en France, en 1928, 1955, 1977, 2004, 2006.

Aujourd’hui, sous la gouvernance de son Grand Prieur, S.E. le comte Pierre Cheremetieff et de son Lieutenant Grand-prieur, S.E. le Prince Stéphane Belosselsky Belozersky, tous deux de la dynastie rourikide qui régna sur la Russie pendant près de mille ans, le G.P.R. rassemble environ 250 chevaliers, dames et donats répartis en France, en Italie, en Belgique, au Canada et aux Etats-Unis d’Amérique.

Le Grand Prieuré de Russie ne s’affirme pas comme un Ordre indépendant et reconnaît le seul Grand Magister authentique à l’Ordre de Malte.

Œuvres Hospitalières

Au sein de chaque Prieuré national, une structure complémentaire s’ajoute à la structure chevaleresque dénommée Œuvres Hospitalières de l’Ordre, structure qui opère de façon autonome et distincte dans la poursuite d’œuvres caritatives mais sous le contrôle du Prieuré national.

De nombreux bénévoles ou amis qui ne souhaitent pas nécessairement faire partie de l’Ordre sont ainsi invités à participer à divers projets philanthropiques en partenariat avec les chevaliers et dames.

[English translation]

The Emperor of Russia Paul I, Protector and later Grand Master

On 12 June 1798, Bonaparte, on his way to Egypt, seized the island of Malta. He expelled the Order. The knights, indignant at the capitulation of their Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesh, deposed him and some two hundred knights found refuge with Tsar Paul I, knight and Protector of the Order since 1797, whom they elected 72nd Grand Master on 27 October 1798. The Tsar accepted this dignity and was invested with the insignia of Grand Master of the Order on 29 November 1798. This election was initially accepted by the Pope. It was also recognised by a majority of European courts.

On 29 November and 28 December 1798, Paul I created a Grand Priory of Russia for his Orthodox subjects, in addition to the Russian Catholic branch that had existed in Russia since the Convention he had signed on 4 January 1797 in St. Petersburg with the Grand Master of the Order, François de Rohan, establishing “for ever” (literally, in Russian, “for eternal time”) a Grand Priory of Malta in Russia. From that time onwards, this Russian Grand Priory received many Russian Orthodox gentlemen, but also Roman Catholic subjects, especially Poles and some Protestants. In fact, according to the will of the Tsar – a true precursor in this respect – it was mixed and open to all persons deemed worthy of admission, without distinction of nationality, confession or social class.

On 21 July 1799, in order to ensure the Order’s continuity regardless of the vicissitudes of history, Tsar Paul I instituted twenty-one hereditary “Family Commanders” chosen from the most illustrious families of the Russian nobility, to which his son, Tsar Alexander I, added two others. These twenty-three hereditary Commanderies constituted the backbone of the Russian Grand Priory, which today, as in the past, establishes and transmits both its historical and legal legitimacy.

These characteristics have made the Grand Priory a specifically Russian Order of St. John of Jerusalem since its foundation.

In 1800, the Russian Grand Priory numbered some four hundred knights and ladies (the Catholic Grand Priory numbered only two hundred).

Successive Tsars have always recognised and maintained the Russian Grand Priory, up to Tsar Nicholas II himself, who was made a Bailiff Grand Cross, as well as Tsarina Alexandra and the Tsar’s uncles, Grand Dukes Sergius and Paul.

Since the Revolution of 1917, the assassination of Tsar Nicholas, Tsarina Alexandra and their children and the exile of the families of the Hereditary Commanders, the Russian Grand Priory has been maintained and confirmed by the latter and their descendants who continue the mission assigned to their families by Paul I: in France, in 1928, 1955, 1977, 2004, 2006.

Today, under the governance of its Grand Prior, H.E. Count Pierre Cheremetieff and his Lieutenant Grand Prior, H.E. Prince Stéphane Belosselsky Belozersky, both from the Rurikid dynasty that ruled Russia for nearly a thousand years, the G.P.R. brings together some 250 knights, dames and donats spread over France, Italy, Belgium, Canada and the United States of America.

The Grand Priory of Russia does not claim to be an independent Order and recognises the Grand Magister in the Order of Malta as the only authentic Grand Magister.

Hospitaller Works

Within each national Priory, a complementary structure is added to the chivalric structure called the Hospitaller Works of the Order, which operates autonomously and separately in the pursuit of charitable works but under the control of the national Priory.

Many volunteers or friends who do not necessarily wish to be part of the Order are thus invited to participate in various philanthropic projects in partnership with the knights and ladies.

The previous section established that in 1928 a group of Russian nobles re-established the Russian branch of the Order of Malta. To examine if this act was legitimate, it is crucial to examine the continuity of the Order since its creation by the Tsar in 1797 until the Russian revolution. This section quotes two contemporary witnesses proving that the Russian branch of the Order of Malta was active in Russia until the 1917 revolution: Arthur Campbell Yate and Mikhail Alexandrovich Taube. It also presents modern research, which confirms these statements.

Arthur Campbell Yate (1853-1929)

Arthur Campbell Yate, FRGD, FRHistS, is a reliable witness in this context, considering the fact that he is independent and knowledgeable regarding the subject:

Yate, Lt-Colonel Arthur Campbell, Indian Army (retired); s. of Rev. C. Yate; b. 1853: educ: Shrewsbury and St. John’s College, Cambridge; joined the Army, 1875; became Lieut-Colonel, 1882; Bombay Staff Corps, 1879; served in Afghan War, 1879-81; Afghan Boundary Commission, 1884-85; Burmese War, 1886-88; Intelligence Officer, Northern Shan States, 1887-88; travelled in Persia, Caucasus and Central Asia, 1881-90; Fellow, Royal Geographical Society; Honorary Organising Commissioner of St. John’s Ambulance Association, India, 1900. Publications: Lieut-Col. John Houghton, a Hero of Tirah; The Army and the Press in 1901; England and Russia Face to Face in Asia. Address: Beckbury Hall, Shifnal, Shropshire. Clubs: United Service, Athenaeum, St James’.

The Indian Biographical Dictionary (1915) by C. Hayavadana Rao, Yate, Lt-Colonel Arthur Campbell

His statement reads as follows:

The Island of Rhodes.— We must seek probably in the general ignorance of the past history of the Rhodes the solution of the fact that even the most classical of our British journals fait to grasp the idea that the history of the past may possibly, under fostering influences, have some hearing upon the future destiny of this island. Personally, ever since Italy occupied it, I have been allowing my mind to ruminate, academically, upon the possibility of restoring it to the Knight’s of Saint John of Jerusalem. At the time when an ungrateful Europe, headed by Philippe IV. Of France (Le Bel- Heaven save the mark 1) and his creature, Clement V., were diabolically suppressing the Templars, and doing nothing themselves either to check the Turk or protest the Holy Land, the Hospitallers (alias Knight’s of Saint John) were quietly occupying and fortifying Rhodes. The Byzantine Emperor of the moment, Græculus csuriens, could not protect Rhodes himself, and refused the Hospitallers’ offer to hold it for him, acknowledging his suzerainty. The refusal decided the Grand Master to hold it without permission; and so well did they hold it that it was not until sixty-nine years after the Grand Signor had taken Coustantinople that the Turks succeeded in driving them out. To tell the story of the sieges, which they underwent, and of the incessant naval warfare which they waged against Turk and corsair, is beyond the scope of this short note. Their defence of Rhodes was magnificent; the history of the sieges must be read, For a time they held Smyrna, but Taimur (Tamerlanc) the Lame dove them from it, and also, I think, took their fortified slave-refuge at Budrum, built of the masonry of the ancient Halicarnassus. Budrum for a century was the haven of refuge of the escaped Christian slave. If anyone would read of the Rhodes, of the Knights, and of Budrum, I must refer him to the fine library at St. John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, the principal remnant of the old Grand Priory of England. If any would know what slavery in the hands of the Turk, or Moor, or Barbary corsaic meant, let me refer him to Sir Lambert Playfair’s “The Scourge of Christendom.” The successful defence of Rhodes by the Knights in 1430 won for them the devotion of all Christendom. Their evacuation of it on January 1, 1523, with all the honours of war, after a six-month’s sledge, drew from the lips of Charles V. the words, “Never was a place more nobly lost.” Then he gave them Malta. This suffices to justify my contention that, theoretically, no one had a better right to Rhodes

Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part I, p. 23


than the Knights of St. John. Since 1523 many are the vicissitudes through which they have passed, viz. : The secession of the bailiwick of Brandenburg at the time of Luther’s reformation; the suppression of the Order in England and Ireland by Henry VIII. In 1539, and in Scotland in 1563; and finally the revolution in France (1792) and Napoleon’s seizure of Malta (1798). The order has survived those vicissitudes and holds a high position throughout Christendom, firstly by the distinction of many of those who are numbered among its members, and secondly by the eminence to which it has attained as a promoter of “first aid” and ambulance work. There exists first and foremost the Catholic Order, with its headquarters and Grand Master at Rome and its grand priories in Austria, Italy and Rohemia, and its “associations” in France, Spain, England, and Germany; secondly, the Johanniter Order at Berlin; and last, but not least in distinction and power, the Grand Priory of England. Independent as these three actually are of each other at this moment, there seems no reason why a closer union should not be formed. After the two centuries of estrangement, the Brandenburg bailiwick returned, some time in the first half of the eighteenth century, into the fold of the Order. The Grand Priory of England has its Ophthalmic Hospital at Jerusalem on a site granted by the Sultan. The Johanniter Order hols the Muristan of Jerusalem, the old site of the Order’s chef-lieu, presented, I believe, by the Sultan to the Crown Prince Frederick forty-five years ago. The French Republic has just shown that, thought its earliest aspirations after “liberté, egalité, fraternité” took the form of unfettered madness, the reverence for the great traditions of the past has returned. France, with the consent of Italy and Turkey, has secured possession of the finest of the three old auberges (inns or hostels) which belonged to the French Knights of Provence, Auvergne, and France in the fifteenth century, Everyone knows that they stand to-day much as they were left, with the arms of their countries, Grand Masters, Grand Crosses, and Knights carved upon them.
Amid the obvious uncertainty, which, owing to the susceptibilities of the Great Powers and the ambitions of Italy, turkey, and Greece, encircles the destiny of the Ægean Islands, one possible solution of a difficult situation, which might satisfy all, suggests itself. It is understood that the Ægean islands, when allotted, are not to be fortified or used as naval bases. Rhodes, administered by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem- and in making this suggestion I presume the united action of the chef-lieux of Rome, London and Berlin- under the guarantee of the Great Powers, would surely be, by the very cosmopolitanism of its administrators, exempt from such temptations as might be calculated to once more sow and foster the seeds of discord. The traditions of Rhodes claim it emancipation from Turkish rule. If Christendom wills that no one Power holds it, then let the Knights hold it in the name of all the Powers. It has had a great commercial past. It will have a greater commercial future; for, whatever others may do, the grand priory of England will, we trust, extend to them the privileges of the “open door.”— A. C. YATE.

Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part I, p. 24

And in the article’s addendum:


To Part I. of the Journal for 1914 of the CENTRAL ASIAN SOCIETY I contributed a short note, giving a brief summary of the close ties which, from a historical point of view, entitled Rhodes to the strongest sentiments of sympathy and interest on the part of the Christian nations of Europe. I pointed out the magnificent part which the old Order of the Knights Hospitallers had played in the retention of this island in the face of Islam from A.D. 1310 to 1523. I then

Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part II, p. 35

And (bold font by me, JvBQ):

drew attention to the fact that there existed to-day in Europe three branches of this great Order-the Roman, with its “Cheflieu” at Rome ; the “Johanniter” at Berlin; and the Grand Priory of England at Clerkenwell. I pointed out that there was no unity between these branches, no sign of initiative on the part of any one of them, and that, while their great social influence might enable them to appeal to the courts, aristocracies, and Governments of almost all the Christian nations in Europe, not a thing was being done, not a move made. A sentimental interest was affected in an old Hospitaller castle in Cyprus-whose Lusiguan Kings bullied the Knights – but for Rhodes not a hand was moved.

Although I got little encouragement and scarcely even succeeded in rousing a feeble interest, I however, with the kind assistance of one or two friends whose sympathies were not lukewarm, pursued my aim until I was able to ascertain, on the authority of the Foreign Office, that it had been decided by the Six Great Powers-“Les Six Grandes Impuissances,” as some diplomatic wag has christened them-that Rhodes was to go back to Turkey. Italy holds it at present, and Italy will not part with it till she gets all she wants in return. So there is still hope. When the Six “Grandes Impuissances” cannot agree, an international agent, like the Hospitallers, may step in.

I forgot to add above that the great affection for and interest in the Order displayed by Paul the First of Russia one hundred and fifteen years ago, is by no means dead. There exist in Russia to-day “Hereditary” Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. These men are undoubtedly adherents of the Eastern or Greek Church. No such thing as a “Hereditary” Knight of the Order of St. John is known elsewhere. Russia, without the authority of the Order, invented it. We presume that these “Hereditary” Knights hold the hand of St. John the Baptist, the most treasured relic of the Order, presented to the Grand Master about 1485 by the then Sultan of Turkey and shamelessly despoiled by Napoleon in 1798. The Knights took the relic, shorn of its jewelled casket, to Russia, and there it still is, if report be true. And yet not all the sympathy and sentiment which unites Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Churches to the hallowed memory of Rhodes in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, can move Christendom to emancipate Rhodes!

Journal of the Central Asian Society Vol. I, 1914 Part II, p. 36

Baron Mikhail Alexandrovich Taube (1869-1961)

Герб баронского рода фон Таубе/Coat of arms of the Von Taube family. See: Michael Frhr. v. TaubeBeiträge zur baltischen Familiengeschichte. In: Jahrbuch für Genealogie, Heraldik und Sphragistik. 1899, S. 143–147; 1900, S. 85–89; 1903, S. 113–115; 1904, S. 115–120; 1905/06, S. 257–262; 1907/08, S. 65–73; 1909/10, S. 13. Whether the Taube family originally came from Denmark or from Westphalia cannot be deduced from modern German literature, where the Taube family is labelled as Baltic Uradel. Although in Denmark as well as in Danish Estonia the name bearers Tuve, “Duve” are mentioned in documents as early as the 13th century, the squire Engelke Tuve, who appears in Wierland on 24 August 1373, is generally regarded as the oldest proven family member. The five branches of the family cannot be traced back to a common ancestor, but begin in the 15th and 16th centuries. The family branched out from the Baltic States to Sweden, Poland, Finland, Russia, Denmark and into the German Empire to Saxony and Prussia. Individual branches bear the title of baron, and there have been several elevations to the rank of baron and count.

From 1896 to 1899 Taube was a privat-docent at Kharkov University. From 1909 to 1917, he taught at its law school. From 1892 to 1917, he worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specializing in maritime law. Taube participated in a number of international conferences on this issue and defended Russian interest. From 1909, he represented Russia at the International Court of Arbitration in the Hague. Taube was a supporter of conservative views. From 1911 to 1914 he was the Minister of National Education. After A.L. Kasso’s death, from October 1914 to January 1915, Taube had been his successor. From 1915. – From 1915 he was a senator; from 1917 he was a member of the State Council. In 1917, Taube emigrated to Finland, where he became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of A.F. Trepov in exile. He then taught at Uppsala University in Sweden. In 1928, Taube moved to Paris, where he worked at the Carnegie Endowment for Europe and the Russian Institute at the Faculty of Law of the University of Paris. From 1932 to 1937, Taube worked in Germany at the University of Münster. From there he returned to Paris. Taube maintained relations with representatives of the tsarist family, notably as legal adviser to Grand Duke V. Kirill Vladimirovich. He was a member of the “Icon” (Икона) Society and the Supreme Monarchic Council. Taube was a member of a number of Russian historical, archeological, philosophical, philological societies and regional archive commissions. He was the member of Russian Apostolate which promoted the ideas of unification of Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

Taube mainly focussed on history and modernity of international law. Furthermore, he made an important contribution to the development of genealogy in Russia: he was one of the founders of the Russian Genealogical Society and a member of the Historical and Genealogical Society. After the emigration his scholarly interests largely shifted towards church history; in particular, he devoted several studies to the Agrapheans and the history of relations between the Orthodox and Catholic churches (see: Biography of St. Petersburg State University and Columbia University Libraries, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Taube Papers, 1890-1960, Bib ID 4078137).

His statements read as follows:

Le fils et successeur de Paul, Alexandre Ier, lui-même grand-prieur de Russie du vivant de son père, adopta vis-à-vis des chevaliers une ligne de conduite absolument différente. Tout en assumant le titre de Protecteur de l’Ordre, il en refusa la grande maîtrise et, devenant de plus en plus indifférent à cette institution sous l’influence des idées ultra-nationales d’après 1812, — et d’un mysticisme protestant à la Mme de Krudener — finit par se détourner définitivement de l’Ordre de Malte.

[EN] Paul’s son and successor, Alexander I, himself Grand Prior of Russia during his father’s lifetime, took a completely different line with the knights. While assuming the title of Protector of the Order, he refused the Grand Mastership and, becoming increasingly indifferent to this institution under the influence of the ultra-national ideas of the post-1812 period – and of a Protestant mysticism in the style of Madame de Krudener – ended up turning away from the Order of Malta for good.

De Taube, 1955, chapter I


Sous les règnes suivants, ceux d’Alexandre II (1855- 1881) et d’Alexandre III (1881-1894), le Gouvernement impérial se rendait toujours parfaitement compte de l’existence d’un Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean représenté par l’ensemble des descendants directs de ses premiers commandeurs héréditaires. Ce fait est prouvé, par exemple, par un document officiel appartenant aujourd’hui à l’un de ces commandeurs héréditaires russes de nos jours, le prince Cyrille Troubetzkoy (demeurant à Paris) ; c’est l’état des services original du fils aîné du général-aide-de-camp prince Vassily Serguéévitch Troubetzkoy du début du XIX siècle, le prince Alexandre Vassiliévitch établi en 1889 et portant la notation suivante “ En sa qualité d’aîné de la famille — commandeur héréditaire de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem, dont il porte les insignes conformément à l’autorisation Souveraine du 19 octobre 1867 ”

[EN] During the subsequent reigns of Alexander II (1855- 1881) and Alexander III (1881-1894), the Imperial Government was always fully aware of the existence of a Russian Priory of the Order of St. John represented by all the direct descendants of its first hereditary commanders. This fact is proven, for example, by an official document belonging to one of these present-day Russian hereditary commanders, Prince Cyril Troubetzkoy (living in Paris); This is the original service record of the eldest son of the General-Aide-de-Camp Prince Vasily Sergeevich Troubetzkoy from the beginning of the 19th century, Prince Alexander Vasilyevich, drawn up in 1889 and bearing the following notation: “In his capacity as the eldest of the family – Hereditary Commander of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the insignia of which he wears in accordance with the Sovereign’s authorisation of October 19, 1867”.

De Taube, 1955, sub 18


Il ne faut pas oublier enfin, que les capitaux, comme les propriétés immobilières qui appartenaient au Grand Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem n’ont certainement pas disparus après la mort de Paul Ier, et l’Empereur Alexandre Ier en ordonna l’inventaire et leur gestion en qualité de propriété de l’Ordre, indépendant des propriétés de l’Etat oukaze du 26 Février 1810 au maréchal comte Saltykoff, concernant les capitaux de l’Ordre.

Et celui du 20 novembre 1811 donné au Sénat Dirigeant relativement aux biens immobiliers des commandeurs héréditaires — il est indubitable, que tous les détails concernant cet Avoir du Grand-Prieuré russe au cours des XIX et XXe siècles pourraient être facilement établis par des actes officiels, conservés aux archives russes, soit aux Archives d’Etat (Gossoudarstvenniy arkhiv) ou à celles du “Cabinet de Sa Majesté”.

[EN] Finally, it should not be forgotten that the assets and real estate belonging to the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem certainly did not disappear after the death of Paul I, and Emperor Alexander I ordered their inventory and management as the property of the Order, independent of state property, or the order of 26 February 1810 to Marshal Count Saltykoff concerning the Order’s assets.

And that of 20 November 1811 given to the Senate Ruler concerning the real estate of the hereditary commanders – there is no doubt that all the details concerning this property of the Russian Grand Priory during the 19th and 20th centuries could easily be established by official acts, preserved in the Russian archives, either in the State Archives (Gossoudarstvenniy arkhiv) or in those of the “Cabinet of His Majesty”.

De Taube, 1955, sub 26


Somme toute, comme on voit, on était loin en Russie d’avantguerre d’oublier le tsar grand-maître Paul Ier, fondateur du Grand Prieuré Russe, et une coïncidence significative voulut que, l’annéemême du déclenchement de la première guerre mondiale qui engendra la révolution et la fin de la période impériale fut marquée par la publication d’un livre très bien fait d’après des documents officiels sur l’Ordre de Malte en Russie c’étaient, comme on dirait, pour la Russie, une oraison funèbre de son Grand Prieuré Russe, ainsi qu’un rappel de son existence à ses commandeurs héréditaires émigrés à l’étranger.

[EN] All in all, as can be seen, the Tsar Grand Master Paul I, founder of the Russian Grand Priory, was far from forgotten in pre-war Russia, and it was a significant coincidence that the very year of the outbreak of the First World War, which brought about the revolution and the end of the Imperial period, saw the publication of a very well-done book based on official documents on the Order of Malta in Russia, which was for Russia, as one might say, a funeral oration for the Russian Grand Priory and a reminder of its existence to its hereditary commanders who had emigrated abroad.

De Taube, 1955, sub 23

Modern research by Mikhail Asvarish confirms the aforementioned statements by Yate and Taube. His book Russian Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. XVIII–XIX centuries lists 1.600 Russian subjects (both Russians and foreigners in the Russian service), decorated with the Maltese cross, starting with B.P. Sheremetev and ending with members of the imperial house at the end of the 19th century.

Current status of the Russian Grand Priory

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta claims to be the only legitimate successor of the ancient Order of Saint John:

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta wishes to point out the proliferation all over the world of bodies and associations which, using symbols and names not unlike those of the Order of Malta, are trying in every measure to represent themselves as legitimate and recognised orders of Saint John. These organisations have no connection whatsoever with the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta whose institutional seat is located in Rome, at Via Condotti 68, and which maintains bilateral diplomatic relations with over 100 States and the European Union, and has permanent observer status at the United Nations. The Sovereign Order of Malta does not recognise any historical or legal legitimacy in organisations and associations that take advantage of the names and emblems of the Order of Malta by using them for financial ends.


This claim is untruthful. The Russian Grand Priory has a comparable legal and social-cultural status:

  • The historical facts show that since the nineteenth century, the two Russian Priories had found themselves vis-a-vis the central organisation in Rome and were no longer in a strong liaison (see: Livre des Ordres de Chevaliers, Anonym. Bruxelles u.a. p. 269).
  • The aforementioned witness statement by Lt-Colonel Yate clearly proves that there existed a group of hereditary knights of Malta in 1914, which was created by the Tsar in 1799.
  • The statement of Baron von Taube is an authoritative source that has been written by an expert who is recognized in his field of expertise. Modern authors criticizing the legitimacy of the Russian Priory, cannot be seen as authoritative, since they lack legal expertise, as well as first-hand information.
  • The fact that this group consists of a number of descendants of the original Hereditary Commanders provides a genuine historical link between the Russian Grand Priory before the 1917-revolution and the one established in 1928. This group of Russian exiles who remained active in France had received the protection of the Romanovs in the person of the Grand Dukes Cyril and Andrei.
Count Boris Petrovich Sheremetev (Russian: Граф Бори́с Петро́вич Шереме́тев, tr. Borís Petróvič Šeremétev; 5 May [O.S. 25 April] 1652 – 28 February [O.S. 17 February] 1719), Imperial Russian diplomat and general field marshal during the Great Northern War. He wears the cross of the Order of Saint John.

This means that the Paris group, formed in 1928, and consisting of descendents of the hereditary knights, is a perfectly legitimate Order with an authentic lineage to the original Order of Saint John. The only direct successor of the Paris group is the Grand Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Saint Jean de Jérusalem, based in Paris, and lead by Pierre Cheremetieff and Stéphane Belosselsky Belozersky. This cannot be said for the other Orders of Saint John, since they lack an unbroken historical lineage. Recognition or rejection by the Pope does not constitute historical legitimacy, and it is therefore irrelevant that the Russian Grand Priory is not recognised by the Vatican or the SMOM. It is strange that the Russian Grand Priory recognises the Grandmaster of the SMOM as their Grandmaster, because their is no reciprocity and no material relationship. I recommend revoking the recognition as it is a senseless act of submission to an order that has a lesser historical claim to authenticity.


Part 3 shows that there exists compelling evidence that:

  1. A Russian Grand Priory was formed in the 19th century as a life line for the Order of Malta which was abolished by Napoleon.
  2. This Russian Grand Priory existed during the19th and 20th century and developed into a separate organisation, independent from the re-established Order by the Vatican in 1879.
  3. The Priory was continued in Paris in 1928 as a Russian Order of Saint John.
  4. The Order lead by Pierre Cheremetieff and Stéphane Belosselsky Belozersky is the modern successor of the 1928 Paris group.

Parts 1, 2 and 3 can be summarized as follows:

Name of entityFoundationStatus
Hospitallers with nursing purposedocumented since 1023, but probably much earlierDissolved end of 12th century by Saladin
Military Order of Saint Johnend of 12th centuryAbolished 1806 by Napoleon
Bailiwick Brandenburgbefore 1351Dissolved 1811 by Frederick William III of Prussia
Grand Priory of Russia of the Order of Malta1797Abolished 1917 by the communist Decree on the Abolition of Estates and Civil Ranks; regrouped in Paris 1928 and still active. Grand Prieur: le comte Pierre Cheremetieff. Offspring: Priory of Dacia.
Johanniterorden1852Active. Herrenmeister: Prince Oskar of Prussia
The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem1876Active. Grand Prior: Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester
Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM)1879Active. Lieutenant of the Grand Master: John T. Dunlap
Johanniterorden i Sverige1920Active. Kommendator: Otto Drakenberg
Johanniter Orde (The Netherlands)1946Active. President/Coadjutor: Jhr E. Karel Greven
Timeline of Orders, labelled as “Order of Saint John”


Legal perspective

In most legal systems, two basic structures of company mergers can be distinguished. Either the target company is merged into an existing company, or a new company (“NewCo”) is formed. In both cases, the target companies are dissolved by operation of law (automatically). At the end of the process, only the surviving company remains (see: e.g. Rosenbaum, J. and J. Pearl. Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers and Acquisitions. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. 2009, p. 276). Analogously, this article considers the surviving entity of the Knights Hospitaller, the entity that holds the control and assets of (a substantial part of) the original entity. It has been shown that none of the modern Orders who claim to be a successor of the original Knights Hospitaller, hold the control and assets of the original entity. Therefore, from a legal perspective, no surviving entities from the original Knights Hospitaller exist today, despite all the claims by modern revivals.

Social-cultural perspective

From a social-cultural perspective, no modern Order can claim authenticity or legitimacy of origin regarding the original hospital in Jerusalem. The reason is obvious: the nature of the modern Orders cannot be compared to the original entity, which required the brothers to fully surrender themselves to God. The same is true for the Order as a combat unit. None of modern Orders of Saint John can be designated as such. Perhaps the only exception is the volunteers who are running many of the relief projects across the world. They are the genuine successors of the monks that, more than a thousand years ago, created the hospital in Jerusalem.


  • De Taube, Baron MichelL’Empereur Paul Ier de Russie, Grand Maître de l’Ordre de Malte et son “Grand prieuré Russe” de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean-de-Jérusalem, Paris, 1955.
  • Михаил Асварищ, Российские кавалеры ордена Св. Иоанна Иерусалимского. XVIII–XIX вв. Биографический справочник, Фонд «Русские Витязи», 2022. ISBN 978-5-907245-66-2.
  • Милославский Ю. Г. Странноприимцы: Православная ветвь Державного Ордена рыцарей-госпитальеров Св. Иоанна Иерусалимского. СПб.: Царское Дело, 2001
  • За­ха­ров В. А. Ис­то­рия Маль­тий­ско­го Ор­де­на в Рос­сии, 2006.

Other sources


This article is a historical essay and not in any way intended as Russian propaganda. I strongly condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and am alarmed and concerned by the terrible suffering in Ukraine. I emphasise the urgent need for promoting peace and the rule of international law, and the importance of long-term bridge building.

See also the similar Statement on the Invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Nobility Association.

The modern surviving entity of the ancient Order of Saint John – APPENDICES (1-17)

Appendix 1a


The Alliance of Orders of St John – a federation of the official primarily Protestant Orders of St John in Europe – was formed in 1961, on the initiative of then Swiss Commander, Baron M R von Sturler. The Convention of the Alliance of Knightly Orders of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem was signed in Nieder-Weisel on 13 June 1961 by representatives of the Orders of St John in Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden. Also affiliated to the Alliance are the Commanderies in Finland, France, Switzerland and Hungary, which are all linked with the Bailiwick of Brandenburg. [see Annex A]

The main purpose behind the creation of the Alliance was to strengthen the international standing of the Protestant Orders of St John in Europe and to facilitate a united front in matters of common concern. During the Second World War, Baron von Sturler, from his neutral but key position as Commander in Bern, had been in close contact with the various Orders of St John and their individual members, as well as with the Sovereign Order of Malta. That co-operation continued after the war; but it then proved increasingly difficult for the members of the Orders of St John, with their limited resources, to make a significant contribution among the many rapidly expanding international aid organisations with similar aims of their own, many of which had their headquarters in Geneva. The idea was thus born of forming an Alliance of the various official non-Catholic Orders of St John, as a first stage towards wider international co-operation in the future.

A second reason why such an Association was thought necessary during the post-war era was the growth of illegitimate, or unrecognised, Orders claiming the same historical background as the four official Orders of St John and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. A number of these unrecognised Orders had been formed after World War II, some in the USA and spreading from there to Europe. This was source of irritation and confusion.

When the Alliance of Orders of St John was formed, therefore, its main tasks were defined as first, to spread knowledge of the purpose, organisation and activities of the Alliance and its member Orders; and secondly, to keep a close watch on, and if necessary counteract, the negative effects resulting from confusion with any Unrecognised Order.

This led the Alliance to publish in 1964 the forerunner of this booklet. It aimed briefly to describe not only the history of the Alliance members, but also to give some idea of the nature and scope of their practical charitable activities. These were especially important in Britain and Germany, where the respective Orders occupy somewhat the same position as, for example, the Red Cross does in Sweden. Most of the members of the Alliance have it in common, that they concentrate mainly on national charitable activities, and have only limited funds available for international projects. There are certain major exceptions to this, however. First, the (London-based) Venerable Order of St John has a major eye hospital in Jerusalem where the German Order also runs a general hospital. Secondly, because of its world-wide network described above, the Venerable Order has significant activities outside Europe in the older Commonwealth countries and also does further work (e.g. in First Aid training and Primary Healthcare) in some 30 developing countries in the Commonwealth where it has branches. Several of its Priories also undertake First Aid training in other countries such as Japan, Jordan and Mexico. Thirdly, the Johanniter Unfall Hilfe in Germany now has a significant aid programme abroad, in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and elsewhere.

At a subsequent meeting in Bubikon in 1964, it was decided to open a permanent secretariat for the Alliance in Geneva. Its original aim was to co-ordinate international activities; and to organise the necessary contact with the Sovereign Order of Malta, the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN humanitarian and social agencies, as well as other organisations, in that city.

At the Alliance Meeting in London held in 1967, it was decided to make the following addition to the information contained in the first (1964) booklet about the Alliance Orders of St John.

Only the member Orders of the Alliance of Orders of St John, and the Sovereign Order of Malta (whose headquarters are in Rome) are recognised by the Alliance as historically legitimate Orders of St John.

No other Orders, associations or organisations shall in future be recognised as Orders of St John without consultation of and a unanimous resolution by all members of the Alliance of Orders of St John.

This remains the firm policy of the Alliance.

Finally, an historic declaration was circulated on 14 October 1987, and was signed by the four Orders of the Alliance as a joint declaration with the Grand Master of the (Roman Catholic) Sovereign Military Order of Malta. This formally confirmed the status of the five official Orders of St John. The text is at Annex B.

The Council of the Alliance meets annually, usually in the country of one of its members. There are also regular co-ordination meetings with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at various different levels.

The “False Orders Committee” is an independent Committee, established by the initiative of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1974. The four recognised Orders of St John in the Alliance are represented on this Committee. In the context of the wider scene of unrecognised orders of Chivalry, the FOC is charged with preventing the misuse of the names, emblems and official documents of its Member Orders, and to forestall unlawful acts arising from the imitation of those names and emblems. In addition to, but separate from, the False Orders Committee, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Orders of the Alliance of St John have constituted a Joint Commission on Emblem Protection. This seeks to prevent unauthorised use of the white eight-pointed cross.

ANNEX A – Convention signed in Niederweisel on the 13th June 1961

Two years later, on 26 November 1963, the Alliance was consolidated with the signing of a joint declaration between the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Most Venerable Order, at St John’s Gate, London, by the Grand Chancellor of the SMHOM, the Prince of Resuttano, and Lord Wakehurst, Lord Prior of the Most Venerable Order. The text of this document reads:

The relationship which exists between the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta and the Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem is not always clearly understood, and it is to dispel any misconceptions which may exist that this statement is being made.

A dispute, long since relegated to the realms of academic discussion, as to whether the Most Venerable Order was the lineal descendent of the old Grand Priory of the Sovereign Order, at one time caused division amongst those concerned with such questions. Certain it is that the Most Venerable Order acquired a completely independent existence when it was granted a Royal Charter by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, who became its Sovereign Head.

Since this time the Most Venerable Order has pursued the same high ideals of charity, especially to the poor and sick, which were the very cause of the foundation of the Sovereign Order nearly one thousand years ago.

It will be easy to understand, therefore, why two great Orders, representing the same traditions, pursuing the same ideals, serving the same cause and wearing the same famous eight pointed cross, should have the greatest respect and esteem for each other. It is our great happiness to declare that such a relationship does truly exist, and that it is the dearest wish of both Orders, to seek ever more ways in which they can collaborate, to promote God’s glory and to alleviate the sufferings and miseries of mankind.

To supplement this statement, a further agreement was drawn up between the SMHOM and the Venerable Order in 1983. This was signed by Sir Maurice Dorman, Lord Prior of the Most Venerable Order and Sir Peter Hope, KCMG, then President of the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order. It reads as follows:

Twenty years have passed since the signing of the Joint Declaration concerning the relationship between the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Most Venerable Order of St. John, during which the relationship between our two Orders has grown ever closer.

In it the common ideal of the struggle in the defense of our suffering brethren was affirmed and the amity between the signatory Orders was acclaimed especially the common wearing of the eight-pointed Cross of St. John.

The last two decades have seen an increase in the world-wide suffering of our brethren, our response has likewise expanded. The banner of our eight-pointed Cross has been flown increasingly where-ever in the world sickness or distress have made demands upon us. Our ties are strong and our purpose to help Our Lords the Sick identical. We are pleased to record our joint efforts to help the elderly which have already seen the creation of Alms Houses in Sussex and Wales.

We are also united in one fight against False Orders, those self constituted and self styled groups which lack both authenticity or legitimacy of origin but variously describe themselves as an “Order of St. John” or an “Order of Malta”. However the Johanniter Orden in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands is a legitimate and honoured ally.

We pledge ourselves anew to carry into the Twentyfirst Century the historical aims and obligations of our Orders.

The most recent agreement between the five Orders culminated in a further statement which clarifies the difference between those Orders which are recognized as such by the Sovereign authorities of the countries in which they are based and the self-styled “Orders of Saint John” whose pretension to be Orders of Chivalry are unrecognized by such sovereign authorities. Confirming the close and friendly relations between the five Orders, this statement reads as follows:

ANNEX B – Joint Declaration dated 14 October 1987.

THE ORDERS OF SAINT JOHN With the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta which is Roman Catholic, the four non-Catholic Orders of St. John provide a Christian answer to the problems of a troubled and materialistic world. They have a common devotion to a historical tradition and a unique vocation: the lordship of the sick and the poor. They strive to realize their aim by mutual collaboration as well as by their own works. They are the only Orders of St. John which may legitimately use that name.

The Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem had its origins in Jerusalem in the late eleventh century and was recognized as an Order by Pope Pascal II in 1113. From that date it was a religious Order. Its members took monastic vows and lived according to a religious rule.

In the course of its history it developed a class of knights who took no vows, while knights belonging to the first class continued to be professed religious. The Order, therefore, uniquely combined and still combines within itself the nature of a religious Order and an Order of chivalry. In the former capacity it was and still is subject to the laws of the Church. The Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta (generally known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta) is this Order. It is widely recognized as a sovereign subject of International Public Law. It has five Grand Priories, three Sub-Priories and thirty-seven National Associations throughout catholic Christendom. Since 1834 its extra-territorial headquarters have been in Rome. The Grand Master is H.M.E.H. Fra’ Angelo de Mojana di Cologna.

Four non-catholic Orders of St. John of Jerusalem are recognized by their sovereign authorities in the countries in which they are based.

They are: Die Balley Brandenburg des Ritterlichen Ordens Sankt Johannis vom Spital zu Jerusalem (generally known as Der Johanniterorden). Besides seventeen Associations in the Federal Republic of Germany, there are Austrian, Finnish, French and Swiss (which are officially recognized in their respective countries) and the Hungarian in exile. Its Headquarters are in Bonn. Its head, styled Der Herrenmeister, is H.R.H. Prince Wilhelm-Karl of Prussia.

Johanniter Orde in Nederland. It was formed as an independent Order in 1946. Its headquarters are in the Hague. Its head is H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Johanniterorden i Sverige. It was incorporated by royal charter in 1946. Its headquarters are in Stockholm and the High Patron is H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf.

The Grand Priory of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (generally known as the Order of St. John). It has six Priories, two Commanderies and forty Saint John Councils throughout the English-speaking world. Its headquarters are in London. Its Sovereign Head is H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.

The four non-Catholic Orders are associated with one another in the international Alliance of the Orders of St. John of Jerusalem. They are Orders of Chivalry, but they are to be distinguished from most national Orders because of their Christian faith and their traditions as religious confraternities of Christian laymen.

In all these Orders are fostered such ideals of the medieval Order as are applicable to their circumstances, essentially the care of the sick and other service to fellow men.

14 October 1987. Signed by H.M.Em. H. Fra’ Angelo di Mojana, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign, Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, called of Rhodes and of Malta; H.R.H. Wilhelm-Karl, Prince of Prussia, Herrenmeister of the Johanniter Order; H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Landcommander, Johanniter Order in the Netherlands; Fredrik Lowenhielm, Johanniter Order in Sweden; Rt. Hon. the Earl Cathcart, Lord Prior, The Most Venerable Order of Saint John.

Source: Official website of the Alliance

Appendix 2b: Annex A – Convention signed in Niederweisel on the 13th June 1961

I. All Orders of St. John to-day are dedicated, according to their various Constitutions, to the Christian faith and to the work of caring for the sick and needy. The fulfillment of these tasks is largely exemplified in the establishment and operation of hospitals, welfare institutions, nursing schools, first aid organizations and associations for social aid and care of the sick, and like institutions.

II. The signatory Orders of St. John hereunder mentioned are akin to the older Tongues, respect the ancient rule and its underlying purpose, but are each of them free, independent and autonomous, and they now form an Alliance of Orders of St. John to be known by that description.

The signatory Orders of St. John are as follows:

  • Die Balley Brandenburg des ritterlichen Ordens St. Johannis vom Spital zu Jerusalem
  • The Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem
  • Johanniter Orde in Nederland
  • Johanniterorden i Sverige

With these are to be counted the four Associations in union with the Bailiwick of Brandenburg, namely:

  • Johanniter Ridderskap i Finland
  • Association des Chevaliers de St. Jean, Langue de France
  • Genossenschaft der Johanniterritter in der Schweiz
  • Johannitarend Magyar Tagozata

III. The signatory Orders are firmly of the opinion that the unity of all Orders of St. John is demanded by history, by their faith and by their common purposes and will fortify their international standing, and that if their efforts and labours are to be effective on the international plane these should be carried on shoulder to shoulder and as a common task.

IV. To enable all Orders of St. John to promote the success of the many international tasks which they undertake and with a view to facilitating also the co-ordination of their various activities, the establishment of a suitable joint committee and of a General Secretariat may be envisaged. The realization of this will only be effected by agreement between all Orders at the time members of the Alliance of Orders of St. John hereby established and if circumstances call for it or make it appear expedient. The organization, duties and powers of these bodies will be laid down by special regulations framed by agreement in the same way. In any case the members of this Alliance recognize that regular mutual contact is desirable.

V. Other Orders, associations, or institutions recognized as Orders of St. John by all members of the said Alliance at the time may with the consent of all such members in like manner adhere to this Convention and become members of the said Alliance. &127 Any member of the Alliance of Orders of St. John may withdraw therefrom and from this Convention by giving six months notice in writing of that intention to all other members at the time.

VII. The word “Alliance” used in the heading and text of this Convention has no political meaning and is not to be interpreted in the light of public international law, and no individual Sovereign person is intended to be bound or committed by this Convention.

VIII. This Convention shall be drawn up in the English and German languages and the text in each language shall have equal validity. HEREBY AGREED AND SIGNED by the Orders mentioned in Article II at the meeting of their delegates held at the Commandery of Niederweisel on the 13th June 1961″.

Appendix 2: Committee on the Orders of St John

The “Committee on the Orders of St John (FOC)
is an independent Committee, established by the initiative of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in 1974. The four recognised Orders of St John in the Alliance are represented on this Committee. In the context of the wider scene of unrecognised orders of Chivalry, the FOC is charged with preventing the misuse of the names, emblems and official documents of its Member Orders, and to forestall unlawful acts arising from the imitation of those names and emblems.

In September 2000, the FOC issued the following declaration, endorsed by members of the Alliance:

Self-Style Orders of St John
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, generally known as the Order of Malta, and the four Orders of St John of Jerusalem which co-operate in the Alliance of the Orders of St John are united by a common historical tradition and a unique vocation: the care of the sick and the poor. These Orders have established a joint committee to investigate and deal with the ever increasing number of organizations which misuse the symbols and emblems of the orders of St John, causing confusion in the minds of the public and impeding the welfare and hospitaller activities of the national and international bodies of the Order of Malta and of the Alliance Orders.

The Sovereign Order of Malta is unique in combining the nature of a Religious Order with an Order of Chivalry and is widely recognized as a sovereign entity of International Law. Confraternities were created after the Reformation which have legitimately conserved the institutional aims and emblems of the Order in their different Christian traditions and which the Sovereign Military Order of Malta recognizes.

The fours Order of St John of Jerusalem associated in the Alliance are recognized by the sovereign authorities in the countries in which they are based. Ther are:

Die Balley Brandenburg des Ritterlichen Ordens Sankt Johannis vom Spital zu Jerusalem (Der Johanniterorden) based in Berlin, the head of which is H.R.H. Prince Oskar of Prussia.

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem based in London, the head of which is H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.

De Johanniter Orde in Nederland based in The Hague, the Head of which was H.R.H. the late Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands; H.M Queen Beatrix is Commander of Honour.

Johanniterorden i Sverige based in Stockholm, under the High Patronage of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf.

The Orders of St John in the Alliance are Orders of Chivalry and are distinguished from other national Orders because of their Christian faith and their traditions as religious confraternities of Christian lay people.

The following addresses will be of use to those governmental and ecclesiastical authorities and private persons who wish for further information.Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta
Gran Magistero
Via Condotti 68
00187 ROMA
Tel: +39.06.675811

” Committee on the Orders of St John (FOC)”
c/o Generalsekretariat des Johanniterordens
Finkensteinallee 111
D 12205 – BERLIN
Phone: +49 30 2309970 0
Fax: +49 30 2309970 249

Source: Official website of the Alliance

Appendix 3: Member details


Should you wish to learn more about the Alliance of Orders of St John, or its recognized members, you will find below a number of useful and official addresses. Sites on this list are the only sanctioned and recognized headquarter sites of official members of the Alliance of St John.
Further information can be obtained directly from the addresses below:

The Secretariat of the Alliance of Orders of St John, in Switzerland

Secretary General
Aeschenvorstadt 15
Tel: +41 61 273 9580
Fax: +41 61 273 9581

The Johanniter Orden (Bailiwick of Brandenburg), in Germany

Secretary General
Der Johanniterorden
Finckensteinallee 111
D-12205 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 2309970 0
Fax: +49 30 2309970 249
Domain name:

The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, in the UK:

Secretary General
The Order of St John
St John House
3 Charterhouse Mews
London EC1M 6BB
Tel: +44 (0) 207 251 3292
Fax: +44 (0) 207 251 3287

Website: (which provides links to a number of other official St John sites)

De Johanniter Orde in Nederland

Secretary General
Langer Voorhout 48
NL- 2514 EG ’s-Gravenhage
Tel: +31.70.364 9922
Fax: +31.70.356 1137

De Johanniter Orde:


Johanniter Hulpverlening:


Johanniterorden in Sweden

Secretary General
Johanniterorden i Sverige
Box 2022
S-10311 Stockholm 2
Tel: +46 8 7233990
Telefax: +46 8 105760



Secretary General
Johanniter Ridderskapet i Finland
Kyrkovägen 14-16E
Tel: +35 89 5050499
Fax: +358 420 407575
Email: mvb@emvebe.pp.fiWebsite:


Secrétaire -Générale
Commanderie Française de l’Ordre de St-Jean
38 Rue de Labord
75008 PARIS


Kancellar Urnak
A Johannitarend Magyar Tagozata
Váci u 62-64
Tel/Fax: +36 1318-2294


Schweizerische Kommende des Johanniterordens
c/o Maitre Thierry de Haller
Rue Saint-Pierre 2
case postale 2673
Tel: +41 21 321 44 22
Fax: +41 21 323 46 52


The literature about the Orders of St John is very extensive. A recommended starting point is Hospitallers: the History of the Order of St John by Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith; published in the UK by the Hambledon Press in 1999. At the end of it is a list of suggested further reading.

Source: Official website of the Alliance

Appendix 4

An Official Statement from the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, on the activities of organizations which falsely refer to themselves as the “Order of Malta”

The Chancellery of the Russian Imperial House occasionally receives inquiries from individuals and organizations about its relationship to groups that refer to themselves as the “Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” including so called “Orthodox” and “Russian” “Orders of Malta,” “Priories,” “Commanderies,” and so on.

In each such instance, it is necessary to clarify that no one has the legal right to use modified names or symbols of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (hereinafter referred to as the Sovereign Order of Malta), which has a unquestionable historical and legal continuity from the moment of its founding, and which is recognized as a sovereign entity under international law, and which maintains diplomatic relations with more than 100 States around the world.

The Orthodox Russian Grand Priory was founded by Emperor Paul I in 1798 and was abolished by Emperor Alexander I in 1817. Since then no legitimate authority has reestablished it. Local attempts to revive its activities on a legal basis have not been successful, and all “Orthodox Order of St. John” organizations are illegitimate and offer a means of deception, including the trafficking in false “knighthoods.”

Unfortunately, sometimes members of ancient Russian noble families, some of whose ancestors were members of the genuine Sovereign Order of Malta, have taken part (presumably out of ignorance or carelessness) in the activities of some of these pseudo-Order of Malta organizations. This is especially regrettable because it discredits historic traditional values, and damages the good name of these ancient families and the reputations of their descendants in Russia and the world over.

Therefore, taking into account the long-standing historical and friendly relationship between the Russian Imperial House and the Sovereign Order of Malta, the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House considers it necessary to provide the following detailed clarification of the legal and historical position of the Sovereign Order of Malta over the centuries.

The birth of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta dates back to 1048, when Merchants from the ancient Marine Republic of Amalfi obtained from the Caliph of Egypt the authorisation to build a church and monastery in Jerusalem in honour of St John the Baptist and Forerunner of God. In 1070, the Order built a hospice and hospital at their monastery of St. John for pilgrims coming to the Holy Land.

In 1113, during the tenure of the first Master, Blessed Gerard, Pope Paschal II placed the Order under the aegis of the Church, granting it the right freely to elect its superiors without interference from other lay or religious authorities. By virtue of the Papal Bull, the Hospital became a lay-religious order. The second Master, Raymond du Puy, transformed the originally monastic order into a religious military order. From this point on, the Order added a military role to its previous charitable and medical functions. Its members were pided into three categories: knights engaged in the military struggle to liberate the Lord’s Sepulchre, chaplains who performed religious services, and the brethren who ministered to the needs of pilgrims, the sick, the wounded, and so on.

Gradually, the Order of St. John, which enjoyed the special patronage of the Popes of Rome, grew in fame and became a wealthy and influential organization, owning properties in many Catholic countries of Europe. After the defeat of the Crusaders and the capture of Jerusalem in 1189 by Sultan Saladin, the seat of the Order of St. John moved to Acre, then to Cyprus in 1291, and then to the island of Rhodes in 1310. The members of the Order were then called the Knights of Rhodes. They fought against the Turks but, in the end, in 1522, during the tenure of Grand Master Philippe de Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, the knights were driven from Rhodes after a long and stubborn resistance against Sultan Suleiman II.

In 1530, Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Spain, gave the islands of Malta, Comino and Gozo to the Order of St. John. Since then, the members of the Order began to be called Knights of Malta, a name they continue to be known by to this day.

During the Reformation, the Sovereign Order of Malta lost its possessions in those countries that adopted various forms of Protestantism (England, the Netherlands, and the nations of Scandinavia). But the greatest blow that fate delivered to the Sovereign Order of Malta was the loss of its citadel – the islands of Malta – and the threat to its very existence during the French Revolution and the subsequent revolutionary and Napoleonic wars in Europe. It was at this difficult moment that the Sovereign Order of Malta received life-sustaining support from the Russian Empire.

Relations between the Knights of Malta and Russia existed even before the accession to the throne of the House of Romanoff, and diplomatic ties between Russia and Order were established during the reign of Peter I the Great.

The first contact between the two was in 1697, when the courtier (stol’nik) P. A. Tolstoi visited Malta to offer his congratulations to the newly-elected Grand Master, Ramon Perellos y Roccaful. In 1698, on instructions from Tsar Peter I, the boyar B. P. Sheremetev travelled through Europe in an attempt to form an alliance of Christian states against the Ottoman Empire, visiting Pope Innocent XII; the Doge of Venice, Silvestro Valiero; and other rulers, including Ramon Perellos y Roccaful of the Sovereign Order of Malta, who twice received Sheremetev in audience. In recognition of his respect for Russia, the Grand Master presented the tsar’s emissary with a diamond encrusted insignia of the Order of Malta, and so B. P. Sheremetev became the first Russian Orthodox honorary knight of the Roman Catholic Order of Malta.

Since then, diplomatic relations between the Russian Empire and the Sovereign Order of Malta were maintained and continued to evolve. During the reign of Catherine II the Great, a military alliance was formed, though there were never at that time any directly coordinated military operations. Even so, Russian sailors trained on the Sovereign Order of Malta’s ships, and several knights of the Order volunteered to enter Russian service. Among these volunteers was the famous Count Giulio de Litta, who rose to the rank of a Russian Vice-Admiral and was awarded the Russian Order of St. George IV Class.

It was Count de Litta who led the Sovereign Order of Malta’s negotiations with Russia during the reign of Emperor Paul I, who ascended the throne after the death of his mother in 1796. Europe at that time was being rocked by war, which had broken out after the French Revolution in 1789. In 1792, the French National Convention deprived the Order of its properties inside France, which greatly depleted the Order’s resources. The knights of the Order turned to Russia for protection and patronage. In turn, the Emperor Paul I, who was enchanted by the romance of the chivalric order, became interested in the idea of creating out of the Sovereign Order of Malta an outpost of Christian civilization in Europe, which would stand in opposition to the spread of anti-Christian revolution. Filled with these lofty ideals, Paul I enthusiastically agreed to become the Order’s patron.

Originally, the idea was to create Priories in the Russian Empire to provide financial support for the Order, and to name the Russian emperor the patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta. In January 1797, a convention containing these provisions was signed.

When, in 1798, the revolutionary army of France under the command of General Napoleon Bonaparte seized the island of Malta, Emperor Paul I was extremely outraged and offended. Given these circumstances, Paul I ordered the Russian naval squadron in the Mediterranean Sea, which was commanded by Admiral St. Feodor Feodorovich Ushakov, to “act in concert with the Turks and the English against the French, who are a violent race, and who have exterminated within the boundaries of their nation the Christian Faith and all laws established by God.” In this way, there arose the paradoxical situation where the defence of the Catholic Order of Malta was taken up, at least on the level of pleas and exhortations, by Russian Orthodox, English Protestants, and Muslim Turks, the last of these being most extraordinary given the fact that the Knights of Malta had for so many centuries fought against them.

Meanwhile, the Knights of Malta deposed Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, who had been ineffective as the Grand Master of the Order, and they decided on October 27, 1798, to recognize Paul I not only as Protector of the Order, but as its 72nd Grand Master.

Strictly speaking, the election of the Orthodox and married Emperor Paul I as Grand Master of a Catholic Order, and the creation of an Orthodox Priory, contradict the Charter of the Order, which could be modified only with the approval of the Pope of Rome. These actions thus violated both the Order’s own internal laws and international law, and were only possible because of the extraordinary circumstances of a Europe that was plagued by revolution and war.

Of course, these acts were entirely legal in the Russian Empire inasmuch as the Emperor holds the Supreme Power and is the very source of law. However, in order for the Sovereign Order of Malta to be able to continue its mission in the global arena, all these decisions had to be later recognized as legal on an international level.

It is possible that, through persistent diplomatic efforts, this international recognition would have been obtained in time, if not for the tragic death of Paul I and the subsequent reversal of his policy on the Sovereign Order of Malta by his son and successor, Emperor Alexander I.

In any case, Count Giulio de Litta was unable to convince Pope Pius VI and his advisors to recognize Emperor Paul I as Grand Master. The next Pope, Pius VII, who was elected in 1800, also refused to recognize Paul I’s election as Grand Master.

Nevertheless, on November 13, 1798, Emperor Paul I accepted the position of Grand Master, and on November 29, 1798, he added the Order of Malta to the Chapter of Russian Orders of Chivalry. Moreover, the insignia of the Order became part of Russia’s State symbols and began to be depicted on the State Coat of Arms and State Seal. Paul I intended to make the title of Grand Master hereditary in his own House, and he included it in the list of his full titles as Emperor of Russia.

Both Russian Priories of the Order – the Orthodox and Catholic ones – received significant properties in Russia, the incomes from which went to supporting the Order’s various activities. With the permission of the Emperor, the knights were permitted to establish noble (that is, hereditary) commanderies, the founders of which and their heirs were required to pay a tithe to the treasury of the Order. Persons not of the required ancient noble ancestry could become honorary commanders and knights of the Order, and others of common birth could be receive as Donats.

For a short period, the Order of Malta became the most prestigious order in the Russian Empire. But on March 11, 1801, Emperor Paul I fell victim to a conspiracy and was murdered. His son, Alexander I, issued a Manifesto on March 16, 1801, in which he took on the title of Protector of the Order and gave his permission for St. Petersburg to be the “main headquarters of the Sovereign Order of Malta until such time as circumstances permit the selection of a Grand Master in accordance with its ancient statutes and decrees” [Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii, hereafter PSZ, № 17794]. The notion of a hereditary Grand Master was immediately rejected by the new Emperor. The insignia of the Order of Malta were quickly removed from the State symbols of the Russian Empire [see the Imperial decree “Concerning the use of the State Coat of Arms without the Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” in PSZ, № 19850]. In an effort to resolve the issues with the Order in Russia as quickly as possible, Emperor Alexander I insisted that, if the election of a new Grand Master could not be conducted fully in accord with the Order’s “ancient statutes and decrees,” then the Pope would decide who the next Grand Master would be. In 1803, Pope Pius VII appointed Giovanni Battista Tommasi as Grand Master. That same year, Emperor Alexander I resigned as Protector of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

On February 26, 1810, Emperor Alexander I stripped the Order of Malta of its wealth and palace in Russia [see the Imperial decree to General-Field Marshall Count N. I. Saltykov “Concerning the disposition of funds of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” in PSZ, №24134]. In essence, it was then, in 1810, that one can consider the Russian Orthodox Priory and generally of all activity of the Sovereign Order of Malta in the Russian Empire to have ended. Later decrees concerning Emperor Paul I’s abandoned “Maltese project” merely follow up on or clarify decisions about the Order that had been made earlier.

On November 20, 1811, by a decree issued by the Senate entitled “Concerning the noble estates of family in the Commandery of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem,” the noble (hereditary) Commandery was abolished [see PSZ, № 24882]. On January 20, 1817, a Policy Statement by the Council of Ministers, which was approved by the Emperor, entitled “Concerning the disallowance of those who have received the Order of St. John of Jerusalem at the present time to wear said Order” [PSZ, № 26626] set forth the final terms under which the Sovereign Order of Malta would exist in the Russian Empire. Honorary knights and commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta, who had received this honour previously, would not be deprived of membership of the Order, but it was also clarified that “after the death of commanders of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, their heirs will not inherit membership in the Order and will not wear its insignia, inasmuch as the Order no longer exists in the Russian Empire.” Henceforth, the Sovereign Order of Malta was viewed in Russia as an exclusively foreign Order. Eventually, subjects of the Russian Empire who were knights of the Order of Malta “at the present time” were no longer allowed even to wear its insignia.

As for the history of the Sovereign Order of Malta subsequently, events developed in the following way:

After the death of Giovanni Battista Tommasi in 1805, the Knights of Malta attempted to elect their next Grand Master. But Giuseppe Caracciolo, who had been elected Grand Master by the knights, was not confirmed by Pope Pius VII and was therefore not recognized as Grand Master, even on a de facto level. In 1805, Pius VII appointed Innico Maria Guevara-Suardo as Lieutenant of the Order. Lieutenants, rather than Grand Masters, governed the Order until 1879, when Lieutenant Giovanni Battista Ceschi a Santa Croce was confirmed as Grand Master by Pope Leo XIII.

Attempts by the Sovereign Order of Malta to return to Malta after the collapse of Napoleonic France were unsuccessful. The island was handed over to England by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

However, despite all the blows of fate that struck it in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Sovereign Order of Malta preserved its sovereign rights and was recognized as an entity under international law by the Congresses of the Holy Alliance in Aachen (1818) and Verona (1822), and was also recognized as such in numerous other international treaties.

In the 19th century, the Order settled in Rome (in 1834, in the Magistral Palace on the Via Condotti) and came to include four Priories: Rome, Venice, Naples, and Prague.

Relations between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Russian Empire up until the revolution of 1917 were friendly and mutually respectful. Emperors Alexander I, Nicholas I, Alexander III, and Nicholas II were all Bailiffs Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Order of Malta. Emperor Alexander II was the only Russian monarch of the 19th century who was not a knight of the Order of Malta, but with his permission, his heir – Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich, the future Alexander III (in December 1875) – and then two of his other sons – Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and Pavel Alexandrovich (in February 1881) – were made knights of the Order of Malta. In February 1891, with the permission of Emperor Alexander III, the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich, the future Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Emperor Nicholas II, was made a Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion. In April 1896, the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was made a Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion.

In accepting the title of Bailiff of the Order of Malta, the Russian Emperors wholly recognized the legitimate continuity and all the historical rights of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

After the revolution of 1917, relations between the exiled Russian Imperial House and the Order of Malta was for a time necessarily carried out through semi-official and personal correspondence and face-to-face contacts. Full and official relations were restored by H.I.H. Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, and Grand Master Angelo de Mojana di Cologna, who headed the Sovereign Order of Malta from 1962 to 1988.

In 1961, Grand Master Angelo de Mojana di Cologna revived the tradition of elevating the Heads of the Russian Imperial House to the rank of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich accepted the title of Bailiff, and his wife, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, accepted the title Dame Grand Cross of Merit. In 1963, Grand Master Angelo de Mojana di Cologna was awarded the highest Russian order of chivalry, the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the First-Called.

In 1994, there was a symbolic exchange of honours between Grand Master Andrew Bertie, who led the Sovereign Order of Malta from 1988 to 2008, and the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, who inherited the rights and responsibilities of Head of the Russian Imperial House on the death of her father in 1992. The Grand Master became a knight of the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, and the Grand Duchess became a Dame Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

On April 3, 2014, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and her son and heir, H.I.H. the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, met in Rome at the Magistral Palace with Grand Master Matthew Festing, who has led the Sovereign Order of Malta since the passing of Andrew Bertie in 2008. The Grand Duchess awarded him the Imperial Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, and the Grand Master made Grand Duke George of Russia a Bailiff Grand Cross of Honour and Devotion.

Of course, the cooperation between the Russian Imperial House and the Sovereign Order of Malta is not limited to ceremonial indications of mutual honor and recognition. As far back as the 1990s, the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna were able to offer substantial charitable aid to medical institutions in Russia thanks to the assistance of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Collaboration between the House of Romanoff and the Sovereign Order of Malta on a range of charitable endeavours continues to grow and evolve today.

As for the Russian Orthodox Grand Priory, it existed only for a few years and ceased entirely to exist during the reign of Emperor Alexander I. There were some residual hints in court ceremonies of a “Maltese” presence in Russia, including the red liveries at the Imperial Court and the miniature Maltese Cross worn by the graduates of the Corps des Pages academy, which was located in the Vorontsov Palace, which had been confiscated from the Order of Malta in 1810 – none of which constitutes “proof” of an on-going “hidden” or “secret” continuation of the former Orthodox Priory of the Order of Malta. Some writers who attempt to make a case for the continuation of the Order of Malta in Russia fail to distinguish between the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Malta and the Prussian Order “Pour le Mérite.” They present photographs of Emperor Alexander II wearing the “Pour le Mérite” as proof of their fantastical theories of the “continuation of the Russian Orthodox Grand Priory”—Alexander II, who was the only emperor after Paul I who was not a member of the Order of Malta!

A Public Policy Statement from the Council of Ministers, affirmed by the Emperor and dated January 20, 1817, clearly states that the Order of Malta “does not exist in Russia” [PSZ, № 26626]. However, after the revolution of 1917, there was an attempt by Russian emigrants to revive the Orthodox Chapter of the Order of Malta that had been abolished over a century earlier. Several descendants of the (formerly) hereditary noble Commanders – all members of Russian aristocratic families – sought to restore the Orthodox Russian Grand Priory, citing their desire to take “actions founded on self-denial and sacrifice.” They sought approval not from the Head of the Russian Imperial House, the Emperor-in-Exile Kirill I, and not even from the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, who was recognized as a political “leader” by a certain part of the Russian emigration, but from a member of the most junior branch of the House of Romanoff, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, who was asked to take the life-long title of “Grand Prior of Russia”, and to take steps to resurrect the “Russian Grand Priory.”

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich was favourably disposed to this undertaking, but refrained from taking the title “Grand Prior” and limited himself only to offering his patronage to the newly-formed organization. The Orthodox Priory of the Order of Malta displayed discretion, naming their association not the “Russian Grand Priory” (as they had originally proposed to do), but the “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta.” As this name implies, the members of this organization were not claiming to be “hereditary Commanders” themselves, and understood that, without the approval of the Sovereign Order of Malta, they could only become a purely memorial association of descendants of Commanders, and not themselves be Commanders of a “Orthodox Russian Grand Priory.” They did not claim to be Knights of Malta.

In 1929, the members of the “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta” worked through Baron M. Taube to attempt to “obtain the permission of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Rome to recreate the Russian branch of the said Order” [Letter of September 29, 1929, from Baron M. Taube].

In response to this request, the Secretary of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Baron Bistrem, on instructions from Grand Master Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere, in a letter dated February 13, 1932, unequivocally rejected the idea, emphasizing that members of the Sovereign Order of Malta must belong to the Roman Catholic Church.

As a historical memorial association of descendants, the “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta” had every right to exist, and it enjoyed the support of Grand Duke Andrei Wladimirovich, who became the organization’s patron after the death of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich in 1933, and later, the support of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich. The Sovereign Order of Malta itself also had a positive relationship with the descendants of Russian Orthodox Commanders of the Order, as organized as “Russian Philanthropic Association of the Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders of the Sovereign Order of Malta.” The Secretary of the Union of Noble Descendants of Commanders, Iu. S. Rtishev, even was made a Knight of Honour and Devotion, and so became a member of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

Unfortunately, in 1973 the formerly measured and entirely reasonable position of the “Union of Descendants of the Hereditary Commanders and Knights of the Grand Priory of the Russian Order of Malta” were abandoned. Count N. A. Bobrinskii, who was living in the USA in the 1970s, formed an association called the “Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights-Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem,” and began calling himself “Grand Prior.” The Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. the Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, did not approve this action. The Grand Duke’s position did not disturb the members of this new organization, who had embarked on a completely new and arbitrary course of fiction that led them away from the historical Order of Malta. A “Protector” for this new organization was found in the person of Prince-of-the-Imperial-Blood Andrei Alexandrovich, a member of the most junior branch of the House of Romanoff who then was not on good terms with the lawful Head of the Dynasty. After his death, Prince Andrei Alexandrovich’s younger brother, Prince-of-the-Imperial-Blood Vasilii Alexandrovich, became the new “Protector.” And when Prince Vasilii died, Andrei Alexandrovich’s son, Mikhail Andreevich Romanoff (who was born of Prince Andrei’s morganatic marriage with Elisabetta von Frederici, born Princess Ruffo), became the organization’s “Protector.”

The so-called “Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights-Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem” has never had any continuity with the Orthodox Russian Grand Priory, which was abolished more than 150 years earlier by Emperor Alexander I. This alleged “revival” received no sanction from either the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, or from the Head of the Russian Imperial House. The so-called “Protectors” of this organization after its re-founding in the 1970s were not inpiduals who by right could have held the position of Protectors of the Order of Malta; instead, they were simply the first people who, out of a careless disregard for the historical facts, agreed to participate in this illegitimate enterprise out of ambition and the need for money.

Soon a whole gallery of exotic organizations appeared all calling themselves the “Russian Order of Malta.” At best, these were fanciful mock associations, and at worst, fraudulent societies trading in false “passports of the Sovereign Order of Malta,” false “knighthoods,” and other fraudulent “activities.” Particularly harmful have been those cases when the names and emblems of the Sovereign Order of Malta have been exploited for financial gain and political purposes, especially when dishonourable and irresponsible persons, claiming themselves to be representatives of the Order, have interfered in internal political conflicts in various countries. Unfortunately, the activities of these fraudulent “Orders of Malta” have sometimes led to ill feelings toward the genuine Sovereign Order of Malta, which has complicated its important and vast charitable activities around the globe. The Sovereign Order of Malta avoids assiduously any politicization of its activities and enjoys and deserves the respect it has earned from governments, traditional religious groups, royal dynasties, and other reputable historical institutions.

In conclusion, the following points should be emphasized:

1. The founding of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta occurred before the formal schism of the Church into the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in 1054, but all of its history and activities are connected with the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Paschal II formally recognized the Order and placed it under his protection in 1113. In this way, the Sovereign Order of Malta has always been and remains a Catholic Order. All assertions that the Order of Malta is “non-denominational” and “inter-confessional,” or that it is “Masonic” and so on, are absurd and do not stand up to scrutiny.

2. Emperor Paul I of Russia was elected to the position of Grand Master at the most critical moment in the history of the Order of Malta. He saved it from destruction and sought to make it not only an Order of Chivalry of the Russian Empire, but also an influential global force in the struggle for the values of Christian civilization that are common to Orthodox and Catholics. That election, however, never received the necessary legal confirmation on an international level. Some violations of procedures in his election (for example, the inability of a large number of electors to participate in the election, as required by the Statute of the Order) could be considered insignificant and not affecting the legitimacy of the outcome of the election, especially in view of the extreme situation in a Europe that was then being torn apart by revolution and war. Even so, the lack of any formal recognition of the legality of the election of Paul I by Pope Pius VI and Pius VII makes it impossible to consider him Grand Master de jure. He is properly honoured as the Protector of the Order and as de facto Grand Master only.

3. The Orthodox Grand Priory of Russia, and the activities of the Order of Malta inside the Russian Empire, were entirely abolished in 1817 by Emperor Alexander I, and there has not been any legitimate restoration.

4. Attempts by descendants of the Russian Orthodox Noble (hereditary) Commanders of the Order of Malta to revive the “Orthodox Grand Priory of Russia” after 1917 have not been successful. The historical memorial association that was established after the Russian Revolution was formed legitimately and for a time even enjoyed the support of the Russian Imperial House and the Sovereign Order of Malta. However, unauthorized actions by this organization in the 1970s deprived it of recognition from the House of Romanoff and the Sovereign Order of Malta.

5. All so-called “Orthodox” and other false “Orders of Malta” are, at best, a kind of childish game and, at worst, a source of fraud and political provocation. The philanthropic slogans of such organizations serve only as a cover for harmful activities. Belonging to a false order conveys no rights or duties of any sort, and certainly none of the rights or duties belonging to genuine knights of the Sovereign Order of Malta.

6. Protestant Orders of St. John (in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain) share the same historic tradition and the same mission of the Sovereign Order of Malta: giving assistance to the sick and the poor. These four orders have gained recognition by virtue of their having been instituted by the legitimate hereditary sovereigns of these nations, and by the subsequent recognition of them by the Sovereign Order of Malta. There is no possible comparison between these Protestant Orders of St. John and the clearly false “Orthodox Orders of Malta.”

7. Any person who elects to enter one of the false “Orders of Malta” or who supports any contact with them, risks becoming a victim of deception and of suffering reputation or financial loss.

All questions relating to the legitimate Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, which maintains formal and friendly relations with the Russian Imperial House, should be directed to the following address:

Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta

Magistral Palace

Via Condotti, 68 – 00187 Rome – Italy
Tel. +39.06.67581.251

Fax +39.06.6797.202


Official Webpage:

In Russia:

Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta in the Russian Federation

ul. Volkhonka 6,

str. 1, ofis 18

119019 Moscow Russian Federation

Tel. +7 (495) 787.24.12


Source: (Main page / News of the Dynasty / 2014 / 2014-07-16; now deleted)

Appendix 5

Text of the Bull Pie Postulatio Voluntatis

Paschal, bishop, and servant of such as are the servants of God, to his venerable son Gerard, founder and Master of the Hospital at Jerusalem, and to his lawful successors for evermore.

The requests of a devout desire ought to meet with a corresponding fulfillment. Inasmuch, as of your affection thou hast requested, with regard to the Hospital which thou hast founded in the city of Jerusalem, in proximity to the Church of the Blessed John the Baptist, that it should be supported by the authority of the Apostolic See, and fostered by the patronage of the blessed Apostle Peter: We, therefore, much pleased with the pious earnestness of your hospitality, do receive the petition with our paternal favour, and do ordain and establish, by the authority of this our present decree, that that house of God, your Hospital, shall now be placed, and shall for ever remain, under the protection of the Apostolic See, and under that of the Blessed Peter. All things whatsoever, therefore, which by your preserving care and solicitude have been collected for the benefit of the said Hospital, for the support and maintenance of pilgrims, or for relieving the necessities of the poor, whether in the churches of Jerusalem, or in those of parishes within the limits of other cities; and whatsoever goods may have been offered already by the faithful, or for the future may through God’s grace be so offered, or collected by other lawful means; and whatsoever goods have been, or shall be granted to thee, or to thy successors, or to the brethren who are occupied in the care and support of pilgrims, by the venerable brethren the bishops of the diocese of Jerusalem; we hereby decree shall be retained by you and undiminished.

Moreover, as to the tithes of your revenues, which you collect everywhere at your own charge, and by your own toil, we do hereby fix and decree, that they shall be retained by your own Hospital, all opposition on the part of the bishops and their clergy notwithstanding. We also decree as valid all donations which have been made to your Hospital by pious princes, either of their tribute moneys or other donations. We ordain furthermore, that at your death no man shall be appointed in your place, as chief and master, by any underhand subtlety, or by violence; but him only who shall, by the inspiration of God, have been duly elected by the professed brethren of the Institution.

Furthermore, all dignities or possessions which your Hospital at present holds either on this side of the water, in Asia, or in Europe, as also those which hereafter by God’s bounty it may obtain; we confirm them to you and to your successors, who shall devote themselves with pious zeal to the cares of hospitality, and through you to the said Hospital in perpetuity. We further decree that it shall be unlawful for any man whatsoever rashly to disturb your Hospital, or to carry off any of its property, or if carried off to retain possession of it, or to diminish anything from its revenues, or to harass it with audacious annoyances. But let all its property remain intact, for the sole use and enjoyment of those for whose maintenance and support it has been granted. As to the Hospitals or Poor Houses in the Western provinces, in the Borgo of St.Egidio, Asti, Pisa, Bari, Otranto, Taranto and Messina, which are distinguished by the title of Hospitals of Jerusalem, we decree that they shall for ever remain, as they are this day, under the subjection and disposal of yourself and your successors. If, therefore, at a future time, any person, whether ecclesiastical or secular, knowing this paragraph of our constitution, shall attempt to oppose its provisions, and if, after having received a second or third warning, he shall not make a suitable satisfaction and restitution, let him be deprived of all his dignities and honours, and let him know that he stands exposed to the judgment of God, for the iniquity he has perpetrated; and let him be deprived of the Sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ, and of the benefits of the redemption of our Lord, and at the last judgment let him meet with the severest vengeance. But to all who deal justly and rightly with the same, on them be the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that not only here below they may receive the rewards of good actions, but also before the Judge of all mankind, they may enjoy the blessing of peace eternal.

I Paschal, bishop of the Catholic Church, have signed
I Richard Bishop of Albano, have signed
I Landulphus Archbishop of Benevento, have read and signed
I Canon Bishop of the Church of Preneste, have read and signed
I Anastasio Cardinal priest with the title of Blessed Clement, have signed
I Gregory Bishop of Terracina, have read and signed
I John Bishop of Mellito, have read and signed
I Romuald Cardinal Deacon of the Roman Church, have signed
I Gregorio Cardinal priest of San Crisogono, have read and signed

Given at Benevento, by the hand of John, Cardinal and librarian of the Roman Church, on the 15th day of February, in the 6th cycle of indiction of the incarnation of our Lord, in the year 1113, and in the 14th year of the Pontificate of Pope Paschal II.

Source: SMOM

Appendix 6

Historical Notice on the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta.

Source: Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. j. litra P nr. 1006-1. Translation:  Walter Pincket and The Rev’d Dr Michael Foster.

NOTICE HISTORIQUE sur le Grand-.Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Malte
fondé en 1798.
HISTORICAL NOTICE    on the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta    
founded in 1798
Les faits historiques concernant le Grand-Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre Souverain de Saint Jean de Jérusalem dit Ordre de Malte, et son état juridique actuel peuvent être résumés comme il suit.The historical facts concerning the Russian Grand Priory of the Sovereign Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem, alias Order of Malta, and its juridical status can be summarised as follows
1. L’empereur de Russie Paul Ier, légalement élu en 1798 grand-maître de l’Ordre de Malte, institua, le 29 novembre (v,st,) de la même année, – dans un large esprit humanitaire de charité et proclamant les mérites historiques de l’Ordre “envers toute la Chrétienté” – deux grands-prieurés de cet Ordre en Russie, dont l’un dénommé “Grand-Prieuré Russe” (pour la noblesse de toutes les confessions chrétiennes, mais surtout pour les orthodoxes-russes) et l’autre – “Grand-Prieuré Russo-Catholique”, (Recueil com let des Lois de l’Empire de Russie, tome 25, N° 18766 ). Note Explicative I.1. The Emperor of Russia Paul I, legally elected in 1798 Grand Master of the Order of Malta, instituted on 29 November (old style) of the same year, in a large humanitarian spirit of charity and proclaiming the historical merits of the Order “toward all Christianity” two grand priories of this Order in Russia, of which one was named the “Russian Grand Priory” (for the nobility of all Christian confessions, but specifically for the Russian-Orthodox) and the other the “Russo-Catholic Grand Priory” (The complete ledger of laws of the Russian Empire, vol.25. N° 18766). Explanation Note I.
2. Le Grand-Prieuré Russe, conçu comme une institution permanente créée “pour toujours” en faveur de la noblesse russe et dont la conservation fut imposée par la même loi (art. XXVI) comme un devoir immuable aux descendants et successeurs de l’Empereur-Grand-maître, était doté de l’institution de “commandeurs de famille héréditaires” nommés également “pour toujours” (Art. XXII)2. The Russian Grand Priory, conceived as a permanent institution created “for ever” in favour of the Russian nobility was imposed by the same law (Art.XXVI) as an immovable duty for the descendants and successors of the Emperor Grand Master, and was given the institutions of “hereditary family commanders of family”, also appointed “for ever” (Art.XXII)
3. Le fils aîné et successeur de l’empereur Paul Alexandre Ier peu sympathique en général aux idées de son pére, [ayant décliné la grande maîtrise] se bornant au titre de Protecteur de l’Ordre, n’osa toucher en rien aux statuts de ce Grand Prieuré Russe et n’empêcha pas son développement en Russie; c’est ainsi que, sous son règne, le nombre de “cammandeurs héréditaires” (22 sous Paul Ier) put s’accroître encore de deux nouveaux titulaires de cette dignité, et qu’en 1811, une résolution du Conseil de l’Empire approuvée par le tasr décrétait même certaines facilités d’ordre fiscal en faveur des comnandeurs héréditaires russes de l’Ordre de Malte (Recueil des Lois t, 31 N° 24882). Note Explicative II.3. The eldest son and successor of Emperor Paul I, Alexander I, who in general had little sympathy for the ideas of his father, [having declined the grand mastership] assuming only the title of Protector of the Order, did not dare to touch the statutes of the Russian Grand Priory and did not prevent its development in Russia. So, during his reign, the number of “hereditary commanders” (22 under Paul I) grew with two new titularies of this dignity and in 1811 a resolution of the Council of the Empire, approved by the Tsar, decreed even certain fiscal facilities in favour of the Russian hereditary commanders of the Order of Malta (RCLER vol.31. N° 24882). Explanation Note II.
4. Il résulte de ce ui précède que tous les bruits concenant la prétendue suppression du Grand-Prieuré Russe par Alexsndre Ier (en 1810, affirmait-on à Rome, à la Chancellerie de l’Ordre de Malte) sont dénués de tout fondement et peuvent être facilement démentis : les Almanachs de la Cour de Russie publiés à cette époque à Saint-Pétersbourg (dont un exemplaire de 1813 existe à Paris) contiennent bien, au grand complet, toute l’organisation et tout le personnel des deux Prieurés de l’Ordre de Saint Jean de Jérusalem fondés par l’Empereur-Grand-maître Paul Ier, avec l’Empereur Alexandre Ier, comme Protecteur de l’Ordre, en tête et tous les commandeurs héréditaires4. It results from the preceding that all rumours concerning the pretended suppression of the Russian Grand Priory by Alexander I (in 1810, affirmed in Rome by the Chancery of the Order of Malta) being devoid of all foundation and can be easily refuted : the Almanacs of the Russian Court published during this period in Saint Petersburg (whereof a copy of 1813 exists in Paris) well contains, most complete all the organisation and all personnel of the two Priories of the Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem founded by the Emperor Grand Master Paul I, with Emperor Alexander, as Protector of the Order, at the head and all hereditary commanders
– 2 -nommés de 1799 à 1805.5. Les bruits concernant la suppression du Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre – qui, en Russie, lui donnaient vaguement pour date l’année 1817 – s’expliquent selon toute probabilité par l’interdiction décrédée en cette même année 1817 d’accepter, et de porter dorénavant les insignes de l’Ordre obtenus par des sujets russes directement de la Grande-Maîtrise de Rome, sans autorisation préalable expresse du Souverain (Recueil des Lois, t. 34, N° 26626).– 2 -nominated from 1799 until 1805.5. The rumours concerning the abolition of the Russian Priory of the Order – which in Russia given vaguely in the date of the year 1817 – are explained probably by the interdiction decreed in the same year 1817 of accepting and of wearing henceforth the insignia of the Order obtained by Russian subjects directly from the Grand Magistracy of Rome without previous express authorisation of the Sovereign (RCLER vol.34. N° 26626)
6. L’empereur Nicolas Ier (1825-1655) n’a non seulement rien changé à cet état de choses mais il fit restaurer, à ses propres frais, les deux chapelles de l’ancien palais de l’Ordre de Malte à St Pétersbourg, l’orthodoxe-grecque et la catholique-romaine, dénommées comme celles du ”Prieuré Russe” de l’Ordre de Saint Jean de Jérusalem.
Aussi un livre des Ordres de Chevaliers, très apprécié en son temps, édité à Bruxelles et à Leipzzig en 1848 (p. 268) indique-t-il, très exactement comme existsnts, les deux Prieurés Russes de l’Ordre de Malte avec tous leurs commandeurs héréditaires en observant aussi, très correctement, que les deux Prieurés Russes ne se trouvent vis-à-vis de l’organisation centrale de l’Ordre à Romme qu’ “en liaison peu étroite”.
6. The Emperor Nicholas I (1825-1855) not only changed nothing to this situation but he did restore, at his own expense, the two chapels of the ancient palace of the Order of Malta in St Petersburg, the Greek-orthodox and the Roman Catholic, named as that of the “Russian Priory” of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.
Also a book, livre des Ordres de Chevaliers, highly appreciated in these days, published in Brussels and Leipzig in 1848 (p.268) indicates very exactly as existing the two Russian Priories of the Order of Malta with all their hereditary commanders in observing also, very correctly, that the two Russian Priories had found themselves vis-a-vis the central organisation in Rome “no longer in a strong liaison”.
7. Sous les règne suivants, ceux d’Alexandre II (1855-1881) et d’Alexandre III (1881-1894), le Gouvernement impérial se rendait toujours parfaitement compte de l’existence d’un Prieuré Russe (orthodoxe) de l’Ordre de Malte représenté par l’ensemble des descendants directs de ses premiers commandeurs héréditaires, et ce fait est également prouvé par un document officiel appartenant aujourd ‘hui à l’un de ces commandeurs héréditaires russes de nos jours, le prince Cyrille Troubetzkoy demeurant à Paris. Ce document, c’est l’état de service original du fils aîné du général-aide de camp prince Vassily Serguéévitch Troubetzkoy du temps de Paul Ier, le prince Alexandre Vassiliévitch, établi en 1889 et portant la notation suivante : “En sa qualité d’aîné de la famille – commandeur héréditaire de l’Ordre de Saint Jean de Jérusalem dont il porte les insignes conformément à l’autorisation Suprême du 19 Octobre 1867”.
7. Under the following reigns of Alexander II (1855-1881) and Alexander III (1881-1894) the Imperial Government was always perfectly aware of the existence of a Russian Priory (Orthodox) of the Order of Malta represented by the assemblage of direct descendants of the first hereditary commanders, and this fact is equally proven by an official document belonging today to one of these Russian hereditary commanders of our days, Prince Cyrille Troubetskoy who resides in Paris. This document is the original State Service Record of the eldest son of the General Aide de Camp Prince Vassily Sergeivitch Troubetskoy in the time of Paul I, Prince Alexander Vasileyevitch, established in 1889 and carrying the following notation : “In his capacity of eldest of the family – hereditary commander of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem whereof he wears the insignia conforming to the Supreme authorisation of 19 October 1867”.
8. Enfin, un fait historique remarquable est très significatif dans le mêne ordre d’idée. Durant tout le XIXe siècle, aux cérémonies d’enterrement des empereurs de Russie, la couronne de fer des grands-maîtres de l’Ordre de Malte sommée de sa croix blanche à huit points figurera à côté de la grande couronne impériale en diamants – ce qui eût été impossible et même déplacé si, en réalité le Grand-Prieuré Russe, soi-disant supprimé par ces mêmes empereurs, n’existait plus en Russie.8. Lastly, a remarkable historical fact is very significant in the same order of ideas. During the full XIXth century, at the funerals of the Emperors of Russia, the crown of iron of the Grandmaster of the Order of Malta, decorated with its white cross of eight points was carried next to the grand imperial crown in diamonds. This would have been impossible, even out of place, if in reality the Russian Grand Priory, so-called suppressed by those same emperors, did not exist any longer in Russia.
9. A tout historien et à tout juriste objectifs, il doit donc être parfaitement clair que, quel que soit le changement survenu après la mort du grand-maître Paul Ier dans la structure de l’Ordre souverain de Saint Jean de Jérusalem, dont laîtrise catholique-romaine se trouve depuis longtemps à Rome, et malgré toutes les modifications opérées dans ses statuts, y compris la suppression de la dignité de commandeurs héréditaires, le Grand-Prieuré Russe institué par Paul Ier en 1798 continue son existence tant au point de vue du droit national russe qu’a celui du droit international.9. For all historians and all objective jurists, it must therefore be perfectly clear that, whatever change had happened, after the death of Grand Master Paul I, to the structure of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of which the Roman Catholic Grandmastership is based since long ago in Rome, and dispite of all operated modifications to its statutes, even the suppression of the dignity of hereditary commanders, the Russian Grand Priory, instituted by Paul I in 1798 continues its existence, as well from the viewpoint of the Russian national legislation as from the point of view of the international right.
10. Il s’ensuit que, lorsque, à la Saint-Jean 1928, à Paris, 12 commandeurs héréditaires russes avec un commandeur héréditaire polonais et catholique et 3 “aspirants” (appartenant tous à de vieilles familles de la noblesse russe) se réunirent pour confirmer solennellement l’existence continue du Prieuré Russe de Malte, ils n’innovèrent par là absolument rien, mais proclamèrent seulement qu’ils étaient pleinement conscients de tous les faits historiques et juridiques incontestable,10. It follows that, when on Saint John’s day 1928 in Paris, 12 Russian hereditary commanders with a Polish Catholic hereditary commander and 3 “aspirants” (all belonging to old noble Russian families) met to solemnly confirm the continuing existence of the Russian Priory of Malta, they did not innovate by absolutely anything, but only proclaimed that they were perfectly aware of all incontestable historical and legal facts,
– 3 -exposés ci-dessus et de leurs droits découlants de ces faits. Note Explicative III.– 3 -exposed above and of all their rights based on these facts. Explanation Note III.
11. Sur cette base, le groupe de commandeurs héréditaires russe sus-mentionnés forma un “Comité d’initiation” pour toutes les mesures à prendre dans l’intérêt du Grand-Prieuré Russe, sous la présidence d’un “Protecteur” le grand-duc Alexandre Mikhailovitch arrière-petit-fils de l’empereur Paul Ier, et avec un “Conseil” composé de personnes suivantes :11. On this basis, the group of Russian hereditary commanders mentioned above formed a “Committee of Initiation” for all measures to be taken in the interest of the Russian Grand Priory, under the presidency of a “Protector”, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch, great grandson of Emperor Paul I, with a “Council” composed of the following persons :
comte Alexandre Soltykoff (comme vice-président) – arrière-petit-fils du maréchal comte Soltykoff, “lieutenant” du Magistère de l’Ordre de Malte sous Paul Ier et président du premier chapitre électoral des chevaliers de l’Ordre convoqué après la mort du tsar-grand-maître.Count Alexander Soltykoff (as Vice-President) great grandson of Marshal Count Soltikoff, – lieutenant of the Magistracy of the Order of Malta under Paul I and president of the first electoral chapter of the knights of the Order convened after the death of the Tsar Grandmaster.
Paul Demidoff (des princes de San-Donato), commandeur héréditaire de l’Ordre reconnu jadis à Rome.Paul Demidoff (of the Princes of San-Donato) hereditary commander of the Order, recognised in times past by Rome.
Prince Vladimir Bariatinsky (parent du grand-maître actuel, prince Chigi, commandeur héréditaire,Prince Vladimir Bariatinsky (a relative of the present Grandmaster Prince Chigi), hereditary commander
Comte Dmitry Olsoufieff, homme politique russe très connu avant la révolution.Count Dmitry Olsoufieff, a well known Russian politician before the revolution.
12. Ce Conseil du Grand-Prieuré Russe – qui était donc élu par les 13 commandeurs héréditaires représentants les 13 familles encore subsistantes alors depuis 1798-1805 – étant chargé par eux de l’expédition de toutes les affaires du Prieuré, se compléta, en qualité de jurisconsultes, par deux nouveaux membres : le sénateur Alexis Tchebycheff et l’ancien professeur de droit international de l’Université de Saint-Pétersbourg, baron Michel de Taube sénateur et membre du Conseil de l’Empire; ce dernier fut spécialement chargé, par pleins-pouvoirs du 21 septembre 1929, des démarches à faire en vue de la reconnaissance officielle de la continuité de l’existence du Prieuré Russe par le Grand-Magistère de l’Ordre de Malte à Rome – afin d’être tout-à-fait corrects envers cette vénérable institution.12. This council of the Russian Grand Priory – which was thus elected by the 13 remaining hereditary commanders representing the 13 families again surviving then since 1798-1805 – being charged by them of the expedition of all the affairs of the Priory, completed itself in the form of legal consultants, by two new members : Senator Alexis Tchebycheff and the former professor of international law of the University of St. Petersburg, Baron Michel de Taube, senator and member of the Council of the Empire; this last one was specially charged, with full powers from 21 September 1929, to take steps to work in view of the official recognition of the continued existence of the Russian Priory by the Grand Magistracy of the Order of Malta in Rome, this to be fully correct toward this venerable institution.
13. Le voyage à Rome entrepris dans ce but par le baron Taube en novembre 1929 sembla d’abord avoir donné un résultat favorable, et plusieurs conférences publiques sur l’histoire de l’Ordre de Malte en Russie faites par lui à Paris dans le courant de l’année 1930 ainsi que son article sur ce thème publié la même année dans la Revue d’Histoire Moderne (N° de Mai-Juin) dissipèrent sans doute certaines erreurs répandues sous ce rapport dans le grand public. Mais finalement, le l3 février 1932, la Grande-Maîtrise de Rome crut pouvoir donner au baron Taube, par l’intermédiaire du secrétaire de la Chancellerie de l’Ordre, baron Bistram, une réponse – non signée mais libellée aux armes du Grand-maître prince Chigi – qui, tout en approuvant, en principe, l’initiative du Conseil du Prieuré Russe, lui opposait, de fait, une fin de non-recevoir. En effet, en déclarant, d’une part,13. The journey to Rome undertaken with this aim by Baron Taube in November 1929 seemed at first to have given a favorable result, and several public lectures on the history of the Order of Malta in Russia given by him in Paris in the current the year of 1930 as well as his item on this theme published the same year in the Revue d’Histoire Moderne (N° of May-June) dissipated without doubt certain errors widespread under discussion among the general public. But finally, on 13 February 1932, the Grand Mastership in Rome believed to be able to give to Baron Taube, via the intermediary of a secretary of the Chancery of the Order, Baron Bistram, a non signed reply written on stationery with the coat of arms of Grand-Master Chigi, which although in principle approving the initiative of the Council of the Russian Priory opposing them, de facto,  at the end with a non reception. In fact, whilst declaring, on one part,
– 4 -que “le Grand Magistère et certainement aussi le Saint Siège verraient avec satisfaction la reconstitution d’une association sur les restes et les traditions de l’ancien Prieuré” – ce qui étaient déja excellent – la Chancellerie faisait valoir, d’un autre côté, “la suppression du Prieuré Russe en 1810” (!)– 4 -that “the Grand Magistry and certainly also the Holy See would be satisfied to see the reconstitution of an association based on the remainders and the traditions of the ancient Priory” – which was already excellent, the Chancery stated, on the other side, “the suppression of Russian Priory in 1810” (!).
14. Cette dernière affirmation, de tout point fausse (comme il a été démontré plus haut) n’en renversa pas moins de fond en comble tous les plans d’action du Comité d’initiative russe et n’eut pour résultat, jusqu’au déclenchement de la seconde Guerre Mondiale, que des recherches approfondies en vue de démentir clairement l’erreur fondamentale de la Grande-Maîtrise de l’Ordre de Malte à Rome, très préjudiciable aux intérêts moraux et matériels du Grand-Prieuré Russe.14. This last affirmation, on all points false (as it was demonstrated above) overturned all the action plans of the Russian committee of initiatives and just had for a result, to the start of the Second World War, in depth research to clearly oppose the fundamental error of the Grand Magistry of the Order of Malta in Rome which was very predjudical to the moral and material interests of the Russian Grand Priory.
15. Ce dernier continue son existence sur la base établie en 1928 avec un nouveau Protecteur désigné dès la mort du Grand-duc Alexandre, – son cousin, S. A. I. le grand-duc André Vladimirovitch de Russie, – et les cinq membres suivants du Conseil (cités dans l’Ordre de leur [confirmation de] nomination par S. A. I. le Protecteur les premiers quatre membres mentionnés ci-dessus n’étant plus de cette vie) :15. The latter continued its existence, on the basis established in 1928, with a new Protector – designated at the death of Grand Duke Alexander – his cousin H.I.H. Grand Duke André Vladimirovitch of Russia, and following five members of the Council, (listed in the order of their [confirmation of] nomination by H.I.H. the Protector the first four members, mentioned above, being no longer of this life) :
Le baron Michel de Taube, ancien professeur de l’Université de St Pétersbourg, sénateur et membre du Conseil de l’Empire;Baron Michel de Taube, former professor at the University of St. Petersburg, senator and member of the Imperial Council,
Le prince Nikita Troubetzkoy, de la famille des premiers commandeurs héréditaires russes.Prince Nikita Troubetskoy, member of the family of the first Russian hereditary commanders,
Le prince Pierre Wolkonsky, Alt. Sér.Prince Pierre Wolkonsky (H.S.H.)
M. Ivan Pouzyna (de la branche russe des princes Puzyno-Kosalski, polono-lituaniens),Mr Ivan Pouzyna, (of the Russian branch of the Polish-Lithuanian Princes of Puzyno-Kosalski),
[+ décédé] Le comte Dmitry Chérémétev, de la famille des premiers commandeurs héréditaires russes.[+ deceased]Count Dmitry Cheremetev, member of the family of the first Russian hereditary commanders.
16. Il est bien entendu que toute autre soi-disant restauration du Grand-Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Malte, émanant de personnes qui n’ont aucun lien historique avec la tradition impériale du tsar-grand maître Paul Ier (comme, par exemple, celle qu’on attribue au feu roi de Yougoslavie Alexanclre Ier) doit être considérée comme nulle et non avenue au point de vue du droit.16. It is well understood that all other “so-called” restorations of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta by persons who have no historical link with the imperial tradition of Tsar Grandmaster Paul I (as, for instance, the one attributed to the late King Alexander I of Yugoslavia) must be considered as null and void from the point of view of law.
17. Par contre serait parfaitement légale une organisation similaire de n’importe quelle confession chrétienne créée dans un pays quelconque hors des limites de l’ancien empire de Russie, en tant qu’elle adhérerait formellement au Grand-Prieuré Russe et serait admise, comme section autonome, par son Protecteur.17. On the other part, perfectly legal would be a similar organisation of any other Christian inspiration created in another country outside the borders of the ancient Empire of Russia, in as much as it would formally adhere to the Russian Grand Priory and would be admitted, as an autonomous section, by its Protector.
– 5 -18. En définitive, l’organisation actuelle du Grand Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Malte se présente sous les formes suivantes :– 5 -18. Definitively, the current organization of Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta presents itself as formed as follows :
I. Le Protecteur-Grand Prieur :
S. A. I. le Grand-Duc André Vladimirovitch.
I. The Protector Grand Prior H.I.H. the Grand Duke André Vladimirovitch,
II. Les Commandeurs héréditaires, signataires de l’acte du 24 juin 1928 ou leurs héritiers directs, aujourd’hui – après la mort, sans enfants, du prince Dolgorouki et du comte Olsoufieff – au nombre de onze (voir Notes explicatives II et III), dont l’ensemble constitue éventuellement le “Grand Chapitre” de Grand-Prieuré.II. The hereditary commanders, signatories of the act of 24 June 1928 or their direct inheritants, at present – after the death without children, of Prince Dolgourouki and Count Olsoufieff – eleven in number (see Explanation Notes II and III) which assemblage constitutes eventually the “Grand Chapter” of the Grand-Priory.
III. Le Conseil exécutif du Grand Prieuré (voir ci-dessus, Par.15) sous la présidence de S. A. I. le Protecteur.III. The Executive Council of the Grand Priory (see above Par.15) under the presidency of  H . I. H. the Protector.
(Les membres du Conseil comme tels n’ont pas droit aux insignes de l’Ordre de Malte).(The members of the Council are, as such, not entitled to the insignia of the Order of Malta)
Quant aux Statuts du Grand Prieuré, ils restent ce qu’ils étaient sous le grand-maître Paul Ier :Where the statutes of the Grand Priory are concerned, they remain what they were during the reign of the Grand Master Paul I :
Son manifeste constitutif du Grand Prieuré du 29 Novembre 1798 (Recueil des Lois, t. 25 N°18766) et les Règles concernant l’institution des Commandeurs héréditaires du 21 juillet 1799Its constitutive manifesto of the Grand Priory dd. 29 November  1798 (RCLER vol.25 N° 18766) and the Rules concerning the institution of the Hereditary Commanders dd.21 July 1799
(Recueil des Lois, t. 25 N° 19044).(RCLER vol.25. N° 19044)
Paris, le 24 September 1950Le Protecteur du Grand-Prieuré Russe
Grand Duc André de RussieThe jurisconsulte et membre du conseil,
Baron M. de Taube
Paris, 24 September 1950The Protector of the Russian Grand Priory
Grand Duke André of Russia
The legal consultant and Council Member
Baron M. de Taube
– 6 -NOTES EXPLICATIVES I.(Voir Par. 1). Dès le début, le Grand Prieuré Russe (non-catholique) comptait parmi ses membres, outre les orthodoxes, un assez grand nombre de chevaliers d’autres confessions chrétiennes; catholiques, lutheriens, anglicans. Ainsi, sans parler de nombreux “commandeurs d’honneur” étrangers, le Registre officiel de 1’Ordre de Saint Jean de Jérusalem publié a St Pétersbourg en 1800 nomme-t-il, même parmi les “Chevaliers de la Grande Croix”, qui cuvrent la liste des chevaliers “russes”, deux princes de Mecklembourg, un prince de Wütemberg et un comte Zeppelin, ministre Wurtembergeois. De plus, même parmi les commandeurs héréditaires du Prieuré Russe se trouvait un catholique, l’italien Marquis de Maruzzi.– 6 -EXPLANATION NOTES I. (see Par. 1) From the beginning, the Grand Priory of Russia (non-Catholic) counted among its members, other than the Orthodox, a relatively great number of knights of other Christian confessions : Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans. Thus, to say nothing of numerous foreign “honorary commanders”, the official Register of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, published in St Petersburg in 1800 names, among the Knights Grand Cross who open the list of “Russian” knights, two princes of Mecklembourg, a prince of Wütemberg and a count Zeppelin, minister Wurtembergeois. Furthermore, even among the hereditary commandeurs of Russian Priory was located a Catholic, the Italian Marquis de Mazuzzi.
II. (Voir Paragr. 3) Les “commanderies de famille héréditaires” sous Paul Ier appartenaient aux familles suivantes (dans l’ordre de leur nomination, en 1799 et 1800, et d’après l’orthographe du Calendrier de la Cour de 1813 ) :
Comtes Chérémétew,
Princes Youçoupow (père et f.ils),
Barons Stroganow,
Comtes Samoylow,
Princes Béloselski,
Princes Dolgorouki,
de Davydow,
Princes Borätinski,
de Demidow,
Princes Troubetzkoy,
Comtes Worontzow,
de Békétow,
Marquis de Maruzzi,
Princes Toufäkin
D’ Olsouifiew,
de Gerebtzova,
Comtes Strogonow,
de Boutourlin,
de Potemkin,
de Tchirikow,donc 21 familles avec 22 commandeurs. Deux commandeurs héréditaires s’ ajoutèrent encore à cette liste sous l’empereur Alexandre Ier : un prince Khilkoff en 1802 et un prince Odoévsky en 1805.
II. (see Paragr. 3) The “hereditary family commanderies” under Paul I belonged to the following families (listed as per their nomination in 1799 and 1800 and the orthograph of their names in the Court Calendar of 1813) :Naryshkine,
the Counts Chérémetev,
Prince Youçoupow (father and son)
the Barons Stroganow,
the Counts Samoylow
the Princes Béloselski,
the Princes Dolgorouki
de Davidov,
the Princes Borätinski,
de Demidov,
the Princes Troubetskoy,
the Counts Worontzow,
de Békétow,
the Marquis de Maruzzi,
the Princes Toufäkin,
de Gerbetzow,
the Counts Strogonov,
de Boutourlin,
de Potemkin,
de Tchitikow,i.e. 21 families with 22 commanders. Two hereditary commanders were added to this list under the Emperor Alexander I, a Prince Khilkoff in 1802 and a Prince Odoévsky in 1805.
III. (Voir Par. 9) Des 23 familles titulaires de la dignité de commandeurs héréditaires (voir Note II), dix étaient éteintes avant 1928 : notamment, les Youssoupoff (quant aux mâles), Stroganoff (comtes et barons), Samoyloff, Beketoff, Maruzzi, Tioufiakine, Potemkine, Khilkoff et Odoevsky. Toutes les 13 autres prirent part, au grand complet, à laIII (see Par. 9) From the 23 families which held the title of hereditary commanders (see Note II) ten had disappeared before 1928 : namely the Yousoupoff (male members), Stroganoff (counts and barons), Samoyloff, Beketoff, Maruzzi, Tioufiakine, Potemkine, Khilkoff and Odoevsky. All the 13 others participated most complete to the
– 7 -manifestation du 24 juin 1928, – douze commandeurs héréditaires en signant la déclaration et le l3 ème (absent alors de Paris), le prince Vladimir Bariatinsky, en entrant comme membre au Conseil du Grand-Prieuré (Voir par. 10), – Le commandeur héréditaire polonais et catholique qui signa la déclaration du 24 juin 1928 avec ses collègues russes était le comte Vladimir Borch,- Les “aspirants” à la dignité de chevaliers ou commandeurs de l’Ordre – catégorie déjà connue à l’organisation du Grand-Prieuré Russe en 1800 – étaient : le prince Vladimir Galitzine, le comte Alexandre Mordvinoff et le comte André Lanskoj.– 7 -manifesto of 24 June 1928, – a dozen hereditary commanders by signing the declaration and the 13th (then absent from Paris), Prince Vladilmir Bariatinsky who joined as a member of the Council of the Grand Priory (see Par. 10), – The Polish Catholic hereditary commander who signed the Declaration of 24 June 1928 with his Russian colleagues was count Vladimir Borch, – The “aspirants” to the dignity of knights or commanders of the Order – a category already known by the organisation of the Russian Grand Priory in 1800 – were Prince Vladimir Galitzine, Count Alexander Mordvinoff and Count André Lanskoj.
Ce document original contient sept pages.
Paris (XVI)Le 24 September 1950
18, rue WilhemM. de Taube
The original document contains seven pages.
Paris (XVI)The 24 September 1950
18, rue WilhemM. de Taube

Appendix 7

Approval to create the Priory of Dacia 1938

Je soussigné, Baron Michel de Taube, docteur en droit, ancien professeur de l’Université de St. Pétersbourg, Sénateur et Membre du Conseil de l’Empire de Russie, domicilié à Paris (XVIe), 18, Rue Wilhem, confirme par le présent déclaration qu’en ma qualité de fonde de pouvoir du Comité d’Initiative du Grand Prieure de Russie de l’Ordre souverain de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem, constitué à Paris le 24 juin 1928 – pouvoir qui m’a été conféré en date 21 Septembre 1929 (dont copie certificiée est annexée a la présente) – et, d’autre part, en plein accord avec Son Altesse Impériale le Grand-Duc André Wladimirovitch de Russie, comme Protecteur désigné du Grand-Prieuré, et en vue d’un accord avec les autres autorités compétentes de l’Ordre, j’ai approuve la création dans le Nord d’un Prieure “Dacia” sous le Grand-Prieuré de Russie de l’Ordre souverain de l’Hôpital de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem (dit Ordre de Malte), et cela d’après les directives formulées dans les paragraphes 1, 5 et 7 de ma lettre du 23 Septembre 1938.: approuvée, du cote danois, par lettre du 19 Octobre 1938.
En foi de quoi j’ai signe la présente déclaration.Paris, le 22 juillet 1950(s)
M de Taube.
I, the undersigned, Baron Michael de Taube, Doctor of Law, sometime Professor at the University of St. Petersburg, Senator and Member of the Council of the Empire of Russia, confirm by the present declaration in my capacity of plenipotentiary of the Committee of Initiative of the Grand Priory of Russia of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, constituted in Paris on the 24th June, 1928 – a power bestowed upon me on the 21st September, 1929 (a certified copy of which is annexed to the present) – and, to the other part, in full agreement with His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch of Russia, as designated Protector of the Grand Priory, and in view of an agreement with the other competent authorities of the Order, I have approved the creation in the north of a Priory “Dacia” under the Grand Priory of Russia of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem (called Order of Malta) and that according to directives formulated in paragraphs 1, 5, 7 of my letter of the 23rd September, 1938, approved by the Danes by letter dated 19th October, 1938.
In witness thereof I have signed the present declarationParis, 22nd July, 1950.(s)
M. de Taube.
Source: Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. c. litra P nr. 1006-1. 

Appendix 8

Declaration by Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch Romanoff, 1950

Je soussigné, André Wladmirovitch Romanov, grand duc de Russie, domicilie a Paris (XVIe), 10, Villa Molitor, déclare ce qui suit :I, the undersigned Andrei Wladimirovitch Romanoff, Grand Duke of Russia, domiciled in Paris (XVI) 10, Villa Molitor, declare the following:
l° Fidèle a la mémoire de mon ancêtre direct, l’Empereur Paul Ier de Russie, Grand-Maître de l’Ordre Souverain de Saint Jean de Jérusalem, dit Ordre de Malte, je constate que le Grand-Prieuré Russe de cet Ordre crée par Sa Majesté en 1798 et comprenant, depuis 1799, des “commandeurs héréditaires” – dont plusieurs descendants légitimes me sont personnellement connus – n’a jamais été abroge en Russie, contrairement a de faux bruits et a de fausses affirmations dans quelques publications modernes.l° Faithful to the memory to my direct ancestor Emperor Paul I of Russia; Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Order of Malta, I declare that the Russian Grand Priory, the Order created by His Majesty in 1798, and including since 1799 Hereditary Commanders – several legitimate descendants of whom some are personally known to me – has never been abrogated in Russia, contrary to the false rumours and to false assertions in some modern publications.
2° Il est, par conséquent, incontestable que, tant au point de vue de l’ancien droit russe qu’au point de vue du droit international, le Grand-Prieuré Russe – crée par un Empereur de Russie en sa qualité de chef d’une organisation souveraine de caractère international – continue légalement d’exister, représente par les dits descendants (par droit de primogéniture) des commandeurs héréditaires nommés en Russie depuis 1799, ainsi que par de nouveaux chevaliers de l’Ordre, créés éventuellement par son Grand-Maître actuel résidant a Rome.2° It is in consequence incontestable, that both from the point of view of the ancient Russian laws, as also that of international law, the Russian Grand Priory created by an Emperor of Russia in its quality of a sovereign organization of international character, legally continues to exist, represented by the said descendants (by primogeniture rights) of the Hereditary Commanders appointed in Russia since 1799, as well as the new knights of the Order eventually created by its actual Grand Master in Rome.
3° On ne peut donc qu’approuver l’initiative d’un groupe de descendants des commandeurs héréditaires russes qui, par une déclaration faite a Paris le 24 juin 1928, proclamèrent le fait de la survivance du Grand-Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Malte, en vue de faire revivre son activité humanitaire et de le faire reconnaître officiellement par qui de droit.3° One can approve the initiative of a group of the descendants of Russian hereditary commanders who by declaration made in Paris on 24th June, 1928, proclaimed the fact of the survival of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta in order to revive its humanitarian activity and to have it officially recognized as of right.
4° Dans ces conditions, et a l’instar de feu mon cousin, le Grand Duc Alexandre Mikhaïlovitch de Russie, je me declare prêt a assumer le titre et les functions de Protecteur de ce Grand-Prieuré Russe de l’Ordre de Malte, avec toute ses ramifications possibles hors des territoires de l’ancien Empire de Russie.—(s)
Grand Duc Andre.Paris, le 31 Juil 1950
4° In these conditions, and with the example of my late cousin, the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhaïlovitch of Russia, I declare myself ready to assume the title and the functions of Protector of this Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta, with all its possible ramifications outside the territories of the ancient Empire of Russia.—(s)
Grand Duke Andrei.Paris, 3lst July, 1950
Source: Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. c. litra P nr. 1006-1.

Appendix 9

Letter to the Dacia Priory from Grand Duke Andrei of Russia confirming that he is the Protector of the Priory of Dacia

Der Protektor desParis, den 17, Nov 1950
Russischen Grosspriorates
des Malteserordens An den Ordensrat des
Priorates Dacia des russischen Grosspriorates
Kopenhagen.Das Protektorat, welches ich nach dem Tode meines Vetters S. K. H. Grossfürst Alexander über das russische Gross-Priorat des Malteserordens üòernommen habe, umfasst natürlich auch das dänischen Priorat – (Prioratus Daciae) – nachdem dieses als autonomer Teil des GrossPriorates von Russland im Sommer 1939 errichtet wurde.Sollte auch ein Mitglied des königlichen dänischen Hauses das Protekorat über das dänische Priorat unseres Ordens übernehmen wollen, würde ich es sehr begrüssen./s/.
Grossfürst Andrie von Russland.Geschäftführendes Mitglied
des rüssischen Ordensrates

Michael Frhr. v. Taube.
The Protector of Paris, 17, Nov 1950
the Russian Grand Priory
of the Order of Malta. To the Order’s Council of
the Dacia Priory of the Russian Grand Priory
Copenhagen.The Protectorship of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Malta, which I have taken over after the death of my cousin H.I.H. Grand Duke Alexander naturally also embraces the Danish Priory (Prioratus Daciae) since this was created an autonomous part of the Grand Priory of Russia created in summer 1939.Should also a member of the royal Danish house want to adopt the Protectorship over the Danish priory of our Order, I would welcome it very much./s/.
Grand Duke Andrie of Russia.Leading Administrative Member
of the Council of the Russian Order

Baron Michael de Taube.
Source: Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. c. litra P nr. 1006-1

Appendix 10

Historishe Notitser : Beretning om Furholdet til det Kejserlige-Russiske Storpriorat af 1798-i-Paris.Undarbejdet af “Den Danske Initiativ Komite”, bestaaende af :Palle Rosenkrantz   Preben Ahlefeldt Bille, Greve
Baron, Forfatter           / Aarene :
Chr. P.H.Wenck von Wenckheim / 1936/-1939Komiteen tiltraadt af  H.K.Ostenfeld- der med C W. v. W –
i 1950-1951-1952 og 1953 fik de officielle Dokämenter
endeligt i Hüs.
HO.   H. K. Ostenfeld
   Søvej 10 – Birkerød
   Telf. (01) 81-1175
Historical Notes : Report of the connection to the
Imperial-Russian Grand Priory of 1798 in Paris.
Drawn up by “The Danish Initiative Committee”, consisting of :Palle Rosenkrantz   Preben Ahlefeldt Bille, Count
Baron, Secretary
           / Years :
Chr. P.H.Wenck von Wenckheim / 1936/-1939
The Committee was joined by H.K.Ostenfeld- who with C W. v. W –
in 1950-1951-1952 and 1953 got the official documents finally gathered in.
HO.   H. K. Ostenfeld
   Søvej 10 – Birkerød
   Telf. (01) 81-1175
Beretning om
Forholdet til det
russiske Storpriorat
   udarbejdet  afDen Danske Comité d’Initiative.
—————   H. K. Ostenfeld
   Søvej 10 – Birkerød
   Telf. (01) 81-1175
Report on
the relations to the
Russian Grand Priory
   written byThe Danish Committee of Initiative.
—————   H. K. Ostenfeld
   Søvej 10 – Birkerød
   Telf. (01) 81-1175
Arbejdet med Oprettelsen af
Malteserordenen i Norden.
Grundlaget lægges til et legalt
Priorat som Bestanddel af det
historisk russiske Storpriorat.———————————-Fra mine Ungdomsaar har jeg interesseret mig for de geistlige Ridderordener, og som Medlem af den russisk orthodoxe Kirke studerede jeg særlig den Souveraine Malterridderordenes Forhold til Kejser Poul 1. af Russland som 1798 blev valgt til Ordenens Stormester. Efter Kajser Pouls Død existerede den russiske Provins af Ordenen videre og selv efter at Kajser Alexanser 1 – som ikke var Ordenens Stormester og derfor (siden) uden Berretigelse greb ind i den souveræne Orden og indstillede dens Virksomhed i Rusland, existerede den dog videre om end det var en passiv Tilværelse. Nye Medlemmer kunde ikke optages, men de arvelige Komturer muliggjorde Ordenens fortsatte Existens, i Rusland ogsaa efter 1817.  Se nærmere herom i den sidste Redegørelse.
Alt dette fordybede jeg mig i og paa en Rejse til Italien 1921 traf jeg en faderlig Ven, Medlem af det russiske Kejserrigets Raad, Alexander de Wolgine, som oplyste mig om mange Ting vedrørende denne Sag. Hr. de Wolgine havde været Kejserens Minister for den russiske Kirke ( ” Procureir supreme de tres Saint Synode de Russie”) Da Johanitter-Maleserordenen ogsaa var en religiøs Orden, havde de Wolgine i den Hellige Synodes Arkiver haft rig Lejlighed til at studere de Forhold, der interesserede mig saa meget.Min Interesse for Malteserordenens russiske Storpriorat holdt sig gennem Aarene og i Sommer 1938 fandt jeg Venner her i Landet, som vilde støtte mig i at komme i Forbindelse med de omtalte Rester af det russiske Storpriorat, for om muligt at faa oprettet et Priorat af Ordenen her i Danmark i fuld legal Forbindelse med det russiske Storpriorat. Mine Venner og jeg som havde dermed dannet en Komite var klar over, at den fra Rom ledede Hovedstamme af Ordenen ikke vilde anerkende en dansk “Afdeling”, hvis ikke alle Medlemmer var romersk-katolske, derfor havde vi kun den Udvej at søge Forbindelse med det russiske Storpriorat, som var uaf- hænig af Rom, mer historisk og juridisk fuld legalt, og som ikke stiller Krav om at Ordensmedlemmerne skulde være romersk katolske. ( Det russiske Storpriorat var delt i 2 Afdelinger- et for romerks-katolske og et for russisk- ortodoxe Medlemmer. En Ordning, som Kejser Paul 1 xxx indførte som Stormester og som endog Pave VI til sidst anerkendte.
Vi var i Sommer 1938 endnu af den Formodning, at de russiske Kejsere siden Paul 1 havde sikret sig , at hans Efterfølger paa Tronen skulde være Stormester ( eller Storprior) af den russiske Gren af Ordenen og ansaa det derfor bedst at henvende sig til den russiske Tronprætendant, Storfyrst Cyrels personlige Repræsentant I København, den russiske Kommandør G. Gadd. Vi vexlede et Par Breve om Sagen-og vi fik Storfyrstens Adresse i Frankrig. Derefter skrev vi 25/4 1938 til Storfyrst Cyril, som indenfor de russiske Kredse havde antaget Kejsertitlen, som følger;……….” man har planlagt at begynde med at reorganisere Sct. Johannes af Jerusalem i Danmark, og dertil udbeder vi os Deres Majestæts allernaadigste Sanktion, idet vi ønsker
The work with the foundation
of the Order of Malta in the North.
The basis is laid for a legal
Priory as part of the
historical Russian Grand Priory.———————————-From my early youth I was interested in the ecclesiastical orders of chivalry and as a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, I particularly studied the relationship between the Sovereign Order of Malta and the Emperor Paul I of Russia, who was in 1798 chosen Grand Master of the Order. After the death of Emperor Paul I the Russian province of the Order continued even after Emperor Alexander I.. The latter was not Grand Master of the Order, but he intervened without justification in the Sovereign Order and suspended its activities. In Russia however it still existed, if even at a low level. New members were not able to be admitted, but the Hereditary Commanders made the continued existence of the Order possible, in Russia even after 1817. More about this in my last report. I became absorbed in this history and on a journey to Italy 1921 I met a good friend, a member of the Council of the Russian Empire, Alexander de Volgine. He enlightened me about many things concerning this matter.
Mr. de Volginee had been the Emperor’s Minister of the Russian Church. (“Procureir suprême de tres Saint Synode de Russie” ) Like the Order of Saint John the Order of Malta was a religious Order-, de Volgine had had plenty of opportunity to study the circumstances, which interested me so much, in the archives of the Holy Synod.My interest in the Order of Malta’s Russian Grand Priory lived on during the years to come and in the summer 1938 I found friends in this country, (Denmark) who would support me in the effort to make a connection to the above mentioned remains of the Russian Grand Priory. We wanted, if possible, to found a Priory of the Order here in Denmark in fully legal connection to the Russian Grand Priory. My friends and I had by then formed a committee and we understood, that the central organisation of the Order, led by Rome, did not want to acknowledge a Danish “branch”, if the members were not all Roman-Catholic. Therefore we only had the alternative of seeking contact to the Russian Grand Priory, which was independent of Rome and which did not demand that the members of the Order belong to the Roman-Catholic Church. Moreover, in my opinion, it is more historically and legally correct. (The Russian Grand Priory was divided into 2 sections, one for the Roman-Catholic and one for the Russian-Orthodox members. An arrangement, which the Emperor Paul I as Grand Master introduced and which even Pope Pius VII at last recognised).In the summer 1938 we still believed, that the Russian Emperors after Paul I had made sure, that their successors of the throne would be Grand Masters, or Grand Priors of the Russian branch of the Order, therefore we thought it best to approach the Russian pretender, Grand Duke Cyril’s personal representative in Copenhagen, the Russian Commander G. Gadd. We exchanged letters about the cause and we got the Grand Duke’s address in France. On the 25/4 1938 we wrote to Grand Duke Cyril, who, within the Russian circles, had adopted the title of Emperor. We wrote as follows:
……………………”It is planned to begin the re-organisation of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in Denmark, therefore we ask for Your Majesty’s most gracious sanction, wishing to acknowledge
-2-at bevare den legitime Kontinuitet med den gamle Orden. Derfor henvender vi os til Deres Majestæt i Deres Egenskap af Stormester for den Gren af Ordenen, som vi ønsker at træde i Forbindelseemed, thi om end den russiske Del af Ordenen nu lever i Landflygtighed, en Tilstand som Ordensridderne ogsaa tidligere har kendt, da de maatte opgive Rhodos, og siden forlade Malta, saa lever dog Ordenen videre med de russiske Ordensriddere, der ligesom deres Stormester nu har Bopæl udenfor Russland.Vi ønsker ikke at forbinde os med den Gren af Ordenen (Maltese ridderne), som har Hovedsæde i Rom, da dens Bestemmelse om Medlemmernes Confession og Optagelse i Ordenen ( 16 adelige Aner) og deres forældede Virksomhed er uigennemførlig her i Norden.Derfor ansøger vi Deres Majestæt om, som Stormester for den russiske Del af Ordenen Sct. Johannes af Jerusalem, at give Tilladelse til, at den nævnte Orden genoprettes I Norden og at man begynder at organisere et autonomt Ballai i Dan- mark, med intimt Forbindelse med den russiske Moderorden. “Som svar derpaa fik vi en Skrivelse fra Baron M. v. Taube Ø 23/9 1938, der i oversat Uddrag oplyser følgende:” Punkt 1. Kejser Paul af Rusland har i sin Egenskab af Stormester ikke alene indstiftet en russisk Gren af denne Orden, men endvidere arvelige ” Commanderies” i Rusland for en Række Familier af den russiske Højadel i Lighed med, hvade der forefindes i andre af Ordenens Priorater, f. Eks. i Italien.
Punkt 2. Hans Søn, Kejser Alexander d. 1. har desværre afslaaet det Ø Ordenskapitlet ( sammenkaldt i St. Peters- borg efter hans Faders Død) fremsatte Tilbud om at udnævne ham til Stormester for Ordenen, og i sin negative Indstilling i denne Sag er han endog gaaet saa vidt, som til at ophæve Ordenen i Rusland 1817.Punkt 3. Følgelig har der siden da ikke eksisteret noget “russisk Gren” af Ordenen i Russland, og de russiske Herskere Paul 1 Efterfølgere, kan derfor hverken være eller titulere sig Stormestere af denne ikke existerende Gren af Ordenen.Punkt 4. Det synes imidlertid ubestrideligt, at en Kejser af Rusland ( Alexander 1) ikke havde nogen Ret til udenfor sit Rige at ophæve de Rettigheder hans Undersaatter havde erhvervet i Kraft af en ” acte legal” der skyldtes en Stor- mester for Ordenen ( Paul 1) eftersom nævnte Kejser i 1817 ( og lige siden 1801) ikke havde haft noget at gjøre med OrdenensPunkt 5. Det følger heraf, at de direkte og ældste Decendenter efter de arvelige Kommanderer af den russiske Gren af Ordenen, indstiftede af Stormesteren Paul 1 af Rusland, altid har anset sig og stadig anser sig for at have Krav paa Rettigheder og Privilegier, der tidligere er til- staaet deres Forfædre. De har i 1929 oprettet en ” Comité d’initiative” for nærmere at studere, hævde og skaffe aner- kendt deres Rettigheder som Riddere af denne Orden under Forsæde af Storfyrst Alexander Mikkailivitch af Rusland, Svi- gersøn af Kejserinde Marie Dagmar af Rusland-Danmark og med Undertegnede som juridisk Konsulent.Punkt 6. I den Anledning har Undertegnede foretaget to Rejser til Rom – til den romersk-katolske Ordens Stormester sæde i Ron. Den historiske og juridiske Side af Sagen er nu fuldstændig klarlagt, men paa en Maade, som ikke helt svarer
-2-the legal continuity of the old Order. We apply to Your Majesty in Your capacity as Grand Master of that branch of the Order, to which we desire to liaise. Even if the Russian part of the Order now lives in exile, a condition of which the knights of the Order even earlier have known, when they had to give up Rhodes and thereafter when they left Malta, however the Order is still alive, even if the Russian knights of the Order, like their Grand Master, now have their residence outside Russia.We do not wish to associate with that branch of the Order (the Order of Malta), which has its headquarters in Rome, because of its rule about the confession of the members and their admission to the Order. (16 noble ancestors). This antiquated procedure is not practical in the Nordic countries.Therefore we apply to Your Majesty, as Grand Master for the Russian branch of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, for permission that the above mentioned Order can be re-established in the Nordic countries and that the beginning will be to organise an autonomous Bailiwick in Denmark with an intimate connection to the Russian Mother-Order.”As a reply we received a letter from Baron M. v. Taube, on the 23/9.1938, which in translated summary informs as follows:” Point l. Emperor Paul I of Russia has in His capacity as Grand Master not only instituted a Russian branch of this Order, but also hereditary “Commanderies” in Russia for a number of families of the nobility, like they also exist in other Priories of the Order, for instance in Italy.
Point 2. His son, Emperor Alexander I unfortunately has refused the proposed offer of appointing him Grand Master by the Chapter of the Order, (called together in St. Petersburg after his father’s death and in his negative attitude towards this matter he even went as far as to annul the Order in Russia 1817.Point 3. Consequently there has not ever existed since then any “Russian branch” of the Order in Russia and the Russian successors of Emperor Paul I cannot therefore neither be, nor be addressed by the title of Grand Master of this non-existent branch of the Order.Point 4. However it seems indisputable, that an Emperor of Russia, (Alexander I), did not have any right to remove his subject’s rights, which they had acquired by virtue of an “acte legal” written by Grand Master (Paul I). The Emperor in 1817 ( from 1801) did not have anything to do with the Order.Point 5. From this follows, that the direct and the elder descendants of the hereditary Commanders of the Russian branch of the Order, instituted by Grand Master Paul I of Russia, have always considered and continuously will consider themselves to claim rights and privileges, which earlier were admitted to their ancestors. They have in 1929 established a ” Comitè d’initiative ” to study, to obtain knowledge and claim their rights as knights of this Order under presidency of the Grand Duke Alexander Michailovitch of Russia, son-in-law of Empress Marie Dagmar of Russia, Princess of Denmark and with the undersigned as a legal consultant.Point 6. For this occasion I have undertaken two journeys to Rome, to the Grand Master of the Roman-Catholic Order. The historic and legal aspect of the cause is now completely explained, but in a way that does not answer
Punktene 3 – 5. I 1938 stolte Professor Baron Michel de Taube helt ud på de arvelige Kommandørers udiskutable rettigheder for overlevelsen af den Russiske tradisjon af St. John.
Opprinnelig trodde Baron Michael de Taube at den Russiske priorat.hadde blivet undertykket i 1877, idet han da trodde det der var skrevet i en Russisk bog i 1891 om Russiske Ordener, udgivet 74 år efter en besluttning i ministeriet angående Malteser ordenen. – ( en teori som den Romersk Katolske, Sovereign Military Order of Malta har efterfulgt). Til trods for dette hevdet han ( de Taube) at de arvelige kommandører fremdeles hadde rett til at fortsette Prioratet. Den (aktuelle) bok’s forfatter hadde ikke siteret det angjeldende dekret (Ukase) og omarbeidet den originale tekst således; “Efter kommandører af Order of St. John’s død, har deres arvinger ingen rett at blive kommandører af Ordenen, og vil ikke ha nogen rett til at bære Ordenens bånd eller dekorationer fordi Ordenen ikke leger eksisterer i det Russiske keiserdømme” (Panov og Zamyslovsky ; A Brief historical Account of the Russian Orders and their Statutes, St. Petersburg 1891, side 28-33) Dette er et grovt feilsitat af den originale tekst, med tillagte ord der ikke eksisterer i originalen.Efter den andre verdenskrig fortsatte de Taube sin forskning, og ble i stand til å konsultere de Russiske dekreter (Ukases) fra 1810,1811 og 1817. Baseret på disse dekreter, og ikke på (personlige) meninger, inså han at det Russiske Storpriorat aldrig hadde blivet undertrykket, men bare hadde mistet sine eiendomme og intækter. I 1950 udgav han en samling Historiske kommentarer der omhandlede overlevelsen af det Russiske Storpriorat. Disse kommentarer var arkiveret sammen med dette dokument (se – itm 5 -9).Angjeldende påstanden om at Ordenen hadde opphørt i 1817, så er dette baseret på ; at en offiser i hæren, Lazareff hadde ansøkt tilladelse til at bære Ordenens emblem. Han påstod at han hadde bevist sin gamle nobilitet ifølge det Russiske Priorats regler. Afgjørelsen, der er kjendt som ‘Lazareff Deliberation’ eller ‘Lazareff-dommen’ (Dekret 26.626 – 1. februar 1817) siger; “Det angjeldende priorat eksisterer nu ikke i Russland, og nogen tillatelse kan derfor ikke gives til Cornet Lazareff og de andre nævnte personer der samtidig var nomineret for dekorationer fra samme Orden”.Foskjellige argumenter har blivet fremført angående denne Deliberation eller [minister] besluttning. De to hovedlinjer er; a) At Ordenen ikke lengere eksisterede i Russland, og b) At den Romersk katolske Orden, som da var en separat Orden, ikke blev anerkjent i Russland.
Overvekten af de historiske bevis kan ikke akseptere eller godkjenne den førstnævnte fortolkning. De omdiskuterede dekorationer der ikke blev tilladt, var tildelet af den Romersk Katolske Orden, ikke af det (ikke katolske) Russiske Storpriorat. Det Russiske Storpriorat der er nævnt i teksten er antaglig det katolske priorat. Afgjørelsen nævner ikke det faktum at der var to Storpriorat etableret i Russland, og behandler således kun et Priorat.Angående denne episode skriver Professor Baron Michel de Taube; “Keiseren forbød modtagelsen af emblemer fra den Italienske del af ordenen og at bære disse uden forudgående godkjennelse af Tsaren. Denne afgjørelse blev taget av minister-kabinettet og godkjent af keiseren efter forespørsel fra de militære ledere angående tre junior officerer Lazareff, der hadde, den ene efter den andre, modtaget direkte fra italia, Malteserkorset. I tillægg var der mistanker om at de hadde modtaget dem som tak for at betydelige beløb hadde blivet tilført kassen hos the Grand Magistracy” – Fritt oversatt efter; L’Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l’Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, side 42.
Points 3 – 5. In 1938, Professor Baron Michel de Taube, relied entirely on the unalienable rights of the Hereditary Commanders for the survival of the Russian tradition of St John.
Initially Baron Michael de Taube believed that the Russian Priory had been suppressed in 1817, due to being misled by a Russian book of 1891 on Russian Orders issued 74 years after an 1817 Ministerial Deliberation concerning the Order of Malta. – (a thesis which the Sovereign Military Order of Malta has followed). However he claimed despite this, the Hereditary Commanders still had the rights to continue the Priory. The authors of the book did not quote the actual Ukase and provided a reworking of the original words to read “After the death of the Commanders of the Order of St John, their heirs will not have the right to be Commanders of the Order and will not be allowed to wear the badges and decorations of the Order any longer because the latter does not exist any more in the Russian Empire” (Panov and Zamyslovsky, A Brief Historical Account of the Russian Orders and their Statutes, St Petersburg 1891, pages 28-33). This is a gross misreading of the original texts, intruding words which did not exist in the originals.Following the Second World War de Taube continued his research and was able to consult the Russian Ukases of 1810, 1811, and 1817. Based on the Ukases, and not opinion, he realised that there had never been a suppression of the Russian Grand Priory, and that it had only lost its property and income. In 1950 he issued a set of Historic Notes covering the legal survival of the Russian Grand Priory. These Notes were archived along with this present Document (see – items 5-9).Concerning the claim that in 1817 the Order had ended, the simple matter is that an Army Officer, Lazareff  had sought permission to wear the Order’s Insignia. He had stated that he had proved his ancient nobility according to the rules of the Russian Priory. The judgment, known as the ‘Lazareff Deliberation’ (Ukase 26.626 – February 1st, 1817), stated; “the said Priory was not in existence any more in Russia, and therefore, the permission could not be giving to Cornet Lazareff and the other mentioned persons, who were presently nominated to be decorated with the same Order”.Various arguments have been forwarded about the deliberation. The two main theses are (a) The Order in Russia no longer existed, and (b) the Roman Catholic Order by then a separate Order was not recognised in Russia.
The weight of historical evidence cannot support the former interpretation. The decorations under discussion that could not be worn, were being awarded by the Roman Catholic Order, not by the (non-Catholic) Russian Grand Priory. The Grand Russian Priory mentioned in the text is probably the Catholic Priory. The Decision does not refer to the fact that there were two Grand Priories instituted in Russia, and is only concerned with a single Priory.Professor Baron Michel de Taube writes concerning this episode; “The Emperor interdicted the reception of insignia from Italy of the Order and their wear in Russia without a previous authorisation of Tsar. This measure was taken by the Cabinet of ministers and sanctioned by the Emperor on the request of military chiefs of three junior officers Lazareff, who had received one after another, directly from Italy, crosses of Malta and were suspected to have obtained them thanks to sizable amounts being poured into the treasury of the Grand Magistracy” – Free translation, L’Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l’Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 42.
-3-til den russiske Comité’s Synspunkt, Det skal bemærkes, at Kommandererne naturligvis ikke betvivler dere anerkendte Ret som Kommanderer af Malterordenen, men de søger at opnaa materielle Rettigheder i andere af Ordenens Priorater udenfor Rusland. Detaillerne om Resultatet af de romerkse Forhandlinger kan i givet Tilfælde meddeles danske Interesserede under en personlig Udvexling af Synspunkter.Punkt 7. Under disse Omstændigheder vilde den russiske Gruppe af arvelige Ridder af Ordenen være tilbøjelige til sammen med den danske “Comité d’initiative” at overveje paa hvilken Maade man kunde combinere deres analoge Formaal og Virksomhed for at hidføre Genoprettelsen af en russisk skandinavisk Ridderorden i direkte og legitim Fortsættelse af den autentiske-russiske Gren af Ordenen, indstiftet af Stormesteren, Kejser Paul 1 af Russland.”Dermed var den officielle Forbindelse mellem den danske Comité til Genoprettelse af Malteserordenen i Danmark og den officielle Repræsentant for den russiske Gren af Malteserordenen knyttet. Baron v. Taube skrev yderligere, at vor nævnte Brev til Storfyrst Cyrel af denne var blevet overgivet til hans yngre Broder Storfyrst Andreas, da denne var stærkt interesseret i Sagen og Præsident for det russiske,historiske Selskab i Frankrig. Efter at Storfyrst Andreas havde confereret med Baron v. Taube om Sagen, i dennes Egenskab af første juridiske Raadgiver for det russiske Udenrigsministeriu russisk Senator mm var det besluttet, at Baron v.Taube skulde udrede Sagen for os- set fra et historisk-juridisk Synspunkt og optage Forbindelsen med den danske Comité, idet v. Taube repræsenterede den russiske Malteserordenens specielle Comité.
Baron v. Taube sammentrækker den historiske Baggrund for Sagen i nævnte 7 Punkter. Yderligere tilføjes, at han staar I konstant Kontakt med Præsidenten for den russiske Ordenscomite Greve Alexander Soltykoff. Saaledes bekræftes yderligere, at v. Taube handlede for “Ordensraadets Vegne, en Betegnelse, som kan senere ( f. Eks. ,i P 4/6 31 bruger for den omtalte Ordenscomite.
Forinden vi gaar over til at behandle Sagens yderligere Udvikling, er det rettest at fuldstændiggøre Oplysningerne om Baron v. Taubes Person, som i denne Sag har en saa betydningsfuld Punkt 1. Disse arvelige Familiekommender ( Conthurier juris patronatus) en Slags Familiestiftelser, findes ogsaa i alle de ældste Dele af Ordenen udenfor Russland, f. Eks. Fandtes i Stor Prioratet i Rom – 12 – xx og i Lombardiet 23, i det russiske Storpriorat var der ligeledes 23.Det er ved Existensen af denne Grundstamme af 23 arvelige Komturer af Ordenen at man endvidere kan konstantere at der endnu bestaar en legal russisk Ordensgren. Sagen blev nu i Løbet af ¾ Aar stadig uddypet og Grundlaget en en fast Forbindelse omhyggelig lagt. Her gengives Correspondacnen med v. Taube i kronologisk Orden, men der medtages for Skyld kun det for Sagen vigtigste.
Til Slut i denne Redegørelse sammendrages Kendsgerningerne og de Slutninger og Konsekvenser vi føler os berettigede til at træffe heraf.Baron v. Taube’s betydningsfulde Skrivelse af 23.9 besvaredes 19/10 1938. Vi konstaterede 2 Ting 1) den russiske Tronprætendent Storfyrst Cyrel var afgaaet ved Døden og hvad der var mere betydningdfuldt for Sagen, siden Kejser Paul havde ingen russisk Kejser været Overhovedet for den Russiske Maltezserorden.
-3-the Russian Committee’s point of view. It is to be observed, that of course the Commanders do not question their acknowledged rights as Commanders of the Order of Malta, but they are trying to obtain material privileges in other Priories of the Order outside Russia. The particulars about the result of the Roman negotiations can, if necessary, be announced to interested Danes during a personal exchange of view points.Point 7. Under these circumstances the Russian group of hereditary knights of the Order would be inclined, together with the Danish “Comité d’initiative”, to consider how to combine their analogous purpose and activity to lead to the re-establishment of a Russian – Scandinavian Order of Chivalry in direct and legitimate continuation of the authentic Russian branch of the Order, instituted by the Grand Master, Emperor Paul I of Russia.
Now the official connection between the Danish Committee for re-establishment of the Order of Malta in Denmark, and the official representant of the Russian branch of the Order of Malta, were linked together. Baron von Taube further wrote, that our above mentioned letter to the Grand Duke Cyril, was handed over to his younger brother, Grand Duke Andreas, because the latter was greatly interested in the cause as a President of the Russian historical society in France. After Grand Duke Andreas had conferred with Baron von Taube about the cause in the latter’s capacity of first legal adviser for the Russian Foreign Office, Senator of Russia etc., it was decided that Baron von Taube would unravel the matter for us, looked upon in a historic-legal point of view and re-establish the connection with the Danish Committee, because von Taube represented the Russian Order of Malta special Committee.Baron von Taube summarised the historical background for the cause in above mentioned 7 points. Furthermore it is added, that. he was in constant contact with the President of the Russian Committee of the Order, Count Alexander Soltykoff. This confirms furthermore, that von Taube acted ” on behalf of the Council of the Order, an indication, that later is used for the mentioned Committee of the Order. ( for example in ………P 4/6 31 )Before we pass into dealing with further developments of the cause, the right thing to do is to complete the information about the biography of Baron von Taube, who has such an important position in this point 1. These hereditary Family-commanderies, (Conthurier juris patronatus), a kind of family-foundations, are also to be found in all the eldest parts of the Order outside Russia. For example there were 12 in the Grand Priory of Rome, in. Lombardia 23 and in the Russian Grand Priory 23 as well. It is by the existence of this stock of 23 hereditary Commanders of the Order that it moreover is possible to establish that there still exists a legal Russian branch of the Order. This matter was in the course of nine months constantly and thoroughly deepened and the ground for a firm affiliation was carefully laid. Here the correspondence with von Taube is reported in chronological order, but only the most important information is mentioned for the sake of [simplicity].
At the end of this report the facts, the conclusions and the consequences that we feel we are justified to make, are given.Baron von. Taube’s important letter of the 23.9. was answered on the 19/10 1938. We realised 2 things: 1) The Russian pretender Grand Duke Cyril had passed away, and more important for the matter was, that since Emperor Paul I no Russian Emperor had been the head of the Russian Order of Malta.
-4-Ordenens russiske Storpriorat maatte under Tvang af Kajser Alexander 1817 fuldstændig indstille sin Virksomhed i Rusland. Ordenen ophævedes ikke i 1817 i egentlig Forstand, hvilket bl.a. bevises af, at der omkring 1848, som anført: “Buch der Ritterorden” (Bruxelles-Leipzig 1848, pag. 268) var 98 Comthurier af Riddere – mæk,- 393 i 1817 og Taube meddelte bl. a. at det med de 23 arvelige Medlemmer bestod Ordenen (ogsaa officielt) selv om Resten af de 98 Comthuriere maatte være uddøde siden 1848- selvom der ifølge Sagens Natur hidtil havde været passiv. Ordenen kunde naar som helstsærlig i Landflygtighed- træde i Funktion igjen. Som det fremgaar af v. Taube’s Skrivelse skete dette i 1928-29 da Arve komturene genoprettede virksomme Organer for den russiske Ordensgren.- og det er – som vi skrev til v. Taube, til denne Reaktivering af de arvelige Komturer, vi vilde søge Tilknytning, da vi ligesaalidt som de russiske Riddere- kan acceptere de “romerske Betingelser”. Derefter anførtes det principielle Grundlag, hvorpaa vi vilde lægge vor Ordensgren op.-” a) Medlemmer af Ordenen skal i det mindste tilhøre den lavere Adel ( eller tilhøre et saadant Rangtrin, at den tilsvarende Rang i Rusland automatisk vilde have medført Adelskab.” b)Ordensridderen skal være positiv Kristen( altsaa ikke som hos de “romerske” Maltesere, der kun optager romersk katolske Medlemmer).” c) Ordensridderen skal før deres Optagelse bringe en bestemt Medgift ind i Ordenen ( eller paa anden Maade yde en extra Indsats for Ordenen).”Ordenens Formaal skal følge Ordenens gamle Tradition og i første linie være karitativ ( Sygepleje, Krigstilfældemen ogsaa ved andre Lejligheder) desuden skal Ordenen virke opdragende paa Ordensriddernes Efterkommere i det kristne Ridderskabets Aand og Tradition og envidere- indenfor Mulighederne- lindre Nød og Lidelse.
Den 18.11. 38 fik vi Meddelelse om, at v. Taube var blevet syg men antagelig i Januar 1939 kunde genoptage Correspondance 25/11 1938 foreslog vi v. Taube, at Oprettelsen af den dansknordiske Malteseroden kommer til at faa den i det følgende citerede Ramme, saaledes at det nye danske Priorat ( eller Barlei) ikke kommer x til at blive løsreven Del af Ordenen uden legal Continuitet, men bliver en Del af den souveræne Malteserorden.
Rammen: a) den souveraine Orden af Sct. Johannes af Jerusalem Malteserordener)
b) Autonom russisk Storpriorat ( Ordensprovins).
c) et dansk ( eller dansk-russisk) Priorat, formelt som en Del af b).I en ny Skrivelse af 28.1. 1939 henviste vi til at vort Forslag synes at ligge helt paa Linie med hans Indstilling, saa at man altsaa ” principielt var enige om Forbindelsen” og blot skal finde den rette Maade at gennemføre den paa. I v. Taubers Svar af 7/2 39, synes der kun at være enkelte rent praktiske Spørgsmaal, som skal løses, og v. Taube udbeder sig en Sammenkomst desangaaende i Paris eller København, desuden ønsker han oplyst, hvem der hos os staar bag Sagen, og om vi er i Stand til at klare Sagen financielt. Vort Svar af 12/3 39, hvori vi giver hans forskellige Oplysninger, des uden stiller vi forskellige Forslag, af hvilke her kun skal nævnes det som v. Taube senere accepterede som Grundlag.- Punkt 3 c-.
-4-The Russian Grand Priory had completely been forced to discontinue its activities under compulsion by Emperor Alexander in Russia year 1817. The Order was not suspended in 1817 in the proper sense of the word, which is proved by the fact, that around year 1848, as written in “Buch der Ritterorden” (Brussels-Leipzig 1848, page 268), there were 98 Commanderies of Knights, in year 1817 there were 393, and. von Taube informed among other things, that with. the 23 hereditary members the Order (would officially exist), even if the rest of the 98 Commanderies had been extinct since 1848 and even if, in the nature of the case, it had been passive. The Order was at any time able to step into function again, especially in exile. As it appears by von Taube’s letter this happened in the years 1928 – 1929, when the Hereditary Commanders re-established an active organisation for the Russian branch of the Order, and it was – as we wrote to von Taube- to this re-activation of the hereditary Commanderies we wanted to seek connection. That is because we, as well as the Russian Knights, are not able to accept the “Roman conditions”. Thereafter was stated the principal foundation upon which we would lay our branch of the Order.”a) Members of the Order ought to at least belong to the lesser nobility, or to rank with a level similar to which it would automatically have resulted in nobility in Russia..
“b) The Knight of the Order ought to be positively Christian, therefore not like the “Roman” Order of Malta, which only admits Roman Catholic members.”c) The knight of the Order ought to, before his admission, bring a certain dowry to the Order, or in another way contribute an extra effort to the Order.” The purpose of the Order is to follow the old tradition, that is firstly to be charitable ( nursing in case of war, but also in other cases). Moreover the Order is to be educational to the descendants of the Knights in the tradition and spirit. of the Christian knighthood and furthermore, within the bounds of possibilities, to ease pain and distress.On the 18.11. 38 we got a message, that von Taube had taken ill, but that he possibly would re-establish the correspondence in January 1939. On the 25/11 1938 we proposed to von Taube, that the establishment of the Danish-Nordic Order of Malta would have the conditions quoted as follows, thus the new Danish Priory (or Bailiwick) would not be a detached part of the Order without legal continuity, but would be a proportion of the Sovereign Order of Malta.The framework: a) The Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Order of Malta.
b) Autonomous Russian Grand Priory (Order province).
c) a Danish, or Russian-Danish, Priory, formally as a part of b).In a new letter of 28.1. 1939 we referred to our suggestion, which seemed to be in line with his point of view, so the agreements on fundamentals were of one mind and now only the right way of implementation was to be found. According to the letter of reply by von Taube of the 7/2. 1939 there only seemed to be a few practical questions to be solved and von Taube requested a gathering in Paris or Copenhagen, he wished to know, who was behind the cause on our behalf and if we were capable of fending for ourselves economically. Our answer came on the 12/3.1939 where we gave him some information and in addition we made various proposals, here only one will be mentioned, the one, von Taube later accepted as a foundation.
-Point 3 c -.
-5-” Hvis det synes umuligt at organisere en levedygtig Ordensgren udenfor Russland, saa kan vi her straks oprette et fællas russisk-dansk ( nordisk) Stor Ballice, men saa maa vi have fælles Statutter, hva der dog kunde støde paa Vanskeligheder- særlig vedrørende Anvendelse af Ordenens Midler. I Danmark vil man ikke direkte yde en udenlandsk Ordensgren financiel Tilskud. Derimod vil man gerne bevilge de herværende Russere, som kommer i Betragtning som Medlemmer, betydelige Lettelser ved Optagelsen, hvis de ikke er i Besiddelse af de nødvendige Midler. Ogsaa paa anden Maade vilde den intime Forbindelse være til nytte for den russiske Ordensgren.
En Efterskrift udtaler” Den 10. April vil den herværende Comité afholde et Plenarmøde for at træffe den afgørende Beslutning.”
Den 22/3indløp v. Taubes betydningsfulde Svar- et af de vigtigste Dokumenter i Sagen; Deres saa udførlige Skvielse beviser mig, at 3 Hovedpunkter, om hvilke vi, som jeg serer fuldstændig enige særdeles vel kan tjene som Grundlaget for en tilfredstillende Udvikling af det meget betydningsfulde Foretagende, det er:1)” Ordenens fremtidige Formaal, dens Personalbestandog dens Forhold til Rom bliver fra Deres Side opfattet paa samme Maade som her, ogsaa de russiske Berettigede ønsker at skaffe sig Efterfølgere paa bredere Basis, de vil ikke være romersk-katolske og heller ikke vedblivende sende Pengegaver til Rom.2) Deres snævre Comité deler vor Opfattelse, at Malteserordenens russiske Arvekomturer ( Commandeers de familie) absolutt ikke har mistet deres Ret som Ordensredelere siden Kejser Paul 1.3) Det af dem nævnte Beløp paa 300.000 frs. vil fuldt ud være tilstrækkeligt til at gennemføre hele Sagen( det var det Beløb dex første 30 danske Ordensriddere skulde indbringe som Ordenens Formue).Hvad nu den praktiske Gennemførelse angaar, saa er jeg i Dag I den heldige Situation fra min Side at kunne foretage et Skridt for at faa Planen for vort fælles Arbejde endelig fastslaaet.V. Taube meddeler dernæst- at han paa Gennemrejse til Stockholm kan faa Tid til i København at dokumentere alt for osog tilføjer” Samtalen vilde alene af den grund være nødvendig som visse “internationale” Enkeltheder i Sagen absolut ikke kan betroes til Posten”.” Jeg slaar hermed fast, at jeg I Overensstemmelse med Deres Plan ( c3) udelukkende tænker paa Organisering af et russisk-nordisk Stor Balles, som saa( hvilk De vil se af mine mundtlige Udredninger) ogsaa vilde muliggøre Overførelsen af de fra Russland reddede historiske Reliquier fra Stormesteren af Malteserordenen se Revne d’ Histoire moderne” Paris 1936, nr. 27, side 184) Med Hensyn til Deres Bemærkning om, at deres Comite afholder Plenarmøde 10. April for at træffe en endelig Afgørelse saa er det naturligvis i sin bedste Orden, naar det kun er ment principielt ud fra Hensigten, at gaa sammen med den russiske Comité. “Skulde den danske Comité ubetinget have Brug for en officiel Erklæring fra de russiske Berettigede om en fælles Stiftelse af en russisknordisk Balles, allerede til den 10. April, saa maa jeg straks sammenkalde til Paris de endnu levende Medlemmer af vor Comité af 1929-32 med Grev Alexander Solkykoff I Spidsen( som lever i Bruxelles) denne er den ældste Efterkomme efter Stormester Stedfortræderen efter Stormester Paul 1 Død.
P.S. Min egen Fuldmagt i denne Anledning er underskrevet af følgende Personer: Storfyrst Alexander af Rusland, Poul Demidoff Fyrsten af San Doncte) Greve Alexander Solykoff, Fyrst Barietsinsky og Greve D. Olufieff” Til Slut anmoder v. Tauber C Wuchturm at besørge hans Gennemrejsevisum og faa Tilladelsen sendt til det kgl danske Consulat, Paris.
-5-“If it seems impossible to organise a branch of the Order outside Russia, fit to survive, then we are instantly able to establish a joint Russian-Danish (Nordic} Grand Bailiwick, but we must have joint statutes. This could encounter difficulties, especially concerning the use of the finances of the Order. In Denmark financial contributions cannot be directly transferred to any foreign branch of the. Order, but readily there will be given considerable modifications to the Russians of this country, if they are considered for membership and if they not are in possession of the necessary means. Even in other ways an intimate connection would be of use for the Russian branch of the Order.A post script declares: “On the 10. April our Committee will hold a plenary assembly in order to make the conclusive decision”.
On the 22/3.1939 von Taube’s answer was received, one of the most important documents in the case: Your very elaborate letter proves to me, that 3 main points, where we, as I see it, are in absolutely complete agreement, would extremely well serve as a foundation for a satisfying development of the very important undertaking, these are:1) “The future purpose of the Order, it’s membership and it’s relationship to Rome is on your side understood in the same way as here, even the titled Russian wish to obtain successors on a broader base, they do not want to be Roman-Catholic, nor continue to send gifts of money to Rome.2) Your core Committee shares our opinion, that the Russian Hereditary Commanders of the Order of Malta (Commandeers de famille) have certainly not lost their right as members of the Order since Emperor Paul I.3) The amount of 300.000 Francs mentioned by them will certainly be sufficient to implement the whole cause. (This was the sum the first 30 Knights should bring in as the capital of the Order).Concerning the practical implementation, I am today in the lucky situation to be able to take the necessary step to get the plan of our common work finally stated.
Von Taube informs next, that he on his passing through to Stockholm would be able to substantiate everything for us in Copenhagen and he adds: “The conversation would be necessary if only for that reason that some international particulars in the cause absolutely not can be entrusted with the post.” By this I make clear that I am in agreement with your plan (c3) to solely think about the organisation of a Russian-Nordic Grand Bailey, which also would enable the transfer of the rescued Russian relics from the (Grand Master of the Order of Malta, (see “Revue d’Histoire moderne” Paris 1936, nr.27, page 184). Concerning your observation about their Committee holding a plenary assembly on the 10. April to make a final decision, it is of course fair enough, when in principle the intention is to go together with the Russian Committee. Would the Danish Committee absolutely be in need of an official declaration from the titled Russian of a common foundation of a Russian-Nordic: Bailey already from the 10. April, then I must immediately call together the members of our Committee of 1929-32 who are still living with Count Alexander Solkykoff in charge (he lives in Brussels). He is the eldest successor since the Grand Master’s deputy after Grand Master Paul I’s death.
P.S. My own power of attorney in this matter is signed by the following persons: Grand Duke Alexander of Russia, Paul Demidoff , Prince of San Donete, Duke Alexander Solykoff, Prince Barietsinsky and Duke D. Olufieff” Finally von Taube asks of C.Wuchturm to arrange his transit visa and get the permission mailed to the Royal Danish Consulate, Paris.
-6-Den 5. April skrev den danske Comité bl. a. til v. Taube: “Det er ikke nødvendigt, at De sammenkalder det russiske Comthurkapitel allerede før d. 10. April, naar de er sikker paa, at De kan regne med Samtykke fra ” Les Commandeurs de famille”( Dette er en Formfejl fra vor Side, naar der skrives”Conthur Capitlet”og udt. senere ” Les Commandeurs de famille”- det er heller ikke den v. Tauber eventuelt vilde sammenkalde – men Comiteen af 1929″ som fungerede som “Ordensraad” ( amitie – comite d’initiative). af hvilken der kun var faa Medlemmer tilbage, der havde givet v. Tauber den oprindelige Fuldmagt til at handle.
” Naar vi nu den 10/4 afholdt vort forberedende Capitel, saa vilde vi beslutte at gennemføre Grundlæggelsen sammen med det russiske Commaneur-Capitel og paa Grundlag af den imellem os førte Correspondance. Det glæder os meget at De paa Deres Rejse til Sverige, at vi paa Tilbagerejsen personlig kan tale med os om Sagerne.” Vi har kun særlig Brug for Deres Udkast til Proklameringen af det russisk-nordiske Storbalai paa historisk og juridisk Basis som legal Successor Af den polsk-russiske Ordensprovins.”Vi modtog ikke straks Svar fra v. Taube, fordi han-forinden det danske Visum var kommet til Paris, var afrejst til Sverige hvorfra vi atter den 21/4 39 skrev bl. a. “Deres Opholdstilladelse her er i Orden og er meddelt det kgl. Consulat, hvor De nu ogsaa kan faa det ønskede Visum. Endvidere kan vi meddele Dem, at vi anden Paaskedag har afholdt det omtalte Møde som fremtidig Ordenscapitel, og har besluttet under alle Omstændigheder at gennemføre Genoprettelsen af Ordenen I Danmark (Norden) og paa vort Forslag- at det sker i Forbindelse med det russiske Ordenscapitlet.
Vort nævnte Brev krydsede et fra v. Taube af samme Dato ( 21/4 fra Stockholm, hvori han kort meddeler, at det danske Visum kom for sent til Paris, men at han bestemt haabede at træffe os ( den danske Comité) i København paa Tilbagerejsen 1/5. Den 22/4 meddelte Rigspolitichefen, at efter at Sagen havde været forelagt Justitsministeren, havde man meddelt det kgl. danske Gesandtskab i Stockholm:” at der kan udfærdiges Visum til Friherre M. v. Taube p. t. i Stockholm. Den 27/4 modtog man Kort fra v. Taube fra Paris, hvormed han meddelte, at han desværre paa grund af Hustruens pludselige, alvorlige Sygdom havde maattet rejse direkte til Paris fra Sverige, hvor han havde forefundet vor Skrivelse af 21/4. Han haabede snarest at kunne svare os, og beklager at det heller ikke denne Gang kom til en Sammenkomst mellem os. Da sagen hastede sendte vi 6/5 vort paa Mødet i København 2. Paaskedag godkendte Forslag til Statutterne, som vi anmodede om at faa godkendt. I Følgeskrivelsen tilføjedes yderligere af mig : ” Jeg har benyttet Deres Ide, forsaavidt h jeg har lært den at kende. Derfor har jeg ogsaa ladet ” Russerne gaa op” i det nordiske Ballei, fordi det for disse vil være fordelagtigere, men selvfølgelig kan ” Russerne” ogsaa danne deres eget Ballei, som sammen med det nordiske Ballei danner Stor Balleiet( kun mister saa Russerne naturligvis de extraordinære Pladser i ledende Organer i det rent nordiske Ballei” Jeg har stærkt Brug for en kort Beretning om Deres tidligere Forhandlinger i Rom, og er saa overbevidst om, at vi saa ogsaa kan blive enige om Formaliteterne ad skriftlig Vej, saa at De nu ogsaa kan indlede deres russiske Ordenscapitlet, alt andet kan saa blive aftalt og ordnet, naar De kommer til Proklameringen af Storbellaet og det danske Ballei- antagelig i Juni”.Den 10/5 skriver v. Taube fra Paris som Svar paa vor Skrivelse af 6/5. Han godkendte Statutterne. Baron v. Taube kender fuldt ud sine russiske Collegaers Standpunkt-ligeledes den kejserlige Familie’s- der er nu kun tilbage, at foranstalte en Sammenkomst af den russiske Comité i Paris, for at faa Beslutningen formælt bekræftet. Der staar i denne Skrivelse af 10. Mai:
-6-On 5. April the Danish Committee wrote to von Taube among other things: “It is not necessary to summon the Russian Commanders-Chapter as early as the 10. April, if you are sure of consent from “Les Commandeurs de famille” (This was a formal error on our side, it is written ” Commanders-Chapter” and later stated as “Les Commandeurs de famille” – it was not the one von Taube wanted to summon – but the Committee of 1929, which acted as “Council of the Order” (amitié – comité d’inintiative) of which there were only a few members left, who had given von Taube the original authority to act.”When we now on the 10/4 held our preliminary Chapter, we wanted to implement the foundation together with the Russian Commander – Chapter and on the basis of the correspondence conducted between us. We are happy, that on your way back from Sweden you are able to have a personal talk about matters with us.” We only have utmost need of your draft of the proclamation of the Russian – Nordic Grand Bailey on a historic and legal base as legal successor of the Polish – Russian Province of the Order.”We did not get a prompt reply from von Taube, because he had left for Sweden before the Danish visa had arrived to Paris. We wrote to him again on the 21/4.1939 and among other things we told him, that ” his residence permit in Denmark is arranged and communicated to the Royal Danish Consulate, where you now are able to get the desired visa. Furthermore we want to inform you, that on Easter Monday we have held the meeting previously mentioned as a future Chapter of the Order and we have decided in any case to go through with the re-establishment of the Order in Denmark (the North) and, on our proposition, that it will happen in connection with the Russian Chapter of the Order” .
Our letter crossed one from von Taube, Stockholm, of the same date, (21/4.) where he shortly informed, that the Danish visa arrived in Paris too late, but that he certainly hoped to meet us ( the Danish Committee ) in Copenhagen on his return on the 1/5. On the 22/4. the Commissioner of Police informed us, that after the case had been submitted to the Minister of Justice, it had been communicated to the Royal Danish Legation in Stockholm : “that a visa can be issued to Baron M..von Taube, presently in Stockholm. On the 27/4 there was a card from von Taube in Paris, in which he announced, that owing to the wife’s sudden serious illness, he had unfortunately been forced to travel directly from Sweden to Paris, where he had found our letter of 21/4. He hoped to be able to give us an answer as soon as possible and he was regretting that even this time it would not come to a get-together between us. While the matter was urgent we sent from the meeting in Copenhagen Easter Monday on 6/5 our proposed suggestions for the statutes, which we requested to be adopted. In the covering letter it was further added by me : ” I have used your idea, in far as I have recognised it. Therefore in fact I let the “the Russians merge into” the Nordic Bailey, because it will be on more favourable terms for them, but of course “the Russians” can as well form their own Bailiwick, which together with the Nordic Bailiwick then will form the Grand Bailey, but in that case the “Russians” will loose the extraordinary seats in the leading structures in the all-Nordic Bailey”. I have a strong need for a short report on your earlier negotiations in Rome, and I am convinced, that we will come to terms on the formalities in writing as well, then you will be able to initiate your Russian Chapter of the Order, everything else can be arranged and organised when you arrive for the proclamation of the Grand Bailey and the Danish Bailey, probably in June.”
On 10/5. von Taube wrote from Paris as an answer on our letter of 6/5. He approved. of the statutes. Baron von Taube knew fully well the attitude of his Russian colleagues and the Imperial family’s as well, now there was only one thing left, to arrange a meeting of the Russian Committee in Paris to get the decision formally confirmed. In this letter of 10. May it is written :
-7-1) Deres Forslag er saa udførligt og godt udarbejdet, at jeg for mit vedkommende kun vilde forandre meget idt I Texten.
2) Det juridiske og historiske Grundlag vilde jeg gøre noget mere fuldstændig og det russiske Capitels Beslutninger vilde jeg formulere noget anderledes.
3) Jeg kender naturligvis mine russiske Collegers og ogsaa den destinerede Protektors ( af den russiske Kejserfamilie) Standpunkt, det vilde selvfølgelig ikke være mig muligt at handle – særlig efter saa mange Aar uden deres udtrykkelige Samtykke. (Som det siden vel fremgaar af v. Taubes følgende
Breve har v. Tauber enkeltvie modtaget de afgørende Personers Billigelse af hele Sagen).1) Det glædede os, at xxxx vore Forslag til Ordenstattuterne passede ham og hans Raad- vi havde ogsaa gene modtaget Forslag af Dem.
2) Naturligvis maatte han- som skrevet- fuldstædniggøre vore Statutters juridiske og historiske Grundlag og noget anderledes formulere Omændringen af det russiske Capitel til et Storballei. Dog holdt vore Jurister fast ved, at vi faar hans Formulering at se, førend den blev besluttet af det russiske Capitel.Sagen er nu traadt ind i det sidste Stadium, naar man er enige om det væsentlige- ja, selv om xxxx uvæsentlige Smaating, man er altsaa fuldt enige om Oprettelse af ” et fælles Storpriorat” og om Indholdet af de sidste Besluttninger- kun angaaende , hvilket af den russiske Ordensgrens Organer ” Comturcepellet” eller Ordensraadet ( comité d’initiative) der skal træffe Beslutninger opstaar en Misforstaaelse ( – som dog tilsidst ogsaa bliver klaret, saa at fuldstændig Enighed er til Stede.21/5 1939 skriver v. Taube:
” Et Udkast til det russiske Malteser-Capitlets Beslutninger ligger foran mig og er endog fo 2 Dage siden blevet bevilliget af den destinerede Protektor for det russiske Ballei, Storfyrst Andreas Wladimiranovitch . Jeg tilsender Dem det gerne, men først om 2-3 Dage, da dette Dokument først omhyggeligt skal afskrives paa Maskine. Det drejer sig ikke blot om nogle faa Sider, men om et temmelig langt og omstændig Aktsykke af hvilket hele den juridiske Sags Stilling og ” Captlets Ønske klart fremgaar. Det bliver fra russisk Side det egentlige konstituerede Hoved-Akt-stykke for hele Foretagendet.Til det Formaal at faa de Underskrivendes Identitet prøvet, har jeg til Hensigt, at bede et prominent Medlem af den lokale Forening af russiske Advokater at deltage i ” ” Malteser Conferencen” og saa lade hans Erklæring desangaaende legalisere ved Dom I Frankrigs Almindelige…………certification materielle de la signature.”
Jeg gør her mit mest muligr i den Overbevisning, at det i dette Anliggende handler sig om en social, religiøs og maaske ogsaa juridisk meget betydningsfuld Sag.
P. S. Den grundlæggende Erklæring af 24/6 1928 underskrevet 16 Herrer, deriblandt 1 polsk Arvekomtur( som siden er blevet overført til den romerske Malteserordenens polske Association) og desuden af 3 Efterkommere af høje, men ikke arvelige russiske Malterserriddere, de kommer altsaa ikke juridisk i Betragtning for vort Capitel. Til de oprindelige 12 russiske Arvekomturer er siden kommet en til, saa at mit Register nu omfatter 13 Familienavne. Grev Soltzykoff lever i Bruxelles og er beredt til at komme til Paris, naar det ønskes.
Misforstaaelserne bestaar i, at vi mente, at det saakaldte Comturcapitel ( med den kvalificerede Majoritet af alle Arvekomturer) skal underskrive Beslutninger af Baron v. Taube mener, at det praktisk xxxx set ikke mere er muligt, da Medlemmerne nu er spredte over mange Lander inclusive Amerika og at det netop er derfor,
-7-1) Your proposition is so detailed and well drawn up, that I for my part only would change very little on the wording.
2) The legal and the historic base I would make much more complete and the decisions of the Russian Chapter I would formulate somewhat differently.
3) Naturally I know my Russian colleague’s and as well the destined Protector’s ( of the Russian Imperial family) standpoint, I would of course not be able to act, especially not after these many years, without their expressed consent. (As it later shows of von Taube’s following
letters, he did receive the decisive person’s approval of the whole matter one by one).l. We were pleased that our proposals for the statutes of the Order suited him and his Council, we would also willingly have received propositions from them .
2. Of course he had to, as written, complete the legal and historic foundation of our statutes and formulate somewhat differently the alteration of the Russian Chapter to a Grand Bailiwick. However, our legal advisers firmly held on to, that we should be able to see his proposals before it would be decided on by the Russian Chapter.The case had now entered upon the last phase, when we agree on the essential – yes, even on unessential little things, we are consequently quite agreed on the foundation of a ” united Grand Priory” and on the content of the last decisions and which structure of the branch of the Order the “Commander Chapter” or the Council of the Order (Comité d’initiative) is to make decisions, then a misunderstanding arises (that however is at last cleared up as well, then full agreement is present).On 21/5.1939 von Taube writes:
“A draft of the Russian Chapter of Malta’s decisions is laying before me, and had been granted two days ago by the destined Protector of the Russian Bailey, Grand Duke Andrew Wladimiranovitch. I will certainly send it to you, but first in 2-3 days, while this document first is to be carefully transcribed by typewriter. It is not a question about a few pages, but of a rather long complicated document, of which all the legal position of the cause and “the will of the Chapter” clearly appears. From the Russian side it will be the real main constitutional-document of the whole undertaking.Of the purpose of getting the identities of the signings proved, it is my intention to ask a prominent member of the local association of Russian lawyers to participate in the “Conference of the Order of Malta” and then let his declaration on the subject be legalised in the French general court ……… certification materielle de la signature.”
Here I do my best in the firm conviction that this cause deals with a social, religious and even a legal, very important matter.
P.S. The fundamental declaration of 24/6.1928 signed by 16 gentlemen, among them a Polish Hereditary Commander (who later is transferred to the Roman Order of Malta’s Polish Association) and 3 successors of high, but not hereditary, Russian knights of Malta, they will therefore not be legally recognised by our Chapter. To the original 12 hereditary Commanders one more has turned up, my register now includes 13 family names. Count Soltzykoff, now lives in Brussels and is prepared to come to Paris, whenever it is wanted.
The misunderstandings consisted in that we believed that the so called Commanders Chapter (with the qualified majority of all hereditary commanders) was to sign agreements, but Baron von Taube is of the opinion that it is practically no longer possible, because the members now are scattered over many countries including America, and therefor
-8-netop er derfor at man vil redde det russiske Storpriorat, som nu for anden Gang truer med at gaa i Opløsning, ved at knytte det til en nordisk Afdeling, der kan bevare Coutenistaler ( den legale Succession). Derfor ønskede v. Taube et Ordensraad ( le comite d’initiative) som har Beføjelse dertil fra Cometurcapitlet foruden den Fuldmagt v. Taube har – skal- for en Forms Skyld- unde: tegne de Beslutninger,som Storfyrst Andreas og alle afgørende Personer allerede enkeltvis har godkendt. Denne Ordning vilde ogsaa være fyldestgørende, men desværre misforstaar v. Taube og den danske Comité hinanden. Skylden er antagelig mest den danske Comité’s, der ikke kan faa Erklæringer og Garantier nokog som ikke førend den har modtaget yderligere Forklaringer fra v. Taube helt forstaar de praktiske Vanskeligheder i Paris. Dette er beklageligt- man havde kunnet sparet Tid og lidt Bitterhed mod os fra v. Taubes Side.
Med Skrivelse af 21/5 ( afsendt 23/5) sendte v. Taube ogsaa den omtalte Resolutionsforslag( der har gengives, saaledes som den var godkendt af Storfyrst Andreas i Oversættelse:………har enstemmig vedtaget følgende:
1) De bekrefter ved nærværende Genoprettelsen – i Egenskab af …. nationale Broderskab, det i 1798 af Stormesteren Poul 1 af Rusland oprettede ” Grand Prieure de Russie” af Malteserordenen.
2) De forpligter sig til med kortest mulig Frist at udarbejde de Statutter for deres Broderskab og at gode Skridt til disses “”enregistrement xxx legal” i en europeisk Stat, der kan vælges efter Forholdene, og til sin Tid i Rusland.
3) De fornyer den til det permanente Medlem af “Comite d’initiative af 1928 Hr. Professor, Baron de Taub, i hans Egenskab af juridisk Raadgiver for det russiske Broderskab givne Fuldmagt dateret den 21/9 1929 vedrørende Genoprettelsen af den russiske Malteserorden med den nye særlige Opgave- nærværende Comités Navn – at naa til Forstaaelse med den danske Comité d’initiative vedrørende den eventuelle Sammensmeltning, som de anser for meget ønskelig, af deres russiske Orden med den, som er ved at dannes x i Norden under den omtrentlige Titel” Grand Prioret for Norden af den hellige Johannes af Jerusalems Orden kaldet Malteserordenen” med Udarbejdelse og ” confirmation legale” i København og de forende Ordeners fælles Statutter.
4) I saa Fald indvilliger de udtrykkeligt til denne nye Orden for de nordiske Lande at overdrage alle de dem som ubestridte Repræsentanter for det gamle ” Grand Priore de Russie” tilkommende historiske Rettigheder og Privilegier, saavel de allerede kendte, som de, der senere maatte opstaa.”
Vi indrømmede v. Taube den nævnte Forandring. Benyttelsen af Betegnelse ” Store Priorat” var mere korrekt, desuden foreslog vi at vore Statutter, som var godkendte, som skulde optages som en Bestanddel af det russiske Malteser Resulution. Dette Forslag accepterede v. Taube straks i næste Skrivelse af 4/6.
Paris 4/6 1939,: Jeg er principialt indforstaaet med de to Hovedpunkter i Deres venlige Skrivelse af 30/5. Tanken med Hensyn til det første af dem, maa imidlertid juridisk udføres anderledes, som det netop er foreslaaet af Dem i Deres Brev af 2. Juni. Jeg maa nemlig erindre Dem om Punkt 3 i min Skrivelse af 21/22 Maj, hvor det Medlemstal, man i Dag faktisk kan opnaas – det herværende Malteser Capitel dog er blevet klart karaktiseret: 7-16 Herrer, deraf kun faa Kommanderer. Men da De i dette Øjemed kun arbejder med rent theoretiske Muligheder, som vi allerede her har gennemprøvet her i Praxis, er der for mig ikke andet at gøre end at opstille en her vedlagt sammenlignende Tabell. Man vil heraf se, at Erklæringen af 1928 næsten var “vollstimmig) og altsaa absolut retsgyldig, man at den dengang stedfundne Procedur ikke med den bedste Vilje kan gengives i Dag. Da nu ogsaa min Plan om vort Comité d’initiative synes at være uantagelig for den danske Comite maa vi nok …. slaa ind paa den i deres sidste Skrivelse eneste Udvej med min personlige Fuldmagt.
Den gamle Fuldmagt fra 1929 var underskrevet af 5 Herrer, nemlig
-8-the very fact why they want to save the Russian Grand Priory, which now for the second time threatens to disintegrate, by connecting it with a Nordic division, which is able to keep the legal succession.
For that purpose von Taube wanted a Council of the Order (le comite d’initiative), to have powers from the Commanders-Chapter besides the power of attorney that von Taube had. It would be able, as a matter of form, to sign the decisions which Grand Duke Andreas and all the other decisive persons one by one have approved on. This arrangement would have been adequate, but unfortunately von Taube and the Danish Committee misunderstood each other. (Probably it was the fault of the Danish Committee, which couldn’t get too many statements and guarantees and which did not quite understood the practical difficulties in Paris, until they received more explanations from von Taube. This is regrettable, it could have been saved time and some bitterness against us from the side of von Taube.
By letter of the 21/ 5. (sent on the 23/5. ) von Taube also sent the mentioned proposed resolution (here reported like it was approved on by Grand Duke Andreas, translated (*into Danish) as follows:
…………………have carried unanimously as follows:
1) They confirm at the present the re-establishment – in capacity of ………….national Brotherhood, the “Grand Prieure de Russie” of the Order of Malta created in 1798 by Grand Master Paul I of Russia.
2) They commit themselves, with the shortest possible respite, to prepare the statutes for their brotherhood and to take the necessary steps to their “enregistrement legal” in an European state, which can be chosen after the circumstances and in due course in Russia.
3) To renew the written authority given to the permanent member of “Comite d’iniative” of 1928, Mr. Professor Baron de Taube in his capacity as legal adviser for the Russian Brotherhood dated 21/9. 1929 concerning the re-establishment of the Russian Order of Malta with the new special task – the name of the present Committee – to reach an understanding with the Danish Committee concerning the possible integration, which they consider very desirable, of their Russian Order with the one, which is shortly to be constituted in the North under the approximate title of ” Grand Priory of the North of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, called the Order of Malta” with preparation and “confirmation legals” in Copenhagen and the united Order’s common statutes.
4) In that case they definitely agree to delegate all the future historic rights and privileges, those already known as well as those which later might arise in the new Order of the Nordic Countries, as the unchallenged representatives of the old “Grand Prioré de Russie” .
We agreed with von Taube about the alteration mentioned. The use of the indication “Grand Priory” was more correct and moreover we proposed that our statutes, which were sanctioned, would be adopted as a part of the Russian Malta Order resolution. This proposition von Taube accepted at once in his next letter of the 4.6.
Paris 4/6.1939: I generally agree on the two main points in your kind letter of 30/5. However the idea behind the first must be carried out differently according to the law, just as it is proposed by you in your letter of the 2nd of June. I have to remind you of the point 3 in my letter of 21/22 May where the number of members, which is today possible to achieve – the local Chapter of Malta, is clearly characterised as 7 – 16 gentlemen, among them only a few Commanders. But as you are at the moment only working with theoretical possibilities, which we already have proved here in practice, is then only left to me to set up the enclosed table. From this you may see, that the Statement of 1928 was nearly “unanimous) and therefore absolutely valid, but the ongoing procedure at that time could not, with the best of will, be reproduced today. As now even my plan for our Committee of initiative seems to be unacceptable for the Danish Committee, we may possibly …turn into the only way out, described in your latest letter, my personal power of attorney.
The old written authority of 1929 was signed by 5 gentlemen, namely
-9-Storfyrst Alexander, som Protektor og de 4 Medlemmer af det daværende Raad, der var valgt af de 13 Kommandører. P. Demidoff, Grev Solkykke, Fyrst Beraiaetemky og Grev Olufveff. I Dag lever kun Grev Solykke og Fyrst B med den nye Protektor Storfyrst Andreas, kunde k nu udtede den nye ” absolutte” Fuldmagt, hvis det er ønskelig for vor Plan. Hvis dette stadig ikke er tilstrækkeligt beder jeg Dem betragte hele Sagen som forfejlet fra min Side og straks underrette mig herom. Er det imidlertid tilstrækkeligt, beder jeg Dem ufortøvent tilsende mig det ofte nævnte Beløb, som skal sætte mig i Stand til ( bortset fra Afholdelse af Mødet i Paris, som kun vil koste lidt) hurtigst at kalde Grev Soltikoff til Paris 2) at foranstalte yderligere Efterforskninger vedrørende senere Tilslutning af de stadig i Live værende Cormenturier og 3) at muliggøre min Rejse til København med Dokumennterne og gamle trykte Sager.
Nogle Sætninger af vort Brev af 30/5:
Efter Deres ønske erstattes Ordet “Store Battei” i vore Statutter til Store Priorat og Forlæggelsen af det russiske Storpriorat til Norden skal klart blive udtrykt. Vort Comité har enstemmigt vedtaget Statutterne, derfor maa man kun afholde ( overlade?) Plenarforsamlinger her Constitueringen af stor Prioratet de paa Grundlag af de allerede vedtagne Statutter.” Vi var nu i et og alt ening med v. Taube om at hans personlige Fuldmagt var fuld tilstrækkelig og for det russiske Storpriorats Organersenere skulde saa det eneste af disse Organer, som endnu kunde samles Ordensraadet (comité d’initiative) underskrive Resolutionen, som nu kun blev en Formsag, da de afgørende Personer enkeltvis havde givet deres Tilslutning. Den 8. Juni tilskrives v. Taube som følger: .. et brev der krydsede v. Taubes Brev af samme Dato- Vi bekrefter med Tak for Modtagelsen af Deres ærede Skrivelse af 4. Juni d. a. det glæder os meget at De er principiel enig med os. Vi anfører nu her kun det, som bør tilføjes, forandres eller bortfalde i deres Resolutionsudkast.Begyndelsen af Resolutionen maa henvise til … fundamentale Kends gerninger:
1) at Forsamlingen og Beslutningerne af det russiske Ordenskomitu rer i Paris 1928 i Betragtning af de foreliggende Omstændigheder var absolut legal. Af de oprindelige 23Arvekomturer existerer end nu kun 13, alle har, som deres sidste Rest af det russiske Stor priorat enstemmigt vedtaget Beslutningerne.
2) her omtalte Forsamling ( Ordenskapitlet) i 1928 udsat et permanent Ordensraad for at varetage Komturenes Interesser og indlede Forbindelse og slutte Overenskomst med andre Del af Ordenen. Af Raadets … Medlemmer er i Mellemtiden 3 afgaaet ved Døden og Raadet har derfor suppleret sig med 3 andre.3) 3 har Ordensraadet nu givet sin juridiske Consulent ……. Og xx Udenrigsraad Baron M. v. Taube Fuldmagt af 25/9 1929 til ovennævntes Vegne at skaffex træffe Beslutninger, afslutte bindende Overenskomster……..
Storprioratet bliver under Navnet Storprioratet Norden i alle Henseender den retsmæssige Efterfølger af Storprioratet Rusland. Ved denne lejlighed bliver det Malteserordenen gamle historiske Priorat “Dacia” restitueret og som det første Priorat ( i Skandinavien) indlemmet i Storprioratet Norden…….
Vedlagt sender jeg Dem en Check paa 5.000 Beløbets anvendelse har De nævnt i Slutningen af Deres Brev af 4/6. Nu har vi endelig fundet hinanden og vi kan ikke se, at der i det sidste Øjeblik skulde opstaa yderligere vanskeligheder…Den danske Comité afventede nu v. Taubes Ankomst til København med de underskrene Papirer.
Den 10. Juni skrev man paany til v. Taube, at vi her havde nogle mindre interne Vanskeligheder, som vilde medføre en lille Forsinkelse af Starten og den locale Ledelse. Derpaa reagerede v. Taube 12/6, at det var en Skuffelse for ham og tilføjer: Jeg finder Deres sidste Forslag aldeles glimrende- saa meget mere som det ganske fortræffeligt vil passe til nogle Enkeltheder ( Ejendommeligheder) hos de russiske Maltesere. Det er Ting som
-9-Grand Duke Alexander as Protector and the 4 members of the Council then in office, chosen out of 13 Commanders, : P. Demidoff, Count Soltykoffe, Prince Baraiastemski and Count Olufveff. Today only Count Soltykoffe and Prince B. with the new protector Grand Duke Andreas are alive and able to issue the new “absolute” written authority, if it is desirable for our plan. If this still is not enough, I ask you to look at the whole case as unsuccessful from my side and immediately inform me of this. If it, on the contrary it is enough, I ask you, without delay to send me the previously mentioned amount, which is going to enable me to (except for holding the meeting in Paris, that only will cost me a little) swiftly call Count Soltikoff to Paris 2) to make further inquiries concerning approval from the Commanders still living later on and 3) to make my journey to Copenhagen possible together with the documents and old printed papers.
Some lines in our letter of the 30/5.
After your request the word “Grand Bailiwick” will in our statutes be replaced with Grand Priory and the transference of the Russian Grand Priory to the North will be clearly expressed. Our Committee has unanimously carried the statutes, therefore they only may hold  (handover?) plenary assemblies here. The constitution of the Grand Priory is on the basis of the already agreed statutes. Now we were in complete agreement with von Taube that his personal written authority was absolutely enough and regarding the Russian Grand Priory’s structures of late. The only one of these structures that still could be assembled, the Council of the Order, (Comite d’initiative) would sign the resolution, which now only became a matter of form, because the decisive persons one by one had given their consent. On the 8th of June Von Taube was written to as follows: …..a letter, which crossed von Taube’s of the same date……We acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your honoured letter of the 4th of June this year, we are very pleased that you in principle agree with us. We will here only mention what may be added, changed or be disposed of in your draft of resolution.
The beginning of the resolution must refer to ……..fundamental facts:
1) that the assembly and the decisions of the Russian Committee of the Order in Paris 1928 was in consideration of the existing circumstances absolutely legal. Of the originally 23 Hereditary Commanders now only 13 still exist, all of them have, as the last remnant of the Russian Grand Priory, in union agreed to the decisions.
2) the here mentioned assembly (the Chapter of the Order) in 1928 has chosen a permanent Council of the Order to attend to the interests of the Comptures and initiate connections or conclude an agreement with other parts of the Order. Of the ……members of the Council in the meantime 3 have departed by death and the Council therefore has supplied itself by 3 others.
3) 3 the Council of the Order has now given the legal consultant and Minister of Foreign Affairs Baron M.von Taube written authority of 25/9 1929 on the behalf of above mentioned persons to make final binding commitments………..
The Grand Priory will, under the name of The Grand Priory of the North, in all respects be the legal successor of the Grand Priory of Russia. At this occasion the Order of Malta’s old historic Priory will be restored and as the first Priory (in Scandinavia) incorporated in the Grand Priory of the North……..
Enclosed I send you today a check of 5.000,-…….. You did mention in your letter of 4.6. the use of the amount. Now we finally have come to terms we cannot see, why difficulties should arise at the last moment……The Danish Committee now awaited the arrival of von Taube to Copenhagen bringing along the signed papers.
On the 10. June we wrote again to von Taube, we had some minor internal difficulties, which would bring a little delay of the starting and the local leadership. Von Taube reacted to this on the 12.6, that this was a disappointment to him and he adds: I find your latest suggestion quite brilliant the more so as it will apply to some particulars in the Russian Malta Order, or rather peculiarities. There are things which
-10-hører til den fortrolige Side af Sagen og som derfor skal refereres mundtligt. Jeg er meget gerne beredt y til at føre vor sa vigtige Sag videre ogsaa i den nye Formulering. Da jeg denne og næste Uge endnu raader over fri Tid, kunde jeg i Begyndelsen eller I Midten af næste Uge komme til København med alle mine Dokumenter for nøje at tale med Dem om alt.
v. Taube var bemyndiget til at afslutte Overenskomster og fatte Beslutninger paa Grund af den givne Fuldmagt. Som Bevis foreligger den Kendsgerning at v. Taube forhandlede med Stormesteren for Ordenens Hoved… i Rom om en Sammenslutning. I Sammenligning med denne betydningsfulde Sag var vor Sag forholdsvis ringe.Den 15/6 tilskrev man v. Taube at man var indforstaaet med hans Skrivelse af 12/6 og hans Ankomst til København den følgende Uge derunder: vi sender Dem vedlagt Billetten. Vi træffes paa Hotell Astoria. Imidlertid lykkedes ikke med den korte Varsel at faa Rigspolitiets Tilladelse og den blee den 21/6 atter skrevet til v. Taube og beklagede denne Omstændighed, men da Sagen faktisk var i Orden og kun den ydre – mer … Bekræftelse ved v. Taubes Ankomst til København manglede, saa maatte begge Parter finde sig I Udsættelsen af denne Højtidelighed- eventuelt at Par Maanedermedens v. Taube genoptog sine Forelæsninger i ……. Juli og jeg ( v. ……) skulde saa rejse til Jugoslavien … v. Taube blev derefter indbudt til Højtideligheden i det nyoprettede danske Priorat til Midten af September.Dermed sluttede vor Forbindelse med v. Taube. Verdenskrigen brød udMine Vennerog jeg besluttede at lade Sagen hvile til efter Krigen. Vi var overbevidst om, at selv om det havde været ønskeligt, at v. Taube havde bistaaet os ogsaa med de sidste Formaliteter, saa var det ikke … i det mindste de facto ( B. Rosenkrantz der var Jurist mente ogsaa, de jure, den russiske Godkendelse og Anerkendelse klart nok var udtrykt i de her citerede Skrivelser saa at Sagen kunde staa for en historisk Bedømmelse, selv om de sidste Formaliteter manglede- thi de manglede ikke paa Grund af Uoverensstemmelse- men kun paa Grund af Verdenskrigens Udbrud, force majeure.Det danske Priorat under for det russiske Storpriorat lever altsaa endnu og kan blive videre udbygget, naar det altid vil være tro mod Malteserordenens gejstlige-ridderlige Grundsætninger og omhyggelig bevarer den legale Succession og er Rede til at høje sig for Verdens Stormester i Rom, som souveraint Overhovede- naar Rom en Gang er rede til at optage Forbindelser paa de Grundlag, som den har anerkendt ved Oprettelsen af det russiske Storpriorat og dens Ordensgrene som blev gennomført i det autonome Storpriorat I Rusland – to i de arvelige Komturer lever videre og de af dem der 1928 og senere i Udlandet skabte Organer, som igjen i 1939 overdrog det danske Priorat at varetage Storprioratets Interesser og … deponeret de russiske Storpriorat hos det danske Priorat, som den selv havde godkendt og anerkendt som ny Bestanddel af det historiske russiske Priorat.
……………/ 5 1950
-10-belong to the confidential side of the matter and which therefore must be referred by word of mouth. I am willingly prepared to conduct the enterprise of importance to us further by the new wording. Since I have some free time this and the oncoming week, I would be able to come to Copenhagen in the beginning or in the middle of next week with all my documents and carefully talk everything through with you.Von Taube was authorised to conclude agreements and to make decisions because of his power of attorney. In evidence, it is known, that von Taube negotiated with the Grand Master of the Head of the Order……in Rome about an affiliation. In comparison with this very important case, ours was comparatively insignificant.On the 15/6. we wrote to von Taube, about agreeing with his letter of 12/6. and to his arrival to Copenhagen the following week, and below: enclosed we send you the ticket. We will meet you at Hotel Astoria. However, the short notice did not succeed in getting the permission from the Commissioner of Police and it was again on the 21.6. written to von Taube and this fact was regretted, but as the matter was actually in order and only the more formal confirmation at the arrival of von Taube was missing, both parties had to submit to the postponement of this solemnity – perhaps for some months, while von Taube resumed his series of lectures in . ..July and I (v…………) had to leave for Yugoslavia……von Taube then was invited to the solemnity in the newly established Danish Priory in the middle of September.Here our connection with von Taube finished. World War II broke out.My friends and I decided to let the case rest until after the war. We were convinced, that even if it had been desirable, that von Taube had given us assistance also with the last formalities, it was not …….at least de facto. (B. Rosenkrantz, who was a lawyer, also thought, de jure, that the Russian endorsements and recognitions clearly were expressed in the above quoted letters so that the case would be able to stand up to an historic judgment, even if the last formalities were lacking – not because of disagreements – but because of the outbreak of the World War II, force majeure.Consequently the Danish Priory under the Russian Grand Priory is still alive and can be further extended if it only will be always true to the Order of Malta’s ecclesiastical – chivalrous principles and carefully preserve the legal succession and always will be ready to give in to the Grand Master of the Order in Rome as the sovereign head – when Rome once is ready to take up connections on grounds they have acknowledged by the establishment of the Russian Grand Priory and it’s branches of the Order that was carried through in the Autonomous Grand Priory in Russia – two in the hereditary Commanders are still alive and that in 1928 and later abroad, they created structures, which again in 1939 turned over to the Danish Priory to take care of the interests of the Grand Priory and ………..deposited the Russian Grand Priory at the Danish Priory, which it had approved of and acknowledged on it’s own accord as a new component of the historic Russian Priory.………………………/ 5 1950
Source: Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. h. litra P nr. 1006-1.

Appendix 11

Declaration of 12 December 1964

Erklæring av 12. Desember 1964
En Dansk oversettelse, håndskrevet av Prior Johs. Kaad OstenfeldOversættelse fra russisk af Originalskrivelse af 12/12 1964:
Udført for Prioratet af Hs. Højhed Fyrst D. Myschetzky.
Declaration of 12th December 1964
A Danish Translation, handwritten by Prior Johs. Kaad OstenfeldTranslation from Russian of the original letter of 12/12 1964:
Undertaken for the Priory by H. H. Prince D. Myschetzky
Under Punkt 7 blev forelagt:”Beretning fra Unionens Raad vedrørende Prioratet i Dacie i Danmark, der blev indlemmet i Ordens-Unionen den 12. Juli 1950.Under point 7 put forward:”Report from the Union’s Council regarding the Priory of Dacia in Denmark, which was incorporated in the Union of the Order on 12th July 1950.
Med Hensyn til Ordensprioratet kaldet “Dacie”, som befinder sig i Danmark og som er ind- registreret af Landets Regering, beretter Ordensunionens Raad til Samlingen af Kommandører og Riddere, at paa Grundlag af hele den omfattende Brevveksling mellem nævnte Ordenspriorat og Ordensunionsraadets forhenværende Seniormedlem Baron M.A. Taube (se Unionens Arkiv Nr. 5 Afdeling 4) kan der ikke herske nogen Tvivl om, at Ordens- Unionens PROTEKTOR Hs. Kejserlige Højhed Storfyrst Andrej Vladimirovitz i Aar 1950 gav Baron M.A. Taube absolut Fuldmagt til at slutte denne Sag ved at indlemme “Dacie” i Ordens-Unionen i Overensstemmelse med § 9 i Unionens Love.Regarding the Priory of the Order called Dacia, which is in Denmark, and registered with the country’s government, the council of the Union of the Order report to the assembly of Commanders and Knights, based upon the correspondence between the said Order’s Priory and the Union of the Order’s former senior council member Baron M. A. Taube (ref. Union’s Archive No. 5 part 4), there can be no doubt that in the year 1950 the PROTECTOR of the Union of the Order H.I.H. Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch gave Baron M. A. Taube absolute authority to finalise this matter by incorporating Dacia in the Union of the Order according to § 9 of the Union’s Rules.
En Fotokopi af nævnte Indlemmelsesdokument, dateret 22. Juli 1950, er da ogsaa blevet fremlagt af “Dacie”Paa Grundlag heraf afgiver Ordens-Unionens Raad sin nedenstaaende Konklusion:A photocopy of the said incorporation document, dated 22nd July 1950, is also presented by DaciaBased upon the above, the council of the Union of the Order gives its conclusion:
“I Betragtning af den Dokumentation som af “Dacie” er blevet fremlagt for Raadet og som i fuldt Maal svarer til de i Ordens-Unionens Arkiv opbevarede Aktstykker og i Kraft af Retskontinuiteten af de Retsprærogativer, der overgaar fra den ene Protektor til den næste – d.v.s. fra Hs. Kejserlige Højhed den i Gud hensovne Storfyrst Andrej Vladimirovitz til den nuværende Protektor, Hs. Kejserlige Højhed Storfyrst Vladimir Kirillovitz, hvilken Overgang er blevet stadfæstet gennem behørigt oprettede Aktstykker, kan Unionens Raad ikke indse, at der skulle være nogen retslig Grund til at afslaa “Dacie”s Andragende, eller til ikke at forelægge dette for Hs. Kejserlige Højhed Storfyrst Vladimir Kirillovitz til Stadfæstelse”.“In consideration of the documentation presented to the Council by Dacia, which are fully in accordance with the acts in the Union of the Order’s Archives, and by virtue of the juridical continuity of the legal prerogatives transferred from one protector to the next, i.e. from H.I.H., now in the God’s keeping, Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch to the present Protector, H.I.H. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch, whose transfer had been duly confirmed by the appropriate deeds, the Union’s Council can see no legal reason to refuse Dacia’s petition, or to put this forward to H.I.H. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch for affirmation.”
-2-Unionens Samling besluttede:”Ordens-Unionens Raads Konklusion skal forelægges Hs. Kejserlige Højhed Storfyrst Vladimir Kirillovitz til hans høje Afgørelse”.-2-The Union’s Assembly decided:”The Union of the Order’s Council’s conclusion shall be put forward to H.I.H. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch for his high agreement”
Kopiens Rigtighed attesteres.Ordens-Unionens GeneralsekretærSign: G. de Rticheff12 December 1964Certified true copy.Secretary General of the Union of the OrderSigned: G. de Rticheff12 December 1964
NOTE:Dokumentets innehold.
Prioratet Dacia ble grunnlagt 1938/39. 11 år senere, i november 1950 (forsinkelsen skyldes den 2.verdenskrig) tilskrev John Kaad Ostenfeld, medlem av administrasjonsrådet i Dacia, Storhertug Andrei Vladimirovitch, Storprior og beskytter, med forespørsel om at han i tillegg til å være beskytter for det Russiske Storpriorat, også kunne bli betraktet som beskytter for Prioratet Dacia.
Storhertug Andrei Vladimirovitch aksepterte dette velvillig. (se
NOTES.Contents of the Document.
The Priory of Dacia had been founded in 1938/1939. 11 years later in November 1950 (the Second World War causing the delay), John Kaad Ostenfeld a member of the Council of Dacia, had written to Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch the Grand Prior and Protector, to ask, that in addition to being the Protector to the Russian Grand Priory, he could be considered as Protector to the Priory of Dacia.
Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch readily agreed to this (see
Beklageligvis døde Storfyrst Andrei Vladimirovitch i 1956. Ikke før enn i 1958 aksepterte Storfyrst Vladimir Kirillovitch å bli beskytter for det Russiske Storpriorat/Union, men han avslo imidlertid tittelen som Storprior.Sadly, Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch died in 1956. Only in 1958, did Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch consent to be the Protector to the Russian Grand Priory/Union, but refused the title of Grand Prior.
Tidlig i desember 1964 tilskrev John Kaad Ostenfeld, som da var Prior for Dacia, hovedkontoret til det Russiske Storpriorat (som nå brukte benevnelsen ”Unionen av Arvelige Kommandørers Etterkommere og Riddere av det Russiske Storpriorat av St. John av Jerusalem’s Orden”) og forespurte Storfyrst Vladimir Kirillovitch, Unionens beskytter, om han også kunne bli betraktet som beskytter for Prioratet Dacia. Dacia hadde dokumentert at de var en legal del av det Russiske Storpriorat, og også at Storfyrst Andrei Vladimirovitch hadde akseptert å være Dacia’s beskytter ca 14 år tidligere.Early in December 1964, John Kaad Ostenfeld, by then the Prior of Dacia wrote to the Headquarters of the Russian Grand Priory (now using the term “Union of Descendants of Hereditary Commanders and Knights of the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St John of Jerusalem”) to ask if Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch, the Protector to the Union, be considered also the Protector to the Priory of Dacia. Dacia had demonstrated that they were a legal part of the Russian Grand Priory, and also that Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovitch had agreed to be Protector some 14 years earlier.
Unionen bekreftet Dacia’s medlemskap, og så derfor ingen juridiske grunner til å avslå anmodningen. Imidlertid berodde den endelige beslutning om også å være beskytter for Dacia på Storfyrst Vladimir Kirillovitch’s aksept, og derfor ble anmodningen fra Dacia oversendt ham med positiv anmodning.The Union confirmed Dacia’s membership, and therefore saw no legal reason for the petition to be refused. However, ultimately the decision for Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch to be the Protector also to Dacia, was a matter for his agreement, and accordingly they would forward the petition of Dacia, with their positive recommendation.
De originale franske og russiske brev:
De originale franske og russiske brev har ikke blitt funnet i Dacia’s arkiv. Imidlertid vil bekreftelse på nevnte korrespondanse eksistere i både Unionens arkiv og sekretariatet til Storhertug Vladimir Kirillovitch Romanoff.
The Original French and Russian Letters.
The Original French and Russian Letters have not been found in the Dacia Archives, however confirmation of this correspondence will exist in the Archives of both the Union and of the Chancellery of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch Romanoff.
Declaration of December 12th 1964. Source:  Priory of Dacia Archives. 

Appendix 12

Priory of Dacia Investiture Ceremony ca. 1939

saaledes som det indledes med den første,
og til vor Tid hørende Belæring,
der gives ved Tekstholderbordet af
den Ærværdige Subprior eller den Ærværdige Cansler.******************************************
The Knight’s Vow:
according to the first,
and in our time-honoured lesson,
given at the Speaker’s table by
the Honourable Sub-Prior or the Honourable Chancellor.******************************************
1. Belæring.1. Lesson
Værdige Væbner:
Worthy Squire(s):
i al vor Omgang med andre Mennesker bør vi vise Selvbeherskelse, Overbærenhed og Medfølelse, thi vi er alle saa forskellige i Natur, i Vaner og i Opdragelse, at vi ikke bedømmer alting paa sam Maade, vi ser forskelligt paa Tingene.In all our dealings with other people we should behave with self-control, tolerance and sympathy, because we are all so different in nature, habits and upbringing, that we do not see everything in the same way, we have different views on the things.
Der findes ikke to Mennesker, hvis Erfaringer i alle Enkeltheder er de samme, den ene faar ikke de samme Prøvelser som den anden, og de Pligter, som den ene synes er lette, kan være vanskelige og uoverskuelige for den anden.There aren’t two people whose experiences are the same in all details. One does not have the same afflictions as the other, and duties easy to one can be burden full and incalculable to the other.
Mennesket er af Naturen saa skrøbeligt, uvidende og fejlende, at enhver maa være meget forsigtig i sine Bedømmelser af andre, netop fordi vi ved meget lidt om, hvilken Indflydelse vore Handlinger kan have paa andres Erfaringer.
Hvad vi gør eller siger, kan for os synes at være af ringe Betydning, men kunne vi aabne vore Øjne, ville vi maaske se, at det, visiger ellegør, kan faa helt andre Følger, end hvad vi mente med det, vi sagde eller gjorde.
Mankind is by nature so fragile, ignorant and in error, that each one should be very careful in judging others, knowing very little of the influences our acts will have upon other’s experiences.
What we do or say can for us be of minor significance, however, if we could open our eyes we might understand that what we said or did could have quite different consequences from our intentions.
Der er mange, som har baaret saa faa af Livets Byrder, kendt saa lidt til virkelig Sjælekval og haft saa lidt Interesse og Bekymring for andres Vel, at de ikke forstaar dem, som har et stort Ansvar at bære.There are many who have carried so few burdens of life, known so little about real spiritual despair and have had so little interest and concern regarding the well being of others that they do not understand those who have great responsibilities to bear.
Der er mange, som bærer brydefulde Ansvar og Byrder, og som derved udfører et stort og uselvisk Arbejde, der først bliver forstaaet og værdsat, naar de er døde.There are many who carry heavy responsibilities and burdens, and thereby carry out a great and unselfish work, only to be understood and appreciated once they are dead.
Naar andre herefter overtager deres Ansvar, og Byrder og møder de samme Vanskeligheder, da forstaar de først, hvorledes disse Menneskers Mod og Tro blev prøvet. De ser nu at de Fejltrin, de selv var med til at dadle og ivrig efter at paapege, nu helt mistes af Syne.When others thereafter take over their responsibilities and burdens, meeting the same difficulties, then at last, they understand how these people’s courage and faith has been tested. Now they observe that the errors they themselves criticised and eagerly attributed, which had been unseen.
Erfaringen lader
dem vise Møedfelelse!
Experience leadsus to show Compassion!
Vi staar os ikke ved at lade en virkelig eller indbildt Forurettelse forbitre vort Sind, vi bør ikke være saarbare. Fjern enhver Aarsag til Misforstaaelse, saavidt det staar i Jeres Magt, undgaa enhver Antydning af Ondt og gør alt for at forlige Jer med andre uden derved at svigte Principper.
Taler nogen utaalmodigt til Jer, saa svar aldig igen i samme Aand, husk: et mildt Svar stiller Vrede. Der er en forunderlig Magt i Tavshed, at tale til en, som er vred, vil under tiden kun gere ham endnu mere forbitret, hvorimod den Vrede, der mødes med Tavshed og Overbærenhed, hurtigt vil lægge sig.
It is not worthy to let a real or imagined injustice embitter our mind. We should not be vulnerable. In your power, remove every cause to misunderstanding. Avoid any hint of evil and do everything to reconcile with others without compromising principles.
If somebody speaks impatiently to you, never reply in the same spirit. Remember: A mild reply might calm wrath. It is a peculiar power in silence. To speak to one who is angry, might sometimes make him more exasperated: whereas anger met with silence and tolerance, soon pacifies.
Naar I bliver udsat for en Storm af saarende Kritik, eller I bliver daarligt behandlet, eller I bliver anklaget med Urette, giv da ikke et heftigt Svar, lad Jer ikke overvinde af det Onde, men overvind det Onde med det Gode Vi trænger alle til at erkende den forædlende Kratt, der er i rene Tanker.
Derfor er den eneste Sikkerhed for enhver af os at tænke Ret .
Gør det til en Vane kun at tale godt om andre og læg kun Mærke til deres gode Egenskaber, og saa lidt som muligt til deres Fejl og Mangler.
When being exposed by a storm of insulting criticism, or if you are being badly treated, or if you are being unjustly accused, do not give a violent reply. Do not be slain by evil but defeat evil by good.
We all need to acknowledge the purifying power in a just mind.
Therefore, the only safety for every one of us is a just mind.
Make it a practice to speak only well of others and just notice their good qualities and as little as possible of their errors and shortcomings.
Naar I fristes til at klage over, hvad nogen har sagt eller gjort, saa prøv i Stedet paa at fremhæve noget, der er godt og positivt hos den Paagældende, thi den der arbejder alvorligt, har ikke Tid til at tænke paa andres Fejl, og vi er heller ikke tient med at beskæftige os dermed.
Bagtalelse er en dobbelt Forbandelse, der falder tungere paa den, som taler, end paa den, som hører paa.
Den, som saar Strid og Uenighed, saar Bitterhed og Ondskab, og han høster derfor selv de dødbringende Frugter i sin egen Sjæl.
Netop ved at spejde efter Ondt hos andre, udvikles det Onde hos en selv. Alt for ofte glemmer vi, at vore Medmennesker trænger til baade
Styrke og Opmuntring. Og I maa stedse huske, at I skal være som en Kilde til Vederkvægelse for alle, som I kommer i Forbindelse med !
When tempted to complain about what somebody has said or done, try instead to emphasize his positive and good deeds.
The serious worker has no time to concern himself with other’s faults. We draw no benefits in dealing with this matter.
Slander is a double curse that falls heavier on those who speak than those who listen.
Those who spread conflicts and disagreement create bitterness and evil, therefore they themselves harvest the deadly fruits of their own souls.
Just by seeking evil in others, develop the evil in themselves.
All too often we forget that our fellow humans need both strength and encouraging.
You must always remember: that you shall be a spring of comfort to all you associate!
Her slutter den første Belæring, og Aspiranten/Aspiranterne føres til Priors Bord og modtager af ham den historiske Belæring. (2.)
The first lesson ends here, and the Aspirant(s) is led to the Prior’s table to receive from him the historical lesson. (2.)
Prior hilserAspiranten / Aspiranterne og udtaler:The Prior greetsthe Aspirant(s) and pronounces:
Værdige Væbner / Væbnere, I har nu modtaget den første og til vor Tid hørende Belæring, men inden I modtager Ridderslaget af min Haand paa Storprioratets Vegne og ad Mandatum, maa vi have Svar paa følgende Spørgsmaal, som hver enkelt af Jer maa besvare personligt idet I højt og tydeligt svarer: “Ja Høje Prior’ eller “Nej Høje Prior’.Worthy Squire(s), you have now received the first, and our time-honoured lesson. However, before you receive the accolade from my hand on behalf of the Grand Priory and ad Mandatum (by Authority), you have to answer the following question – which each of you has to answer personally by loud and clear answer: “Yes High prior” or “No High Prior”.
Prior fortsætter:“Jeg tilspørger Jer da værdige Væbner” (Navn):The Prior states:“I then ask you Worthy Squire” (Name):
1 ) Har I afgivet Løfte til noget andet Ridderskab, der er til Hindring for Jert Løfte overfor Vor Heje Orden ?
Svar: “Nej Høje Prior”.
2) Er I en fri og vaabenfør Mand af hæderligt mdemme og uden tyngende økonomiske, moralske eller juridiske Gældsforpligtelser ?
Svar: “Ja Høje Prior”.
3) Er I en Slave af Gods eller Guld eller af materielle Goder ?
Svar: “Nej Høje Prior’.
4) Værdige Væbner endnu er det Tid at I kan træde tilbage fra Eders Optagelse i Vort Høje Ridderskab og om I ønsker dette, da siger I personligt til nu.
Svar: “Nej Høje Prior’
1) Have you given vow to any other knight’s Order, which is an obstacle to your vow to our High Order?
Reply: “No High Prior”
2) Are you a free man, will defend the weak and of honourable reputation and without burdening economic, moral or legal debts?
Reply: “Yes High Prior”
3) Are you a slave of possessions or gold or of material goods?
Reply: “No High Prior”
4) Worthy Squire, Still there is time to withdraw from your induction into our High Order if you so wish. Then say so now.
Reply: “No High Prior”
5) Er det stadig Jert inderste Ønske at sege ind til os, for i Lydighed og Ydmyghed at tiene vort aristokratiske Ridderskab ?
Svar: “Ja Høje Prior’.
5) Is it your continuing heartfelt desire to join, in faithfulness and humility, with our noble society of knights?
Reply: “Yes High Prior”.
Prior fortsætter:The Prior states:
Vordende Profesriddere, I vil nu hver enkelt, og med Haanden paa Bøgemes Bog, aflægge Vor Høje Ordens ældgamle Troskabsløfte.Og Det Høje Ridderskab rejser sig.Saa hør da Ordene, som de har lydt siden Vor Ophøjede Ordens ældste Dage i Det Hellige Land, paa Cypem og paa Rhodos, paa Malta og i Sct. Petersborg, og i alle de Riger og Lande, hvor vore Ordensbrødre lever og har Levet.Professed Knights Designate, you will now individually, and with your hand on the Book of Books, give Our High Order’s ancient vow.The High Knights stand up.So, listen to the words, which have sounded since Our exalted Order’s ancient days in the Holy Land. Cyprus and on Rhodes, on Malta and in St. Petersburg, and in all countries and lands where our fraternal brothers live and have lived.
Prior fortsætter:The Prior states:
Værdige Væbner (Navn), saa læg da Eders hejre Haand paa denne Bibel, idet I samtidig hæver Eders venstre Haand og gentager efter mig, højt og tydeligt:Worthy Squire (Name), place your right hand on the Bible, and simultaneously raise your left hand in allegiance and repeat after me,
“Jeg forpligter mig og lover”“I bind myself and pledge”
“Overfor min Gud Faderen og Sønnen og Helligaanden”“Before my God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”
“Den Hellige Jomfru Maria, Sct. Johannes Døberen”“The Blessed Virgin Mary, St John the Baptist”
“De Hellige Apostle, Petrus og Paulus”“The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul”
“Til med Guds Naades Kraft at vise tydighed og Ydmyghed”“For with God’s power and grace to display humility and obedience”
“Mod denne Vor Høje Orden”“toward this Our High Order”
“Under Forbehold af Ordenens Ret og Onienens Ledelse”“Under the establishment of the Order’s Right and United  Leadership”
“Vort Ridderskabs Aand og al dens Geming”“Our Knighthood’s Spirit and its every sanctuary”
“Og ingensinde forglemme de Mennesker”“And to never forget the people”
“Som haver Hjælp, Barmhjertghed og Miskundhed Behov”“Who are in need of help, mercy and compassion”
“Og Stadig ihukomme, at vi er de fattiges og de syges Tjenere”“And always remember that we are the servants of the poor and sick”
“Det lover jeg, saa sandt hjælpe mig Gud”
“This I pledge, so help me God.”
Naar de vordende Riddere har aflagt Ridderløftet, henvender Prior sig til Ridderskabet og udtaler:After the Knight candidates have taken the Knight’s vow, the Prior turns to the Society of Knights and pronounces:
Høje Ridderskab, saa vend Jer da mod vort Atters Lys, og vi hæver alle vor højre Haand, idet vi bekræfter vort Ridderløfte og gensidigt forsikrer hverandre, idet vi gentager : “Ja det lover vi”.
Great Order of Knights, turn yourselves toward the Altar light, and we all raise our right hand confirming our Knight’s vow and mutual brotherhood repeating: “Yes that we pledge”.
Herefter føres den I de vordende Profesriddere til Tekstholderbordet til den videre Belæring og til Udlægning af den historiske Tekst og Ridderløftet.
Thereafter, the candidates are lead to the speakers table for a further lesson and interpretation of the historical text and Knight’s vow.

(3.)Den / de kommende Riddere er nu ført til Tekstholderbordet.
(3.)The future knights have now been led to the speaker’s table.
Subprior /Cansler udtaler:The Subprior /Chancellor states:

Værdige Væbner, I har nu hart den gamle Tekst for Riddemes Løfte, det er nu min Pligt at uddybe dette Løftes Tekst.
Det ældste Lefte er tredelt og er sammensat af Ordene
Lydighed, Kyskhed og Fattigdom.

Worthy Squire, you have now heard the old text of the Knight’s vow. It is now my duty to elaborate the text of this vow.
The oldest vow is tripartite and is composed of the words
Obedience, Chastity and Poverty.

Lydighedsløftet ligger i selve Ordet, men laag Mærke til Tilføjelsen:
“Under Forbehold af Ordenens Ret” eller som det har lydt paa Latin:
“Salvo Ordine Nostro”.
Ordenens Ret har altid vsere til Stede, dengang og nu.

The oath of obedience stands by itself, however, notice the addition: “Under the establishment of the Order’s Right” as it is said in Latin:
“Salvo Ordine Nostro”.
The Order’s own Right has always had a place, then and now.

Kyskhed: forstaas som Renhed i Ord, Tanke og Geming og et ærbart Levned, hvor I nøje efterlever Vor Høje Ordens etiske og moralske Love.

Chastity: is to be understood as purity in Word, Mind and Deeds: an honourable lifestyle in which the High Order’s ethical and moral laws are closely to be followed.

Fattigdom: at I ikke tilbeder Guldkalven. Til disse Løfter var ogsaa tilføjet et Stabilitetsløfte og sidst, men ikke mindst, et Kærlighedsløfte.

Poverty: That you do not worship the Golden Calf. Additional to these promises was a “vow of Stability” and last but not least a vow of Love.

Stabilitetsløftet skal forstaas som et Løfte om Trofasthed og Loyalitet overfor Vor Høje Orden, overfor Det Høje Ridderskab og overfor Vor Høje Prior.

The Vow of Stability shall be understood as a vow of faithfulness and loyalty to Our High Order, to the High Knighthood and to Our High Prior.

Og endelig Kærlighedsløftet der er hele Ordenens aandelige og ridderlige Kvalitet. Dette Løfte er Ordenens “Charta Caritas”.

And finally: the vow of Love, which is the Spiritual and Chivalric qualities of the whole Order. This vow is the Order’s “Charta Caritas” (Charter of Love).

Vi kæmper ikke Isengere med Sværdet i Haand, men derfor er Kampen ingenlunde forbi.
Kampen for den ridderlige Tanke og Aand skal være Jert Adelsmserke, og Bestræbelserne for disse Tankers Sejr er Jeres Pligt !

We do not fight with the sword in hands any more, however, the fight is not yet over.
The fight for the chivalric idea and spirit shall be your sign of nobility, and the struggle for victory of these ideas is your duty!

Dette er, hvad Ordenen kan give Jer, og det er, hvad Ordenen vil kræve Jer til Regnskab for.

This is what the Order can give you, and what the Order will demand of you.

For som det hedder i den gamle Ordensregel: “Fra Ordenens Hjerte strømmer Blodet ud til alle Dele af den og til alle Hjerter, for atter at strømme tilbage, og atter varm og fomyet igen at tiltrsede sit Løb.

As told in the ancient Rules of the Order: From the heart of the Order the blood is streaming to all its parts and into the heart of everybody: for thereafter again streaming back: and again, warm and renewed, once more to re-enter it’s course.

Hvis I vil tilegne Jer Vor Gamle Ordens sande Væsen og Indhold, da maa I i Jert Hjerte og Liv være besjælet af Kærlighedsaanden.

If you will obtain our Old Order’s true Spirit and content, then you have to be inspired by the spirit of Love in (both) your Heart and Life.

Og hvad er saa det udover at være en sand Ridder ?

And what is this more than being a true Knight?

Enhver kan vist se, at vi i Dag baade savner og behøver en Ridderskabs Aand derfor har Vor Høje Orden ogsaa i Dag en meget vigtig Opgave at udfylde. I har allerede under den første Belæring modtaget et Indtryk af, hvad der menes med ridderlig Adfærd.
Hjælp og Støtte til de fattige, fattige er ikke alene de som mangler Penge eller materielle Goder, der kan købes for Penge.

Everyone can surly see that we today miss and need a Chivalric spirit, thus even today Our Order has an important task to fulfil. You have already during your first Lesson received the idea of what it mean by Chivalric behaviour. Help and support for the poor. The Poor are not only those in monetary or material need that can be bought for money.
Mange er i vore Dage fattige paa en helt anden Maade, de er fattige i Aanden, de er i en aandelig Nødstilstand, de er fattige paa Venner, og de er fattige paa Tillid til alt og alle.
Maaske er een i Nød, i Fattigdom og Ensomhed lige ved Siden af os, maaske er det endda een af vore allemærmeste, som har Hjælp. Behov, og her er det, at I skal Hjælpe af Jert Hjertes Rigdom.
Many today are poor in quite a different way. They are “poor in Spirit”, in a spiritual emergency. They make poor friends and they are poor in faith to all and everyone.
Perhaps one, just by your side, is in poverty and loneliness: perhaps one of our closest needs help. It is here you shall help out of your heart’s abundance.

Hjælp ogsaa den unge Slægt, vær ridderlig overtor Enker og enlige, faderløse og umyndige, tænk paa de gamle, de enlige og de forladte.
Kast Lys og Varme ind til disse i Sandhed fattige Mennesker.

Help also the young generation. Be chivalric toward Widows and the lonely, the fatherless and minor. Think of the old, the lonely and the abandoned.
Throw light and warmth on to these truly poor people.

Vær et kærligt Menneske.

Be a compassionate person.
Døm ikke andre forhastet eller paa Forhaand, døm skaansomt og fordøm ikke vær den barmhjertige Samaritan og tænk paa, at det, der for Jer ikke rummer nogen Fristelse, maaske kan friste andre over Evne, og maaske endda kaste dem i Ulykke.

Saadanne Mennesker behøver Jer, de behøver en sand Ridder.
Do not judge others hastily or in advance. Judge gently and do not condemn. Be the Good Samaritan and consider that things giving you no temptation, for others may be over-tempting, even casting them into misfortune.

Such people need you, they need a true Knight.

Fosøg Selvransagelse og Meditation over egne Skrøbeligheder, og I vil erkende, at heller ikke I er ren nok til at kaste den første Sten. I vil da opdage, at Sandheden om os vil være hver og een nok, og  derfor appellere til Ydmyghed.

Try self-examination and meditation of your own frailties and you shall acknowledge that not even you are pure enough to throw the first stone. You will then discover, that the truth about yourself would be more than enough: and therefore appeal for humbleness.

Enhver ond Handling bærer Straffen i sig selv, derfor kan en Adelsmand  eller Ridder ikke handle slet, uden at den jordiske Retfærdighed ogsaa vil ramme ham.
Husk paa hvorledes en Adelsmand og Ridder af en berømt og fornem Slægt fik sin fjerprydede Baret kastet i Støvet, han fik sit Værge knækket og sit Vaabenskiold brudt, han var ingen sand Ridder. Han havde forsøgt at bedrage en Enke ved Hjælp af falske Papirer.

Every bad action brings punishment to one’s self; therefore a nobleman or knight should not act wickedly, whether or not earthly justice affects him.
Remember how a nobleman and knight in celebrated and distinguished society found his plumed adornments harshly thrown in the dust, his sword broken and his shield cracked, because he was not a true knight. He had attempted to deceive a widow with the help of false papers.
Ogsaa vor Orden kan fjeme en Ridders Vaabenskiold fra Skioldbordet , dersom I ikke forstaar Betydningen af at leve og handle som en sand Ridder. Og sand Ridder er man etter at have aflagt Ridderløftet, og fra det Øjeblik man har modtaget Ridderslaget af Den Høje Prior.Our Order can also remove a Knight’s Coat-of-Arms from the gallery of arms if he does not understand the meaning of living and acting as a true Knight. You are a true Knight after giving the vow and being inducted by the High Prior.
Som et Eksempel paa at det kan nytte, og at Resultater kan naas, vil jeg her citere en Bulle, som Pave Alexander i Aaret 1169 sendte Vor Høje Orden.As an example that it can be done, and that results can be achieved, I shall here quote a Bull, which Pope Alexander sent our High Order in 1169

Denne Bulle lød saaledes:

This Bull thus states:
Midt i Verdensopgørets mange Uvejr, som Forfølgelsens Storm har rejst imod Guds Kirke og imod Os, har Eders Troes Anker med uomskiftelig Fasthed bevaret Petri omtumlede Skib i Oprørets Hav.In the middle of the world clashes’ many rough weathers like the pursuing storm risen against the Church of God and against us. Your anchor-of-faith has with undisturbed steadiness conserved the ship of Peter tumbling in the ocean of upheaval.
Da Vi saaledes ere Eders Skyldnere, elsker Vi Eder og Den Hellige Johannitterorden, som Vi bevarer med saa stor Kærlighed.As such, we are your debtors: We love you and the Holy Johannine Order, which we protect with the utmost devotion.
Pave Alexanderfortsætter:Pope Alexandercontinued:

Eders berømmelige Orden har stedse knyftet sin Kærlihed til den Skat, der er Dyden, saaledes at Eders Høje Orden baade har Behag for den evige Konges Aasyn, og ligeledes er yndefuld for Menneskenes Øjne.Thi som en blid og ydmyg Due og Herrens særlige udkaarne, da er denne Orden helt skøn at skue: Thi den holder enhver Udskejelsens Rynke borte fra sig ved at udfylde den fædrende Omsorgspligt og ved at vaage over, at intet Lastens Tjørnekrat kan vokse op, ligesom den er stærk ved sin uvisnelige Fylde af Ærens Blomster og Hæderværdighedens Frugter.

Your prize-worthy Order has always tied its devotion to the treasure, which is virtue, in such a way that your High Order has found pleasure to the Eternal King’s view: and grace to human eye.Like a gentle and humble Dove and the Lord’s especial chosen, then this Order is a grace to see. As it keeps every rankle of discontent away by fulfilling the fatherly care, and by watching that none of the thorns of vice can grow. Likewise, it is strong in its immortal grace of the flower of Honour and Chivalric Fruits.
Pave Alexanderslutter sin Bulle saaledes:Pope Alexanderfinished his Bull in this way:

Af den Grund har Eders Orden aldrig trængt til fremmed Visitas eller til Korrektion.
Over disse Dyder jubler V i Herren, idet V erkender de klare Kendetegn, at Ordenen for andre er Livets Spejl og et Mønster paa frelserlig Livsførelse.

Based on this, your Order has never needed independent visitors or any correction. By these virtues we praise the Lord, realising the clear signs that the Order is a mirror-of life and a pattern to others on a way of salvation in life.
Subprior / Canslerfortsætter:The Subprior /Chancellor states:
Værdige Væbner / Væbnere, efter at denne paa de historiske Traditioner hvilende Belæring nu er tilendebragt, er der kun tilbage at lade Jer vide, at hvad der maatte forefalde i Ordenen eller imellem Ordenens Medlemmer indbyrdes, er et indre Anliggende, der er alle andre uvedkommende.Worthy Squire(s): After this, based upon the historic tradition instructions are completed, it is now only left to let you know: what is carried out within the Order or between the Order’s members, are internal matters which are no concern to all others.
Værdige Væbner / Væbnere, I vil nu sammen med Eders Proponent blive ført til Alteret hvor I vil blive iklædt Kappen med det ottespidsede Kors. Herefter modtager I Ridderslaget af Den Høje Prior, hvorefter Profeskorset bliver fæstnet paa Eders venstre Bryst.Worthy Squire(s), You shall now, together with your sponsor, be led to the Alter where you will be vested with the mantle with the eight-pointed cross. Thereafter you will receive the accolade from the High Prior, and the profession cross will be attached to your left breast.
Ved Alteret staar Den Høje Prior,
Cansleren, Orator (og Priors Adjudant)

The High Prior stands by the Altar with the
Chancellor, the Orator (and the Prior’s Adjutant)
Den Høje Priorudtaler :The High Priorpronounces:

Ærværdige Proponenter I vil nu behage at iklæde de værdige Væbnere Kappen med det ottespidsede Kors !

The distinguished sponsors will now vest the worthy squires with the mantle of the eight-pointed cross!
Vordende Profesriddere, I er nu iklædt den sorte Kappe med det ottespidsede hvide Kors paa den røde Bund, der er Ordenens ældste Mærke og Riddernes Symbol.Professed Knights Designate, you are now vested with the black mantle with the eight pointed white cross, this is the Order’s ancient mark and Knightly symbol.
I ved, at Korsets otte Spidser symboliserer de otte ridderlige Dyder og de otte Saligprisninger i Bjergprsedikenen, og jeg befaler Eder stadig at bære dette Tegn iblandt os, og at I altid bærer det i Eders Hjerte.
Derfor vordende Profesriddere er dette Kors Fæstnet paa Eders venstre Brystside, og skulle I i Selvforglemmelse svigte dette Kors og dets Befalinger, da vil det være til størst Skade for Eder selv, og Ordenen vil da tage det fra Eder efter vor ældgamle Sædvane og Dom som en Svigten af det hellige Løfte, som I nys efter egen fri Vilje har afgivet i det samlede Ridderskabs Nærvær.
You know, that the eight points of the cross symbolize the eight knightly virtues and the eight Beatitudes of the sermon on the mount, and I command you to constantly carry this sign among us, and at all times carry it in your hearts.
Therefore, Professed Knights Designate this cross is attached on your left breast, and should you, in your forgetfulness, deceive this cross and its demands, then it will be to the greatest damage to yourself. The Order will then remove it from you according to our ancient customs and rules, as a deception of the Holy Vow, which you, by your own free will, have just given in the presence of the assembled society of knights.
(Prior befaler nu Orator at fremsige de otte Ridderdyder, og de otte Saligprisninger.)(The Prior now commands the Orator to recite the eight Knightly virtues and the eight Beatitudes.)
Prior fortsætter:Prior continues:
Ærværdige Adjudant, saa ræk mig da Sværdet, dette Svæni der er indviet som det sejrende Vaaben for Troen paa Gud, Kærlighed og Ridderaand.Distinguished Adjutant: So hand me the Sword, the Sword that is consecrated as the victorious weapon in the faith of God, devotion and Knightly Spirit.
Og I Værdige Væbner (Navn), saa knæl da paa denne Pude.And you Worthy Squire (Name), now kneel upon this cushion.-
“I knæler nu symbolsk ved Herens Grav i Jerusalem,“Your kneeling now is symbolic of the Lord’s Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Prior udtaler:thi Herrens Grav i Jerusalem er overalt hvor Riddere af det ottespidsede Kors er samlet.
Saa modtag da Ridderslaget, i Det Kejserlige Russiske Storpriorats Navn, og i Den Geistlige Ridderlige Malteserordens Navn, og til de riddertige Bestræbelsers Fuldkommengerelse, under Vor Høje Ordens Beskyttelse og ad Mandatum
jeg, Prior af Ordenen i Dacia, Den Værdige og Tro Væbner 
(Navn) til sand Profesridder af Vor Høje Orden“.
Her følger Ridderslaget.
The Prior states:The power of the Lord’s Sepulchre in Jerusalem is everywhere where Knights of the eight-pointed Cross are gathered.
So receive the accolade, in the Imperial Russian Grand Priory’s name, and in the Religious and Knightly Order of Malta’s name, and to this knightly enterprise’s full communion, under our High Order’s protection and with the mandated tap,
I Prior of the Order in Dacia, invest the worthy and trusted Squire (Name) as a true Professed Knight of Our High Order“.
Here follows the accolade.-

Stat op Chevalier de Malte, og ræk mig begge Eders Hænder som Tegn paa at Eders Optagelse nu er futdbyrdet.

Stand up Knight of Malta, and give me your both hands as token of your induction is now fulfilled.
************************************************Priors Adjudant fæstner nu Profeskorset paa den nyoptagne Ridders venstre Brystside, og hans Vaabenskiold, der indtil nu har ligget med Bagsiden opad, vises til Ridderskabet.
Til Slut bliver den nyoptagne ført til sit Sæde paa Ridderbænken.
Efter Conventets Lukning vil den nyoptagne modtage Ridderskabets (og derefter andres) Gratulationer, dette sker med Haandtryk med begge Hænder.——————————————————————
************************************************The Prior’s Adjutant now fastens the Profess Cross on the newly ordained Knight’s left breast. His Coat-of-Arms, which until now has been lying upside down, is shown to the society of Knights. Finally, the newly inducted is lead to his place on the Knight’s bench.
After the closing of the convent, the new Knight will receive congratulations from the Knights ( and thereafter from others) The congratulations are shown by handshakes using both hands.——————————————————————
Ordenens Deviser:
The Order’s Devices:
“Pro Fide” – for Troen.
“Pro Utilitate Hominum” – til Menneskers Gavn.
“Pro Fide” – For the Faith.
“Pro Utilitate Hominum” – For the good of Mankind.
The Order’s Day:
24. Juni, Sct. Johannes Dag.24 June, St John’s Day
-A.D. 1048 Adelsmænd og Købmænd i Amalfi beslutter at oprette et Johannitterhospital i Jerusalem.-A.D. 1048   Noblemen and merchants in Amalfi complete preparations to operate a Johannine hospital in Jerusalem.
-A.D. 1309 Ordenen erhverver Rhodos.-A.D. 1309 The Order occupies Rhodes.
-A.D. 1523 Rhodos maa overgives til Tyrkerne.-A.D. 1523 Rhodes permitted to be turned over to the Turks.
-A.D. 1530  Kejser Karl  d. V overlader Ordenen Malta.-A.D. 1530 Emperor Charles V, gives Malta to the Order.
-A.D. 1798 Malta gaar tabt, men Ordenen genopstaar i Sct. Petersborg.-A.D. 1798 Malta falls, but the Order survives in Saint Petersburg.
-A.D. 1939 Forhandlingerne med Storprioratet i Paris tager deres Begyndelse, disse Forhandlinger der fører til Ordenens Genoprettelse i Dacia ved Storfyrst Andreas’s endelige Confirmation i Aaret 1939.-A.D. 1939 Negotiations with the Grand Priory in Paris begins, the negotiations lead to the re-establishment of the Order in Dacia with the final confirmation by Grand Duke Andreas in the year 1939.
Additional Material
De otte Ridderlige
The Eight Knightly
Omsorg for Kirken.
Hjælpsomhed imod Syge og Fattige.
Hæder og Ære.
Care for the Church.
Helpfulness to the Sick and the Poor.
Contempt for Death.
Honour and Glory.
De otte
The Eight
Salige ere de fattige i Ånden; thi Himmeriges Rige er deres.Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Salige ere de, som sørge; thi de skulle husvales.Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.
Salige ere de sagtmodige; thi de skulle arve Jorden.Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
Salige ere de, som hungre og tørste efter Retfærdigheden; thi de skulle mættes.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be satisfied.
Salige ere de barmhjertige; thi dem skal vises Barmhjertighed.Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.
Salige ere de rene af Hjertet; thi de skulle se Gud.Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.
Salige ere de, som stifte Fred; thi de skulle kaldes Guds Børn.Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.
Salige ere de, som ere forfulgte for Retfærdigheds Skyld; thi Himmeriges Rige er deres.Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Den Knight hos
falsk papirer.
The Knight with
false papers.
Legenden om Ridderen som forsøkte å bedra enken, er fra Kong Christian IV’s tid [1588-1648].The legend about the Knight, that tried to deceive the widow is from King Christian IV’s time [1588-1648].
Source: Den Autonome Gejstlig Ridderlige Malteserorden i Dacia

Appendix 13

Report to the Sacred Council, Order of St. John of Jerusalem in Malta, concerning the Treaty or Convention to establish a Catholic Grand Priory of Russia

To his Eminence and Sacred Council.

SO as to discharge the honourable duty set upon us by your Eminence and this Sacred Council in their venerable decree of July, we have the honour to inform your Eminence and this Sacred Council that we have carefully examined the Treaty drawn up between the Plenipotentiaries of His Majesty Emperor of all the Russias and the Venerable Bailli Litta, Plenipotentiary Minister of this Sacred Order, and in each Article we observed tracts of the greatest benevolence and munificence of this August Monarch, whilst not content to fully grant to this Sacred Order all its requests, due to the ancient possessions in Poland which passed under His dominion, but also wished, with a generosity fitting only the great magnanimity of His Heart, to grant it more than double its requests, and under conditions far more advantageous and prestigious for the Sacred Order than initially requested.

We shall not report here the entire contents of the Treaty as it is necessary that your Eminence and this Sacred Council do so in person, as well as the four Articles that were drawn up separately from the Treaty, so that they may ratify these, which we deem should be done immediately, and on each article.

We now have the honour to inform your Eminence and this Sacred Council on several matters which we extract from the report of the Venerable Bailli Litta which accompanies this Treaty and which brings to our attention that His Imperial Majesty through his benevolence towards the Sacred Order arranged to reserve the first nomination and Commanderies to the Priory, but not deeming it fitting of the respect and gratitude owed to His Majesty by this Sacred Order, of taking advantage of His act of great clemency, we consider it necessary that the Venerable Bailli Li(tta) beg His Imperial Majesty in the name of your Eminence and this Sacred Council to proceed with the nomination of this Priory and Commanderies, furthermore that He will thereby ensure that the Sacred Order will be invested with fitting subjects , who will continue to deserve the Lofty Protection and Love that His Majesty has shown this Sacred Order, following such nomination the Chancery of the Sacred Order will send the usual seals for which the Venerable Bailli Litta will indicate the name of the Saint, or other, under which the Commanderies should be drawn. And as it could sometimes happen that His Majesty, relative to the aforementioned first nomination of the Priory and Commanderies, will wish to appoint persons who, due to their particular circumstances are unable to submit to the all the statutory depositions, we consider it necessary that the Minister of the Sacred Order demonstrate to His Majesty the firm intent already expressed by your Eminence and this Sacred Council, of according these persons all the dispensations which His Majesty wishes to concede them, whilst entreating Him to maintain intact their obligation to undergo the corresponding proofs, to pay the Common Treasury the established fee, etc, once the Sureties have been established.

We see from the same report that His Imperial Majesty wishes to receive for Himself, Her Majesty the Empress and the three Princes of His August Family the Cross of Devotion. Certainly an event, that in the midst of the adversities with which our Order is beset, which the benign Hand of Divine Providence wishes to give a new Lustre, and to thus summarily render more glorious and triumphant its Name throughout the entire World. Therefore we deem vital that the Venerable Bailli Litta offer His Majesty the most warm and respectful thanks on behalf of your Eminence and the entire Order for such a great honour, and at the same time beg Him to accept on His own behalf and that of his August Family, not only the Cross of Devotion, but also the Habit and the Grand Cross.

The same Venerable Bailli Litta suggests that His Imperial Majesty may appreciate the granting of the Cross of Devotion to the two Plenipotentiaries who concluded this present Treaty, under whose names the usual Seals could be issued from the Chancery and sent to the same Venerable Bailli Litta, who before all else, should present them to His Imperial Majesty, and we deem the same necessary for three Ladies, who were recommended by Her Majesty the Empress.

The Venerable Bailli Litta makes several mentions of the Special Protection given to his work by His Naepolitan Majesty, and the great Zeal with which the Duke of Serracapriola discharged his duties, for which your Eminence has already expressed thanks, and it only remains to suggest the opinion of Venerable Bailli Litta that the said Duke should be given the Cross of Devotion, as well as the Count of Coblenz, Plenipontentiary Minister to the Russian Court of His Majesty the Emperor of Hungary and Bohemia, and the Duke of Siessers, General Lieutenant in the service of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia, who co-operated most effectively towards the success of these negotiations. Of course the Venerable Bailli Litta should not present the relevant Seals without having first reassured himself of His Imperial Majesty’s approval.

In his report the Venerable Bailli Litta further notes that His Imperial Majesty indicated it would please Him that those Knights of the Order who are engaged in His military Service and who will be unable to go to Malta in order to take part in the Crusades, should be recompensed for the Campaigns undertaken after their reception, be these on the Black Sea or at the borders against the Infidel. To which sovereign care we believe we must strictly adhere, obviously only for those persons who have obtained a special recommendation from His Imperial Majesty.

Finally, the Venerable Bailli Litta informs us in his report that His Imperial Majesty, giving ever more of His generosity, assured him that in consideration of the permanence of a Minister for the Sacred Order in St Petersburg, and in order to provide a site for Chapter meetings, for housing archives and a Chapel, He has entirely given over to the Sacred Order ownership of one of the largest and finest palaces to be found in that Capital, which shall be called Malta Palace, with permission to place the Arms of the Sacred Order on its facade.

To the many great acts of kindness by His Imperial Majesty are added spoken honours for which we can merely suggest nothing better than to entreat your Eminence to act as the voice of the entire Order and to send to the Throne of His Imperial Majesty the most humble and respectful expressions of thanks. This is the sum knowledge with which we can inform your Eminence and this Sacred Council, whilst with the most profound respect we declare ourselves.

National Library, Malta. Arch 2196. November 1797. Translation: Tiziana Ferri and Michael Foster

Appendix 14

Convention between the Order of St John of Malta and Czar Paul I of Russia


His Majesty the emperor of all the Russias, on one side, wishing to give a proof of his sentiments of affection, esteem, and consideration, towards the illustrious order of Malta, at the same time intending to assure, consolidate, and encrease, the establishment of the said order in his dominions, which has already been instituted in Poland, particularly in the provinces, of that country now belonging to the Russian government, and being desirous of obtaining for those of his subjects who are capable of being, received into the illustrious order of Malta all the advantages, honours, and privileges, annexed thereto ; and the sovereign order of Malta, with his most eminent highness the grand-master, on the other side, being perfectly sensible of the kind intentions of his imperial majesty towards them, of the importance and utility of such an institution in the empire of Russia, and being desirous on their part of fulfilling the wise and benevolent designs of his majesty the emperor, by facilitating them by every possible means consistent with the constitution and laws of the order; have, by common consent, agreed to form a convention for the accomplishment of these respective objects, according to the reciprocal wishes of the contracting parties.
In consequence of which, his imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias has appointed, and authorised to act as his plenipotentiaries, the sieur comte Alexander de Besborodko, privy counsellor of the first class, minister of the council of state, director-general of the post-office, knight of the orders of St. Andrew and St. Alexander Newsky, and grand cross of that of St. Windimir, of the first class; together with the sieur prince Alexander de Kourakin, his vice-chancellor, privy counsellor, minister of the council of state, chamberlain, knight of the orders of St. Andrew, St. Alexander Newsky, and of St. Anne, of the first class, likewise of the royal orders of Danebrog and of the Perfect Union.-The sovereign order of Malta, with his most eminent highness the grandmaster, have named for the same purpose the sieur Jules Rene, bailli comte de Litta, grand-cross of the order of Malta, knight of justice of the venerable language of Italy, commander of several commanderies, knight of the military order of St.George, of the first class, and of the Polish orders of the White Eagle and St. Stanislaus, rear-admiral of the Russian navy, and minister plenipotentiary from the sovereign order of Malta and his most eminent highness the grand-Master, to his imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias. These plenipotentiaries, having communicated and exchanged the full powers with which they were vested in due form, agreed upon the following articles:

ARTICLE I. His imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias, as an act of justice, and at the same time to prove,his sentiments of affection and high consideration for the illustrious order of Malta, approves, confirms, and ratifies, in his own name and that of his successors for ever, in the most ample and solemn manner, the establishment of the said order of Malta in his dominions.

ARTICLE II. His imperial majesty the emperor, acknowledging the validity of the establishment that the order of Malta, under the guaranty of the imperial court of Russia, possessed in Poland, the advantages and enjoyment of which have been suspended by the troubles in that country and the dissolution of its government, as a compensation for the revenues assured to the order in Poland on estates belonging to the ordinate of Ostrog, and being desirous of extending and adding to the. solidity and consistence of the present establishment of the order of Malta in Russia, his said majesty has most graciously granted to the order of Malta to have and to. hold for ever the annual sum of three hundred thousand Polish florins, which shall be collected and distributed by said’ order, according to mode agreed upon in the different articles of the first convention.

ARTICLE III. The state treasury of the empire of Russia shall pay from the total sum annually received, in title of emphyteose, on all the starosties of Poland now in the Russian dominions, the sum of three hundred thousand Polish florins every year to the the order of Malta; this annual payment to be made at, two different times; the first of a hundred and fifty thousand Polish florins on the 30th June/11July and the second of the same sum, making in the whole three hundred thousand Polish florins, on the 31st December/11 January. These said payments are to be made to the receiver for Malta, his treasurer resident in. Russia, or any other person legally authorised to receive them.

ARTICLE IV. The said annual sum of three hundred thousand Polish florins, which his imperial majesty thus graciously grants to the order of Malta, shall be for perpetuity exempted from all drawbacks whatsoever, and from ordinary and extraordinary taxes, and shall form the foundation and revenues of the institution of the said order in his dominions, which shall be termed the grand-priory of Russia.

ARTICLE V. The grand-priory of Russia shall consist of a grand-priory, and ten commanderies. The respective revenues shall be distributed every year in the following manner:-the grand-priory shall have sixty thousand Polish florins; the first and second commanderies thirty thousand Polish florins each; the third and fourth commanderies twenty thousand Polish florins each: the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth, each fifteen thousand Polish florins.

ARTICLE VI. The dignified post of grand-prior shall pay annually to the venerable common treasury of the order of Malta, by way of responsions, twelve thousand Polish florins; and all the ten commanderies shall likewise pay in annually their respective responsions in the following, manner:-the first and second commanderies each six thousand Polish florins; the third and fourth, each four thousand ; the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth, fifteen hundred each. These annual responsions due to the venerable common treasury of the order of Malta shall be deducted from the sum total of three hundred thousand Polish florins by the minister, receiver, or treasurer, for the order of Malta residing in Russia, who shall receive the above-mentioned revenues from the grand-priory, and shall be charged with making the above-mentioned annual repartition.

ARTICLE VII. His imperial majesty and his most eminent highness the grand-master being equally convinced of the use and importance of a permanent legation from the order of Malta in Russia, to facilitate and maintain a direct communication between their respective dominions, and to attend assiduously to every particular relative to this new establishment, have agreed by common consent to dedicate for this purpose the annual sum of twenty thousand Polish florins as a salary for the minister and receiver of the order of Malta residing in the empire of Russia; besides the annual sum of twelve thousand Polish florins for the maintenance of the chapel and archives, and likewise for the pay of officers belonging to the grand-priory and the minister.

ARTICLE VIII. The eighteen thousand Polish florins which remain from the sum total of three hundred thousand florins shall be employed for supplying annually the different expences at Malta relative to the grand-priory of Russia.

ARTICLE IX. The order of Malta shall enter into the enjoyment of its revenues from the 1st of January, 1797; and the sum total of the three hundred thousand Polish florins of this first year, together with the amount of the first four months of the year 1798, shall be paid into the common treasury of the order of Malta, as an indemnification for the expence of the extraordinary mission to St. Petersburg, and likewise for the expences indispensably necessary for the order of Malta in the empire of Russia. In consequence of which, the grand-prior and the ten commanders who shall be appointed will enter upon their respective revenues from the 1st of May, 1798.

ARTICLE X. His Imperial majesty declares, that the dignity of the grand-priory of Russia, and the ten commanderies dependent thereon, can never be conferred, on any pretext, on those of his subjects who are not entitled to be received into the order of Malta.

ARTICLE XI. His imperial majesty grants to the order of Malta full and entire liberty to establish and follow, in its new institutions in his dominions, its own form of government; and he admits and takes under his special protection the execution of the rules and statutes adopted or its interior administration.

ARTICLE XII. His imperial majesty being also desirous that the illustrious order of Malta thus established in Russia should possess the same consideration and splendour that it enjoyed in the other states of Europe, and knowing that nothing can possibly contribute more to this important object than a strict observation of the laws and statutes of the order; he ordains that every individual who composes, or shall in future compose, the said grand-priory of Russia, shall exactly conform to, and put in practice, all the duties prescribed in the rules and constitution of the order of Malta, either for their respective reception, or any other object relative to their situation.

ARTICLE XIII. His imperial majesty is still more attentive to, and interested in, the execution of the preceding article, from the perfect conviction that the duties of the knights of Malta prescribed by the wise constitution of the order are always inseparable from those which every faithful subject has contracted towards his country and lawful sovereign.

ARTICLE XIV. The reception of the knights of Malta, and the proofs of nobility required on that occasion, shall be the same as in the heretofore grand-priory of Poland ; and the passage fees shall be paid according to the tax fixed in the above-mentioned priory.

ARTICLE XV. The Knights shall perform the usual caravans in the most exact manner, and shall make the usual conventual residence in malta.

ARTICLE XVI. On the death of each commander, or professed knight, his effects, according to the statutes, shall belong to the common treasury of Malta; procurator-general, or agent of the order appointed for this purpose, shall be charged to collect the said effects. This article does not regard the commanders of family or jus patronat, but solely relates to those persons who are regularly professed in the order.

ARTICLE XVII. Every individual of the order of Malta shall be equally obliged exactly to fulfil his statutable duties. The commanderies and grand-priory are bestowed according to seniority, which is reckoned from the date of their respective receptions: but this right of seniority is of no avail unless all the other duties of the order be fulfilled; so that every candidate for the commanderies and grand-priory must be competent, not only from the right of seniority, but from having performed his statutable duties.

ARTICLE XVIII. His imperial majesty, as a still further proof of his personal regard for his most eminent highness the grand-master, gives his consent that his eminence, in quality of chief of the order of Malta, shall enjoy the same magisterial prerogative in the grand-priory of Russia as in all other priories such as conferring a commandery by favour once in five years, should one become vacant in that space of time. This commandery shall be subject to the payment of an annate, and of all other duties imposed in the magisterial collations. His most eminent highness cannot, however, bestow this commandery on any knight who is not of the grand-priory of Russia.

ARTICLE XIX. In order that the repartition of the property of Malta may extend to a greater number of persons, no knight shall be permitted, from right of seniority, to possess more than one commandery at the same time; he therefore must quit his commandery, upon being promoted to one of more considerable value. The mutations of commanderies in the grand-priory of Russia shall take place in Malta, according to the laws and rules of the order.

ARTICLE XX. The knights who from their merit have obtained a commandery by favour, from the beneficence of the grand-master, shall not be included in the regulations contained in the preceding, article, which relate exclusively to the commanderies in right of seniority.

ARTICLE XXI. The grand-priory of Russia, and the commanderies depending thereon, shall be subject, equally with all the other commanderies of Malta, to the mortuary and vacancy duties ;and the common treasury of the order shall have, during that time, the administration of the revenues.

ARTICLE XXII. The rent of any commandery which shall remain vacant through want of a candidate shall be paid into the common treasury of the order, until such time as a member of the grand-priory shall become capable of obtaining it.

ARTICLE XXIII. His imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias likewise approves confirms, and ratifies, all the commanderies of the order of Malta termed of family, or jus patronat, already instituted in Poland, and which now make part of the Russian dominions; and his imperial majesty declares, that all the conditions and clauses announced and stipulated in the different acts of the above-mentioned respective foundations shall be entirely and exactly fulfilled, without any exception from one or the other side.

ARTICLE XXIV. His imperial majesty, to contribute still more to the happiness and prosperity of the order of Malta, and at the same time to enable all the Catholic nobility of his empire, and even those who from particular circumstances cannot submit themselves entirely to the statutable duties of the order of Malta, to participate in the distinctions, honours, and prerogatives, granted to this illustrious order, which his imperial majesty has constantly loved and respected, deigns to grant, from this present moment and for ever, permission and his imperial sanction for all future commanderies of family or jus patronat; for which all those who are desirous of entering into this noble institution must address themselves directly to the order of Malta, or to its representative in the empire of Russia, whether it be to agree upon the reciprocal conditions, or to arrange and commit to writing the respective foundations, and to obtain from Malta the necessary approbation. The commanderies of family shall be entitled in the order of Malta by the names of the families which originally founded them.

ARTICLE XXV. The grand-Priory of Russia.shall hold the capitular assemblies in the chief place of residence, and especially the one fixed for the 23d of June, the eve of the festival of St. John the Baptist, patron of the order of Malta. The venerable chapter shall review and direct all the affairs of the grand-priory that fall under its cognizance, keep a register of its deliberations, and send the requisite communications to Malta.

ARTICLE XXVI. The venerable chapter shall be presided by the grand-prior, and in his absence by the most ancient commander.

ARTICLE XXVII. The capitular regulations fixed by the statutes of the order shall be followed in every thing relative to the proposition and decision of affairs.

ARTICLE XXVIII. The minister-plenipotentiary from Malta in the empire of Russia, in quality of procurator-general of his most eminent highness the grandmaster, the sacred council of the order, and common treasury, shall be constant recorder, in virtue of his office, of affairs, which shall be decided by the majority of votes; and in case of an equality, the grand-prior shall have the casting vote. All affairs discussed and decided according to the statutes, customs, and privileges, of the order, shall be, terminated without delay; but if they be out of the common order of things, the decision shall be sent to Malta before they are executed.

ARTICLE XXIX. All professed knights in the order of Malta who may happen to be upon the spot shall be obliged to attend the chapters ; where they shall all have deliberative votes, and take their seats according to seniority and the capitular rules of the order. The knights in their noviciate shall also assist at the chapter, but without deliberative votes.

ARTICLE XXX. All the commanders of family shall be invited to the chapters in which they shall take their seats with the other commanders, according to the antiquity of the foundation of each commandery. They shall have a consulting vote, and when it shall be question of any thing relative to the patronal commanderies a deliberative one.

ARTICLE XXXI. In order to enable all the knights of Malta who have both military and civil employments in his imperial majesty’s service to perform the duty of their order, permission will be granted them to absent themselves whenever the above-mentioned duties make it indispensably necessary.

ARTICLE XXXII. As all the other grand-priories, though they retain the distinctive colours of the order, have each a different uniform, his imperial majesty and his most eminent highness the grand-master will make choice of one for the grand-priory of Russia.

ARTICLE XXXIII. The grand-prior and commanders alone shall have right of wearing the grand cross of the order in saltire; all the other knights shall wear the small cross at the button-hole.

ARTICLE XXXIV. The honorary knights in Russia, such as those who, without having made their proofs of nobility in the order of Malta, have obtained leave to wear the cross called of devotion or favour, must place the small cross at their button-hole but not wear the particular uniform of the grand-priory of Russia, without the especial permission of his imperial majesty and his eminence the grand-master.

ARTICLE XXXV. All the honorary knights in Russia shall legitimate and register in the chancery of the grand-priory the titles by which they are authorised to wear the cross of the order.

ARTICLE XXXVI. His imperial majesty tile emperor of all the Russias, in the last place, most graciously grants, that the order of Malta shall enjoy the same privileges, prerogatives, and honours, in his dominions, as the said illustrious order enjoys elsewhere from the esteem and affection of other sovereign princes.

ARTICLE XXXVII. The present convention shall be ratified by his imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias, and by the sovereign order of Malta and his most eminent highness the grand-master; and the ratifications shall be exchanged in the space of four months from the day of their signature, and even sooner if possible.
In testimony of which, the underwritten plenipotentiaries have signed the present convention, to which they have put their seals. Concluded at St. Petersburg, the 4-15th January, 1797.
(L. S.) Alexander Comte de Besborodko.
(L. S.) Prince Alexander Kourakin.
(L. S.) Fr. Jules Rene Bailli Comte de Litta.


ARTICLE I. The arrears due to the order of Malta in Poland, from having been deprived of its revenue ever since the year 1788, including the four thousand golden ducats likewise due from the time of the first foundation of the order of Malta in Poland, according to the treaty of 1775, till the moment when the estates and dependencies thereof situated in Ostrog were seized upon and incorporated with the Russian dominions in 1793, shall be comprised in the general debt of the heretofore republic of Poland, in order to be verified when the general liquidation shall take place, and as such shall be acquitted according to the mode adopted for the general payment of the debts of the republic. This separate article shall have the same force and validity as if inserted word for word in the convention concluded on the same day, and shall be ratified at the same time.
In testimony of which, the underwritten plenipotentiaries have signed it, and have put their seals. Concluded at St. Petersburg, the 4-15th January, 1797.
(L. S.) Alexander Comte de Besborodko.
(L. S.) Prince Alexander Kourakin.
(L. S.). Fr. Jules Rene Bailli Comte de Litta.

ARTICLE II. In regard to the arrears due to the order of Malta from the year 1793 inclusively, when the said Polish provinces became part of the Russian dominions, till the 31st of December, 1796, his imperial majesty, as another proof of his affection and benevolent intentions towards the illustrious order of Malta, thought he reserves to himself the right of making in future the arrangements which shall appear the most proper relative to the above-mentioned arrears, now most graciously declares, that he will from this present moment grant the payment of the particular sum due as a matter of right to the common treasury of the order, which sum arises from the annual responsions not having been as yet paid in. These, being fixed at twenty-four thousand Polish florins a-year to the sum total of ninety-six thousand Polish florins for the four years elapsed since the said time. In consequence of which, his imperial majesty deigns to grant five thousand Dutch ducats for the payment of the said sum to the order, which shall be paid the moment the ratification of the present convention shall take place. This separate article shall have the same force and validity as if inserted word for word in the convention concluded on the same day, and shall be ratified at the same time.
In testimony of which, the underwritten plenipotentiaries have signed it, and put their seals. Concluded at St. Petersburg, 4-15th January, 1797.
(L. S.) Alexander Comte de Besborodko.
(L. S.) Prince Alexander Kourakin.
(L. S.) Fr. Jules Rene Bailli Comte de Litta.

ARTICLE III. The grand-priory of Russia, which takes the place of the heretofore grand-priory of Poland in the order of Malta, shall be incorporated, as the latter has hitherto been, in the ancient language of England which had been partly restored in the order of Malta. His most eminent highness the grand-master and the sacred council of the order shall for the future take upon themselves to see that this incorporation be made according to the constitution and laws of the order, the principles of justice, and a regard to their reciprocal convenience. This separate article shall have the same force and validity as if inserted word for word in the convention concluded on the same day, and shall be ratified at the same time.
In testimony of which, the underwritten plenipotentiaries have signed it, and put their seals. Concluded at St. Petersburg, 4-15th January, 1797.
(L. S.) Alexander Comte de Besborodko.
(L. S.) Prince Alexander Kourakin.
(L. S.) Fr. Jules Rene Bailli Comte de Litta.

ARTICLE IV. As all the payments mentioned in the present convention are expressed by Polish florins, and as it is of great importance to prevent the inconveniences and alterations for the future which might possibly result in the said payments from the difference of exchange, the high and mighty contracting parties have agreed by common consent to fix an unalterable value to that coin, according to which the respective payments agreed upon in this convention, and indeed all the payments in the grand-priory of Russia, shall be made in perpetuity, and that without any alteration whatsoever. His imperial majesty and his most eminent highness the grand-master have, in consequence, fixed, in the most irrevocable manner, the value of the said Polish florin at twenty-five Russian copecks. This separate article shall have the same force and validity as if inserted word for word in the convention concluded on the same day, and shall be ratified at the same time.
In testimony of which, the underwritten plenipotentiaries have signed it, and put their seals. Concluded at St. Petersburg, the 4-15th of January, 1797.
(L. S.) Alexander Comte de Besborodko.
(L. S.) Prince Alexander Kourakin.
(L. S.) Fr. Jules Rene Bailli Comte de Litta.

In the Convention concluded between the Plenipotentiaries of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias and that of the Sovereign Order of Malta and his most Eminent Highness the Grand-Master, at St. Petersburg, the 4-15th of January, 1797. The plenipotentiaries of his imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias and that of the sovereign order of Malta and his most eminent highness the grand-master, having judged it proper to add some further stipulations concerning the institution of the order of Malta in Russia to the convention signed by them at St. Petersburg on the 4-15th of January, 1797, have concluded and signed, in virtue of the respective full powers with which they are vested, the following additional articles.

ARTICLE I. His imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias, having approved that there should be conventual chaplains in the grand-priory of Russia for performing the service of the churches of the order, whether in Russia or Malta, designs to add to the concessions already mentioned in the above convention a new foundation of three commanderies, appropriated to the class of conventual chaplains, each of which commanderies shall receive the annual sum of six thousand Polish florins, to be paid by the state treasury of the empire of Russia, according to the same valuation and on the same terms as are stipulated in the said convention.

ARTICLE II. The annual responsions to be paid to the venerable common treasury of the order by the said three commanderies shall be fixed at a thousand Polish florins each.

ARTICLE III. The conventual chaplains of the grand-priory of Russia shall make their proofs of reception, pay their passage fees to the venerable common treasury, and fulfil all their statutable duties, conformably to what was agreed upon by the last general chapter of the order in 1776; they shall also enjoy all the rights, advantages, honours, and prerogatives, assigned them by the laws. The above-mentioned conventual chaplains shall be named to the commanderies according to their seniority in the order and their statutable capacity.

ARTICLE IV. His imperial majesty grants that there shall be a conventual chaplain of the Maltese nation in the grand-priory of Russia, in the same manner as in the other grand-priories of the order: this chaplain to be chosen from among the most illustrious families of the island, and to have merited by his conduct the esteem of the order.

ARTICLE V. His imperial majesty leaves the nomination of the said Maltese chaplain to his most eminent highness the grand-master, and that, not only at present, but for ever. This magisterial nomination shall be each time communicated to the imperial court, and shall be registered according to form in the grand-priory of Russia. The said Maltese chaplain shall be held to fulfil all the statutable duties, and shall enjoy, by virtue of his nomination, the same rights, honours, and prerogatives in the grand-priory of Russia, as the conventual chaplains subjects of his imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias; save those particular restrictions prescribed by the statutes in regard to the Maltese chaplains, which are equally in force in, the other priories of the order.

ARTICLE VI. The annual responsions of these last commanderies, fixed by the convention at fifteen hundred, Polish florins, shall be raised to three thousand Polish florins each.

ARTICLE VII. To avoid all discussion which might in future arise in the interpretation of the twenty-second article of the convention, it is agreed, that the revenue of every commandery which shall remain vacant for want of a candidate shall, from the first day of the vacancy till it is filled up by some one who has made himself capax, be entirely dedicated to the use of the venerable common treasury ; and that the course of mortuary and vacancy shall only begin on the day the candidate is named to the commandery, conformably to statute the 9th and to the 14th ordinance of the treasury.

ARTICLE VIII. The present additional articles shall have the same force and validity as if they had been inserted word for word in the convention concluded at St. Petersburg on the 4-15th of January, 1797. They shall be ratified by his imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias, by the sovereign order of Malta, and his most eminent highness the grand-master, and the ratifications exchanged at the same time.
In testimony of which, we, the respective plenipotentiaries, have signed them and put our seals. Concluded at St. Petersburg, the 17-28th of November, 1797.
(L. S.) Alexander Prince de Besborodko.
(L. S.) Prince Alexander Kourakin.
(L. S.) Fr. Jules Rene Bailli Comte de Litta.

Boisgelin, Louis De, Knight of Malta, ANCIENT AND MODERN MALTA, G & J Robinson, London, 1804, Volume 3, Book 3, Appendix No XVII

Appendix 15

Speech of Bailiff Count Jules Réné de Littto to Paul I Emperor of Russia, Sunday 29th November (old style) 10th December 1797 (new style)

SIRE, – The Sovereign Order of Malta, eager to acknowledge its debt of gratitude, and to perform a duty, not only sacred but dear to the hearts of every one of its members, approaches the foot of your throne to its grateful thanks. Your Majesty’s benefactions are such as must ever remain deeply engraved on our memory.

The new establishment which the munificence of Your Imperial Majesty has secured to the Order of Malta in the Empire of Russia, has been sanctioned in that Island with the most lively enthusiasm, and ever sentiment of joy and gratitude. To give a still greater solemnity to our acknowledgement, and to express our homage still more forcibly, His Highness my Lord the Grand Master, together with the Supreme Council have unanimously decreed an Extraordinary Embassy on the occasion.

Being chosen by my Order for this august mission, it is in quality of Ambassador Extraordinary, that I am charged to acquaint Your Imperial Majesty with the universal wish of the whole Order that you would deign to become chief of this establishment, and accept a title so dear, and so encouraging to us all ; a title indeed which you, Sire, by your generous sentiments, and the favours bestowed upon us, have already so justly acquired, namely, that of Protector- of the Order of Malta, and as such we trust we shall see Your Imperial Majesty invested with the ensigns of an Order equally ancient and illustrious, ever renowned for its exploits, and venerable from the sanctity of its institutions.

His Eminent Highness and the Supreme Council have, therefore, sent your Imperial Highness the Ancient Cross of the celebrated La Vallette, that invincible defender of our Island who bequeathed his name to a city which he alone has rendered impregnable. This cross has hitherto been religiously preserved in the treasury of our Cathedral Church, as a precious monument, which constantly recalled to our remembrance the glorious military exploits performed by a Grand Master of Malta, who might properly be termed the Hero of Christianity; and we now feel a pleasure in offering it to your Imperial Majesty, as a proof of our gratitude, as a mark worthy of his piety, and as a happy presage of the renewal of our prosperity.

This offer is accompanied by our most ardent vows for the glory of Your Imperial Majesty, and the happiness of your Empire. This august and revered ensign of our Order, together with the recollection of our ancestors, and the proofs of valour given by the Knights of Malta will, we doubt not, excite in the bosoms of the illustrious, brave, and faithful nobles of Your Majesty’s Empire an enthusiasm and a spirit of emulation worthy the most glorious ages of chivalry; and the solemnity of this memorable day will. constantly recall to posterity the remembrance of the munificence of Paul I, and the gratitude of the Order of Malta.

Source: Hardman, William, of Valetta, A history of Malta during the period of the French and British occupations, 1798-1815, by the late William Hardman. Ed. with an introduction and notes by J. Holland Rose. Longmans, Green, and co., London, New York, 1909, pages 362 and 363.

Appendix 16

List of the Order of Malta, Venerable Grand Priory of Russia

His Majesty the Emperor – Protector of the Order
Her Majesty the Empress
His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Alexandre Paulovich
His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Constantine Paulovich
His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Nicolas Paulovich
His Highness Prince de Conde, Grand Prior
Bailli Count de Litta, Ambassador
Prince de Bestorodko, Grand Chancellor of the Empire
Prince de Kourakin, Vice-Chancellor of the Empire

Jules Rene Bailli Count de Litta
Vincent Chevalier Raizynstti
Caliste Prince Poninski
Stanislav Chevalier Modzelewski
Gedeon Baron de Witten
George de Kierdei Count de Wielhorski
Charles Antoine Chevalier, d Priest
Michel Prince Radziwill
Adam Prince Czartowik

Louis Prince Radziwill

Casimir Count Ratter
Joseph Ratter
Michel Count Lopolt

Andre Prince Radziwill
Constantin Prince Czartoriski
Raoul Count de Choiseul
Irenee Count de Chreptowitz
Robert Joseph Chevalier de Witry

The Prince Stanislav Poniatowsky, current Privy Councillor
Prince Joseph Poniatowsky, Leutenant General
Count de Siessers, current Privy Councillor
Baron Keycking, Privy Councillor and Senator
M de Ribaro, Rear-Admiral
Count George de Golorkim, Privy Councillor and Senator

Commander Antoine Gavazzemi, Secretary
Commander Antoine Lockman, Almoner

National Library, Malta. Arch 2196. English translation by Tiziana Ferri. Amendments by The Reverend Michael Foster.

Appendix 17

A Treaty between Czar PAUL I Emperor of All the Russias and Ferdinand von Hompesch, Grand-Master of the Order of St John, creating a new establishment of Commanderies for Russian Nobles. This Treaty had yet to be ratified, and was drafted 1st June 1798 whilst the Order was still in Malta and under a Catholic Grand Master. Owing to the invasion by Napoleon the Treaty was never concluded. Accounts, and Letters from the Imperial Family to the Grand Master which are in the same archive folio are included at the end of the document.


His Majesty Emperor of all the Russias on the one hand, wishing in his role of Protector of the Order of Malta, to demonstrate more and more His feelings of affection, regard and consideration, and aware of the advantages He can provide for His states and faithful subjects by granting a great importance to the establishment of the Order in the Russian Empire, to the effect of having the entire Illustrious Nobilty of His Empire take part, enjoying the same honours and distinctions as those admitted to the Grand Priory of Russia, established by the Agreement signed in St Petersburg on 17 January 1797, and on the other hand THE SOVEREIGN ORDER OF MALTA AND HIS EMINENCE THE GRAND MASTER, inspired by the deepest gratitude for the feelings and kind deeds of His Imperial Majesty, and wishing on their part to concur and facilitate, whilst keeping to the Constitution and the Laws of the Order, the accomplishment of an objective of such great import and usefulness to the entire Nobility of the Emperor of Russia, towards whom are directed the good intentions of His Imperial Majesty, have by common accord consented to form an Agreement to dispose of the respective objectives which the high Parties have proposed.

In consequence of which they have nominated and authorised as their Ministers Plenipotentiaries, His Imperial Majesty of all the Russias, the Lords N and N, and the Sovereign Order of Malta and His High Eminence the Grand Master, Lord N., who after having discussed matters and exchanging their full authority are directed to the following articles.

ARTICLE I. His Majesty Emperor of all the Russias, knowing how much the Institutions of the Illustrious Order of Malta are ready to inspire and keep in the greatest energy and purity, the sentiments of honour and love of glory, which distinguish the Nobility of His Empire, by and act of His Sovereign munificence, founds in His States in favour of the Order of Malta, a new Establishment for the Nobility of the Greek Religion.

ARTICLE II. For the foundation of this new Establishment of the Order of Malta within the Empire of Russia, His Majesty the Emperor very graciously assigns and accords in perpetuity, in the most ample and Solemn manner an annual revenue of 200 thousand Roubles, which will be administered, levied and allocated according to the method established in the various articles of the present Agreement.

ARTICLE III. The State Treasury of the Russian Empire will pay annually to the Order of Malta the sum of two hundred thousand Roubles. This annual payment will be made in two instalments, that is to say, the first of one hundred thousand Roubles on the 30 June/11 July, and the second instalment of one hundred thousand Roubles, in order to acquit the payment of the two hundred thousand Roubles, on the 31 December/11 January of each year. The said annual payments will have to be made to the Receiving Minister of Malta, or to his Treasurer residing in the Russian Empire, or to whomsoever shall be legally authorised to receive the allocation stated and fixed in the various Articles of this present Agreement.

ARTICLE IV. His Imperial Majesty declares that the aforementioned annual sum of two hundred thousand Roubles which He graciously grants to this foundation, will be exempt in perpetuity from all reduction and any tax, ordinary and extraordinary, in order that this new Establishment of the Order of Malta founded in the Russian Empire, will enjoy in perpetuity, in full and without the least deduction whatsoever the annual sum of two hundred thousand Roubles.

ARTICLE V. This new Establishment founded for the Nobility of the Greek Religion will be composed of eighty-four different Commanderies, the revenues from which will be fixed in the following manner; Two Commanderies at six thousand Roubles annual revenue each, two Commanderies at five thousand Roubles annual revenue each, four Commanderies at four thousand Roubles annual revenue each, six Commanderies at three thousand Roubles annual revenue each, eight Commanderies at two thousand five hundred Roubles annual revenue each, twelve Commanderies at two thousand Roubles annual revenue each, eighteen Commanderies at one thousand five hundred Roubles annual revenue each, thirty-two Commanderies at one thousand five hundred Roubles annual revenue each.

ARTICLE VI. All the aforementioned eighty-four Commanderies will pay annually to the Venerable Common Treasury of the Order in Malta twenty percent of their respective revenues according to the division indicated in the previous Article. The aforementioned Commanderies shall further make an annual payment of five percent in order to be exempt from the duty belonging to the Venerable Common Treasury of the Order over the goods of each owner upon the latter’s death, to which duty are subject all the Knights of Malta and therefore through this aforementioned annual contribution of five percent of the Russian Knights of the Greek Religion shall be exempt in perpetuity.

ARTICLE VII. That which remains to complete the total sum of two-hundred thousand Roubles shall be distributed each year in the following manner : for the benefit of the Great Hospital of Malta, ten-thousand Roubles yearly for the defense of the Island and the repair of the Fortifications, ten-thousand Roubles, for the expenses of the permanent Mission in St Petersburg, four-thousand Roubles for the upkeep of the Chapel of the Greek Religion including its minister, four-thousand six-hundred Roubles, and for house repairs and other additional expenses, ten-thousand Roubles.

ARTICLE VIII. The Order of Malta will be given possession of the revenues assigned to its new establishment in the Russian Empire, and which constitutes the subject for this present Agreement, beginning from the 1 July until the 1 of January 1799, making for the half year one-hundred thousand Roubles which shall be deposited in the Venerable Common Treasury of the Order of Malta. Consequently of the Commanders who shall be nominated, none shall begin to benefit from their respective revenues until the 1 January 1799.

ARTICLE IX. The contracted high Parties are convened by common accord to fix and assign in the Articles of this present Agreement the duties which the Knights of Russia and the Greek Religion will of necessity have to fulfil without any exception in order to gain admittance to this Establishment of the Order of Malta and to subsequently enable them to obtain the Commanderies founded by this present Agreement.

ARTICLE X. The prescribed duties are as follows ; 1: Undergo the proof of Nobility the manner of which shall be established by a Commission nominated by the first of the eighty-four Commanders and which shall include the representative of the Order of Malta in the Empire of Russia, this will later be approved and sanctioned in Malta. 2: Pay into the Venerable Common Treasury in Malta the passage fee, be it of Majority or of Minority, from the moment of their reception by all the other Knights of the Order, and to satisfy all the duties and taxes established within the Order of Malta. The Majority passage, that is to say, for all those who are received after the age of fifteen years is fixed at 1200 Roubles. The Minority passage, that is to say, for those who are received before the said age is fixed at 2400 Roubles. 3: Undertake the four customary Crusades, be it in Malta within the ranks of the Order, or be it in the Russian army, against the Infidels. Six months of Campaign shall be completed for a Crusade. To establish the discharge of Crusading duties, it shall be necessary to obtain a Certificate from the military Chiefs and Commanders outlining the length of service and good conduct. 4: Not to be in debt either to the Venerable Common Treasury of the Order of Malta nor to the Venerable Grand Priory of Russia.

ARTICLE XI. All individuals who wish to be admitted to this new Establishment of the Order of Malta in the Russian Empire, will of necessity have to fulfil the duties outlined by the Numbers 1 and 2 of the preceding Article, and to subsequently measure up to the expectations of the Commanders and to be granted future vacancies, it will be necessary to have fulfilled all the duties outlined in the same Article under the Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4.

ARTICLE XII. All the Knights who will be received into this new Establishment of the Order of Malta will be obliged to precisely fulfil all the duties prescribed by the present Agreement, and it is by right of seniority which must be accrued after the time of respective receptions, that the enjoyment of Commanderies will be attained through successive vacancies, but the right of seniority will not be valid until the prescribed duties have been discharged, so that all candidates can be favoured, they shall have to acquire right of seniority and the completion of all duties prescribed by this present Agreement.

ARTICLE XIII. A Commander may, on the occasion of subsequent vacancies, on leaving the Commandery to which he had already been admitted move to a Commandery of Improvement, that is to say of better renown. But in order to obtain this improvement within the Commanderies, a Commander must have acquired the right of seniority, nor be indebted to the Venerable Common Treasury nor the Venerable Grand Priory of Russia.

ARTICLE XIV. The eighty-four Commanderies of this new Institution will be subject to, as all the other Commanderies of Malta, to the duties of Burial and vacancies, these will be regulated according to the laws and customs observed in all the Grand Priories. The Venerable Common Treasury of the Order will have, within the terms prescribed for Burials and Vacancies, the administration and the revenue of a vacant Commandery.

ARTICLE XV. The revenue from all Commanderies which remain vacant due to lack of Candidates, shall be deposited in full in the Venerable Common Treasury of the Order, until an individual shall show himself capable of filling the post, and it will be only from the day that he will have legally acquired it, that Burial and Vacancy will come into force, conforming to Statute IX and Order XIV of the Common Treasury.

ARTICLE XVI. His Eminence Monsignor Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, leaves to His Majesty the Emperor the first nomination of the eighty-four Commanders and the eighty-four Knights who will have the expectancy of the Commanderies on the occasion of the latter’s subsequent vacancies, according to the rank of priority assigned them by His Majesty the Emperor in this first nomination.

ARTICLE XVII. The aforementioned eighty-four initial Commanders will be exempt from their Crusading duties. The first eighty-four Knights nominated by His Majesty the Emperor and who will have the expectation of Commanderies will pay at the time of their nomination, only half of the fixed passage fees, but when they will subsequently be in a position of obtaining a Commandery, they will have to pay the remainder of their passage fees and satisfy all duties and taxes fixed by the Order of Malta.

ARTICLE XVIII. His Majesty the Emperor leaves to his Eminence Monsignor Grand Master, head of the Order of Malta, to exercise his magisterial prerogative to bestow a Commandery every five years, whilst during which interval he will render vacant some amongst the aforementioned eighty-four Commanderies which form this new Establishment.

ARTICLE XIX. The Commanderies, which by virtue of the concession of His Majesty the Emperor, outlined in the preceding Article, will be bestowed by his Eminence Grand Master, shall be subject to the annual fees and other duties outlined in the Magisterial Conferments, the very Eminent Grand Master will not however be able to validate this Magisterial pre-eminence other than in favour of an individual admitted to this new establishment of the Order of Malta ARTICLE XX. The very Eminent Grand Master, wishing to bestow Commanderies by his magisterial grace as a reward for merit, wishes that prior to magisterial inclusions taking place, His Majesty the Emperor indicates the individuals who through their personal service will be well deserving of the Sovereign, the State and the Order of Malta, and will be the most worthy of this preference.

ARTICLE XXI. So that the distribution of the goods assigned to this new establishment of the Order of Malta, can be extended over a larger number of individuals, it will not be permitted for any Knight to have, by virtue of seniority more than one Commandery at one time, so that he quits the Commandery he had before he can opt for another, superior, Commandery. The acquisition of Commanderies will be carried out according to the conditions of Succession, the regulations outlined in the articles of this present Agreement.

ARTICLE XXII. The Knights who, by their particular merit, will have gained the goodwill of His very Eminent Grand Master, a bestowed Commandery, will not be subject to the regulations outlined in the previous article, which is only relevant to those Commanderies gained by virtue of Seniority.

ARTICLE XXIII. His Majesty the Emperor of all Russias, in order to contribute more and more to the advantages of the Order of Malta, to its well being and its prosperity, and at the same time aid all individuals of the Nobility of His Empire, and also those who through particular circumstances are not in a position to fully afford the duties prescribed in the present Agreement, the means to fully partake of the distinctions, honours and prerogatives assigned to Russian Knights, admitted and received into this new Establishment of the Order of Malta, deigns to accord from the present and once for all time His Imperial permission and Sanction for all foundations to come from family Commanderies or Patronage, for all those who wish to follow this noble Institution, will have to address directly the Order of Malta or its representative in the Russian Empire, be it to agree reciprocal conditions or draw up respective deeds of foundation and obtain from Malta the necessary approval.

ARTICLE XXIV. Family or Patronal Commanderies will be titled in perpetuity in the Order of Malta, and wherever there is need, with the name of the founding families. The family Commanders will enjoy all honours, privileges and prerogatives which will be assigned to them by the respective Agreement between the Empire of Russia and the Sovereign Order of Malta.

ARTICLE XXV. The Commanders of this new Establishment will assemble in the house belonging to the Grand Priory of Russia of the Order of Malta, to acknowledge and direct matters, be this through administration and bookkeeping, or the observance, interpretation and execution of the regulations and conditions stipulated in the present Agreement, by observing the rules prescribed for those assembled.

ARTICLE XXVI. The Plenipotentiary Minister of Malta to the Russian Empire, in his function of general Proxy for your Eminence Monsignor Grand Master of the Supreme Council of the Order, and of the Venerable Common Treasury will be given audience according to his rank and seniority. He will report on all matters decided by majority vote, according to the forms and customs observed in the Order of Malta and according to the regulations prescribed in the present Convention. He will keep a register of relevant debates and will make to Malta the required communications.

ARTICLE XXVII. The present Convention will be ratified by His Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias and by the Sovereign Order of Malta and his very Eminent Monsignor Grand Master, and the ratifications will be exchanged as promptly as is possible. At which time the undersigned Plenipotentiaries will sign and seal the present Agreement. Drawn up in St Petersburg this


Monies which will be paid to the Venerable Common Treasury in the year 1798
for the second Establishment of the Order of Malta in the Russian Empire

Sum for the first term of 1 July 1798 to 1 January 1799 R 100,000

Passage Fees of 84 Commanders at R1,200                   100,800

Passage Fees paid in half for 84 Knights                   50,400
Total                                                   R 251,200

NB - To the sum of Roubles 251,200 is added 20% according to actual exchange
of St Petersburg, over Vienna, given to Malta             301,440

of 200 thousand Roubles annualy assigned by His Majesty the Emperor to the
second establishment of the Order of Malta in the Russian Empire


2 Commanderies each at R 6,000                           R 12,000 
2        "       "       5,000                           " 10,000 
4        "       "       4,000                           " 16,000 
6        "       "       3,000                           " 18,000 
8        "       "       2,500                           " 20,000 
12       "       "       2,000                           " 24,000 
18       "       "       1,500                           " 27,000 
32       "       "       1,200                           " 38,400
______________________                                   ________ 
84 Commanderies                                         R 165,400 

To the Great Hospital of Malta                             10,000 
For the maintenance of the fortifications of Malta         10,000
For the Chapel in St Petersburg                             4,600 
For the permanent Maltese Mission in Russia                 4,600 
For the Palace of Malta in St Petersburg                    6,000 
Total                                                   R 200,000 

STATEMENT Of annual revenues, fixed and extraordinary,
of the Venerable Common Treasury originating from the second establishment
of the Order of Malta in the Russian Empire
Surety 20% on the sum of R 165,400                       R 33,080 

Duty of 5% in lieu of those effects 
calculated on said sum of R 165,400                         8,270 

For the Great Hospital of Malta                            10,000 

For the maintenance of the fortifications of Malta         10,000 
Fixed Revenues                                           R 61,350 


Burials and Vacancies 

Duties and Taxes                                         ________ 

Total                                                  R ________ 

Letter from Czar Paul I, Emporer of all the Russia to the Grand Master in Malta.

Monsignor the Grand Master I have received from the hands of the Ambassador Count de Litta, your Eminence’s letters, marked with the seal of the Order of Malta, with which he had been charged, he delivered to me the ones and the others in a solemn audience which I granted him for this purpose. The sentiments which your Eminence expressed to me in Your name and that of Your Order, were most agreeable to me. It is with equal pleasure that I have associated myself to a Corps which from time immemorial has had as guide to its actions valour and glory, I can therefore assure your Eminence that I attach a particular value to the Consignment You have made to me of the Crosses brought by the most celebrated heroes of Your Predecessors as well as Your own. I accept the Quality of Protector of the Order of Malta with which Your Eminence, together with all Your Knights, has honoured me, if it belongs to me, due to the proofs that I have given up to the present regarding my Goodwill, to the Order of Malta, I forsee that the Feelings of Esteem and Affection that I shall retain for it, will furnish me in the Future with occasions in which to advance Its Interests. The Count de Litta, of whom I wish to render witness the distinguished manner in which he discharged the task he was set in my regards, will always find me disposed to receive and consider all that will be relevant to this objective, he will not have failed to recount to your Eminence of the distribution of the Crosses and Commanderies which I have already carried out in the Grand Priory of Russia.

I am for the rest
Monsieur Grand Master

Of your Eminence
The most affectionate Paul

St Petersburg
26 February 1798

Letter No 2 from the Empress.

Monsieur the Grand Master, Monsieur the Ambassador the Count de Litta presented Me with the Grand Cross of the Order of Malta which your Eminence had charged him to deliver to Me. I received with a true satisfaction this token which distinguishes a Corps whose reputation has shone through up to our times. It is for this reason that the Emperor My Husband has accorded it His Esteem, publicly ascertained by the foundation of a Grand Priory in the Russian Empire. I do share these feelings of His Majesty, and it will always give Me pleasure to furnish proof of this to your Eminence as well as to Your Order.

Letter to the Grand Master on behalf of Alexander.

The Grand Duke Nicolas My Son

To M Grand Master in Malta

Having been awarded the same decoration, and his tender age not yet allowing him to express the sentiments which he will one day experience, I shall serve as his interpreter with your Eminence

I am for the rest very perfectly

M Grand Master
Of your Eminence

The most affectionate

St Petersburg
27 February 1798

Monsignor Grand Master, I shall leave your Eminence to be the judge of the feelings inspired in me by the Grand Cross of the Order of Malta which the Ambassador the Count de Litta has just delivered to me. These tokens of Heroism and Valour have been appreciated as they should be on my part, they remind me of all the glorious deeds which have shone upon the Order, and which have merited it the most distinguished sufferance of His Majesty the Emperor my Father. I can therefore but feel very flattered to see myself associated with a Corps that gathers to itself such fine titles of public and general Esteem. It is with these sentiments that I am

Monsignor Grand Master
Of your Eminence
The most affectionate Alexandre
St Petersburg
February 1798

To M Grand Master, in Malta.

National Library, Malta. Arch 2196. Pages 87-105. English Translated by  Tiziana Ferri. Amendments by The Reverend Michael Foster.

Legal opinion: the Office of the Chief Herald of Malta

The Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta, currently Dr. Charles Gauci (1947)*, regulates new heraldic emblems to Maltese citizens and to foreigners. The state has granted the Chief Herald the power to devise and grant new arms (personal or corporate); to register arms which have already been in use locally for many years; and to register arms previously granted by appropriate foreign authorities.

As part of the political decision-making process in recent years, it was decided to see whether the newly-established Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta would attract enough interest from the public, before passing on to the next logical step and ask Parliament to pass specific legislation so as to formally embed heraldry in the laws of Malta. The results exceeded the expectations and draft legislative proposals were prepared, implementing comments by Malta’s National Ombudsman.

This article describes the current legal framework of the Chief Herald of Malta for issuing coats of arms.

Malta’s national and international legal order

  • Acts of Parliament (Primary Legislation);
  • Regulations, Rules, Orders, Bylaws (Subsidiary Legislation); and
  • EU Law including decisions of the ECJ.

The Constitution is the basic source of national law and stipulates that laws are passed by Parliament in the form of Acts of Parliament, but that Parliament may delegate legislative powers to other bodies (i.e. ministers, authorities, public bodies etc.) which are empowered to make subsidiary legislation within the sphere of authority delegated to them by an Act of Parliament.

In Malta, there is no judge made law: The Court interprets the law as contained in the various enactments. This does not mean however that judicial precedents are not authoritative. In fact judges as a general rule do not depart from a well settled principle established by case law, if not for grave reason. It is also the practice in the Inferior Courts to follow the principle laid down on points of law by a Superior Court.

The national legal order must also be viewed in the context of EU legislation, and especially the Treaty of Accession. International treaties may form part of Malta’s domestic legislation. By virtue of an Act of the Maltese Parliament, Act XIV of 1987, the European Convention of Human Rights was incorporated into Maltese law. No law in Malta may be inconsistent with the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention. The power of review is vested in the Courts. A good example is the Barone della Tabria case, in which it was established that the Maltese legal system does not recognize titles of nobility.

(..) that the title of nobility “ut sic” (and therefore independently of any property right derived from that title, and which remained unprejudiced in view of what is provided in article 28(2) of Chapter 251), once it is not recognized in our legal system (Article 28(1), Chapter 251), it may not be a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of the First Protocol, and neither may it give rise to a contestation regarding  “a civil right or obligation”. For completeness, there is being reproduced below a bit more “in extensor” the decision of the European Court in the case cited by the first court in the appealed judgment, and that is to say that of De la Cierva Osorio de Moscoso and others v. Spain: “The Court reiterates that under its case-law the Article relied upon does no more than enshrine the right of everyone to the peaceful enjoyment of “his” possessions. Consequently, it applies only to a person’s existing possessions and does not guarantee the right to acquire possessions whether on intestacy or through voluntary dispositions (see, mutatis mutandis, the Marckx v. Belgium judgment of 13 June 1979, Series A no. 31, p. 23, § 50; and the Van der Mussele v. Belgium judgment of 23 November 1983, Series A no. 70, p. 23, § 48). “Furthermore, while a legitimate expectation of acquiring property may in certain instances be equated to a “possession” within the meaning of paragraph 1 of Article 1, such an expectation is always dependent on the commitment of a third party; that is the case, for example, with the granting of a commercial operating licence by the authorities (see the Pine Valley Developments Ltd and Others v. Ireland judgment of 29 November 1991, Series A no. 222, p. 23, § 51; and the Tre Traktörer AB v. Sweden judgment of 7 July 1989, Series A no. 159, p. 22, § 55).“The Court considers that a nobiliary title cannot, as such, be regarded as amounting to a “possession” within the meaning of that provision. In general, the same applies to a mere hope of being able to exploit such a title commercially, for example, as a trademark. Since in the instant case the applicants are unable to assert the right to use the nobiliary titles concerned, a fortiori, they cannot claim any legitimate expectation concerning the commercial exploitation of those titles. In these circumstances and in accordance with Article 35 § 3 of the Convention, the Court considers that the applicants’ complaints under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 taken alone and under Article 14 of the Convention taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 must be dismissed as being incompatible ratione materiae with those provisions.”

The non-recognition of the said title – and always save what is provided in the said Article 28(2) – also brings as a consequence that the Articles 6(1) and 13 of the Convention are not applicable  – see, of note the decisions of the Court of Strasbourg in the names Wolff Metternich v.Netherlands (18 May 1999) and Bernadotte v. Sweden (3 June 2004).

Source: Constitutional Court, Civil Appeal Number 57/2006/1; see Appendix.

Hierarchy of norms

At national level, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, followed by Acts of Parliament, followed by subsidiary legislation. However, the Treaty of Accession and EU regulations are legally binding and operative in Malta, as in all Member States, and must be taken into account along with EU law in general.

Institutional framework

While the three pillars exercise legislative, executive and judicial powers in their own sphere, the system of checks and balances, which Malta inherited from English principles of the rule of law, allows smooth operation of the legal system in Malta.

Malta follows the British parliamentary system, following 180 years of British rule. A minister proposes a draft law, which is then published in the Gazette for a first reading to be given in Parliament. Depending on the importance of the law in question a white paper may or may not be published beforehand. The House of Representatives then forms a committee and, after a second reading where members of Parliament are given the opportunity to comment in general terms on the particular piece of legislation in question, the Committee Stage examines each and every article in detail and proposes any amendments. When the Committee Stage is completed the Bill is sent back to Parliament for a final third reading, is subsequently given assent to by the President of the Republic and then becomes law.

The general rule is that a law enters into force on the date of publication, unless specifically stated in the law itself that the minister concerned may bring the law (or part of the law) into force on a different date.

Cultural Heritage Act

Malta’s cultural heritage is primarily protected by the Cultural Heritage Act 2002​. Prior to the enactment of this Act, the local cultural heritage sector was protected by the Antiquities Act of 1925. Other existing national legislation is also related to the conservation and protection of our cultural heritage. Several aspects of Malta’s cultural heritage are widely acknowledged as common heritage of mankind. To this effect, it is protected by international heritage legislation.


This Act constitutes the reference legislative framework in matter of cultural heritage in Malta. It is divided into eleven parts, as follows: (I) Preliminary; (II) Principles and general duties; (III) Constitution, composition and functions of entities; (IV) Administrative and personnel provisions; (V) Financial provisions; (VI) Conservation professionals; (VII) Special powers of the State; (VIII) Religious cultural heritage; (IX) Offences; (X) Regulations; (XI) Miscellaneous. As a general principle, every person in Malta shall have the duty to protect the cultural heritage as well as the right to benefit from this cultural heritage (art. 5). The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage is created under Part III. Its task shall be to fulfill the duties of the State to ensure the protection and accessibility of cultural heritage. The functions are listed with detail in article 7. Particular regard is to be given to article 43, which establishes that all excavations or explorations of land as well as in the territorial waters or contiguous zone of Malta can only be made by the Superintendent or with the written permission of the Superintendent.

Definition of Cultural Heritage

The Cultural Heritage Act 2002 defines ‘cultural heritage’ as “movable and immovable objects of artistic, architectural, historical, archaeological, ethnographic, palaentological and geological importance and includes information or data relative to cultural heritage pertaining to Malta or to any other country. This includes archaeological, palaeontological or geological sites and deposits, landscapes, groups of buildings, as well as scientific collections, collections of art objects, manuscripts, books, published material, archives, audio-visual material and reproductions of any of the preceding, or collections of historical value, as well as intangible cultural assets comprising arts, traditions, customs and skills employed in the performing arts, in applied arts and in crafts and other intangible assets which have a historical, artistic or ethnographic value.”

Heritage Malta is an entity that has been created by the Cultural Heritage Act as is an operating agency, established to ensure that those elements of the cultural heritage entrusted to it are protected and made accessible to the public. Heritage Malta manages State-owned Museums and heritage sites. Heritage Malta is governed by a Board of Directors, whose role is to determine the policy and strategy of the Agency, to manage its human resources and finances, and to ensure collaboration with local and foreign bodies necessary for achieving the aims of the Agency. Additionally, Heritage Malta’s function is “to set up and manage the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta”.

Office of the Chief Herald of Malta

In June 2020, a complaint was lodged against the Office of the Chief Herald of Malta. The complainant contended that the Chief Herald did not have the appropriate authority to regulate heraldry, grant new armorial bearings or to register and matriculate existing foreign armorial bearings that have no cultural or heritage connection with Malta.

The Ombudsman’s mandate is to investigate any action taken by or on behalf of a governmental entity, which include the powers of investigation and recommendation but not directive powers. When the Ombudsman’s investigation shows that the complaint is justified, he may recommend that complainant be given adequate redress.

Heritage Malta insisted that the original Cultural Heritage Act also implied the protection of heraldry as an intangible asset. But in order to safeguard and entrench it further a specific change in the law was proposed. However, an updated strategy which included Heraldry and the Office of the Chief Herald of Malta, was due for public consultation. The Chief Herald of Malta pointed out that legislative intervention was required, and action will be taken to update the legislation to include the function of the Chief Herald of Malta to regulate the duties, powers and functions of the latter. This will eliminate the need for interpretation, and justification of the powers of this Office.

In his final opinion issued on 21 July 2021, the Ombudsman recommended the establishment of the Office of the Chief Herald in an appropriate manner (be it legislative or otherwise) and underlined that Chapter 445 of the Cultural Heritage Act did not include regulation of heraldry. It was therefore recommended that the law provides ground for the powers and functions of the Office of the Chief Herald.

On 11 August 2021, the Ministry for The National Heritage, The Arts and Local Government (MHAL) replied to the Office of the Ombudsman stating that with regard to the first recommendation, the Ministry had already coordinated the drafting of amendments of the Cultural Heritage Act which were subsequently presented to Parliament on 22 June 2021 and published as Act XLI of 2021 on 20 July 2021. Its objects and reasons were to update the principal Act according to current practice and standards of heritage management, especially regulatory obligations, edit and correct mistakes, establish an office of the Chief Herald of Arms, provide for compensation of impacts on cultural heritage, better facilitate the State’s right of preference for the acquisition of cultural heritage items, and the formal establishment of National World Heritage Sites Technical Committee.

As regards the second recommendation, the Ministry stated that the functions and powers of the Office of the Chief Herald will be promulgated through a legal notice, whereby the regulations will ensure that, while the law clarified that the Agency had the function to set up and manage the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta and, in consequence, had the competence on heraldry, the functions of the Office of the Chief Herald, its vires and duties, and relevant regulatory procedures together with operational regulation will be stipulated by law.

On 10 September 2021, the Ombudsman replied to the Ministry requesting to be notified once the subsidiary legislation was in place. With reference to the recommendations, he asked the Ministry what measures will be put in place to deal with actions taken by the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta prior to the amendment of the Cultural Heritage Act. On 5 October 2021, the Permanent Secretary (MHAL) replied that the proposed Regulations will provide a transitory provision which, in brief, will regulate retroactively that any action taken under the authority published in the Government Gazette of 25 June 2019, until the publication of the Regulations, will be deemed to have been issued under the proposed Regulations. In addition, the Ministry stated that it will inform the Ombudsman of the publication of the proposed Regulations.

The aforementioned legal notice stipulates the criteria for registering coats of arms; when the coat of arms is already formally granted and/or registered by other recognised heraldic authorities. “Recognised” refers to heraldic institutions recognised by the State in which they are situated. It is the sole decision of the Chief Herald of Arms to determine which particular institutions are to be recognised. In addition, all citizens of Malta are entitled to apply for a grant of Arms. However, a grant of Arms should be considered as a singular honour, issued at the discretion of the Chief Herald of Arms. Citizens of other countries also have the right to apply for a grant of a coat of arms at the complete discretion of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta:

In Malta, the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms manages the official creation of coats of arms, flags and badges. All Maltese citizens and organizations (schools, associations, corporations, companies, etc.) can contact the Chief Herald of Arms to have heraldic emblems created for them as can other individuals and entities that have a connection with Malta. The criteria are the following:
Registration of Arms
Arms already formally granted and/or registered by other recognised heraldic authorities can be registered at the Office of the Chief Herald of Arms.
“Recognised” refers to heraldic institutions recognised by the State in which they are situated. It shall be the sole decision of the Chief Herald of Arms to determine which particular institutions are to be recognised.
New creations of personal Arms
Based on the founding principles of the Republic of Malta, all citizens of Malta are entitled to apply for a grant of Arms. However, a grant of Arms should be considered as a singular honour, issued at the discretion of the Chief Herald of Arms and based on the following criteria:
a. Any honours received (local of foreign)
b. Involvement of the applicant in public life together with other merits and activities
c. Professional qualifications held by the applicant
d. Membership of an Order of Chivalry.
Citizens of other countries also have the right to apply for a grant of Arms, based on the above criteria at the complete discretion of the Chief Herald of Arms of Malta.
Should an applicant be considered a suitable candidate for a grant of Arms, the Chief Herald would discuss with the applicant, ideas, including the incorporation of any already ‘established’ family Arms as displayed in Stemmi Maltesi or in other sources. Thus:
a. Abela’s “Della Descrittione di Malta” is the oldest known formally published (1647)
compilation of armorial bearings used by Maltese families. (see Lib. IV Not. III, p.
445 et seq). Later Arms and augmentations are also recorded in another equally reliable source viz., Ciantar’s sequel to Abela’s work, “Malta Illustrata” published in 1772, 1780 (see Lib. IV. Not. III p. 380 et seq).
b. Several Maltese family arms are recorded in various anonymous manuscripts to be found at the National Library of Malta. The authorship and basis for many of these Arms remains unknown.
c. Such already ‘established’ family Arms may be considered as the basis of the applicant’s grant of Arms but would need to be suitably differenced so as to show that the applicant (and his/her descendants) are the sole proprietors and users of the particular Arms in question. In addition, such Arms may need to be adjusted so as to ensure that they conform to the basic rules of heraldry.
The display of any local or foreign award or honour within a Coat of Arms ceases with the death of the holder of that award or honour.
An applicant may choose to have a completely new Coat of Arms created instead of one based on any already “established” family Arms. In this case the Chief Herald would discuss the applicant’s requirements and make his own suggestions and recommendations.
New creations of impersonal (corporate) Arms
When considering an application for impersonal (Corporate) Arms from any institution such as a club or society the Chief Herald would need to consider:
a. The nature of that institution, so as to ensure that it is non- controversial and generally socially acceptable.
b. The time scale during which that institution has been in existence
c. The number of members that institution possesses.
Already established personal Arms
(i) If it can be proven that certain personal Arms have been in uninterrupted use in Malta for a considerable period of time by the applicant’s ancestors, those Arms would be considered as part of Malta’s intangible cultural heritage and would be registered as they stand (tale quale). This concession applies especially to members of the Maltese nobility, in deference to the unique status of the nobility in the history and culture of the Maltese islands.
(ii) Registration or granting of Arms, do not signify State-recognition of any title of nobility which the bearer of the Arms in question may purport to hold. The State recognises the Arms not any titles which may be appended to it in deference to the 1975 Ġieħ ir-Repubblika Act. Titles of nobility may be mentioned en passant in the Letters Patent or document of registration for historical reasons.
(iii) In the case of a title of Maltese nobility, the right of the applicant to hold those specific Arms as a lineal descent of a former State-recognised title-holder of Maltese nobility would be included, together with the relevant genealogical information and details of the once-State recognised title.
(iv) It may also be necessary to difference the Arms with marks of cadency in the event of different branches of the family applying for the same Coat of Arms.
(v) Any gazetted foreign award, may be included in a Coats of Arms granted by the Office of the Chief Herald to any Maltese citizen. In addition, awards made by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and by the Venerable Order of St. John in the British Realm may also be included.
(vii) Any person who claims a solitary undifferenced shield of Arms from the Abela & Ciantar lists would have to provide rigorous genealogical proofs of such exclusive entitlement based strictly on agnatic primogeniture.
Already established impersonal Arms
Maltese Corporations, e.g., Companies, schools, learned societies, band clubs etc. may have previously devised their own Arms (as opposed to simple logos) and may, sometimes even have registered them as Trademarks purely for copyright purposes. Such Arms would be eligible for registering at the Office of the Chief Herald together with any trademark references duly noted.
Arms held by Local Councils
As these Arms have all been gazetted in the Malta Government Gazette, they would be registered as they stand (tale quale).
Ecclesiastical Heraldry
The Office of the Chief Herald of Arms also grants Arms to Ecclesiastics and religious institutions of any denomination.
Discretion of the Chief Herald
Note should be taken of the following Regulation in the Heraldry and Genealogy Regulations, S.L. 445.07: Reg. 12: Arms may be granted to or registered by an individual or body corporate at the discretion of the Chief Herald

The Malta Government Gazette, No. 20,842, 22 April, 2022.


The changes in the Cultural Heritage Act did not come across purely as a result of the Ombudsman’s recommendations but as a result of detailed discussions at Ministerial and Prime Ministerial level. The Office of the Chief Herald of Malta is currently embedded in a solid legal framework. He is authorized by law to register and create coats of arms in the Republic of Malta. Mentioning in diploma’s of other honours, e.g. awards, titles, knighthoods and academic degrees, is a matter of courtesy, and has no legal consequences. Titles of nobility are not recognized in the Maltese judicial system and cannot be considered a possession, a civil right or an obligation (Philip Bugeja Viani vs Attorney General; see appendix). They are, however, part of Malta’s rich cultural heritage. Ignoring them would be an act of cultural whitewashing.

Because the applicant affirms that all of the information on her/his application form is correct to the best of her/his knowledge, supplying the Chief Herald with false information may constitute a criminal offense.


  • Dr Charles Gauci was born in 1947 in Imtarfa (Malta), and studied at St Aloysius College and University of Malta (MD 1971). He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps and retired from the British  army as Lieutenant-Colonel (1992). He was director of the Chronic Pain Relief Clinic in Whipps Cross University Hospital, London. He is a member of various heraldic associations. Gauci has written extensively and gives lectures on heraldry and history of nobility.



Translation from Maltese to English of the two Court Judgments (2004 and 2009) relating to the title of Baron of Tabria (1728) granted to Isidoro Viani by Grand Master Vilhena.

Judgment (2004)

Informal Copy of Judgment

Courts of Justice 




Hon. Judge 

Joseph Azzopardi

Sitting of the 30th January, 2004

Writ number: 1722/2001/1

Writ Number: 1722/01 JA.

Corinne Ramsay and Christianne Ramsay Pergola.


John Bugeja, Philip, Maryanne, and Julian Bugeja.

The Court;

Having seen the writ filed by the plaintiffs on the 30 October, 2001 whereby they premised:

That by a contract made in the acts of Notary Doctor Jeanette Laferla Saliba of the 14 January 1985, a copy is being attached marked Document A, Joseph John Scicluna Testaferrata Moroni Viani allegedly in the exercise of the power given to him by the proclamation of the Grand Master de Vilhena claimed to have nominated Lilian sive Lillianina Bugeja in the title of Baron of Tabrija and by the same act he claimed to have vacated and renounced the same title competent to him;

That by another act (document B) made on the same day, he received as a loan from John Bugeja the sum of Lm8000 which sum in fact did not have to be repaid because it represented the payment for the aforesaid transfer of title;

That subsequently the same Joseph John Scicluna did by his testament nominate as his heir the plaintiff Christianne Ramsay Pergola and as successor in his title his sister the plaintiff Corinne Ramsay;

That according to the same proclamation of Grand Master de Vilhena (here exhibited and marked Document C) it was only possible for the holder of the title to nominate successors in the title only after his death and not during his lifetime as he claimed to have done in the deed of the 14 January 1985;

That in any case the contract of the 14 January 1985, Document A, containing a testamentary disposition was superceded and its efficacy was removed by the later wills and nominations that the same Joseph John Scicluna was pleased to make;

That the contract of the 14 January, 1985 breaches and runs counter to Maltese public policy because, amongst other matters it claims to be an irrevocable testamentary disposition and also because it refers to a matter which cannot be the subject of a public deed, and is therefore lacking in form and null;

That the said Lillianina Bugeja died and was survived by the defendants as her heirs and successors;

Therefore they are requesting this Honorable Court to say why it should not:

  • declare and decide that, in the light of the circumstances so premised, the act of 14 January 1985, here exhibited and marked Document A, is null and without any effect because it breaches the public principles and policy of Malta and that in any case it was rescinded and revoked by later testamentary dispositions, with costs and ordering the defendant to appear in court to be examined.

Having seen the declaration of the plaintiffs sworn by Corinne Ramsay on the 30 October, 2001 and the list of witnesses;

Having seen the note of pleas of the defendants filed on the 1 February 2002 by which they stated:

1. Preliminarily: (a) that this court does not have any jurisdiction because it is precluded by section 29 (4) of Chapter 251 to consider a claim of invalidity of a contract of nomination of a title of nobility because such an examination would be recognizing or implying the possibility of recognition of the said title;

(b) that the defendant John Bugeja is to be liberated from the demands because he is neither an heir or successor in the title of Lilianina Bugeja Viani; In fact there is no request in regard to the contract Doc B, and he was only party to that contract;

(c) That the plaintiff Christianne Ramsay Pergola has to prove her legal interest because it does not result that she has any interest in the title of nobility in question;

 (d) That although the writ only lists one request, in fact there are two distinct and separate requests, one for the nullity, and the other for the rescission in subordinance.

2. On the merits and without prejudice:

That the request for the declaration that the said contract dated 14 January 1985 (Doc A) is null and without effect and is unfounded in fact and in law because:; (a) Joseph John Scicluna Testaferrata had every right to nominate Lilianina Bugeja Viani in the title of Baron of Tabrija by means of a Notary’s deed made “inter vivos” and this nomination cannot in any way be considered to be a testamentary disposition; (b) the proclamation of the Grand Master de Vilhena does not say anywhere that such nomination may only be made by means of a testament and that it would take effect only after the death of the previous holder, which holder has every right to renounce the title whenever and however he wishes; 

(c) subordinately, in any event, the same Joseph John Scicluna Testaferrata had confirmed the nomination in favour of Lilianina Bugeja Viani of the same title in the first Article of his secret testament dated 14 January 1985 and published by Notary Dr Tonio Spiteri on the 28 November 1995 (copy BV1) which testament or article was not revoked at any time until he died on the 6 June 1995. In fact, the plaintiffs did not exhibit any testament which revokes.

Save further pleas.

Having seen the declaration of the defendants sworn by Philip Bugeja on the 1 February 2002 and the list of witnesses;

Having seen the record of the sitting of the 7 November 2003 whereby the court case was left for judgment on the defendants’ first plea;

Having seen the acts of the process and the written notes of the defendants;


That the Court must decide whether it has jurisdiction to hear the court case because of what is provided in article 29(4) of Chapter 251 of the Laws of Malta which says that no public officer or authority may recognize in any way and may do nothing that means a recognition of a title of nobility;

In effect, the plaintiffs are requesting the nullity of the public contract which took place on the 14 January 1985 in the acts of Notary Jeanette Laferla

Saliba by which contract Joseph John Scicluna Testaferrata Moroni Viani had nominated in the title of Baron of Tabrija Lilianina Bugeja, today deceased, and mother of the defendants;

The plaintiffs are claiming that the said Joseph John Scicluna Testaferrata Moroni Viani did not have the power to do this and effectively stultified the effect of this act by means of his last testamentary dispositions;

The defendants by their pleas are maintaining in effect that if the Court investigates the nullity of the said contract, it would indirectly be recognizing the title of nobility.

The plaintiffs in their written notes are saying that they are only requesting a declaration of nullity of the contract.

One immediately realizes that the plaintiffs’ argument is one which falls in the “petitio principii” or as they say in the English language ‘they are begging the question’. The effect of the declaration requested by the plaintiffs is in effect that the Court decides who is entitled to style himself the Baron of Tabrija. This when the mens legis behind the Chapter 251 is clear. The legislator made it clear that he will not continue recognizing titles of nobility and also wanted that no public authority should take any notice of them. 

Society is just not interested if someone calls himself Baron or Count of wherever he wishes, and certainly this should not concern the Court. The plaintiffs may of they wish call themselves whatever they like without requesting the intervention of the Court. It is clear that the legislator did not want the public bodies to waste their time on such matters.

For these motives, the Court upholds the first plea of the defendants and therefore declares that it has no jurisdiction to decide on the plaintiffs’ request, with costs to be borne by the plaintiffs and liberating the defendants from the court case. 


< Final Judgment >

Judgment (2009)

Informal Copy of Judgment

Courts of Justice 


Constitutional Court

H.H. The Chief Justice


Hon. Judge


Hon. Judge


Sitting of the 20 February 2009

Civil Appeal Number 57/2006/1

Philip Bugeja Viani


Avukat Generali

The Court:


  • This is an appeal, or rather two appeals, from a judgment of the First 

Hall of the Civil Court in its ‘conventional’ competence given on the 10 July 2007, by which that Court denied the requests of the applicant Philip Bugeja Viani, with costs against him. It is said “two appeals” because, surprisingly, there is also a cross appeal by the Attorney General. 

  • By means of an application files on the 8 November 2006 before the First Hall of the Civil Court, Philip Bugeja Viani premised that after the death of his mother Helen sive Liliana Bugeja, who had the nobiliary title of Baroness of Tabrija, he made a request to the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility so that he be recognized as the successor of his mother in the aforesaid title of nobility; This committee appointed a subcommittee to report on his claim, but that subcommittee did not do anything other than await the outcome of a court case in the names “Corinne Ramsey et v. John Bugeja et” which was pending before the First Hall. The applicant continued explaining that in that other case so mentioned, decided on the 30 January 2004, the First Hall upheld his preliminary plea and declared that it “had no jurisdiction to decide on the plaintiffs’ request” and this in view of what is provided in Article 29(4) of Chapter 251 (Law of “Gieh ir-Repubblika”) that no public officer or authority in Malta may in any way recognize any title of nobility. The applicant continued saying in his application that on the 25 July 2005 the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility informed him that his request that he be recognized as successor of his mother in the title of Baron of Tabrija was not being accepted and that instead, on the recommendation of the subcommittee, Corinne Ramsay Scicluna was so recognized. 

The applicant continued saying that he did not agree with the decision of this Committee of Privileges and that “he wanted to impugn by judicial process both the recommendation made by the sub-committee as well as the decision taken by the Committee of Privileges”, but he may not do this because the said article 29(4) precludes “the Courts from considering and deciding causes about disagreements or contestation that may be related to the recognition of a title of nobility..” According to the applicant, this amounts to a violation of Article 6 and 13 of the European Convention, as well as Article 1 of the First Protocol of the said Convention.

Having stated all this, Philip Bugeja Viani requested that court to “give all the necessary remedies, to make such orders and issue such acts and give such directives that it deems equitable so that their (recte: his) fundamental rights be protected, by (1) declaring that Article 29(4) of Chapter 251 of the Laws of Malta violates the right to an effective remedy guaranteed by Article 13 of the European Convention; (2) declares that the applicant has a right to submit to the Maltese Courts for the determination of his civil rights and obligations related to the recognition of any title of nobility (recte: singular); (3) declare moreover that the applicant is being obstructed from the enjoyment of this possession in violation of Article 1 of the First Protocol of Chapter 319 (recte: of the European Convention); and (4) order the payment of fair compensation to the applicant for the breach of his fundamental rights.”

  • The defendant Attorney General, in his answer of the 21 November 2006, made a preliminary plea that the application was null because it was made by the applicant not in his name which is “Bugeja” but as “Bugeja Viani”. He also pleaded preliminarily that none of the invoked Articles – 6, 13 and Article 1 of the First Protocol – were applicable to the case, as well as that the applicant did not have a legal interest to file the court case. On the merits, he said that the allegations and claims are unfounded in fact and at law.

The Appealed judgment: 

  • After exchanging written notes, and after the cause was heard before the first court during the audience of the 25 May 2007, that court, as said, by a judgment of the 10 July 2007 denied the requests of the applicant, with costs against him. That Court reached its decision after it made the following considerations: 

“That it results that the applicant made a request to the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility so that he be recognized as the successor of his mother in the nobiliary title of Baron of Tabrija. This request was denied and the applicant wished that this decision be reviewed by judicial process, however he is submitting that he is precluded from doing so because Maltese legislation, and precisely, article 29)4) of the Gieh ir-Repubblika Act (Chapter 251 of the laws of Malta). He is alleging that this constitutes a violation of his fundamental rights which are guaranteed by article 6 and 13 of the European Convention (Chapter 319 of the Laws of Malta), and Article 1 of the First Protocol.”

“As this Court sees it, the applicant is submitting that he does not have a ‘right to a court’ when, to a certain point, it does not result whether in fact he has such a right. Article 29(4) of Chapter 251 provides that: “It shall be the duty of every public officer or authority, and of every body established or recognized by law and of every member thereof, to refrain from recognizing in any way, and from doing anything which could imply recognition of, any title of nobility or any honour, award, decoration, membership or office which is not recognised in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this article”.

As the defendant says in his reply, this means that the use of the title claimed by the applicant is expressly prohibited by the law “in any document intended for the public authority”, and no officer or public organ may “recognize” such title. However, this does not mean that such title may not be used on documents or occasions which are not public. Article 28 of the same law says that titles of nobility are “not recognized”, but is does not say that they do not exist or that they were abolished. 

The law on Gieh ir-Repubblika did not have the purpose of canceling those titles of nobility, but only to remove all official recognition of the same titles, There is nothing which prevents a person from continuing to use titles of nobility which he enjoys in environments which are social, cultural and others which are not official in the sense of organized or sponsored by the organs of the State. Once this is established, there is nothing to stop members who possess titles of nobility from creating a committee to regulate the succession of those titles. 

It appears, in fact, that this committee was created some time ago, and it does not appear that its function is contrary to law. It is not prohibited for a group of people with a similar purpose to create an association or committee which regulates their purpose, and unless such club is not contrary to law, public order or morality there is nothing against the creation of such a society.

In this case, the committee of privileges of the Maltese Nobility does not appear to be acting contrary to the law or public order. It is the law that titles of nobility are not legally or officially recognized, however, there is nothing wrong for those who claim to have some title of nobility to, even within the limits of their interests, regulate who has the right to bear a particular title instead of another. Once, however, this is done, the committee of that club is obliged not only to act within the terms and according to the club statute, but to follow the principles of natural justice in its deliberations.

It is this court’s understanding that each member of a society which has a structure and a formal statute has a right to be treated “fairly” by the same society, and this means that, in his regard, there should be followed the principles of natural justice. If a member alleges that this did not take place, then he has a right to apply to these courts, so that, without entering into the private matters of such club, it be seen that matters take place “fairly”,

The jurisdiction of the ordinary courts of “review” is not limited to the actiosn of the official administration, but is intended as well to see whether the contracts between parties are executed in good faith and “fairly”. If a group of people create an association with specific rules and with a committee which contemplates to regulate who may form part of that society and who may not, these courts have the function of ensuring that those rules be respected and the committee so created, acts in a way which is “fair”, and in particular, follows the principles of natural justice. 

When a court acts as said, it is exercising its function to ensure that contracts are executed with equity and for that which is contemplated (art. 993 of the Civil Code) and is not in any way “recognizing” officially the status of the member of that club, The purpose of “judicial review” is not for the court to give a stamp of officialdom to the impugned decision, but to ensure that to arrive at such decision, there were followed the principles of natural justice which are inherent to every process. Whether a decision is of an official administrative nature or not, depends on the organ which delivered it and the laws of the country, however whatever may be the nature of such decision, every person who has an interest has a right to insist that the process is a “fair” one.

Now it is true that for “judicial review” to take place, whoever is exercising the action must show his legal interest in the development of the cause, which interest must exist at the beginning of the cause and continue throughout the hearing of the cause. (“Laferla vs Lauri” decided by this Court on the 2 May, 2002). As the Honorable Court of Appeal said in the cause “Goggi vs Mifsud’, decided on the 11 April,1930, although our code does not make any provision which considers the need for an interest, this need may be desumed from article 236, which talks about the right of appeal “by whoever may have an interest”, and from article 960, which considers the intervention in a cause in statu et terminis, in both cases of the Code of Organization and Civil Procedure. That court continued saying “Fu nondimeno sempre ritenuto nella patria gurisprudenza, malgrado il difetto di una precisa disposizione della legge in materia, e come corollario di (queste) due disposizioni, che base e misura di ogni azione guidiziario e` l’interesse in chi la istituisce e in chi la contesta perche` se l’interesse e una condizione sine qua non per il semplice intervento e per l’appello, e` tale con maggior ragione per poter iniziare un giudizio”.

In this context, the interest must be legal in the sense that this interest must be recognized by law and the action is one intended to obtain a remedy protected by the law. 

Because of this requisite, it was decided that the remedies which only go as far as obtaining a simple declaration are not permitted. In the cause “Darmenia vs Borg Oliver noe”, decided by the Honorable Court of Appeal on the 18 February, 1966, it was said “in the system probably followed by our Courts although it is not prohibited for demands to be made to obtain a simple declaration which could be intended for another demand which is definitive or final, even though this is not deducted, the Court must be persuaded that that other remedy may be given; if such consequential remedy is not obtainable from the court, then the declaration is not to be given. See also, “Edrichton Estates Ltd vs Munro Philips & Co Ltd”, decided by this court on the 2 October, 2003, where it is said that in the case of declaratory demands, the Court may take cognizance of them as long as they are intended for another demand which is definitive or final, even if this has still not been deducted in the judicial process (see also “Grech vs Grech”, decided by the Honorable Court of Appeal on the 11 January, 1989).

On the other hand, it was also said” The interest for who makes a cause it is not necessary that it is patrimonial but it may also be moral or abstract, as long as it is of a legal nature, meaning that it must correspond to the injury of a right, and therefore, it is enough, to base such interest even for a simple honorific title.  It isn’t even necessary to have a violation of a right real and proper, but it is enough that such right be threatened.– “Axiaq vs Mizzi”, decided by this Honorable Court on the 13 October, 1952 (Kollez. Vol. XXXVI.11.532). 

The court, in that cause, continued to hear the cause which concerned the simple interpretation of a legacy, and although, it could have been said that it might not have been executable, “it is not fathomable how a judgment which gives that interpretation may be ignored”.

Also interesting is the decision in the cause “Falzon Sant Manduca vs Weale”, decided by the Honorable Court of Appeal on the 9 January, 1959, (Kollez. Vol XVIII.1.1), where it is said that the interest need not be exchangeable in money or economic value. In the cause, “Ganado vs Ezekuttiv tal-Partit Nazzjonalista”, decided by the Honorable Court of Appeal on the 3 September, 1961, it was also decided that “the right of the plaintiff violated by the impugned decision has moral content, and falls in the category of intangible subjective rights – which right the plaintiff has with this action the interest to be affirmed by the judicial authority.”

In this case, the procedure of “review” that may be attempted by the applicant, could lead to proving his right to the title of nobility claimed by him, which although may not have any patrimonial effect, will surely have a moral content, at least amongst the other members of the club. As said the “intangible subjective rights” may also be affirmed by judicial process.

When it has made an examination of this kind, the court is not interesting itself the decision “ut sic”, and nor should it enter into the considerations which that society would have made to arrive at its decision, but the interest of the court is only to ensure that he has been treated “fairly” by his fellow club members.

Every citizen has a right to this minimal protection by the judicial organ, meaning to ensure that the regulations of the statute of the society to which he belongs be followed and that, in any case, there never be ignored the principles of natural justice (see, as a reflection of this, the decision of this court, in the context of the General Workers Union, decided on the 3 August, 2006 after an application in the names “Attard Sultana vs Zarb et”).

The court is emphasizing that with the procedure of “review”, the court is not and should not substitute the discretion of that club or committee with its own. This, however, does not mean that the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts is completely annihilated by the fact that the discretion may be exercised only by the Board. As the Honorable Court of Appeal said in the cause “Eden Leisure Group vs Borg D’ Anastasi”, decided on the 27 Jun, 2003, “Today it is clear that the Civil Court may review the operations of any administrative tribunal, first so as to ensure that the principles of natural justice have been observed, and second to ensure that there is no wrong or incomplete enunciation of the legal hypothesis; and this without attempting in any way to substitute the Board’s discretion with its own.”

This also was observed by this court in the cause “Power Projects Ltd vs Agius”, decided on the 16 June, 2003, which said that in the context of the decisions of the Industrial Tribunal, those decisions may be reviewed if the Tribunal acts ultra vires of the powers given to it. The Tribunal has to also ensure that justice takes place according to the merits of the substance of the cause, and this without prejudice to the rules of natural justice. 

It was also saif that the courts do not have any jurisdiction to reconsider or review the merits of the controversy which was decided by the Tribunal (see also “Falzon vs Grima”, decided by the Honorable Court of Appeal on the 17 April, 1993).

In this context, and within the limits so explained, this court in its ordinary competence, enjoys jurisdiction to examine the operations of the Committee of Privileges of Nobility and this also in the light of the modern tendency that the obligation to observe the principles of natural justice is imposed “upon every one who decides anything” – “Board of Education vs Rice”, decided by the House of Lords in the cause in 1911 and reinforced in the decision of the same House of Lords in the cause “Ridge vs Baldwin”, decided in 1964..

This court is not saying that the title claimed by the applicant is a kind of “possession” that merits protection; this is far away from the Court’s mind. What it is saying is that the right to be treated “fairly” is a civil right which no court may deny. The protected right is not the title of nobility in question, but the right of judicial “review” of the process by which he was denied to be recognized, albeit unofficially but amongst Maltese social strata, as the Baron of Tabrija.

Only this is the civil right that may be invoked by the applicant. He may not expect the State to intervene and decide on who is the baron, count or other grade of nobility. The Maltese State took a political decision to become a Republic, and that, therefore titles of nobility (which are derived from a monarchy) are not to be recognized officially in Malta. The applicant may not, therefore, expect something which the state does not recognize in principle. The applicant may not expect as a civil right, that what the law does not give him. As said by van Dijk and van Hoof, “Theory and Practice of the European Convention on Human Rights” (Third Edition, page 394).“Although for the determination of whether a right or obligation is at stake the domestic legal system concerned has to be taken as a starting point, the Strasbourg case law has made it clear that, as part of the provision of the Convention, the words ‘rights and obligations’ have an autonomous meaning. Thus, the Commission held in the Kaplan Case:

‘These concepts [rights and obligations] are in themselves autonomous to some degree. Thus it is not decisive that a given privilege or interest which

exists in a domestic legal system is not classified or described as a ‘right’ by that system. However in deciding whether it is a ‘right’ for the purpose of Article 6(1), account must be taken of its ‘substantive content and effects’, the object and purpose of the Convention and the national legal systems of other Contracting States.’”

“If, according to this line of interpretation, a certain claim is considered to be a ‘right’, the Court’s case-law requires for the applicability of Article 6 that this right ‘can be said, at least on arguable grounds, to be recognized under domestic law’. The words ‘on arguable grounds’ leave the Commission and Court sufficient ground to make an assessment independently of the arguments advanced by the defendant State on the issue. And the fact that the claim concerned was addressed as an issue in national proceedings constitutes sufficient ground for the ‘arguability’ of the existence of a right. On the other hand, if domestic law expressly excludes the claim concerned the Court takes the position that ‘to this extent’ there can be no arguable right which would make Article 6 applicable” (underlining by this court).

Although the application is a bit vague as to what sort of “judicial examination” is expected by the applicant, it is clear in the opinion of the court that the applicant does not have any right to expect more than what was expressed before in this decision. A Title of nobility ut sic may not be regarded as a “possession” for the purposes of the European Convention. 

One may not forget that the Government, by the law on Gieh ir-Repubblika, neither abolished those titles and, more importantly, nor did it divest the claimer of nobility from the property attached to that title (artikolu 28(2) of Chapter 251). Therefore as said in the aforesaid book by van Dijk and van Hoof, (ibid page 620), “The basic point of departure appears to be the economic value of the right or interest: where State measures do no affect this economic value, no responsibility under Article 1 is engaged”.

In fact the European Court of Human Rights in the cause “Pilar de la Cierva Osorio de Moscoso et vs Spain”, decided on the 28 October, 1999, had clearly observed that “a nobility title cannot, as such, be regarded as amounting to a ‘possession’ within the meaning of that provision”, that is to say the first article of the first protocol of the Convention. 

Therefore, because this court sees, within the limits of that stated before, that the applicant had from the very beginning a “a right to a court” for the judicial examination of the decision made in his regard by the Committee of Privileges of the Nobility of Malta,  it cannot uphold the demand of the applicant that he is being denied a right of access to the courts. As far as he claims more than that, the applicant is not entitled to  it.

For all intents, in the context of the preliminary plea of the defendant regarding the name of the applicant, as the Honorable Court of Appeal had said in the cause “Vella et vs Galea et”, decided on the 23 October, 1991 “Jean or John Mifsud and Jean Missud – are the same person. This means that the same person is described in different ways, but on such person’s identity there is absolutely no reasonable doubt. Now it is just as clear, obvious and without a shadow of doubt that it is persons who acquire rights and have obligations, and the names and surnames are to there to help identify and distinguish one person from another”. (underlining by this court).

The Appeal and Cross Appeal: 

  • From this judgment Philip Bugeja Viani appealed by an application filed by him on the 19 July 2007. Basically, he continued insisting that the article 29(4) of Chapter 251 violates his rights as protected by Articke 6 and 13 of the Convention, as well as Article 1 of the First Protocol of the same Convention. He is insisting that this is the implication of the judgment of the First Hall of the 3 January, 2004 in the names Corinne Ramsay et v. John Bugeja et, mentioned in his initial application. He is also complaining that the in the appealed judgment there is no reference to the judgment of the European Court Golder v. United Kingdom.
  • The Attorney General made a cross appeal. The appeal of the Attorney General is in fact not the “decide” of the judgment of the 10 July 2007, but of the motivations or arguments that took the First Hall to decide how it decided – and this, as we saw, decided by denying the demands of the applicant Philip Bugeja Viani.

Considerations made by this Court: 

  • This Court starts out by saying, without any hesitation whatsoever, that it completely agrees with the conclusion reached by the first court in the appealed judgment. That what was effectively said by the first court – and this is being said in different words because it appears that both the appellant Bugeja Viani as well as the appealed Attorney General misunderstood – was that the title of nobility “ut sic” (and therefore independently of any property right derived from that title, and which remained unprejudiced in view of what is provided in article 28(2) of Chapter 251), once it is not recognized in our legal system (Article 28(1), Chapter 251), it may not be a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of the First Protocol, and neither may it give rise to a contestation regarding  “a civil right or obligation”. For completeness, there is being reproduced below a bit more “in extensor” the decision of the European Court in the case cited by the first court in the appealed judgment, and that is to say that of De la Cierva Osorio de Moscoso and others v. Spain: “The Court reiterates that under its case-law the Article relied upon does no more than enshrine the right of everyone to the peaceful enjoyment of “his” possessions. Consequently, it applies only to a person’s existing possessions and does not guarantee the right to acquire possessions whether on intestacy or through voluntary dispositions (see, mutatis mutandis, the Marckx v. Belgium judgment of 13 June 1979, Series A no. 31, p. 23, § 50; and the Van der Mussele v. Belgium judgment of 23 November 1983, Series A no. 70, p. 23, § 48). “Furthermore, while a legitimate expectation of acquiring property may in certain instances be equated to a “possession” within the meaning of paragraph 1 of Article 1, such an expectation is always dependent on the commitment of a third party; that is the case, for example, with the granting of a commercial operating licence by the authorities (see the Pine Valley Developments Ltd and Others v. Ireland judgment of 29 November 1991, Series A no. 222, p. 23, § 51; and the Tre Traktörer AB v. Sweden judgment of 7 July 1989, Series A no. 159, p. 22, § 55).“The Court considers that a nobiliary title cannot, as such, be regarded as amounting to a “possession” within the meaning of that provision. In general, the same applies to a mere hope of being able to exploit such a title commercially, for example, as a trademark. Since in the instant case the applicants are unable to assert the right to use the nobiliary titles concerned, a fortiori, they cannot claim any legitimate expectation concerning the commercial exploitation of those titles. In these circumstances and in accordance with Article 35 § 3 of the Convention, the Court considers that the applicants’ complaints under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 taken alone and under Article 14 of the Convention taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 must be dismissed as being incompatible ratione materiae with those provisions.”
  • The non-recognition of the said title – and always save what is provided in the said Article 28(2) – also brings as a consequence that the Articles 6(1) and 13 of the Convention are not applicable  – see, of note the decisions of the Court of Strasbourg in the names Wolff Metternich v.Netherlands (18 May 1999) and Bernadotte v. Sweden (3 June 2004). In the latter judgment in particular it is said as follows: “The applicant complained that it was not possible for him

under Swedish law to challenge the current King’s refusal to restore his title of prince. This entailed a violation of his right to a fair hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal under Article 6 of the Convention. In the alternative, he submitted, this state of affairs amounted to a violation of his right to an effective remedy as guaranteed by Article 13. In addition, the applicant alleged that the manner in which his case had been handled amounted to discrimination on grounds of “birth or other status”, in breach of Article 14 taken together with Articles 6, 8 and 13.

“The Government invited the Court to declare inadmissible the complaints under Articles 6 and 13, as being incompatible “ratione materiae”, as well as the complaint under Article 14.

“The Court, for its part, bearing in mind its findings above with respect to Article 8, considers that the dispute in question did not concern a “right” that could arguably be said to be recognised under domestic law or an arguable claim of violation of the Convention. Articles 6 and 13 too were therefore inapplicable and so was Article 14.”

  • The first court, however, explained that when there is a contractual tie brought about by a statute of a committee, club or other body, there is a basis for a “judicial review” simply to see whether the agreed procedure was followed by which certain decisions were to be taken, as well as to assure that there were observed the rules of natural justice. This, and only this, was decided by the Court. And what it decided is correct. The judgment Golder, which is really, as well stated by the appellant, an important one for determining the parameters of Article 6(1) of the Convention, is not relevant to the case being considered today. It is one matter of a judgment which elaborates general principles and another matter of the application of those principles to the concrete case. 

Nor may the appellant raise an argument in his favour based on the judgment of the First Hall of the Civil Court of the 30 January 2004 in the names Corinne Ramsay et v. John Bugeja et. In that cause the plaintiffs demanded that the court declares null and without effect a contract made on the 14 January 1985 by which a person was claiming to, in the exercise of the power given to him by proclamation of the Grand Master de Vilhena  nominating in the title of Baron of Tabrija, another person. The plaintiffs had contested this contract precisely because according to them the proclamation of the Grand Master de Vilhena did not give this power. 

The First Hall simply decided that it had no jurisdiction to decide the plaintiffs’ demand because of the provisions of Article 29(4) of Chapter 251. It does not result – at least from the acts available to this court – whether an appeal was made from that judgment. That what was decided in the judgment Ramsay v. Bugeja is in agreement with that decided by the appealed judgment namely that:-

“[The applicant] may not expect the State to intervene and decide on who is the baron, count or other grade of nobility. The Maltese State took a political decision to become a Republic, and that, therefore titles of nobility (which are derived from a monarchy) are not to be recognized officially in Malta. The applicant may not, therefore, expect something which the state does not recognize in principle.”

  • Therefore the principal appeal is manifestly unfounded.
  • In regard to the cross appeal of the Attorney General, this is simply a frivolous one, because apart from that this court agrees with all the motivations and arguments of the first court, it is difficult for one to understand how one may make an appeal from the “motivation” of the judgment instead of the “decide”.


  • For the premised reasons, denies both the principal appeal with the costs of this principal appeal to be paid by the appellant Philip Bugeja Viani, and also denies the cross appeal, with the costs of this cross appeal to be borne by the Attorney General, and confirms “in toto” the appealed judgment.

< Final Judgment >

Comment on the case

The title of “Barone della Tabria” was conferred by Grand Master Vilhena, by patent of the 11th December 1728, on Isidoro Viani. The title is purely nominal and does not have any property attached to it. In their general observations, the Royal Commissioners observed that most of the titles granted by the Grandmasters were merely honorary and had no relevance on property tenure “although it appears that those titles (granted by the Grand Masters) have derived their different denominations from several feudal lands existing in these islands, this annexation, however, is in most cases purely nominal, for those lands were never in reality conveyed to the grantees, but they remained as they are still Government Property.” The Commissioners also identified the only three exceptions to this purely nominal phenomenon, where tenure of property was a prerequisite namely Bahria, delle Catene, and Senia, the last being a divisible property. See:- ‘Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility’, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.) (See Report Paras. 82).

This title was conferred on Isidoro Viani with power given to him and his descendants of nominating a successor, and in failure of such nomination with automatic transmission to the first born descendant in the primogenial line. The grant is precisely as in the title San Marciano (See:- “Correspondence and Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the claims and grievances of the Maltese Nobility”, May 1878, presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty (C.-2033.) (See Report Paras. 31-32).

Altogether the Grand Masters created six titles which are disposable by nomination, namely Gomerino (Perellos), Budack (Perellos),San Marciano (Vilhena); Tabria (Vilhena), Culeja (Despuig) and Benuarrat (Despuig).

The actual report says the following:

“The fourth title is that of ‘Barone della Tabria’, granted by Grand Master Manoel, by patent, on the 11th December 1728, to the nobleman Isidoro Viani, and to one of his male or female descendents, with power to each holder of the title to name his successor, precisely as in the preceding title ‘barone di San Marciano’ – Tibi Nobili Isidoro Viani et post tui obitum uni ex filiis vel filiabus legitimis et naturalibus ex telegitime procreatis vel procreandis, quem vel quam omni futuro constitutus seu respective constituta, malueritis eligendum vel eligendam. Et in casu tui vel tuorum in infinitu decessus absque ulla nominatione vel elctione successoris in dicto titulo, ex nunc censeatur nominatus et electus primogenitus, nisi erit ad sacros ordines promotus et in religione professus, et in defectu marium, foemina primogenita…”

This title is held by Dr. Giuseppe Testaferrata Viani a lineal descendent of Isidoro Viani, first baron, as appears from documents exhibited by him. He does not however, uninterruptedly descend from a male line, for Barone Isidoro was succeeded in the title by Barone Gio Battista Viani, his son. Barone Gio Battista having left on his death no male issue the title was inherited by his daughter, Anna Viani, who married Mario Testaferrata, the claimant’s great-grandfather. It is for this reason that the real claimant’s family name is Testaferrata and not Viani. But as in the grant it is provided that in default of male issue the title is inheritable by female descendents, the said Dr. Giuseppe, although he descends from the grantee through a female line, is entitled to enjoy the present barony. No person having appeared to dispute his claim, he will be therefore included in the list, under the name of Dr. Giuseppe Testaferrata, “Barone di Tabria” This gentleman claims also the title of “Marchese” as one of the descendents of Mario Testaferrata. This point will be considered in another part of the present Report when we shall inquire into the titles granted by foreign sovereigns.

It is to be remarked that after the Commissioners Report a court case took place between Testaferrata Viani’s nephews ex sorore. It appears that Testaferrata Viani decided to nominate his younger nephew to succeed him in the barony. The elder nephew claimed that the nomination was invalid. However the court did not enter the merits of the validity of the nomination because it held that at that time, the only person who could exercise such an action was the parties aunt because she was older than their predeceased mother and therefore the primogenita. The court thus concluded that unless the action was exercised by Isidoro Viani’s primogenialdescendant, the nomination is to take effect.

Atteso che, inoltre lo stesso Gran Maestro, dopo di avere disposto dell’ annua consegna di un fucile che doveva essere fatta a lui e a tutti i suoi successori nel Magistero, si i expresso nei termini seguenti: Qua stante recognitione tam Te Nobilem Isidorum Viani quam tuos in hujusmodi Baroniae titulu successors ex te descendentes ab omni alio onere eximus et liberamus. Il Gran Maestro adunque contemplr tutii i discendenti dal concessionario, come persone capaci a posedere la detta Baronia, e le quali egli esentava da qualunque uleteriore prestazioneannua. Or se i vero, come i verissimo che quella Baronia pur essere posseduta da tutti i discendenti di esso Isidoro, come i altresi vero checiascun successore per regola generale ha da esere eletto e nominato, egli i sufficiente che siffatto successore per potere essere valildamentenominato appartenga alla discendenza di detto Isidoro, quantunque talora non sia discendente dal nominante. Atteso che, quindi qualunquerestrizione del diritto di nominare accordato ad ogni possessore della Baronia a favor dei discendenti die so Isidoro Viani, sarebbeinconciliabile coi termini liberi della concessione del Principe, secondo la quale la sola volontdel possessore doveva regolare chi dovessegodere il detto Titolo di Nobilt, tra i discendenti del detto concessionario, senza veruna distinzione di grado, di et` e talora di sesso di talidiscendenti elilgibili: salvo il provvedimento dato pel caso di eventuale mancanza di nomina. Atteso che, stante quanto precede in riguardoal detto Titolo Baronale, non i necessario ni utile di esaminare se sia anche di ostacolo alle proposte istanze dell’ attore, la esistenza di dettaNobile Orade Testaferrata Viani supposta la legittima succeditrice nel Titolo suddetta, come primogenita nella discendenza di Isidoro Viani.Poichi il primogenito o la primogenita avrebbe diritto a succedere nel detto titolo nel difetto di nomina da parte del possessore, ovveroqualora la fatta nomina fosse riconoscuta inefficace; e la nomina dall’ ultimo possesore fatta in persona del convenuto relativamente al dettoTitolo Baronale, ha, per le ragioni che precedono, da produrre il suo effetto.

Today it is no longer possible to effect any nomination. In the Gieh ir-Repubblika Act (ACT XXIX of 1975), the law dictates that it is “the duty of every public officer or authority, and of every body established or recognised by law and of every member thereof, to refrain from recognising in any way, and from doing anything which could imply recognition of, any title of nobility”. A similar duty is imposed in regard to other foreign honours which have not obtained approval by the local authorities.



Source file: Napoleonic nobility

Sources: Jean TulardNapoléon et la noblesse d’Empire. Bibliothèque napoléonienne. Paris, Tallandier, 1979; and

Jean Tulard (born 22 December 1933, Paris) is a French academic and historian, specialising in the history of cinema, of the French Consulate and the First French Empire. He is a member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques since 1994. Tulard was one of the experts involved in verifying the heart believed to be that of Louis XVII of France, actually the Dauphin of France as the heir apparent to the throne, who died in 1795 in imprisonment. Scientists using DNA samples from Queen Anne of Romania, and her brother Andre de Bourbon-Parme, maternal relatives of Louis XVII, and from a strand of Marie-Antoinette’s hair, proved the young royal’s identity. Historic evidence as to the location of the heart over the decades was also considered. In a summary of the investigation in 2004, Tulard wrote: “This heart is … almost certainly that of Louis XVII. We can never be 100 per cent sure but this is about as sure as it gets“. In April 2010, he became Commander of the Légion d’honneur.


First Empire under Napoleon I (18 May 1804 – 11 April 1814; 20 March – 22 June 1815)    

List of Honours granted in the First Empire.

1. Signes Interieurs

Princes de L’Empire – Chef d’Azure a’ l’aigle d’oro, les ailes etendues empietant un foundre du meme.

1. Avout d’Auerstaedt, Louis-Nicolas, created Duc d’Auerstaedt 2 July 1808, Prince d’Eckmulh 25 November 1809, (1770 Auxonne – 1823 Paris, married with issue.

2. Bacciochi, Felix-Pascal, created Prince de Lucques et de Piombino 2 June 1805, Prince de Massa-Carrara et de la Garfagna 30 march 1806, married with issue.

3. Bonaparte, Marie-Anne-Elisa, created Princesse de Lucques et de Piombino 19 march 1805, Grand Duchesse de Toscane 3 March 1809, married to Bacciochi.

Doorgaan met het lezen van “Source file: Napoleonic nobility”

First Empire under Napoleon I (18 May 1804 – 11 April 1814; 20 March – 22 June 1815)    

List of Honours granted in the First Empire.

1. Signes Interieurs

Princes de L’Empire – Chef d’Azure a’ l’aigle d’oro, les ailes etendues empietant un foundre du meme.

1. Avout d’Auerstaedt, Louis-Nicolas, created Duc d’Auerstaedt 2 July 1808, Prince d’Eckmulh 25 November 1809, (1770 Auxonne – 1823 Paris, married with issue.

2. Bacciochi, Felix-Pascal, created Prince de Lucques et de Piombino 2 June 1805, Prince de Massa-Carrara et de la Garfagna 30 march 1806, married with issue.

3. Bonaparte, Marie-Anne-Elisa, created Princesse de Lucques et de Piombino 19 march 1805, Grand Duchesse de Toscane 3 March 1809, married to Bacciochi.

Doorgaan met het lezen van “Source file: Napoleonic nobility”

Legal opinion: the legitimacy of the claims of The Ó Súilleabháin Mór


On 11 October 2014, Dr. Gary Brian O’Sullivan (California, 1955) was elected as the Hereditary Chief of the Name of the Ó Súilleabháin Clan of Munster by the derbhfine (male descendants of a common great-grandfather) at Dunderry Castle (1) in the village of Gravier, near Nevers, France (source: minutes of the meeting). He is since then designated as GarraíEoin Brian Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith:

Dr. Ó Súilleabháin is a certified, direct, male, descendant of MeicRaith, the Chief of the Ó Súilleabháin Clan c. 1400 AD. 


On October 11, 2014, Dr. Ó Súilleabháin was elected as the Hereditary Chief of the Name of the Ó Súilleabháin Clann of Munster by the derbhfine of the clan, upon the abdication of his older brother, Donal Seosamh Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith III, (Hereditary Chief of the Name of the Ó Súilleabháin Clann of Munster 2004 – 2014).

This article addresses the question to what extent the claims of Dr. O’Sullivan are, from a historical and legal perspective, legitimate.

I start by addressing the nature of ancient Irish society, since this puts the older genealogy of the O’Sullivan family in a broader perspective. Then, I explain the main characteristics of Irish family history in order to understand the difficulties that Irish genealogists face. Subsequently, I describe Dr. O’Sullivan’s line of succession, which is the core of the study.

The relations between the Spanish and Irish nobility need to be mentioned in order to understand the relevance of the registration of the coat of arms of Dr. O’Sullivan by Don Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera y Gila, Marques de la Floresta, as Chronicler of Arms for Castile and León.

The aforementioned paragraphs form the basis for the conclusions of this study.

Ancient Irish society

In Gaelic Ireland, society was organized around traditional kinship groups. The terms “tribe”, “clan” and “sept” refer to such groups. Due to a lack of historical sources, it is impossible to exactly define the nature of these entities. As Irish nationalist politician and lawyer Laurence Ginnell (1852-1923) put it: “Knowledge of the real nature of the Ireland’s clan or tribal system would be a master-key to much connected with ancient Ireland that is now mysterious, and would remove many stumbling-blocks, if not all.” He explains:

Tuath, Cinel, and Clann, were the words used interchangeably to denote what we now call indifferently a clan or tribe. It resembled the Gens of ancient Rome in that all the members of it claimed descent from a remote fine, and from a common ancestor as head of that fine, and were therefore kinsfolk, were entitled severally to various rights dependent on the degree of relationship and other facts, and formed collectively a state, political and proprietorial, with a distinct municipal individuality and life, with a legislature of its own and an army in gremio; but in these two latter respects slightly subject to, and forming a member of, a superior state consisting of a federation of similar communities. Each clan was composed of a number of septs, and each sept was composed of a number of fines. Kinship was the web and bond of society throughout the whole clan; and all lesser rights whatsoever were subject to those of the clan.

Theoretically, it was a true kinship of blood, but in practice it may have been to some extent one of absorption or adoption. Strangers settling in the district, conducting themselves well, and intermarrying with the clan, were after a few generations indistinguishable from it. A chief or a flaith also occasionally wished to confer on a stranger the dignity and advantages of clanship—practically meaning citizenship—and when he had obtained the sanction of the clan assemblies, the stranger was adopted in the presence of the assembled clan by public proclamation.

In the course of time the name Tuath came to be applied to the district occupied by a clan, and Cinel (pronounced Kinnel) was then the word used to denote the clan itself. Fine (pronounced Finna) was also sometimes used in the broad sense of clan, and this was not strictly incorrect since every clan originated in a small fine; but the word fine properly meant one of a number of sub-organisms of which the clan consisted. It was a miniature clan, and in fact the germ of a clan and the real social and legal unit.

It was considerably more comprehensive than our word family. It has been compared with the Roman familia, but it was more comprehensive than even that. When complete it consisted of the Flaith-fine (also called Ceann-fine), and sixteen other male members, old members not ceasing to belong to it until sufficient new members had been born or adopted into it, upon which event happening the old were in rotation thrust out to the sept, and perhaps began to form new fines. Women, children, and servants did not enter into this computation. The flaith-fine, or paterfamilias, was the head and most important member of the group, in some sense its guardian and protector, and was the only member in full possession and free exercise of all the rights of citizenship. All the members had certain distinct and well-recognised rights, and, if of full age, were sui juris and mutually liable to and for each other; but so long as they remained in the fine, the immediate exercise of some of their rights was vested in the flaith-fine, who should act for them or in whose name they should act. “No person who is under protection is qualified to sue.”

There are various conflicting theories as to the persons of whom and the manner in which this organism was composed, and even as to whether it was in fact ever composed or ever existed except as a legal fiction; and no explanation of it or conjecture about it is free from difficulty. Having regard, however, to the frequent mention of it, and of the “seventeen men” of whom it consisted, by various legal and other writers at times far apart and in various connections, it is quite impossible to believe that it was fictitious; but in practice it may not often have attained or long retained that perfect organisation which the law contemplated; and the law itself may have contemplated different things at different times. Whether the members of it became members on their birth, or on attaining manhood and acquiring property; whether they included or represented all within the fifth degree of relationship, or all within the seventeenth degree, are matters in dispute.

Laurence Ginnell, The Brehon Laws: A Legal Handbook. Husain Press, 2013.

Medieval genealogical sources

Oil painting: ‘Donal O’Sullivan Beare’, 1859 (copy of 17th century original), portrait, signed by Pedro Micó. Ref: UCCHS.1914.001 © University College Cork. O’Sullivan Beare is standing, dressed in Spanish armour, wearing the Order of Saint James of the Sword, a plumed helmet is on a table by his side. In his right hand he holds a truncheon, and his left rests on the hilt of his sword. Legend: ‘O’Sullevanus Bearrus Bearrae et Beantriae Comes Aetatis suae LIII Christi Vero Domini MDCXIII anno’ (translation: O’Sullivan Beare, Count of Beare and Bantry, age 53, In the year of the true Christ 1613). In the upper-right hand corner is a coat of arms, with four quarters bearing a bear, deer, an arm holding a sword and three lions passant. Surmounting the shield is a helmet with a rayed coronet and the motto, ‘Gaudet Patientia Duris’ (translation: Patience rejoices in adversity). Artist: Pedro Micó, Salamanca, Spain (c.1800-c.1863).  The original of this painting is now located at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth: The artist of the original oil painting is unknown but was probably a court artist of Philip III of Spain. Inscription: ‘Pedro Micó pinto en Salamanca, año 1859’ [translation: Pedro Micó painted in Salamanca, 1859].
Date: 1859 (copy of 17th century original)

The Book of Ballymote (Irish: Leabhar Bhaile an Mhóta) is a 14th century Irish manuscript, beautifully written on vellum. The original Book was presented to the Royal Irish Academy in 1785. Many scholars have studied its content and form. Its size and extent, the range of material it contains and its beautiful illumination, show that this manuscript is an important work of late medieval learning. Its 251 folios contain, among many other works, texts such as the Book of Invasions (Irish: Lebor Gabála Érenn), the Book of Rights (Irish: Lebor na Cert), the dinnshenchas of Ireland (Irish: Dindshenchas Érenn), the prose ‘Lore of women‘ (Irish: Banshenchas Érenn), the Fitness of Names (Irish: Cóir Anmann), and extensive genealogical material, including the pedigrees of some of the most prominent Irish groups and families. These lineages are highly detailed, certainly when compared with the genealogies of the Merovingian king and Empower Charlemagne (source: lecture The Book of Ballymote: a genealogical treasure trove; range and purpose, Academy House, 6 February 2015 by Donnchadh Ó Corráin, MRIA, emeritus Professor of Medieval History at University College Cork).

The (Great) Book of Leacan (Irish: Leabhar (Mór) Leacáin), named after Castle Forbes, Leacan, where it was composed between 1397 and 1418, is one of the greatest and most authentic works in Irish history. It contains a large amount of genealogical material, especially relating to the families with which the Mac Firbisigh, with their family castle, in the parish of Laeckan, TireraghCounty Sligo, were associated. The manuscript is voluminous and written on vellum. The original Book of Leacan is preserved at the Royal Irish Academy, and a copy is stored in the Royal Library at Windsor.

Both aforementioned works contain copies of the Book of Munster (Irish: An Leabhar Muimhneach). The manuscript was written in 1709 by Diarmuid Ó Conchubhair (Dermod Connor) for Muiris Ó Sobháin (Maurice Sovane or Savage) in the latter’s house at Ballineedora, parish Ballymacelligot, barony of Trughanacmy, County Kerry. The work is principally compiled from the ancient record; the Psalter of Cashel, containing notices of the History of Ireland from the earliest period to the end of the fourteenth century; in particular, relating to the history of Munster. It gives an account of its kings, chiefs, clans, and principal families, and includes important information on the ancient Irish laws, arts, agriculture, commerce, and customs.

The source of the first generations is the forementioned Book of Munster. Copies of the Book of Munster are inserted in the Books of Leacan and Ballymote. The dates of births are estimates, based on the fact that in medieval Irish genealogies three generations invariably equal almost precisely 100 years (source: Professor Nollaig Ó Muraíle).

Modern Irish genealogy

Modern Irish family history can also be challenging, because of (a combination of) three main reasons:

  • Administrative districts in Ireland have changed over time. It is therefore required to distinguish between a parish, townland, civil registration district, barony and county;
  • Most of Ireland’s 19th-century census records (population reports) were destroyed in the 1922 fire at the Public Records Office of Ireland. Only fragments survive;
  • In Ireland, non-Catholic marriages were registered from 1845. Catholic marriages begin in 1864. Ireland’s parish records are the main source of information before 1864.

Ireland was one of the first places in Europe to adopt hereditary surnames (since circa the early 900s). Medieval Irish society was organized around the extended family, that determined a person’s daily life. This continues to be an essential part of today’s Irish society. There are certain interesting anomalies associated with Irish first names. Traditionally, most Irish families named their children as follows:

  • The eldest son is often named after his paternal grandfather;
  • The second son is often named after his maternal grandfather;
  • The third son is often named after his father;
  • The fourth son is often named after his father’s oldest brother;
  • There was also a similar, but less closely followed, pattern for naming Irish girls.

These circumstances require specific expertise when conducting Irish genealogical research.


In recent times, some irregularities regarding the genealogies of ancient Irish families have been exposed:

One area which caused the writer particular concern was that of spurious ‘Clans’ and bogus ‘Chiefs’. In the first place, as Edward MacLysaght and other authorities were at pains to point out, Ireland never had a clan system like that of Scotland, and MacLysaght advised that the term ‘sept’ is more appropriate in the Irish context. (1) In the second place, the thorough destruction by the English of Gaelic political structures in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, allied with the loss of so many Irish records over the centuries, mean that only a handful of families can truly trace their lineages back to a duly inaugurated Chief. Nevertheless, Government and tourism interests required that Irish ‘Clan’ organisations should be brought into being, and that new ‘Chiefs’ should be found. Thus although it regularly pleaded lack of resources adequate to perform basic genealogical tasks, in 1989 the State’s Genealogical Office/Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland found space in its new premises in Kildare Street, Dublin, for the organisation known as the ‘Clans of Ireland’. It would be fair to say that most Irish genealogists acquiesced in the face of this tourism-driven ‘clansterism’, or indeed actively supported it. (2) For his pains in opposing the march of pseudo-genealogy and pseudo-heraldry and attempting to assert some kind of standards, the writer found himself isolated from most of his professional colleagues and effectively barred from contract work in the Genealogical Office from 1993.

Sean Murphy, Irish Historical Mysteries: The MacCarthy Mór Hoax, Centre for Irish Genealogical and Historical Studies

Under these circumstances, it is important to investigate claims, like Dr. O’Sullivan’s, very carefully.

Genealogy of The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

The first nine generations are based on the aforementioned Book of Munster. The subsequent generations are based on research by Riobard O’Dwyer, a genealogical expert on the history of the Béarra peninsula, County Cork, Ireland. O’Dwyer has recently completed the Annals of Beara; a three-volume, 2,000-plus-page monumental set in which all the parish records of the Beara peninsula are recorded.

I. MeicRaith (Cragh), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór

MeiccRaith, mic Dúnlaing in The Book of Munster. He was the last Ó Súilleabháin Mór to enjoy the rights of primogeniture. MeicRaith had a younger brother, Ruairi, from whom descend the cadet “Ó Súilleabháin Mór Sept.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

II. Dónal (* ca. 1394 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Domhnaill, mic MeicRaith in The Book of Munster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

III. Conor (* ca. 1430 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Conchubhair, mic Domhnaill in The Book of Munster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

IV. Eoin (* ca. 1466 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Eoghain, mic Conchubhair in The Book of Muster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

V. Buodach (* ca. 1502 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Buadhaigh, mic Eoghain in The Book of Munster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

VI. Donogh (* ca. 1538 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Diarmada, mic Buadhaigh in the Book of Munster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

VII. Conor (* ca. 1574 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Conchubhair, mic Diarmada in the Book of Munster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

VIII. Eoin (* ca. 1610 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Eoghain, mic Conchubhair in the Book of Munster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

IX. Dermot (c. 1646 -), The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith

Diaraid mac Eoghain in The Book of Munster.

Ó Donnchadha, Tadhg (ed.), An Leabhar Muimhneach maraon le suim aguisíní (The Book of Munster). Produced for the Irish Manuscripts Commission / Baile Átha Cliath: Foillseacháin Rialtais. 1940, p. 219.

X. Eoin Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (* ca. 1682-), the Ó Súilleabháin Mór 

Documentation for Eoin (Owen / John) (John Greath) Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born c. 1682) was found in Account Books B & C of the Bantry House Collection of the University College Cork (Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh), B. Estate Administration, 1. Rentals, 1.1 Ledgers, 440, 441; 1740 – 1775. He is also recorded in O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey in a letter from Thomas O’Connor of Killarney, dated August 29, 1841, listing the genealogical line of the Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith sept.

Bantry House Collection of the University College

Upon the death of ‘The Ó Súilleabháin Mór’ (MhicRuairi) in Tomies (County Kerry), on 16 April 1754, the official title, ‘The Ó Súilleabháin Mór’, reverted to the descendants of MeicRaith:

Another branch of the O’Sullivan clan resided at the castle of Cappanacushy [sic]. They were often called the Mac Crah, as being descendants of a chief called Mac Crah. They were, it appears, the senior branch of the O’Sullivan race, but had been deprived of the chieftanship through the workings of the law of Tanistry. The younger brother of Mac Crah had succeeded him as chief and had managed to secure the succession of his own sons, excluding his nephews, who had the best right to the chieftanship. The Slíocht Mac Crah had to content themselves with an estate of twenty ploughlands, and the reversionary right to the chieftanship, if the ruling house should become extinct.”

William F.T. Butler, Gleanings from Irish History, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1925, p. 47. A history of the ancient Kingdom of Desmond (the western districts of Cork and the southern half of Kerry), the clans of the area, with a special emphasis on the MacCarthy family, who ruled the kingdom of South Munster.

XI. Dermot Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (* ca. 1718)

Documentation for Dermot (Darby a Sheáin) Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born c. 1718) was also found in Account Book C of the Bantry House Collection. He is also recorded in O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey in a letter from Thomas O’Connor of Killarney, dated August 29, 1841, listing the genealogical line of the Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith sept.

Account Book C of the Bantry House Collection and O’Donovan’s Ordnance Survey

XII. Eoin (Owen / John), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór (* ca. 1749)

Documentation for Eoin/Owen (John Darby) Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born c. 1749) was found in the 1827 Tithe List for Doire Chonaire where he is listed as John Darby (Eoin, son of Dermot).

1827 Tithe List for Doire Chonaire

XIII. Séamus Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (* ca. 1770)

Documentation for Séamus (James Crath) Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born c.1770) was also found in the 1827 Tithe List for Doire Chonaire where he is listed as James Crath. James had two sons, Muircheartach [Murty Cragh (I)] and Dermot (Jerem), the two progenitors of the Ó Súilleabháin Murts and Ó Súilleabháin Jers of Doire Chonaire.

Tithe List for Doire Chonaire

XIV. Muircheartach Mór I (Murtagh Cragh), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór (* ca. 1791)

Documentation for Muircheartach Mór [Murty Cragh (I)] Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born c. 1791) was also found in the 1827 Tithe List for Doire Chonaire where he is listed as Murty Cragh. He is an adult property owner, according to this document. His estimated birth year was 1791, making him about 36 years old at this time. He is also registered in the Adrigole Parish Records as the father of John McGrath, who was baptized in Doire Chonaire on March 16, 1834. Murty Cragh (I) was about 43 years old when John was born. The wife of Murty Cragh (I) is identified as Ellen Shanahan in the Adrigole Parish Records. Murty Cragh (I) was about 25 years old when he sired his oldest son, Muircheartach Mór [Mort Crath (II)] in 1816. Murty Cragh (I) is also listed in Griffith’s Valuation for Kilcasken Parish (1848 – 1864).

Tithe List for Doire Chonaire, Adrigole Parish Records and Griffith’s Valuation for Kilcasken Parish.

XV. Muircheartach Mór II (Murtagh Cragh), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór (* 1816-1882)

Documentation for Muircheartach Mór [Mort Crath (II)] Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born 1816) was also found in the Adrigole Parish Records where his marriage to Mary Crath was recorded on May 4, 1841. He is listed as Mort Crath. He died on October 5, 1882 at the age of 66. He had suffered with stomach cancer for about one year prior to his death. His daughter-in-law, Catherine Sullivan (nee Daly) was present at his death. From this Kilcasken Parish Record obituary, we know that Mort Crath (II) was born in 1816. He is also listed in Griffith’s Valuation for Kilcasken Parish (1848 – 1864).

Tithe List for Doire Chonaire, Adrigole Parish Record and Griffith’s Valuation for Kilcasken Paris.

XVI. Muircheartach Mór Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith III (* 1857-1940)

Documentation for Muircheartach Mór [Mortimor James (III)] Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born 1857) is found in the Kilcasken Parish Records. His birth is registered as July 6, 1857. He married Catherine Daly. He died on February 7, 1940. His youngest son Liam (Willie) was present at his death. Mortimor James (III) had three older siblings, all of whom died in childhood. Mary was born in 1847, known as “Black ‘47” since it was the worst year of An Gorta Mhóir (the Great Hunger). John was born in 1850 and Michael was born in 1854, which were still bleak years for the people of Doire Chonaire.

Kilcasken Parish Records

XVII. Donal Seosamh I (Daniel Joseph), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór (1889 – 1954)

Documentation for Donal Seosamh [Daniel Joseph (I)] Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born 1889) is found in the Kilcasken Parish Records. His birth is registered in the Civil Records as March 30, 1889 but Mr. O’Dwyer is certain that this date is wrong. His correct birthdate is February 9, 1889. He was baptized on February 10, 1889 by the Very Reverend Father John Mangan P.P., No. 498 in the Baptismal Book. His Godparents were Daniel Sullivan and Johanna Crowley. Daniel Joseph (I) had two older brothers: John, who died without issue in a lumberjack camp in Washington State, U.S.A., purportedly during an “axe fight”; and Patrick, whose youngest son, John, had a son named Ray, who had a son named Brady. Both Ray and Brady serve on the Derbhfine of the clan.

Kilcasken Parish Record, Civil Records

XVIII. Donal Seosamh II (Daniel Joseph), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór (1920 – 2004)

Documentation for Donal Seosamh [Daniel Joseph (II)] Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (born 1920) is an American birth certificate. Birth Record # 983 filed in Manhattan, New York City, New York, January 6, 1921 documenting the live birth of Daniel Joseph (II) on December 28, 1920.

American birth certificate


  1. Donal Seosamh III (Daniel Joseph), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór (1949 – 2014)
  2. Dr. Garraí Eoin Brian Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith (Gary), The Ó Súilleabháin Mór (1955 -)

Irish nobility

From an Irish perspective, historical nobility was not restricted to titled nobility. It could descend by inheritance, or be obtained by creation (O’Donnell 2019, p. 322).

In 1169, Henry II, king of England and duke of Normandy (1133-1189), was allowed by Pope Adrian IV (ca. 1100-1159) to initiate an expedition of barons from South Wales to establish Anglo-Norman supremacy in Leinster. In the following centuries, English authority seldom extended beyond the capital, Dublin, a narrow corridor of land around Dublin and the eastern seaboard, and a few ports strung along the coast.

By devising the 1541 Act for the Kingly Title (which was subsequently accorded by the Dublin parliament), the English monarch tried to gain full control over Ireland. The Act formally declared Ireland to be a distinct kingdom in its own right. It made all inhabitants of Ireland subjects of the English monarch, but separate from the kingdom of England.

The Treaty of Limerick of 3 October 1691, ended the war in Ireland among William III of England (known as William of Orange) and the Irish followers of his Father in Law, King James II, and their French allies. By the time of the Treaty, most Gaelic nobles had lost the power in their (former) domains.

Gaelic aristocrats were, when they submitted to the authority of the English monarch, formally recognised as members of the peerage. Since then, the character of the Irish nobility changed:

When we think about aristocratic titles we have to go back to 1541. Because prior to that period you have in Ireland English nobles who happen to live in Ireland, so the Earls of Kildare, Earls of Desmond, so on and so forth. And then you also have Gaelic nobles.

And these people have rather different titles. So if you are a Gaelic noble, you’re known as the name of your family. So you are the O’Neill or the O’Brien.

So in 1541 when Ireland becomes a kingdom, this is the first revolutionary moment, because Gaelic nobles are then allowed to transfer their traditional titles into English style titles. So we see a number of examples of this. So The O’Neill becomes the Earl of Tyrone. The O’Brien becomes the Earl of Thomond and so on and so forth.

Now when we get to James I, we see an attempt to really recreate the Irish nobility. And there are a number of reasons for this. And it works out in a number of different ways. And one of the reasons for this is that we have to remember how important hierarchy is to this society.

Elizabeth is incredibly stingy with her nobility. So when titles die out she doesn’t renew them. She doesn’t reward people who’ve served her well with a new title.

There’s a real push to try to get the luster of the nobility brought back. And James I does this and everybody knows this. So when he comes from Scotland there’s a problem of integrating the Scottish and the English nobility. But there’s also the issue of what to do with the Irish nobility.

So one of things that he does is he attempts to make people happy at court by creating new titles. You have plantation land in Munster, than in Ulster. And the King can actually use that land and attach it to titles, and then give it to the highest bidder.

And his favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, is the one who oversees this market in Irish titles. So you see a creation of basically a new Irish nobility made out of people who are willing to pay the price.

Know the purpose for the creation of Irish titles of nobility between 1541, when Henry VIII of England made himself king of Ireland and during the reign of James I. Video on

In the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Constitution precludes the State from conferring titles of nobility, and prevents citizens from accepting titles of nobility or honour – except with the prior approval of the government. Existing holders of aristocratic titles continue to use them, but they are not recognised by the Irish government. While some representatives of clans and families had obtained “courtesy recognition” as Chiefs of the Name from the Chief Herald of Ireland, this practice was discontinued by 2003. The Attorney General stated that such recognitions were unconstitutional and without basis in law. In Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, certain titles are still used and awarded.

Currently, the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland continues to exercise jurisdiction over the Peerage of Ireland. The matter is different in the Republic of Ireland. Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland states:

ARTICLE 40 1 All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law. This shall not be held to mean that the State shall not in its enactments have due regard to differences of capacity, physical and moral, and of social function.

2 1° Titles of nobility shall not be conferred by the State. 2° No title of nobility or of honour may be accepted by any citizen except with the prior approval of the Government.


Irish statute book
Dr. O’Sullivan is a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. He was educated at Creighton University and Rutgers Medical College (now Robert Wood Johnson Medical School). He successfully completed postgraduate studies at Harvard Medical School; Johns Hopkins Medical School; and the University of South Carolina. After establishing a successful career as a gynaecological surgeon, Dr. O’Sullivan dedicated twenty years of his life finding, collecting, reading, and noting all the extant material relating to the history and culture of the Ó Súilleabháin clan. He published his discoveries and conclusions in The Oak and Serpent (2007) and A History of the O’Sullivan Clan (2007). There is a striking physical resemblance between Dr. O’Sullivan and his 17th-century forefather; Donal O’Sullivan Beare (see above).

The term “title of nobility or of honour” in Article 40.2.2° is interpreted as an award that entitles the recipient to use a prefix, such as “Sir” or “Lord”, before a name. An award that provides for the use of letters or marks of distinction after the name, such as “OBE” or “MBE”, is not regarded as a title of nobility or of honour in this context. In case of foreign awards, it is the normal protocol for a foreign government that wishes to make the award to an Irish citizen to inform the Government. Such notifications are considered on a case by case basis to see if they are subject to Article 40.2.2° of the Constitution. The vast majority of these notifications are of a routine nature and in the absence of any constitutional requirement that they be brought to the Government are dealt with at the official level. (Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Cowen, Dáil Éireann Debate, 2 March 2004).

The question arises whether Dr. O’Sullivan can be designated as a member of the Gaelic nobility. The Gaelic nobility consists of those who are a descendent in the male line of any historical grade of a king or who qualified under the rules of tanistry.

The main title of the clan was: “The O’Sullivan Mór”. The title “O’Sullivan” means “Of the House of Sullivan”. This identifies the bearer of the title as a descendant of the Eóganachta kings of Ireland. My conclusion is that – based on the family lineage – Dr. O’Sullivan belongs to the ancient Gaelic nobility. Although since 1943, courtesy recognition as Chiefs of the Name could be obtained from the Irish government, this practice ceased in 2003. The status of the title is that of a courtesy title. It has no legal significance, but is used in the context of tradition and culture.

Relations between the Irish and Spanish nobility

The first known relations between Ireland and Spain developed in both nations were through stories about Celtic relations between the two people, noted in the 11th Century AD Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland):

§24. Four ships’ companies strong came the Gaedil to Spain: in every ship fourteen wedded couples and seven unwed hirelings. Brath, a ship’s company. Ucce and Occe, two ships’ companies: [Two brethren were they, the sons of Allot s. Nenual s. Nemed s. Allot s. Ogamain], Mantan [s. Caicher the druid s. Ercha s. (Coemthecht)] a ship’s company. So they broke three battles after going into Spain: a battle against the Tuscans, a battle against the Langobardi, and a battle against the Barchu. But there came a plague upon them, and four and twenty of their number died, including Occe and Ucce. Out of the two ships none escaped, save twice five men, including En s. Occe and Un s. Ucce. 

Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions), The Book of Leinster Redaction

The Lebor Gabála Érenn created a legendary Biblical origin story for the Irish people that was comparable to that of the Israelites. It is a pseudo-historical collection of poetry and prose narrative. The Lebor Gabála describes the history of Ireland from the Biblical Flood narrative to the Middle Ages. The work is not an accurate account of ancient Irish history, but combines elements of Christian narrative with surviving threads of oral history and Irish mythology.

In April 1529, the first formal diplomatic contact between the Irish and Spanish nobility took place. In that year, the Spanish ambassador of King Charles V of Spain, Don Gonzalez Fernandez, stepped ashore in Dingle on the south-west coast on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, in the territory of the Earls of Desmond, where he met with James FitzGerald (abt. 1480-1529), 10th Earl of Desmond (Wills, James. Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished Irishmen from the Earliest Times to the Present Period Arranged in Chronological Order, and Embodying a History of Ireland in the Lives of Irishmen. MacGregor, Polson, 1847, pp. 452-3). The two men signed an agreement, known as the Treaty of Dingle.

The Earl himself is from 30 to 40 years old, and is rather above the middle height. He keeps better justice throughout his dominions than any other chief in Ireland. Robbers and homicides find no mercy, and are executed out of hand. His people are in high order and discipline. They are armed with short bows and swords. The Earl’s guard are in a mail from neck to heel, and carry halberds. He has also a number of horses, some of whom know how to break a lance. They all ride admirably, without saddle or stirrup.

Report by Charles V’s ambassador Gonzalo Fernández, who visited Ireland in April 1529, cited in: James Froude, History of England, from the Fall of Wolsey to the death of Elizabeth. 12 vols. London, 1862-70.

The treaty had a serious positive impact on the lives of many Irish exiles and émigrés, as it provided a legal and constitutional basis for the rights of citizenship and other privileges in Habsburg Spain, Habsburg Austria and Habsburg Netherlands from the 16th to the early 20th centuries (see also: Hiram Morgan, The establishment of the Irish-Spanish relationship, in Eduardo Peduelo Martin & Julia Rodriguez de Diego, eds, Los Irlandeses y la Monarquia Hispanica (1529-1800): vinculos in espacio y tiempo. Madrid, 2013).

From 1554 until 1558, King Philip II of Spain (1527 – 1598), also known as Philip the Prudent, was jure uxoris (by right of his wife) King of England and Ireland from his marriage to Queen Mary I in 1554 until her death in 1558. The presence of a significant Irish community in Spain dates back to the 1560s. The void left by the evictions since 1609 of the Moriscos (Christian descendants of Spain’s Muslim population) created opportunities for the Irish immigrants. The first wave of immigrants occupied influential positions in both the Church and the Spanish armies.

A new era in relations between Spain and Ireland began in the early seventeenth century, when Philip III (1598-1621) had the opportunity to incorporate the island into the monarchy, as the majority of the Irish nobles proffered their support to him and recognized him as the ‘King of Ireland’. The King duly dispatched an expeditionary force of 4,000 troops to the south of Ireland, leading to the famous battle of Kinsale of 1602, in which the Catholic army was defeated by an English force.

This loss did not harm the links between Spain and Ireland. On the contrary, the Irish immigrant community in Iberia dramatically increased in size and significance as the Habsburg government welcomed Irish nobles who, like true Spaniards, had pledged themselves as loyal subjects of the King. In this context, numerous exiled nobles were enlisted in the Spanish military orders and obtained Spanish noble titles.

The Irish migration to the Spanish empire was an ongoing, complex process that took place from 17th-century Habsburg Spain to 18th-century Bourbon Spain, and from Europe to the New World. The Irish played a key role in the army, commerce, medicine, literary life and 18th-century Spanish Enlightenment.

In this context, it is perfectly in order for Dr. O’Sullivan to register (15 December 2014, no. 62/2014 and 13 December 2017, no. 44/2017) his coat of arms with Don Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera y Gila, Marques de la Floresta, as an alternative to registration with the Office of the Chief Herald.


The personal coat of arms of Garraí Eoin Brian Ó Súilleabháin, The Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith, Count of Knockgraffon (title issued by the head of the Royal House of Georgia), with the collar of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia. Artwork by Carlos Navarro, who created the official coat of arms of Philip VI, King of Spain.

The legitimacy of Dr. O’Sullivan’s claims requires sufficient openness and honesty about evidence, arguments, and research design to level the discursive playing field. Dr. O’Sullivan made his sources, analysis, methods, and interpretive choices underlying their claims visible in a way that allows others to evaluate them. The research process is therefore sufficiently transparent.

The primary and secondary sources of Dr. O’Sullivan’s research should be placed in their historical context. The reliability of the family relations in the Book of Munster for example, cannot be compared to modern DNA-based matches. In the era that the Book of Munster covers, its content and reliability were the gold standard. The internationally accepted principle of non-retroactivity applies, which means that laws do not apply retroactively. This means that it is unfair to judge the reliability of the family trees recorded in the Book by nowadays standards. The genealogical relations, as recorded in the book, should be considered sufficient. The same is true for the more recent sources. This means that the material evidence is sufficiently coherent and reliable to support Dr. O’Sullivan’s conclusions.

Another factor that should be taken into account when judging Dr. O’Sullivan’s claims, is that much crucial evidence has been destroyed. This is witnessed by Count O’Connell in his book: Last Colonel of the Irish Brigade (p. 53):

The last O’Sullivan Mor died at Tomies in 1762. He left an illegitimate son, whose grandson is a fisherman at Killarney. This grandson told me that when a gossoon some thirty years ago, he went to see his grandfather lying dead at Tomies. He saw not only his departed ancestor, but also a great pile of old papers, “maybe three feet high, mostly written on skins in Latin and Irish; and faith I was in dread they might fall into the hands of the Mahonys or some other new people in the country, and they might get more of the old O’Sullivan estates, so I burned them all myself”.

Bianconi, O. C. M. A. (1982). The last colonel of the Irish Brigade: Count O’Connell and Old Irish life at home and abroad, 1745-1833. Filmed by the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service.

Dr. O’Sullivan’s research is thorough and complete, and he has commissioned independent experts to review his claims. It is important, that there are no indications that contradict Dr. O’Sullivan’s publications. The refusal of the Office of the Chief Herald to grant or confirm Dr. O’Sullivan’s coat of arms cannot be seen as such, since the Herald’s jurisdiction is limited to researching, granting and confirming coats of arms. The Herald has no jurisdiction regarding succession to nobiliary titles or territorial designations. Apart from that, no jurisdiction is in force that discourages people from designing and using a coat of arms, without the interference of the Herald. In view of the foregoing, Dr. O’Sullivan’s claims are legitimate.


  1. One branch of the O’Sullivan MacCragh sept of Cappanacush Castle acquired Dunderry Castle in the village of Gravier, near Nevers, France. It remains the family home of this sept and serves as the international headquarters of the O’Sullivan MacCragh Clan. This is in line with many noble families of Ireland who settled in Catholic France after losing their estates in Ireland: O’Connor: Chateau du Bignon-Mirabeau; O’Mahony: Chateau de Pont Bellanger; O’Kelly Farrell: Chateau La Soriniere; Walsh: Chateau de Serrant; Hennessy: Chateau de St. Brice; Phelans: Chateau Phelan-Segur; O’Byrne: Chateau La Houringue; Lynch: Chateau Lynch-Bages; MacCarthy Reagh: Chateau St. Gery; MacMahon-O’Sullivan Beara: Chateau Sully-sur-Loire; O’Sullivan MacCragh: Chateau du Gravier (Dunderry Castle). In addition to the nobles, there was in the seventeenth century also a large immigration of Irish soldiers to the continent romantically known as the Flight of the Wild Geese; the departure of the Irish Jacobite army under the command of Patrick Sarsfield, Earl of Lucan, from Ireland to France, as agreed in the Treaty of Limerick on 3 October 1691. These men formed the various regiments of the Irish Brigades. Variations of Irish surnames can still be found throughout France as a result of this exodus.


O’Sullivan, Gary. The Oak and Serpent The Blood Book of the Ó Súilleabháin MhicRaith Sept. Lulu 2021.

Wills, James. Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished Irishmen from the Earliest Times to the Present Period Arranged in Chronological Order, and Embodying a History of Ireland in the Lives of Irishmen. MacGregor, Polson, 1847.

O’Donnell, Francis Martin. Irish Nobility and Armigerous Families, chapter in Actas – Il Coloquio Internacional Sobre La Nobleza (2nd International Colloquium on Nobility, Madrid 20-21 October 2017), Real Asociación de Hidalgos de España, Madrid 2019 (paperback, ISBN 978-84-948410-5-7).

Ginnell, Laurence. The Brehon Laws: A Legal Handbook. Husain Press, 2013.

Ohlmeyer, Jane H. Making Ireland English: The Irish Aristocracy in the Seventeenth Century. Yale University Press, 2017.

Bradshaw, Brendan. The Irish Constitutional Revolution of the Sixteenth Century. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

O’Higgins P., The Treaty of Limerick 1691. In: Alexandrowicz C.H. (eds) Studies in the History of the Law of Nations. Springer, Dordrecht, 1970.

Schwartz, Stuart B. “The Voyage of the Vassals: Royal Power, Noble Obligations, and Merchant Capital before the Portuguese Restoration of Independence, 1624-1640.” The American Historical Review, vol. 96, no. 3, [Oxford University Press, American Historical Association], 1991, pp. 735–62,

Morales, Oscar Recio. Ireland and the Spanish Empire, 1600-1825. Four Courts, 2010.

Boekrecensie | Wapenspreuken van Nederlandse geslachten

In de heraldiek verwoorden wapenspreuken (ook motto’s genoemd) vaak op kernachtige wijze de ideologie van de familie. Wapenspreuken moeten worden onderscheiden van leuzen. De wapenspreuk wordt op een bandelier of lint onder het wapen geplaatst. Een leus wordt boven het familiewapen of op de rand van de wapentent geplaatst.

In Nederland bestond nog geen naslagwerk waarin de wapenspreuken van geslachten en families systematisch waren opgenomen. De bekende Nederlandse historicus en heraldicus C.E.G. ten Houte de Lange heeft hier verandering in gebracht. In zijn laatste boek, Wapenspreuken van Nederlandse geslachten, worden op systematische en overzichtelijke wijze zo’n 430 wapens en motto’s beschreven van families die in Nederland tot de adel of het patriciaat worden gerekend. Aan het boek hebben ook Alle Diderik de Jonge (voorzitter van Stichting Het Blauwe Boekje, uitgever van Nederland’s Patriciaat) en Jan Spoelder (classicus) een belangrijke bijdrage geleverd. Beide heren hebben zelf reeds een aantal indrukwekkende publicaties op hun naam staan.

Ten Houte de Lange et alia zijn uitgegaan van de wapenspreuken van de Nederlandse adel sinds 1813 en van de Nederlandse patriciaatsfamilies. De genealogieën van deze families zijn gepubliceerd in Nederland’s Adelsboek, Nederland’s Patriciaat, Stam en wapenboek van aanzienlijke Nederlandsche familiën en Repertorium familiewapens van bekende Nederlandse geslachten. De auteurs gaan in hun werk in op de aard van de wapenspreuken en op de bronnen waaraan deze zijn ontleend. Daarnaast onderzoeken zij in hoeverre een wapenspreuk een toespeling op de familienaam e/of het familiewapen maakt. Tenslotte wordt nagegaan welke families een gelijkluidende wapenspreuk voeren en welke wapenspreuken een vergelijkbare versie in andere talen hebben. De uitgave is mooi vormgegeven en overzichtelijk opgezet. Het werk vormt een belangrijke bijdrage aan de ontwikkeling van de Nederlandse heraldiek.

In het boek van Ten Houte de Lange et alia zijn de wapenspreuken op alfabetische volgorde vermeld met een afbeelding van het betreffende familiewapen, de familienaam en een korte verwijzing naar een van de genealogieën. Een fragment uit Wapenspreuken van Nederlandse geslachten is hier opgenomen. Via de link hieronder kan het werk worden besteld.

Christoph E.G. ten Houte de Lange ; Alle Diderik de Jonge ; Jan Spoelder | Wapenspreuken van Nederlandse geslachten | Taal: Nederlands | ISBN 9789462584631 | Bindwijze Hardback | Aantal pagina’s 192.

Undeserved royal honours in The Netherlands

During state visits, it is common for heads of state to exchange national honours. The guests are invited by the foreign country, which acts as the official host for the duration of the state visit. An exchange of honours took place during the state visit of the Queen to the United Arab Emirates and Oman in November 2010:

British State Visit to Abu Dhabi and Oman, 2010

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were in the midst of a State Visit to Abu Dhabi and Oman on this day in 2010, their last State Visit to the Middle East, three decades after their monumental Tour of the Gulf States

The Tour started in Abu Dhabi, one of the seven Emirates of the United Arab Emirates, where notable events included a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and a formal luncheon with Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan that was followed by an exchange of honours, at which the Queen (in the Order of the Garter) received the Order of Zayed, and members of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family received the Order of the Bath and the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George., 25 November 2018

This article examines the tradition of exchanging honours in a political context and compares this tradition to the conventional requirements for the granting of official honours. The article focuses on The Netherlands, but it is reasonable to assume that its findings are applicable to many countries across Europe.

The honours system in The Netherlands

VIDEO CLIP NOS Journaal of 8 October 1994 – Heading a conservative Dutch government from 1982 to 1994, Lubbers’ policies were in step with his counterparts in Washington and London, President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as he trimmed back the Dutch welfare state, persuaded powerful labor unions to rein in their demands and ushered in years of growth.

Official personal honours are divided into orders of chivalry and orders awarded for services rendered to the Royal House. The King is Grand Master of the chivalric orders.

Article 111 of the Constitution of The Netherlands stipulates that national honours can be created by act of parliament only. The only Dutch civilian orders of chivalry, created by act of parliament are the Order of the Lion of The Netherlands and the Order of Orange-Nassau.

These honours are conferred on persons who have rendered outstanding service to Dutch society. Candidates are nominated via the mayor of the municipality where they reside. Foreigners are nominated via the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Case study: well-deserved awards

The Order of the Lion of the Netherlands is the oldest and highest civilian order of chivalry in The Netherlands. The Order of the Netherlands Lion has been primarily used to recognise merit in the arts, science, sport and literature. The second order of chivalry, the Order of Orange-Nassau, is awarded for longstanding meritorious service to society, the State or the Royal House:

To continue on from that idea of respect being so important in society, this brings us to another position that you’ve held since 2014, chairman of the Civil Honours Advisory Commission. To many this might sound formal and ceremonial, but it is an important institution that bestows recognition on as many people as possible who have made an outstanding contribution to Dutch society. How do you perceive this formal and ceremonial image?

Everyone is familiar with the birthday honours list, or ‘lintjesregen’ as we call it in Dutch. The vast majority of people are rightly proud if a royal honour is conferred on them or a family member. The basic principle is that for someone to qualify for an honour they must be of impeccable character. It is, after all, a royal honour bestowed by the king. It is something special. The commission advises the minister. There are of course those honours that can be awarded without discussion, but there are also matters that need to be considered, including the ‘grade’ at which the honour should be awarded. Every two weeks the Advisory Commission, along with the chancellor of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood, meet to discuss these matters. As I mentioned, we advise the minister, and our role is to protect the integrity of the system and its proceedings.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer | PSOW Blog, Interview with Professor Jaap G. de Hoop Scheffer, former Secretary-General of NATO, Guest Blogger – Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The following examples show the extent of merit required to be awarded the Order of the Netherlands Lion and the Order of Orange-Nassau.

  • Hendrik Johannes “Johan” Cruijff (1947 – 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d’Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and one of the greatest football managers. BBC broadcaster and former England striker Gary Lineker, regarded Cruyff as Europe’s best ever player. Upon hearing of the death of Cruijff, former UEFA president Michel Platini said: “Today football has lost one of its best ever players and ambassadors. I am very sad because Johan was my childhood hero, my idol and my friend.”. Cruijff was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau (10 April 2002).
  • Jelle Zijlstra (1918 – 2001) was a Dutch politician and economist who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 22 November 1966 until 5 April 1967. He was chief of the Dutch Central Bank serving from 1 May 1967 until 1 January 1982. Zijlstra was granted the honorary title of Minister of State on 30 April 1983 and continued to comment on political affairs as a statesman until his death. His legacy as a Minister in the 1950s and ’60s and later as President of the Central Bank continues to this-day. Zijlstra was awarded the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Netherlands Lion (18 November 1981); and Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau (27 April 1967).
  • Andreas Antonius Maria “Dries” van Agt (1931-) is a Dutch politician, diplomat and jurist who served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 19 December 1977 until 4 November 1982. Following his retirement, Van Agt continued to be active in the public sector and worked as an advocate, lobbyist and activist for several non-profit organisations. He is currently advisor for the International Forum for Justice and Peace. Van Agt was awarded the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands (9 December 1982).
  • Maximilianus “Max” van der Stoel (1924 – 2011) was a Dutch politician, diplomat and activist who served as High Commissioner on National Minorities of the OSCE from 1 January 1993 until 1 July 2001. From 1973 to 1977 and 1981 to 1982 he was the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs. Van der Stoel was granted the honorary title of Minister of State on 17 May 1991 and continued to comment on political affairs until his death. Van der Stoel was a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion Netherlands (5 December 1966) and a Grand Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands (9 September 1982).
  • Rudolphus Franciscus Marie “Ruud” Lubbers (1939 – 2018) was a Dutch politician and businessman who served as Prime Minister of The Netherlands from 4 November 1982 to 22 August 1994, and as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1 January 2001 until 20 February 2005. Lubbers was granted the honorary title of Minister of State on 31 January 1995. He is both the youngest Prime Minister of the Netherlands at 43 years, and the longest-serving with over 11 years, and is consistently ranked both by scholars and the public as one of the best post-war Prime Ministers. Lubbers was awarded the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Netherlands Lion Netherlands (8 October 1994) (see: Financial Times).

Case study: undeserving recipients

In diplomatic circles, it is customary to award high-ranking Dutch awards to foreign diplomats:

Do you see the exchange of honours during a state visit as a way of strengthening the bond between two countries and showing respect for one another?

Definitely, the exchange of honours plays an important role during state visits. The ‘high grades’ that are often awarded are sometimes criticized, but people should remember that this is where the idea of ‘reciprocity’ comes into play, which is extremely important in international diplomacy. When country x uses the occasion of a state visit to present the equivalent of a Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau to someone in the Dutch entourage, then reciprocity requires that the Netherlands does the same. There are those who say that the level of the award should be reduced slightly, and some countries do that; some countries are ready to discuss it, but there needs to be a clear understanding. However, reciprocity remains the key principle.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer | PSOW Blog, Interview with Professor Jaap G. de Hoop Scheffer, former Secretary-General of NATO, Guest Blogger – Tuesday, June 28, 2016

De Hoop Scheffer’s comments are incorrect. It is an insult to the Dutch people to let reciprocity become the main consideration for awarding high-ranking Dutch awards to useless foreign diplomats and politicians. A few examples of undeserved high-ranking Dutch awards are listed below, but there are many more cases.

  • All foreign ambassadors in The Netherlands receive the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau at the end of their term. Between May 2019 and March 2020 (11 months) Dutch police recorded 12.971 traffic offences of which 37 were severe traffic offences, committed by about 10.000 diplomats (source: Kamerbrief over verkeersveiligheid en medewerkers die in Nederland immuniteit genieten, 10 July 2020). This is apart from about 20 criminal offences per year, committed by diplomats (source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Russian and Chinese diplomats are notorious offenders but there are many more countries that misbehave in The Netherlands. Colombia once recalled a diplomat because he had links with the drugs trade. The diplomats remain out of the range of the justice system because they enjoy diplomatic immunity. In some cases, the ministry asked for the immunity to be lifted. Statistics show that diplomats are often delinquents. They should be banned from receiving any official awards.
  • Elena María Isabel Dominica de Silos de Borbón y de Grecia (1963-) is the first child and elder daughter of King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Sofía of Spain, and third in the line of succession to the Spanish throne. She has a younger sister, Cristina, and a younger brother, King Felipe VI. Infante Elena has done nothing significant for the Dutch people, but was nonetheless awarded the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
  • Hassanal Bolkiah (1946-) is the 29th and current sultan and Prime Minister of Brunei. He is one of the few absolute monarchs in the world. The sultan has been ranked among the wealthiest individuals in the world. In 2008, Forbes estimated the sultan’s net worth at around EUR 20 billion. Scandals associated with Bolkiah include the Shannon Marketic Incident (pre-1998), involving sex abuse and drugs), the Amedeo crisis (1983-1998, involving financial fraud of around USD 40 billion); Anti-LGBT and death by stoning legislation (2019) and the Car collection controversy (involving a financial crisis due to overspending). In 2013, Bolkiah was awarded the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of the Netherlands Lion, although he made no contribution to Dutch society.
  • Bert Jozef Herman Vic Anciaux (1959) is a Belgian politician and Vooruit faction leader in the Belgian Senate. He served as Minister for Culture, Youth and Sport in the Flemish Government from 2004 until 2009, he was also Minister for relations with the Brussels-Capital Region and the Brussels Parliament. Without any serious contributions to The Netherlands, Anciaux was awarded the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau (2008).
  • Armand De Decker (1948 – 2019) was a Belgian politician and member of the French-speaking liberal party Mouvement Réformateur (MR). In 2018, De Decker was indicted for influence-peddling as part of the wide-ranging “Kazakhgate” probe into allegations of corruption in 2011 linked to a trade agreement between France and Kazakhstan. The case led to charges against several people in France and raids on the offices of European aviation giant Airbus (source: Without any serious contributions to The Netherlands, De Decker was awarded the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
  • Sven Otto Julius Littorin (1966-) is a former Swedish politician and architect of major structural reforms in his country. On 7 July 2010, Littorin announced his immediate resignation. The day before, he been confronted by a reporter for Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet whether it was true or not that he had purchased sex. Littorin denied the allegations, but nevertheless resigned from the government. His official reaction was the harshness of the media against him and his children, as well as “for private reasons”, following divorce and a custody battle over his children (source: In 2009, Littorin was awarded the Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau, without having contributed anything of significance to the Dutch people.


Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau (Dutch: Orde van Oranje-Nassau); a civil and military Dutch order of chivalry founded on 4 April 1892 by the Queen regent Emma, acting on behalf of her under-age daughter Queen Wilhelmina (Photo:

Official statistics show, that in The Netherlands, diplomats generally have a low standard of ethics. However, they are systematically awarded the highest honours, The Netherlands can give. All parting ambassadors in The Netherlands receive the Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Orange-Nassau. This practice is an insult to the men and women who built up our country, like for example Olympic gold medalists, who receive the lowest rank (knighthood) in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. It is also insulting to the Dutch people that heads of state and other officials receive the Order as a matter of political courtesy, without any compensation. It is disgraceful that 99% of all foreign holders of the highest ranks in the Dutch honour system have obtained their honours based on political considerations only. The highest rank of the Dutch orders of chivalry has thus become a cheap giveaway. Foreigners who do not contribute to Dutch society are issued the highest honours but Dutch residents who make serious sacrifices, receive the lower ranks.

There is a good alternative to deal with this matter: the already existing Order of the Crown. This award is conferred on ‘foreign nationals who have rendered meritorious service to Us or Our House’. It is divided into five classes: Grand Cross, Grand Cross of Honour with Plaque, Grand Cross of Honour, Cross of Honour with Rosette and Cross of Honour. Although some adjustments to the statutes might be necessary, the Order of the Crown can be awarded as a courtesy gift to foreign diplomats and the like. It should replace the conferring of the Order of the Netherlands Lion and the Order of Orange-Nassau to foreign diplomats and politicians. This would stop the regular insults inflicted on the Dutch people, by issuing the country’s state orders to diplomats and politicians who – even in the most deserving cases – have invariably made no worthy contribution to The Netherlands. Often, the opposite is true.

Appendix A

Vaststelling begroting Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken 2020


Vergaderjaar 2019-2020

Nr. 40

Aan de Voorzitter van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal

Den Haag, 12 november 2019

In de antwoorden op de vragen van de leden Sjoerdsma en Sneller van 20 juni 2019 (Aanhangsel Handelingen II 2018/19, nr. 3117) heb ik toegezegd een evaluatie van decoratie uitwisseling bij staatsbezoeken uit te laten voeren. Hierbij ontvangt u de resultaten van deze interne evaluatie. Doelstelling van de evaluatie is een appreciatie te geven van het huidige functioneren van decoratie uitwisseling bij staatsbezoeken en te bekijken of aanpassingen aan de huidige praktijk wenselijk zijn.

Staatsbezoeken hebben in het diplomatieke verkeer tussen landen een bijzondere functie en waarde. De praktijk van uitwisseling van onderscheidingen bij staatsbezoeken kan hier -in voorkomende gevallen- deel van uitmaken. Dit onderscheidt zich van de overige delen van het decoratiestelsel in de zin dat het niet gaat om beoordeling van de merites van een persoon, maar om het uitdrukken van wederzijds respect en het versterken en bekrachtigen van de goede relaties tussen twee landen. Het Kapittel voor de Civiele Orden geeft daarom ook geen advies over voorstellen tot decoratieverlening bij staatsbezoeken. De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken neemt als politiek verantwoordelijke Minister het definitieve besluit over decoratie uitwisseling. Hier spelen internationaal gebruik, onderlinge verhoudingen, verwachtingspatronen en gevoeligheden een bijzondere rol.

Het besluit om al dan niet over te gaan tot uitwisseling van decoraties tijdens staatsbezoeken wordt voorafgegaan door een zorgvuldige afweging door het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken in overleg met het Ministerie van Algemene Zaken en vertegenwoordigers van het Koninklijk Huis over de opportuniteit van een bezoek op het allerhoogste niveau. Het besluit over een eventueel staatsbezoek wordt gemaakt op basis van politieke (inclusief o.m. vraagstukken van goed bestuur, mensenrechten en internationaal recht), diplomatieke en economische argumenten, waarbij tevens rekening wordt gehouden met een zekere regionale spreiding, aandacht voor buurlanden, economische relevantie, relaties met andere monarchieën en de bilaterale relatie. Indien een staatsbezoek opportuun wordt geacht op basis van deze criteria, volgt hieruit dat er geen principiële bezwaren zijn tegen het uitwisselen van koninklijke onderscheidingen met het betreffende land als uiting van wederzijds respect.

Het uitwisselen van decoraties is zeker geen automatisme. Er is geen staande praktijk van het standaard uitreiken van decoraties bij staatsbezoeken. Belangrijk om hierbij voor ogen te houden is dat uitwisseling tussen twee landen plaatsvindt ter versterking van de bilaterale relaties en niet op basis van merites van individuele personen. Centrale uitgangspunten bij de besluitvorming omtrent decoratie-uitwisseling bij staatsbezoeken zijn, naast de hierboven genoemde zorgvuldigheid in de afweging van de opportuniteit van een staatsbezoek op zich:

  1. Geen automatisme: per staatsbezoek en per land wordt bekeken of uitwisseling van decoraties toegevoegde waarde heeft voor de bilaterale betrekkingen en voor de uitstraling van het bezoek.
  2. Reciprociteit: zowel het ontvangende als het gevende land moeten een systeem van decoratie uitwisseling hebben en er dient een goede balans te zijn in de decoraties over en weer.
  3. Soberheid, vooral waar het gaat om de aantallen uit te wisselen decoraties.

Op basis van bovenstaande uitgangspunten zijn de afgelopen vijf jaar bij sommige staatsbezoeken in het geheel geen decoraties uitgewisseld (Zuid-Korea, Canada, China, Australië, Nieuw-Zeeland, Ierland, Singapore en India), zijn bij een aantal andere alleen op het niveau van staatshoofden decoraties uitgewisseld (Portugal, Argentinië, Verenigd Koninkrijk, en Kaapverdië) en bij de rest (Japan, Polen, Denemarken, Frankrijk, België, Italië, Vaticaanstad, Luxemburg, Estland, Letland en Litouwen) is soberheid in de aantallen betracht.

De werkwijze die door andere EU-lidstaten wordt gehanteerd voor decoraties bij staatsbezoeken verschilt weinig van de Nederlandse werkwijze. Navraag bij onder meer het VK en Duitsland leert dat ook bij hen bij staatsbezoeken uitwisseling geen automatisme is en dat reciprociteit, soberheid, zorgvuldigheid en politieke opportuniteit ook daar belangrijke uitgangspunten zijn.

Volgens de Nederlandse wetgeving vervalt een onderscheiding alleen als de gedecoreerde persoon onherroepelijk is veroordeeld tot een gevangenisstraf van minimaal één jaar. Dit is geregeld in artikel 12, lid 2 van de Wet instelling van de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw en in artikel 11, lid 2 van de Wet instelling van de Orde van Oranje-Nassau. Na het vervallen van de onderscheiding wordt de onderscheiding opgevraagd. Dit is nog nooit gebeurd ten aanzien van onderscheidingen uitgewisseld bij staatsbezoeken. In mijn antwoorden op de vragen van de leden Sjoerdsma en Sneller van 20 juni 2019 (Aanhangsel Handelingen II 2018/19, nr. 3117) heb ik al aangegeven dat het verruimen van intrekkingsgronden van onderscheidingen niet zal bijdragen aan een betere inhoudelijke discussie met het betrokken land over het respecteren van het internationaal recht en zodoende niet betekenisvol is.

In de praktijk worden de hierboven genoemde centrale uitgangspunten van het systeem van decoratie uitwisseling zorgvuldig gehanteerd en bieden deze voldoende aanknopingspunten om per staatsbezoek een weloverwogen en voor dat land passende keuze te maken waar het gaat om uitwisseling van decoraties. Deze praktijk voorziet in de nodige flexibiliteit om per geval een zorgvuldige afweging te kunnen maken van wat in het belang is van de bilaterale relaties met het andere land. Ook in de toekomst zullen deze centrale uitgangspunten leidend blijven, juist in het belang van het aanzien en de maatschappelijke waardering van Koninklijke onderscheidingen. Graag wil ik het belang benadrukken van het feit dat decoratieverlening tijdens staatsbezoeken, op basis van de Nederlandse normen en waarden, als logisch wordt ervaren.

De Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken,
S.A. Blok

Appendix B

The following is an interesting quote by Mr. Matthew Palmer, who is a veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service. While on the Secretary of State’s policy-planning staff, Palmer helped design and implement the Kimberley Process for certifying African diamonds as “conflict free.”. It is too interesting not to mention.

We [the US diplomats] cherry-pick our facts, omit the inconvenient from our narratives and manipulate language without mercy to make our point. 

Matthew Palmer, The Dishonest Diplomat: How a Critical Profession Got a Bad Rap, Time, 23 July 2014

“Royal Patrons” of Orders of Knighthood: do’s and don’ts

Most Orders of Knighthood are formulated as charities with or without a national outlook, and often – though not always – regulated within the territory they were founded in. This is in line with the spirit of their ancient and original predecessors, that also focused on protecting the vulnerable. In many cases a person of royal descent is attracted as a patron to give the Order more cachet. This article provides recommendations regarding these Royal Patrons. In a case study, the article focuses on the Orléans obedience of the Order of Saint Lazarus, although more branches of this international Order of Knighthood exist, each recognising their own Grand Master.

In a 2015 BBC News article, Professor Catherina Pharoah, Co-Director of the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy, at Cass Business School at City University, London, states that royal patronage changes the public perception of a charity:

“It’s an endorsement that their work is reputable and high quality,” she says, adding that royal patrons are highly sought-after.”

 “The support of the royal princes for services and ex-services charities has been hugely important. Those areas were very much seen as a legacy of the past, but they’ve brought a new awareness to it and made it a more immediate cause.

“It was like when William and Kate chose charitable causes as part of their wedding celebrations, they chimed in with the mood of the moment.”

Vanessa Barford, Why do charities want a royal patron?, BBC News, 5 January 2012

Recent research

However, recent research concludes that royal patronages provide no discernible financial benefits to charities:

We found that charities should not seek or retain Royal patronages expecting that they will help much. 

74% of charities with Royal patrons did not get any public engagements with them last year. We could not find any evidence that Royal patrons increase a charity’s revenue (there were no other outcomes that we could analyse), nor that Royalty increases generosity more broadly. Giving Evidence takes no view on the value  of the Royal family generally. The findings are summarised in this Twitter thread.

We investigated this mindful that some donors help charities much less than they think they do. Some help a lot; some create so much work that dealing with them consumes the entire donation, meaning that their net contribution is nil; and some are even worse, creating a net drain. (Having been a charity CEO myself, I wrote an entire book for donors, about how charities really function and how donors can help them and avoid hindering them.) Equally, some well-intentioned programmes run by charities are great, some achieve nothing, and some are counter-productive and harmful.

Royal patronages can create costs for charities. For example, The Telegraph newspaper claimed that the Outward Bound Trust flew Prince Andrew, its then-patron, to New York to attend a fundraising event.

Charities often seem to think that a Royal patron will visit them, or enable events at palaces which they can use to attract press coverage or donors. In fact, most UK charities with Royal patrons did not get a single public engagement with their Royal patron last year: 74% of them got none. Only 1% of charities with Royal patrons got more than one public engagement with them last year. {In this video, it transpires that Kate hasn’t visited one of her patronee charities for eight years.} Some got many more, but they are mainly charities set up by the Royals. We found that same pattern when we analysed a three year period, 2016-19. Charities set up by the Royals are 2% of the patronee charities but last year got 36% of the Royals’ public engagements with patronee charities. (Later, Prince William took over two patronages from the Queen and Prince Philip. One of those charities had had one official engagement from their Royal patron in the last ten years: the other had had none in ten years. Data here.)

Charities cite various benefits of Royal patronages e.g., on staff morale, on beneficiaries. We do not deny these. But we are trying to do science, so needed reliable and comparable data about the large number of charities that we needed to analyse. The sole such data are revenue, so we used that. The potential to raise a charity’s revenue appears to among the Palace’s criteria for selecting charities.

Just by looking at graphs (see below) of the revenue over time of the patronee charities versus that of comparable charities it is looks as though revenue is not affected when a Royal patronage starts.

We also looked in much more complicated ways. We used several sophisticated analytical methods: econometric regressions using various combinations of comparator groups and outcome variables. None convincingly found an effect.

In the videos below, we explain what we researched, why, how, and what we found. We had three research questions: what are Royal patronages; which charities have them; and what difference do they make?

Charities seem to matter to the Royal family. ‘Charities and patronages’ is the first permanent item on the Royal website below an article about the Monarch.

As well as finding no evidence that Royals bring revenue to their patronee charities, we also found no reason that donors should assume that a charity with a Royal patronage outperforms its peers. Take air ambulances. The UK has 21 air ambulance charities, each serving a different ‘patch’. The ones with senior Royal patrons are: Cornwall (Camilla: Duchess of Cornwall), London (William: who lives in London), Wiltshire (Camilla, who has a house in neighbouring Gloucestershire), and Yorkshire (Andrew: Duke of York). It seems likely that these selections are driven less by quality than by history and geography.

We found no evidence that a concentration of Royal patronages of charities in a geographic area increases the generosity of people in that area. (We compared English regions on (i) the number of Royal patronages they have, and (ii) the proportion of people who have given recently). And looking internationally, we found no evidence that a resident Royal family makes a nation more generous. In short, we looked from many angles, and did not find evidence of a beneficial effect from any of them.

Caroline Fiennes, Royal patronages of charities don’t seem to help charities much, 16 July 2020.

Orders of Knighthood

Most Orders of Knighthood are international charities that attract donations from their members and subsequently distribute these funds among worthy causes. They often have a Royal Patron as they think this adds value to their organization. In certain cases, this is true. In other cases the opposite is true.

Dynastic Orders should be connected to the original dynasty that was involved in the formation of the Order to add historical legitimacy. This places the Order in its dynastic context, which certainly adds historical value to the Order. A good example in this respect is the French branch of the Order of Saint Lazarus, which attracted the Count of Paris (the head of the French Royal Family) as their patron.

Case study: the Order of Saint Lazarus

On Sunday 12 September 2004 in the Cathedral of Orléans, the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus was restored to its traditional Protector – the Royal House of France. This event restored the status of the Order which it formerly enjoyed and which had been lost to the Order since 1830. In the presence of numerous witnesses His Royal Highness the Count of Paris, Duke of France and Head of the House of France, declared before the High Altar that the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem would once again be given the Protection of the House of France (photo: OSLJ).

Since 12 September 2004, the Protection of the Order of Saint Lazarus has been assumed by the Royal House of France. By offering its Protection, the Royal House of France has restored the Order to the status it had lost in 1830, when a royal decree caused the order to lose its royal protection after both King Louis XVIII, the Order’s protector, and the duc de Châtre, the Order’s lieutenant-general, had died in 1824. Confirmation of the Royal Protection was given (see Appendix) in the Cathedral of Orléans, during the Investiture of Prince Charles-Philippe d’Orléans, Duc d’Anjou, as Grand Master of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. The installation of the Prince was solemnly witnessed and validated by His Royal Highness the Count of Paris and by His Eminence Cardinal László Paskai, Primate Emeritus of Hungary. The document was also signed and witnessed in the Chapel dedicated to St Joan of Arc in the Cathedral of Orleans by the leaders and delegates of 19 National Jurisdictions of our Order. In addition, the ceremony was attended by representatives of the Catholic, Greek Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Reformed Churches. Also present were members of the diplomatic corps, dignitaries of the French Republic and the City of Orléans and Military Officers of France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Ireland. It should be noted that Wikipedia’s statement “The Orléans obedience claims the protection of Henri d’Orléans, Count of Paris.” is false as it suggests that this claim might in fact not be true. The statement is based on a negatively biased source.

The Order of Saint Lazarus is an international confraternity of Christians who profess their commitment to Jesus. Its three pillars are charity, spirituality and tradition (source: Order of Saint Lazarus). The Order of Saint Lazarus offers financial support to, for example, the Society for Uplift and Rehabilitation of Leprosy Affected People, based in Sri Lanka. It offers assistance primarily to people with leprosy, but it also works to help children orphaned because of leprosy and those affected in any way by this terrible disease (source: Order of Saint Lazarus). The combination of historical authenticity and genuine good works strengthen the legitimacy of this important charitable institution enormously.

When the Royal House of France took the Order of Saint Lazarus under its wings again, the question regarding the formation date of the Order was reduced to an academic question. The fact that it is an Order of the Royal House of France, revives the Order’s full legitimacy.


I have five recommendations for organisations that consider attracting a Royal Patron.

  • There is a difference between a Fons Honorum and a Royal Patronage. A Fons Honorum is the legitimate and legal authority of a person or institution to grant titles and awards to other parties (see e.g.: Versélewel de Witt Hamer, 2017, p. 100). The Fons Honorum is needed to create a new legal entity, like reviving an ancient Order of Knighthood or granting a title of nobility. A Royal Patronage is in fact only a formal act of support. Therefore, there is no need for a Royal Patron to hold the Fons Honorum. In the exceptional case of the Order of Saint Lazarus, the Fons Honorum and the Royal Patronage have merged when the Count of Paris became the Order’s patron and endorsed the appointment of his nephew as Grand Master. But in general, it is not necessary to attract a Royal Patron who is the head of a dynasty. Other members of dynastic houses can very well carry out the task of patron. Although a head of a dynastic house will often be the first choice, Orders should not limit themselves to one person when this is not feasible. Selecting a specific member of a Royal Family can also be the result of a process where the person with the best abilities is chosen to become the Order’s patron. In fact, this is a much better strategy than to just aim for the Head of the Family. In addition, other persons of achievement, like celebrities or successful business leaders, can act as a valuable patron of the Order.
  • In general, it does not help the funding activities if a Royal Patron gives her/his blessing to an organisation. In case of Orders of Knighthood, this is different. These organisations gain reputation when an influential patron endorses the Order. As a consequence, the Order will attract more members and is therefore better equipped to perform charitable activities. Finding a good patron is therefore an important task for an Order.
  • Royal Patrons who do not have a historical relation with the Order, are in a way a red flag for becoming a member. It shows that the Order is unable to find a historically relevant patron. Unintentionally, it sends out a signal of illegitimacy. The Royal Patron sends out the wrong signal as well because her/his irrelevant background supports the idea that something is not right.
  • It is peculiar that the Order of Saint Lazarus sought (e.g. L’Osservatore Romano of 21 March 1952) and possibly still seeks some kind of recognition from the Pope. Such a recognition is irrelevant and will never come. Being a Roman Catholic Order of Knighthood means a breach with the ecumenical principles, which is one of the most important pillars of the success of the Order. The Order of Saint Lazarus should remain fully independent and focus on interfaith dialogue. It should not become involved in the Roman Catholic church hierarchy. For the same reasons, I advise against the formation of local entities of the Order in the form of Catholic lay organisations, as has become a regular practice.
  • I noticed that some more recent dynastic claimants enter into so-called ‘friendship treaties’ with exotic Royal Houses (e.g. in Asia) in order to become more accepted within nobiliary circles. This serves the same purpose as attracting a Royal Patron. I strongly advise against this practice because it shows the opposite: a lack of acceptance. When a claimant needs to reach out to Royal Houses in other continents to substantiate her/his case, it shows that more obvious ‘royal friends’ decline to engage in joint activities. It should be kept in mind that a genuine dynastic claim does not need recognition from anyone, because of the sovereign character of a dynasty. In most cases, it is enough when the claim is transparent and reasonably embedded in a historical context. The perfect claim does not exist.


An anonymous reviewer is thanked for critically reading the manuscript and suggesting substantial improvements. His suggestions helped improve and clarify this article.


Déclaration de Monseigneur le Comte de Paris, Duc de France, Chef de la Maison Royale de France

Henry, par la grâce de Dieu, Chef de la Maison de France, faisons savoir à tous, tant présents que futurs que,

Considérant les lettres patentes données à Poitiers, en juillet 1308, par le Roi Philippe IV le Bel qui déclara “prendre sous notre garde spéciale et notre protection le Maître Général et les frères de l’Ordre de Saint-Lazare de Jérusalem” afin de leur éviter toute spoliation,

Considérant les origines pontificales et l’organisation canonique de l’ordre de Saint-Lazare de Jérusalem rappelées, notamment, par le Pape Alexandre IV (bulle donnée à Naples le 11 des calendes d’avril 1255) et par le Pape Clément XIV (bulle Militarium Ordinum Institutio du 10 décembre 1772),

Considérant les différents accords conclus entre les Chefs de la Maison Royale de France et les Souverains Pontifes complétant l’exercice de ce Protectorat depuis le concordat du 15 aoùt 1516,

Considérant que ce Protectorat a été assumé par les Chefs de la Maison Royale de France jusqu’en 1830,

Considérant la titulature de Protecteur Temporel de l’Ordre Militaire et Hospitalier de Saint-lazare de Jérusalem comme faisant intégralement partie de l’héritage que nous assumons en tant que Chef de la Maison Royale de France,

Nous déclarons perpétuer cet engagement en garantissant le caractère authentique et unique, dans sa dimension juridique et traditionnelle, de cette antique Institution.

Orléans, le 12 septembre 2004

Declaration by H.R.H. the Count of Paris, Duke of France, Head of the Royal House of France

We, Henri, by the Grace of God, Head of the House of France, make known to all persons, for now and the future, that,

Whereas pursuant to letters patent given at Poitiers, in July 1308, by King Philippe IV the Fair, who declared that he took “under Our special guard and protection the Master General and brethren of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem” in order to prevent their suffering any despoilment;

Whereas pursuant to the pontifical origins and canonical structure of the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, as recalled in particular by Pope Alexander IV in a Bull given at Naples on the eleventh day of the calends of April 1255, and by Pope Clement XIV in the Bull Militarium Ordinum Institutio of 10 December 1772;

Whereas pursuant to the various agreements entered into between the Heads of the Royal House of France and the Sovereign Pontiffs setting out in full the exercise of that Protectorship following the Concordat of 15 August 1516;

Whereas pursuant to this Protectorship being assumed by the Heads of the Royal House of France until 1830;

And whereas the title of Temporal Protector of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem being an integral part of the heritage that we have entered into as Head of the Royal House of France;

We declare our perpetuation of this commitment, guaranteeing as we do, in terms both of the law and of tradition, the authentic and unique character of this ancient Institution.

Orléans, 12 September 2004



Versélewel de Witt Hamer, T. J. (2017). Geloven verplicht: Een elite-onderzoek naar ridderlijke orden in het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden (1965-2015). Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.

Dames and Knights of the Royal House of Portugal

This article focuses on the traditions of the nobility in Portugal during the rule of the Bragança-dynasty (1640 to 1910). In particular, the article investigates to what extent these traditions have survived since Portugal became a republic in 1910.

The Headship of the House of Bragança is claimed by the Duke of Bragança and the Duke of Loulé, who share a common ancestor: king John VI of Portugal (1767-1826). This issue is addressed in my article Lines of succession to the former Portuguese throne. The current article only addresses the honours that are issued by the Duke of Bragança.


The upper social class in fifteenth-century Portugal was the fidalguia (nobility), corresponding perhaps to one percent of the population. The ancient Portuguese nobility was defined by the medieval lineages of noblemen (fidalgos or in Spanish: hidalgos). An early definition of this term can be found in the Book of Laws that was issued by King Alfonso X of Leon and Castile in the mid-thirteenth century (Ley 3ª, Título XXI, Partida 2ª de las Siete Partidas del Rey Alfonso X el Sabio). Hidalguía (Portuguese: fidalguia) is the nobility that comes to men through their lineage:

…es nobleza que viene a los hombres por linaje, y por ello deben mucho guardar los que tienen derecho en ella, que no la dañen ni la mengüen, y pues que el linaje hace que la tengan los hombres así como herencia, no debe querer el hidalgo que él haya de ser de tan mala ventura que lo que en los otros se comenzó y heredaron, mengüe o se acabe en él, y esto sería cuando él menguase en lo que los otros acrecentaron, casando con villana o el villano con hijodalgo. Pero la mayor parte de la hidalguía ganan los hombres por la honra de los padres, pues cuando la madre sea villana y el padre hijodalgo, hijodalgo es el hijo que de ellos naciere, y por hidalgo se puede contar, mas no por noble, mas si naciere de hijadalga y de villano, no tuvieron por derecho que fuese contado por hijodalgo.

…it is nobility what comes to men by lineage, and for this reason those who have a right to it should be very careful not to damage or diminish it, and since lineage causes men to have it as an inheritance, the nobleman should not wish that he should be so unfortunate that what was begun and inherited in others should diminish or end in him, and this would be when he diminishes in what others have increased, by marrying a woman-villain or a villain despite a nobleman. But the greater part of nobility is gained by men through the honour of their parents, for when the mother is a villain and the father is a nobleman (Fidalgo), nobleman (Fidalgo) is the son born from them, and he can be counted as fidalgo but not as noble, but if he is born of a son of a noblewoman (Fidalga) and of a villain, he has no right to be counted as nobleman (hijodalgo).

Libro de las Siete Partidas (Book of Laws), P. II, Tít. XXI, l. III (modernized spelling).

The lineages of the ancient Portuguese nobility are recorded in the unique work of Pedro Alfonso de Portugal, 3º Conde de Barcelos (before 1289 – 1350), an illegitimate son of King Denis of Portugal and Grácia Frois: Livro de Linhagens do Conde D. Pedro; Quintilhas aos brasões de armas das famílias de Portugal / João Rodrigues de Sá e Meneses [1601-1700]. The original nobility was supplemented by persons who were elevated to the noble status by the monarch, based on their personal achievements and their services rendered to the House of Bragança. The structure of the Portuguese nobility is complex. Luiz da Silva Pereira Oliveira distinguishes eight different qualities of noblemen: (i) noblemen of a well-known manor; (ii) noblemen by lineage; (iii) noblemen listed in the Livros d’El Rei (the King’s Books); (iv) noblemen created by the special grace of the King, which are different from those listed in the Livros d’El Rei; (v) notable noblemen; (vi) noblemen with great estates, or of great quality; (vii) principle noblemen; (viii) noblemen entitled to coats of arms (see: Luiz da Silva Pereira. Privilégios da Nobreza, e Fidalguia de Portugal. Lisboa – Na oficina de João Rodrigues Neves, 1806, p. 224.). However, there were many more kinds of nobility at the time of the monarchy and one person could have several qualities.

Rule of the House of Bragança

During the turbulent years between 1640 and 1910, the House of Bragança ruled as kings and queens over Portugal. The family played a key role in establishing Portuguese independence from its powerful Spanish neighbors and saved Portugal from total destruction by the vast armies of Napoleon. The Braganças also ruled over the huge empire of Brazil from 1822 to 1889 and created a unified nation, thus preventing the country from splitting into small warring states (see: Professor Malyn Newitt: 2019).

When Portugal abolished the monarchy in 1910, it also abolished the nations’s prosperity. As a monarchist, I agree with Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Bragança, when he states:

Kings are always better heads of state than presidents. We rule for life and don’t represent particular interest groups. Our influence as kings is evident. People normally don’t know who the president of Italy is but everyone knows the name of the princes of Monaco and Liechtenstein, two of Europe’s smallest nations.

Reuters Lifestyle, 9 July 2007.

Dom Duarte has proven the correctness of his statements. In 1997, he suggested to the Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Habibie to hold a referendum on the independence of East Timor. After Habibie became president of Indonesia in 1999, a referendum was held that resulted in the independence of East Timor. As a token of gratitude, president Ramos-Horta conferred the Timorese citizenship upon Duarte Pio and awarded him the Grand Collar of the Order of Timor-Leste.

Traditions at the Bragança-court

The Bragança-court was a closed institution with a very stable inner circle. At the Court, the family traditions and values of the Portuguese aristocracy played a crucial role in keeping up its cultural identity. Not living in accordance with these traditions and values, lead to revoking of an individual’s status and that of his descendants:

(…) the central core of family values, expressed in the discipline of the aristocratic house, an essential secular aspect of the fidalgo “ethos”, was maintained until the end of the eighteenth century. This last aspect cannot be dissociated from the spread of culture or the forms used for the construction of nobiliary identities in Portugal in the period of the dynasty of Bragança, which began with the rebellion of 1640. Contrary to the well-known models based on Norbert Elias and the French case, but which has been questioned by the historiography (cf. especially Duindam 1995, Adamson 1999), the extremely closed society of the court of the new Portuguese dynasty only promoted the spread of a cosmopolitan culture within its circles in a very limited fashion. Even in this select and restricted universe, it was the traditional standards of family behaviour, linked to the institution of entailed estates, which continued to prevail.

Monteiro, Nuno Gonçalo – 17th and 18th century Portuguese Nobilities in the european context: a historiographical overviewE-journal of Portuguese History. Vol. 1, Nº 1 (2003), pp. 12.

Nobility at the Court

Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, Head of the House of Braganza, issues the insignia belonging to the Hereditary Knight of the Royal House of Portugal, with the privilege of the Grand Collar, to Prof. Dr. phil. h.c. Dr. rer. nat. h.c. Moritz Hunzinger, one of the most senior founding entrepreneurs in the German media sector (Kiev, 2021). Hunzinger is a well-known philanthropist and communications expert who has successfully brought together leaders from the worlds of politics and business.

In ancient times, Portugal had no tradition of titled nobility. The nobility consisted mainly of ricos homens (rich men), infanções (infants) and cavaleiros (horsemen). Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the ricos homens formed the highest category within the Portuguese nobility. In former Portuguese colonies, like the Moluccan Islands, the Malay translation, Orang Kaya (=rich man), of Rico homem is still used to designate members of the regional nobility (see: Ellen, 1986). The next category was formed by the Infanções, and finally the Cavaleiros. From the 14th century onward, the different categories of nobility and the equivalent titles began to formalize under royal authority (António Manuel Hespanha, A Nobreza nos Tratados Jurídicos dos Séculos XVI a XVIII; Vol. Nobreza e Aristocracia, Edição Cosmos, Lisboa). The 1806 monumental work Privilegios da nobreza, e fidalguia de Portugal, by magistrate (Almanach do anno de 1805, Lisboa, Impressão Regia, 1805, p. 414) Dr. Luiz da Silva Pereira Oliveira, analyzes and explains the system of the Portuguese nobility. His work shows how complex the Portuguese system is.

In 1572, King Sebastião (1554 – disappeared in 1578) ordered the reform of the status of the noblemen who resided at his Court. Since 1572, the hierarchical foro (=privilege)-system listed 12 degrees of distinction (Olival 2002, p. 80). Only the first three were associated with noble birth (fidalguia): noble knight (fidalgo cavaleiro); noble squire (fidalgo escudeiro) and page (moço fidalgo):

(…) deu ele regimento ao mordomo mor, datado de três de Janeiro de 1572, e nele ordenou que os Cavaleiros Fidalgos fossem em diante nomeados Fidalgos Cavaleiros, e que os escudeiros Fidalgos passassem à denominação de Fidalgos escudeiros; e não havendo nisto mais diferença que a de antepor o vocábulo Fidalgo ao de Cavaleiro, ou de escudeiro, há contudo hoje uma notável distinção e desigualdade entre uns e outros, e vem a ser: que o Fidalgo Escudeiro, ou Cavaleiro, é verdadeiro Fidalgo, e o Escudeiro, ou Cavaleiro Fidalgo não o é ell e fica diferindo tanto um do outro, como o ouro do dourado.

(… ) he gave a regulation to the chief steward [of the royal house], dated three January 1572, and in it he ordered that the Knights Nobleman were henceforth called Noble Knights, and that the Squires Nobleman passed to the denomination of Noble Squires; and there is no more difference than putting the word Noble before the word Knight, or Squire, there is however today a notable distinction and inequality between one and the other, which is: that the Noble Squire, or Knight, is a true Nobleman, and the Squire, or Knight Nobleman is not and is different so much one from the other, as gold from golden.

Luís da Silva Pereira Oliveira, Privilégios da nobreza e idalguia de Portugal (1806), pp. 221-222.

After the abolition of ricos homens, the King introduced the titles of infanções, cavaleiros and escudeiros. The grandees (Grand noble) were (among others) the hereditary dukes and counts. Bishops and Cardinal-abbots were also given the status of grandee by elevation or inheritance. Other titles did not include the dignity of grandee. Titles were created “de juro e herdade” (forever), for two or even three generations, through the male or female line, or “em sua vida” (for life). Extinguished titles reverted to the Crown. Fidalgos da Casa Real were created by the House of Bragança (Fidalgo da Casa de Bragança) already before the family became the rulers of Portugal. Subsequently, these titles were created by the Crown. Transmission was only possible through the male line.

The rare titles of Senhor (=Lord, for example Senhor do Caniço in the Ornelas family), Dom, or lesser titles as Cidadão do Porto, were granted by royal warrant. In modern times, the Conselheiro de Sua Magestade Fidelíssima (king’s counsel) was a title granted for life. Other titles, such as Fidalgo de cota de armas por sucessão (armigerous nobleman) or mercê nova (newly created nobleman) were granted by the King. The recipient of such titles became a nobleman. During the monarchical period, it was forbidden to carry a coat of arms without authorisation. The Instituto da Nobreza de Portugal still registers coats of arms, which are inherited through male or female succession, according to the rules in force at the time of Dom Manuel II, the last king of Portugal (source: Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. António da Costa de Albuquerque de Sousa Lara). The website of the Instituto da Nobreza de Portugal provides a good an complete overview of the structure of the complex Portuguese nobiliary system.

Fidalgo was a right that was inherited through birth. The Kings had no power over this dignity. The king could neither abolish nor create a Fidalgo. Therefore, it is said: the King can create a noble person but not create a Fidalgo (source: Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. António da Costa de Albuquerque de Sousa Lara). 

The aforementioned renewed structure of the Fidalgos da Casa Real was the inspiration for establishing the institution of the Hereditary Dames and Knights of the Royal House of Portugal by the Duke de Bragança.

The current Portuguese government correctly states that monarchs in exile do not lose their dynastic rights:

Mesmo em exílio, a sucessão real mantém-se, com todos os privilégios, estilos e honras que cabem ao chefe da Casa Real não reinante.

Even in exile, the royal succession is maintained, with all the privileges, styles and honours befitting the Head of the non-reigning Royal House.

Legal Assessment of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Portuguese Foreign Office, dated 17 April 2006.

The government has stated that Dom Duarte is the legal successor to the Headship of the Royal House of Portugal, although a second line of succession exists:

De acordo com aquele direito costumeiro, a sucessão na chefia da Casa Real Portuguesa deu-se do seguinte modo:

• D. Pedro IV de Portugal, I do Brasil, irmão de D. Miguel, abdicou do Trono Português.

• D. Maria II, seguinte na linha de sucessão, assumiu o trono.

• A descendência de D. Maria II manteve o Trono até 1910, aquando da Implantação da República.
• D. Manuel II, último Rei de Portugal, morreu no exílio, sem descendentes, nem irmãos legítimos.

• A linha colateral mais próxima, mantendo a nacionalidade portuguesa, de acordo com as normas sucessórias era a linha que advinha de D. Miguel, irmão de D. Pedro IV. Desse modo, o filho de D. Miguel, Miguel Maria de Assis Januário tornou-se legitimamente o novo chefe da Casa Real de Bragança por sucessão mortis causa de D. Manuel II.

• Ainda no exílio, sucedeu a D. Miguel [agora, de Bragança], seu único filho varão D. Duarte Nuno de Bragança e a este o actual chefe da Casa Real, D.Duarte Pio de Bragança.

• Em 1950, por Lei da Assembleia Nacional, a Família Real portuguesa foi autorizada a retornar.

According to that customary law, the succession to the Head of the Portuguese Royal House took place as follows:

• Dom Pedro IV of Portugal, I of Brazil, brother of Dom Miguel, abdicated the Portuguese Throne.

• Maria II, the next in line, assumed the throne.

• The descendants of Maria II retained the throne until 1910, when the Republic was established.

• Manuel II, the last King of Portugal, died in exile, without descendants or legitimate brothers.

• The closest collateral line, maintaining Portuguese nationality, according to the rules of succession was the line that came from Miguel, brother of Pedro IV. Miguel’s son Miguel Maria de Assis Januário legitimately became the new Head of the Royal House of Braganza by succession upon the death of Manuel II.

• Miguel was succeeded in exile by his only son, Duarte Nuno de Bragança, and by the current Head of the Royal House, Duarte Pio de Bragança.

• In 1950, by Law of the National Assembly, the Portuguese Royal Family was allowed to return home.

Legal Assessment of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Portuguese Foreign Office, dated 17 April 2006.

The government also confirmed that, based on consuetude, Dom Duarte has the prerogative to bestow titles and honours, although these are not recognised by the Portuguese state:

Do mesmo modo, a mestria das ordens nobiliárquicas e honoríficas monárquicas compete ao legítimo sucessor dos Reis de Portugal, o Duque de Bragança. Apenas a ele compete conferir foros de nobreza e títulos honoríficos. Deve, porém, ressalvar-se que, para efeitos de documentação oficial, apenas são reconhecidos pelo Estado os foros e títulos conferidos antes de 5 de Outubro de 1910 e desde que o direito ao seu uso seja devidamente provado, nos termos do Decreto n.º 10537, de 12 de Fevereiro de 1925.

In the same way, the Duke of Bragança, the legitimate successor to the kings of Portugal, has the authority to confer noble ranks and honorary titles. He alone has the authority to confer nobility and honorary titles. It should, however, be noted that, for the purposes of official documentation, only those conferred prior to 5th October 1910 and provided that the right to use them is duly proven, under the terms of Decree no. 10537 of 12th February 1925, are recognised by the State.

Legal Assessment of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Portuguese Foreign Office, dated 17 April 2006.

Only the titles of nobility granted by a reigning monarch before 5 October 1910 are given legal recognition and protection by public law, because they are part of a person’s name:

33. Salienta Menezes Cordeiro que ” o nome ou nome civil serve a individualização das pessoas mas, além dele, a sociedade reconhece fórmulas complementares de designação, que completam essa individualização” (“Títulos Nobiliárquicos e Registo Civil: a Inconstitucionalidade da Reforma de 2007″,R.O.A., Ano 69, 2009, pág. 19-57). Assim, a lei concede proteção ao pseudónimo ( artigo 74.º do Código Civil) e, se assim sucede, por maioria de razão há de ser concedida proteção ao título nobiliárquico a que a pessoa legitimamente tenha direito, tratado como complemento do nome que pode anteceder o nome do comerciante individual (artigo 38.º/3 do Regime do Registo Nacional das Pessoas Coletivas aprovado pelo Decreto-Lei n.º 129/98, de 13 de maio). No entender do mencionado Professor os títulos nobiliárquicos constituem figuras equiparadas ao nome – ou, no dizer de Carvalho Fernandes, ” figuras afins do nome civil” (Teoria Geral do Direito Civil, Lex, 1995, Vol I, 2.ª edição, pág. 156) – que ” de acordo com a posição hoje pacífica […] é apresentado como um direito de personalidade” (loc. cit., pág. 54).

Menezes Cordeiro points out that “the name or civil name serves to individualise persons but, in addition to this, society recognises complementary designation forms, which complete this individualisation” (“Titles of Property and Civil Registration: the Unconstitutionality of the 2007 Reform”, R.O.A., Year 69, 2009, pp. 19-57). Thus, the law grants protection to the pseudonym (article 74 of the Civil Code) and, if this is the case, there is even more reason to grant protection to the title of nobility to which the person is legitimately entitled, treated as a complement to the name that may precede the name of the individual trader (article 38/3 of the Regime of the National Register of Companies approved by Decree-Law no. 129/98 of 13 May). According to the referred Professor the titles of nobility are equivalent to the name – or, in the words of Carvalho Fernandes, “figures similar to the civil name” (General Theory of Civil Law, Lex, 1995, Vol I, 2nd edition, page 156) – which “according to the current position of undisturbed us […] is presented as a personality right” (loc. cit., page 54).

Supremo Tribunal de Justiça, judgment of 15 May 2014, no. 150/13.3YHLSB.L1.S1.

Therefore, the fons honorum of Dom Duarte is embedded in the Portuguese legal system. This includes the right to bestow the honours of Hereditary Dames/Knights of the Royal House of Portugal.

The concept of Hereditary Dames/Knights of the Royal House of Portugal includes, among others, explanations, descriptions, medals, drawings, ceremonies and diplomas. It is protected by intellectual property law because it concerns an original work of literature and art, in accordance with the Berne Convention and the Portuguese Decreto-Lei n. 334/97, de 27 de Novembro de 1997. The latter is the implementation of the Council Directive 93/98/EEC of 29 October 1993 harmonising the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights.

Cultural preservation: the Hereditary Knight of the Royal House of Portugal

In monarchical Portugal, services rendered to the Crown were essential in ensuring social achievement (Olival 2002, p. 80). In line with this tradition, the Royal House of Portugal still bestows awards to loyal contributors to charitable activities of the Royal House.

Today such a privilege is usually only granted upon those in proven, continued, dedicated service to the Portuguese Royal House who normally have already been awarded the highest ranks of Knighthood in one of the Dynastic Orders or else as a gift granted directly from the Duke of Bragança Motu Proprio in recognition of extraordinary services rendered.


Donations received from the Knights and Dames of the Portuguese Royal House help the Royal Charities actively supporting organizations operating in impoverished locations in Portugal and also in the Diocesan Missions of former Portuguese Oversea Territories such as São Tomé e Príncipe, Angola, Mozambique and East Timor. They also help support various cultural and historic projects in Portugal.

Honorary consul of Brazil in Fatima Dr. phil. h.c. Carlos Evaristo, The fons honorum, prerogatives and privileges of the Portuguese House of Bragança (manuscript, s/d)

The designations of Hereditary Knight of the Royal House of Portugal and Hereditary Dame of the Royal House of Portugal, issued by the current Duke of Bragança, are part of the aforementioned Foros of the Royal House of Bragança. These honours do not fit into any of the categories of the post-1572 (after the reform) nobiliary classes, because the legal structures in which the privileges were embedded at the time have been abolished by the Republic of Portugal. However, they are modern versions of a much more ancient institution of the House of Braganca: Fidalgos da Casa de Bragança and Fidalgos da Casa Real. An example is Fernão de Souza, mayor of Montalegre, in Trás-os-Montes, born around 1421, who in 1451 was created nobleman of the House of the Duke of Bragança and in 1473 of the Royal House of Aviz (mentioned with other examples in: Manuel Abranches de Soveral, Machado de Vila Pouca de Aguiar. Ascendências e parentescos da Casa do Couto d’Além, em Soutelo de Aguiar, Porto 2000. Ed. MASmedia. ISNB 972-97430-2-9. DL 152876/00. 202 pp. Integra uma 2ª parte sobre os Borges da Mesquita, de Atei). Another example is D. Gomes de Melo (c. 1580-1645), who was a nobleman of the House of Bragança, Portuguese Ambassador in Holland and England, and Commander of the Order of Christ (mentioned with other examples in: Susana Varela Flow, D. Francisco de Melo Manuel da Câmara: biografia, património, estatuto social e fidelidades (1626-1678), Análise Social, 215, l (2.º), 2015 ISSN online 2182-2999).

This privileged class was created by the House of Bragança (Fidalgo da Casa de Bragança) already before the family became the rulers of Portugal (pre-1640). During the Bragança-monarchy, Fidalgos da Casa Real belonged to a more prominent form of nobility than the ‘normal’ nobility. They were registered in the “Livros d’el-Rei“, like, for example, Manoel Rodrigues da Costa, in the mid-seventeenth century one of the richest and most authoritative noblemen of the kingdom (Caso n.º 2 N R 67 – Manuel Rodrigues da Costa Pr. n.º 9948 L – 11/11/1658-27/6/1672 A d F de 21-6-1671; cited in: Saraiva, A. J., Salomon, H. P., & D., S. I. S. (2001). The Marrano factory. The Portuguese inquisition and its new Christians, 1536-1765. Brill, p. 66). As the principal nobility of the realm, Fidalgos da Casa Real also had the capacity to obtain charters of coats of arms:

Segundo o direito heráldico português, as cartas de brasão de armas não estavam ao alcance de todos os nobres. Somente mereciam a distinção os fidalgos hierarquicamente superiores ao fidalgo de cota de armas. Ou seja, somente poderiam pleitear a distinção os fidalgos de grande qualidade, fidalgos de solar, fidalgos de linhagem, fidalgos notáveis e fidalgos assentados nos livros d’El Rei, denominados “fidalgos principais” ou “nobreza principal do reino”. Nesse grupo seleto ainda estavam os fidalgos do conselho, fidalgos cavaleiros, fidalgos escudeiros, fidalgos capelães e moços fidalgos. Embora pudessem ter brasões, os fidalgos de cotas de armas se localizavam na segunda ordem, onde estavam os nobres de linhagem (com quatro avós nobres), os cavaleiros fidalgos, desembargadores de El Rei, os cavaleiros das Ordens Militares, as pessoas denominadas por dom. Por fim, a terceira ordem se compunha de “pessoas de nobreza ordinária”, como os simples letrados, pessoas de grau de letras, professores régios de gramática latina e grega, de retórica e os cavaleiros, escudeiros e homens bons.

According to Portuguese heraldic law, charters of coats of arms were not attainable by all nobles, rather those fidalgos who were hierarchically superior to the fidalgo of arms. In other words, only high status fidalgos could ask for the distinction, namely the fidalgos de solar (fidalgos who were the direct successor of an old noble house), fidalgos by lineage, ‘notable fidalgos,’ and fidalgos entered in the King’s Books, who were called the ‘principal fidalgos‘ or the ‘principal nobility of the kingdom.’ Also included in this select group were the fidalgos of the council, fidalgos cavaleiros, fidalgos escudeiros, fidalgos capelães (chaplains) and moço fidalgo. Although they could have coats of arms, the fidalgos of arms were of the second rank, along with nobles by lineage (with four grandparent nobles), cavaleiros fidalgos, the judges of the High Courts, the knights of the Military Orders, and those granted the title of Dom. Finally, the third order was composed of ‘people of ordinary nobility,’ such as those who were educated, people with degrees, royal professors of Latin and Greek grammar and rhetoric, squires, and ‘homens bons’ (city councilmen)

R. Raminelli, Justifing nobilities. Old and new colonial elites 1750-1807. In: História (São Paulo) v.35, e97, 2016 ISSN 1980-4369, p. 4; Marquês de São Payo. Do direito heráldico português. Lisboa: Centro Tip. Colonial, 1927, pp. 12-13.
Coats of arms of principal families of the Portuguese nobility in the Thesouro de Nobreza; 1675.1/40 (fl 27). Source: Wikipedia Commons.

In order to be registered in the Livros d’el-Rei, Fidalgos da Casa Real had to provide four documents: (i) their baptism certificate, (ii) their parents’ marriage certificate, (iii) a certificate proving that their father or grandfather already had this status and (iv) a sworn attestation by two nobles, proving the nobleman’s identity, birthplace and residence, his filiation and that of his parents and grandparents, and finally that his father or grandfather was already a Fidalgo da Casa Real (Luís da Silva PereiraOliveira, Privilegios da Nobreza, e Fidalguia de Portugal, Lisbon, 1806, pp. 229-230).

The designations of Hereditary Knight of the Royal House of Portugal and Hereditary Dame of the Royal House of Portugal do not enjoy state recognition and bestow no privileges as in ancient times, but nonetheless, remain monuments of Portugal’s monarchical history and part of its rich cultural heritage. The current Portuguese government confirmed that, based on custom and tradition, Dom Duarte still has the prerogative to bestow titles and honours, although these are not recognised by the Portuguese state. Therefore, the fons honorum that creates Hereditary Knights of the Royal House of Portugal, is recognized by the Portuguese government. This places the modern designation Hereditary Knight/Dame of the Royal House of Portugal in a unique position. Their character and legal status are more or less comparable to the Dutch orders awarded for services rendered to the Dutch Royal House. However, the Portuguese variant implies that the holder of the award also belongs to the traditional, hereditary nobility of the Royal House of Bragança.


Dom Duarte’s role in continuing the cultural and historical heritage, passed on to him by his ancestors, can be appreciated. One way of keeping these traditions alive is to bestow honours and titles upon worthy individuals. The institution of Hereditary Dames/Knights of the Royal House of Portugal is an exponent thereof. I have examined a diploma (diploma no. 7, issued on 8 May 2021) and noticed that it underlines the bond between the Royal House and the recipient of the honour.

I advise individuals who wish to publicly express their affiliation with the House of Bragança, to designate themselves as “Jane Smith, Dame of the Royal House of Portugal” or “John Smith, Knight of the Royal House of Portugal “. The fact that the title is hereditary is an internal (family) matter: “with the right of succession to his designated heir and his heirs, forever“, as the diploma stipulates. Post-nominals are not advised, since it would be hard to find the exact meaning of the letters for persons not familiar with the designation.


In my opinion, it is necessary to draw up statutes for the Dames and Knights of the Royal House of Portugal. It should be perfectly clear what the rights and obligations are of both the issuer and the recipient. Some essential articles could include for example:

I. The Institution of Dames and Knights of the Royal House of Portugal is a knightly order of the House of Bragança.

II. The Dames and Knights of the Royal House of Portugal are under the jurisdiction of Dom Duarte Pio, duke of Bragança and count of Ourém.

III. Membership of the knightly order is based on proven, continued and dedicated service to the House of Bragança.

IV. The degrees are divided as follows: Knight-Grand Collar, Knight-Grand Cross, Knight-Grand Officer, Knight-Commander, Knight-Officer, Knight.

V. The members of the Order belong to the nobility of the House of Bragança.

R.A.U. Juchter van Bergen Quast


The author wishes to thank Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Humberto Nuno Lopes Mendes de Oliveira, Universidade Lusíada de Lisboa, as well as Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. António da Costa de Albuquerque de Sousa Lara, Academia de Letras e Artes de Portugal, for their insights and their editing work.


  • Olival, F. (2002). The Military Orders and the Nobility in Portugal, 1500-1800. Mediterranean Studies, 11, 71-88. Retrieved June 5, 2021, from
  • Gorjão-Henriques, M. (2010). Sobre alguns dos meus Hortas: ramos de atouguia da baleia e Setúbal. Armas e Troféus.
  • Van Duren, P. (1995). Orders of Knighthood and of merit: The pontifical, religious and secularised catholic-founded orders and their relationship to the Apostolic See. Gerrards Cross, (London): Colin Smythe.
  • Newitt, Malyn (2019). The Braganzas: the rise and fall of the ruling dynasties of Portugal and Brazil, 1640-1910. Reaktion Books Ltd.
  • Cunha, Rui Vieira da: Studies of the Brazilian Nobility . Rio de Janeiro – s/d.
  • Olival, F. (2006). An Elite? The Meaning of Knighthood in the Portuguese Military Orders of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Mediterranean Studies, 15, 117-126. Retrieved June 4, 2021, from
  • Oliveira, Luís da Silva Pereira, Privilegios da Nobreza, and Fidalguia de Portugal, Lisbon, 1806.
  • Bush, Michael L. (1988), Rich noble, poor noble, Manchester: Manchester U.P.
  • Ferreira, Susannah. The Crown, the Court and the Casa da Índia. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 26 May 2015.
  • Cunha, Mafalda Soares da (2000), A Casa de Bragança (1560-1640). Práticas senhoriais e redes clientelares, Lisbon: Ed. Estampa.
  • Marques, A.H. de Oliveira (sd), Nobreza – época medieval, in J.Serrão (dir.), Dicionário de História de Portugal, Iniciativas Ed.
  • Cabral, J. d. P., & Lima, A. P. d. (Eds.) 2000. Elites : Choice, Leadership and Succession. Etnográfica Press. doi :10.4000/books.etnograficapress.1278
  • Monteiro, Nuno Gonçalo (1987). Notas sobre nobreza, fidalguia e titulares nos finais do Antigo Regime. In Ler História, 10: 15-51.
  • León Jorge Pérez, & Martínez Martínez Carmen. (2012). Hidalgos indianos ante la Real Chancillería de Valladolid: el caso peruano en época de los Borbones. Universidad de Valladolid, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Departamento de Historia Moderna, Contemporánea y de América, Periodismo y Comunicación Audiovisual y Publicidad.
  • Marcus, G. (2001). A Report on the Contemporary Portuguese Nobility: A Document as “Bait” in an Ongoing Ethnographic Inquiry. Anthropological Journal on European Cultures, 10, 59-101. Retrieved June 6, 2021, from
  • Ellen, R. (1986). Conundrums about Panjandrums: On the Use of Titles in the Relations of Political Subordination in the Moluccas and along the Papuan Coast. Indonesia, (41), 47-62. doi:10.2307/3351035

Regulations regarding the acceptance of foreign orders and titles by British nationals

The Facebook group Orders of Merit and Knighthood is an international community of people, familiar with the world of chivalric orders. Triggered by my article The ‘wisdom of the crowds’ regarding knightly orders and titles of nobility and in particular my conclusion that Sir Levett Hanson (1754–1814) was not a self-styled Sir, a very interesting discussion evolved:

It is my understanding that the use of “Sir” in the UK was exclusively reserved for domestic knighthoods only. For example, even the Royal Guelphic Order, founded by the Prince Regent, viz. Hanover, conferred on a fair few British military personnel, did not entitle the recipient to use “Sir”. Many were then subsequently dubbed as Knight Bachelor so they could be entitled to use the prefix. Permission to wear a foreign order does not grant permission to use “Sir”. The question must be why would Levett Hanson be so entitled? The College of Arms cannot confer such a right. Why would the UK make an exception for him is surely the question?

Dr. Craig Paterson, PhD: Facebook, Orders of Merit and Knighthood group, post of 23 April 2021

This article investigates to what extent British nationals need(ed) permission to officially wear foreign orders and titles of nobility. I have listed the regulations regarding the acceptance of foreign orders below. Subsequently, I will demonstrate how these regulations have been applied in four particular cases. I will do the same for the regulations regarding foreign titles of nobility. From this, I will draw conclusions regarding the research question.

Regulations regarding foreign orders

Prior to 1812, British subjects often assumed foreign titles and honorific prefixes, the exception being that persons in the military (like Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté  and General Sir Charles Imhoff) required the King’s warrant to accept and wear a foreign decoration and assume the honorific prefix, which included “Sir” (source: communication from Mr. Stephen Lautens GCJ, B.A., J.D.). Since then, the regulations regarding these matters have become stricter.

There is one case in the pre-1812 period where the right to use the prefix Sir, based on a foreign knighthood, was established in law. On 21 November 1790, Robert Peat, creator of the “Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem” (see: Notes and Queries – Series 12 – Volume 5.djvu/29), was made a knight in the Order of Saint Stanislaus by the King of Poland. In 1804, Peat was permitted by King George III (The London Gazette, 13 October 1804, Issue 15745, Page 1284) to accept and wear the order’s decoration. In 1808, Peat appeared in court after he had become the victim of an assault. During the trial, the defense objected to designating Peat as “Sir Robert”, because he had not been knighted in Britain. The Lord Chief Justice however, stated that knighthood was a universal honour and that therefore the prefix was appropriate (Sporting Magazine: Or, Monthly Calendar of the Transactions of the Turf, the Chase and Every Other Diversion Interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprize, and Spirit, Volume 31, p. 256).


His Royal Highness the Prince Regent deemed it expedient to announce, in the Year 1812:

5. That no Subject of His Majesty could be allowed to accept the Insignia of a Foreign Order from any Sovereign of a Foreign State except they shall be so conferred in consequence of Active and distinguished services before the Enemy, either at Sea or in the Field; or unless he shall have been actually employed in the service of such Foreign Sovereign.

Royal Collection Trust, A Concise account of the several foreign Orders of Knighthood and other marks of honourable distinction, especially such as have been conferred upon British subjects / Nicholas Carlisle. 1839 RCIN 1027890, XVIII.


In March 1813, the Prince Regent was pleased to command that the following Proviso should be thereafter inserted in all Royal Warrants for the acceptance of Foreign Orders:

6. That His Majesty’s License and Permission doth not authorize, and shall not be deemed or construed to authorize, the assumption of any style, appellation, rank, or privilege, appertaining unto a Knight Batchelor of these Realms.

Royal Collection Trust, A Concise account of the several foreign Orders of Knighthood and other marks of honourable distinction, especially such as have been conferred upon British subjects / Nicholas Carlisle. 1839 RCIN 1027890, XVIII.


1. That no British Subjects shall accept a Foreign Order, or wear its Insignia, without having previously obtained a Warrant under the Royal Sign Manual (directed to the Earl Marshal of England), granting them His Majesty’s permission to accept and wear the same.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British and Foreign State Papers, 10:1019-20


1.   No subject of Her Majesty shall accept a Foreign Order from the sovereign of any foreign country, or wear the insignia thereof, without having previously obtained Her Majesty’s permission to that effect, signified by a Warrant under Her Royal Sign Manual.

2.   Such permission shall not be granted to any subject of Her Majesty, unless the Foreign Order shall have been conferred in consequence of active and distinguished service before the enemy, either at sea or in the field ; or unless he shall have been actually and entirely employed, beyond Her Majesty’s dominions, in the service of the foreign sovereign by whom the Order is conferred,

The London Gazette, Issue 21711, published on the 15 May 1855. Page 1916.


1.  It is The King’s wish that no subject of His Majesty shall wear the Insignia of any Foreign Order without having previously obtained His Majesty’s permission to do so, signified either:

a. By Warrant under the Royal Sign-Manual, or

b. By private permission conveyed through His Majesty’s Private Secretary.

2.  Permission given by Warrant under the Royal Sign-Manual will enable the Insignia of the Foreign Order to be worn at all times and without any restriction.
Private permission will only enable the Insignia to be worn on the occasions specified in the terms of the letter from The King’s Private Secretary conveying the Royal Sanction.

The London Gazette, Issue 28493, published on 12 May 1911. Page 3638


Notice is hereby given 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.

Buckingham Palace, The London Gazette, Issue 61598, published on 1 June 2016. Page 12364


Birmingham Museums, Samuel Colman, Portrait of Sir Edward Thomason (1769-1849), date: 1840-1849, Sir William Thomason; The Birmingham manufacturer Is here shown wearing decorations awarded to him by foreign sovereigns.

Sir Levett Hanson (1754–1814) lived in an era before formal regulations regarding the use of the prefix Sir became into force. Based on the fact that in 1780 Hanson received the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Philip (German: Orden Sankt Phillipps zum Löwen) from the (sovereign) Counts of Limburg-Stirum and in 1800 became Knight Vice-Chancellor of the Order of Saint Joachim, the College of Arms confirmed his entitlement to the prefix of Sir (source: Calendar of Knights; Containing Lists of Knights Bachelors, British Knights of Foreign Orders, Also Knights of the Garter, Thistle, Bath, St. Patrick and the Guelphic and Ionian Orders). In fact, Hanson was a double-Sir and not a self-styled Sir, as has been suggested by some individuals. Hanson’s use was in line with tradition, which was confirmed by the College or Arms. The College did not constitute a legal fact (creating a ‘Sir’), but only declared that the use of the prefix was legitimate (a declaratory judgment).

The first known British subject to be invested into the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George was Captain William D’Arley, who received the decoration from King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies in 1801. D’Arley was authorized to use the title Sir with the King’s permission (sources: Sainty, G. S. (2019). The Constantinian Order of Saint George: And the Angeli, Farnese and Bourbon families which governed it. Madrid: Boletín Oficial del Estado, 2018; Sir Levett Hanson, An Accurate Historical Account of All the Orders of Knighthood at Present Existing in Europe, volume 1, London, 1802). D’Arley was a captain of marines and therefore needed official permission to wear the decoration.

Sir Edward Thomason, British inventor and manufacturer, was knighted by King William IV (source: The Edinburgh Gazette, 3 July 1832, Issue 4081, Page 189). In addition, Thomason received a number of foreign decorations: Gold Medal of Merit (Prussia, 1823); Cross and decoration of the Order of Merit of Francis I (Naples,1830); Order of the Dutch Lion (1831); Order of the Red Eagle of Prussia, fourth class (1831); Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic (Spain, 1833); Order of the Lion and Sun (Persia, 1833); Constantinian Order of Saint George (Naples, 1833); Order of the Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Sardinia, 1834); Order of Christ (Portugal, 1835); Royal Guelphic Order (Hanover,1838). No permission for any of these foreign Orders was found (source: Edward Thomason, Sir Edward Thomason’s Memoirs During Half a Century, London 1845).

King George V (front, centre) with his prime ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference. Standing (left to right): Monroe (Newfoundland), Coates (New Zealand), Bruce (Australia), Hertzog (Union of South Africa), Cosgrave (Irish Free State). Seated: Baldwin (United Kingdom), King George V, William Lyon Mackenzie King (Canada). Photo: WikiCommons.

On 2 November 2014, Mr. B. – a British citizen and Magistral Delegate for Inter-Religious Relations of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George and Secretary General of the Royal Order of Francis I – was knighted in recognition of the longstanding charitable and inter-religious work undertaken through his institutional roles within the charitable Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George. HE Sir Rodney Williams, KGN, GCMG, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda and official representative of HM Queen Elizabeth II in her right as Queen of Antigua and Barbuda, acting on advice of Her Majesty’s Antigua and Barbuda Ministers, invested and presented to Mr. B. the insignia of Knighthood in the rank and dignity of Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (KGCN). The Most Distinguished Order of the Nation is an Order of Chivalry instituted by Queen Elizabeth II in right of Antigua and Barbuda through the National Honours Act which received Royal Assent on 31 December 1998. The award gives to recipients the right to use the prefix Sir. Mr B. used the prefix during public events in England. On 1 June 2016, a joint statement was published in the London Gazette by Buckingham Palace, the College of Arms and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stating that British citizens could not use the title of Sir without being knighted by the Queen. In July 2016, the Grenadian government cancelled the awards issued to Mr B. and the other recipients. The Antiguan government followed with a similar act, published the Gazette, of 21 July 2017. Obviously, both governments acted under pressure of the aforementioned 2016 statement. These politically inspired actions are a violation of the Balfour Report, issued by the 1926 Imperial Conference of British Empire leaders in London, which declared that Britain and its Dominions were constitutionally equal to each other, rather than subordinate. The report defines the group of self-governing communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions as “autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”. The findings of the report were made law by the British Parliament in the 1931 Statute of Westminster. In Mr. B.’s case, this law was violated.

Policies regarding foreign titles

In addition to his excellent research regarding the acceptance of foreign orders by British nationals, François Russel Velde carried out an thorough investigation into the British governmental recognition of foreign titles. In this section I will summarize his findings and add relevant facts, images and legal considerations.

The College of Arms in London has a complete record of all the Royal Grants going back to Stuart times with very elaborate and well kept indices of the original foreign Letters Patent. In each case these are accompanied by a copy of the Royal Warrant issued (source: Home Office 45/13725, 440302/2, quoted by FV). Velde’s research shows that throughout history there have not been many applications for recognizing foreign titles in Britain and the approval has been very restrictive. Approval was mostly based on financial considerations (the wealth of the applicant). Being of ancient noble descent was hardly relevant. This can be shown by the following cases.


Lieutenant F.I. van Haeften (HU 125432) Not found in CWGC Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Jonkheer Frans Izaak van Haeften (1876-1964), Lieutenant Scots Guards. The family was ennobled in 1844 by King William II of the Netherlands. Van Haeften’s application was turned down in 1912 (Home Office 144/1206/222229), although the family was well-established in Britain: Arthur Patrick William Seely, 3rd Baron Mottistone (1905-1966), married on 2 Sep 1939 (div. 1949) Wilhelmina Josephine Philippa van Haeften, daughter of Jonkheer Frans Izaak van Haeften, of The Hague, Netherlands, by his wife Mabel Annie Brocklehurst, only daughter of Sir Philip Lancaster Brocklehurst, 1st Bt., of Swythamley Park, Macclesfield, co. Cheshire.

Velde’s research reveals that there are only three applications that were approved between 1832 and 1882. Lionel Nathan Freiherr von Rothschild (1808 – 1879) was a Jewish banker and politician. In 1838, Queen Victoria authorized him to use the Austrian imperial title in Britain (source: Bulletins of State Intelligence 1838, p. 220) that was issued to his father Nathan Mayer Freiherr von Rothschild (once the richest man on earth) in 1822 (Schembs, Hans-Otto: Rothschild, Nathan Mayer (von). Artikel aus der Frankfurter Biographie (1994/96) in: Frankfurter Personenlexikon (Onlineausgabe),

Isaac Lyon Goldsmid was a partner in bullion dealer and refiner Mocatta & Goldsmid and made a large fortune. In the 18th and 19th centuries, ″Mocatta″ was a broker to the Bank of England and the East India Company (Bloomberg, 2019). After settling a monetary dispute in South America at the instruction of Queen Victoria, Goldsmid was ennobled (on an individual basis) in 1846 by Queen Maria II of Portugal with the title Baron da Goldsmid e da Palmeira. His ninth child Rachel Goldsmid was married to Count Henry D’Avigdor, who was created Duke d’Acquviva by the San Marino government on 21 April 1861. On 15 October 1841, the Goldsmid Baronetcy, of St John’s Lodge in the County of Surrey, was created on behalf of the aforementioned Isaac Lyon Goldsmid.

Salomon Benedict Worms (1801-1882) was a banker and head of the bank G. & A. Worms in London. Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria conferred upon Worms the Imperial Order of the Iron Crown, 2nd class (German: Kaiserlicher Orden der Eisernen Krone) on 27 June 1870 for defending the interests of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The Imperial Order of the Iron Crown was one of the highest orders of merit of Austria and Austria-Hungary until 1918. Until 18 July 1884 the recipient of the 2nd Class in the Order was ennobled with the title Freiherr (Baron) in the Austrian or Hungarian nobility. Because Worms was a foreigner, he could not apply for ennoblement on the basis of the Order’s statutes. The baronage was therefore granted by the emperor himself by special pardon in his decision on 27 March 1871. By deed of 23 April 1871, Worms was granted the title Freiherr and the predicate von. On 10 August 1874, Queen Victoria allowed Worms to use his Austrian title in Great Britain (more information can be found in: Jewish Chronicles and Jewish World, 27 Oct. 1882).


Regulations regarding the recognition of foreign decorations and titles in Britain have evolved. Sir Levett Hanson (1754–1814) lived in an era when there were no formal regulations regarding the use of the prefix Sir. It was common practice to assume the prefix when a foreign knighthood was granted. Hanson’s use of the prefix was confirmed by the College of Arms. It is irrelevant whether the College had authority to confer the right to use the prefix (which was not the case). The College simply recorded and accepted the use of the prefix by Hanson. This declarative legal action proves that Hanson obtained official and relevant approval; nothing more and nothing less.

Regarding the incorporation of foreign titles of nobility in Britain, the aforementioned examples show that there was no transparent policy to predict the outcome of an application. This changed in July 1930, when George V abolished the use of foreign titles by British Subjects. The King revoked the Royal Warrants listed in the fourth column of the linked Annex which had allowed the use of the foreign dignitaries and titles set out in the second and third columns of the Annex. The current holder of the permission, his son and grandson where named could continue to use the title for his own lifetime. Apart from these exceptions, official recognition is not given to the use of foreign titles by British citizens and the government does not address any British citizen (whether by naturalisation or otherwise) by such a title.

While there is nothing to prevent a British citizen in the United Kingdom from using a foreign title for private purposes, such a title cannot be officially recognised. When the Secretary of State receives an application from a person who appears to hold a foreign title, the official (caseworker) is instructed to:

  1. Seek confirmation of its authenticity from the Honours Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; and
  2. Write, as follows, addressing him by his title, to warn him that the Office will not receive official recognition: “The Secretary of State thinks it right to point out that if you become a British citizen your foreign title will not receive official recognition in this country and that in accordance with the established practice it will be omitted from the certificate. I am to request that you will specifically acknowledge your acceptance of this position.“.

Enquiries will not be put in hand until the applicant has acknowledged his acceptance of his legal position. Similarly, if an alien who uses a foreign title enquires about becoming naturalised and appears to be residentially qualified, the answer to his enquiry will include a warning about the use of his title if naturalisation is granted and a request for a letter confirming that he accepts the position (Source:

The fact that someone receives the aforementioned warning implies that his foreign title is officially recognised: after checking the authenticity of the foreign title, the applicant is addressed by his title, and warned that when he become a British citizen, his foreign title will not be incorporated in official (British) documents. This means that the British officials accept that the applicant holds an authentic foreign title.


Lancien, Didier (ed.); Saint-Martin, Monique de (ed.). Anciennes et nouvelles aristocraties: De 1880 à nos jours. New edition [online]. Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2007 (generated 26 avril 2021). Available on the Internet: <;. ISBN: 9782735118502. DOI:

Velde, F.R. Foreign Titles in the UK. Accessed May 30, 2021.

Velde, F.R. Foreign Orders in the UK. Accessed May 30, 2021.

Sainty, G. S. (2019). The Constantinian Order of Saint George: And the Angeli, Farnese and Bourbon families which governed it. Madrid: Boletín Oficial del Estado, 2018

Hanson, L. (1802). An Accurate Historical Account of All the Orders of Knighthood at Present Existing in Europe, volume 1, London.

The ‘wisdom of the crowds’ regarding knightly orders and titles of nobility

Webster, Joseph Samuel; Sir Levett Hanson, Kt (1754-1814), Traveller; St Edmundsbury Museums.

I have always been surprised by the fact that discussions about the legitimacy of Orders of Knighthood trigger so much emotion. Although the topic is quite interesting, it does not have a great impact on society as a whole. Personally, I prefer to approach questions regarding legitimacy with a liberal view. In my opinion, Orders of Knighthood are legitimate when they do not misrepresent themselves to the public. This is not a widely accepted view. In many cases, specialized groups of internet participants have more radical views. Within such groups, witch hunts often evolve, whereby entire religious and ethnic groups are discredited. The forms of aggression are manifold and vary from expressions of disgust and contempt, to threats, slander, insults, and hatred. If the aggression is met with approval by other users, it can escalate and elicit a so-called online firestorm; a wave of negative and angry online comments in social media (Pfeffer et al. 2013).

It is interesting to see to what extent the judgments of such groups are reliable.


Wikipedia uses the term ‘self-styled’ regularly to discredit Knightly Orders and related topics. Wikipedia defines ‘self-styled orders’ as follows:

A self-styled order or pseudo-chivalric order is an organisation which claims to be a chivalric order, but is not recognised as legitimate by countries or international bodies. Most self-styled orders arose in or after the mid-18th century, and many have been created recently. Most are short-lived and endure no more than a few decades.

Wikipedia entry ‘Self-styled order

Obviously, the anonymous writers (‘Wikipedians‘ as they are called) of the aforementioned article think that they have enough authority to approve or disapprove the legitimacy of Knightly Orders. Labeling entire groups and entities as ‘self-styled’ implies claiming such authority:

If you describe someone as a self-styled leader or expert, you disapprove of them because they claim to be a leader or expert but they do not actually have the right to call themselves this. [disapproval] Two of those arrested are said to be self-styled area commanders. He fiercely criticised self-styled educational experts for ignoring Shakespeare. Synonyms: so-called, would-be, professed, self-appointed.

COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary.

Wikipedians consider themselves experts regarding Orders of Knighthood and related topics. It is hard to verify their expertise, but this does not hinder Wikipedians to label a number of groups, entities and persons as ‘self-styled’, or even ‘illegal’, as shown in the three examples below:

Levett Hanson (1754–1814), who styled himself as ‘Sir’ Levett Hanson, was an English-born author and courtier who was active at a number of European courts.

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, (Latin: Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, OSMTH), is a self-styled order and international NGO. 

The Vilatte Orders are awards or decorations associated Joseph René Vilatte which include the Order of the Crown of Thorns (OCT) and the Order of the Lion and the Black Cross (OLBC). Both are condemned by the Holy See and Italy lists both as illegal decorations.


Social media

On Facebook, discussions about the legitimacy often escalate and become very aggressive and emotional. A recent post in a group called Orders of Knighthood and Merit shows that the atmosphere in this group is often very unpleasant:

Dear chivalrous Friends,

I thought about writing something here for a long time, but in the last few days the tone in the posts in this group has become unbearable.

Facebook is supposed to be fun and the first rule of this group is that you should be friendly with one another. But now I have the feeling that I am in a kind of police state.

I am a member of the SMOM and the PMM and the tone here is not acceptable. I will leave this group and I advise some people here to be more humble. In my opinion the most important of the chivalric virtues. That’s the problem today. Everyone talks about chivalry but doesn’t live it. That’s annoying.

I wish everyone here in the group all the best, a little humility and charity. Because charity also begins here in facebook.

A member of the Facebook group Orders of Knighthood and Merit, a private group with 668 members (4 April 2021)

Both Wikipedians who write about Knightly Orders and the members of the Facebook group Orders of Knighthood and Merit are supposed to have a more than average knowledge about their subject of interest. This article investigates to what extend the opinions produced by these individuals can be seen as reliable in light of the theory that a crowd possesses more knowledge than an individual.

‘Wisdom of the crowds’?

The wisdom of the crowds is the combined opinion of a group of individuals. It is believed by some that this ‘wisdom’ outperforms the opinion of a single expert (Surowiecki, 2004). Crowds wisdom works best when there is a single correct answer to a question:

Groups will do better than individuals in choosing a correct answer, and big groups better than little ones, as long as two conditions are met: the majority response “wins,” and each person is more likely than not to be correct. Social scientists have extended Condorcet’s theorem to questions having more than two possible answers. If people—workers, managers, customers—are more likely to choose the right answer than any of the wrong ones, then the plurality’s answer is highly likely to be right if the group is large enough.

Cass R. Sunstein. 2006. When Crowds Aren’t Wise. Harvard Business Review (Sep 2006).

However, when each individual in a group is more likely to be wrong than right because relatively few people in the group have access to accurate information, the likelihood that the group’s majority will decide correctly falls toward zero as the size of the group increases. Adding more Wikipedians to an article can improve article quality only when Wikipedians use appropriate coordination techniques, which often is not the case. In most cases, no coordination techniques are applied, which degrades the article severely (Kittur, 2008). This is why designations of anonymous Wikipedians regarding ‘self-styled orders’ are probably always incorrect. Wisdom on social media does not come from the crowds, but from a few experts (Baeza-Yates, 2015). To put it simply: I prefer to undergo medical treatment by one qualified doctor instead of by ten Wikipedians. The following two case studies show that crowds can produce unreliable articles.

Case study 1: meaning of the term ‘knight’

Wikipedians describe an “Order of chivalry” more or less correctly.

An order of chivalryorder of knighthoodchivalric order, or equestrian order is an order of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Catholic military orders of the Crusades (circa 1099–1291), paired with medieval concepts of ideals of chivalry.

Since the 15th century, orders of chivalry, often as dynastic orders, began to be created in a more courtly fashion that could be created ad hoc. These orders would often retain the notion of being a confraternity, society or other association of members, however, some of them were ultimately purely honorific, consisting of a medal decoration. In fact, these decorations themselves often came to be known informally as orders. These institutions in turn gave rise to the modern-day orders of merit of sovereign states.

Wikipedia entry ‘Order of chivalry

Wikipedia’s definition of a ‘knight’ however is incorrect.

knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity.

(…) knighthood is generally granted by a head of state, monarch, or prelate to selected persons to recognise some meritorious achievement, as in the British honours system, often for service to the Church or country. 

Wikipedia entry ‘Knight

This description contradicts Wikipedia’s aforementioned description of Order of Knighthood that correctly implies that knights in the European Middle Ages were formally professed cavalrymen.

A more accurate description is given by Britannica:

Knight, French chevalier, German Ritter, now a title of honour bestowed for a variety of services, but originally in the European Middle Ages a formally professed cavalryman.

Britannica entry ‘Knight’

The contributors of an article in Britannica are fully traceable and the article’s history is transparently recorded. The additions of each author are specified. There is no ‘wisdom of the crowd’ involved, but instead, Britannica applies – in line with Baeza-Yates’ findings – the wisdom of a few experts. This is why Britannica is far more reliable than Wikipedia.

Case study 2: Disqualification of persons and groups

Sir Levett Hanson

Wikipedia’s labeling of Sir Levett Hanson (1754-1814) as a “self-styled Sir” is unreliable. Instead, there are good reasons to accept that Levett Hanson correctly used the prefix of “Sir”:

In 1780 Hanson became the Councillor to the Prince of Limbourg, the Duke of Holstein, at Ghent. He was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Duke’s Order of St. Philip, from which he derived his title “Sir”. His “diploma” recording his knighthood and entitlement to the title “Sir” was duly registered with the English College of Arms, an extract of which can be seen below, taken from the 1828 book by Francis Townsend, FSA, the “Calendar of Knights; Containing Lists of Knights Bachelors, British Knights of Foreign Orders, Also Knights of the Garter, Thistle, Bath, St. Patrick and the Guelphic and Ionian Orders“, listing all knighthoods and orders of knighthood recorded in the English College of Arms’ records. Townsend served as the English College of Arms’ Windsor Herald. Hanson, a serious student of knightly orders, would have been careful to make sure any honours of dignities bestowed upon him were carefully recorded with the proper authorities.

Website of the Order of Saint Joachim
Francis Townsend W. Pickering, 1828 – Knights and knighthood – 224 pages, Calendar of Knights: Containing Lists of Knights Bachelors, British Knights of Foreign Orders, Also Knights of the Garter, Thistle Bath, St. Patrick and the Guelphic and Ionian Orders; from 1760 to the Present Time, P. xxxiii. The work shows the prefix of “Sir” in Hanson’s entry.

Traditionally, the prefix of Sir is used for men who are titled “knights” of, for example, orders of chivalry, and later also to baronets, and other offices. 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 (source:

In addition, Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (1848, p. 261) also designates Hanson as “Sir”: “SIR THOMAS GERY, F.R.S. and F.S.A.; b. 30 Nov. 1741 ; m. 1 Sept. 1774, Mary, dau. of Robert Hanson , Esq. of Normanton, co . York , and heir of her brother, Sir Levett Hanson, Knt., by whom (who d. 13 Sept. 1830) he had issue (…)“.

Hanson is not a self-styled ‘Sir’ but a knight, styled as ‘Sir’ by the College of Arms and by Burke’s Peerage. Wikipedia’s article should be revised.

Hanson was not the only member of the Order who was allowed the prefix “Sir”. General Sir Charles Imhoff was granted the Royal Warrant to accept and wear the Grand Cross of The Order of Saint Joachim on 18 May 1807 on recommendation of the English College of Arms. In addition, Imhoff obtained the right to use the prefix “Sir” in England by virtue of the award (source: The London Gazette, 30 May 1807; issue:16033; page:731). Other British subjects who were members the Order of Saint Joachim and recognized as such can be found in (among others). The Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland: In Two Volumes. Scotland and Ireland, Volume 2, p. 1211 by John Debrett, 1812.

Sovereign Military Order Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH)

The OSMTH cannot be seen as a self-styled or pseudo-order, as Wikipedia states. Its direct predecessor (the Order of the Temple) was approved by the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, in his imperial decree of 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 former Grandmaster of the OSMTH, Dom Antonio Campelo Pinto de Sousa Fontes (1878-1960) was the direct link with the Order that was founded by Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat (1773-1838) and that was recognized by Napoleon. In my opinion, it is therefore a legitimate commemorative order. Wikipedia’s description of the OSMTH is incorrect and should be revised (source:

Vilatte Orders

Wikipedia states that the Orders, associated with Archbishop Joseph René Vilatte (1854 – 1929) are “illegal” in Italy (see above). To back-up this statement, Wikipedia refers to Italian law:

A 1981 Italian law punishes violators who use honors with a fine of up to L. 2,500,000 (€ 1,291.14); and punishes violators who confer honors with imprisonment from six months to two years and a fine from L. 1,250,000 (€ 645.57) to L. 2,500,000 (€ 1,291.14)

Wikipedia, note a in the article about the Vilatte orders

Obviously, the Wikipedians who wrote the article are not lawyers, but nevertheless, claim authority to discredit a religious group as being illegal. The legal framework that governs honors in Italy is rather complicated as I have shown in an earlier article. Regarding the Valette Orders, Italian law does not apply since the Orders are located in the United Kingdom. Wikipedia refers to the general law defining administrative offences (Legge 24 novembre 1981 n. 689, in Gazzetta Ufficiale 30 novembre 1981, n. 329) that regulates the apparent and formal complicity of administrative sanctions, the former to be resolved with the application of a special provision (even in the event of complicity between penal and administrative sanctions), the latter with the application of the more serious sanction, increased up to threefold (Arts. 8 and 9). The Valette Orders are not “listed” by the Italian government as illegal. Therefore, Wikipedia’s disqualification is an act of defamation. The whole article should be rewritten in a neutral and professional manner. Also, modern research should be taken into account.

For over 70 years Archbishop Vilatte has often been caricatured as a charlatan and religious opportunist. However, modern scientific research by theologist Dr. Alexis Tancibok shows that, based on the discovery of new historical documents, a reevaluation of Vilatte’s reputation is justified. These documents show that – contrary to the traditional narratives – Archbishop Vilatte was above all a missionary, and a campaigner for his vision of Catholic orthodoxy. These new insights show that Vilatte was a renowned preacher, an inspiring leader, and published books and papers on the subjects of theology, liturgy and church history. Based on his teachings, the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi issues Orders to worthy individuals, of which The Chivalrous and Religious Order of the Crown of Thorns or L’Ordre Souverain, Chevaleresque, Nobilaire et Religieux de la Couronne d’Epines and The Sovereign, Knightly and Noble Order of the Lion and the Black Cross or L’Ordre Souverain, Chevaleresque, et Noble du Lion et de Croix Noire, are the most prominent. Both orders are at least 130 years old and well-documented. Therefore, they have a respectable history and tradition and should not be defamed as self-styled. Although criticised by some individuals, mostly regarding their foundation narratives, both orders can legitimately claim a historical background in the context of the development of the Independent Catholic churches (source: 

Case study 3: Deliberately misleading the public

The headship of the House of Savoy is disputed by two cousins: Vittorio Emanuele, Prince of Naples, who claims the title of King of Italy, and Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta, who claims the title of Duke of Savoy. The most prestigious order of chivalry of the House of Savoy is the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation. The status of the Order is comparable to the Habsburg Golden Fleece, the English Order of the Garter and the Papal Supreme Order of Christ. The Order of the Annunciation was reserved exclusively for distinguished persons who, apart from exemplary service, have to be Roman Catholic. The Wikipedia-article concerning the order is quite detailed and obviously written by a person with insight knowledge:

The Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation (ItalianOrdine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata) is a Roman Catholic order of knighthood, originating in Savoy. It eventually was the pinnacle of the honours system in the Kingdom of Italy, which ceased to be a national order when the kingdom became a republic in 1946. Today, the order continues as a dynastic order under the jurisdiction of the Head of the House of SavoyAmedeo, 5th Duke of Aosta, who is the order’s hereditary Sovereign and Grand Master.

Wikipedia entry: Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation

Because the Wikipedian who wrote the article is obviously well-informed, it is misleading that the article does not mention the fact that the fons honorum for issuing the Order of the Annunciation is claimed by the Prince of Naples. I find it hard to see how the Duke of Aosta even has a claim, since the Prince of Naples is the only son of the last King of Italy. The Duke is not. The last will and testament of the King makes no mention of another successor than his own son. The late Queen Maria Jose always acknowledged that her son was head of the dynasty. In other words, there is no reason for transmitting the succession to anyone else than the Prince of Naples. This is also the general view and the view of persons familiar with the matter.


Wikipedia is sometimes a good starting point for further research, but often the information provided is unreliable, since it is produced by anonymous and unorganized Wikipedians. Although the information on Wikipedia may be correct, it may also be incorrect. This is the case in the article about so-called self-styled orders. Perfectly legitimate persons, groups or entities are discredited by Wikipedians as ‘self-styled’. This is probably inspired by the admiration of some Wikipedians of certain individuals who are considered thought leaders in their communities.

Instead of using the term ‘self-styled’ it is better to specify a formation date and describe a group as factual as possible. The Wikipedia article about the Order of Saint Lazarus is an example of a more neutral contribution to the body of knowledge regarding Knightly Orders. It start