The Rwandan Peerage

In February 2007, a discussion on a Google platform devoted to heraldry focussed on the titles that were awarded by former King Kigeli of Rwanda (1936-2016). The eminent Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, 15th Baron of Cartsburn, president of the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry, an academic body, issued an invitation on 19 February 2007 as follows:

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

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

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

The Economist

Personally, I agree with the late King. The titles he issued, had a European flavour, which is not inappropriate. The titles of Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, Duke of Addis Abeba, Marquess of O’Shea and Earl Mountbatten of Burma (issued by European monarchs), for example, are also well-accepted. From a linguistic perspective, it would be difficult to issue African titles to Europeans and Americans. Stewart Saint-David’s interesting work “Grace and Favor” includes a list of Rwandan titles. Saint-David, chevalier de l’ordre national du Mérite, is an expert on Rwanda’s history and his work is authoritative:

Saint-David’s book, ‘Umwami: King Kigeli V and the Shattered Kingdom of Rwanda,’ the official biography of the last ruling monarch of the Nyiginya dynasty, highlights the vital role played by the nation’s kings in helping to foster the long-term peace and prosperity of its traditional society and culture. In 2017, in accordance with the last wishes of the late King, he was granted the honorific nobiliary title of Marquis of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and was also named a Knight of the Royal Order of Saint Michael of the Wing of Portugal, an ancient chivalric institution founded in the 12th century, whose Grand Master, H.R.H. Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, has for many years been a noted friend and supporter of the Royal House of Rwanda.

Prof. Saint-David’s later study, ‘Beloved of Amun-Ra: The Lost Origins of the Ancient Names of the Kings of Rwanda,’ centers on the genetic, linguistic, and cultural links between pharaonic Egypt and monarchical Rwanda. As a recognition of this innovative work, he was named a Knight Grand Collar of the Royal Order of the Drum by King Yuhi VI Bushayija of Rwanda, and in October, 2019, he was awarded the Dragomanov Medal for European Communication by the National Dragomanov Pedagogical University of Ukraine.

In March, 2020, Prof. Saint-David was appointed official historian of the Royal House of Rwanda, with the title of Kalinga Chronicler. He has recently published an illustrated survey, ‘In the House of Eternity: A Brief History of Ancient Egypt,’ created in collaboration with his wife, the photographer E. L. J. Saint-David. His latest volume, entitled, ‘In the Presence: Eyewitness Accounts of Foreign Visitors to the Royal Court of Rwanda, 1894-1922,’ is a small collection of excerpted writings by some of the European guests presented at the courts of Kigeli IV Rwabugili (r. 1853-1895) and Yuhi V Musinga (r. 1896-1931). He is currently in the early stages of research for a historical survey of Egypt under Roman and Byzantine rule.


Saint-David’s list is copied below. It can serve as a basis for answering degli Uberti’s question. However, a truly scientific sociological study of the matter would involve a sequence of prescribed steps: defining a specific research question that can be answered through empirical observation; gathering information and resources through detailed observation (e.g. from the Belgian colonial archives); forming a hypothesis; testing the hypothesis in a reproducible manner; analysing and drawing conclusions from the data; publishing the results; and anticipating further development when future researchers respond to and re-examine the findings.

(equivalent to the) Ducal title conferred by H.M. King Mutara III Rudahigwa (1959-2016)

H.M. Baudouin, King of the Belgians, Duc du Royaume (1955). This appointment is manifested by the gift of 120 spears; literally: Ijana Namakumyabiri, or ‘120. The equivalent to the title of duke/duc in European culture.

Ducal titles conferred by H.M. King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa (1959-2016)

H.E. Boniface Benzinge, Duc Benzinge (1989)

H.E. José Antonio da Cunha Coutinho, Duc da Cunha (2006)

H.E. Michael James Donnelly, Duc Donnelly (2006)

H.E. Dr. Carlos Alberto Evaristo, Duc Evaristo (2006)

H.E. Guye William Pennington, Duc Pennington (2016)

Marquesal titles conferred by the Crown of Rwanda (1959-2019)

Carlos Amato, Marquis de Ankober (2007)

Bruce Argueta, Marquis de Grandes Lagos (2012)

Stephen-Michael Besinaiz, Marquis de Besinaiz (2006)

Mark Andrew Bickham, Marquis Bickham (2016)

Melissa C. Bickham, Marquise Bickham (2016)

Philip Bonn, Marquis de Saint-Philippe de la Sainte-Trinité (2016)

Stephan Urs Breu, Marquis de Saint-Othmar (2016/17)

Timoleon de Carmain-Perillos, Marquis Perillos (2006)

Michael James Donnelly, Marquis de Faifo (2006)

Matthew Dupee, Marquis Dupee (2012)

Alfredo Escudero y Díaz-Madroñero, Marquis de Gori (2006)

Alberto d’Ornellas e Vasconcelos-Jardim, Marquis Jardim (2007)

Dr. Carl Edward Lindgren, Marquis Lindgren (2005)

Luis Lorenzato, Marquis Lorenzato (2010)

Albert (‘Alex’) Montague, Marquis Montague (2006)

Maria Alonso Montague, Marquise Montague (2006)

João Saldanha de Oliveira Sousa, Marquis de Rio Maior (2006)

David Ashley Pritchard, Marquis Pritchard (2006)

Bianca Maria Rusconi, Marquise Rusconi (2006)

Stewart Addington Saint-David, Marquis de Saint-Jean-Baptiste (2017)

R. L. Tatman, Marquis Tatman (2012)

John Thoma, Marquis de São Tome (2006)

Alfredo Luigi degli Uberti, Marquis degli Uberti (2006)

Dr. Maria Loredana degli Uberti Pinotti, Marquise degli Uberti (2007)

Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, Marquis degli Uberti (2007)

Comital titles conferred by the Crown of Rwanda (1959-2019)

Evangelos Andreou, Comte Andreou (2012)

Bruce Argueta, Comte de Guerra (2012)

Stephen-Paul Besinaiz, Comte de Saint-Paul (2006)

Katherine Michelle Bickham, Comtesse Bickham (2016)

Kristina Schwing Bickham, Comtesse Bickham de Saint-Anselm (2016)

Mark Andrew Bickham, Comte Bickham/Comte de Saint-Anselm (2006)

John Bishop, Comte Bishop (2012)

Alberto Bochicchio, Comte Bochicchio (?)

Philip Bonn, Comte Bonn de Seton de Winton (2016)

Paul Borrow-Longain, Comte Borrow-Longain (2016)

Dr. Abel Madeira Botelho, Comte de Ribadouro (2006)

Dr. Paul Dreschnack, Comte Dreshnack (2006)

Matthew Dupee, Comte Dupee (?)

Dr. Carlos Evaristo, Comte de Santa Ana (2006)

Dr. William Kautt, Comte Kautt (2006)

Carl W. Lemke, Comte de Saint-Aretas (2016)

Johannes T. Niederhauser, Comte Niederhauser (2009)

João Saldanha de Oliveira Sousa, Comte de Azinhaga (2006)

Dr. Patrick O’Shea, Comte d’Alby (2012)

Dr. Craig Paterson, Comte de Saint-Blane (2006/17)

Guye William Pennington, Comte de Gerdon (2015)

Jason Psaltides, Comte Psaltides (2012)

Ulisses Rolim, Comte de Rolim et Reigada (2007)

João Pedro de Saboia Bandeira de Mello Filho, Comte de Saboia de Mello (2016)

Terrence Sarros, Comte Sarros (2012)

Felix Andreas Schweikert, Comte de Schweikert (2016)

Tullio Signoracci, Comte Signoracci (1994)

Francisco Fonseca da Silva, Comte de Torre et Ervededo (2006)

Lehman Smith, Comte de Saint-Christophe (2012)

Luis Filipe Costa da Sousa Azevedo, Comte de Queluz (2006)

Abilio Rodas de Sousa Ribas, Comte de Soajo (2006)

John Thoma, Comte de São Tome (2006)

Vicecomital titles conferred by the Crown of Rwanda (1959-2019)

Reynord Araya Morales, Vicomte Araya de Santa Maria (2016)

Miles Alan Calvin, Vicomte Calvin (2014)

Mathieu Chaine, Vicomte de Kercaden (2016)

Christopher A. Chambers, Vicomte l’Arrivée (2016)

Richard Comyns of Ludston, Vicomte Ludston (2016)

Massimo J. Ellul, Vicomte Ellul (2016)

Antonio Gonzalez-Aller y Suevos, Vicomte de Regina Coeli (2006)

Dr. Enrico Melson, Vicomte Melson de Saint-Luc (2016)

José María de Montells y Galán, Vicomte de Portadei (2006)

Stewart Addington Saint-David, Vicomte Saint-David de Grandpré (2016)

Baronial titles conferred by the Crown of Rwanda (1959-2019)

Reynord Araya Morales, Baron de Saint-Rafael de Araya (2006/2017)

Vickie Argueta, Baronne de St. Victoria (2012)

Jonas A—–, Baron d’Ireba (2016) [this person prefers to remain anonymous]

Alessandro Berghinz, Baron Berghinz (2012)

Jonathan Besinaiz, Baron de Saint Margaret (2012)

Stephen-Michael Besinaiz, Baron de Santa Ana (2006)

Dr. Abel Madeira Botelho, Baron Botelho (2006)

Myles Alan Calvin, Baron Calvin (2013)

Fabio Cavallero, Baron Cavallero (2016)

Joseph Cotto, Baron Cotto (2015)

Ron Crossman, Baron Crossman (2012)

Murray Lee Eiland, Jr., Baron Eiland (2015)

David Lacey Garrison, Baron de Tranent et Cockenzie (2007)

Jean-Paul Gauthier de la Martinière, Baron Gauthier de la Martinière (2014)

Alfred Krupa, Baron (de) Krupa (2013/2016)

Carl W. Lemke, Baron Eligius (2016)

Mark Lindley-Highfield of Ballumbie Castle, Baron de Sainte-Rose de Lima (2016)

Arai Daniele degli Marquesi degli Bagni Vasta, Baron de Canicattini-Bagni (?)

Dr. Enrico Melson, Baron Melson de Saint-Luc (2016)

Angelo Musa, Baron Musa (2012)

João Vicente Saldanhade Oliveira Sousa, Baron de Saldanha (2006)

Dr. Patrick O’Shea, Baron O’Shea (2010), Baron d’Alby (2012)

Dr. Craig Paterson, Baron de Blane (2016)

João Pedro de Saboia Bandera de Mello Filho, Baron de Saboia Bandera de Mello (?)

Dr. George Said-Zammit, Baron Said-Zammit (2007)

Stewart Addington Saint-David, Baron de Grandpré (2013)

Barrie Schwortz, Baron Schwortz (2012)

Angelo Anthony Sedacca, Baron Sedacca de [1] Saint-Michel, [2] Saint-Pierre, [3] Saint-Nicholas and [4] Saint-Jean (2016)

Dr. Luciano Sini, Baron Sini (2014)

Daniel Stattin, Baron Stattin (2016)

Kenneth Yee Man Tse, Baron Stourhead (2017)

William Welsh, Baron Welsh (?)


Saint-David, Stewart. (2019). The Foreign Honorific Peerage of the Royal House of Abanyiginya of Rwanda.