As deposed dynasties do not form part of a state any more, it might appear that holders of their nobiliary titles do not belong to the nobility of the region over which the dynasty once ruled. This article examines if this assumption is correct. I will first examine a case where the monarch is the Head of State and subsequently examine three cases where the dynasty is deposed.
All modern British honours, including peerage dignities, are created by the Crown (analogous to all intents and purposes to the reigning Sovereign, currently HM Queen Elizabeth II). Therefore, the Crown is the fons honorum for all British honours. Every year, the final list of those nominated for honours is prepared by the Main Honours Committee at 10 Downing Street. The list incudes life peerages and knighthoods. When approved by the Committee, it is submitted, through the Prime Minister, to The Queen. The creations take effect when letters patent are issued, affixed with the Great Seal of the Realm; the chief seal of the Crown as a symbol of the Sovereign’s approval. In today’s constitutional monarchy, the Sovereign acts on the advice of the Government, but the Great Seal of the Realm remains an important symbol of the Sovereign’s role as Head of State:
The Queen is as much the Queen of New South Wales (In re Bateman’s Trust (1873) 15 Eq 355, 361) and Mauritius (R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex p Bhurosah  1 QB 266, 284) and other territories acknowledging her as head of state as she is of England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the United Kingdom. Thus the Secretary of State as a servant of the Crown exercises executive power on behalf of the Crown in whatever is, for purposes of that exercise of executive power, the relevant capacity of the Crown.R (Al Rawi and others) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and another  EWCA Civ 1279, paragraph 9.
Along with the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Crown is an integral part of the institution of Parliament. The Queen plays a constitutional role in opening and dissolving Parliament and approving Bills before they become law. When a bill has been approved by a majority in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, it is formally agreed to by the Crown. This is known as the Royal Assent. It transforms a Bill into an Act of Parliament, allowing it to become law in the United Kingdom.
Because in Britain, the State and its sovereign are entwined, the peers created by the sovereign belong to the peerage of the state. The peerage of the United Kingdom is the legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various noble ranks, and forming a constituent part of the British honours system. Therefore, a person who is granted a peerage by The Queen belongs to the British peerage.
Sovereign rights after the monarch is deposed
This situation is different when a monarch is involuntarily deposed: the monarch and the state are not entwined any more, but the two are separated. It is in line with international legal principles that (ex-)rulers continue to possess their sovereign rights (see Hugo Grotius’ De iure belli ac pacis; English: On the Law of War and Peace. Paris 1625), and therefore still hold the fons honorum to create nobiliary titles:
That is called Supreme, whose Acts are not subject to another’s Power, so that they cannot be made void by any other human Will. When I say, by any other, I exclude the Sovereign himself, who may change his own Will, as also his Successor, who enjoys the same Right, Cacheranus Decis Pedem. 139. n. 6. and consequently, has the same Power, and no other.Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace, edited and with an Introduction by Richard Tuck, from the Edition by Jean Barbeyrac (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005. Vol. 1. 8/16/2020). https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1425, Book 1, Chapter 3, paragraph 7
The character of the holder of this supreme authority is probably the most important dimension of sovereignty (source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
King Kigeli V of Rwanda
It has been stated by some individuals that the last King of Rwanda, King Kigeli V (1936-2016), did not enjoy sovereign powers under the Belgium suppression and that therefore he did not have the competence to create a Western-style nobiliary framework after being deposed.
Rwanda existed long before European colonization. Modern human settlement of what is now Rwanda dates from, at the latest, the last glacial period, either in the Neolithic period around 8000 BC, or in the long humid period which followed, up to around 3000 BC.
Gihanga (“Creator”, “Founder”) (1081-1114) is described in oral histories as an ancient Tutsi king credited with establishing the ancient Kingdom of Rwanda. In the 15th century, the population coalesced first into clans and then into kingdoms. The Kingdom of Rwanda dominated from the mid-eighteenth century, with the Tutsi kings conquering other monarchs militarily, thus centralising power. It had its own political and socio-economic organization, its culture and customs.
The Berlin Conference of 1884 assigned the territory to Germany as part of German East Africa, marking the beginning of Rwanda’s colonial era. The German explorer Gustav Adolf Graf von Goetzen was the first European to significantly explore the country in 1894. He crossed from the south-east to Lake Kivu and met king Kigeli IV Rwabugiri at his palace in Nyanza. The Germans did not significantly alter the social structure of the country, but exerted influence by supporting the king and the existing hierarchy and delegating power to local chiefs.
The Kingdom of Rwanda was a sovereign nation. In the pre-colonial era the King of Rwanda held the supreme authority over a very complex administrative structure of interdependence of political, administration, military, social, economic and religion, based on the clan and lineage which appears behind each ruling structure:
Contrary to the German occupation, during the suppression by the Belgians (1916-1962), the King of Rwanda’s executive power were limited. The colonizer institutionalized “chefferies” and “sous-chefferies” by regrouping ancient royal political – administrative entities but removed the chiefs of the land, the chiefs of pastures and the chiefs of the army. In the same occasion, the Mortehan Reform of 1926-1931 by the Belgians changed the ethnic power distribution in the new commands by removing average Hutu, Twa and Tutsi and replacing them by people from the major Tutsi lineages (matridynastic or dynastic and princes). Also, the king could no longer choose his chiefs, and he could not dismiss them. His power was weakened while that of the colonizer was reinforced. The King of the Belgians usurped the King of Rwanda’s sovereignty. During the Mortehan Reform, Rwanda was transformed inside out on political, administrative, social and culture levels. In five years time, Belgium destroyed Rwanda’s centuries old civilization.
In view of the forementioned, it is perfectly legitimate for the former King Kigeli V of Rwanda to issue Western-style nobiliary titles. His dynastic rights as a sovereign should be considered the same as in the pre-colonial era, when he had supreme authority. In my opinion, titleholders can state legitimately that they belong to the Rwandan peerage as it is perfectly clear who is the sole legitimate issuer of such titles.
The case of Prince Francesco and Prince Thorbjorn Paternó Castello
Paternò Castello is a Sicilian noble family that was very powerful and influential in eastern Sicily, especially in Catania. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the family acquired numerous possession and titles. The family can be divided into six branches: two princely (Biscari and Valsavoia), two ducal (Carcaci and Paternò Castello Guttadauro), one marquisate (San Giuliano), and two baronial (Bicocca and Sant’Alessio).
Paternò Castello descends from the Royal House of the Counts of Barcelona, later Kings of Aragon. The House of Barcelona was a medieval dynasty that ruled the County of Barcelona continuously from 878 and the Crown of Aragon from 1137 (as kings from 1162) until 1410. They inherited most of the Catalan counties by the thirteenth century and established a territorial Principality of Catalonia. This principality was united with the Kingdom of Aragon through marriage and conquering numerous other lands and kingdoms. In 1410, the last legitimate male of the main branch, Martin the Humanist, died but cadet branches of the house continued to rule Provence from 1112 to 1245, and Sicily from 1282 to 1409. By the Compromise of Caspe of 1412 the Crown of Aragon passed to a branch of the House of Trastámara, descended from the infanta Eleanor of the house of Barcelona.
The Crown of Aragon continued to exist until 1713 when its separate constitutional systems (Catalan Constitutions, Aragon Charters, and Charters of Valencia) were disbanded by the Nueva Planta decrees at the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. The decrees effectively created a Spanish citizenship or nationality, which judicially no longer distinguished between Castilian and Aragonese with respect to both rights and law. Since then, independent Aragonese monarchs seized to exist. Nonetheless, Spanish monarchs up to Felipe VI (1968), continue to use titles that were affiliated to the defunct Crown of Aragon.
The House of Paternò is originally a cadet branch of the House of Barcelona-Aragona. This genealogical relationship is the basis for the dynastic claims of two brothers; prince Francesco Paternò Castello (*1964) and prince Thorbjorn Paternò Castello (*1976).
I have examined the legitimacy of both claims earlier in a 2016 article. At least two individuals are of the opinion that prince Thorbjorn’s claims are not legitimate:
The fons honorum of the House of Paternò is heavily challenged by Guy Stair Sainty, stating that as a junior member of a junior branch of the family don Roberto has no right to claim any prerogative pertaining to its chief, whether or not such prerogative actually exists (Guy Stair Sainty and Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, World Orders of Knighthood and Merit 2006).
In 1973 Lt Col Robert Gayre published a booklet in which he states that “certain observations should be made which, in our opinion, destroy completely these historical claims. The Papal legitimation which is brought forward to allow the desired descent was, in itself, insufficient to transfer any title to the Crown of Aragon. Furthermore, as Aragon did not have the Salic law, the descent of the crown could pass through a female line. Consequently, even if the legitimization had put Don Pedro Sancho into the line of succession, that succession would have gone through a female line on the extinction of the male descent – and so to the house of Paternò would have been out of succession in any case.”. (…) It is clear that no matter how distinguished is the house Paternò, it cannot claim to be the heirs of the Kingdom of the Balearic Isles or of Aragon.” (Lt Col R. Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, A Glimpse of the Chivalric and Nobiliary Underworld, Lochore Enterprises (Malta) Ltd. Valetta, Malta, pp. 27-28).R.A.U. Juchter van Bergen Quast, Legal Opinion: The Fons Honorum of the House of Paternò Castello, 2016
The forementioned statements by Sainty and Gayre are incorrect and obsolete. On 12 December 2017, the judicial court of Reggio Emilia in Italy confirmed the legitimacy and legality of prince Thorbjorn to grant titles and honours (his fons honorum). In response to the accusation of the Italian public prosecutor that prince Thorborn is not a descendent of the House of Aragon, nor a legitimate claimant to its dynastic rights, the court ruled very clearly:
- There is no evidence that the crucial document for the claim, a statement issued by King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (1810-1859), in whose realm the family resided, is false (as had been stated by the public prosecutor):
- In ancient Sicily, titles could not only be inherited by the firstborn child, but also by other sons and daughters (the public prosecutor stated that succession could only take place through the male line):
The forementioned Paternò Castello-case is fascinating: it is the only case where the fons honorum of a royal claimant is sanctioned by an authoritative legal judgment in a case against the state prosecutor. The case was initiated by the SMOM. The consequence of the judgment is that the legitimacy and legality of the claimed dynastic rights of prince Thorbjorn Paternò Castello are definite.
In my opinion, holders of titles from both brothers should specify clearly that their titles originate from the house of Paternò Castello in the capacity of claimant to the dynastic rights of Aragon and Valencia because otherwise, confusion can arise about their origin as the King of Spain also claims these rights. In addition, Aragon and Valencia do not longer exist as independent regions, which also adds to the confusion. It is more practical to just refer to the House Paternò Castello, for example: Barone di Montichelvo (title issued by the Princely House of Paternò Castello).
The case of King Peter of Yugoslavia
Peter II was the son of Alexander I, who was assassinated during a visit to France on 9 October 1934. He became titular king at age 11, but the actual rule was in the hands of a regent, his uncle Prince Paul. After Paul was deposed by a coup of officers led by General Dušan Simović on 27 March 1941, Peter II ruled for a few weeks until Fascist troops invaded Yugoslavia. Peter II then fled into exile in London, where he led an émigré government. In 1944, he married Princess Alexandra of Greece, and, after the Yugoslav monarchy was abolished by general Tito in 1945, he settled in the United States. He wrote A King’s Heritage: The Memoirs of King Peter II of Yugoslavia (1955) and worked in the public relations sector in New York (source: Encyclopaedia Britannica).
It was not the first time that the king visited the United States. His first visit to America started on 24 June 1942 with his reception at the White House where he was accorded warm hospitality by President Roosevelt. He was welcomed with full honours that even exceeded the official protocol (source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia).
Addressing King Peter in a very moving speech, President Roosevelt said that as a young man, he read about the 500-year-long Serbian struggle for national liberation and the establishment of its sovereignty, with great interest and deep emotions. In response to this warm welcome, King Peter thanked President Roosevelt and the American people for the understanding and moral support showed for the struggle of his people (source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia).
Peter II died in Denver, Colorado, on 3 November 1970. He was interred in Saint Sava Monastery Church at Libertyville, Illinois, and was the only European monarch so far to have been buried in the United States. On 22 January 2013, King Peter’s remains were returned to Belgrade. The former King was buried in the Royal Family Mausoleum at Oplenac on 26 May 2013 along with his wife, Queen Alexandra. The Serbian Royal Regalia were placed over the King’s coffin. Present at the ceremonies were: the First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Ivica Dačić; King Peter’s son Alexander with his family; and Serbian Patriarch Irinej, an advocate for the restoration of the Serbian monarchy.
The acts of Peter II during his period in exile (1945 – 1970) are the acts of a sovereign, who was forced by the Communist Josip Broz Tito to give up his position. According to Hugo Grotius’ principles of international law, Peter II still enjoyed sovereignty after he had been deposed. Do recipients of noble titles, issued by King Peter II belong to the Yugoslav nobility?
I will answer this question on the basis of the complicated case of Thomas Shannon Foran (born, 1925, New London, Connecticut, United States – died, 2005, Neuilly-Sur-Seine, Hauts-De-Seine, Île-De-France, France; as Thomas Foran de Saint Bar; France Death Index, 1970-2020). The New York Times reported his obituary:
FORAN–Thomas. Thomas Shannon, Baron Foran, duc de Saint Bar, died October 15, at home in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France, after a long illness. Baron Foran was born in New Haven, CT. In 1943, he volunteered as a paratrooper and joined the 82nd Airborne division, serving in the African, Sicilian, and Italian campaigns, and parachuted behind German lines at Draguignan, France. He was wounded in France and in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. His medals include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart with two palms, and the Yugoslav War Cross. He was aide-de-camp to King Peter II of Yugoslavia and thereafter championed and published several books on the Yugoslav Karageorges Royal Family. After the war he lived in Paris, where he represented European wines and spirits in the US. He was a Knight Grand-Cross with sash of the Sovereign Order of Malta, an order he served in many capacities for 45 years. In recent years, his commentaries in European journals provided insights on European royalty and the breakup of Yugoslavia. He will be remembered gratefully by family and friends for his unconditional love, loyalty, and friendship; values that shaped his life. He is survived by a sister, Theodora Jones, his niece and adopted daughter, Valerie Knox Carter, their families, and by Marc Gantzer de Saint Bar. A Memorial Mass will be held at 10 am, Friday, November 4th, 2005, at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, 213 Broadway, Norwich, CT. Entombment in the Shannon mausoleum at St. Mary’s Cemetery, 815 Boswell Ave, will follow the Mass.New York Times, 31 October 2005. Note: Forian was a member of King Peter’s independent Order of Malta, formed by the King on 19 March 1964.
Foran was the son of John Kennedy Foran and Madeleine Valerie. King Peter II issued a diploma, dated 30 March 1941, issuing to him the title of duc de Saint Bar. Obviously, the diploma has been backdated to a period when Peter II ruled over Yugoslavia as a monarch. Is the backdating of the diploma acceptable from a legal perspective?
Clearly, Peter II wanted to explicitly backdate the effects of the diploma in his capacity as ruling monarch of Yugoslavia. The diploma could factually have been issued later in the Common Law jurisdictions of England or the United States (the King’s subsequent main residences after the war), or in France, where the King lived in the 1950’s.
In Common Law, if backdating a document misleads a third party or gives a false impression about when an action was taken, it may be fraudulent. Where both parties consent to the backdating of the document, normally the courts in common law jurisdictions will disregard the backdating of that document, and treat the rights as accruing from the date when the document was actually executed. In exceptional cases – where third party rights are not affected – the courts might treat the stated date as being the effective date. The parties’ intentions are essential when evaluating whether backdating is legal (source: Kwall, Jeffrey L. and Duhl, Stuart, Backdating. Business Lawyer, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1112845). In this case, the purpose and effect was not to mislead a third party, but to underline the sovereign powers of Peter II, and to oppose the usurpation of his throne by the fascists and communists, by attributing the legal effect of the diploma since 1943. When the diploma was factually created in France, which has a Civil Law jurisdiction, the conclusion is the same, based on the théorie de l’autonomie de la volonté (the principle of party autonomy and will). Therefore, Foran’s diploma is legal and legitimate, from a Common and Civil Law perspective as well as from an international law perspective.
On 4 December 1918, after the end of World War I and the defeat of Austria-Hungary, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed. In 1921, the so-called Vidovdan constitution was introduced. Under this new Constitution, the territory of the state was centralized, church authorities did not have the status of state authority, and the Church was only acknowledged the status of an autonomous organization. The Vidovdan Constitution established a constitutional monarchy. It further envisaged that the King did not have any authorities outside the Constitution, and that there were no authorities that could not be taken away from him under the Constitution. The Vidovdan Constitution followed the agreement between the Muslim party and the Serbian radicals to keep Bosnia and Herzegovina a separate administrative unit in this new kingdom. However, this constitution was not legitimate, because the provisions it rested on were not approved by the parliamentary majority of each nation separately but by the parliamentary majority of all nations together, where the three nations had unequal number of representative (source: Aksic, Sava: 2016). The Vidovdan constitution was annulled by King Alexander in 1929 and replaced by a new constitution in 1931. The name of the country was changed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The 1931-constitution defined the state as a hereditary and constitutional monarchy. Ministers and other high officials were dependent on the king. In 1946, after World War II, a Communist constitution was adopted (source: Constitutionnet.org).
Chapter II, Article 4 of the 1931 Constitution stipulated:
Држављанство је у читавој Краљевини једно. Сви су грађани пред законом једнаки. Сви уживају једнаку заштиту власти. Не признаје се племство ни титуле, нити икаква преимућства по рођењу.
There is but one single nationality in the whole Kingdom. All citizens are equal before the law. All enjoy equal protection from the authorities. Nobility, titles or other hereditary privileges are not recognized.licodu.cois.it
Did this article prevent King Peter from issuing nobiliary diplomas, after he left the country because it was occupied by Axis powers (since 6 April 1941)?
Art. 29. The King is the guardian of national unity and State integrity. He is the protector of their interests at all times. The King sanctions and promulgates the laws, appoints civil servants, and confers military rank, in accordance with the provisions of the law. The King is the supreme commander of all the military forces. He confers decorations and other distinctions.Art 29, Chapter V, The Constitution of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1931)
Art. 29 allows the King to confer decorations and other distinctions. Therefore, although nobiliary titles did not carry privileges, they could still be conferred. The sovereign powers King Peter II had as a monarch were still valid after he was deposed, including his right to confer decorations and other distinctions. In my opinion, this included the right to confer titles of honour, like duc de Saint-Bar.
Considering the date of the diploma, it was King Peter’s intention to issue the title in his capacity as sovereign monarch of Yugoslavia with legal effect from 1943 onwards. It can therefore be said that the recipient of the title and his successors belong to the nobility of Yugoslavia. In this case, there is no confusion, since Yugoslavia ceased to exist as a state in 1992 and it therefore should be understood, that the title has a historical character.
- In dynastic matters, it is inappropriate to follow the legal system of the usurper. Applying the Belgian colonial laws in the Kigali-case would be like applying the Soviet laws as criteria for judging the dynastic rights of the Russian imperial pretenders.
- Recognition by a court is rarely achieved. SMOM obviously never expected the outcome of the Paternò Castello-case, when it filed its criminal complaint against prince Thorbjorn Paternò Castello.
- It depends on the specific circumstances whether one can legitimately state that she/he belongs to the peerage of a country when the honour is issued by a deposed monarch. It is always important to be transparent in these matters.
- When a title is obtained from a deposed dynasty, I recommend being fully transparent about its origin by specifying the dynasty that issued the title; for example: Comte de Saint-Anselm (Royal House of Rwanda). Although, based on the principle of sovereignty, it is not incorrect to state that a person belongs to the Rwandan nobility, it can cause confusion regarding the issuer’s capacity. The same is true for other titles, issued by dynastic claimants.
- Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace, edited and with an Introduction by Richard Tuck, from the Edition by Jean Barbeyrac (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 1. 8/16/2020). <https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1425>.
- Blagojević A., Radonić, B. On the Constitution of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia of 1931, in: Journal of law and social sciences of the Law Faculty of University J.J. Strossmayer in Osijek = Zeitschrift für Rechts-und Sozialwissenschaften der Fakultät für Rehtswissenschaften der Universität J.J. Strossmayer in Osijek = Journal des sciences juridiq, Vol. 28 No. 1, 2012.
- Ranouil, V. L’Autonomie de la volonté: Naissance et évolution d’un concept, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, coll. « Travaux et recherches de l’Université de droit, d’économie et de sciences sociales de Paris », 1980.
- Aksic, Sava. (2016). Legitimacy of the Vidovdan Constitution and relationships established thereby. Zbornik radova Pravnog fakulteta, Nis. 55. 105-116. 10.5937/zrpfni1673105A.
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- Foran, T. D. (1973). Portrait d’un roi: Pierre II de Yougoslavie. Ivry sur Seine: Ed. SERG Société d’études et de réalisations graphiques.
- Mallet, G. (1994). Étude des titres nobiliaires Baron de Luis XIV, Duc de Saint Bar, portés par le citoyen americain Thomas Foran. París: S.n.
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- Heusch, L. D. (1966). Le Rwanda et la civilisation interlacustre. Université libre de Bruxelles: Institut de sociologie.
- Maquet, J. J. (1954). Le système des relations sociales dans le Ruanda ancien. Tervuren, Belgique: Musée Royal du Congo Belge.
- Grimm D.: Cooper B. (2015). Sovereignty: The Origin and Future of a Political and Legal Concept, New York: Columbia University Press.
- Judicial Court of Reggio Emilia, Judgement N. 500/17 of 12 December 2017.
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Scythian Messengers Meet the Persian King Darius I by Franciszek Smuglewicz. Creation Date: end of the 18th century – beginning of the 19th century. Provided by Lithuanian Art Museum. PD for Public Domain Marka by Franciszek Smuglewicz.
Franciszek Smuglewicz was a Polish-Lithuanian draughtsman and painter. Smuglewicz is considered a progenitor of Lithuanian art in the modern era. He was precursor of historicism in Polish painting. He was also a founder of Vilnius school of art, his most prominent students were Jan Rustem, Jan Krzysztof Damel, Gaspar Borowski and Józef Oleszkiewicz. His father Łukasz Smuglewicz and brother Antoni were also painters;
Franciszek Smuglewicz is one of the most famous Lithuanian Classicism painters, the first professor and the head of the Drawing and Painting Department established in late 18th century in Vilnius University. His artworks and educational activities made significant impact for the development of professional Lithuanian art. His ancient subject paintings were inspired by works of Antique authors, such as Herodotus, Plutarch, Homer, and Vergilius. Depicted scenes were given philosophic and moralising subtext, corresponding with the spirit of the Enlightened Classicism.
The painting “Scythian Messengers Meet the Persian King Darius I” depicts another reception scene. This time Persian king Darius I (550-486 BC) is portrayed after his unsuccessful campaign against the Scythians. Scythian messenger comes to Darius I and hands him a bird, a mouse, a frog, and five arrows. He tells that the Persians themselves must find out the meaning of these presents. King Darius is sitting in his throne, lost in his thoughts, trying to understand the meaning of gifts. His advisers gathered behind him also think intensely. In the opinion of the king, strange gifts mean the Scythians are to surrender to the Persians with soil and water. However, Gobryas, Darius’ lance carrier, one of the seven conspirators who killed the Magian usurper Gaumâta and helped Darius the Great to become the king, interprets the meaning of presents completely differently. According to him, the gifts tell this message: “Oh, the Persians! If you will not fly-away skywards like birds, or will not dig yourselves into the ground line mice, or will not jump into water like frogs, you will not return home, because these arrows will pierce you”.Both “Persian Envoys before the King of Ethiopia” and “Scythian Messengers Meet the Persian King Darius I“ promote the right of nations to be independent and to fight for their freedom. As the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ceased to exist in the late 18th century after its’ territory was partitioned among Prussia, the Austrian Empire, and the Russian Empire these ideas were very important at the time Franciszek Smuglewicz lived in and during the following years.Europeana.eu.