The legitimacy of modern knightly orders from a theological perspective

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

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

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

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

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

Activities of modern knightly orders

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

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

Henri d'Orléans, aujourd'hui comte de Paris, duc de France et actuel chef de la maison royale de France, pose pour le photographe, le 10 juin 2002 au Sénat à Paris, avant un discours officiel qu'il doit donner au Sénat à l'occasion de la présentation de son livre : "La France à bout de bras". AFP PHOTO MEDHI FEDOUACH

The French branch of the Order of Saint Lazarus enjoys its official Temporal Protection from the Royal House of France. AFP PHOTO MEDHI FEDOUACH. Other branches of the Order enjoy the protection of the Duke de Borbon Parma and the Duke of Sevilla.

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

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

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

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

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

Research questions

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

Literature Review

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

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

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

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

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

Brotherhood of the Blessed Gerard (2008). Retrieved 15 January 2008 from http://bbg.org.za/index.htm.

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

Hampton Keathley III, J. (1996), One Another’ commands of Scripture. Biblical Studies Press. Retrieved from http://www.bible.org/series.php?series_id=71 .

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

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

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

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

Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (2016a) website retrieved 10 July 2016 http://www.saintjohn.org/who/Chivalry

Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem (2016b) website retrieved 10 July 2016 http://www.stjohn.org.za/About-Us/What-We-Do

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

Velde. F., Legitimacy and Orders of Knighthood, (retrieved 14 July 2016) http://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/legitim.htm

Watke, E. (1992). “Biblical Couseling Seminar Material”. Retreived on 21 July 2008 from http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Books/Biblical%20Counseling.pdf

Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, website https://www.orderofmalta.int/humanitarian-medical-works/ 2016)

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

Legal Opinion: The Fons Honorum of the House of Paternò Castello

Antonino Paternò Castello, Marquis di San Giuliano (Catania, 9 December 1852 - Rome, 16 October 1914), Italian diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Antonino Paternò Castello, Marquis di San Giuliano (Catania, 9 December 1852 – Rome, 16 October 1914), Italian diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

1. Introduction

It may be safely said that the legitimate claimants to the headship of formerly reigning families can continue the prerogative to award their dynastic Orders and, to the extent that the last constitutions of those particular monarchies so permitted, enjoy the right to create or confirm titles of nobility. From a historical point of view, such creations should be in accordance with the legal requirements established before the fall of the monarchy. This may be a problem because it may not always be possible for a head of a dynasty to comply with the precise requirements of the dynastic law. The disappearance of an historic office or position however, is a fact that does not stand in the way of exercising the ancient dynastic rights, since these rights are connected to a specific family. To the extent that it is possible and practical, such requirements should be met and the various acts properly recorded (see for example: W.H. Jones, Granting of Orders and Titles by H.M. King Kigeli V of Rwanda) in order to make the awards of Orders and titles in accordance with its historical origin and therefore acceptable.

This article examines the Sovereign right (fount of honour or in Latin: fons honorum) to grant noble titles (see appendix) and create and administrate dynastic orders of three members of the well known Sicilian House of Paternò Castello, more in particular of prince Roberto II Paternò Castello and his two sons, the princes Francesco and Thorbjorn Paternò Castello. The House of Paternò claims dynastic rights regarding the ancient kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia. In an earlier article I studied what is meant by a person having the fons honorum to grant e.g. titles. The research question of this article is: to what extend do Roberto II Paternò Castello and his two sons have the right to grand titles of nobility and the right to administer dynastic knightly orders? My approach will be to examine the relevant documents and literature and to answer the question from both a historical (legitimate) and legal point of view.

2. Family background

The House of Paternò Castello is among the most prominent historical families of Italy. Over the course of the centuries the family held more than 170 main fiefs. The Paternò family were Peers of the Realm in Sicily until 1860, when the Kingdom of Sicily was annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia to form the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Since the beginning of the 18th century members of the family possessed five hereditary seats in the Sicilian Parliament.

Palazzo Biscari, a private palace in Catania, Sicily, was built by will of the Paternò Castello family, the princes of Biscari, starting from the late 17th century, lasting for much of the following century.

Palazzo Biscari, a private palace in Catania, Sicily, was built by will of the Paternò Castello family, the princes of Biscari, starting from the late 17th century, lasting for much of the following century.

The House of Paternò traces its origins to Prince Robert of Embrun and to the Sovereign House of Barcelona and Provence. The family arrived in Sicily in 1060 as part of the entourage of King Roger, seizing the castle of Paternò and assumed its name. The family obtained numerous honors and titles of nobility (see: Libro d’oro della nobiltà italiana). Amongst the principal titles of nobility held by the house of Paternò are: Princes of Biscari, Sperlinga (1627), Manganelli, Val di Savoja e Castelforte (1633); Dukes of Carcaci (1723), Furnari (1643), Giampaolo, Palazzo (1687), Paternò, Pozzomauro e San Nicola; Marquises of Capizzi (1633), Casanova, Desera (1806), Manchi, Regiovanni, Roccaromana, San Giuliano (1662), Sessa, del Toscano; Counts of Montecupo (1772); Barons of Aliminusa, Aragona, Spedolotto Alzacuda, Baglia e Dogana di Milazzo, Baldi, Belmonte, Bicocca, Bidani, Biscari, Burgio, Capizzi, Castania e Saline di Nicosia, Cuba, Cuchara, Cugno, Donnafugata, Ficarazzi, Gallitano, Gatta, Graneri, Imbaccari e Mirabella, Intorrella, Manchi di Bilici, Mandrile, Manganelli di Catania, Marianopoli, Mercato di Toscanello, Metà dei Terraggi di Licata, Mirabella, Motta Camastra, Murgo, Nicchiara, Officio di Mastro Notaro della Corte Capitaniale di Catania, Oxina, Placabaiana, Poiura, Porta di Randazzo, Pollicarini, Pozzo di Gotto, Raddusa e Destri, Ramione, Ricalcaccia, Salamone, Salsetta, San Giuliano, San Giuseppe, Sant’ Alessio, Scala, Schiso, Sciortavilla, Solazzi, Sparacogna, Spedalotto, Terza Parte della Dogana di Catania, Toscano; Lords of Baglio, Collabascia, Erbageria, Gallizzi, Mandrascate, Sciari, Sigona, del jus luendi of Camopetro (see: Libro d’oro della nobiltà italiana and real-aragon.org).

3. Criticism

The fons honorum of the House of Paternò is heavily challenged by Guy Stair Sainty, stating that as a junior member of a junior branch of the family don Roberto has no right to claim any prerogative pertaining to its chief, whether or not such prerogative actually exists (Guy Stair Sainty and Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, World Orders of Knighthood and Merit 2006).

In 1973 Lt Col Robert Gayre published a booklet in which he states that “certain observations should be made which, in our opinion, destroy completely these historical claims. The Papal legitimation which is brought forward to allow the desired descent was, in itself, insufficient to transfer any title to the Crown of Aragon. Furthermore, as Aragon dit not have the Salic law, the descent of  the crown could pass through a female line. Consequently, even if the legitimization had put Don Pedro Sancho into the line of succession, that succession would have gone through a female line on the extinction of the male descent – and so to the house of Paternò would have been out of succession in any case.”. (…) It is clear that no matter how distinguished is the house Paternò, it cannot claim to be the heirs of the Kingdom of the Balearic Isles or of Aragon.” (Lt Col R. Gayre of Gayre and Nigg, A Glimpse of the Chivalric and Nobiliary Underworld, Lochore Enterprises (Malta) Ltd. Valetta, Malta, pp. 27-28).

Therefore, the question arises if the Paternò claims can be taken seriously (both legitimate and legal).

4. Legitimacy of the claims

The Crown of Aragon became part of the Spanish monarchy after the Marriage of Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469. This dynastic union laid the foundations for the kingdom of Spain. It is considered a de facto unification of both kingdoms under a common monarch. The Decretos de Nueva Planta (promulgated between 1707 and 1715) ended the kingdoms of Aragon, Valencia and Mallorca and the Principality of Catalonia, and merged them with Castile to officially form the Spanish kingdom (I. Ruiz Rodríguez, Apuntes de historia del derecho y de las instituciones españolas, Dykinson, Madrid, 2005, p. 179; Albareda Salvadó, Joaquim, (2010). La Guerra de Sucesión de España (1700-1714). Barcelona: Crítica. pp. 228–229. ISBN 978-84-9892-060-4). The Decretos de Nueva Planta were a number of decrees issued between 1707 and 1716 by Philip V, king of Spain (grandson of Louis XIV, during and shortly after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession by the Treaties of Utrecht (1713-1714). An important document in this respect is the will of James I.

Recognitions of the claims

At the end of the 18th Century, Ignazio Vincenzo Paternò Castello, prince of Biscari, a man who took a deep interest in history (see: Giuseppe Guzzetta, Per la gloria di Catania: Ignazio Paternò Castello Principe di Biscari), , made a visit to the Balearic Islands. The notes he made during this visit were the basis of the investigations of Francesco, duke of Caraci, in the succeeding century. The events that followed are described by the website real-aragon.org as followed (documents retrieved from mocterranordica.org):

A family conclave, on the initiative of the Duke of Carcaci Don Francesco Paternó Castello e Sammartino, was called on the 14th of June 1853, and held in Palermo in the palace of the Marchese di Spedalotto, head of one of the more senior branches of the family. After a review of the relevant evidence and a wide-ranging discussion, it was the finding of the conclave that the royal rights, which had been the subject of the debate, should be confirmed as belonging to Don Mario, son of the Duke of Carcaci’s younger brother Don Giovanni and his wife Donna Eleonora Guttadauro of Emmanuel Riburdone, the heiress of the House of Guttadauro. This conclusion which had in fact already received the assent of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (in whose realm they resided), subject to ratification by the conclave, was reached on the recognition that Don Mario alone had the royal blood of Aragon in his veins from two sources, through the separate descents of both his mother and his father from King James the Conqueror. A family pact was then signed, registered on 16 June 1853 and sealed in the Chamber of Seals and Royal Registers of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was decreed that during the minority of Don Mario, his father Don Giovanni should be Regent.

Important documents in this respect are the book “L’Ordine del Collare” by the 7th duke of Carcaci, Don Francesco Maria Giuseppe (1786–1854), 1849/51; the funeral eulogy for the 7th duke of Carcaci,  by Francesco Tornabene, 1854; the letter from the Attorney General of 18 May 1851 and the circular from the governor of the province of Catania, 30 March 1853.

The sealing of the family pact was but one of a series of events following the death of the last Prince of Cassano which determined and confirmed the dynastic rights of the House of Paternó Castello Guttadauro. The final endorsement came on 2nd February 1860 when the Royal Commission for Titles of Nobility recommended to the new king Francis II that a petition by the Most Excellent Lord Don Mario Paternó Castello Guttadauro of the Dukes of Carcaci be granted. The petition was that the Prince should receive all confirmation of the Sovereign’s assent for those “chivalrous distinctions” which he wished to bestow. On 11th February 1860 the king approved the recommendation of the Royal Commission and directed the Secretary of State for Sicilian Affairs to give effect to his approval.

Important documents in this respect are the communication of the Royal Secretary of State, Palermo, 8th March 1860, the decree of H.M. Francesco II, Gaeta, 16 September 1860 and the verification of authenticity regarding the decree, from the City of Padova

The designated Regent, Don Giovanni, worked vigorously to assert the dynastic rights of the family. In doing so he was crowning the work of his elder brother the great Duke of Carcaci who had died in 1854, having spent his life establishing his family’s Royal dynastic rights and regulating the succession.

This series of events shows that a number of members of the family established recognized claims regarding the dynastic rights of ancient independent kingdoms in Italy and Spain.

Succession

The line of succession is claimed by the House of Paternò as follows: After the death of the last Prince of Cassano the heads of the different branches of the Paternò family met in family council at Palermo and recognised that the family’s royal rights were vested in Don Mario Paternò Castello Guttadauro d’Emmanuel of Don Giovanni Paternò Castello iure maritale Prince of Emmanuel (son of Don Mario Guiseppe IV Duke of Carcaci) and his wife Eleanor Guttadauro, last of the house of the Princes of Emmanuel and herself a descendant of the Kings of Aragon (real-aragon.org). The succession of the claim follows both the male and the female line:

  • 1859-1906 Mario I Paternò Castello, Prince of Emmanuel, m. Anna Spitaleri e Grimaldi of the Barons of Maglia and had issue:

1.  Giovanni (-1900) sp.
2.  Felice (-1880) sp.
3.  Enrico Prince of Emmanuel d. 1908 and was succeeded by his sister
4.  Eleanora who succeeded her brother

  • Eleanora Paternò Castello, princess of Emmanuel  m. 1906 her second cousin Roberto I Paternò Castello, Regent 1908-1934 B. of Francesco Mario I (1850-1915) 9th duke of Carcaci and had issue:
  • Francesco Mario II Paternò Castello,  prince of Emmanuel (1913-1968) succeeded when of age in 1934 m. (1) 1932 Angela Reboulet and had issue:
  • Roberto Enrico Francesco Mario Gioacchino Paternò Castello (1937-1996) married (1) Maria of the counts Fattori and has issue:

1.  Aurora (1962-), Duchess of Palma
2.  Francesco Nicola Roberto Paternò Castello (1964-), duke of Gerona m. on Jul 1990 Nob Guiseppina Campesi. Issue:

– Maria b. and d. 17 Mar 1991
– Roberto b. 15 Jul 1992 Duke of Palermo;
– Domenico b. 4 May 2001 Duke of Ayerbe

Prince Roberto m. (2) Bianca Monteforte (1948-1990), marchioness of Montpellier and had issue:

1.  Thorbjorn Paternò Castello (1976-), duke of Valencia

Don Roberto Paternò Castello abdicated in favor of his first son as well as in favor of his second son. To his first son (Francesco) he left the claims to the prerogatives the ancient kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca and Sicily. To his second son (Thorbjorn) he left the claims to the prerogatives of the ancient kingdoms of Valencia and Sardinia (see documents below).

Following these lines of succession, the legitimacy of the fount of honor of the House of Paternò in present circumstances is backed by the prestige of being a descendant in the female line of the early rulers of the ancient kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia, as well as the recognition of the fount of honor by the King of the Two Sicilies.

5. Legality of the claims

The pretensions of the House of Paternò Castello where also investigated more than once by various judicial courts in the 20th and 21st centuries. The little known 20th century cases were described as an example of the concept of fons honorum in and important Leiden PhD-thesis of Dr. Hans J. Hoegen Dijkhof. This section of the present article is also based on this thesis.

The Fount of honour and the power to grant nobility played a role in the various Paternò cases in Italy. On 1 April 1952, the ‘Pretura Unificata di Bari’, evidently a court of first instance in criminal cases, had to decide a criminal case against a certain Umberto Z., a resident of Bari, who had publicly presented himself as Count of St. Ilarico. Z. was prosecuted for violating article 496 of the Italian Penal Code, as he was denounced by an anonimous person for having committed this crime.

Important document: judgment of the Court of Bari (13 March 1952).

Retaining the Fons honorum
His decisive defense was inter alia that this title had been validly conferred upon him by the ‘Prince Emanuel Francesco Mario Paternò Castello di Caraci’. It appeared after a full investigation of all relevant documents by the Court, that this Prince belonged to one of the first families of Sicily, a family who are descendants of William I, the Conqueror, descendants of the Counts of Gascogne, the Kings of Navarre and Castil and that the Prince was a direct descendant of the Kings of Mallorca and the Baleares and was still Pretender to this throne. The Court found that on these grounds, he had retained his full rights of fons honorum, which meant according to the Court, that he had the power to nobilitate, to grant and confirm coats of arms and to award predicates, taken from places in which his ancestors in fact had exercised sovereign powers, not to mention his right to constitute, resuscitate, reform and exercise the ‘Grand Magistry’ of the chivalric Orders of the dynasty, which are passed from father to son as an insupprimable heredity of birth, which in the ascendants of the Prince had found in fact also a confirmation by Francesco II of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, in 1860. Z. was acquitted.

Legitimate power to grant honours
Then it was the Prince’s own turn. He was denounced on 14 July 1958 and prosecuted, as a resident of Brunate, before and condemned on 29 May 1962 by the ‘Pretore of Monsummano Terme’, the competent judge in first instance, to 4 months and 15 days imprisonment for having allegedly conferred false titles to a number of persons (Article 81 of the Penal Code and article 8 of Law 3.3.51 N.178.) but he was acquitted of several connected alleged counts (Articles 81cpv 640, 56, 640 of the Penal Code) for lack of evidence. He appealed with the ‘Tribunale di Pistoia’ and on 5 June 1964, this court of appeals confirmed his acquittal in first instance and annulled his condemnation in first instance. Basically, the Court said that the conferment to and acceptance of foreign honours, the honours conferred being foreign, by Italian citizens, was legal, while only the public use of these honours by Italian citizens was subject to authorisation by the President of the Republic, to properly safeguard the merits reserved to and represented by the honours bestowed by the Italian State. The Court had also investigated the fons honorum of the Prince and had found that he was the legitimate possessor of this faculty, which according to the Court was an expression of the honorific power of his house, which had been conserved by family tradition and had not suffered ‘debellatio’, the forced surrender of power. He was therefore entitled to grant the honours given by him, because the Court deemed that he had the legitimate power to grant these honours.

Important document: judgment of the Appeal Court in Pistoia (5 June 1964).

The quote from the website of the Corpo della Nobiltà Italiana Circolo Giovanilegt, section ‘Alcune domanda sulla nobiltà’, dated 24 December 2004, may further elucidate this point.

The Public Prosecutor did not institute cassation and it was therefore definitively established between the Italian State and the Prince that the Prince or his direct descendants, by using their fons honorum, can validly confer noble titles.

The courts involved had consulted independent experts who provided concurring opinions in arriving at their judgments. In this connection, reference can also be made to the well known legal  notion of res judicata (the principle that a matter may not, generally, be relitigated once it has been judged on the merits), which is based on the principle of public order of lites finiri oportet, the policy that there must be an end to litigation

6. Conclusions

Some critics regarding the dynastic claims of the House of Paternò lack objectivity. Their statements often do not express the idea that judging the Paternò-claims should not be influenced by particular perspectives, value commitments, community bias or personal interests, to name a few relevant factors. Stair Sainty’s remarks however are fully understandable. The question whether as a junior member of a junior branch of the family don Roberto had the right to claim any prerogative pertaining to its chief can be answered from both a legitimate and a legal point of view. From a legitimate perspective there are a number of cases where a junior branch came to eclipse more senior lines in rank and power, for example the Kings of Prussia and German Emperors who were junior by primogeniture to the Counts and Princes of Hohenzollern, and the Electors and Kings of Saxony who were a younger branch of the House of Wettin than the Grand Dukes of Saxe-Weimar. It is clear that the senior members of the House do not claim the any rights regarding the former kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia. Therefore it is perfectly legitimate that members of a cadet branch of the House pursue these claims.

Robert Gayre’s remarks concern the succession in the female line. He claims that succession is not possible in the female line. The House of Paternò’s claim is in accordance with the agnatic (or semi-Salic) succession, prevalent in much of Europe since ancient times. This succession is reserved first to all the male dynastic descendants of all the eligible branches by order of primogeniture, then upon total extinction of these male descendants to a female member of the dynasty. Former monarchies that operated under semi-Salic law included Austria (later Austria-Hungary), Bavaria, Hanover, Württemberg, Russia, Saxony, Tuscany, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Now that it clear that no male successors of the former kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia exist, the succession in the female line should also be considered as legitimate.

Over the last 60 years at least two independent judicial courts came to the conclusion that the fount of honor of the House is valid. It is very rare that the fons honorum of a family is backed by judicial decisions. As a matter of fact, the House of Paternò is one of the few royal Houses whose pretensions are not only raised by the family but also declared valid by the courts.

It is therefore surprisingly that in the 21st century the claims were again challenged in court in a matter regarding an interlocutory freezing order by an Italian public prosecutor. The seizure was lifted because the court (again) confirmed the fons honorum of the House of Paternò.

Important documents: Tribunale Ordinario di Roma dated 19 December 2013 and  A. Squarti Perla, Sulla sovrana prerogativa come patrimonio famigliare dinastico-titolarità delle sovrane prerogative e del patrimonio araldico della famiglia ex regnante spettanti, jure sanguinis, al re spodestato, purché non debellato, in «Studi della real casa di Savoia», Torino 2007..

The court explicitly states (appendix 2):

Well, on the basis of the voluminous documentation produced by the defense, the attribution to Paternò Castello of the power to confer honors, decorations and chivalric distinctions, cannot be doubted. The suspect is a descendent of the Paterno dynasty, whose consanguinity with the House of Aragon was recognized by numerous judicial findings; (…)

The House of Paternò Castello’s claims regarding the former kingdoms of Aragon, Majorca, Sicily, Valencia and Sardinia are therefore also perfectly legal.

Further reading

  • Abate, A. “Esequie del Duca di Carcaci” Catania 1854
  • Agnello, G. “Il Museo Biscari di Catania nella Storia della Cultura Illuministica del ‘700” in Archivio Storico della Sicilia Orientale, 1957, a. X p. 142
  • Amico, “Catana Illustrata”, 1741
  • Amico, “Sicilia Sacra” 1742
  • Maria Concetta Calabrese, I Paternò di Raddusa, C.U.E.C.M. 1998
  • G. Carrelli, Hauteville e Paternò, in Rivista Araldica, n.3, 1932
  • Enciclopedia Treccani Vol. XXVI, voce “Paternò”, curata dal prof. Giuseppe Paladino dell’Università di Catania
  • Francesco Gioeni, Genealogia dei Paternò, Palermo,1680
  • G. Libertini, Il Museo Biscari, Milano 1930.
  • V. Librando, Il Palazzo Biscari in Cronache di archeologia e di storia dell’arte, 3, 1964, p. 104 e ss.
  • Denis Mack Smith, “Storia della Sicilia Medioevale e moderna”, Universale Laterza (1970) pp. 367 e ss, 376-377.
  • Filadelfo Mugnos, Theatro Genealogico, 1650, s.v. “Paternò” p. 27
  • Filadelfo Mugnos, Teatro della nobiltà del mondo, 1654, s.v. “Paternò“, p. 297
  • Muscia, Sicilia Nobile, 1408, s.v. “Paternò
  • Scipione Paternò e Colonna, Storiografia della Casa Paternò, Catania. 1642
  • Francesco Paternò di Carcaci, I Paternò di Sicilia, Catania, 1935.
  • Vincenzo Notaro Russo, Genealogia della Casa Paternò, 1721, – Archivio Comune di Catania
  • Gaetano Savasta, Storia di Paternò, Catania, 1905
  • F. Ughello, Antonius Paternò, nobilis neapolitanus”, Palermo,1729
  • Bruno Varvaro, Nuove indagini sulla contea di Paternò e Butera nel sec. XII, in Rivista Araldica, n. 4 – dicembre 1931
  • Bruno Varvaro, Hauteville e Paternò in Rivista Araldica, n. 1 – 20 gennaio 1933 *G.E. Paternò di Sessa, F. Paternò, “Dell’origine regia e aragonese dei Paternò di Sicilia”, in Rivista Araldica Fasxcicolo n. 6, giugno 1913
  • Salvatore Distefano, Ragusa Nobilissima – Una famiglia della Contea di Modica attraverso le fonti e i documenti d’archivio, contributo alla Historia Familiae Baronum Cutaliae, Ancillae et Fundi S. Laurentii, Richerche (2006), 109-160, a pag.128 si ricorda che Eleonora Paternò e Tornabene, vedova Biscari, sposò Guglielmo Distefano, duca di San Lorenzo.
  • Librando, V. “Il Palazzo Biscari” in Cronache di Archeologia e di Storia dell’Arte, 1964, n. 3 p. 104 e ss.
  • Guzzetta, G.: “Per la gloria di Catania: Ignazio Paternò Castello Principe di Biscari” Agorà, Luglio- settembre 2001
  • Garuffi, Archivio Storico della Sicilia Orientale, anno IX, 1912
  • Garuffi, Gli Aleramici ed i Normanni, Palermo 1910, Vol. I
  • La Dinastia Sovrana Paternò-Ayerbe-Aragona – L Pelliccioni di Poli
  • 1956 Rome Nobiliario Internazionale – C Santippolito
  • 1985 RAM Messina Corpus Historiae Genealogicae Italiae et Hispaniae – J.W. Imhof 1702 Nurnberg
  • Los Condes de Barcelona Vindicados Cronologia y Genealogia – Prospero de Bofarull y Mascaro Secretario de SM Archivero de la Corona de Aragon
  • 1836 Barcelona Rivista Araldica 1922 p295-305, 343-346
  • Rivista Araldica 1913 p330-335
  • Anales de la Corona de Aragon by Jerònimo Zurita, Tom 1 libro IV cap.126
  • J Lee Shneidman, The Rise of the Aragonese-Catalan Empire 1200-1350, New York and London 1970

Websites

Credits

I wish to thank mr Stephen Screech for his contributions and help.

Appendix 1

A diploma of nobility, issued by Thorbjorn Paternò Castello typically contains the following considerations and conditions:

We, Our Royal Highness Thorbjorn I Paternò Castello di Carcaci Guttadauro di Valencia D’Ayerbe D’Aragona D’Emanuel etc… etc… For the grace of God and by right of hereditary succession, Sovereign Prince, Head of Line and Arms of the Royal House of Valencia and Sardinia, by land and by sea, to all those who will read the present paper, under the eternal protection of the Lord, Having evaluated the high merits and the illustrious and distinguished deeds of Faith, Virtue, Compassion, Feats and Intelligence and the worthy and beseeching requests by [name].(…)

We have decreed and proclaim, certain in science and out of our free will, with a decided and resolute spirit, for special grace and in the fullness of Our Royal Authority at every effect of the ius nobilitandi according to civil, religious, noble, heraldic and chivalric laws, and according to the ways and customs of any time and place, every Country and Nation, that We recognize, concede and bestow on [name] The title of [e.g. Count] with the predicate of [geographical name]. (…)

With the right to transmit them perpetually from male to male in order of primogeniture, and, in the absence of heirs, to the first born of the closest line, and, in the absence of males, una tantum to females. Both male and female collaterals have the title of “Noble of the“, as is the custom, and in any case, the title of “Don” and “Donna” to the most beloved Don [name] [title, e.g. Count] of [geographical name]of the Sovereign House of Valencia (…).

Appendix 2

N. 1080/2013 R.G. SEQ.

Ordinary tribunal of Rome
Section for appeal from attachment measures

Composed by the Messrs. Judges:
Dott. Filippo Steidi                                        President
Dott. Roberta Conforti                                  Judge
Dott. Laura Previti                                        Judge
Gathered in the council chamber, under dissolution of the reservation undertaken at the hearing of 19 December 2013, have pronounced the following

ORDER
on the appeal from a preventive attachment measure, presented on behalf of Paterno Castello Dei Duchi di Carcaci Principi d’Emmanuel Thorbjorn Francesco Giuseppe Nicola Roberto, dated 9 December 2013, regarding a decree issued with respect to the suspect dated 26 November by the GIP of the Tribunal of Rome
– – – – –

The objection is well founded and is admitted.
Paterno Castello Dei Duchi di Carcaci Principi d’Emmanuel Thorbjorn Francesco Giuseppe Nicola Roberto has instituted appeal against the decree indicated above, by virtue of which are subjected to preventive attachment the bank accounts with Cariparma in the name of the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem with Branch 4 of Reggio Emilia and with Banca Intesa in the name of Delio Cardilli with branch Roma Ostia 12, in connection with the crime of forming a criminal association aimed at committing crimes of serious fraud through the constitution of a false chivalric order, of having committed continuous fraud in unison as well as the crime of illicit conferment of decorations under art. 8 of law 178/1951, better described in the provisional indictments which are deemed integrally inserted here.
The defense has contested the existence of suspicion of crimes committed, attaching a voluminous documentation, having examined which, the Court deems the exception well founded.
In the first place it must become clear that the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta O.S.J., according to the accusatory hypothesis mainly organized and promoted by Paterno Castello and used to confuse an indeterminate multitude of subjects, thus as to draw unjust profits through the conferment of false decorations, is a real order and operating at a supranational level falling under the list of the non authorized “non-national Orders”, as appearing from the annex C to f.n. M_D GMIL III 10 4/051891 of the Ministry of Defense, produced by the defense in Annex 7.
To correctly define the question, it is useful to recall the norms issued in the matter of conferment and use of decorations which were introduced after the birth of the republican order with law 178/1951 which, by instituting the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, sanctioned the general prohibition for Italian citizens if not authorized by the President of the Republic at the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to use in the Republic’s territory honors, decorations or chivalric distinctions conferred to them in non-national Orders or by Foreign States (art. 7).  The norm maintains the dispositions valid before with regard to the use of honors and chivalric distinctions of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Article 8 of the law cited on the other hand forbids the conferment of honors, decorations and chivalric distinctions on behalf of entities, associations and private parties.

On the basis of a systematic reading of the two norms, it appears that the subject law distinguishes with regard to the penal effects between the activity of conferment of honors and their use. In the case of Non-national Orders or foreign States, the conferment of honors, of which it may not be excluded this can also take place on the national territory, remains indifferent to the Italian national order which is only concerned with the use, which is prohibited, unless, it is repeated, the use is authorized. In all other cases (institutions and private parties) the possibility of conferment, with the measure of the criminal sanction, is fundamentally excluded
From this follows the permissibility, in abstracto, of the conferment of the honors granted by the O.S.J., being a non-national Order.
It remains in concreto to verify the possibility of Paterno Castello to confer these honors, or rather the entitledness of the suspect to the ius honorum (the faculty to create nobles and chivalric arms) which transfers itself iure sanguinis to the proper descendants, in the person of the Head of the Name and Arms of the Dynasty.
Well, on the basis of the voluminous documentation produced by the defense, the attribution to Paterno Castello of the power to confer honors, decorations and chivalric distinctions, cannot be doubted. The suspect is a descendent of the Paterno dynasty, whose consanguinity with the House of Aragon was recognized by numerous judicial findings; the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta, whose Grand Master was H.R.H. Prince Don Roberto II Paterno Castello di Carcaci Ayerbe-Aragona, ascendent of the present suspect, to whom the Grand Mastership was transferred by public act, is a branch historically derived from the original Hospital Order of Malta; from which follows that Paterno Castello as Grand Master of the Order and titulary to the fons honorum (including the ius honorum and the ius maiestatis) had and has the power to confer honors of the same Order.
Furthermore, in view of the existence of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the question might be raised of induction in error of ignorant subjects beneficiaries of the honors, through taking advantage of the similarity (in the symbols and the insignia) with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, whose honors can be used on Italian soil.
However, this hypothesis can already be excluded by reading the document ” list of documents to be annexed to the request for admission” which is furnished to who wishes to become part of the order and wherein the difference between the O.S.J. and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta is expressly set out.
In conclusion, the decree objected to, is annulled because of the non existence of suspicion of committed crimes with respect to the alleged crimes.

FOR THESE MOTIVES,
ANNULLS

The decree objected to and orders the Chancery to do the necessary
Rome, 19 December 2013
The Editing Judge

Deposited at the Chancery
Rome, 31 December 2013
The Chancellor

Studie over echte en minder echte ridderorden

Op de website van de Rijkuniversiteit Groningen wordt vermeld dat de Jhr. Ing. Tom Versélewel de Witt Hamer bezig is met een interessant promotie-onderzoek, genaamd: “A sociological study of the functioning of contemporary Orders of Chivalry in the Kingdom of the Netherlands“. In deze aankondiging, waar natuurlijk inhoudelijk niet al te zwaar aan mag worden getild, staat vermeld (mijn onderstreping):

“Nowadays, the Dutch orders of chivalry are the recognized successors of the old religious military orders from the time of the crusades, not to be confused with orders of knighthood, which are state merit orders. Chivalry is a criterion of the Dutch Supreme Council of Nobility. It refers to a noble order which has formulated a clear admission policy in its charter like the Order of Saint John in the Netherlands and the Order of Malta. Any organization in the Netherlands is free to call itself an order of chivalry, although the guidelines of the Supreme Council of Nobility state that it will belong to the unrecognized orders.”

Is dit wel juist, kan men zich afvragen?

Johanniter Orde

Het is in deze blog wat onzinnig om diep in te gaan op de geschiedenis van de verschillende Orden die zich als Orde van Sint Jan presenteren (of iets wat hier op lijkt) omdat hierover al zeer veel is geschreven. Eigenlijk is in verband met betrekking tot oorsprong van de Johanniter Orde in Nederland een enkel feit van belang. De Johanniter Orde in Nederland bij Koninklijk Besluit no. 33 van 5 maart 1946 gesticht, na het verbreken van de banden met de Duitse Johanniter Orde. Een opvolger van de Orde die in de middeleeuwen bekend stond als Orde van Sint Jan is het zeker dus niet. Het is niet integer dat de Orde de illusie propageert een oude Orde te zijn. Eerlijker zou het zijn om te spreken van een Orde die de ridderlijke traditie probeert hoog te houden. Daarvan zijn er echter honderden.

SMOM

De “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta” (Italiaans: “Sovrano Militare Ordine Ospedaliero di San Giovanni di Gerusalemme di Rodi e di Malta”) wordt door de onderzoeker (voorlopig althans) kennelijk ook gezien als een opvolger van de Orde uit de tijd van de kruistochten. Naar de SMOM andere Orders van Sint Jan is diepgaand onderzoek verricht door mijn confrère Hans Hoegen Dijkhof. Hij komt tot de navolgende conclusie in zijn proefschrift: The Legitimacy of Orders of Saint John (p.218):

“The interim conclusion is that the original Order founded around 1050, carried on till 1154, respectively 1798 and in the course of its history, Anglican and Protestant split-offs occurred. In 1798, Napoleon dissolved this original Order. Czar Paul I was then validly elected in 1798 as Grandmaster of what States and Priories have seen as the original Order continued. Then in 1803, a ‘coup d’état’ by Pope Pius VII, facilitated by Czar Alexander I and a marionet provisional Sacred Council, took place and this started a new Papal Order in 1803. The new Order started in 1798 under Czar Paul I, in principle legally remained established in St. Petersburg and carried on somehow in Russia during the rest of the 19 th century.”

Napoleon heeft deze antieke Orde dus in ieder geval in 1798 opgeheven. In 1803 heeft de Paus een nieuwe Orde gesticht met een andere naam. Ook de SMOM is dus geen rechtstreekse opvolger van de oude middeleeuwse Orde. Wel kan worden gesteld dat zij in de traditie hiervan treedt, maar daarin is de SMOM niet exclusief, zoals blijkt uit onderstaande jurisprudentie.

In 2012 verloor de SMOM een belangrijke dispuut (door de SMOM zelf getart) over de rechtmatigheid van het exclusieve gebruik van het witte Maltezer kruis. Inzet was dat de SMOM de oudste rechten op het merk- en beeldrecht had. De US Federal Appeals Court heeft in zijn uitspraak (kort samengevat) bevestigd dat de Russische en de Vaticaanse Orde van Sint Jan, voorafgaande aan 1798 dezelfde wortels hebben en dat de SMOM heeft gefraudeerd bij de registratie van haar merken en schrapte de desbetreffende registraties. De SMOM had dus niet de exclusieve historische rechten; zie:

Autoriteit?

De Hoge Raad van Adel is ingesteld bij Besluit van de Soevereine Vorst van 24 juni 1814, nr. 10. De Wet op de adeldom van 10 mei 1994 (Staatsblad 360) regelt de samenstelling en bevoegdheid van de Raad. Als vast college van advies over de uitvoering in zaken van bestuur van het Rijk (ingevolge art. 79 van de Grondwet) adviseert de Raad (www.hogeraadvanadel.nl):

  • de minister van Algemene Zaken over naamgeving, titulatuur en wapenverlening van leden van het koninklijk huis, het Rijkswapen en de Nederlandse vlag;
  • de minister van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties over adelszaken en de samenstelling en wijziging van de wapens van publiekrechtelijke lichamen;
  • de minister van Justitie over verzoeken tot naamswijziging, waarbij de namen van adellijke geslachten of van heerlijkheden betrokken zijn;
  • de minister van Defensie over ontwerpen van emblemen en medailles van de krijgsmachtsonderdelen.

Op het gebied van erkenning van Orden heeft de Raad dus geen enkele wettelijke taak. Het probleem hier is dat er geen enkele staatsautoriteit bestaat. De Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden gaat hier immers ook niet over, zoals wellicht gedacht kan worden. De Kanselarij is bij Koninklijk Besluit (KB) van 3 juni 1844 ingesteld. Zij is de overheidsorganisatie die adviseert over voordrachten voor Koninklijke onderscheidingen en verantwoordelijk is voor het beheer en de uitgifte van Koninklijke onderscheidingen. De Kanselarij heeft de volgende taken:

  • adviseren aan de regering over het instellen of wijzigen van onderscheidingen en herinneringstekenen;
  • ondersteunen van het Kapittel voor de Civiele Orden en het Kapittel der Militaire Willems-Orde bij het adviseren over voordrachten voor Koninklijke onderscheidingen;
  • registreren en archiveren van verleende onderscheidingen;
  • verwerven, beheren en verstrekken van orde- en herinneringstekenen en bijbehorende oorkondes;
  • innemen van ordetekenen en registratie.

Het instellen van Ridderorden is dus geen taak van de Hoge Raad van Adel of de Kanselarij der Nederlandse Orden. Zij hebben dus ook geen autoriteit op het gebied van de erkenning hiervan. Maar wie is dan wel de autoriteit op dit gebied?

Echte ridderorden

Nederland kent twee soorten orden: orden die door de regering en orden die door het hoofd van de regerende dynastie persoonlijk worden toegekend. Bij het verlenen van onderscheidingen uit de eerstgenoemde categorie is het ministerieel contraseign vereist, bij de tweede categorie, de zogenoemde huisorden, niet. Hoewel de tekst dit niet uitdrukkelijk bepaalt, heeft art. 111 Grondwet (“Ridderorden worden bij de wet ingesteld.”) alleen betrekking op de eerste categorie. De drie momenteel bestaande ridderorden in deze zin zijn de Militaire Willemsorde (ingesteld bij wet van 30 april 1815, Stb. 33), de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (ingesteld bij wet van 29 september 1815, Stb. 47), en de Orde van Oranje-Nassau (ingesteld bij wet van 4 april 1892, Stb. 55).

Behalve ridderorden bestaan er ook andere koninklijke onderscheidingen – niet zijnde ridderorden –, die sinds 1817 zijn ingesteld. Deze onderscheidingen dienen in het algemeen ter beloning van of  ter herinnering aan een bepaalde daad of een bepaald feit. Zij worden ingesteld bij koninklijk besluit. Een reëel verschil tussen de bij wet ingestelde ridderorden en de bij koninklijk besluit ingestelde koninklijke onderscheidingen bestaat vooral hierin dat deze laatsten geen ‘ridderorden’ in de zin van de wet zijn (zie www.nederlandrechtstaat.nl).

De Johanniter Orde, de Orde van Malta en de Duitse Orde behoren tot de door de Nederlandse regering erkende ridderlijke orden (zie: Besluit draagvolgorde onderscheidingen van 25 juli 2013). Het zijn nieuw opgerichte Orden, hetgeen destijds door de overheid bij de oprichting uitdrukkelijk werd vermeld (zie: E. Renger de Bruin, p. 599). Het zijn ook geen ridderorden.

Conclusies

Mijn conclusie is dat geen van de hiervoor genoemde Orden eerlijkerwijs kan stellen dat hij een rechtstreekse historische opvolger is van de Orde van Sint Jan uit de tijd van de kruistochten. Dat deze pretentie wel bestaat, is (diplomatiek gezegd) niet correct (www.johanniterorde.nl): “De Johanniter Orde is een Ridderlijke Orde met een protestants-christelijke grondslag. De Orde is bijna duizend jaar geleden door kruisvaarders gesticht als de Ridderlijke Orde van het Hospitaal van Sint Jan en heeft dan ook een rijke historie.

Naast de officiële ridderorden die door de wet zijn ingesteld, zijn alle “Orden” min of meer in gelijke zin legaal. De veronderstelling in de samenvatting van het onderzoek van Versélewel de Witt Hamer is dus niet correct. De Johanniters en de SMOM zijn geen “erkende” opvolgers van de oorspronkelijke orden uit de kruistochten, hoewel de Johanniter, Maltezer en Duitse Orde door de Nederlandse regering als ridderlijk zijn erkend.

Er zijn – naast de orden met enig indirect historisch fundament – veel fantasie-orden, zonder enige historische grondslag. Deze zijn (vanuit een internationaal perspectief) deels opgesomd in het standaard (maar niet foutloze) werk van Stair Sainty. De vraag naar de historische legitimiteit is dus wel interessant. Wellicht dat Versélewel de Witt Hamer hier op doelt. Het is te hopen dat de onderzoeker de moed heeft om een transparante en vernieuwende kijk op het fenomeen “ridderorde” te geven, zonder te vervallen in het nakwekken van gekleurd onderzoek van anderen. Gelet op de uitstekende reputatie van Versélewel de Witt Hamer, acht ik de kans van slagen groot.

Belangrijkste literatuur