Notes on the foreign titles of Prince of Selimbria, Prince of Mystra, and the foreign titles of Duke of Mondello and Count of Santa Sofia as well as notes on “Burke’s Peerage”.
Writing in 1992, Charles A. Gauci in his book “The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta Volume Two”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1992) (__) explains (page 339) that, although “foreign titles” form part of the Nobility in Malta, they do not fall under the control of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility.
In the aforesaid 1992 publication, two entire Parts (Parts Six and Three) are dedicated to Foreign titles in Malta, of which that of Prince of Selimbria (__)is clearly the most senior in rank, to satisfy all of Gauci’s criteria which are endorsed by “Burke’s Peerage” and “The Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility”.
In the foreword (page xvii) by The Most Noble Carmelo Apap Bologna Sceberras D’Amico Inguanez, 23rd Baron of Djar il-Bniet and Buqana, Premier Noble of Malta and Gozo and President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility, we find perfect agreement with Charles Gauci’s explanation of what makes up the nobility in Malta. “They (the foreign titles) together with the Maltese Nobility constitute the Nobility in Malta. These titles have proud origins of their own which the author describes in great detail. It is important to note that only title-holders whose (foreign) titles comply with very stringent legal criteria are mentioned in this book.”
The 1992 book was a continuation of two other books by the same author:
- one published in 1981, called “The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta”, Gulf Publications, Malta, 1981) (__), with a foreword by The Most Noble Jerome De Piro D’Amico-Inguanez, KM (Hon&Dev.), Baron of Budaq, President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility,
- the other published in 1986, called “A Guide to the Maltese Nobility”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1986) (__), with a foreword by The Most Noble Francis Sant Cassia, Baron of Ghariescem and Tabia, President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility.
It should be remarked that Gauci’s first book was published within a year of John Montalto’s book. (Montalto, John “The Nobles of Malta 1530-1800” (Mid-Sea Books Ltd, Malta, 1980) (__)).
Gauci’s 1981 publication tallied with Montalto’s contention in his epilogue (page 367) because both writers assert many Maltese titles to be “dormant” and/or “in abeyance”,
Gauci’s 1981 publication does not indicate any criteria for distinguishing a “good” from a “bad” foreign title. All that was said was a straightforward report of foreign titles which have never received official (Maltese) Government recognition. A foreword to this book was written by John Brooke-Little, Esq., MVO, K.St.J., MA, FSA, FHS, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, Knight Grand Cross of Grace and Devotion SMOM, Registrar and Librarian of the College of Arms, London and Chairman of the Council of the Heraldry Society of Great Britain (__) who observed that “There was a time when the arms and pedigrees of the Maltese Nobility were published in Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage but this no longer happens. Major Charles Gauci’s definitive work on the Nobility is, therefore, most welcome, as not only does it fill the gap left by Burke’s, but it does so most admirably, going into the history of each title in far greater detail than Burke ever did. Major Gauci’s work has the blessing of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility, which makes it as official as such a work can be now that the Maltese Nobility is no longer recognized in the Island. It should make it difficult for pretenders to claim or invent titles for many years to come and so ensure the continuance of the genuine Nobility, for it is easy for a Government to refuse to recognize titles of nobility but it is impossible for it to proscribe inate nobility and pride in family and ancient history.”
- The first two are found in Table 43 of the 1981 publication and can be explained as follows:- Theodorus Paleologos, (son of Manoel II, Emperor of Constantinople) who was already Despott of Mystra (__), had renounced all claims to the (Imperial) throne in favour of his younger brother Constantine XII (XI) and in exchange for this he was made Prince of Selimbria (__)in 1443, the year of his death.
Thereafter through the generations, spanning 300 years, Gauci describes how the titles of Prince of Selimbria and Prince of Mystra (Mistra)were recognized by various Holy Roman Emperors, the Holy See and the Roman Senate and how a junior descendant Giorgio Paleologo settled in Malta and his ulterior progeny include the Maltese Princes of Selimbria (Borg Olivier de Puget Paleologo), the Counts Ciantar Paleologo (Chapelle Paleologo) (__)and the Barons of San Giovanni (Chapelle) (__).
Further on in the 1981 publication, one notes at page 215, that the title of Prince of Selimbria originally granted in 1443, was dormant in the Maltese branch of the Paleologus family but was revived in favour of Dr. Joseph Borg Olivier de Puget Paleologo and his descendants on 8th April 1953 by His Imperial Highness Prince Paul Theodore Paleologue Crivez, Head of the Imperial House and Emperor in exile. The title is described as being held by Dr. Albert Borg Olivier de Puget Paleologo, LL.D. M.P., a kinsman of the Counts Ciantar Paleologo (Chapelle Paleologo) and the Barons of San Giovanni (Chapelle). The relative documentation is described as being in the same Charles A. Gauci’s possession in his capacity as Archivist to the Imperial family.
On the same page 215, one also finds that the title of Prince of Mystra (Mistra)originally granted to Theodorus Paleologos and to his descendants by his brother John VIII, Eastern Roman Emperor in 1436, was dormant in the Maltese branch of the Paleologus family and was revived in favour of the Count Ciantar Paleologo (referring to Giovanni Carmelo Chapelle Paleologo, born 5-9-1906) and his descendants on 2nd May 1950 by the same His Imperial Highness Prince Paul Theodore Paleologue Crivez, Head of the Imperial House and Emperor in exile. The title is described as being held by the same Count Ciantar Paleologo. The relative documentation is also described as being in the same Charles A. Gauci’s possession in his capacity as Archivist to the Imperial family.
- On the same page 215, Gauci also lists the title of Count of Santa Sofia (__). Gauci does not attempt to explain its origins other than reporting that it was granted to the Formosa de Fremaux family and it is said to be of French origin. This title is described as being held by the Marquis of Ghajn Qajjed (referring to Rev. Victor Formosa Gauci, S.J.). The source for this title is described as Gravina’s Sguardo di Corografia, Storica ed Araldica d’Italia (1875) and a personal communication from Rev. Fr. Victor Formosa Gauci.
- Turning the page to page 216, Gauci also lists the title of Duke of Mondello(__). Gauci reports that this title was granted in 1800 to Gio Battista Mattei by Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies IV of Naples. The source for this title is described as Vincenzo Caruana Gatto’s Malta Nobile Illustrata (1903) and a personal communication from F. Mattei.
By 1986, the Nobility in Malta underwent a hurricane of changes. In fact, according to the back-cover of paper-back 1986 publication, “Since 1981, many changes have taken place. Several titles have been called out of abeyance, some title-holders have died and a number of titles have been renounced; there are therefore many new title-holders.”
Moreover, the 1986 publication describes at page 11 what must be regarded as a reassessment of the criteria for foreign titles to be included in Gauci’s books, namely either “1. granted or confirmed by a sovereign ruler who, at the time of the grant, was actually reigning”, or “2. granted or confirmed by the head of an ex-regnant House whose status as a Fons Honorum with the consequent Jus Honorum has been unquestionably and unequivocally upheld by a regularly constituted Court of Law”.
It appears that this mouthful received the blessing of “Burke’s Peerage” because at page xii we find “The fact that my book has the wholehearted backing of Burke’s Peerage is to me a source of great personal satisfaction.”
It should be noted that “Burke’s Peerage” was here represented and signed for by Harold Brooks-Baker the publisher of that aristocratic genealogy guide and a much-quoted authority on royalty.
“Burke’s Peerage” a.k.a. Burke’s Peerage Partnership was formed in 1984 (i.e. 2 years before Gauci’s Guide) by a group of investors who were interested in the commercial potential of the Burke’sname.
The partnership owns the Burke’sname and their lesser titles but never owned the publishing rights to Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage, & Knightage.
Harold Brooks-Baker was the publishing director of Burke’s Peerage Partnershipfrom 1984 until his death in 2005. Born in America and beginning his working life as a newspaper reporter and later as a bond-dealer, Brooks-Baker settled in London in the 1970s when a group of bankers bought Debrett’s and appointed him managing director. Under his aegis the firm had a new lease of life. But in 1982 Debrett’s was taken over by another company, and after a much publicised disagreement with the new management Brooks-Baker left, soon after to join Burke’s. There, with two colleagues he set about the publication of a number of guides, issuing dozens of books on history, etiquette and protocol. But a lucrative side of the company’s business was its genealogical research, which Brooks-Baker had begun in his Debrett days, and now greatly expanded. Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage itself had been out of print for 14 years when he joined the organisation in 1984, and the company had then disposed of the title, while publishing a number of other books and guides, which traded on the venerable name. A new edition of the reference bible for the titled classes, published by Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, did not appear until 1999; with this Brooks-Baker had nothing to do. (Information taken from Times (London), obituary March 8, 2005 (__)and USA Today, obituary 3/6/2005 (__))
In any event, applying these foreign-title criteria established by Gauci, and endorsed by the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility, we note at page 11 (of the 1986 publication) that the title of Prince of Selimbria is order, whilst that of Prince of Mystra appears to have suffered a blow because Gauci writes, “It could not be determined with precision whether this title strictly satisfies the above criteria; this should not be taken as impugning in any way the title in question which has been accepted socially in Mal(t)a.” It appears on the same page, that the same adverse conclusion befell the titles of Duke of Mondelloand Count of Santa Sofia. It should be emphasized however that these titles only failed by reason of the criteria selected by Gauci himself and these titles would not necessarily fail other more-generous criteria.
Gauci’s criteria on foreign titles appear to have been received well. In fact his 1992 publication is also endorsed by the same “Burke’s Peerage” because at page xix we find “The section on bona fide foreign titles used in Malta is most informative. Holders of foreign titles are included only if their titles conform to very stringent criteria. Burke’s Peerage fully endorses this book…”. As seen above, further endorsement was received (page xvii) from the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility(__)and in fact, the high regard for Gauci is succinctly put its President as follows:- “His earlier work on the subject, The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta, indisputably recorded the identity and origins of the Maltese Nobility; the information was updated and presented in a succinct fashion in his Guide to the Maltese Nobility. These books, together with the present volume should combine to make them the standard works of reference on the Nobility in Malta.” (Foreword by The Most Noble Carmelo Apap Bologna Sceberras D’Amico Inguanez, 23rd Baron of Djar il-Bniet and Buqana, Premier Noble of Malta and Gozo and President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility),“The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta Volume Two”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1992) (__)).
As a result of all this, we find in the 1992 publication that the title of Prince of Selimbria is listed as bona fide. On the other hand, not only does a different, adverse result befall the title of Prince of Mystra but it is omitted altogether; This is strange in view of the fact that the aforesaid (equally ‘tainted’) titles of Duke of Mondello and Count of Santa Sofia are listed nevertheless: Gauci justifies the inclusion of the latter two (page 340) as follows: “The author cannot state categorically that this title fully complies with his legal criteria; the title is included for purely historical reasons”; Given the dissimilarities between Duke of Mondello and Count of Santa Sofia, indicated below, one could/should have made a similar caveat in regard to the other title of Prince of Mystra.
It follows therefore, that title of Prince of Selimbria is therefore pronounced valid by Gauci and confirmed to be so by the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility and Burke’s Peerage.
In the context of the 1981 and 1986 publications, alone, it is not clear why Gauci declares Prince of Selimbria valid and Prince of Mystra invalid. There is nothing in the 1986 publication which justifies these different results. This is perplexing when one considers that the only two reported sources for both titles are described in the 1981 publication as the being Byzantine rulers and the respective “revivals” by His Imperial Highness Prince Paul Theodore Paleologue Crivez.
So where’s the difference between these two Byzantine titles?
The answer is found in the later 1992 publication, because it is only then that Gauci describes four different reasons to justify the title of Prince of Selimbria, which are repeated as follows:-
- The title of “Prince of Selimbria” (#1) was granted in 1443 by John VIII Palaeologos, Eastern Emperor 1442-1448 in favour of Theodore Palaeolugus described as “Despott of Mystra, 1407-1443, Younger son of Manuel II Palaeologos, Emperor of the Eastern Empire, 1391-1425”.
Here, we find a repetition of Gauci’s 1981 statement that “Theodore, Despot of Morea renounced all claims to the throne in favour of his younger brother Constantine (XI/XII): in exchange for the throne he was made Prince of Selimbria.”
- The above-said title of “Prince of Selimbria” is described as being dormant in the family was revived(“Prince of Selimbria” #2) in favour of Dr. Joseph Borg Olivier de Puget Paleologo on 8th April 1953 by His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Paul Theodore Paleologue Crivez, Head of the Imperial Reigning House of the East.
Gauci adds that “his status is backed by Tribunal de Grand Instance, Nice 11-06-1946 (ratified by the Tribunal of Ilfor, Romania 9-1-1948), Tribunal de Grand Instance, Nice 13-10-1950, 25-6-1976; Court of Appeal Paris 23-11-1952; Quai d’Orsay 19-11-1948; following documents issued by the Government of the French Republic, viz. Carte de Sejours de resident priviligee, 27-9-1948, Titre de Voyage, 28-9-1948, Saufe Conduit, 3-4-1953; following documents issued by the United Nations and the International Red Cross, viz. International Red Cross Passport, 18-3-1948, Certificate by Italian Delegation on the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, 12-4-1957 and ibid 18-10-1967.”
- The above-said title of “Prince of Selimbria” is described by Gauci as being confirmed (“Prince of Selimbria” #3) in favour of H.E. Magistrate Dr. Albert Borg Olivier de Puget Paleologo (son of the aforesaid Joseph) on the 13th October 1982 by His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Michele III Angelo Comneno, Sovereign Prince of Thessaly and Epirus.
Gauci explains that “his status as a Fons Honorum with consequent Jus Honorum confirmed by the Italian Courts (Regio Emilia); 16th November 1953; see also decision by Court of the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, 14th January 1987. The Prince’s pedigree, ratified by the Tribunale Civile e Penale di Roma, was formally accepted for official registration at the Court of the Lord Lyon, Scotland by the late Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Baron of Learney, Kinnairdy and Yeochrie, Her (Brittanic) Majesty’s Lord Lyon King of Arms, Edinburgh 7thMarch 1953.”
- The above-said title of “Prince of Selimbria” is described by Gauci as being confirmedyet again (“Prince of Selimbria” #4) in favour of the same H.E. Magistrate Dr. Albert Borg Olivier de Puget Paleologo (son of the aforesaid Joseph) on the 17th September 1985 by His Imperial and Royal Highness Prince Henri Constantine de Vigo Aleramico Lascaris Palaeologos, Head of the Imperial House of Lascaris Palaeologos and Prince of Byzantium.
Gauci explains that “his status as a Fons Honorum with consequent Jus Honorum confirmed by the Italian Courts (Floridia); 31st October 1961, (Syracuse); 24thMarch 1964). See also diploma by Emperor Charles VI, King of Hungary on 5thApril 1720 at Budapest State Archives, ref. Denizenship, April 1720-A35 and the Libri Regni of the Kingdom of Hungary Vol. XXXIII, 262; (consult Jans M, Des Anges et de St. Georges, Aoste 1985 pages 107&288); see also diploma issued by the Roman Senate (SPQR) in favour of his great-grandfather on 2-12-1869 (consult Jans M, op.cit page 254 et seq.). See also the Prince’s pedigree together with documentary confirmation of “all the honours enjoyed by his ancestors”, officially accepted by the College of Arms, London (Bluemantle Pursuivant of Arms, 14th November 1990). Prince Henri was formally received by the President of the Republic of Malta at the Palace, Valletta on 20th June 1991”.
Clearly the only difference between the family of Borg Olivier de Puget Paleologo (Selimbria) and that of Chapelle Paleologo (Mystra) is that during the period 1981-1986 the former obtained another two “confirmations” from “the head of an ex-regnant House whose status as a Fons Honorum with the consequent Jus Honorum has been unquestionably and unequivocally upheld by a regularly constituted Court of Law”.
Here, criticism of Gauci’s decision is warranted because the fact that a title was later “revived” or “confirmed” should not detract from the principal consideration of when this title first originated.
The acts of “revival” or “confirmation” do not change the principal claim that the title was first created in 1443. Instead, however, Gauci’s books put more emphasis on the acts of “revival” and “confirmation” than the act of creation. It seems that the fact that this title is claimed to have been granted by a reigning Emperor, a century before the knights of Saint John first took hold of the Government of the Maltese Islands is of lesser importance to a claim that the title was “revived” or even “granted” by mere claimants to a throne.
From this point of view, Gauci’s treatment of the other title of Prince of Mystra may be regarded as unfair. The principal consideration is that the title of Prince of Mystra first originated in 1436 and not in the 20th century.
The fact remains that neither title of Prince of Selimbria(1443) or Prince of Mystra(1436) was considered by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility.
More importantly, neither title appears to have ever been registered or directly recognized by the Grand Masters during their government of Malta (1530-1798)
It follows that neither title of Prince of Selimbria(1443) or Prince of Mystra(1436) enjoys any right of precedence in terms of the rules of 1739 and 1795.
This said, it would be amiss to ignore the fact that John Montalto (__)reports (page 43) that the family of Wzzini Paleologo, was given formal permission on the 6th July 1744 by Grand Master Pinto to register the diploma of nobility given to the family by the Senato e Popolo Romano which emphasizes the way in which the Wzzinis descend from the Comneno Paleologos “Emperors of the Orient” (see also: National Library of Malta, Archives of the Order, 548 ff.133r-135r).
This formal registration of Imperial descent vetted by Grand Master Pinto does not make any reference to the relatively lesser-important titles of Prince of Selimbria(1443) or Prince of Mystra(1436), or even that of Count Wzzini Paleologo (1722) but one cannot deny that the Wzzini family’s lawful claim to foreign (imperial) nobility, was properly registered during the government of Malta by the Order of Saint John.
Looking at the genealogy of the claimants to these two titles, we find at Table 43 of the 1981 publication (and Table 84 of the 1992 publication) that they are in fact descended from the Wzzini Paleologo family and are a stem of the subline formed through the Counts Wzzini Paleologo.
Thus, even if one were to disagree with Gauci’s criteria for inclusion in the list of foreign title holders, or even disagree with the attestation of the President of the Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility, or disagree with Brooks-Baker of “Burke’s Peerage”, such disagreement would pale into insignificance when confronted with the Pinto-approved 1744 registration of imperial descent made in favour of the ancestors of the present day claimants to the titles of Prince of Selimbria and Prince of Mystrabecause as descendants of the Wzzini Paleologo family, they are already entitled to a precedence in Malta in terms of the legislation of 1739 and 1795.
In regard to the other two casualties of Duke of Mondelloand Count of Santa Sofiait appears that to date, it has not been established whether either title has been “1. granted or confirmed by a sovereign ruler who, at the time of the grant, was actually reigning”, or “2. granted or confirmed by the head of an ex-regnant House whose status as a Fons Honorum with the consequent Jus Honorum has been unquestionably and unequivocally upheld by a regularly constituted Court of Law”.
It would appear that these are “bad” titles and should therefore be dismissed.
On the other hand, in regard to the title of Count of Santa Sofiait is to be noted that Gauci refers to Montalto’s book which in regard to the Inquisitor’s patentee Agostino Formosa de Fremeaux who eventually stood trial for freemasonry in 1776 has this to say (page 347, note 10): “The family title of Formosa de Fremeaux was never registered in the Chancellery of the Order, and only occasionally did Agostino refer to himself as ‘Count’”.
One could speculate that once Agostino Formosa de Fremeaux was contemporary to the Government of the Maltese Islands by the Grand Masters (1530-1798), then it is likely that such a high profile personality would have been addressed as a count by the Grand Masters. This consideration may give rise to the argument that the title might at some point been the subject of a direct recognition by the Grand Masters in which case, if proven, would allow the holder of this title to a precedence in accordance with the aforesaid rules of 1739 and 1795. If it results to be so, then this title of Count of Santa Sofia is to be considered as validly satisfying Gauci’s criteria for inclusion as a bona fide title.
In regard to the title of Duke of Mondello which is listed in the 1986 publication as not satisfying the Gauci’s criteria, we find in the 1992 publication, Gauci reporting that this title was granted by Ferdinand III of Sicily, IV of Naples, I of the Two Sicilies in 1800. However, he explains that as he was unable to locate the patent of creation, he cannot categorically state that this title satisfies his criteria for being listed as a bona fide foreign title.
Therefore if the patent can be found, then this title should be regarded as bona fide.
TIMES ONLINE March 8, 2005 (Obituary of) Harold Brooks-Baker, US journalist and publisher who established himself as an expert on the members and comportment of the British peerage (__)
- USA TODAY 3/6/2005 Royal authority Harold Brooks-Baker dies
- NOTES ON VARIOUS ASPECTS OF CERTAIN FOREIGN TITLES IN MALTA AS PUBLISHED 1981-1992
- MALTESE RULES OF PRECEDENCE AMONGST THE NOBILITY (Description of the system of precedence amongst the Maltese Nobility, as established in the 18th Century)
- ORIGINS OF THE ANTIQUITY OF NOBILITY IN MALTA
- OLD AND NOTABLE FAMILIES DESCRIBED BY G.F. ABELA IN 1647 (The original Maltese Nobility)
- THE IMPORTANCE OF INDEPENDENT LEGAL AND FACTUAL BASES FOR TITLES OF NOBILITY IN MALTA
- REFERENCE VALUE OF 19TH CENTURY REPORTS ON THE MALTESE NOBILITY
- Identifying the criteria adopted by the Royal Commissioners appointed to enquire into the claims of the Maltese Nobility, for rendering simple fiefs into noble fiefs
- DIFFERENT RULES FOR DIFFERENT TITLES
- VALUE OF PRIVATE TRANSACTIONS
- An act of Recognition dated 1878
- HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF TITLES DISPOSABLE BY NOMINATION
- MALTA’S HISTORIC UNTITLED NOBILITY
- THE QUIET USURPATION OF THE TITLES “Illustrissimo” AND “Nobile”, LATER “The Most Noble”.
- THE BATTLE FOR REPRESENTATION BETWEEN THE ‘ASSEMBLY OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY’ AND THE ‘COMMITTEE OF PRIVILEGES OF THE MALTESE NOBILITY’ (The old Maltese Nobility versus the new)
- An appraisal of various publications regarding the Maltese Nobility which were published 1980-1992
- Montalto, John “The Nobles of Malta 1530-1800” (Mid-Sea Books Ltd, Malta, 1980) (__)
- Gauci, Charles A. “The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta”, Gulf Publications, Malta, 1981) (__)
- Gauci, Charles A. “A Guide to the Maltese Nobility”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1986) (__)
- Gauci, Charles A. “The Genealogy and Heraldry of the Noble Families of Malta Volume Two”, PEG Publications, Malta, 1992), (__)
- Gauci, Charles A. and Mallat, Peter “The Palaeologos Family – A Genealogical review”, (PEG Publications, Malta, 1985) (__)