LEGITIMACY &,RESTORATION OF HISTORICAL CHIVALRIC ORDERS

The Sovereign Magistral Order of the Temple of Solomon was restored to full authenticity and legitimacy of magistral succession, doctrinal succession, historical continuity, and sovereignty as a subject of international law, in strict compliance with all of the rules and protocols of customary international law which are presented in this report.

 

THE PRACTICAL PURPOSE AND MEANING OF LEGITIMACY

L (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgLegitimacy of chivalric Orders and historical institutions, as a topic of discussion and a sphere of expertise, is not simply a matter of “consumer protection” for those seeking membership for a genuine connection to historical traditions and heritage to enrich their lives. It is also not a matter of “competition” between Orders ostensibly dedicated to the same worthy causes, nor mere labeling to simply call some “real” and others not.

Rather, the issue of legitimacy is truly a matter of upholding the integrity of those original historical institutions, nowadays likened to an “endangered species”, which survived through struggles, suffering and self-sacrifice for a higher purpose, to preserve and continue the positive impact of their proven contributions to advancing civilization.

The primary concern about legitimacy is the tendency of private associations, typically characterized only by “charity”, adopting the trappings of titles and regalia of historical institutions. Such “self-styled orders” disregard the fact that the original institutions were always based upon legal bases of official capacities, for real and compelling purposes, as necessary to effectively advance historical missions of greater humanitarian importance.

The prevalence of self-styled orders mostly serves to popularize misunderstandings of the true nature of the traditions which guided and guarded humanity for many millennia. The misappropriation of official formalities causes real harm to genuine historical institutions, by confusing and distracting their younger generations, and eroding and diluting appreciation for the true value and benefits which their traditions bring to society.

Rules of chivalric law, heraldic law and Canon Law are not merely “tradition” for its own sake, nor for any artificial elitist sense of superiority, nor simply for the enjoyment of anachronism. Rather, these rules and protocols constitute substantive customary international law, since ancient times. Such traditional rules, which determine legitimacy, do not exist merely for the sake of being “correct” and “proper” for pedantic self-satisfaction, but are indeed the pillars which uphold the effectiveness of the essential functions of the institutions.

The rules of legitimacy are the time-tested proven means to prevent degeneration of the institutions and corruption of their missions, by preserving a strong connection of an institution to its authentic roots and historical principles. Legitimacy also provides the sovereignty, legal standing and official capacity which are necessary in real-world practice, to accomplish large-scale good works of international impact for the benefit of humanity and civilization.

CONCEPTS AND STANDARDS OF CHIVALRIC LEGITIMACY

I (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgIn the modern era, there are many organizations styled as Orders of Chivalry, including the official historical institutions of verifiable legitimacy, more recent “independent orders” and “chivalric associations” of some recognition, and various “revival” orders and “self-styled” orders of some popularity.

The history and basis of formation of each Order creates a category of opinion or expectations for each approach to legitimacy. This has resulted in a great diversity of competing theories of legitimacy, many contradictory, and each modeled after different Orders which are widely known or otherwise popular.

Naturally, no single chivalric Order can possibly satisfy all of the competing popularized theories, many of which contradict each other. For this reason alone, regardless of an Order having even the strongest bases for legitimacy, backed by history, law, facts and evidence, there will always be challengers who insist on a different opinion, critics who allege some defect, and self-perceived competitors who claim that they are the only “Real Knights” of a particular tradition.

On another level, the culture of critics and competitors in the world of Chivalry is often fueled or corrupted by an artificial elitism, which is anathema both to Christian scriptural doctrines and to the original moral principles of the historical Orders themselves. Driven by this tendency, it often appears that in some circles, no amount of proof of legitimacy is ever enough, and no sources of legitimate authorities are ever “good enough”. Meeting even the highest standards is dismissed as not meeting some lower standards. Fulfilling the strictest criteria by one method is dismissed for not being the same as an alternative method of meeting the same criteria. As a result, primarily enabled by arbitrary and highly subjective dismissiveness, there is literally “no end” of debate and criticism.

Fortunately, the historical record does document and provide evidence of the time-honoured rules and protocols for legitimacy of historical institutions. This chapter presents a condensed overview and concise summary of all of the most authoritative rules and standards, which are the most widely recognized by renowned experts and scholars. This makes possible an objective analysis of the authentic rules of chivalric legitimacy, as a guide for both the institutions and individuals.

It is helpful to note a few basic definitions of terms, to facilitate easier reading of the many quotes from academic and historical sources:

In Latin, ‘Fons Honorum’ means “Source of Honours” as possessing authority to confer honours as the lawful source, ‘Jus Honorum’ or ‘Jus Honorandi’ mean “Right of Honours” as the authority to award them, and ‘Jus Collationis’ means “Right to Confer” honours. Although these terms technically refer to slightly different nuances, in practice they tend to be used almost interchangeably as synonymous. Also, the term “Patronage” means sovereign endorsement subject to involvement and supervising authority of the “Patron”, and “Protection” means a permanent grant of autonomous sovereignty with independence. The word “Custom” actually means “Law” as traditional rules established by historical precedents.

University scholars of chivalric law hold that “Chivalry can be defined as the system, spirit or customs of medieval Knighthood. … A chivalric Order should… be distinguished from those who form a group of people who received a decoration [called an] ‘Order’”. [1]

The significance of legitimacy, for an Order itself as an institution, is the overriding issue of whether “it is possible to be regarded as a true knightly or chivalric Order… because of a valid Fons Honorum by virtue of which people [are] able to be validly knighted.” [2]

For most members joining an Order, the primary goal and purpose of legitimacy is that “all Knights [and Dames] in an Order having valid Fons Honorum, are nobiliated by having been invested in such Order.” [3]

The concept of Fons Honorum is not merely some honourary approval by a Sovereign – it is a crucial matter of having some meaningful “source” of actual legal capacity of official authority.

A chivalric Order can only be legitimate if it has the lawful status and legal capacity, based upon a source of official authority, to effectively make a person a Knight or Dame in Public Law. This is not merely a pedantic distinction, but a major practical matter of historical fact, which fully applies in the modern context:

A Knight was officially an armed soldier, and a chivalric Order was officially a military force. In medieval times, one could no more independently declare oneself a “Knight”, than a “soldier” or “special agent” or law enforcement “officer” in modern times; One could no more unilaterally self-proclaim a new Order of Knights, than an “army” or “government” or “police” force in modern times. Whenever any private modern armed force is raised, without the direct and official sanction of a nation-state, it can only be called at best “mercenaries”, and at worst “terrorists”, neither of which were ever regarded as anything honourable.

Just as modern governments strictly prohibit “impersonating an officer” or exercising “false color of official authority”, under penalty of criminal laws, it is also improper to misappropriate the chivalric titles of historical sovereign entities under customary international law. The fact that chivalric Orders no longer exercise nor assert any armed military role in the modern era, does not abrogate the reality and importance of many other legal official capacities of a legitimate historical institution of sovereignty.

Chivalric legitimacy is taught in Catholic seminary schools, from the following perspective:

“The first opinion seems to accept [self-styled Orders] as private chivalric associations, maintaining that in the olden times every Knight had the right to create other Knights…” However, this ignores the need for some original basis of legitimacy of the first Knights, disregards the fact that they were all unified under an Order as the initial source of that authority, and neglects the fact that conferring such knighthood on the battle field made one a member of that authorizing Order, which remained the primary source of such authority.

“According to this opinion and tendency… it is not necessary for them to accept the Protection of the [Church] or of a Sovereign… for that is why they are called ‘Independent Orders’. However, this makes it evident that the Titles and decorations conferred by these Orders have only a private status…”

“In the second opinion another group of learned historians and jurists oppose this opinion, in fact these maintain that in modern states it seems that the Public Law takes precedence over the private law.” [4]

Experts on international law of historical institutions agree that there is no universal definition or standard for chivalric legitimacy, and the criteria for recognition of legitimacy varies among different nations. [5] Legal scholars emphasize that “Legality and legitimacy are also discussed widely nowadays in the framework of public international law.” [6] [7]

Many chivalric experts mention the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry (ICOC), which was established in 1960 under patronage of European nobility, and evaluated the rules of chivalric, nobiliary and heraldic law in 1962. ICOC is a private organization with no official capacity nor legal authority to determine the status of a chivalric institution, but may choose to recognize certain Orders according to its internal politics from time to time. The Commission itself states that “there is no supreme authority… Even among specialists personal opinions are numerous and, at times, also open to radical changes” [8].

Nonetheless, the ICOC is regarded as a reliable academic authority on the conventional rules of customary law for chivalric Orders, and all authentic historical institutions should be guided by its established rules.

Otherwise, specific rules of customary law are established by applying relevant precedents, as evidenced by the historical record, as interpreted by the learned opinions of legal scholars supported by those of historians.

CHURCHES & BISHOPS NOT EXEMPT FROM RULES OF LEGITIMACY

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M (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgMany people have the misconception that Churches are somehow “exempt” from the rules of chivalric legitimacy, by some vague ecclesiastical authority. It sometimes seems that the mere indirect involvement of any Church is treated as a “wild card”, by which “anything goes”. However, it is the major ancient and medieval Churches who arguably contributed the most to forming, establishing and enforcing the rules of legitimacy. It is those canonical classical Churches who gave those same rules historically proven weight as customary international law.

Some self-styled “Episcopal Orders” have attempted to claim an ecclesiastical basis as a private chivalric association, citing a “proclamation of Emperor Flavius Honorius in 409 AD”, which supposedly “authorized Bishops to create and to grant status of nobility and knighthood”. This notion is directly and wholly contradicted by the proven facts of the historical record.

Emperor Flavius Honorius was a secular ruler, with no Ecclesiastical authority, who ruled the Western Roman Empire (395-423 AD). Indeed, during that time Pope Innocent I of the Roman Catholic Church (401-417 AD) was actively asserting “universal jurisdiction” of the Vatican as governing Roman Law, while the Empire was rapidly collapsing. Accordingly, no such “proclamation” by the Emperor could possibly have any capacity to “authorize” Bishops of the Church to exercise such functions.

In 409 AD, Britons led by the Celts expelled the magistrates of the Roman Empire from their cities. [9] In 410 AD, intensified opposition from the Celts forced the Roman Empire to abandon Britannia. [10] This resulted in the “Rescript of Honorius” issued to the leaders of the British municipalities, instructing them to provide for their own defense against invasions, as the Empire was unable to do so. Some historians attribute that famous Rescript to 409 AD as the date of the precipitating event which caused it. [11]

The historical record preserved only two brief mentions of the Rescript of Honorius: The 6th century Byzantine scholar Zosimus recorded only that “Honorius wrote letters to the cities in Britain, bidding them to guard themselves.” [12] The 6th century British monk Saint Gildas recorded that “The Romans therefore informed our country that they could not go on being bothered with such troublesome expeditions. … Rather, the British should stand alone, get used to arms, fight bravely, and defend with all their powers their land.” [13]

The famous Rescript of Honorius is the only such official proclamation from that Emperor which is identified and documented in the historical record. As a mere notification, essentially to “fend for yourselves”, it clearly fails to grant or create any new authorities for any person, especially not for Bishops, and certainly not to independently create any private Orders of Chivalry.

The historical record proves that a Bishop was never permitted to independently create a “Knight” (and especially not a chivalric “Order”) by any claim of Episcopal authority. A Bishop could appoint only a “Vidame”, a nobiliary title from the medieval Latin ‘Vicedominus’ meaning “Vice Lord”. The Vidame was an armed defender of the Bishop and the temporal estates of the Bishopric, analogous to an individual Knight but without any existing Order of Chivalry. The title was often hereditary, and the wife or daughter of a Vidame was called a Vidamesse. [14] Vidames answer only to the Bishop personally, such that a concept of any “Order” of Vidames never existed.

Bishops were never permitted to create any Knights by their own authority, but could only give “Blessing” to new Knights. Solely for the Vatican’s own in-house chivalric Orders, chartered by and wholly dependent upon Sovereign Patronage of the Church, Bishops (or other Clergy) administered the Ecclesiastical Dubbing of Knighthood on behalf of the Pontificate, which was essentially in the form of a Blessing [15]. For other Orders (which required external Sovereign authority), Bishops did not conduct the Investiture Ceremony at all, but only provided supplemental Blessing by the 13th century liturgy Benedictio Novi Militis (“Blessing of New Knights”) [16].

Therefore, Bishops cannot under any circumstances create any Knight or Dame, nor grant knighthood or any other nobility status, other than the one narrow exception of a Vidame or Vidamesse, which cannot have anything called an “Order”. A Bishop can do nothing more than contribute one’s additional Blessing to a new Knight, under the full Sovereign authority of an established Order of Chivalry which fully complies with all of the rules of legitimacy under customary international law.

A few self-styled “Ecclesiastical Orders” claim some vague chivalric authority only by reason of having a private independent “Church” organization. This notion disregards the essential nature of the necessary Sovereign Pontifical institution, and is directly contradicted by ecclesiastical scholarship as doctrines of Canon Law.

Canon Law scholars emphasize that Ecclesiastical Orders of Chivalry are properly classified solely as “Pontifical Orders”, which must be “directly or indirectly controlled by the Church”. In this context “the Church” means exclusively a Sovereign Pontifical authority, “because the Jus Honorum (Fons Honorum)… can only be emanated from a legitimate sovereignty”. [17] Historically, any “Independent Orders held by a Bishop” always required the Sovereign Protection of the Pontificate of the Church, or else they could not canonically nor legitimately exist. [18]

The Vatican specifically denies any legitimacy of independent chivalric associations created by Bishops without Sovereign Pontifical authority. It describes such “self-styled orders” as “the deplorable phenomenon of the appearance of alleged Orders of Knighthood originating from private initiatives… which are truly fictitious and have no historical precedent at all.” Any independent Bishop or Church purporting to create a “knighthood” without direct authority from a legitimate Pontifical Sovereignty, the Vatican denounces as “the abuse of pontifical and ecclesiastical documents, once granted for religious purposes or for merely monastic Orders”. [19]

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) established certain core principles on “Authority of the Church”, which form the definition of criteria for a Church to possess inherent canonical Pontifical authority.  This definition has force and effect of Canon law as the “common and constant opinion of learned authors” (Canon 19):

For a Church to possess inherent Pontifical authority, it must provide infrastructure for cooperation, as a unifying authority serving its Churches (Authority I: 21-23; Authority II, 19), “as a sign and safeguard of unity within a re-united Church” (Authority III, 1), embodying a “universal” foundation capable of uniting “diverse traditions of the Churches” (Authority II, 21), being a source of its own distinct “Tradition of the Church” which must be “present in the Church” by the “corporate memory” of its heritage and continuity as a historical institution (Authority III, 14-18).  Most importantly, it must possess “universal primacy” for a primary denomination of Christianity (Authority I, 21-23; Authority III, 1).  [20] [21]

Therefore, the authority to create legitimate Orders of Chivalry does not apply to independent Churches without a canonical Pontificate, and does not apply to Churches of schismatic secondary denominations. Such capacity only applies to a major Church possessing full Pontifical authority of Sovereign statehood under international law, as a historical institution, having juridical and doctrinal continuity of its own traditions under customary law, which uniquely embodies and represents a distinct primary denomination, and which unifies diverse Churches from related secondary or derivative denominations.

CHIVALRIC SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY AND FONS HONOURUM

According to Catholic scholars, “besides those orders who are considered to form part of the Public Law or International Law, there exist no other orders.” Vatican experts often quote the opinion of the scholar Bascape, that under Canon Law and in jurisprudence, “Outside the Public Law there can exist no Orders of Chivalry. … The ‘Jus Honorum’ cannot emanate if not from a Sovereign state or person, at least by title, and in consequence the private associations who assume names and decorations of the Old Equestrian Orders or Military Orders which are extinct, are destined to extinguish themselves, unless they will obtain from the [Church] or from a Sovereign State or at least from a deposed Sovereign, an explicit juridical recognition and valid Protection (Tutela)”. [23] [24]E (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orggenerally maintain that an “order of knighthood is legitimate” whenever it is “legal, recognized and acknowledged as such by a sovereign authority.” [22]

The Latin word ‘Tutela’ comes from the root ‘Tueri’ meaning to “watch over”, literally meaning “Protection”, and is canonically used to mean specifically a grant of sovereignty. In modern times, it is sometimes used as a redundant adjective in the phrase “Tutela Protection”. The Latin word ‘Tutela’ means “guardianship” (since ca. 1600 AD), but also means “tutelage” as in teaching or “instruction” (since 1857 AD). [25] That meaning is derived from the 13th century Old French ‘Tuteor’ meaning “guardian” and also “private teacher”. [26]

The dual meaning of Tutela (as “teaching by private instruction”) is highly revealing of the true purpose and intent of Sovereign Protection. The grant of Protection is not simply an endorsement by the subjective will of the Sovereign, and does not occur in an instant by decree alone. Rather, it is the result of a process, by which the granting institution provides the necessary education, training and knowledge base of the rules of chivalric, nobiliary and heraldic law, and relevant protocols of Royalty and Nobility, and verifies the legality, propriety and effectiveness of the charter (or chivalric rule) of the institution. This is necessary to ensure the authenticity, functionality and longevity of the venerable traditions which must be continued through the receiving historical institution.

Accordingly, “Patronage” (endorsement with involvement and supervision) gives an Order access to the expert advice and guidance in traditional protocols from the Sovereign Patron, while “Protection” (permanent grant of independent sovereignty) is a certification that the Order has achieved sufficient mastery of the essential body of knowledge, that it is entrusted to carry on the traditions as a historical institution in its own right.

It is in large part for these reasons that by Canon Law, “the Orders [widely recognized as legitimate] are all based and depend on the existence of a sovereign State, sovereign Prince, [or] High Pontiff who is a spiritual and temporal Sovereign, and Sovereign Order. This is what is always undoubtedly accepted in the Juridical Law and Public Law. Out[side] of these Orders’ categories therefore, no proper Orders can exist. Those out[side] of this category will be considered as simple ‘associations’, because the Jus Honorum (Fons Honorum, Jus Honorandi) has a transcendental character and therefore it can only be emanated from a legitimate sovereignty.” [27]

Notwithstanding much debate, many experts support the doctrine of customary international law, that the “sovereign authority” giving recognition (by Patronage or Protection) can also be a “non-reigning” or “non-ruling” Sovereign (who is no longer Head of State of any territory) of a “deposed” Royal House of a historical state or territory. [28] Lawyers generally confirm that chivalric legitimacy, “in view of the necessary Fons Honorum,” can be “granted by a reigning or not voluntarily having abdicated” (non-reigning) Sovereign. [29]

The ICOC confirms that the concept of a “Sovereign House”, which has the legal capacity under customary law to create or recognize chivalric Orders, includes a “Dynastic House”, and specifically includes deposed “ex-ruling Houses whose sovereign rank was internationally recognised” at any time, as evidenced by the historical record or official documents. “It is generally admitted by jurists that such ex-sovereigns who have not abdicated… retain their full rights as Fons Honorum”. [30]

Vatican scholars further explain: “Dynastic Orders of Knighthood are a category of Orders belonging to the heraldic patrimony of a dynasty, often held by ancient right. … Dynastic Orders of Knighthood are the exclusive property of a Sovereign, and they remain such even if he goes into exile, and are transmissible to his legitimate successor…”

“Jurists generally believe that even if a Sovereign abdicates of his own free will, he does not renounce his right to [carry] the Grand Mastership… unless he does so explicitly. But even then his renunciation will be of a personal character and such as not to involve his successors who… cannot be deprived of it. A Sovereign in exile and his legitimate successor… continue to enjoy the Jus Collationis (the right to confer honours) and therefore may bestow honours in full legitimacy, provided the Order has not [subsequently] become extinct. They cannot however found new Dynastic Orders.” [31] [32]

“Another learned Lawyer, ‘Impollomeni’, is of the opinion that: ‘Chivalric honours, and Noble Titles, not conferred by a King, or by some other authorized institution, have only a private character and never public.” [33]

INDEPENDENT & AUTONOMOUS CHIVALRIC SOVEREIGNTY

A chivalric Order, once validly granted its own inherent Fons Honorum in perpetuity, remains wholly independent and sovereign in its own right, and forever thereafter is never dependent upon continued endorsement from any external Sovereign:J (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgJust as a deposed non-ruling non-territorial Sovereign House may grant legitimate chivalric sovereignty to an Order, by extension, the doctrines of jurisprudence dictate that a non-territorial chivalric historical institution may also possess its own inherent sovereignty. This must be created by a grant of “Sovereign Protection” which is evidenced in the historical record, or is documented by an authenticated proper Letters Patent indicating the legal fact of such Protection. “In that case the Order involved, which can be a national or a supranational chivalric Order… [can] dispose over the necessary Fons Honorum.” [34]

Upon a grant of “recognition” by a Sovereign conveying Fons Honorum, “a Sovereign is combining this – which is always the case – with providing his Protection to such Order. Protection can be distinguished from Fons Honorum. Fons Honorum can theoretically be given to an Order [as Patronage]… without awarding it Protection. But in practice [the Order is] receiving Protection and is deriving the Fons Honorum from the Protection awarded. Fons Honorum is a sequel to the Protection awarded.” [35]

The ICOC confirms this doctrine as follows: “Although at one time – many centuries ago – private people of high standing could and did create some independent Orders of Knighthood, some among which… [gained] considerable prestige and obtained formal validity form the Church and the Crown, such rights of creation of Orders have long since fallen into desuetude [disuse] and, nowadays, Orders of Chivalry… must always stem from or be… under [Sovereign] Protection”. [36]

The ICOC describes one major legal precedent: “The only recognized Order with the style of ‘Sovereign’ [in its name] existing nowadays [as known ca. 1963] is that of St. John of Jerusalem… as an independent non-territorial power”. This refers to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) which received Sovereign Patronage from the Vatican. [37] Legal experts point out, about the ICOC reference to SMOM being the only “Sovereign” chivalric Order: “Note that… The Commission says nothing else. In particular it does not say that no other organization is entitled to the style “Sovereign””. [38]

The sovereignty of a historical institution (such as the Vatican and SMOM) does not require being a “country” nor having a territorial claim, and holds legal status as a “sovereign subject of international law” [39] [40]. Such status for a chivalric Order has been recognized through SMOM having diplomatic relations with 105 countries plus official relations with 6 European Union countries (totaling almost 60% of the UN General Assembly) [41], and UN recognition as an “other entity” with “observer” status. The Vatican confirmed that such status is based upon substance “as a sovereign institution [which] is functional, to ensure the achievement of its purposes in the world” [42].

 

THE “PRINCE GRAND MASTER” MODEL OF SOVEREIGNTY

A (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgAccording to the rules of customary chivalric law as documented by the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry (ICOC), the only type of Order which can rightfully and properly use the style of “Sovereign” in its name, is one which possesses full and independent sovereignty in its own right, without need for any external Sovereign Patronage [43]. This can only be achieved by the Order receiving an official grant of permanent Sovereign Protection, under customary international law. (Thus, labeling self-styled Orders as “sovereign”, meaning they are “independent” only because they did not receive any official Protection, is mistaken, and without lawful basis.)

For a legitimate Order to possess its own inherent sovereignty as non-territorial statehood, it is not sufficient to hold a grant of Protection, but rather more is required: Its Grand Mastery must be based upon a “Prince Grand Master”. In this model (which is rare and little known, but well documented in the historical record), the necessary Fons Honorum is wholly vested in the institution itself, through a sovereign Prince who is integral to its Grand Mastery, such that no external endorsement would ever be needed. As a result, the established form of statehood is that of a “Principality”, literally meaning a State which is governed by a Prince.

The most well known legal precedent, of a legitimate chivalric Order possessing independent sovereignty by establishment of a “Prince Grand Master”, is that of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM). Both heraldic experts and legal experts generally agree that the “Prince Grand Master” model, by the example of SMOM, is the key to independent sovereignty with legitimacy for a historical chivalric Order: “Suffice it to say that no other Order, however keen its proponent may be, would ever be in a position to lawfully assert a sovereign status”, unless it has properly established a Prince Grand Master under customary international law. “Any existing [sovereign] Orders of Chivalry must be dependent upon a sovereign Prince, or be themselves sovereign” by having their own in-house Prince [44] [45]

This legal doctrine, of a Prince Grand Master being the correct model for genuine sovereignty of an Order, goes back to the “First Principle” of the ICOC criteria: “Every independent State has the right to create its own Orders or Decorations of Merit” [46]. In other words, a chivalric Order can only have full independent sovereignty of statehood for its chivalric and nobiliary functions, by the historical institution holding its own Fons Honorum through a juridical and canonical Prince Grand Master.

Canon Law confirms the model of a Prince Grand Master, as the necessary model for a Sovereign Magistral chivalric institution such as the Templar Order:  “The Sovereignty, in the form of a person of international law, is an attribute of the Religion… The Grand Master… [is] the holder of the Sovereignty: In fact, in some cases he was referred to as the ‘Sovereign’, for as much as he appeared a Temporal Prince like all the others of that time and eras.” [47]

Ecclesiastical scholarship further supports the chivalric authenticity of a Prince Grand Master: “Substantially, the [legitimate chivalric] Orders… are all based and depend on the existence of a Sovereign State [or] Sovereign Prince… who is a spiritual and temporal Sovereign, [of a] Sovereign Order. This is what is always undoubtedly accepted in the Juridical Law and Public Law.” [48]

Vatican scholarship documented a major historical precedent for the “Prince Grand Master” role under customary international law, specifically related to Knights Templar heritage: “To maintain itself against the Kings of Poland the [Teutonic] Order had to [in 1466 AD]… confide the office of Grand Master to German Princes.” Even after 343 years of Prince Grand Masters, in ca. 1809 AD “the Order became purely Austrian, under the supreme authority of the Emperor of Austria, who reserves the dignity of Grand Master for an Archduke”. [49]

Related Vatican records evidence that the Order of Teutonic Knights, which adopted the “Prince Grand Master” model, was essentially a branch of the Templar Order, as the Teutonic Order (of Eastern Europe) was established in the Knights Templar stronghold of Acre in 1190 AD (under sovereignty of the Templar Principality of Antioch since 1129 AD), and remained based in Acre until 1309 AD during the persecution of the Templars, when the Teutonic Order established its own Principality of Marienburg in Prussia: “The Order of Teutonic Knights was founded and took its place beside… the Templars. As early as 1192 AD they were endowed by [Pope] Celestine III with the same privileges as… the Order of the Temple, from which they borrowed their military organization.” [50]

Therefore, this medieval precedent for the role and legal status of a “Prince Grand Master” establishes a legitimate tradition, as part of the authentic Knights Templar heritage, of the original Order of the Temple of Solomon.

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