The Chivalric Emporium of West Virginia and other mail order ventures
Sylvester, West Virginia, population 600, is a sleepy suburb of the state capital, Charleston. It has the distinction of having been the home of a thriving trade in cut-rate chivalry and nobility. What started several years ago as Custom Design Insignia, a manufacturer of medals and awards of all kinds, grew into a veritable super market where "orders" could be obtained for prices ranging from $100 to $2000. While Custom Design Insignia did not itself, to the best of our knowledge, sell nobiliary titles, it would not be surprising to learn that the company had contacts with pretenders to a number of former "Byzantine" or other contentious ruling houses willing to reward generous contributors to their "cultural" and "charitable" activities with titles ranging from baron to prince.
I first became aware of Custom Design Insignia and its President, Mr. Lowell A. Barker, in the mid-eighties when I received a circular inviting me, to join the "Knightly Association of St. George the Martyr". At that time, I was actively involved in heraldic and historical research, and had little time or inclination to join anything new. The aims of the Association, according to the circular, were: 1) To assist the Knight in fulfilling his religious obligations and duties. 2) To unite the membership of various chivalric Orders in oecumenical fellowship. 3) To engage in charitable Christian service to humanity. 4) To maintain the high and noble traditions of Christian Knighthood and Chivalry. 5) To encourage the traditional studies of heraldry and genealogy.
While not specifically told how the Association intended to fulfill these aims, there was nothing about them or the circular that was in any way contentious. Later, however, I learned from a compendium on orders written by Mr. Barker himself that: "The Knightly Association of St. George the Martyr has members scattered throughout the world. The membership is composed of individual Knights from the various Royal, State and Papal Orders. Among the membership are 35 Heads of State, many of the Governors General of the British Commonwealth and many Noble and Royal personages."
The next paragraph got to what seemed more likely to be the real purpose of the association: "Another aspect of the Association is the issuance of commemorative medals, which are occasionally offered to the membership, and other interested persons. The first of these medals was issued in commemoration of the visit of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the United States in 1987, another medal being issued in 1987 in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Order of the Thistle in Scotland; as well as the 500th anniversary of the explorations of Christopher Columbus.
"Persons who are members of valid and authentic Orders of Chivalry are invited to become members of the Association and may make inquiry to the Secretary General". (Mr. Barker, himself) at Post Office Box 76, Sylvester, West Virginia, 25193, USA."(The italics are mine. It is obvious that Mr. Barker and I differ on what constitutes a valid and authentic order of chivalry.)
Through friends or business contacts Mr. Barker appeared to have acquired the membership lists of several orders, thus forming a large data base of potential customers. As of 1985 Mr. Barker had enrolled about 1500 people in his association. We have no idea of today's membership figures or if he is still involved in this lucrative trade. At about the same time or perhaps a little later he contacted well-known but dubious European "chivalric" purveyors, many of whom have been subject of articles in magazines and newspapers and became their American distributor.
It would be interesting to know the commercial basis on which Mr. Barker seeks or accepts the franchise to promote an "order". One of the conditions seems to be his appointment to its highest rank. Thus he acquired from a "sovereign house" the title of Count of Val Cunia y de Nabia and later that of Marques de la Riba Sella. Not content with knightly and nobiliary distinctions Mr. Barker has more recently turned to religion and metamorphosized as an Archimandrite of the Autocephalous Carpatho-Ukrainian Church. I have before me a picture of a vested Mr. Barker participating at the christening of Don Alexis Romanov Dolgorouki de Bourbon Condé's adopted son by H.E. Metropolitan Ambrose, Archbishop of the Carpatho-Ukrainian Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.
As the business expanded, Mr. Barker sent out more circulars inviting members of the Knightly Association to join more orders and purchase the appropriate insignia, which he manufactured and the quality of which left something to be desired. A partial list of orders obtainable from Mr. Barker appears at the end of this paper.
At one point Mr. Barker was actively promoting the Order of St.Michael of the Wing, an order of the Portuguese crown which had fallen into abeyance revived some years ago by Dom Duarte, Duke of Bragança, who is recognized officially by the Portuguese republican government as the head of the royal House of Bragança and by monarchists as the de jure King of Portugal. We hold in our files a copy of a letter offering this order for a one time payment of $2,000 and $100 per year dues along with a letter signed by Dom Duarte protesting that his House Order of St.Michael of the Wing is being sold in the United States against his wishes and without proper authorization.
For a fee, Mr. Barker would also undertake to represent would-be Scottish armigers at the Court of the Lord Lyon. Fees for handling petitions for a Scottish grant of arms or matriculation of an existing coat vary but may be as high as $1000. I do not know if this includes Lord Lyon's fees or if these are in addition to this amount. Neither do I know how many happy customers Mr. Barker had, but I do know of at least one disgruntled one, who admits, however, that Mr. Barker did refund the money when he was unable to obtain a Matriculation of Arms for his customer. I also have in my files a 1989 letter from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate replying to a query from a Barker customer about the application and contribution he made through Mr. Barker to become a member of the Orthodox Knights of the Holy Sepulcher. The letter from the Patriarchate states that Mr. Lowell Barker is not known to it and that it never received such an application to join the order or money. The letter goes on to say that "His Beatitude Patriarch Diodoros who is the Great Master of the Order bestows it only to persons known for their devotion, contribution and assistance to the Mother Church of all Churches, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem". It concludes with the expression of sorrow at the unfortunate experience with Mr. Barker for which it disclaims any responsibility.
To be fair, I have to point out the possibility of a misunderstanding on the part of Mr. Barker's client. Since there are any number of "orders" of the Holy Sepulcher dependent upon an equal number of autocephalous non-Roman Catholic churches and since Mr. Barker appears to have an entrée to most of them it is entirely possible that the client thought that he was applying through Mr. Barker to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, when in fact it might have been to one of the many other autocephalous churches.
Business must have been brisk for Mr. Barker as he waded happily in the murky waters of the trade. One of his more recently acquired distributorships was on behalf of the "Grand Priory of Ukraine-Ruthenia in exile" of the Order of St.Lazarus whose "Grand Prior" was the ubiquitous "Prince Alexis d'Anjou Dolgorouki etc.etc."(now deceased). This so-called "Grand Priory" seemed to be affiliated with the Spanish branch of St.Lazarus in which Mr. Barker holds the rank of Knight Grand Cross. Mr. Barker's justification for this creation is a copy of an old announcement by an official of the Paris branch of the order announcing the creation of such a Grand Priory together with a friendly letter from that official to "Prince Alexis."
Needless to say, Mr. Barker used all of the commercial means at his disposal to recruit for this new Grand Priory, much to the discomfort of the American Grand Priory which is now affiliated with the Paris branch of the order and which won a judgment that only it can use the green cross logo of the Order of St.Lazarus having registered it as a trademark several years earlier. This effectively put a stop to the Spanish branch of the order in the US from publicly displaying the Lazarite logo. I was also recently informed by a member of the "revived" Sovereign Military Order of the Temple that Mr. Barker was successfully sued by this body for a similar complaint.
In 1987 Mr. Barker published a book entitled "The Knightly Renaissance - A Guide to Knightly Orders" which is a compendium of chivalric orders which features more fantasist bodies than genuine ones.
Mr. Barker has moved from Sylvester, W.Va. to Titus Florida and is now devoting himself to his ecclesiastical vocation. He has not lost interest in orders and is allegedly in the process of publishing an updated version of his "The Knightly Renaissance".
Another mail-order venture caught my attention with an advertisement inviting readers of "MAJESTY", a monthly glossy magazine devoted to reporting on British and other royalty, to send US$2.00 to Nobilitat Regalia, 316 Edward Street, Victoria, B.C., Canada V9A 3E6 for information on titles of nobility for "deserving ladies and gentlemen." For my $2.00 I received an offer to obtain a knighthood in the "Order of the Commonwealth". At first reading of the proposal might lead the unwary to believe that this was a new order instituted by the British Commonwealth. A little reflection would lead to the realization that the British Commonwealth is not a fons honorum and that this is another scheme to separate the gullible victim of "chivalro-nobilophilia" from his money. First the reader learns that the "Sovereign and Independent Order of the Commonwealth" was founded for "several purposes," namely for the promotion of justice, harmony, fair-play and a sense of personal honor. Next, that the Knights and Officers all subscribe and support the "Declaration of Commonwealth Principles" agreed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at Singapore on 22 January 1971. There follows the Declaration of Commonwealth Principles in toto, which I shall not impose on the reader. Next there is an application blank which states that "the honor of knighthood is now available to those who subscribe." Full name and address are required as well as the title requested and the appropriate fees: Knight (US $100), Knight Commander (US $150) or Knight Grand Commander (US $200). Ladies are admitted in the grades of Companion, Dame Commander and Dame Grand Commander at the same rates as the gentlemen. The order is not only cheap but truly democratic and admits individuals regardless of race, color or creed.
However in order to recognize major religious groups the titles for those of the Judeo-Christian tradition are as already stated and their insignia (which is not described) depends from a crimson riband. Those of Islamic heritage are styled Knight-Bahadur; Knight Commander-Thakur and Knight Grand Commander Nawab and their riband is green. Those of Hindu heritage are styled Knight-Rajput; Knight Commander Raja and Knight Grand Commander Maharaja and their insignia depends from a saffron orange riband.
The postulant signs an oath on his sacred honor to uphold the principles in the Declaration as well as the use of the Honor of Knighthood and in all ways to bring lustre to the Sovereign and Independent Order of the Commonwealth. A box at the bottom of the application states that it is understood by all participants that the Order of the Commonwealth and its vendor, Nobilitat Regalia are original, free and independent of the Commonwealth of Nations, whatever that may mean. Finally a statement is made that "Certificates of Honor of Knighthood are offered to participants for personal satisfaction only. They are in no way to be accepted as dignities conferred by H.M. the Queen or her appointed representatives". The Grand Master of the Order of the Commonwealth is Mr. Douglas Gordon-Hill Henderson, Laird of Camster in Caithness and the "Victoria King at Arms" is Mr.Reginald Spencer.
More recently Nobilitat Regalia appears to have expanded its field of operations. The Grand Master has now become "Douglas, Baron of Clermont of the Latin Empire of Constantinople". We shall soon see where he obtained this title. He has added to his stock in trade titles of "Viscount or Viscountess" of the "Barony of Clermont" for US $500 or the equivalent in pounds sterling. Another item on the shelf is the "Ancient and Venerable Sovereign and Independent Order of St. Andrew of Jerusalem" which may be obtained for prices ranging between $150.00 and $250.00 depending on the grade desired by the applicant.
The Baron of Clermont states that the following members of "royal houses" and titled gentry have joined the Order of the Commonwealth: HRH Dom Rosario "de Braganza, Crown Prince of Portugal", "HSH Prince Daniel of Monaco", "HSH Prince Raoul Behomond of the House of Bohemia", "His Grace the Duke of Campobello", "Marquess of Allessio and of Maltsia" (see The Holy See of the Patriarchate of Antioch) and finally the "Rt.Hon. Wolf Dieter, Baron Klose". All of which should give one pause for thought.
The Holy See of the Patriarchate of Antioch
Because of its name I normally would have discussed this entity in a separate paper entitled "Awards proffered by religious denominations and episcopi vagantes". However since it is so obviously a mail-order operation I decided to place it here.
A young friend brought me the reply he received when he answered another advertisement in MAJESTY. The paper was headed, The Holy See of the Patriarchate of Antioch, 27a Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX, with the sub-title The Roman Forum which, it was explained, is the "Genealogical Research Foundation of the Holy See of Antioch". At first I failed to see the connection between the "Holy See" and "The Roman Forum," but after a few lines of further reading, I realized that someone had a sense of humor and was playing on the meaning of forum as a "market place".
Indeed the Holy See of the Patriarchate of Antioch located at Old Gloucester Street, is another nobiliary supermarket. The mastermind behind this enterprise is a Duke of Campobello , Duke of Gibralfaro, Marquess of Alessio and of Maltsia AND as The Right Honorable Baron of Fermoy and Athenry, LLB, Attorney at Law. The Duke, born in Cuba claims Spanish nationality and until recently resided in the Netherlands. The Head of this Patriarchate is His Beatitude ALEXANDER II (aka Jean Marie Duval).
I quote from the reply to a letter dated April 1992 which I addressed the Apostolic Nuncio of a European capital requesting information about the status of this Patriarchate : "The Holy See of the Patriarchate of Antioch" is not among the Orthodox Churches with which the Catholic Church maintains relations and holds theological dialogue. In addition there does not exist among the Eastern Churches, Catholic or Orthodox, any Patriarch named "His Beatitude Alexander II." The above-named person would seem to belong to the category of "episcopi vagantes", individuals who use high sounding titles devoid of any significance."
The letter to which I originally referred explains that the Holy See in question was one of those Eastern Orthodox Churches headed by its own pontiff and that its origins went back to the time of Christ. Having said that, the writer gets down to business. His Beatitude, the Patriarch, whose identity is not revealed, is, the reader is told, a sovereign prince of the Church who, much as the Roman pontiff does, grants titles of nobility and confers knighthoods in ancient orders of chivalry such as the Knightly Golden Fleece. The anonymous writer styling himself "Archivist of the ROMAN FORUM" as usual forgets that the Roman pontiff as Head of State of the Vatican is an authentic fons honorum and thus perfectly entitled to ennoble individuals (which he no longer does) and bestow membership in chivalric orders (which he continues to do.)
The Patriarchate, the letter went on, maintains "The Patriarchal Assizes" defined as The Holy See's Court of Heraldry and Nobility. This body offers to rehabilitate "in one's favour" ancient, extinct or vacant titles including a number of feudal baronies and other feudal estates, which it researches and makes available to individuals who file petitions to the Patriarch. It is suggested that interested individuals send $20.00, to go towards mailing costs, for a full dossier of available services. The Holy See's King of Arms will also grant armorial bearings which, the reader is told, make "especially original Christmas gifts."
"The FORUM will research family surnames for the purpose of finding vacant titles in antiquity which the interested party may claim," said the letter. "For this service a fee of $180 is charged. Lastly, the Holy See maintains a diplomatic corps with ambassadors and consuls in a number of places such as France, the UK, the Netherlands, the West Indies etc. and has permanent observers to world organizations such as The International Court of Justice. It is possible to join this corps as an honorary diplomat."
My friend duly sent in his twenty dollars and several weeks later received a thick but carelessly put-together folder consisting of twenty-two pages listing the entire line offered by the "Holy See of Antioch," along with the current price list. Certain "Orders of Chivalry" were on offer only in the grades of Knight Grand Cross and Knight Commander. One such was the "Order of St.Mark," reserved to members of the medical profession, although we suspect that a barber or chiropodist would have no great difficulty being accepted. This is because one can choose the chivalric rank to which one aspires with the only qualification being the ability to pay for it. The senior rank of Knight Grand Cross goes for $2000, the more junior one of Knight Commander for half that amount. These prices do not include the insignia which is sold separately at $75.
Also on offer was "The Most Noble Order of the Golden Fleece". The description of this "order," written by a certain William Lockwood, took the form of a press release. "The Patriarchate has revived this ancient order of knighthood with a view to honoring those contributors to the church whose field of endeavour is related to commerce and industry," wrote Mr. Lockwood. The motto ascribed to it, Expulsis Piratus Restitutia Comertia is atrocious Latin for what is meant to say "expel the pirates and restore commerce." The writer explains "that this is a quaint reminder of the days when the Spiritual Lords of Asia Minor sought to vanquish the Turkish pirates that forayed and encroached upon Western Civilization and culture at the gates of Europe at Byzantium and the Balkans."
The "Patriarchate" has not revived an ancient order but usurped the name of a noble and prestigious order of chivalry which has an uninterrupted history down to the present. For $750 or $575, depending on the rank, the purchaser is said to be entitled to style him or herself Sir or Dame. "Handsome Letters Patent awarding your title are sent to you by post in about four weeks".
The next aberration offered by the Patriarchate is that of "The Golden Seraphim". Price $1000 or $750. Members are styled "Sir" or "Dame". This order is followed by that of "St. Michael and St. Gabriel" which Mr. Lockwood describes as "the most coveted order of the Patriarchate". He states "it is available only as the Patriarch's personal gift - the highest mark of His Beatitude's grace and favour and is awarded only to those members whose help and assistance to the Church is of especial magnitude. The Patriarch himself takes an active role in the Order as its sovereign." Again members may style themselves Sir or Dame and may add the postnominal initials KCMG or GCMG, which mimic the postnominals of the senior grades of the most authentic British Order of St Michael and St George. The prices are Grand Cross $4,000 and Knight Commander $3,000. A clarifying note explains that these designations should not be confused with those of the Order of Saint Michael and St. George.
Then there is the "Order of the Star of the Nile", established by the Patriarchate to raise aid for the campaign to save the monuments of Nubia. Prices are $500 or $375. "Enrollment forms and contributions should be sent to The Rt. Hon. the Countess of Corabia, Honorary Chairman, Preservation Committee "Save the Monuments of Nubia" Order of the Star of the Nile, Patriarchate of Antioch."
The next items on the shelf are three lots of "feudal baronies of the ancient crusader kingdoms of the Latin Empire of Constantinople and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem by private treaty". Treaty between the purchaser and the Patriarchate, we assume.
According to the offer, these baronies "now form part of the Patriarchal See of Antioch under the spiritual sovereignty (sic) of His Beatitude, the Patriarch of Antioch". They are: Marmaris, Tiberias, Laschish, Subeita, Megiddo, Ascalon, Mt.Hermon, Tartus, Seleucia, Maras, Salamis, Phrygia, Mt.Actaeon, Jericho, Galipoli, Adrianople, Konispoli, Sozopol On 15 July 1989 the following were added to the list: Beaufort, Buffovento, Chastellet, Montreal, Montfort,(sold) Jehoshephat, Belvoir, Ravendel and St. Abraham.
"These unique and exclusive titles of ancient nobility are splendidly revived with the painstaking care of Patriarchal historians. They are awarded by way of lovely letters patent suitable for framing under the signature and seal of the Patriarch". The terms of sale are as follows: "Each feudal barony offered for sale in the lot is priced at £600.00 U.K. Sterling payable by way of bankers draft, cashier's cheque or money order. Cheques should be payable to "Patriarchate of Antioch" and should state the name of the remitter. Please be so kind as to fill out the purchase form and send in together with payment. Letters Patent are shipped within 1 week of receipt of payment". A Nota Bene states that baronies offered in the lot of 15 July are priced at £800. Finally, there is one last offer for the sale of the feudal Dukedom of the Archipelago which is "coextensive" with the Cyclades islands of the Aegean Sea. The price of this fool's paradise is £1,800.
Turning the page there are more articles in the format of press releases. One is titled "The Patriarchate's Historical and Current Authority in the Creation of Honours," another "Want to be a Prince or a Duke?" aptly sub-titled "An Eastern Orthodox Church Now Makes Fairy tales a Reality for its Benefactors". The first of these, written by Germaine F. Aeverhardy appears to equate the Patriarchate with the Holy See of Rome but, as usual is oblivious to the reasons which disqualify the Patriarchate from being a fons honorum. The writer poses a number of questions and supplies answers intended to justify the "Patriarchate's" authority to grant titles. For instance, she asks, "If sovereign monarchs are the sole individuals empowered to grant titles, how is it that the world's oldest republic, San Marino, can grant titles of nobility? The answer is that any fons honorum can grant titles and the Republic of San Marino is, just as any other sovereign state, a perfectly valid fons honorum."
It should be noted that the titles granted by the Republic of San Marino were bestowed only on foreigners and most often have not been recognized by the recipients' own governments. Further, San Marino stopped the award of titles some decades ago when it had a Leftist government.
She then asks how the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is not a country, grants knighthoods. As stated, the Order of Malta is considered a sovereign power and as such maintains diplomatic relations with more than fifty countries. While it does not confer titles of nobility, it is considered a nobiliary order as proof of nobility is required for admission into the categories of members to whom are entrusted senior positions in the central government in Rome.
She also errs when she states that the Principality of Andorra grants titles. While in recent years a number of charlatans selling worthless titles have maintained post-box addresses in Andorra, the Principality itself does not confer titles.
As for titles granted by the Patriarchate of Antioch, these we are told are based primarily on the historical precedents throughout the centuries by the Roman Popes and other Christian Patriarchs and leaders of other religions, such as the Dalai Lamas of Tibet. I confess that the Dalai Lama's granting titles of nobility, as these are understood in the Western world, is news to me. Ms Aeverhardy's next paragraph is revealing:
"However, to avoid any clashes with the State, the Patriarchate has registered as a non-profit religious organization under the laws of the State of California for the added clarity of its position for its American followers and indeed its titles are to be understood as statements of rank within the Church hierarchy."
The expansion of the activities of the "Patriarchate" is suggested by its naming what it says is an observer at the United Nations in New York. Mrs Aeverhardy reports that he is Mr. Wayne B. Yeager, Baron of Montfort, whose address is Holy See of Antioch, Attention: Westphalian Council, 545 8th Avenue, Suite 401, New York,N.Y. 10018. The United Nations says there is no such body accredited as an observer to it.
While no one can contest a religious entity's right to refer to its members in any way it sees fit, it seems odd that the Patriarch can, offer "feudal baronies" and "rehabilitate" other titles without at least requiring the petitioner to be a member of the Church. Perhaps upon purchasing such a title makes one automatically an "honorary communicant" of the Church of Antioch which seems like going about it from the wrong end. It would be interesting to know how many people have succumbed to this temptation.
The second article is much like the first. In it one is told that for a contribution of $1000 one can become a Prince, Duke, Marquess, Count, Viscount, Baron or Knight. Take your pick, the price is the same and "you will, within four weeks receive Letters Patent in the language of your choice granting you the title you have picked out. Further, your name is entered in the ROLL OF THE NOBILITY of the Church."
The article claims "this is a very attractive feature for if you pretend to a title, unless there is a functioning monarchy or government that backs up a titled system, there is no verification possible and your name is likely to be entered into such ominous publications as the Dictionary of the False Nobility and other similar watchdog genealogical books that can wreak social havoc on the life of an aspiring aristocrat. All enquiries made to the Patriarchate as to the legitimacy of the claims of any individual pretending to a Patriarchal title are replied to and swiftly verified, consequently the legitimacy of these titles is never in question".
It is hard to keep a straight face after reading all this rubbish. The charade continues: "The Patriarchate", to quote the article, "maintains a corps of ambassadors and apostolic envoys around the world who have social representational duties. Membership in the Patriarchal diplomatic corps is, of course, on offer. An honorary ambassadorship can be had for approximately $5000 while the rate for honorary consulship or nunciate is about $2,500. It certainly represents a feather in someone's social cap, giving entree into the partying, wining and dining world of the diplomatic set. " The Patriarchate seems to have some rather confused ideas about diplomacy and society.
In addition to the services and prices already cited the Patriarchate offers services and hardware as follows:
Recognition of claims to thrones (by treaty): approximately $10,000.
Creation of Grand Dukedom with qualification of Highness or Serene Highness: $5,000.
Creation of Principality with qualification of Highness or Serene Highness: $3,000.
Creation of any lesser title with qualification of Highness or Serene Highness: $2,500.
Recognition of Royal Status without HH,HSH,HRH: $2,000.
TITLES OF NOBILITY (Non-royal)
For revivals or new creations, masculine, feminine, all languages:
Prince, Duke, Marquess, Count, Viscount, Baron, Knight: $1,000.
GRANTS OF ARMS, INSIGNIA, DECORATIONS, SASHES AND SWORDS
Grants of arms include a handsome colour, hand drafted coat of arms painted on fine parchment, suitable for framing. The arms are matriculated with the Patriarchate in the Patriarchal Register. Design of arms, if requested, is included. (NB A grant of arms confers automatically the title of Squire. This is stated in the terms of the grant. Cost $200.
Sashes with the Patriarchal insignia are available in the various colours of the Patriarchate. Cost $38.50. (No description of the insignia is given )
Various antique swords are available and can be inscribed with the name of the benefactor with Patriarchal insignia. Cost $210.
The "condecorations" of the various Orders of Chivalry are available with coloured band. (Again the insignia are not described nor the colors indicated.) When ordering please indicate which order of chivalry you are a member of. Cost $75. The Medallion de l'Etoile Celeste (The Celestial Star Medallion) is the official "condecoration" of the patriarchal nobility. It come with coloured band and is worn by nobles and diplomats of the Church of the Holy See of Antioch.
We are approaching the end of the long list of nobiliary services offered by the Patriarchate of Antioch. In August 1989 the Patriarchate opened an Heraldic Office at the same Old Gloucester Street mail pickup service. In addition to grants of arms the office will register new and existing arms, birthbrieves, pedigrees and will research family surnames and genealogies for the modest sum of $180.
The Patriarch is referred to as His Beatitude, the Lord Alexander, Patriarch of Antioch, the Great City of God, of Syria and the Lebanon, of Silesia (sic), the Hellenes, Anatolia, Illyria and all of the country evangelized by St. Paul and St. Mark, and of all the East, Pastor of Pastors..."
Where does the Patriarch reside? We are not told nor is his Church properly identified. Where is it physically located? How large is his flock? I have noted that the Church has been registered with the State of California and is a bonafide religious institution and thus exempt from taxes. From this are we to infer that there are a number of parishes in the United States? I wrote to the American and Canadian diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church which is headed by the venerable Patriarch Mar Athanasius Y. Samuel to ask if his Church maintained any relations with the "Holy See of Antioch". He replied that it does not. I also wrote to the Holy See of Antioch itself requesting further information. The reply stated that a new book on the Jacobite sects is due to appear soon and that the Patriarchate has signed up to buy a number of exemplars and has put me on a list to receive a free copy. I am still waiting for it!
I thought I could end here, but since writing the above I came across another advertisement in Majesty magazine from QUEENSGATE ASSOCIATES, another operation which seems to be closely linked to the Patriarchate of Antioch. The advertisement was for a work entitled "Upward Nobility! How to make it into the aristocratic and royal ranks, The Guide to How,How much and Where". The authors are listed as Marina Alexandrine de Furstenbrandt and Marc Charles. Naturally I could not let this go by so I duly sent my $62.00 to Queensgate Press, Postbus 55360 3008 EJ, Rotterdam, Holland and shortly thereafter received what is probably the first book of its kind.
Never having heard of either of the authors nor the publishers I started examining the frontispiece and fly-leaf as well as the appendix to see if I could make any connections before actually starting to read the book. I was fascinated to note that the Patriarchate of Antioch has affiliated itself, or become the client of Queensgate Associates whose Editorial and Reader Services Division are located on the Isle of Man. This appears to be an offshore commercial network or rather a nobiliary clearing house. I also noted that "The College of Arms of the Heraldic Society of Spain" and its "Herald of Arms (Overseas)," the Duke of Campobello use the facilities of Queensgate Associates.
An application form provided by the Spanish College of Arms (a private venture with no official standing) and published in the book offers to register existing arms of any petitioner and to supply him with a hand painted color rendition of the arms for $2000. In small print the petitioner is requested to furnish full documentation of his title to be included in the "grant" and the description of the arms stating the fons honorum which issued them. If the petitioner does not have arms he may still request the "College" to design and register new arms along with a guarantee by the Chief Herald of any title. Cost for this service is also $2000. In other words it matters not one whit if you have a genuine grant or not, the College will charge the same for registering one that has been many generations in your family or it will make one up for you out of whole cloth. When confronted with these claims the Spanish College of Arms stated that they were indeed misleading . It reiterated its private character adding that in no way did it try to convey the impression that it was supplanting the traditional functions of the Corps of Chroniclers of Arms. I must also point out that the Duke of Campobellos connection with the Spanish Heraldry Society and Spanish College of Arms was shortlived.
The reader will note that the prices cited by the Spanish Heraldry Society's College of Arms are considerably higher than those cited initially in the Patriarchate of Antioch's literature. One might speculate that when Queensgate Associates came on the scene they decided to raise the fees cited by the Patriarchate so as to be able as to make a profit themselves. Thus if one were insane enough to succumb to all of this one would be better off economically dealing directly with the Patriarchate than through Queensgate Associates. We suspect that both the Patriarchate and the Spanish Heraldry Society use the same heraldic artists and calligraphers. Further, I see the work of the ubiquitous Duke of Campobello in each one of these operations.
If the outlays for the foregoing seem a little stiff, you may go tourist class and for $1000 register foreign arms, request new arms or apply for certification of arms that already exist for your surname but without the inclusion of any foreign title in the grant. Another, decidedly more expensive service on offer is the processing of an application for investiture as a knight in the "Spanish Imperial Order of Charles V" which includes a petition to "H.R.H. Don Enrique de Borbon" the Grand Master of the Order for bestowal of the 'estate' (sic) and rank of knight. The price is $2,500. If you want to go steerage with the goats and the chickens there are less expensive services available too, such as genealogical research studies of one's surname for $650 and registration of pedigrees with the "College" for $750. Finally, if none of these appeal to you, you are asked to specify any services you think the "College" can render you and you will receive a tailor made quotation by return mail. If you do avail yourself of any of the services described above you are asked to make your check payable to "The Heraldic Society of Spain/Heraldo de Ultramar" and send it to the Isle of Man. Why the "Heraldic Society of Spain" maintains a representative on the Isle of Man should give anyone pause to think.
The next application form is for a "Petition for Honours" made to "His Beatitude, the Patriarch of Antioch" in which the petitioner is asked to state the honours to which he aspires including the territorial designation, stating the services he has rendered the Holy See including the amount of any donation made with the relevant details. There follows an invitation or rather an application for joining "The United Grand Priories in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom of the Ecumenical Chapters of the Sovereign Military and Hospitaler Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Knights of Malta - Spanish and Maltese Langues" This is the order that was headed by the late Alexis Brimeyer, sometimes known as "H.R.H. Prince Alexis d'Anjou de Bourbon-Conde, Duke of Durazzo etc.,etc.", who appears in several papers on "orders" of St.John. The petitioner is invited to attach his one-time passage fee to the application, the amount of which is left blank and he is told that once accepted the annual membership dues will be $340 per year. He may also request a "diplomatic passport" issued by the order.
His diploma and passport, if he has requested one, will be sent to him within three weeks. On the other hand if the application is not accepted his money will be refunded immediately. (It is highly unlikely that an application will be rejected unless the postulant has had a personal falling out with the Grand Master.). The application is to be mailed to "Hospitaler's House, London WC1N 3XX, Great Britain which, probably coincidentally, bears the same postal code as the Old Gloucester Street address of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
The "warning" in the front of the book is worth citing in full: "What constitutes a legally valid title, who is empowered to grant it and who will recognize it is a subjective matter and subject to great debate even among learned legal scholars. There are some basic concepts and attributes the authors feel are common to the validity of titles and this book represents what they believe in their best legal and historical judgment to be an exhaustive study of all known reputable sources or "fountains of honour" which still grant titles nowadays. The authors have avoided what they consider to be fonts of honour and grantors of titles which, in the authors' opinion, have no legal basis for such grants. While most reliable sources have been sought out in writing this book and every effort has been made to include the most correct and up-to-date information and sources, neither the author, publisher nor distributors can accept any liability for the accuracy of its contents nor for the consequences of any reliance placed upon it".
The book, 120 pages, long is broken down into twenty chapters. It starts out by catering to the reader's vanity and by explaining the history of titles and who in the twentieth century can grant them. In this expose the first item of misinformation appears when the author states that Eastern patriarchs are like the Roman pontiff and kings and sovereign nations in being able to grant titles. It is on this statement that the book will justify the Holy See of Antioch's authority to grant titles. I have amply shown in these pages why this is not so.
Suffice it to say that none of the various entities represented by Queensgate Associates and listed below is a genuine fons honorum:
The Holy See of the Patriarchate of Antioch
The College of Arms of the Spanish Institute of Heraldry
Estament d'Homes Nobles de Catalunya
The Cultural and Historical Society of the Head of the Portuguese Royal House (ACREP).
The Royal House of Anjou and Naples
L'Institut Impérial de la Chevalerie
L'Haute Académie de la Chevalerie (sic)
At $62.00 a copy Upward Nobility will be of interest first and foremost to the individual who yearns for honors, is unable to distinguish the historically true from the false. But it will also intrigue the observer of the nobiliary underworld.
QUEENSGATE ASSOCIATES has been adding more products to it shelves. The most recent "service" offered by the Duke of Campobellos Feudal Investments Division is the acquisition of title deeds to Scottish properties which confer the "feudal noble titles of Laird or Baron, depending upon whether the property is a highland or lowland one." The Duke is confusing things again. Highland and lowland have nothing to do with who is called a laird and who is a Scottish feudal baron. A landed proprietor in Scotland is often called Laird, whether or not he owns a barony. Nor would it be unusual for a person owning a barony, if it comprises a considerable amount of land, to be referred to as "the Laird of...," although in recent years holders of such baronies have usually preferred to be known as "James Smith, Baron of ...."
According to the advertising, "these titles are hearthstone properties, a small piece of a much larger ancient estate, the ownership of which entitles you to the rank, style and attribute of Laird or Baron depending on the particular property." The Duke states that "When you purchase feudal lands, you will receive at no aditional cost, a Grant of Armorial Bearings. Your title of "Laird" or "Baron" will be included in the Grant of Arms which is hand-painted in full colour. Your title will be legalised under the terms of the Hague Convention on International Legalisations. In addition to receiving the seal of the Convention, (sic) this legalisation will also bear the stamps of the Registrar of the Court of the Netherlands where the legalisation under the Hague Convention is performed. The stamp of the Convention(sic) gives international legal validity to the documents in all countries signatory to the Convention. Most member countries of the United Nations are signatories to the Convention. The Registrar of the Dutch Court personally signs the legalisation document.
"The lands and title are fully transferable as real property. You can sell them or will them to your heirs. In purchasing these feudal properties one inherits the status that lordship implies and becomes a successor in title to an illustrious line of men and women who have had a fundamental influence on the course of Scottish history. It is a title of honour that evokes the proud history of the Scottish kingdom and will forever remain a unique legacy owned by you and your heirs."
I was most curious as to why the Duke saw fit to apply for legalization of Scottish feudal properties and titles to the Registrar of the Court of the Netherlands rather than to the Sasine Register and to the Keeper of the Registers, Meadowbanks House, Edinburgh, and then once registered, petition for a grant of Scottish arms from the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. The latter is the only responsible authority under the British Crown for matters concerning verification, confirmation and granting of arms, registration of birthbrieves, and any matters regarding genealogy and titles in the kingdom of Scotland.
Queensgate Associates, Ltd./Feudal Investments Division's application form for the purchase of Scottish feudal properties adds a couple of "sweeteners" to the deal in the best supermarket tradition. For a payment of $3000 or £1,740 (these are 1992 prices and have certainly risen) for a title and title deed, the purchaser automatically receives a "knighthood in the ancient crusader Order of the Knights of Malta (Order of St.John of Jerusalem - Cypriot Langue) as well as a hand-painted grant of armorial bearings (coat-of-arms)."
Might we know from which heraldic authority? The application leaves a blank for the purchaser to choose the number of baronial plots he wishes to acquire and adds that if two or more are bought, he will be granted a discount of 20% off the total purchase price.
The Queensgate/Feudal Properties circular promoting the sale of baronies is headed, "ACQUIRE A UNIQUE PIECE OF SCOTLAND's HISTORY." As Scottish feudal properties are indeed sold with their territorial titles an intrinsic part of the property, much as with English Lordships of the Manor, we thought that this was another effort by a needy Scottish landowners to raise cash. It was only when we noticed what appeared to be a extraordinarily low prices that we decided to include information here on this operation with the usual warning "Caveat emptor". You only get what you pay for.
I have been thoroughly intrigued by Queensgate Associates and the activities and background of its CEO, the Duke of Campobello, Marquess of Alessio and Maltsia etc. He is relatively new to the trade in vanities, but that notwithstanding he is certainly making his mark on the market. He travels frequently to Spain and the United States, and more recently to Singapore the three most lucrative markets for his merchandise which he seems to be exploiting profitably.
The title of Duke of Campobello, it is said by some acquainted with him, originated with a Cuban grandfather or great-grandfather who received a title from Prince William of Wied during the latter's short reign in 1914 as Prince of Albania. The title was bestowed in consideration of the Cuban arms dealer supplying Albania with modern weaponry. I have no way of verifying this account and must admit that a request for confirmation from King Leka of the Albanians, who was away at the time, resulted in Queen Susan saying that she vaguely remembered that someone several years ago had addressed His Majesty requesting the confirmation of a title said to have been conferred by Prince William of Wied. She was unable to provide more information but promised to take the matter up with her husband and advise us. Unfortunately the matter ended there as I received no further word.
While I certainly cannot prove it, I strongly suspect that the Duke of Campobello took an active part in the preparation of the book Upward Nobility, and may even have written some of it, at least the parts pertaining to Spain and the Patriarchate.
Amongst the Dukes responsibilities are those of Ambassador of the Patriarchate of Antioch to the Netherlands, which implies the Patriarchate maintains diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of the Netherlands with the established exchange of accredited envoys by both parties. The Netherlands embassy in forms us that the Kingdom does not have diplomatic relations with any Patriarchate of Antioch. What is amusing is that the Duke through a lack of knowledge or experience or both, while selling his wares perpetuates the Patriarchate's erroneous premises.
For example, he and his principles seem to be unaware that a nuncio is a papal legate, detached from the Vatican and assigned as an ambassador of the Holy See to a foreign country.. The Nuncio is always Dean of the diplomatic corps in the country where he is assigned, if it is a Catholic country. In non-Catholic countries, the Vatican representative is called a pro-nuncio and the Dean is the envoy who has been accredited as ambassador to the country longer than any other envoy. The Dean acts as spokesman on behalf of the diplomatic corps as a whole and may be asked by the host government to act as an intermediary between it and the corps or a particular embassy that is causing the host government concern. An inter-nuncio is an envoy with the rank of minister counselor. An Apostolic Delegate is the representative of the Pope to the local Catholic clergy. All of these gentlemen are Catholic priests. In view of this we fail to understand how the Duke and the Patriarchate can sell such "apostolic diplomatic" ranks, since as we have seen its "diplomatic corps" is not accredited to the head of any state or put another way, there is no reciprocity between the Patriarchate and any sovereign state.
On the other hand, the Patriarchate maintaining an international commercial network on a franchise basis, selling franchises to self-starting, ambitious entrepreneurs would be perfectly understandable and in keeping with its activities.
The perpetrator of this operation more recently created an entity called
"The College of Arms of the Republic of Albania". An article by James Algrant on this subject entitled "The Revival of Nobiliary and Heraldic "Traditions" in the Republic of Albania may be found at http://kwtelecom.com/heraldry/albania.html
Bureau for Degree Promotion, Ltd.
This paper is far too long but I cannot resist ending it by bringing to the reader's attention a mail-order operation called circular describes the items sold by this operation whose full title and address is "Bureau for Degree Promotion, Ltd." with the address, c/o Prof. Dr. B.J. in den Bosch, 17 van Wassenaerlaan, CS 4797 Willemstad, Holland. Here is the Bureau's promotional circular in its entirety.
Diplomatic Consultant (member) PAX MUNDI, founded in 1963 includes membership of Diplomatic Club, Pax Medal and Diplomatic passport. Vide enclosed information. Fee US $2,500.
The Order of the Knight Templars of Jerusalem.
Includes diplomatic immunity. Knight $400. First Lieutenant (after one year membership) $500 ($100 extra). Medal $150.
Royal Order of the Bohemian Crown
Knight $150, medal $150. Baron $350, medal $200
Legion de l'Aigle de Mer (Eagle of the Sea)
Lieutenant $150. Captain $150. Medals $150 each
Order of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem
Knighthood $200. Medal $150
Knightly Association of St.George the Martyr
Knighthood $200. Medal $150
Non-recognised academic degrees
London Institute for Applied Science. Honorary Doctorate in Science, Commercial Science, Divinity, Humanities, Laws, Letters, Literature & Music. Beautiful sealed diplomas. Fee $120.
PhD. and/or Honorary Doctorate Addison State University, Brownell University, American Institute of Technology, Atlantic Southeastern University and California Institute of Higher Learning. Fee $80
Honorary Doctorate in Divinity from American Institution of 1879. $100
Masters' Doctors'and Honorary Doctors' Degree of All India Institute of Management and Research (branch of International University). Fees on application.
American News Agency Press card, together with car sticker signed and sealed. Fee $200
All fees include air mail & postal registration, and packing in wooden crate. All diplomas can be officially registered in the Netherlands, extra cost $20.
Short curriculum vitae, sometimes application form(s) (enclosed). Recent coloured passport photo (in the case of Pax Mundi membership four, in the case of Templar Knighthood and Press card two). Money order or personal cheque to the required amount.
P.S. Academic diplomas are not meant for career building but are only granted to those who because of education and professional experience would deserve a higher title. They may use it in, for instance, a developing country."
The following is/was probably an incomplete list of orders which are/were available through the Knightly Association of St. George the Martyr:
The Order of Polonia Restituta
The Order of Virtuti Militari
The Order of Saint Stanislas of Poland
The Order of the Knights of Sinai
The Order of St.George in Carinthia
The Order of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem
The Holy Orthodox Order of Saint Basil the Great
The Order of St.George and St. Rose of America
The Order of the Noble Companions of the Swan
The Order of Merit of St. Angilbert
The Order of Constantine the Great and of St. Helen
The Most Exalted and August Imperial Order of St. Eugene of Trebizond
The Order of the Crown of the Aztecs
The Imperial and Noble Order of Our Lady of Guadalupe of Anahuac
The Imperial Order of Merit of Guillermo I
The Knightly and religious Order of the Most Holy Saviour and St. Bridget
The San Luigi Orders
The Most Holy Orthodox Order of St. Gregory the Illuminator
The Military Order of St. Stephen the Martyr
The Order of Knights of Our Lady of Mont Joie
The Order of St. Blaise
The Order of Knights of the Martyrs of Palestine
And many many more ..
The foregoing is a mere scratch on the surface of the mail-order commerce in orders and diplomas of all kinds. Interested person may want to look up the following urls for more of the same:
If tempted, heed Jonathan Caltraps motto: "Caveat emptor!"
COMMENTS APPRECIATED IN CALTRAPS GUESTBOOK