Further on the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem

Further on the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem: lazarus cross

I have written before about the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem several times and my personal opinion on their status is on public display right here on this blog. Since writing that original article I have been contacted over the years by many individuals that are members of the various factions of the group. Some have been unchivalrous but most have been very kind in their communications. All, however, tried to prove that the particular Lazarite faction they belong to is legitimate and some even tried to recruit me!

In any case, I have decided to put together a quick reference guide in response to some of the most common arguments presented by the Lazarite supporters.

Fons Honorum

The fundamental requirement for any chivalric order is to have a fount of honor (fons honorum) backing it up. The requirement exists because the chivalric order is a conferral of a distinct kind of honor that elevates the recipient. Such an honor can be granted solely by one that has the capacity to do so, in other words a source for the honors. In practical terms, this means that founts of honor are:

  • Regnant Monarchs of Sovereign States. Examples are the King of Spain, the King of the Belgians, etc.
  • The Head of State of a Republic of a Sovereign State. Examples are the President of the USA, the President of the Hellenic Republic, etc.
  • Heads of formerly regnant Sovereign Houses. Examples are the Royal House of Portugal, the Imperial House of Russia, etc.
  • The 5 Ancient Apostolic Sees of the Christian Church:
    • Holy See of Rome, in the person of the Pope. Note: The sovereignty of the person of the Pope is through the recognition of the sovereignty of the Holy See and not that of the Vatican City State
    • Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, in the person of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Note: beyond the Apostolic See, he is also co-sovereign of the State of Mt. Athos
    • Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the person of its Patriarch
    • Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, in the person of its Patriarch
    • Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, in the person of the Pope & Patriarch of Alexandria
    • Note: Though not widely known in the Roman Catholic and Protestant West, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates are considered sovereign in their own right, particularly the Ecumenical Patriarchate, based on the same principles as those of the Holy See only in a different geographical area.

There is also the unique case of an Order being in itself sovereign: The Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes, and Malta. They are today known simply as the Order of Malta or SMOM.

So, let’s examine the Order of St. Lazarus today and their main factions starting with the “Paris-Malta Obedience”, generally referred to as the “Spanish Branch”.

The “Spanish Branch” is currently headed up by its Grand Master Don Carlos Gereda y de Borbón, de jure uxoris Marquis de Almazán. However, he is not a fount of honor and cannot confer honors. Now, if the Order of St. Lazarus were placed under the Spanish Crown, it would become a Spanish Royal Order and effectively a new creation.

I should also note that Francisco de Borbón y de La Torre, de jure uxoris Duke of Seville, under whose Grand Magistry the Order of St. Lazarus was allegedly reconstituted in 1930 (after deciding in 1910 that they are to be governed by its knights without the need of a temporal protector), was also not a fount of honor.

The other main faction is known as the “Orléans Obedience“, under the Royal House of France (Orléans). This one would be considered as a legitimate and valid chivalric order since the Royal House of France is indeed a fount of honor. One can even argue that it would be a sort of revival of the ancient Order that was merged with the Order of Mt. Carmel by the French Crown in the 17th century. However, in a statement made by Henri, Count of Paris & Duke of France, on January 31, 2014 in his capacity as Head of Royal House of France (Orléans) the temporal protection of any group named as “Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem” has been rescinded since Easter 2012. I am including an image of the declaration from the website.

Further on the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem: Statement by Count of Paris regarding the Order of St. Lazarus

This means that today, there is absolutely no group with the Lazarite name that has any sort of fons honorum to back it up.

Recognition by the Spanish Crown or any other State

This has been brought up so many times that it never ceases to amaze me how some people just don’t understand what they’re saying. Having a registered legal entity in any jurisdiction does not mean State recognition. It simply means that the proper paperwork was filed and the fees paid to set up a corporation (for-profit or non-profit). Nothing more and nothing less.

Then there are the examples brought forward of certain States, for example the Republic of Hungary, thanking or in some other way acknowledging the Order for something. This is interpreted as recognizing the Order as being a valid Chivalric Order. It’s not. This is the same sort of acknowledgement given to such organizations as the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, etc. and using the name the group uses for itself. It does not mean anything else.

However, let’s hypothetically accept that the group is recognized by a sovereign State. What exactly is being recognized? Is the Order of St. Lazarus claiming to be a sovereign entity in its own right like the Order of Malta? Is the Order of St. Lazarus being recognized as an Order of the sovereign State doing the recognition? What exactly is being recognized other than there exists a group that calls itself “Order of St. Lazarus”?

Finally, many insist that by having Carlos Gereda y de Borbón, de jure uxoris Marquis de Almazán, as the Grand Master of the Paris-Malta Obedience it means that the Royal House of Spain approves the Order. This is a preposterous claim! Carlos Gereda y de Borbón is the 6th cousin once removed on his mother’s side of HM King Felipe VI of Spain, not exactly a close relative.

Protection by the Melkite Patriarch

The Melkite Patriarch has repeatedly confirmed his protection of the Order of St. Lazarus and its various factions. Nobody can dispute this fact. However, this does not make the order anything more than an ecclesiastical honor for the simple reason that the Melkite Patriarch is not a fount of honor and is subordinate to the Roman Pontiff. The Melkite Patriarch has asserted that he is “equal” to the Bishop of Rome but, it is patently clear that is not the case:

  • The Melkite Patriarch has accepted Roman Supremacy and being fully subordinate to the Holy See of Rome
  • Pope Gregory XVI granted Patriarch Maximos III Mazloum the titles of “Patriarch of Alexandria and Jerusalem” in 1838, an action no typically done to one’s equal.
  • In around 1891/2, during Melkite Patriarch Gregory II Youssef’s visit to Rome he was forced to the floor in front of Pope Pius IX and the latter placed his foot on the Patriarch’s head, reminding him of his place.[1][2] The Melkite Patriarch continues to this day to be subordinate to Rome.

This protection is also referenced to cover the gap in the Order of St. Lazarus from 1830 when the Royal House of France decreed it no longer offers its protection to either 1910 (when the Order of St. Lazarus decided it no longer needed a fons honorum) or 2004 (when the Orleans branch of the Royal House of France granted temporal protection, rescinded Easter 2012). It should also be noted that there really isn’t any documentation to cover the period between 1830 to 1910 and much of what is claimed about the period is based on interpretations of insignia seen in paintings that resemble (under certain angles, lighting, and discoloration assumptions) those of the Order of St. Lazarus (maybe).

Finally, support and/or protection of a bishop or archbishop or even the head of a particular Church that makes up the Roman Catholic Church does not grant a group any status above that of ecclesiastical decoration for the simple reason that the fons honorum is not present.

References
  1. Zoghby, Elias (1998). Ecumenical Reflections. Fairfax, VA.: Eastern Christian Publications. p. 83. ISBN 1-892278-06-5.
  2. Parry, Ken; David Melling (editors) (1999). The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. Malden, MA.: Blackwell Publishing. p. 313. ISBN 0-631-23203-6.

VIP Membership

Another argument put forward to support the legitimacy of the Lazarite groups is the very impressive list of members they have. Nobody can argue that having Grandees of Spain, Flag Officers of the Military, Peers of the UK, and Bishops is not a big deal; it definitely is. However, regardless of the length and breadth of the VIP member list, it does not make it a chivalric order. It makes it a great club for networking but not an order of chivalry.

 

Closing remarks

In closing this article, I will repeat what I have said many times before. Most of the Lazarite groups do amazingly good charity work, moreso than many legitimate chivalric order or even NGOs. I am first to recognize this work and commend them for that; they surely deserve congratulations and admiration for that work. However, they could do that same work without the trappings of a chivalric order and losing their credibility.

 

A Coat of Arms is a big deal

I’ve said it before and will say it again: don’t adopt a coat of arms lightly!

Arms serve, primarily, an identification function i.e. identifying the bearer/owner of the arms. This was true in the legendary beginning of heraldry, recognizing one knight from another from a distance on the battlefield, to today where the arms are more likely to be used as an online profile pic. An equivalent of sorts is an identifying tattoo or your unique signature.

However, what makes a coat of arms particularly special is that it is inherited. Using the tattoo example, think of a coat of arms as a tattoo that will be inherited by your descendants until the end of time (or the line dies out, whichever comes first). Just like you would want to be absolutely sure about the tattoo you’re going to get, you need to be absolutely sure about your arms. Even more so because of the hereditary nature of arms.

The inspiration for this post comes after reading the entry of October 9th on the blog “Crónicas heraldicas” by José Juan Carrión Rangel whereby someone is announcing publicly that he no longer wants his adopted arms as they no longer represent him. He is essentially going through a tattoo removal process, something most everyone wants to avoid happen.

The lesson learned from this story is to take it slow, do your soul-searching, take your time, test different versions, take your time, think hard and deep, and did I mention take your time?

 

See also:

Giakoumelos

On my paternal grandmother’s side I descend from one of the older families in the Hellenic region, that of the Giakoumelos (Γιακουμέλος) of the island of Zakynthos also known as Zante (Ζάκυνθος). According to the definitive book on the families of the island, Λεξικόν Iστορικόν και Λαογραφικόν Zακύνθου (Historical & Folkloric Dictionary of Zakynthos) volume 1 by Λ.Χ. Ζώης, the family has been on the island since before 1478. However, the family was not listed in the Golden Book (Libro d’Oro) of the island, maintained during the Venetian rule.

The family were the founders of the village of Gyri (Γύρι), located at the highest point on the island. For centuries, the family has led the village in a form similar to a señorío in Spain. Over the centuries, the family broke out into branches each with its own nickname but maintaining the surname:

  • Camberi (Καμπέρη)
  • Colovieni (Κωλοβιένη)
  • Cousoula (Κουσουλα)
  • Dairis (Νταΐρης)
  • Darios (Νταρίος)
  • Gialia (Γιαλιά)
  • Malouchos (Μαλούχος)
  • Roros (Ρωρός)
  • Roupa (Ρούπα)
  • Vardakastani (Βαρδακαστάνη)

The above are those I know about and there may very well be several more. In any case, of the ones listed above the Dairis and the Roros branches seem to have risen to the headship of the seignure and to have maintained that over the centuries. For example, the Roros were treated as the aristocracy of the village of Gyri. What is fascinating is that to this day, the family leads the small village and has a leadership role in the regional administration.

It should be noted that Gyri has always been a tiny village, out of the limelight and there back in the day it was very much isolated from the hustle and bustle of the islands capital, let alone the rest of the world. Marriages were usually with families in the neighboring, also tiny, villages such as the case of my paternal maternal great-grandmother who was a Moraitis.

Now, there is ample documentation about the Giakoumelos going to the mid 15th century but, what about before that? The family didn’t spring from out of nowhere so we need to see what was going on at that time on the island.

After the 4th Crusade of 1204 what was once the Eastern Roman Empire, better known as the Byzantine Empire, got split into a number of small kingdoms under the rule of the Western European Crusaders. As the Crusaders were all Roman Catholic and the general name for them in the Eastern Orthodox lands they conquered was “Latins” or “Franks”, the period during which these kingdoms existed is known as Francocracy or Frankokratia (Φραγκοκρατία). The rule ended truly in the 20th Century when Italy returned the Dodecanese to Greece after World War 2 though most would put the end in the early 19th Century when the Napoleonic controlled Republic of Venice ceded its Greek territories to the British Crown. To complete the story, the British gave those same lands to the new Kingdom of Greece with the coronation of King George I of Greece.

So, where does Zakynthos fit in this whole mix? Zakynthos was always treated as a package deal with Cephalonia (Κεφαλονιά), the latter usually having more noble families. This pair of islands has a particular history that starts diverging from their Greek Orthodox brothers in 1185 when the King of Sicily created the County Palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos for the services rendered to the Crown by Margaritus of Brindisi. After the first Count Palatine, the title went to the Orsini family in 1195. In 1325 it goes to the House of Anjou-Sicily and in 1357 to the Tocco family who kept it until 1479. This year was the first time that the two islands split rulers: Cephalonia was occupied by the Ottomans while Zakynthos went to the Republic of Venice. I should point out that 21 years later, Cephalonia joined Zakynthos and also came under the Venetians.

Notice the year that the Republic of Venice took over the island of Zakynthos and the year the Dictionary above uses as a mark for the family. This means that the Giakoumelos were on the island, with the name “Giakoumelos” before the Venetians took possession of the island. Unfortunately, there isn’t much about Zakynthos on the pre-Venice years, especially regarding its minor nobility or other genealogical records.

So, where does this leave us regarding the origins of the family? This is what we know:

  1. The family were the leaders of their village and treated like aristocracy however, they were not listed in the Golden Book (Libro d’Oro) of the island maintained by the Venetians
  2. They have been on the island for over 5 centuries and we don’t know much from before the mid 15th century
  3. Greeks of “Frankish” descent hellenized their names. For example, Capo d’Istria became Kapodistrias (Καποδίστριας).

Now that we have some background let’s try to take each item, one at a time.

The family was the equivalent to medieval seignures or señores (in the Spanish sense) or, to anglicize it, like a feudal Lord of the Manor. Not only that, they were of a village in the middle of the island and effectively, the middle of nowhere. So far removed they were from the center of power in city of Zakynthos (capital of the island) that many had never even been there! If one examines the Golden Book of the island one finds all the major players in the capital but none of these families were from the hinterland representing the less cosmopolitan parts. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Giakoumelos are not listed there as I’m sure dozens of other families of similar stature aren’t.

 So, where did they come from? The bibliography doesn’t say that they are native to the island nor does it say where they are from. This is where we can come up with hypotheses based on some circumstantial evidence.

As the island was under “Frankish” rule for 300 years prior to Venice taking over and the bibliography is silent about any families from Constantinople with a similar name migrating there, we can assume then that the family has a Western European origin. It’s the only alternative. Where, though, did these people come from? Considering that the Orsini and the Tocco were of Italian descent and that their County was under the protection of the Sicilian or Neapolitan Crowns, the most likely case is that the Giakoumelos come from what is today Italy. This prompted me to do a simple Google search restricted to Italy with the search word of “giakoumelos”. What I found was amazing!

I discovered that there is an ancient Italian family with the name of Giacomello that has had a long history in their region of origin. What is their region? Venice! It’s all now coming together. A family with a notably Italian sounding name, without any mention of them in the Greek lands other than on Zakynthos, an island under Venice’s control for 450 years, is probably related to a quintessentially Venetian family with almost the exact same name. It is self evident that Giakoumelos is an hellenization of Giacomello, following the pattern of so many other hellenized surnames.

The hypothesis is a good one but, can it be proven? This is the hard part. This is a research project that must be attacked from both ends: the Giakoumelos end and the Giacomello end. Is there documentation proving descent of the Giakoumelos from the Giacomello? Did the Giacomello go to Zakynthos and if so, when? If they were notable in Venice why do they not appear in the Golden Book of the island? Why did they decide to live in the most remote part of the island?

So many questions but, not many answers.

Searching backwards, from the Giakoumelos to Venice may prove to be the most difficult since there are sparse records today about the island. Unfortunately, as per the curator of the archives of the island told me, almost all the records were destroyed in a fire caused by the major earthquake of 1953 that ruined most of the island. I hope one day to find a definitive answer.

Advice on genealogical research

I am frequently asked by people how to go about their genealogical research. Many have not started at all while others have some bits and pieces of data but, not at all organized and mostly in their head.

With this blog post, I’m going to try to share the same advice I’ve given friends and others that have contacted me with this same question. It may be of value to you or not but, I have found it works for me.

Write down everything you know or think you know
This is very important. Be as detailed as possible. It will give you a good idea of what it is that you know about your family tree, relations, legends, stories, etc. This will allow you to identify gaps in your knowledge and will help create a road map of what you need to tackle. You may discover that you don’t know the birthdays of any of your cousins or that you don’t have the names of your mother’s cousins.

Attempt to put it in the form of a tree, what do you get?

After you’ve analyzed what you already know, you will be able to start asking the right questions

Don’t discount family stories/legends

We all have that family story of the great-great-grandad who was the King or Prince or was the richest person in town or owned all the land in a region or something like that. More often than not, this is complete hogwash. However, within these stories are grains of truth. It may be that great-great-grandad was not a prince but he was an officer that worked for him or worked at the prince’s favorite bar. Examine the story and see what can be discovered. You will ultimately prove or disprove the story, which is an achievement in itself, but you will also find the truth and some fascinating stories about your family.

Talk to senior family members

The only certainties in life are death and taxes. This is why it is important to make the most of the time we have with the eldest members of our family. They can be parents, uncles, grandparents, cousins, whatever they all have a story to tell. Spend some time with them and just have a conversation about the family. Don’t make it an interview or an interrogation, just let them talk. You’ll find that all they need is a reason to tell their stories and off they go!

I would recommend having a recorder handy to record the conversation, this way you won’t be worried about committing it memory or keeping notes and can focus on the actual story, asking questions when needed and steering them away from tangents.

Don’t worry about inconsistencies or contradictions. Have them go back to the same event from a different path and see if they say the same thing. You will also, hopefully, have the chance to compare with other elder family members.

Document, document, document

Did I say document already? Everything you do or find should be documented. Try to find proofs of whatever it is you are examining. These proofs can be birth/baptismal certificates, death certificates, marriage certs, wills, court decisions, video, pictures, anything. Pretend that your genealogical research will have to be presented in court, that should give you a good feel of how well to prepare.

If you ever plan on petitioning to join any sort of hereditary society, you will need at least a birth/baptismal, marriage, and death certificate for every person in every generation in the line in question, going back as far as possible.

Use good software

If you are doing it all in pen and paper, more power to you. For the rest of us that live in the current century, we like computers. I won’t go into the benefit of using a computer for this as it should be self evident but I will go into the importance of using the right software.

Some may prefer to use Word or Excel and some may have even gotten creative and are tracking things in an Access database you’ve built yourselves. Great! But, it’s not good enough. You need specialized software that can handle all the aspects of genealogical research, handles backups efficiently, is easy to use, can generate reports, perform searches, organize sources, and can support the standard data interchange formats that have been developed specifically for genealogical research.

There are a lot of options out there ranging from desktop only solutions to iPad apps to web based ones. Some are completely free while others are paid for and still others are in between. The choice is yours. I do strongly suggest that you try before you buy, to make sure it does what you need.
Supporting the standard data interchange, called GEDCOM, is crucial. Especially if you’re going to transfer your data from one application to another or what to share with another researcher/family member. Re-entering 10-20 people is a pain but doable. Re-entering 10,000 is reason enough to crawl into a corner and start crying.

Use online sources cautiously

Sites such as FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com are amazing resources. However, one must exercise caution when using them and really examine the source information. If there are scanned images associated with the text, examine them. Never take anything at face value because mistakes can and do happen. This is more prevalent on sites such as Ancestry.com and Rodovid.org since individuals may basically enter whatever they want. For example, according to Rodovid.org I am a direct descendant of Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea!

Also, Google is a great tool. You never know what you may find simply searching on a name. Give it a try!

Patience

All the other stuff is important but, perhaps the most important thing to have when embarking on the journey of genealogical discovery is patience. This is a lifelong project and probably even longer. Disappointment abounds as do brick walls. However, patience and perseverance will help you push forward and make the discoveries that will make you feel it is all worth it. It IS worth it!

I hope this helps and I am open to discussing your own experiences. Feel free to post below in the comments section or shoot me an email.

 

Reunión de Tejada en Antequera

Reunión de Tejada en Antequera: Solar de tejada

By Javier Alfonso de Somalo y Mendiola:

La Junta de Gobierno del Antiguo e Ilustre Solar de Tejada, informa que el próximo 18 de Mayo de 2013 se celebrará en la ciudad de Antequera (Málaga) unas jornadas de convivencia del Solar, como se acordó en la Junta General de 2012.

La jornada comenzara con una recepción protocolaria en el Salón de Plenos del Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Antequera a las 11:00h, donde habrá una conferencia sobre “La Colonia Camerana en Antequera y su vinculación con la mesta” impartida por Doña Pilar Jiménez y Casaus, Profesora de Historia y descendiente de los Hernández de Tejada de Laguna de Cameros.

Tras la conferencia se hará la visita a la Iglesia de San Juan de Dios y a la Iglesia de Los Remedios (Iglesias muy vinculadas al Linaje de los Díez de Tejada)

A las 14:00 se hará un almuerzo en los Salones Pura Valle.

El precio del cubierto y de la visita al Museo Municipal es de 36€, habrá que ingresarlo en la cuenta 0081 7470 33 0006201134 de Banco Sabadell, poniendo en el concepto la familia que hace el ingreso y luego enviar al correo electrónico jjc.antequera@hotmail.com del Divisero Joaquín Jiménez y Casaus el nombre completo de los asistentes correspondientes a ese ingreso.

El número de plazas del salón es de 160 personas, por el aforo limitado del salón se ruega la confirmación lo antes posible.

A las 16:30 iremos a visitar algunos edificios civiles vinculados a Diviseros del Solar y terminara la jornada con una visita al Museo de la ciudad (Palacio de Najera).

Para aquellos que necesiten hacer noche en Antequera se recomienda los siguientes hoteles:

  • Hotel Coso Viejo (en una típica casa señorial antequerana, en pleno centro de La Ciudad)
    Teléfono: 952 70 50 45
  • Hotel Antequera Golf
    Teléfono: 951 06 04 00
  • Parador Nacional de Turismo
    Teléfono: 952 84 02 61

Javier Alfonso de Somalo y Mendiola

Teniente Diputado por Almarza de Cameros

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