Regarding the Marques de La Floresta’s authority to certify personal arms

Joseph McMillan, the noted American heraldic scholar (whose arms are displayed above), proposed that as an extension of the recent conversations regarding the Marques de La Floresta, it may be of interest to read the decision by the Spanish Council of State from 1995 (Número de expediente: 2437/1995 [JUSTICIA E INTERIOR]) regarding the Marques’ authority to certify personal arms. The original text can be found here: http://www.boe.es/aeboe/consultas/bases_datos_ce/doc.php?coleccion=ce&id=1995-2437

Back in 2006, Mr. McMillan had posted a thorough summary of the decision on the Usenet group rec.heraldry in English in a thread discussing the topic. Here is the text in his own words (posted here with his permission and with minimal edits for context & formatting – any emphasis is mine):

This very interesting report clarifies the Marques de la Floresta’s authority (or rather lack thereof) to issue certifications of personal arms.

The document at the site is an opinion of the Spanish Council of State, issued on 30 November 1995, in response to a request from the Ministry of Justice.

On 19 January 1995, La Floresta submitted a brief to the Ministry of Justice asking for the confirmation of his credentials as Cronista of Castile and Leon and for the convocation of a tribunal to examine his qualifications for the title, so that he could receive the certificate from the Ministry of Justice required by the decrees of 1915 and 1951 governing the appointment of Cronistas.

On 26 June, nearly six months having passed without a response, he resubmitted his request, stating that despite exercising the duties of Cronista of Castile and Leon since 1991, it had been made known to him that obtaining the certificate from the Ministry of Justice was necessary for him to continue in this role. He argued that the Ministry had the obligation either to convoke the examining tribunal or to confirm his appointment by use of the transitory provisions of the 1951 decree, as it would otherwise be preventing him, contrary to law, from exercising his profession, and would also cause him to suffer significant damages in terms of both income and reputation.

As part of his submission, the Marques included copies of the decree of the C&L government naming him to the post and of his commission as Cronista of C&L, which stated that La Floresta would posess all the powers and competencies of the ancient Chronicler-Kings of Arms of Castile and Leon, including the power to issue certifications of genealogy, nobility, and the right to use coats of arms.

The view of the Ministry of Justice, as submitted to the Council of State, was that Don Vicente de Cadenas was at that time the only person entitled to exercise the duties contemplated by the 1915 and 1951 decrees. The Ministry went on to say that “the matter of the Cronistas de Armas has been examined on more than one occasion from diverse perspectives, always arriving at the conclusion that the present moment does not appear ideal to raise this matter because of the social repercussions it would obviously have.”

What the Council of State ruled was that the 1982 royal decree that gave the autonomous communities jurisdiction over “the awarding to local corporations of styles, honors, and distinctions, as well as the granting to municipalities and provinces of municipal coats of arms” effectively created a second kind of Cronista, which it called a “chronicler of municipal arms.” The 1915 and 1951 decrees did not apply to chroniclers of municipal arms, since chroniclers of municipal arms do not issue certifications or grants on their own authority; they only make recommendations to the community junta (government), which makes the final decision on the grant of the arms. Moreover, they have no need for qualifications in genealogy and nobiliary law, since their duties do not require expertise in these subjects.

On the other hand, an appointment by an autonomous community as a chronicler of municipal arms does not entitle a person to carry out the duties of a chronicler of family arms, which is the term the Council applies to Cronistas appointed in accordance with the 1915/1951 decrees. The autonomous communities do not have authority over family heraldry or rights to noble titles; that authority continues to reside exclusively in the Ministry of Justice. The Junta of Castile and Leon therefore exceeded its authority when it purported to grant the Marques de la Floresta the powers to issue certifications of personal arms, genealogy, and nobility, and the Marques could not lawfully exercise such powers.

So the Marques’s contention that the refusal of the Ministry to validate his credentials was interfering with his ability to carry out his duties was rejected. He did not need the approval of the Ministry of Justice to carry out his legitimate functions of advising the Community government on matters of provincial and municipal heraldry and vexillology. It went on to say, in very firm terms, that an autonomous community government’s having unlawfully exceeded the bounds of its authority could not logically constrain the Ministry’s free discretion in exercising its own prerogatives under the 1915/1951 decrees.

The Council also stated that:

  1. The Ministry had the exclusive right to decide when and whether to hold examinations in which all aspiring Cronistas could take part. No individual person had legal standing to demand the convoking of the examining tribunal.
  2. The transitory provisions in the 1951 which the Marques had suggested could be used to validate his appointment applied only to persons holding the position of Cronista at the time the decree was issued–the Marques de la Floresta had not yet been born at that time. Moreover, they were required to submit their credentials for validation within 30 days of the publication of the decree. The Marques de la Floresta had not met that deadline.
  3. “It is possible to differentiate clearly between the two competencies [of chronicler of family arms and chronicler of municipal arms] without losing sight of the fact that the circumstances that in large measure were responsible for the issuance of the Decree of 1951, namely the reestablishment of the nobiliary laws in 1948, are replicated today with the [1988] changes to the 1922 decree on nobiliary succession] and with the new stricter norms for the proof of relationships.” [Comment: This could be construed as suggesting that it may be an opportune time for the Ministry to reconsider its position on raising the issue of new Cronistas of family arms.]

The above is an excellent write-up that sheds some light on the topic for those who are interested in the topic.

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