© The Reverend Dr Michael Foster SSC. MIWO. FRSM.
A book by Panov and Zamyslovsky called "A Brief Account of the Russian Orders and their Statutes" published in St Petersburg in 1891 has done much to harm the Russian tradition of the Order of St John and thwarted its recognition and acceptance as a valid and vital branch of that Order.
A crucial argument unfolded in that publication was that the Order had been suppressed in Russia by Emperor Alexander I and, in support of this point of view, the authors misquote a Ministerial Decision of 1817 by inserting words which had not been employed or even intended in the original official Ukase (see below).
When historians feel obliged to resort to such blatant untruths to prove their case, they succeed in proving the very opposite when the truth finally comes out. And the truth has come out following the liberalisation of information since the demise of the Soviet Union and the present relatively easy access to original Russian documents.
Genuine and sincere historians, and there are many, who have been misled by the Panov/Zamyslovsky travesty of truth have now the opportunity to revise their version of events and remedy a grave injustice by giving recognition where it is due. The great authentic branches of the Order of St John who similarly have been deceived can no longer ignore this important wing of the Order which, in actual fact, helped in no small way to keep the Order from possible total disintegration during a critical period of its history following its expulsion from Malta in 1798.
A further factor which has tended to tarnish the image of the Russian tradition has been the scores of so-called 'Orders of St John' which emerged from an 'Order of St John' created by the inventive imagination of one Charles Louis Thourot-Pichel in the 1950s and mythically credited with a Russian pedigree. The proliferation of these 'Sovereign Orders of St John/King Peter Orders' emerging directly from the Pichel organisation, under the guise of the 'Russian Grand Priory' and the weakness of their claims, have also played their part in undermining the historic Russian tradition of the Hereditary Commanders which undeservedly has been tarred with the same brush. Some of these so-called "Sovereign Orders" have attracted genuine Russian Nobles into leadership, which at first sight may make them look genuine.
This pamphlet by Dr. Michael Foster is an extract from a complete history of the Order eventually to be published. It explores the continuity and transmission of the Russian tradition through the Hereditary Commanders in painstaking detail and makes an important contribution to establishing the authenticity of the Russian Grand Priory whose activities were continued by the Russian exilic community from 1928 onward under the authority of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch, a cousin to the head of the Romanoffs, Grand Duke Kirill, who was claimant to the Imperial Throne, and by its offshoot, the Priory of Dacia, which was created in 1939 by the Association of Hereditary Commanders with the authority of the Grand Duke Andrei, then both head and protector of the Association.
John Cilia La Corte GCSJ
ex-President, of the British Association of the Russian Grand Priory.
Introduction - The Russian Johannine tradition.
Brother Gerard created the Order of St John of Jerusalem as a distinctive Order from a previous Benedictine Establishment of Hospitallers. It provided for pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. After the success of the first Crusade, it became an independent monastic Order, and then as circumstances demanded grafted on a military identity, to become an Order of Knights. The Home (or Convent) of the Order moved to Rhodes (1312), where it ruled as a sovereign power, then to Malta (1530) as a vassal power, the sovereignty being held by the King of the Two Sicilies.
In 1798 following Napoleon's taking of Malta, the Order was dispersed, but with a large number of refugee Knights sheltering in St Petersburg, where they elected the Russian Emperor, Paul I as their Grand Master - a rival Grand Master to Ferdinand Hompesch then held in disgrace. Hompesch abdicated in 1799 leaving Paul as the only de-facto Grand Master. As the Order was under the obedience of the Roman Catholic Church, Paul I as an Orthodox Christian and of another obedience could never be accepted canonically as Grand Master from the Roman Catholic point of view. However, Paul I of Russia, without question, was Grand Master from the standpoint of International Law, and accepted as so, by various nations.
As de-facto Grand Master, Paul I of Russia created a Russian tradition within the Hospitaller Order - the "Russian Grand Priory" open to all Christians - which whilst it could not be accepted as a canonical part of the Roman Catholic Order, it was never-the-less a de-facto part of the ancient Order (the Roman Catholic HQ was only too happy to receive money from the Russian Grand Priory). Paul I was murdered in 1801, when his son Alexandre I ascended the Imperial Throne.
Following Imperial Decrees of Alexander I of Russia in 1810/1811, a fiscal and legal separation of the Russian tradition of St John from the main Roman Catholic HQ was created. The generosity of Paul I in creating the two Russian Grand Priories (one Catholic and the other cumenical) and in providing a headquarters to the Order, was by 1810 a luxury the Russian State could not afford, and the main motive of the Decrees was undoubtedly to ease the financial strains caused by the Napoleonic wars in Europe. The Ukase though had the effect of creating a fiscal and legal separation and the Russian Order was now akin to the German JohanniterOrder, a Johannine tradition, but legally separate.
This Russian Hospitaller tradition of St John continued within the Russian Empire, and then into Exile following the Revolution in 1917. The group was Headquartered in Paris, and from 1958, the group was chaired by Grand Duke Vladimir (successor to the Russian Throne). This group regulated the claims of the descendants. Their concern was charitable works, and in 1939, membership was extended to non-Russians with an Association in Denmark. Whilst the original Association in Paris died out (circa 1976), the Demidoff family members maintained an interest in liaison with the Danish Group, and today Alexandre Tissot Demidoff (of Berkshire England) chairs an Association in Paris, which seeks to continue the humanitarian tradition of the Russian Grand Priory, to which Alexander Demidoff (of Paris, and son of Paul Demidoff above) belongs. In recent years, this Association has created Associations in other Countries.
Paul I had created under Russian Laws Family Commanders of the Russian Grand Priory with Hereditary Rights. It is the descendants of these Commanders who have, with the support of members of the Imperial family, continued that Russian tradition in exile.
The debate about the Russian Johannine tradition finds at the opposite ends, the 'survivalists' and the 'suppressionists'. Representing the latter group was Prince Cyril Toumanoff, of the Roman Catholic 'Sovereign Military Order of Malta'.
When Paul I created his 'Russian Grand Priory' for Russian Nobles, in addition
to the Commanderies he funded, he allowed the founding of Family or Ancestral
Commanderies. A good number of references to these use the term 'Hereditary
Commanderies'. Toumanoff argues that the term 'hereditary' does not exist
in the documents of the Order initiating and regulating these Commanderies
in the period 1798 - 1817 . This of course is simply not true.
The terms used in the founding documents are 'familnyia' (family) and 'rodovyia' (ancestral). Toumanoff asserted that both meant "of family", and that the word 'nasledstvenanyia' (hereditary) is not used. In other words on linguistic grounds he discounted the notion of hereditary commanders. The problem with Toumanoff's assertions was that he only reviewed such evidence convenient to his thesis. Directly the term 'hereditary' is found in Article IV of Ukase 190.44 21st July 1799 which governed the Ancestral Commanderies. Specifically Article IV deals with the hereditary right to a Commandery.
In countering Toumanoff, it is also on linguistic grounds (and without recourse
to Ukase 190.44) that Dr Michael Brett-Crowther, providing a robust apologetic
for the survivalists defends the hereditary notion of the Ancestral Commanderies.
Dr Brett-Crowther points out;
"It seems from the evidence of the two Academic dictionaries (1789-94 and
1806-22) that in common parlance at the end of the eighteenth century
nasledstvennyj, rodovoj, and potomstvennyj were very
similar in application.
More striking is an omission by Toumanoff. Nowhere in his book does he refer to N.N. Bantys-Kamenskij's Obzor vnesnix snosenij Rossii. Of this Part 2 is directly applicable. This digest of the official documents dealing with Russian foreign relations up to 1800 was completed by Bantys-Kamenskij's in 1802 and published posthumously in Moscow in 1896. Pp 226-229 deal with the Order of St John in Russia between 1797 and 1801. In several passages the word rodovoe is used as an equivalent to jus-patronatskoe in regard to komandorstvo (commandery). It is obvious that some kind of hereditary principle is involved, presumably whatever was conveyed by jus-patronatus.
According to Bantys-Kamenskij, rodovye or jus-patronatskie komandorstva were founded 'in favour of the holder's descendants' (p 228) and 'with permission to extend the right of inheritance (nasledstvennoe pravo)' (p 229). The word famil'nyj occurs once, apparently as an equivalent to rodovoj, on p 228.
Thus, in an official, contemporary account there is evidence that the notion of transmission of property by inheritance was normally signified by three terms used as equivalents in the period specified (1799-1803) by Toumanoff as being devoid of such usage." .
In summary the Russian word for 'ancestral' in connection with jus patronatus commanderies carries the notion of 'inheritance' or 'hereditary'. Thus when Emperor Paul I allowed the creation of jus patronat commanderies in 1798, the terms used provide for a real hereditary principle.
It is not just on linguistic grounds, that the notion of "Hereditary Commanders" can be defended, and further confirmation of the hereditary nature of the commanderies is given by Russian Law, specifically, Ukase 190.44 21st July 1799. It is within this Law, that the terms loaned over from the Roman Catholic Order must be understood.
The term jus patronatus is a Latin phrase which means the right of patronage. This term derives from ecclesiastical usage in reference to a benefice. A benefactor who built a Church, and endowed it with lands, from which the income would support a Priest, would have the right of patronage a right to present a Priest to the living or benefice. This right in itself is an incorporeal hereditament, in other words, the heirs of the original benefactor could inherit the right of patronage. Those who presented under this right were known as Patrons.
Similar benefactions were made to the Order of St John of Jerusalem . As with the Church, the candidate presented, must be qualified to occupy the benefice, so it was with any Commandery of the Order. With the Ecclesiastical Patrons, the candidate need not be of the family, but equally could be a qualified family member. Again so it was with the Order. What the Patron held, was the right of nomination. Thus with the Church, the Benefice was not hereditary, and with the Order, the Commandery was not hereditary. If the Patron were only to present family members, then either the Benefice or Commandery might appear Hereditary, but in fact the only hereditary element is the right of Patronage.
This concept was inherited by the Russian Grand Priory in a much modified form - so modified that the Hereditary Patronage and Incumbency became one. Commanderies of Jus Patronat are first noted in the Ukase of 29th November/10th December 1798, creating the New Foundation of Commanderies for Russian Nobles (the Russian Grand Priory) ;
"Article XXII. To contribute still further to the well-being of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, and to enable all the nobility of our empire, and even those among them who, from particular circumstances, cannot in all things comply with the obligations prescribed in the articles of the present foundation, to partake the distinctions, honours, and prerogatives, granted to the knights received into this new foundation; we deign to grant, from this present moment and for ever, our imperial permission to all those who wish to found commanderies of family or jus patronat to make such foundations; and in that case they must address themselves directly to our lieutenant, either to agree on the reciprocal conditions, or to commit to writing the act of these foundations, which must afterwards be presented to us for our approbation and confirmation thereof."
"Article XXIII. The commanderies of family or jus patronat shall always bear the name of their original founders. The commanders of family shall enjoy all the honours, privileges, and prerogatives, attached to their foundations."
The notion of the Jus Patronat Commanderies had thus been adopted into the Russian framework. A further Ukase was promulgated 19.044, 21st July/1st August 1799 . This regulated the creation of the Jus Patronat Commanderies. In this Ukase, the elements of Patronage and Incumbency are completely merged. The right of inheritance could also be extended to two other families, but such families needed to be named in the foundation Deeds;
"Article III: The Founder of an Ancestral Commandery may extend the right to all branches or generations of his lineage, indicating the order in which they are to succeed one another. Moreover, in the Deed by which the Commandery is established, the Founder may also name two other families which are obligated to present the same proofs of their Nobility as the very family of the Founder."
What the Ukase did do was to function as the Patron. The Ukase, via a foundation deed, governed who was to inherit the Commandery. The hereditament was not just restricted to an incorporeal right of patronage, but was the built into the foundation of the Commandery. It is clear that the proofs needed in Article III, are not proofs by which to inherit the right of patronage (patronage being governed by the Ukase and Deed of the Commandery), but proofs required to occupy the Commandery. This point is made clear;
"Article IV. The hereditary right to such a Commandery shall never pass to any lineages other than those named in the Deed by which the commandery is established and who will therefore have tendered the requisite proof of their nobility. When these lineages terminate, such a Commandery becomes one of those which descend by seniority."
Article IV, presents a clear statement of a 'hereditary right' to the Commandery. The Russian word used was 'nasledstvennoe' unmistakably meaning 'hereditary'. The reference in the latter part of the Article, means that when there are no more male descendants of the founder of the Commandery (or male descendants of either of the two families named in the founding deed if such are named) then the Commandery ceases to be a Jus Patronatus or Hereditary Commandery, and becomes a Commandery of the Order, and is allocated in the normal way i.e. by seniority, as is directed in Article XI of the Proclamation creating the Russian Grand Priory .
Further re-enforcing the issue is the fact that the hereditary rights of the "Ancestral Commanders" extended beyond the holder. All those entitled to succeed to the "Ancestral Commandery" but not yet incumbents of the Commandery could under Article XI of the 1799 Ukase, "by payment for admission in accordance with his age, obtain a place among the Knights by right of Nobility" - in other words although the Commandery was not yet available (as it was still held by an Incumbent), Hereditary Rights could still be enjoyed by the Commander's heirs!
Although such Commanderies, as property units to raise income in favour of the Order had ceased in 1811 (it had become the Commander's own property), it can be noted that Article VI of the 1799 Ukase states "anyone who has a claim to the Ancestral Commandery, has the right to wear the Knight's Cross and to enjoy the privileges attached to this title.". The successors to these Commanderies, do have a claim. Precedents where Commanders continue to be appointed to Commanderies, even after the loss of property which supported them are not hard to find. For example de Rohan, Grand Master before 1798 continued to appoint Commanders to non-existent Commanderies in France whose incomes had been appropriated by the Revolutionary French Government . Specifically the Directory called them "fictitious Commanderies" .
Whatever the understanding of the 'jus patronat' commanderies had been in the Roman Catholic Order proper and corresponding to ecclesiastical usage, once the notion had been carried over into a new Russian framework and governed by a Russian Law, the definition, understanding and legal basis became Russian!
Whilst the Commander's property existed as part of the Order, the term "Ancestral/Family" or jus patronat was used to describe the Commanderies. Following the proclamation of Ukase 24.882 - November 20th, 1811, which made the gifted property (via a redemption payment) the property of the Commanders' themselves, the designation of 'jus patronatus' was no longer appropriate. The right of patronage to a Commandery, consisting of property gifted to the Order no longer existed. Thereafter, the Incumbents and his heirs were by courteous allowance termed 'Hereditary Commanders', this designation coming into use in the early 1800s.
This change is reflected in official documents such as the State Service Record of Prince Alexander Vasileyevitch Troubetzkoy. Dated 1889 it has the following annotation : "In his quality of eldest of the family - hereditary commander of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem whereof he wears the insignia conforming to the Sovereign authorisation of 19th October 1867" . Also in 1907, Grand Duke Nicolas Mikhailovitch published a book on Russian Portraits in which he includes biographies of some of the Hereditary Commanders, details of which he takes from official sources. Specifically the term "Hereditary" is used of these Commanders .
That the Imperial Authorities (and the Emperor), acknowledged and supported the Russian Johannine tradition can find confirmation in State Records such as that of Prince Troubetzkoy. Further evidence is found in the biography of Prince Pierre Ivanovitch Tufiakine taken from State records which provides this statement;
"Prince Tufiakine emigrated abroad, where he passed the rest of his life. In 1841, he was stripped of his functions of Current Chamberlain, and of his dignities of Master of the Court and of Commander of the Order of Malta. He spent his last years in Paris, where he died on 19 February 1845." .
In regard to the Commandership of Malta (Hereditary);
(a) if it is the Roman Catholic Order (which could be argued from the text; 'commander de l'Ordre de Malte') then the Russian State cannot strip him of that dignity (which it was not - Tufiakine was a Commander of the Russian Grand Priory).
(b) Equally, if the Order in Russian was suppressed in 1810/1811/1817 - then the Russian State cannot strip him of that dignity - it had already been done!
This clearly demonstrates, that in 1841 there was a continued role of the State in regulating the continuing Russian Grand Priory.
Contemporary to the actions of the State to the official positions held by Prince Tufiakine is a Belgian publication of 1844 by Nicolas Loumyer; Histoire, Costumes et Decorations de tous les Ordres de Chevalerie et Marques d'Honneur, published in Brussels . Loumyer was a classicist and historian, worked in the Belgian Ministry of foreign affairs. He wrote his book in his function as registrar of the heraldic council, under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In other words he had access as part of his employment to reliable information. In this book he records these words;
"The two Grand Priories of Russia appear to maintain their constitution and their old forms. Under the protection of the Emperor, under his highest direction in chapter, they continue the true lineage of the order of Saint-John and have but very loose links with the chapter in Rome".
Loumyer also notes that all the Russian Orders come under a Chancellor, who has a voice in the affairs of the Russian Orders, amongst which he places a Russian Order of St John. Louymer's information provides additional confirmation of a continued State role in the affairs of the Russian Johannine tradition .
Having moved towards a policy of secularising the Order as had happened in Spain 1802, Bavaria 1806, and Prussia (JohanniterOrden) 1810/1811, Emperor Alexander I passed a two Ukases, 26th February 1810 (OS), and 20th November 1811 (OS) whereby the State had taken over the funds and property of the Russian Grand Priories. In compensation the Treasury paid the expenses of the Order in Russia. In the Russian Grand Priory there were 118 (non Hereditary) Commanderies. Although these Commanderies had ceased through the loss of income, the holders retained their rank. Paul I had been over generous with the State's money in creating his Russian Grand Priory. Forced by circumstance (a war with Napoleon) Alexander I redeemed the assets previously given. It was for the same reason, the King of Prussia, had obtained the assets of the Protestant Order in his jurisdiction.
Consultations by State officials had been undertaken with General Count Nicholas Soltikoff, Lieutenant Grand Master, and Bailiff Count Giulio Renato de Litta. Bailiff de Litta who had previously held that office but, with the failure of the Pope to ratify Paul I as Grand Master, had been replaced by Soltikoff. Emperor Alexander approached the matter with sensitivity and care, providing alternative employment for those in the pay the Order, as well as making provision to meet the expenses of the Order;
The Ukase 24.134 February 26th, 1810 makes it clear the Order was to continue;
"We will do our best to let the Order continue its activities and, having recognised the necessity, we would like to settle the questions connected with its funds in accordance with the following rules:
1. The members of the Order who used to be paid according to the list, should be paid from the profits of the State Treasury. No new appointments are to be added.
2. No other obligations (Responcia) are to be paid and the funds should be placed at the disposal of the State Treasury.
3. The officials who are now receiving a salary from the Order, should be paid from the State Treasury and should be found a place to serve at the first opportunity.
4. The Commanders of Family should remain for the time being until a decision is taken about their future.
5. All the expenses connected with the maintenance and running of the Order should be paid from the State Treasury..."
The "jus patronat" or family commanderies were a different issue. The money to establish these, had not been provided by the State but by the Commanders themselves. In 1811 after 21 months of negotiations of negotiations, the State agreed that with a one-off payment, or by installments from the profits of the estates, which could be continued by the Commander's heirs, the Hereditary Commanders would received their lands back - Ukase 24.882 - November 20th, 1811. This action along with the previous Ukase had stemmed the movement of funds to outside of Russia to Catania, where the new Convent was located. In return the Ukase directed that such funds collected would be "used by the State Treasury to pay the expenses of the Order". Thus the Ukase of 1811, along with the Ukase of 1810, both clearly acknowledge the continuation of the Order.
By the wording in the Ukase and in documents after its enaction, the Commanders still retained their titles and status, which were now honorific and which persisted with their descendants. In other words they retained their hereditary titles. Specifically the Court Almanac of 1813 lists the "Commandeurs de Famille", and lists Emperor Alexander I as the Protector. The Almanac had been published by the Imperial Academy of Imperial Sciences, and had the scrutiny of Imperial officials. In addition to the Hereditary Family Commanders, Paul I had created "Hereditary Knights with the rank of honorary Commander" . These existed without any connection to property. Five Knights were appointed to this category by Paul I, who were all members of the same family. Just as the Hereditary Knights with the rank of honorary Commander, existed as Hereditary Knights without property, this was now the case with the Commanders of Family. This fact was certainly acknowledged by the Emperors. Under the successive reigns of Alexander II (1855-1881) and Alexander III (1881-1894) the Imperial government was perfectly aware of the existence of a Russian Priory (Orthodox / cumenical) of the Order of Malta represented by the group of direct descendants of the first Hereditary Commanders. This fact is proven by the original State Service Record of Prince Alexander Vasileyevitch Troubetzkoy, dated 1889 and quoted above.
The concept of hereditary knights was not alien to the Order. In 1645 the Turks assembled an invasion force. Intelligence had given Malta as its destination. To assist the Order, Lewis vicomte of Arpajon, a French nobleman, at his own expense raised a force 2000 men, and these along with several vessels of ammunition and provisions, arrived at Malta, to serve the Order. The threat of siege disappeared, but Grand Master Jean de Lascaris-Castellar, in order to acknowledge the help Lewis had so generously given, signed a bull with the consent of the council, granting him and his eldest son the privilege of wearing the gold cross of the Order, and declared that any one of his younger sons, or his descendants, should be received into the Order, during their minority, without paying any fees, and be honoured with the Grand Cross, as soon as ever they should have made their profession ; and additionally that the chief and eldest branch of the family might quarter the cross in their coat of arms .
Even where the genealogy of the families of the first Hereditary Commanders have been meticulous traced and recorded, what is often ignored is a reading of the Ukase which governs the Family Commanderies, and ignoring the Deed which governs succession.
It is clear from Ukase 190.44 21st July 1799 that each Family Commandery has a foundation Deed , which governs who succeeds to the Commandery and how.
Out of fourteen or so Articles in each Deed, there are one or two, which are unique to the individual Deed of the founding family. These specify how and by whom the Commandery can be inherited. For example the Lubomirsky Deed (of the Catholic Russian Grand Priory) is interesting, because the founder nominates his third son to succeed him in preference to his eldest, which demonstrates that this may have been a way of creating Commanderies as livings for the youngest sons. Thereafter it was to go to the eldest of that cadet line.
"His Excellency Prince Michel Lubomirsky founds for himself and his male descendants in perpetuity a Family Commandery or Jus-Patronat in the Grand Priory of Russia of the Order of Malta in the Russian Empire, such that he will be the first Commander and Titleholder, and after him his third son Prince Marcellin Lubomirsky will be the possessor of the Title, and successively one of the male descendants of the said Prince Marcellin, such as he may have, the eldest son always by preference to the others." .
Furthermore, if the original line (be it the Senior Line or a Cadet Line) comes to an end, the Deed then passes the Commandery to other branches of the family, in an order specified by the founder, and the Foundation Deed can nominate up to, two unrelated families. For example the Ilinsky Deed specifies:
"Should the direct male descent of the founder Count Auguste Ilinsky, mentioned in the first Article of this Convention, become extinct, the male branch of Count Jean Nepomucene Ilinsky, paternal Uncle of the founder, Count Auguste Ilinsky, will succeed to the Commandery.
If Count Jean Nepomucene does not have male descendants, or with their extinction, the male branch of M. Heliodor Inlinsky, First cousin of the founder, will succeed, and with its extinction, the male branch of M. Antoine Ilinsky, brother of M. Casimir Ilinsky, father of Mr Heliodor will succeed." .
Thus it is clear that the initial succession is entirely governed by the whim of the founder, and only reverts to the rule of primogeniture (which itself might be modified by the Deed), after the second named Commander. Again when a direct line ends, the succession to another branch, or to an unrelated family depends entirely on the whim of the founder, before it reverts once more to the rule of primogeniture (again subject to the specifications of the Deed).
It other words, no assumptions can be made, as to which line succeeds the founder of the Commandery. This can be ascertained only by consulting the Foundation Deed.
Essentially all the work of the various "scholars" or "historians" in seeking to trace a qualifying Hereditary Commander may actually have been futile. They assume they need to trace the first born of the first Commander downwards -when it may turn out to be the line of the last born of the founder, the middle born or even a different branch altogether, as the case may be. What is essential is the Deed.
Copies of the Deed.
The Deeds were printed, and a Representative of the Order, plus the Founder signed the copies. Essentially, if the transmission of a claim to the title has been a continuous process, and the correct family member holds the Deed, then the potential claim is straightforward. There of course are caveats to the claim, which are discussed below.
Although Alexander II issued an Authorisation to in 1867, to Prince Alexander Vasileyevitch Troubetzkoy, which allowed him as the eldest son of the Family Commander permission to wear the decoration, by then, the first successor to the original founder for all the Family Commanderies, will have been in place, and the Commander at that point may well have been the youngest son of the first and founding Commander. Once the successor line was established, and only then, the eldest (as stipulated in the Lubomirsky Deed) would thereafter succeed.
In absence of the Deed, the most that can be claimed with any accuracy, is that the descendants of the Hereditary Commanders are precisely that, descendants and not the Commander!
The Ukase 19.044 of 1799  in Article V, inter alia, the candidate had to; "Prove that it is he, specifically, who is the one who is designated to inherit the commandery according to the rules stipulated in the Deed".
The Deeds have this stipulation;
"Each successor will be held under pain of nullity to prove to the Eminent Grand Master and the Supreme Council of the Order, or the Venerable Chapter of the Grand-Priory of Russia, his right of succession to the Commandery and his noble and legitimate descent, so that everything can be approved and confirmed: after which, and not before, and provided that the transfer tax and all responsions which may be in arrears have been paid, he will be put in possession of the Commandery, and decorated with the Cross and title of Commander by the Decree which will be dispatched to him from Malta." .
All the Deeds correspond to the same style, including those of the Non Catholic Russian Grand Priory. Post 1810, the Russian Grand Priory came under the general Grand Mastership of the Emperor, and under the Chancellor of all the Orders, as noted above. Thus the permissions were needed from the Emperor.
It is in the light of this requirement that permissions can be found such as the "Sovereign Authorisation" of 19th October 1867 under Alexander II, whereby in relation to an authorisation given to Prince Alexander Vasileyevitch Troubetzkoy, the eldest son of the "Hereditary Commander" was allowed to wear the Decoration of the Order . This stipulation itself may reflect a proviso in the Foundation Deed as discussed supra. Both Professor Baron Michael de Taube and Count Michael de Pierredon (who relied upon Taube for the 1867 detail ) seem to suggest that the "Sovereign Authorisation" was universal. Nevertheless there is no evidence to support this view, despite an exhaustive search , therefore the "Authorisation" was probably 'ad personam' - a permission specifically given to Prince Alexander Vasileyevitch Troubetzkoy.
Pierredon went on to argue that;
"Mais il s'agit de concessions personnelles emanant du souverain et nullement de la survivance du Grand-Prieure comme corporation."
"However it is all about personal concessions emanating from the sovereign and nothing about the survival of the Grand Priory as a corporation." .
Although Pierredon notes that the concession was a personal concession, it extended in his mind to all those who were the senior male heir to the Commanders' lines, but never-the-less did not include a notion of a continuation of the Russian Grand Priory as a Corporation. On this point there is no argument. This concession or courteous allowance certainly was not about the survival of the Grand Priory as a Corporation, it did not have to be - the functions of the corporation had been absorbed into the State, by way of the 1810 Ukase  as discussed supra.
It is perhaps with this need for authorisation that Grand Duke Vladimir personally signed diplomas for members of the Paris Group who claimed to be Hereditary Commanders , and were judged as being so, under what was considered the correct protocol, and in line with the "l'autorisation Souveraine" "Sovereign authorisation" of 1867, given 'ad personam' to Prince Alexander Troubetzkoy, and that was; "En sa qualité d'aîné de la famille" "In his capacity of eldest of the family". This principle of primogeniture was held both by the original members of the Paris Group in 1928, before Dr Baron Michael de Taube was appointed as their legal adviser, and by Dr Baron Michael de Taube as evidenced in his book of 1955 . However, it is also clear that Dr Michael de Taube has not examined the Deeds belonging to each of the Family Commanderies which can alter how the principle of primogeniture is administered in establishing who succeeds to the title.
Even when armed with copies of the Deeds, there are still various caveats:- for example, the title of Hereditary Commander may only be valid, as Pierredon argues, by way of a "personal concessions emanating from the sovereign". In other words, (a) it depends upon individual Imperial permission, and (b) it does not signify the ability to resuscitate, or continue and Order per se; and (c) that according to the 1799 Ukase governing the Commanderies, five years membership of the Order may be needed in order to qualify -and that is not five years in a self-styled Order! Also (d) another requirement is two years military Service. It is instructive to note that when Prince Alexander Troubetzkoy was given permission to wear the Decoration, he was already serving in the Army.
So powerful is the prestige of being a knight in the Order of St John of Jerusalem, that the thought of being a hereditary member, and identifying with this august body, that the caveats that would render this claim to be doubtful at best, can so easily be ignored, or explained away, and yet the very documents and history that give raise to the claims are the self same ones that pepper it with caveats.
It must be noted, that the Hereditary Commanders were not the whole life of the Russian Order. They were an additional classification of membership for those who could not "in all things comply with the obligations prescribed in the articles" see Article XXII; Proclamation of PAUL I Grand-Master of the Order of St John, establishing a New Foundation of Commanderies for Russian Nobles . Whilst they were only one element within the Russian Grand Priory, the Hereditary Commanders became significant, as an institution which assisted in preserving the Russian tradition.
However, if in 1928 the qualifying Hereditary Commanders of which the known surviving group gathered in Paris, were practically the only surviving members of the Russian Grand Priory, it is they which provide a link with the historic Order, and preserve the Russian tradition. There initiative has continued into the third millennium.
Paul I, with the creation of the Russian Grand Priory had both created the Russian Langue for which he had sought in 1797, and a sub-Order, much like the German Johanniterorden which, although part of the Order, was under its Protestant Leaders, a sub-Order within itself.
The Russian tradition within the Order of St. John had been established by Imperial authority. The Hereditary Commanders of the Russian Grand Priory were subject to Russian laws. The Ukases of 1810 and 1811 stemmed the flow of funds from Russia to the Order's HQ in Catania, and placed the Russian Grand Priory under State Control. This action provided a fiscal and legal separation creating a Russian Johannine Order independent of the Roman Catholic Order.
The concept of creating an autonomous Russian tradition was not new and had its beginnings in 1802, with Russian dissatisfaction over the Treaty of Amiens. In that year the British Ambassador at St Petersburg sent these comments to Sir A Paget;
"The Russian Ministers....have seriously in contemplation the breaking off all connection between the Russian Priory and the body of the Order, by creating the former into an independent and separate community" .
However, although separated from the main Order, the Russian Order considered itself to be a real part of the Hospitaller Order. This thinking accords with Easter Orthodoxy. Whilst the Western Church, considered the nature of Church authority to be Papal, Monarchical and within a single organisation, the Eastern Church considered it to be Patriarchal, Collegiate and within a commonwealth. The breach between the two Churches (yet each claiming to be the Church, but Rome exclusively) is considered by some to have been in 1054, yet it was in reality a growing apart, finalising in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople. Orthodox Christians without being under the authority of the Pope, consider themselves to be as much a part of the Church, as would any Roman Catholic.
In 1817, a Deliberation of Ministers refused a member of the Army permission to wear Insignia, awarded by the Roman Catholic Order (to deter the flow of "passage fees" to outside of Russia). In the years 1815-1819 members of the Order petitioned the King of Poland (The Emperor of Russia) for the restoration of the Roman Catholic Polish Priory which would have meant the restoration of revenues to the Order and in 1902, a plea was made to restore the Roman Catholic Order in Russia. Both these requests fell unheeded by the Emperor . Contrasted with this, is the permissions to Orthodox Christians to wear the insignia of the Russian Grand Priory in the 1800s and early 1900 .
Clearly from 1810, onward, there is a Russian Order of St John, and based on the Russian Grand Priory. This Grand Priory continued its life through its members, to become a rallying point for exiled Nobles and Hereditary Commanders of the Order, who have continued its traditions of serving the Christian Faith and the good of Mankind.
The Order did not always have Protectors and the Protectorship of the Order was haphazard. For example, the Order bestowed that title on two Kings of England (Henry VII and Henry VIII). The title was not passed down, but bestowed individually. As well as the Russian Emperor being a Protector of the Order, so too and at the same time, was the Western Emperor. A Protector was a powerful patron, but the Order did not, nor could not subsist in the Protector. The bestowal of the title of Protector to Emperor Paul I, was a gift of the Order, and not part of the Convention establishing the Catholic Grand Priory of Russia 4th/15th January 1797. However additional to his Protectorship, the Order not only gave Emperor Paul I a Cross of Devotion, but additionally he was presented a Grand Cross and a Habit of the Order. The Convention was ratified in November 1797 under Grand Master Hompesch, along with an agreement that Commanderies could be established for those of the Greek religion (i.e. Orthodox). Thus there was no problem subsequently, in making Paul I the Order's Grand Master, as he was counted as a full member, and secondly for the Emperor as Grand Master in carrying out an agreement already undertaken, in the creation of Commanderies for Russian Nobles (these were subsequently styled as a Grand Priory). Emperor Alexander I, assumed the role of Protector of the Order after his father's murder in 1801, had left a power vacuum in the Order. Alexander was concerned to further good foreign relations and undertook to restore the Order to its previous constitution.
Protectorship of the Russian Order.
Whilst the Convention of 1797 did not cover Paul I 's role as Protector to the whole Order, Article I of the Convention provided an implied protectorship for the Order in Russia;
"His imperial majesty the emperor of all the Russias, as an act of justice, and at the same time to prove, his sentiments of affection and high consideration for the illustrious order of Malta, approves, confirms, and ratifies, in his own name and that of his successors for ever, in the most ample and solemn manner, the establishment of the said order of Malta in his dominions".
The Convention covered the Order in Russia, and not just a Priory, which would then include the second Priory, Paul created in 1798. However, likewise, Article XXVII of the 1798 Declaration which instituted the New Establishment of Commanderies for Russian Nobles (later known as the Russian Grand Priory), implied a protectorship;
"Lastly, we confirm in the most solemn manner, in our name and in that of our successors for ever, all and each of the articles of the present foundation; the said articles to have their full effect, and to be inviolably executed. Concluded at St. Petersburg, the 29th of November, in the year of our Lord 1798, and in the third of our reign."
Since then, the reality is that the exigency created by the exilic situation is sufficient for the surviving Russian Grand Priory to have abandoned the need for a Romanoff Protector, or to have altered its choice, much in the same way that events in 1797, created an Imperial Protector.
In other words, in terms of casuistry, although the terms of the Convention
between the Order and Paul I, were 'for ever', it was a contract between
a Grand Master (Hompesch), of unquestionable succession to Brother Gerard,
elected by the whole Order and a reigning Emperor of Russia. After the Russian
Revolution of 1917, this no longer obtained, and the claimants to the Russian
throne have become in time increasingly remote from any reigning Emperor,
also, schism is a permanent hallmark of the Order. It could be argued that
as both institutions were dead, so the contract was void. Whilst that arrangement
may be void or redundant, what is not void is the legitimate and historic
descent by active members of the Russian Priory in exile, much in the same
way that the Most Venerable Order of Britain has claimed descent from the
Order of Saint John, from 1831 as an independent organisation set up by the
French Commission, which itself was independent from the Roman Catholic
Certainly the 'national Russian protectorship' under the contract between the Russian Order and Paul I did extend to his successors, as Emperors of Russia. How much that had applied to claimants of the Russian throne is open to debate.
The Paris Group's need for a Romanoff as Protector would stem from the need of the Russian Grand Priory in exile to maintain its identity resonant with the model of the Russian Grand Priories created by Paul I of Russia. In 1938 Grand Duke Kiril (the claimant to the Russian Throne) clearly deferred the affairs of the Russian Grand Priory to Grand Duke Andrew . In 1953, the Hereditary Commanders led by Grand Duke Andrew, adopted a Constitution for the Russian Grand Priory in exile which allowed the General Assembly (the Chapter), to elect the Grand Prior or Protector "preferably from among the members of the Imperial Family of Russia". This Constitution found the agreement of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovitch (the claimant to the Imperial throne, following the death of his father in 1938) who became the Protector in 1956, thus not entirely restricting the choice to members of the Imperial family, demonstrating a reality and adjustment to exilic existence .
Imperial Protectors - Russian Grand Priory
1928 Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovitch 1866-1933
Essentially the transmission of the Order, as a continuing entity is via its membership, constituted under regular authority. At one stage, the unity of the Order could determine the regular authority, which could then pronounce who was in membership, or otherwise. The Bailiwick of Brandenburg was the first exception to this rule, but the Order found ways to compromise, and allowed a Protestant body of Knights, under the ruler of Prussia to be connected with the Convent, via the Grand Priory of Germany. The turmoil following the expulsion from Malta, provoked a deficiency in the legitimate power of the Order. Irregularity after irregularity followed.
What is now the Roman Catholic Order (The Sovereign Military Order of Malta - SMOM), was so changed, that it cannot be considered to be wholly identical with the historic Order preceding 1798. The Pope's rejection of the Order's choice of Grand Master, Bailiff Giuseppe Caracciolo di Sant Eramo in 1807 (elected in 1805), began a long period of the Grand Magistracy under the rule of a Lieutenancy. It had been a papal Order in-as-much as it depended upon a relationship with the Holy See, not just for confirmation of its Grand Master, but as a fact, the Papacy has determined, in the period from 1807, when, and when not, the Order shall have a Grand Master.
In terms of the ancient Order, and its modern successor (SMOM), there has always been an element of debate (at least from the Order's point of view) as to what role the papacy has in the regular authority. The ancient Order was regularised by papal bull in 1113, and therefore very clearly acknowledged papal authority. However the Order acquired sovereignty in Rhodes , and then in Malta (as a vassal), complicating the relationship. This debate has continued into modern times, and surfaced throughout the 1950s into the early 1960s, which created not a little anxiety both for the Order (SMOM) and the papacy, with SMOM being denied a Grand Master for over 10 years, 1951 to 1962. It is only with the very recent changes in 1997, that the Papal right to confirm the election of a Grand Master has been ended.
Other groups of Knights survived from the pre 1798 Order. Those in Russia (the Russian Grand Priory), which post 1810 came under the authority of the Russian State; Spain which also came under the authority of the State, but was eventually reconciled with the Roman Catholic Order in 1885; the Bailiwick of Brandenburg which as the JohanniterOrden hung on between 1810 as a State Order until 1852 when it was revived by the King of Prussia, with the assistance of eight elderly Knights, as a Royal Prussian Order; and France as the Council of the Three French Langues, which survived only via an English Group they had created (The Council of the English Langue). This, after a schism and several changes of names was adopted as a Royal British Institution and became The Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Under these circumstances the determination of membership across those groups of Knights, could no longer reside in a central legitimate power. Membership is determined by whatever authority exists within the Roman Catholic, German, Russian, and English branches (or Orders). This remains true even if SMOM is acknowledged as possessing primacy in the debate.
As a result of the Russian Revolution in 1917, a severe disruption occurred to the legitimate State authority, culminating in the murder of the rightful sovereign, Nicholas II. The regular authority had ceased. For the very safety of their lives, a great number of Russian Royals and Nobles went into exile.
The group of surviving Russian Hereditary Commanders gathered in Paris in 1928, to continued the activities of the Russian Grand Priory in exile, and sought to re-establish a regular authority for themselves. The mark of this authority was seen in the Romanoff protection. In 1955 the group had registered as a Corporation in France, however by the late 1960s, early 1970s, the presence in France had reached a low point.
Some criticism is voiced over the fact that the Russian Order has admitted non-Russians. A specific complaint by Guy Sainty is that the Russian Order has distributed "knighthoods to a multitude of people with no connection to Russia whatsoever" . This practice is not novum, and is a part of the Russian tradition created by Emperor Paul I.
In December of 1798, in the creation of the Commanderies, which was to form the Russian Grand Priory, Paul did not restrict the institution to 'Orthodox' Nobles, but opened it out to all Russian Nobles. In January 1799, as Paul formed his 'Russian Grand Priory' an appeal was made to all "brave and valiant men of Christianity, from whichever part of the world they may be, who would have acquired their nobility by arms or by other important services rendered to the State, to take part in this noble Institution" . Thus the "Russian Grand Priory" was ecumenical and open to all nationalities from the start. The offer was enthusiastically taken up by hundreds, so much so, that the membership list of the Russian Grand Priory published in 1812 (as a section within the Court Almanac) numbered 842 members of which 230 were non Russians - 27% of the membership.
In 1937, some Gentlemen in Denmark wrote to Grand Duke Kirill, enquiring about membership in the Russian Grand Priory. Grand Duke Kirill passed the matter over to Grand Duke Andrew, who had taken over responsibility for the Russian Grand Priory from Grand Duke Alexander. With the full blessing of Grand Duke Andrew in 1939 a sub Priory to the Russian Grand Priory, 'Dacia' was created in Denmark which admitted non-Russians, and which was deemed fully compatible with the traditions of the Russian Grand Priory . This principle was enshrined in the exilic Constitution of the Russian Grand Priory framed in 1953. In 1956, with the death of Grand Duke Andrew, Grand Duke Kirill's Son, Grand Duke Vladimir (claiming to be successor to the Russian throne) took over as Protector, and did not change that constitutional position. This acceptance of non-Russians as members has continued - and in some a ways mirrors the acceptance of non-British members for the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem in the British Realm!
Guy Sainty also dismisses the present Russian Grand Priory and suggests that it is an institution; "which claims some kind of equivalence to the knighthoods conferred by the recognized Orders" . It is self evident, that the Russian tradition does not equate with State Merit Orders of Knighthood. In the same way it must be noted that whatever privileges that the British Order of St John shares with the British State Orders of Knighthood (and there are a good number), it is not a State Order, and its Knights do not rank in law as equivalent to the Knights of the State Orders. 'Knights' of the British Order of St John cannot use the appellation of "Sir". Also it can be noted that in the official list of Orders and decorations, that from the British Order of St John ranks only as a decoration. Thus the 'Knights' in the British Order of St John, in British Law, are different from the Knights of the State Order - an incontrovertible fact. It is also true that the JohanniterOrden according to the German Government is not a German State Order of Chivalry . This is a reminder that the issues involved in making the kind of value judgments that Guy Sainty makes, are more complex than at first sight.
The actual claims of the Russian Grand Priory in relation to State Knighthood and its Knights are this; "Some honours awarded by the State are indicative of past, or present distinguished contributions to our society. Being a Knight in, or membership of, the Sovereign Order of Orthodox Knights indicates that a person has joined a Christian charitable society, a chivalric Order with a long history, and that they have made a pledge to serve the aims of the Order in defending the Christian Faith and helping the less fortunate in life." . In other words, membership is not an award, or a chance to wear medals, but an invitation to follow up the vision of Paul I, "to muster under the glorious flag of the Order of Malta all the lively forces, material and moral, military and religious, to defend everywhere the social order and the Christian civilisation against the spirit of decomposition"  - to serve God and to serve mankind!
On the 9th December 1953, the Hereditary Commanders held a reunion in Paris and drew up a Constitution for the Russian Grand Priory in exile. In February 1955, the exilic Grand Priory based in Paris was registered as a Foreign Association under French Law as "The Russian Grand Priory of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem".
The Priory of Dacia had been declared to be "under the name of The Grand Priory of the North, in all respects be the legal successor of the Grand Priory of Russia." .
This legal recognition of Dacia, was also echoed in the Constitution of 1953; "The admission to the fold of Russian Grand Priory or taking under its protection of similar foreign associations as well as the recognition of their legal existence as autonomous branches of Russian Grand Priory, subjecting them to follow the same regulations as those that manage the election new members of the Priory, and under such or other special conditions that can be put on them."
After the Grand Prior, Grand Duke Andrei died in 1956, the leadership of the Grand Priory was taken over by Hereditary Commander Nicholas Tchirikoff, until his death in 1974. The Secretary of the Paris Group, General Georges Serguéevitch Rticheff died in 1975, leaving the group leaderless. Never-the less the membership continued, but without any effective direction, leaving the Priory of Dacia as the most effective part. The Corporation registered by the Paris Group in 1955, has recently been taken over by a group claiming to be in succession to the old Paris Group, but which in reality has been re-registered inter-alia by members of the self-styled Order; The Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem - see infra under "Self-Styled 'Orders' claiming to be of the Russian tradition".
Was the Russian tradition of the Order of St John ever suppressed?
Despite good evidence of a continuing Russian tradition of the Order of St John, there are those who from the 1960s onwards insist that the Order in Russia was abolished. Contact with the Russian authorities, in the late 1980s immediately following perestroika and glasnost (restructuring and openness), normalising international relationships, confirmed that no edict to suppress the Russian Priories ever existed (The Order of St John incorporated by Royal Charter in Belgium had undertaken an enquiry with the Russian Embassy). Any real analysis of the relevant Ukases cannot support the notion of suppression. The Ukases of 1810 and 1811, were only concerned with removing the Order's temporalities. There was never any edict issued that abolished the Order, or to curtail Hereditary Commanderies to the incumbents of the time. The Ministerial Deliberation of 1817 was solely concerned with Russian Army Officers seeking permission to wear Decorations awarded from the quite separate Roman Catholic Order.
Those who argue that the Russian Priories ended with either the Ukases of 1810/11 or the Deliberation of 1817, are probably being misled by a Russian publication of 1891 on Russian Orders issued 74 years after the Deliberation which provided a reworking of the original words to read "After the death of the Commanders of the Order of St John, their heirs will not have the right to be Commanders of the Order and will not be allowed to wear the badges and decorations of the Order any longer because the latter does not exist any more in the Russian Empire" (Panov and Zamyslovsky, A Brief Historical Account of the Russian Orders and their Statutes, St Petersburg 1891, pages 28-33 ). This is a gross misreading of the original texts, intruding words which did not exist in the originals and ignores other evidence available to a thorough author.
For example following this error, Christopher Hurley writes "The Order of the Knights of Malta, better known as the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, flourished in Russia from 1795 until 1817, when it was abolished." - Russian Orders Decorations and Medals including a Historical Résumé and Notes under the Monarchy. Harrison & Sons, Ltd. London 1935, page 12.
Another example which follows the erroneous work, is a book issued by the Roman Catholic Order in 1962 (The White Book; Anon, Livre Blanc Sur l'Illegitimite de Pretendus Ordres Homonymes, Ordre Souverain Militaire et Hospitalier de St jean de Jerusalem dit de Rhodes dit de Malta, Grafiche Palazzotti Rome 1962). The book which follows the wording of the 1891 publication seeks to discount any other surviving branch of the Order. The author simply did not cross checked the original Ukase of 1811 and the Deliberation of 1817. A more recent example which states that the Russian Priories came to an end with Alexander I, is a British Broadcasting Corporation publication, The Cross and the Crescent, in which three quotations will provide the style of invective the author uses; "distinctly tenuous links with the Knights of Malta... the erroneous assumption that the commanderies had been literally hereditary...spawned in emigre circles" - Billings, Malcolm. The Cross and the Crescent, BBC Publications, London 1987, page 231.
Some critics who wish to dismiss out of hand, the survival of any Russian tradition, suggest that the whole notion of hereditary commanders is meaningless. They claim the Order ceased to exist in Russia, as it was suppressed in 1810, and so there was no Order to which these so-called Hereditary Commanders could belong. Others who are also critical of any survival of the Russian tradition, state that with the loss of property - the Commanderies had come to an end. The thesis of the critics is simple; "no hereditary commanderies (which created the ranks in the first place)- no hereditary commanders!".
The very existence of those claiming the title post 1810/1811, is dismissed as evidence! In this dismissal of the evidence, the claim to any hereditary title is rejected as a misunderstanding of the term 'jus-patronat'. In entertaining these assertions of the critics, what is important, is not what a Westerner in the late 20th Century/early 21st Century believes about the term 'jus-patronat', but what the official accounts make of the term, contemporary to the events. According to the official definition the 'rodovye, or jus-patronatskie komandorstva' were founded in favour of the holder's descendants, with permission to extend the right of inheritance - Bantys-Kamenskij, Obzor vnesnix snosenij Rossii. Moscow 1896. Furthermore, the Ukase 190.44 of 21st July 1799, provides a 'Russian' understanding of the term 'jus-patronat' and provides the fact that the qualifying descendants of the founder of the Commandery possess hereditary rights.
The so-called abolition of the Order in 1810 cannot with any reason be upheld. The Ukase of that date envisages the Order in Russia continuing with help from State funding, a poor compensation from the secularised property and funds.
Taking more seriously the claim that the 1811 Ukase brought an end to the Hereditary Commanders, it is right to ask the question "With the claimed loss of property, did the title of Hereditary Commander persist beyond 1811"?
The answer from empirical evidence is that it did;
Because the Ukases of 1810 and 1811 provide no comfort for those who claim the Russian tradition of the Order was brought to an end under Alexander I, it appears superficially that the only item at which to clutch is the Deliberation of 1817. Concerning the claim that in 1817 the Order had ended, the simple matter is that an Army Officer, Lazareff had sought permission to wear the Order's Insignia. He had stated that he had proved his ancient nobility according to the rules of the Russian Priory. The judgment, known as the 'Lazareff Deliberation' (Ukase 26.626 - February 1st, 1817), stated; "the said Priory was not in existence any more in Russia, and therefore, the permission could not be giving to Cornet Lazareff and the other mentioned persons, who were presently nominated to be decorated with the same Order".
Various arguments have been forwarded about the deliberation. The two main theses are:
The weight of historical evidence cannot support the former interpretation. The decorations under discussion that could not be worn, were being awarded by the Roman Catholic Order, not by the (non-Catholic) Russian Grand Priory. The Grand Russian Priory mentioned in the text is probably the Catholic Priory. The Decision does not refer to the fact that there were two Grand Priories instituted in Russia, and is only concerned with a single Priory.
The one time Professor of Law at St Petersburg University, and Adviser to the Foreign Office, of Nicholas II, Baron Michel de Taube wrote concerning this episode; "The Emperor interdicted the reception of insignia from Italy of the Order and their wear in Russia without a previous authorisation of Tsar. This measure was taken by the Cabinet of ministers and sanctioned by the Emperor on the request of military chiefs of three junior officers Lazareff, who had received one after another, directly from Italy, crosses of Malta and were suspected to have obtained them thanks to sizable amounts being poured into the treasury of the Grand Magistracy" - Free translation, L'Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l'Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 42.
Also to be placed against the Deliberation of 1817, are the
permissions granted to Russians of the non-Catholic Russian Grand Priory
to wear the Decorations; see
In addition to these authorisations are the numerous Portraits of Russian
Nobles, not wearing the Catholic Decoration, but the Decoration of the Russian
Grand Priory post 1817. The portraits are mainly in the first two thirds
of the 1800s. See; Mikhailovitch, Grand Duke Nicolas, Portraits
Russes, St. Petersburg; Tome I, Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3,
Fascicle 4, 1905, Tome II, Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4,
1906, Tome III, Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1907, Tome
IV Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1908, Tome V Fascicle
1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1909.
In considering the legal existence of the Order in Russia, we note that the Convention of 4th-5th January 1797 between Emperor Paul I and the Grand Master of the Order Ferdinand von Hompesch which founded the Grand Priory of Russia, was an international contractual Act, and its terms were 'for ever'. Also, no Imperial Ukase was ever issued abrogating Paul I's Proclamation which created a Russian Order of St John, which was promulgated in his name, and in that of his "successors for ever" - Boisgelin, Louis de. Ancient and Modern Malta, and the History of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, 3 Volumes bound together. G & J Robinson, London 1804, in 3 Volumes. Volume 3, Book 3, Appendix No XIX.
Whilst Emperor Alexander I through his disinterest had neglected his duties as Protector, the Johannine tradition in Russia was maintained by its Commanders and Knights. For example, the prohibition to Lazareff was that he could not wear his decoration because of Government policy, nevertheless, he was still a Knight of the Roman Catholic Order. A Russian Order of St John is sometimes dismissed due to the fact that there is no evidence of any administrative organisation. In answer, what must be remembered is that post 1810, in common with the Russian State Orders, the Russian Order of St John no longer had its own administration but came under the general protocols and regulations of the Russian State Orders. This had already been noted in 1844 by Nicolas Loumyer; Histoire, Costumes et Decorations de tous les Ordres de Chevalerie et Marques d'Honneur, Brussels 1844.
In the period 1810-1914 Russian Knights continue to appear in Court Almanacs including those who had received their Knighthood through the Roman Catholic Order in Naples. Further evidence of activity of the Knights in the reign of Alexander is provided by Poland. Russia had lost Poland to Napoleon (under the title of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw). The Congress of Vienna in 1815 had restored Poland as a Kingdom but under the Emperor of Russia. Poland was at least, technically a separate country and Knights within Poland sought their own Priory again. Correspondence exists in the years 1815-1819 from members of the Order petitioning the King of Poland (The Emperor) for the restoration of the Polish Priory, which essentially was the Roman Catholic Grand Priory, and would have meant the restoration of revenues to the Order. In line with the 1817 Deliberation concerning the awards from the Roman Catholic Order, the call for the restoration of the Priory went unheeded. Also in 1902, a similar request to restore the Roman Catholic Order in Russia was not granted.
The "dying out thesis"
Another thesis forwarded by a pro SMOM author, is that whilst the
Russian Grand Priory was not suppressed it was simply allowed to die out.
1. History of the Order under Paul I.
Self-Styled 'Orders' claiming to be of the Russian tradition.
The Shickshinny Convent.
From this "Order" numerous other "Orders" have emerged, all mythically claiming the Russian tradition. These "Orders" have divided and sub divided into a complex web, often creating and breaking alliances. Some of these groups manage to gain the patronage of nobles or Royalty, such as Colonel Paul de Granier de Cassagnac who gained the exiled King Peter II of Yugoslavia, who after a short period broke with Cassagnac to form his own "Order of St John". However this Royal patronage cannot make good the lack of historical pedigree. There was one genuine Russian Hereditary Commander who joined the King's group believing it to be via Pichel's myths a historic part of the Russian Grand Priory. Another who had joined had usurped his elder brother's position and claimed to be an Hereditary Commander. However their membership was short lived, and likewise the brief membership of the genuine commander cannot make good a lack of a historic pedigree to the historic Order of St John.
The King Peter Order - The Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem,
Knights Hospitaller - OSJ.
The Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights Hospitaller of Saint
John of Jerusalem.
Sadly the claims of the various off-shoots (which must run into some dozens) of the Shickshinny group to be part of the Russian tradition have confused the picture, to the point whereby the Russian tradition is dismissed by the establishment Orders of St John (The Roman Catholic Order - SMOM, and the Alliance Orders [Most Venerable Order of Britain and the JohanniterOrden of mainland Europe] ). By dismissing the Shickshinny family of "St. John Orders", as being part of the Russian tradition, we are left with a easily understood, and simple picture of the survival of the Russian tradition, led by the Russian Hereditary Commanders.
The Future for the Russian tradition.
The Priory of Dacia along with the remaining members of the Paris Group still continue the life of the Russian Grand Priory. From this group there have been a number of initiatives to bring together those who give witness to the Russian tradition. These initiatives continue in conjunction with the ongoing and valuable hospitaller work, which is maintained by all those within the tradition, a tradition which serves our Lord, and mankind.
Seal of the Order created when Emperor Paul I of Russian became Grandmaster
1. Toumanoff, Fra' Cyrille, L'Ordre de Malte et l'Empire de Russie, Nonvelle Edition, Palazzo Malta, 68 Via Condotti, Rome, 1979 pages 31-38.
2. Brett-Crowther M.Sc., Ph.D., D.I.C. S.Th. , Dr. Michael Richard. Orders of Chivalry under the Aegis of the Church Part 3, in CR number 341 Quarterly review of the Community of the Resurrection, St John Baptist 1988 Mirfield 1988, pages 23 and 24.
3. Sire, Henry.J.A. The Knights of Malta, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1994, page 106.
6. http://www.orderstjohn.org/osj/rgp.htm Article XI states; in case of a vacant commandery, the person who succeeds must obtain it from right of seniority
7. Cavaliero, Roderick. The Last of the Crusaders: The Knights of St. John and Malta in the Eighteenth Century. Hollis & Carter, London 1960, page 213.
8. Ryan, Frederick W. "The House of the Temple", A Study of Malta and its Knights in the French Revolution. Burns, Oates and Washbourne Limited, London, 1930, page 248.
9. Taube, Professor Baron Michel de. L'Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l'Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 43.
10. Mikhailovitch, Grand Duke Nicolas, Portraits Russes, St. Petersburg; Tome I, Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1905, Tome II, Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1906, Tome III, Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1907, Tome IV Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1908, Tome V Fascicle 1, Fascicle 2, Fascicle 3, Fascicle 4, 1909.
11. Mikhailovitch, Grand Duke Nicolas, Portraits Russes, Tome III, Fascicule 1. St Petersbourg 1907 (the information in the book is "manufacture des papiers de l'etat" - created from the State Documents); "Le prince Tufiakine partit pour l'étranger, où il passa le rests de sa vie. En 1841, il fut dépouillé de ses fonctions de chambellan actuel, et de ses dignités de maître de la Cour et de commander de l'Ordre de Malte. Il passa ses dernières années à Paris, où il mourut le 19 février 1845".
12. Loumyer, Jean-Francis-Nicolas. Ordres de Chevalerie et Marques d'Honneur, publie par Auguste Wahlen, Bruxelles, Librairie Historique-Artistique, Rue de Schaerbeek, 12, 1844.
13. see also Brett-Crowther M.Sc., Ph.D., D.I.C. S.Th. , Dr. Michael Richard. Orders of Chivalry under the Aegis of the Church Part 3, in CR number 341 Quarterly review of the Community of the Resurrection, St John Baptist 1988 Mirfield 1988, page 33.
14. As listed in the Annales Historiques De l'Ordre Souverain de St. Jean de Jérusalem à Saint - Petersbourg 1799 de l'Imprimerie Impériale, & Annales Historiques De l'Ordre Souverain de St. Jean de Jérusalem à Saint - Petersbourg 1800 de l'Imprimerie Impériale.
15. Vertot, Monsignor l'Abbe de. The History of the Knights of Malta. Printed for G. Strahan, 2 Volumes, London, 1728, page 74.
16. Ukase 19.044 1799; Article III; "The Founder of an Ancestral Commandery may extend the right to all branches or generations of his lineage, indicating the order in which they are to succeed one another. Moreover, in the Deed by which the Commandery is established, the Founder may also name two other families which are obligated to present the same proofs of their Nobility as the very family of the Founder."
17. Lubomirsky Deed, 23/01/1798 (OS) from the Union Archives. Article I. Translated from the French.
18. Ilinsky Deed, 31/12/1797 (OS) from the Union Archives. Article VI. Translated from the French.
19.Ukase 19.044 of 21 July (OS) 1799 [ http://www.orderstjohn.org/osj/hcukase.htm ].
20. Ilinsky Deed, 31/12/1797 (OS) from the Union Archives. Article XII. Translated from the French.
21. See Pierredon, Count Marie Henri Thierry Michel de, Histoire Politique de l'Ordre Souverain de Saint-Jean de Jerusalem, (Ordre de Malte) de 1789 à 1955, Volume 2, Paris 1963, page 197, footnote 2, and Taube, Professor Baron Michel Alexsandrovitch, de. L'Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l'Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 43.
22. Taube, Professor Baron Michel Alexsandrovitch, de. L'Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l'Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 43.
23. For the "Sovereign Authorisation" of 19 October 1867, the following was checked;
I. Polnyi Svod Zakonov [Complete Code of Law] for the year 1867.
II.1. Newspaper "Severnaia Pochta" [North Post] (The Highest authorisations, prescripts and Ukases are published there).
II.2. Newspaper "Golos" [Voice] (Includes section: "Activity of Government" which includes information about the Ukases and authorisations with references to the Collection of Statutes and Orders of Government). Issues of these newspapers were examined for October-November, 1867 but found nothing convenient to the subject.
III. Collection of Statutes and Orders of Government Published at the Governmental Senate. St. Petersburg, 1867 (The chronology index for the second half of the year 1867 is published as addition to the publication for the year 1868; for the first part of the year 1868 - as addition to the publication for the year 1869). Nothing convenient was found. Just one statute from May 10, 1867, published on July 21, 1867 (page 1175) concerning rules of communication with Roman Governmental Department for religious affairs of the Roman-Catholic Confession. There is no mention on the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. In addition, there is the Ukase of the Governmental Senate on the 1st Department about satisfaction the debts of the Roman-Catholic clergy: Ukase of November 1, 1867 published on December 19, 1867. Page 1754. Concerns the private Manors in the provinces of Vilno, Vitebsk, Volynia, Grodno, Kiev, Minsk, Mogilev and Podolia which belonged to the Rome-Catholic clergy and to the abolished monasteries of this religion. There is no mention on the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
24. Pierredon, Count Marie Henri Thierry Michel de, Histoire Politique de l'Ordre Souverain de Saint-Jean de Jerusalem, (Ordre de Malte) de 1789 à 1955, Volume 2, Paris 1963, page 197 footnote 3.
25. Ukase 24.134 26 February 1810: Section 1. The members of the Order who used to be paid according to the list, should be paid from the profits of the State Treasury... Section 3. The officials who are now receiving a salary from the Order, should be paid from the State Treasury and should be found a place to serve at the first opportunity.
26. Examples are as follows; http://www.orderstjohn.org/osj/dem1958.htm - http://www.orderstjohn.org/osj/bob1962.htm
27. second paragraph http://www.orderstjohn.org/osj/1928.htm and Taube, Professor Baron Michel Alexsandrovitch, de. L'Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l'Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 50.
28. Source: Boisgelin de Kerdu, Louis de. Ancient and Modern Malta, and the History of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, 3 Volumes bound together. G & J Robinson, London 1804, Volume 3, Book 3, Appendix No XIX.
29. Diplomatic and other Correspondance of the Right Hon Sir A. Paget. G.C.B., 1794-1807, 2 Vols.1896, Volume 2 pp 50ff.
32. Historishe Notitser : Bustning om Furholdet til det Kejserlige-Russiske Storpriorat af 1798-i-Paris. Undarbejdet af Den Danske Initiativ Komite, bistaaende af Baron Palle Rosenkrantz Forfatter, Greve Preben Ahlefeldt Bille, Chr. P.H.Wenck von Wenckheim. Aarene : 1936-1939. Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. h. litra P nr. 1006-1.
33. At the time, the only other members of the electoral college (members of the Council of the Grand Priory) were the Hereditary Commanders, yet the preference of choice remained that of a Romanoff.
34. There is one argument, which states that the Order's sovereignty began before the occupation of Rhodes, and owes itself to the capacity for the Order to make war - see; Goodall. John A. Reflections upon the History of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem (by Colonel Thourot Pichel), The Heraldry Society, Banbury, 1961, Page 7. There is a problem with maintaining this argument (at least for the modern "Order of Malta" SMOM) and that is that clearly SMOM does not possess the capacity to make war. A point, which John Goodall seems to have failed to realise! Present day arguments concerning SMOM's alleged "sovereign" status seem to rely upon its ambassadorial status with various nations.
It is beyond dispute that SMOM has gained recognition by Ambassadorial status with 90+ nations. SMOM began with a much smaller list in the 1950s - a list that has grown. It does not necessarily prove true sovereignty. It is perfectly perceivable that another rich or powerful international entity could achieve the same sort of recognition amongst various nations. The form of sovereignty claimed by SMOM has not been uniform throughout the centuries. The Status of the Order in Rhodes, differed from that in the Holy Land. Malta differed from Rhodes, where the Order's statehood was finally divested with its ejection from Malta. The claim to the sovereignty of Malta was handed to Great Britain by agreement of Sicily, in whose Monarch the actual sovereignty of Malta was vested. It can be argued that after Malta the Order was a sovereign in exile, a quality maintain after 1814, when Malta was ceded to Great Britain. This viewpoint misappropriates a doctrine of "blood royal" jure sanguines and to strain it as being applicable to a Corporation!
The Montevideo Convention concluded between the USA and Countries of South America, 26th December 1933, is a useful guide as it sets down the criteria for statehood in article 1: "The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states". In addition the first sentence of article 3 of the Montevideo Convention explicitly states that "The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states." Thus ambasadorial status is not a neccessary proof. However, those who defend SMOM's call to Sovereignty would argue that it is a "Sovereign Enity" not a State. This of course stretches the meaning of sovereignty, and would allow such a definition to belong to the so-called micronations, which have property and a large membership. Never-the-less in real politics, there is a correlation between Statehood and Sovereignty.
Perhaps one authoritive guide to the debate, is that of the Holy See, which in 1953 proclaimed "in the Lord's name" that the Order of Malta was only a "functional sovereignty" - due to the fact that it did not have all that pertained to true sovereignty, such as territory.
35. http://www.chivalricorders.org/orders/self-styled/selfsty1.htm viewed 24th May 2003.
36. Pierredon, Count Marie Henri Thierry Michel de, Histoire Politique de l'Ordre Souverain de Saint-Jean de Jerusalem, (Ordre de Malte) de 1789 à 1955, Volume 1, 1955, Document LXIX, pages 377-379.
37. Historishe Notitser : Bustning om Furholdet til det Kejserlige-Russiske Storpriorat af 1798-i-Paris. Undarbejdet af Den Danske Initiativ Komite, bistaaende af Baron Palle Rosenkrantz Forfatter, Greve Preben Ahlefeldt Bille, Chr. P.H.Wenck von Wenckheim. Aarene : 1936-1939. Public Record Office Copenhagen, Denmark. Priorate Dacia af St. Johannes af Jerusalems Orden Arkiv nr: 10266. Jvf. RA. Priv. ark. h. litra P nr. 1006-1.
38. http://www.chivalricorders.org/orders/self-styled/selfsty1.htm viewed 24th May 2003.
39. Offical reply by Antje Leendertse, Political Counsellor, Botschaft, der Bundesrepublik Duetschland (German Embassy). 23 Belgrave Square, Chesham Place, London SW1X 8PZ, 16th November 2005.
41. Taube, Professor Baron Michel Alexsandrovitch, de. L'Empereur Paul I de Russie, Grand Maître de l'Ordre de Malte, et son Grand Prieuré Russe, Paris 1955, page 9.
42. Letter to the Dacia Priory from Baron Michael de Taube 8th June 1939.
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