Ghassanids, the Great Sultans of medieval Yemen

rasulid map

The Rasulid Sultans ruled part of today’s Yemen and Saudi Arabia from 1229 until 1454 CE.  The Rasulids descended from the eponymous Rasul a.k.a. Muhammad ibn Harun Al-Ghassani (“The Ghassanid” in Arabic). As personally claimed by the Sultans themselves and recognized by the great majority of Arab historians (and by the unanimous opinion of the Yemenite historians, he descended from the last Ghassanid king Jabalah VI ibn Al-Aiham.

Rasulid sultans

According to Professor Irfan Shahîd, it would make no sense for the Rasulid Sultans (Muslims) to claim descent from the last Christian Ghassanid ruler since it was known that the King Jabalah VI had refused to convert to Islam in his famous meeting with Caliph Omar?

“… the Rasulids themselves were aware of their Ghassanid descent and were proud of it.” The Islamic World: From Classical to Modern Times (Essays in Honor of Bernard Lewis) pp.332

List of Rasulid Sultans:

al-Mansur Umar I (ar) ruled 1229–1249 CE
al-Muzaffar Yusuf I (ar) ruled 1249–1295 CE
al-Ashraf Umar II (ar) ruled 1295–1296 CE
al-Mu’ayyad Da’ud ruled 1296–1322 CE
al-Mujahid Ali ruled 1322–1363 CE
al-Afdal al-Abbas ruled 1363–1377 CE
al-Ashraf Isma’il I ruled 1377–1400 CE
an-Nasir Ahmad ruled 1400–1424 CE
al-Mansur Abdullah ruled 1424–1427 CE
al-Ashraf Isma’il II ruled 1427–1428 CE
az-Zahir Yahya ruled 1428–1439 CE
al-Ashraf Isma’il III ruled 1439–1441 CE
al-Muzaffar Yusuf II ruled 1441–1454 CE
al-Afdal Muhammad ruled 1442 CE
an-Nasir Ahmad ruled 1442 CE
al-Mu’ayyad Husayn ruled 1451–1454 CE
al-Mas’ud Abu al-Qasim ruled 1443–1454 CE

It’s important to point that although the Rasulid Sultans were direct descendants from the last Ghassanid King Jabalah VI – as the Sheikhs El Chemorthey could never claim the Ghassanid titles due to a law imposed by Ghassanid kings in the 6th century CE of the Royal Family having to be necessarily Christian.

It’s also noteworthy that so many rulers descended from Ghassanid King Jabalah VI like:

Roman (Byzantine) Emperors of the Phocid Dynasty (802-813 CE)
Ceasars and Masters of the Island of Rhodes (1203-1250 CE)
Sultans of Rasul (1229-1454 CE)
Sheikhs of Akoura (1211-1633 CE)
Sheikhs of Zgharta-Zawyie (1641-1747 CE)

More about the Ghassanid Dynasty HERE


Ghassanids, the sovereigns of the Island of Rhodes

The beautiful Greek island of Rhodes

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of land area and also the island group’s historical capital. It’s famous for its magnificent resorts, ruins and for being occupied by the Hospitaller Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem.

However, what many people don’t know is that the island was ruled by Ghassanid sovereigns for over half century. The precise date of the island control is not known but the fact that Leo Gabalas (Greek transliteration of “Jablah” referring to the last King of Ghassan) was recognized as “Ceasar” (in Byzantium a sort of Imperial Sovereign ruler) and master of Rhodes in 1203 CE is widely documented adding another imperial title to the Ghassanid Dynasty (other being ‘Basileus Araves’ or “Emperor of all Arabs” in 529 CE and Byzantine Emperor in 802 CE). This imperial dignity is also recognized by Islamic sources like the Research Centre for Islamic History.


The Leo’s early life and the origin of title of “Caesar” and the details of his establishment of control over Rhodes are unclear. Contemporary sources make clear that Rhodes had slipped out of imperial Byzantine control and was held by an independent ruler already at the time of the Fourth Crusade (1203–04 CE). This ruler is usually identified with Leo, but Nikephoros Blemmydes claims that Leo held his title by hereditary right, which may indicate an unknown predecessor who actually seized control of the island. This theory is defended, amongst others,  by scholar Michael F. Hendy. It has been surmised that at some point Leo acknowledged the suzerainty of the Empire of Nicaea, and that the title of Caesar may have been granted by the Nicaean rulers Theodore I Laskaris (ruled 1205–1222 CE) or John III Vatatzes (r. 1221–1254 CE). On the other hand, if he (or a relative) held power on Rhodes since before 1203, the title may have been granted by the Angeloi emperors.

Emperor Leo Gabalas ruled until 1240 CE being succeeded by his brother John. It’s also known that both rulers were part of international treaties with the neighboring States like the Venetian Republic and also had their own coinage.



It’s also known that Leo’s brother and successor John Gabalas ruled the island until the Nicaean annexation (around 1250 CE).

More about the Ghassanid Dynasty HERE 


“It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles”


Niccolo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Those were the wise words of Machiavelli, the father of modern political science. And I couldn’t agree more! I’d even go further, titles just as a personal honor are completely useless in the 21st century!

That might initially shock coming from someone that defends monarchical and chivalric values. However, it makes total sense.

Nobility titles might had an intrinsic value in the past when they represented (legally) a different class, with real birthright privileges. Today, the majority of constitutions state that all citizens are equal before the law, regardless of class. And I definitely agree with this principle. None should be above the law, not even a sovereign.

Today, the legal privilege of an honorific title ends in its use. Although its legal existence can be characterized as “immaterial property” and its succession can be applied as “immaterial inheritance”, its recognition is each country’s prerogative. Meaning, a country can or cannot recognize a title regardless of its legality. But the so-called “recognition” doesn’t mean, in any way, that the title is real or not but only a “permission” for its use whithin the country’s dominions.

Back to the title’s personal value.

First, we have to understand that a title should come not only with rights and privileges but also with duties. And don’t mistake yourself in thinking that a title will make you, suddenly, a better person. I always say that a title is just a label, a beautiful golden label. We’re the product. You can have the most beautiful label in the world but if the product is bad, regardless of the label, it’ll still be bad. Personally, I rather have a great product with a simple label (or no label at all) than a bad product with a great label. In the end, “the product” is what matters.

That’s why if the title’s use is not somehow relevant in the today’s society it shouldn’t be used. That’s the reason why the serious chivalric orders usually have militant humanitarian works. Modern knights and dames won’t fight infidels but are committed to fight famine, disease, injustice, etc. Also barons, counts, marquees, dukes, etc. If they cannot live a real “noble” life being role models and helping the needy, they’re nothing more than “outdated adornments”. The title alone won’t make them “noble”.

Deposed Royal and Noble families are nothing but historical families with a glorious past and almost no privileges but nostalgia. If they limit themselves to feeding their ego, shining their medals and remembering the heroic past, they’ll definitely be forgotten in a heartbeat.

The same applies to my own title. If I cannot help my people and region being relevant somehow there’s no reason for a “Prince of Ghassan“. If I cannot preserve my people’s legacy and heritage, my title is just a “dusty museum piece” in a dark and forgotten corner of a huge ancient building.

I always repeat that I’m Al-Numan Gharios El Chemor. A simple and ordinary man, alas, terrible in sports. Although the correct protocol would be using the “Highness” address I consider it an optional courtesy and I’ve never asked anyone to treat me anymore than an equal fellow human being. And the fact that I’m “occupying” the office of the Prince of Ghassan doesn’t make me grand. The office in itself is grand, representing eighteen centuries of history and dozens of great imperial and royal rulers. Do I have their blood in my veins? Yes, but also probably you that’s reading this article descend from some King or Queen since is estimated that around 70% of the European stock descend from some royal ancestor. But I’m sure you still have to pay your taxes like I do.

But the analogy that a title would make someone better would be the same as evaluating a person by the chair he or she is sitting on. Preposterous!

HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Numan VIII

We also recommend: “Are the titles of nobility still relevant in the 21st century?