Due to the massive fall of monarchies in the 19th and 20th centuries, the study of Dynastic and Nobility Law has decayed considerably becoming a very rare subject amongst the scholars today. This fact gave birth to several myths and misconceptions about the subject even amongst reasonably educated people.
Because of the European colonial dominance in the world until the last century and the current existence of several acting monarchies in the region, as well as several non-ruling royal families being extremely active socially and even politically, createdthe false ideathat all the royal and noble titles in the world and their succession should follow the European model, regardless of any local – and sometimes millennial – traditions that particular family may have. Truth to be told, many royal houses decided to “Europeanize” their customs and traditions, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, those “adaptations” to the European model were dully and legally documented, not leaving any room for guessing and hearsay.
Also, there’s an enormous misconception regarding legality versus notoriety and prestige. There are thousands of former ruling and noble families in the world. Some more and some less known and prestigious. Not all of them have a plethora of information available in other languages than their native ones. It’s humanly impossible, even for a scholar, to know the peculiarities and rules of every single one of them. Therefore, it’s not because many people “never heard” of this or that family means that the family is legitimate or not.
Through this blog and many other documents and articles containing several scholarly references from bonafide academic organizations all over the world, we’ve proven to exhaustion the legal rights of the El Chemor/Gharios family according to the Middle Eastern custom and the international law to the Royal Ghassanid titles.
Before we proceed, we’d like to suggest some complimentary reading to fully understand this article:
Currently, there’re today two different schools of thought (or legal theories) about the rights of ruling families that are dispossessed of their thrones.
One defends that the “de jure” (by law) sovereign rights are perpetual and attached to the person of the dethroned sovereign and his/her heirs – observed the respective laws of succession – regardless of time elapsed, of territorial and political control and indifferently to the fact that that sovereign or his/her heirs are exercising or not their dynastic prerogatives in exile like for example, using publicly their titles, arms, etc. or even manifesting any kind of diplomatic protests.
They defend that, due to domestic law in the dispossessed country or in exile, the public use of titles may be forbidden as in countries like Austria and Brazil, where after the fall of the monarchical regimes, their constitutions expressly forbade any mention to any title on the person’s name. Also, any so-called “diplomatic protests” would represent an immense risk for the life of the protesters in absolute and/or theocratic regimes like some Islamic regimes in past and present.
Many European jurists and even recent court decisions defend the aforementioned theory.
The Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius, one of the forefathers of international law, wrote:
“. . . in order that silence may establish the presumption of abandonment of ownership, two conditions are requisite, that the silence be that of one who acts with knowledge and of his own free will. For the failure to act on the part of one who does not know is without legal effect.” On the Law of War and Peace, Book I, chapter IV, number 5
In other words:
“Presumption of neglect cannot justly exist, where the original owner has, by ignorance of his rights, or by deception, or personal fear, been prevented from claiming what he is entitled to. If he knew not that he had a right, he could not be supposed to relinquish it. And if fear or fraud induced his neglect, his mind could not have voluntarily consented.” John Penford Thomas, A Treatise of Universal Jurisprudence, chapter II, no. 13, 1829, p. 34
Grotius also wrote:
“Contracts, or promises obtained by fraud, violence or undue fear entitle the injured party to full restitution.”www.constitution.org/gro/djbp_217.htm
Another forefather of international law, the Swiss jurist Emmer de Vattel in the treatise “THE LAW OF NATIONS“:
“CHAP. XI. OF USUCAPTION AND PRESCRIPTION AMONG NATIONS”
§ 144. Claimant alleging reasons for his silence.
In cases of ordinary prescription, THE SAME ARGUMENT CANNOT BE USED AGAINST A CLAIMANT WHO ALLEGES JUST REASONS FOR HIS SILENCE, as, the impossibility of speaking, or a well-founded fear, etc., BECAUSE IS THERE IS NO LONGER ANY ROOM FOR A PRESUMPTION THAT HE HAS ABANDONED HIS RIGHT. IT IS NOT HIS FAULT IF PEOPLE HAVE THOUGHT THEMSELVES AUTHORIZED TO FORM SUCH A PRESUMPTION; NOR OUGHT HE TO SUFFER IN CONSEQUENCE: HE CANNOT THEREFORE BE DEBARRED THE LIBERTY OF CLEARLY PROVING HIS PROPERTY. THIS METHOD OF DEFENCE IN BAR OF PRESCRIPTION HAS BEEN OFTEN EMPLOYED AGAINST PRINCES WHOSE FORMIDABLE POWER HAD LONG SILENCED THE FEEBLE VICTIMS OF THEIR USURPATIONS.” http://www.constitution.org/vattel/vattel_02.htm
According to Salvioli (History of Italian Law, Utet, 1930, p.272) sovereignty as an element of state power sprang from the struggle of the kings against the great feudatories and owes its character of necessity to the resulting concentration of the powers of the state in the hands of the monarch.
“Born of feudal origins, this power continued to bear the imprint of the personal property of the Prince, whence derives its transmissibility by hereditary right IN PERPETUITY.”
By this doctrine the Prince logically retains his sovereignty always (suprema potestas, whence supremitas, sovereignty) even when he is no longer reigning.
Archbishop Hyginus E. Cardinale in his book stated:
“A Sovereign in exile and his legitimate successor and Head of the Family continue to enjoy the ius collationis [the right to confer and enjoy honours] and therefore may bestow [such] honours in full legitimacy. . . . No authority [no matter what that authority is] can deprive them of the right to confer honours, since this prerogative belongs to them as lawful personal property iure sanguinis [by right of blood], and both its possession and exercise are inviolable.” (Orders of Knighthood Awards and the Holy See — A historical, juridical and practical Compendium, Van Duren Publishers, Gerrands Cross, 1983, p. 119)”
The following legal conclusion reflects knowledge of perpetual sovereignty. The learned Italian judge officially recognized that:
“Among those rights [of a former ruling house inherited by the successors is] the faculty to ennoble, to grant and confirm coats of arms, to bestow titles drawn from places over which their ancestors had exercised their sovereign powers, and also the right to found, re-establish, reform and exercise the Grand Magistracy of the Orders of Chivalry conferred by their family, which may be handed down from father to son as an irrepressible birthright.” (The United Court of Bari, The Republic of Italy, Sig. Dr. Giovanni de Gioca, March 13, 1952)
A Court sentence of the Republican Italy (Pretoria de Vico Del Gargano, Repubblica Italiana sentence number 217/1949) corroborates the above-mentioned:
“(…) it’s IRRELEVANT if that Imperial family is no longer ruling FOR CENTURIES, because the deposition doesn’t harm the sovereign prerogatives even if the sovereign renounces, spontaneously, to the throne. In substance, in this case, the Sovereign does not cease to be King, even living in exile or IN PRIVATE LIFE (WITHOUT CLAIMING HIS SOVEREIGNTY), because his prerogatives are, itself, by birth and CANNOT BE EXTINGUISHED, but remains and may be transmitted in time, from generation to generation.”
From Professor Doctor W. Baroni Santos, Doctor D’Etat in Nobility Law at The University of Reims in France, in his book “Treaty of Heraldry / Nobility Law Vol. I, Book II, chapter I “Jurisprudence of Nobility” page 197:
“A “Chief of Name and Arms”, a title attributed to a Claimant, being by juris sanguinis (law of blood) “heir apparent” of a defunct throne, as long as has not formalized a voluntary act of resignation and acquiescence [formalized, not assumed or presumed] to the new political order of the state, according to the classic expression “subito la debellatio”, retains, in all its fullness, the sovereign prerogatives of Fons Honorum (Fountain of Honours) and Jus Majestatis (right to majestic dignity). It is, a fortiori, the source of nobility and honor, and may, without restrictions, create nobles and arm knights.”
According to the former president of the Italian (Supreme) Court of Cassation, Professor Doctor Renato de Francesco in 1959:
“… It’s simply ridiculous, from a legal point of view, the distinction intended to be done about Dynasties that have reigned until recently of those who ruled in the distant past. It’s not understandable how you can launch at the foot numerous pages of history, only to give luster to this or that family, who, aided by good luck, has managed to remain on the throne, after the year 1815. A Dynasty either reigned or not reigned. If reigned, even in very remote time, deserves the historical and legal treatment as a Dynasty and all its effects.”
Here is an extract from the book “Chivalry Orders and Nobility titles in Italy ” (Ordine Cavallereschi e titoli nobiliari in Italia), Basilio Petrucci, pg.87:
“So does the former King Umberto II of Savoy , once there was no ‘subito la debellatio, he conserves the royal prerogative in granting honorific titles of nobility and chivalry, along with other sovereigns of the former Italian and foreign states…”
Here is another extract from the book “Studies on Nobility Law” (Estudos sobre Direito Nobiliário), Dr. Mario Silvestre de Meroe, pg. 63:
“There outbreaks of political crises in front of which the monarch himself voluntarily accepted – sometimes even want to – that institutional rupture, expressly agreeing with the new order of things. In such cases, AND ONLY THOSE, he loses the dynastic rights, retaining only the princely qualities inherited and transmitted to their descendants, without, however, the attributes of ‘pretender’.”
Professor Emilio Furno, an eminent Italian jurist and scholar, former advocate in the Supreme Court of Appeal, writes as follows in “The Legitimacy of Non-National Orders“, Rivista Penale, No.1, January 1961, pp. 46-70:
“There are not a few judgments, civil and criminal, albeit some very recent, all of which tend as a rule to the acceptance of traditional principles re-enunciated not long since. The issue is that of innate nobility – “Jure Sanguinis” (right of blood) – which looks into the prerogatives known as “Jus Majestatis” and “Jus Honorum” and which argues that the holder of such prerogatives is a subject of international law with all the logical consequences of that situation. That is to say, a deposed sovereign may legitimately confer titles of nobility, with or without predicates, and the honorifics which pertain to his heraldic patrimony as head of his dynasty. The qualities which render a deposed Sovereign a subject of international law are undeniable and in fact constitute an absolute personal right of which the subject may never divest himself and which needs no ratification or recognition on the part of any other authority whatsoever. A reigning Sovereign or Head of State may use the term recognition in order to demonstrate the existence of such a right, but the term would be a mere declaration and not a constitutive act. (Furno, op.cit.).
“A notable example of this principle is that of the People’s Republic of Chinawhich for a considerable time was not recognized and therefore not admitted to the United Nations, but which nonetheless continued to exercise its functions as a sovereign state through both its internal and external organs.” (Furno, op.cit.).
The eminent author concludes:
“To sum up, therefore, the Italian judiciary, in those cases submitted to its jurisdiction, has confirmed the prerogatives “jure sanguinis” of a dethroned sovereign without any vitiation of its effects, whereby in consequence it has explicitly recognized the right to confer titles of nobility and other honorifics relative to his dynastic heraldic patrimony. “(Furno, op.cit.).
According to the above, the El Chemor/Gharios Familyfully retains the Royal Ghassanid titles satisfying the legal criteria since it’s proven their descent from the last Ghassanid King in male line in perfect accordance with the respective Arab Laws of Succession.
The second school of thought defends that royal heir only retain their sovereign rights if, and only if, they use their titles publicly and/or make diplomatic protests.
One of the great defenders of this theory is Dr. Stephen Kerr y Baca a former professor of public international law and human rights at Antioch School of Lawand legal advisor to the Habsburg family. In his book “The Entitlement to Rule: Legal, Non-Territorial Sovereignty in International Law” (Heritage International University, 2015 – ISBN: 978-0-692-02896-4) he explores all the legal nuances of the rights of dethroned families and formulates how the public use of the titles, that according to him consist in a form of diplomatic protest, would prevent the irreparable forfeiture of the sovereign rights.
Here we will quote excerpts to his book that are particularly interesting since they clearly show a legal parallel with the El Chemor/Gharios Family.
The Prescriptive Preservation of the Ancient Royal House of David
Maintaining royal rights and keeping them alive, according to the rules of prescription, can be easily discerned in the following case, which represents prescriptive preservation of deposed rights for almost a thousand years. It has been gleaned from what history is available to show that titles were used by a well-known deposed royal house, such that, their claim was never discarded, neglected or abandoned. From 970 B.C. to the coming of Christ in 1 A.D., the Davidic line was a dispossessed and did not rule or reign in the Holy Land. This loss of kingship was prophesied or foretold by the Prophet Hosea, who lamented for the sins of Israel and explained the result thereof, “For the children Israel shall abide many days [thousands of years] without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice. . . ,” etc. (Hosea 3:4) In other words, he considered that part of the curse of sin is to lose the great blessing and national benefit of having a royal house reigning in the midst of the people. Nevertheless, the House of David followed what perpetuates or keeps the non-territorial right alive according to natural law. The example is that:
Jesus [who was called the Christ] was in the most full and perfect sense a descendant of David, not only by law in the royal line of kings through his reputed father, but also in fact by direct personal descent through his mother.
The angel announced to his mother, Mary:
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1: 32-33)
Jesus the Christ was of the lineage of the ancient kingly line and the rightful heir of the family. However, to be the royal scion of a royal house is not enough. Titles of sovereign rank had to consistently used to legally and lawfully maintain a claim of sovereign royalty by a deposed house, which requirement was full achieved by the ruling line of the descendants of David. This was exemplified by the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was called “the son of David” seventeen times in the New Testament account. “Son of David” was a title. It did not merely mean a descendant of David, but is found elsewhere in Jewish tradition. It refers to the heir to the throne.
. . . Son of David was one of the most common Jewish titles . . . . It was a royal title denoting his lineage from the family of the Great King David and his right to re-establish and rule over the coming kingdom of God.
This title is similar to the French title “dauphin,” which was the title of the heir apparent to the throne in France. The title “son of David” was the de jure and rightful head and chief of the royal house of David. With the addition of “the” to the title, making it “the son of David,” it was the title of Jesus the Christ. It meant that he was the actual, legal and lawful king of all Israel.
Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, was also called “son of David,” in other words, heir to the throne holding dynastic or de jure succession rights. (Matthew 1:20) That is, “The scepter of Juda [the right to the throne] . . . came to Joseph by hereditary succession. . . .” According to Hammurabi’s Code, section 188, if a man teaches his adopted son a trade, the son is thereby confirmed in all the complete rights of heirship. As the adopted step-son of the Davidic heir to the crown of Judah and Israel, Jesus became the rightful heir after his father’s death.
Dr. James E. Talmage wrote:
Had Judah been a free and independent nation, ruled by her rightful sovereign, Joseph the carpenter would have been her crowned king; and his lawful successor to the throne would have been Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
Canon Girdlestone adds:
If the crown of David had been assigned to his successor in the days of Herod it would have been placed on the head of Joseph. And who would have been the legal successor to Joseph? Jesus of Nazareth. . . .
Not only was the regal and exalted title of the “son of David” used, but:
. . . The words “mother of my Lord” [spoken by Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist] point to Mary as a queen-mother figure [or personage of high royal status]. It has been noted in the royal court language of the Ancient Near East, the title “mother of my Lord” would have been used to address the queen mother of the reigning king (who himself is addressed as “my Lord;” 2 Samuel 24:21).
The royal line kept their de jure royal rights alive the same way international law requires today. Specifically it was through the continued use of royal titles, such as, using the royal title “son of David,” which was the equivalent of “prince of the royal Davidic line.”
“[This ruling office] was hereditary, passing directly from father to son in most but not all cases.”
Note the title of rightful kingship “the Son of David,” meant the heir to the throne.
Rightful sovereignty has been preserved intact for both of these sovereign entities for thousands of years.
Summarizing, Dr. Kerr y Baca defends that the use of the surname “Ben David” or “son of David” was enough to represent legally the use of the royal Davidic titles and claims therefore constituting a diplomatic protest necessary to preserve intact the sovereign claim for thousands of years according to international law.
The El Chemor/Gharios family did exactly the same thing. The Sheikhs El Chemor ascended to power in 1211 CE in Koura (today’s Lebanon) due to their genealogical direct descent to the Ghassanid Kings. They were known as “the descendants of King Chemor Jablah”, the last king of Ghassan. That’s the origin of the surname “Chemor” (other transliterations: Shamir, Shammar, Chemr, etc. ) since after the deposition of the last Ghassanid King in 636 CE his Royal descendants were known as “Bani Chemor” and the regular Ghassanid citizens as “Bani Ghassan”.
According to Dr. Kerr y Baca, that alone would be enough to keep the sovereign claim legally alive. However, the El Chemor family kept using the Royal title of “sui iuris” “Sheikh” until the present date. This title was recognized by the Ottoman empire until its demise in 1924 and also by the Lebanese republic since its inception until the present date being printed in Identification cards, driver’s licenses and passports. Therefore, there was never a time in history since the loss of the Ghassanid kingdom in 636 CE until the present day that the descendants of the last king didn’t use their titles and/or surnames in public. (IMPORTANT: there’s a difference between the Royal and the Noble Sheikhs in Lebanon, please see this article for a better understanding)
Photo: The grave of His Highness Sheikh Selim El Chemor (passed away 1909 CE, the great grandfather of HRH Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, honorary head of the Royal House of Ghassan), note that the royal title of Sheikh (in Arabic, upper right side) is on his tombstone, a capital proof that the family has been publicly using the ‘sui iuris’ titles for centuries until the present date. (Grave at the cemetery at the Mar Mama Ancient Church in Kferhata, Lebanon) Understand the legality of the titles here: https://royalblog.org/2017/12/26/the-sheikhs-el-chemor-a-legal-study-of-titles/
After everything presented, it’s extremely easy to conclude that the El Chemor/Gharios Family have preserved intact its sovereign legal rights and titles.