Studying dynastic and nobility law is very common to realize that each dynasty has its own rules that govern succession.
“Around the world, nations and ethnic groups use many different methods to determine the rules of inheritance, whether those rules apply to thrones or titles or to tangible and intangible property. Religion, history, politics, and law all play their part in determining which rules a population selects to make such choices. In those nations of Europe which have or have had monarchies, we can see many different choices, and we see the workings of all of these influences.” FROM AGNATIC SUCCESSION TO ABSOLUTE PRIMOGENITURE: THE SHIFT TO EQUAL RIGHTS OF SUCCESSION TO THRONES AND TITLES IN THE MODERN EUROPEAN CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY, Christine Alice Corcos, 2012 MICH. ST. L. REV. 1587
Usually, in the Middle East, the Royal Houses follow what’s known as “agnatic rotation” meaning that any male descendants from the last ruler can compete for the succession. By this method, succession doesn’t go only “down” in the family tree, meaning to the sons and daughters like in Europe, but it may go “sideways” to brothers and cousins or even “up” to uncles, etc. Primogeniture is not a necessary rule like in Europe, therefore, the actual position in the family tree is utterly irrelevant as long as the successor can prove that he belongs to that particular family in male line.
To learn more about the Middle Eastern laws of succession please, click HERE
The Royal Ghassanids and their lawful heirs, the Sheikhs El Chemor of Mount Lebanon, also followed the “agnatic rotation” system.
To learn more about the Ghassanid laws of succession please, click HERE
Important to notice that the El Chemor family has this name from the last king of Ghassan, Chemor (or Shummar, Shemir, Shemar, etc) Jablah VI Ibn Aiham (ruled 632-638 CE). Therefore, they were known as the “Chemori” or “the descendants of King Chemor”. King Jablah VI, has received the name “Chemor” from a tradition started by King Jabalah IV (ruled 518-528 CE) who was also known by the “kunya” or teknonymy of “Abu Chemor” (or “the father of Chemor“) referring to the eldest brother to King Al-Harith V, the most famous Ghassanid King of all times (ruled 529-569 CE).
“It is a reputed deep-rooted allegation that the heads of Al-Chemor tribe are rooted from Bani Chemor, who are the Christian Kings of Ghassan which belong to Al Jafna.” (Father Ignatios Tannos El-Khoury, Historical Scientific Research: “Sheikh El Chemor Rulers of Al-Aqoura (1211-1633) and Rulers of Al-Zawiye (1641-1747)”Beirut, Lebanon, 1948, p.38)
“The refugees of Al Ghassani and bani Chemor who seeked refuge to Al ‘Aqoura turned into Maronites because the town now only has Maronites Christians and because Al Chemor tribe are the princes and children of kings, the Maronites reigned them over the land where the document states that: “… and Al ‘Aqoura is their own village from a long time, they can do as they wish…” and Al Chemori family could have taken over the throne due to their relentless efforts, money or battles, no one knows.” (ibid p.42)
This is the history of the Chemor family Sheikhs who are feudal rulers, a genuine progeny of the sons of Ghassan kings of the Levant… one of the most decent, oldest and noblest families in Lebanon.” (ibid p.125)
To learn more about the 1948’s book about the El Chemor family, please click HERE
To learn more about the book’s recent scholarly validation, please click HERE
Also very important to notice that there are only two ancient families named Chemor/Shammar in the whole Middle East. One, has never set foot in Lebanese territory due to its background. They’re present in Iraq and the GCC countries, originating from the Tayy tribe and has Bedouin origin and is Muslim since its inception (its leader, Hatim Al-Tayy, have converted to Islam while Prophet Mohammad was still alive, therefore, before adopting the name “Shammar“). They have adopted to use the name Shammar/Shammari after the 14th century since they briefly inhabited the Jabal Shammar region. The El Chemor Sheikhs from Lebanon come from a sedentary Arab and Christian origin and it’s documented to use this name two centuries before the Bedouin tribe. When they’ve ruled the city of Akoura in 1211 CE they were already using the name Chemor/Shammar. There are no register of the Muslim Shammari family ever to even inhabited Mount Lebanon. Thus, by simple logic it’s easy to conclude that every family member of the El Chemor family belongs to the very same family and ancestry. The ramifications of the family only happened in the 18th and 19th centuries originating the Gharios, Habaki and Farhat families. So, there’s no need to be an expert genealogist or to hold a PhD in History to understand, again by simple logic, unless proven otherwise, that the legitimate members of these families can prove to belong to the El Chemor family by only evincing their connection to the last ancestor using the El Chemor last name, since going back to King Chemor Jablah it’s absolutely certain, since only his direct descendants that inhabited the Mount Lebanon – and none else – used this particular family name.
Of course, if we think in European terms, that might sound strange. How can we assert an unequivocal royal lineage simply by a surname? In Europe, there are dozens of families with the same surnames that are not even related. Also, by the restrictive European laws of succession (including Salic and semi-Salic laws, morganatic marriages, etc.) the observance of the particular position on the family tree is indispensable. Not in the Middle East, where the simple descent in male line from the last ruler is mandatory.
We also must compare the populations of Europe and Mount Lebanon.
– Mount Lebanon late 1500’s
150,000 people (including all religions)
(According to A.N. Poliak, see “Lebanon, a History 600-2011”, Oxford, 2012, William Harris, p.73)
– French Crown 16,250,000
– Holy Roman Empire 16,000,000
– Spanish Empire 8,550,000
– English Crown 2,750,000
– Portuguese Empire 3,000,000
– Papal States 2,000,000
– Kingdom of Naples 2,000,000
– Republic of Venice 1,500,000
– Republic of Florence 750,000
So, it’s obvious that in Mount Lebanon everyone knew the origins of this or that family, specially a prestigious and noble one.
Going even further, according to the Ottoman census:
- Mount Lebanon 1780’s around 300,000 (all religions)
- Mount Lebanon 1911 around 414,000 (all religions)
(see “Lebanon, a History 600-2011”, Oxford, 2012, William Harris, p. 166)
We mention here “all religions” since each and very sect in Lebanon have been keeping their history and customs separately. While in Europe you’ve only Christianity (even having Catholics and protestants), there’s a homogeneity.
So, it’s easy to conclude that it’s considerably simple to establish a royal line in the aforementioned scenario.
Usually, to claim a particular title of nobility, it’s necessary to prove the genealogical link to the last incumbent ruler or bearer of the title. Always following the particular laws of succession pertinent to that title. For example, although meticulously documented, by simple logic, in order to fundament Queen Elizabeth’s legal claim to the British throne she had to prove her connection to the last lawful ruler, her father king George VI. It would be utterly unnecessary for her to prove her genealogical link to Queen Victoria since her great grandfather king Edward VII did that to ascend the throne after Queen Victoria’s passing in 1901.
Still using the British Royal family as an example. It’s notorious that the family’s name was Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until 1917. King George V has decided to change the family’s name due to the anti-German sentiment in the UK derived from the WWI. Their choice was the name “Windsor” given after the homonymous English castle. Let’s assume hypothetically, that 200 years from now the Windsor family members will exponentially grow. If no other “Windsor family” is created until then would be absolute and logic to state that all of the bearers of the Windsor family name will be lawful descendants of the British royal family, unless proven otherwise. Absolutely no need for them to prove their genealogical link with William the Conqueror!
If any of those Windsor family members in the future desire to claim the British throne, they have to prove their link to the last incumbent ruler in harmony with the British laws of succession, meaning, by descent, gender (for people born before October 2011), legitimacy, and religion. Under common law, the Crown is inherited by a sovereign’s children or by a childless sovereign’s nearest collateral line.
Applying the very same principle, to claim the Ghassanid titles, it’s necessary to prove the genealogical link to the last incumbent ruler Sheikh Yousef El Chemor of Zgharta (ruled until 1747 CE) in harmony with the particular Ghassanid laws of succession, meaning “agnatic rotation”. In theory, in the case of the El Chemor family, to prove the genealogical link to the last incumbent ruler would be even a luxury since, by pure logic, all the male family members bearing the last name have the same ancestry and therefore are somehow related to Sheikh Yousef in male line since the middle eastern women always adopt the husband’s family name giving that name to their descendants.
Also important to mention that the El Chemor Sheikhs proved to the absolute satisfaction of the historians and authorities in the past their blood link to King Chemor Jablah since there’s absolutely no historical register of contestation, doubt or even rumor regarding this fact neither during the almost 500 years of reign in Akoura and Zgharta nor in the 300 subsequent years until the present day. Not a single line was written against this fact!
It’s undisputed and documented that El Chemor Sheikhs ruled in Mount Lebanon as a princely (sovereign) family from 1211-1633 CE in Akoura and 1641-1747 CE in Zgharta-Zawye in northern Lebanon. In 1747 CE, it’s known that the Ottoman Empire deposed the El Chemor Sheikhs after a nefarious deal with the Daher Sheikhs installing them with all the El Chemor’s lands and possessions. Hence, due to the persecution of the Ottoman Empire and the constant wars in Lebanon until 2006, some of the names and details of the first El Chemor rulers were lost or deliberately destroyed by the Druzes and by the “Young Turks’” regime under the orders of Jamal Pasha in the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. However, as explained herein, there’s absolutely no possibility that every single El Chemor ruler doesn’t belong to the exact same family and ancestry!
To learn more about the Ottoman Empire/Jamal Pasha’s plan to erase Christianity from the Middle East, please click HERE
Even in Europe, where the genealogical registers are a lot more complete and considerably easier to research, it’s known that’s extremely difficult to find genealogical evidence prior to the 1600’s.
Due to the persecution to Christians in Mount Lebanon that started in the end of the 19th century, where around 10,000 Christians were killed by the Druzes during inter-communal violence in 1860 through the horrors of WWI where over 100,000 people in Beirut and Mount Lebanon have died of starvation during World War I, many descendants of the El Chemor family left Mount Lebanon specially to Brazil, although a very different culture and language for the Lebanese, it was a known safe haven for Christians. But the very few that stayed in Lebanon kept the titles and traditions. The most senior El Chemor’s genealogical line (in primogeniture) is the descendants of Sheikh Antonios Michael El Chemor (1910-1971), the honorary founder of the modern Royal House of Ghassan. His eldest son Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, the heir of the El Chemor palace in Kferhata with his two brothers Prince Sheikh Khalil and Prince Sheikh Michel, is the current “honorary” head of the Royal House of Ghassan with Prince Gharios El Chemor, the “executive” head following the Roman-Byzantine “co-emperorship principle” adopted by the Ghassanid Kings centuries ago. Therefore, the Royal House has one head by the agnatic-rotation principle and the other by primogeniture with mutual recognition.
One might argue the legitimacy of using the Ghassanid titles. That’s easily explained by the fact that the El Chemor Sheikhs were respected and ascended to the throne in Akoura in 1211 CE due to the Royal blood link with the Kings of Ghassan. Also, that this fact was universally accepted until the deposition in 1747 CE or it wouldn’t survive the test of time. It can be added that it’s perfectly permissible and accepted to Princes to use old titles, even outdated in usage like the head of the French Orleanist branch of the royal house of France, Prince Henry adopting the title of “Count of Paris” or the head of the Bourbon family, Prince Louis XX using the title of “Duke of Anjou”. Both titles were not of common usage for both heads of the French Royal branches.
According to one of the forefathers of international law, Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations or the Principles of Natural Law, 1758 CE:
“BOOK 2, CHAPTER 3
Of the Dignity and Equality of Nations: of Titles and Other Marks of Honor
§ 42. Whether a sovereign may assume what title and honors he pleases.
If the conductor of the state is sovereign, he has in his hands the rights and authority of the political society; and consequently he may himself determine what title he will assume, and what honors shall be paid to him, unless these have been already determined by the fundamental laws, or that the limits which have been set to his power manifestly oppose such as he wishes to assume. His subjects are equally obliged to obey him in this as in whatever he commands by virtue of a lawful authority. Thus, the Czar Peter I., grounding his pretensions on the vast extent of his dominions, took upon himself the title of emperor.”
The examples in the Middle East are also extensive where many sovereign Sheikhs have decided to use Royal titles like His Majesty King Abdullah I of Jordan who was originally the Emir of Transjordan and his ancestors were Sheriffs of Meca; or His Highness Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, was the 12th Hakim of Bahrain. His son, His Highness Sheikh Isa II bin Salman II Al Khalifa, changed the title to “Emir of Bahrain” in 1971 and his son, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has changed the title again in 2002 from Emir (prince) to Malik (king).
The usage of the Arab title “Emir” or “Amir” (means “commander”, “general”, or “prince”) is a little different from the European use. A sovereign ruler using the title “Sheikh” or even “Hakim” is an “Emir” ‘per se‘ (intrinsically). In other words, even if the title is not openly used, it’s definitely implied. That tradition is what makes so natural for the aforementioned rulers to “update” their titles. Actually in Lebanon, the word “Hakim” represented the “sovereign” or “semi-sovereign” status more than “Emir“. That being the reason why the rulers of Lebanon used the title “El-Emir El-Hakim” and not only “El-Emir“.
Also, the title “Sheikh” is a royal (sovereign) title by definition. It’s only a noble title (not royal) when bestowed by a higher authority. In other words, when a commoner family is elevated to nobility by a sovereign or semi-sovereign ruler. In Lebanon we have the example of the El-Khazen Sheikhs. The illustrious family have received the title from the Prince Fakhr-al-Din II in 1584 CE. That doesn’t apply to the El Chemor Sheikhs who were known as such by the Royal Blood link to King Chemor Jablah and for ruling sovereignly and semi-sovereignly the Sheikhdom (principality) of Akoura and Zgharta from 1211-1747 CE.
To learn more about the Ghassanid Imperial titles, please, click HERE
We also have to add that the El Chemor, as the Ghassanid Kings, were absolute rulers. In other words, they didn’t have any constitutional obedience but the obligation of following the Christian religion. All the rules followed by the dynasty were originating from the pre-Islamic Arab tribal customs enriched by the Roman-Byzantine influence.
To learn more about the legal rights of the El Chemor/Gharios family, please click HERE
To learn more about the Royal House of Ghassan, please click HERE