HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Numan VIII was recently appointed as “Member of Honor” of the Balear Institute of History, a traditional organization established in the Kingdom of Spain. The institute’s president is His Excellency Dr. Jaime de Ferra y Gisbert, a “Gentleman of His Holiness“. The Papal title, that refers to a lay servant to the Pope, serving in the Apostolic Palace near St. Peter’s Basilica in ceremonial positions, such as escorting dignitaries during state visits and other important occasions. The position is a successor to the earlier position of papal chamberlain, that existed prior to 1968. To be appointed is an honor.
We’ve already covered here the fact that the Arab Royal laws of succession are different than the European in many ways, specially by a fundamental point: the principle of primogeniture.
Primogeniture (English: /praɪməˈdʒɛnɪtʃər/) is the right, by law or custom, of the paternally acknowledged, firstborn son to inherit his parent’s entire or main estate, in preference to daughters, elder illegitimate sons, younger sons and collateral relatives. The son of a deceased elder brother inherits before a living younger brother by right of substitution for the deceased heir. In the absence of any children, brothers succeed, individually, to the inheritance by seniority of age (subject to substitution). Among siblings, sons inherit before daughters. In the absence of male descendants in the male-line, there are variations of primogeniture which allocate the inheritance to a daughter or a brother or, in the absence of either, to another collateral relative, in a specified order (e.g. male-preference primogeniture, Salic primogeniture, semi-Salic primogeniture). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primogeniture
That was never accepted in the Arab monarchies until very recently.
“Middle Eastern monarchical systems have established various methods of choosing which among the eligible princes will rule.” (Michael Herb, All in the family: absolutism, revolution, and democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies, p. 27)
According to one the foremost scholars in Middle eastern history and Professor Emeritus of Princeton University, USA, Professor Bernard Lewis:
“… the dynastic principle and the practice of hereditary succession remained powerful, deep-rooted, and virtually universal in the Islamic Middle East. Even in the nomadic tribes, the shaikh is normally chosen from among the members of one family, who have a recognized hereditary claim to the headship of the tribe and very often to the custody of some sacred place or object—the palladium or ark of the covenant, so to speak. Similar practices may be observed also among Iranian and Turkic nomads. The principle of primogeniture—of succession from father to eldest son in the direct—is a European idea. It was not accepted among the ancient Arabs, and it never took root in the great Muslim dynastic empires. Descent in the male line from the founding and the ruling families was the sole requirement. The most usual practice was for the ruler to designate his successor, choosing whichever of his uncles, brothers, nephews, or sons might be the most suitable. Sometimes the ruler might designate more than one in line, though this was neither usual nor required.” From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, By Bernard Lewis, Oxford 2004, p. 96
Since the time of the ancient Arab tribes, we see a system called “rotation”. Usually, the heir to the throne was selected from among the King’s male descendants for his qualities, such as: physical force, nobility (if the prince was descended from another Royal line from his mother, it would make him more fit for the throne: even the King’s direct sons could come from different mothers) and also the most intelligent and popular prince among the people.
In succession based on “rotation”, all (male) members of the dynasty are entitled to the monarchy.
“In Europe, where dynasties flourished, succession was once determined by a show of strength among a ruler’s sons. In time, however, it reverted to primogeniture, in which a ruler’s oldest male descendant acceded to the throne. For a variety of reasons, chiefly because of religious and tribal traditions, Primogeniture has not developed among Arabian dynasties in quite the same way, because under Shariah law, all sons of a man are equal and legitimate, even if they were born from illegitimate marriages. Moreover, in pre-Islamic tribal norms, while the throne could have passed from one generation to the next within a particular family, it was not necessarily passed from father to son. Rather the authority also fell to a ruler’s brother, uncle, or cousin, depending on which of these oldest male relatives was seen to possess ‘ the qualities of nobility; skill in arbitration; hazz or ‘good fortune’; and leadership ’ “. (Joseph A. Kechichian, “Succession in Saudi Arabia”, 2001, p.10)
“No firm principle specified which member of the ruling family had the right to rule.” (Michael Herb, All in the family: absolutism, revolution, and democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies, p. 22)
The same principle was not only limited to the Arab Dynasties, but also the great majority in the Middle East.
“In the Ottoman Empire after 1617 the eldest living male of the dynasty succeeded, though this was not formalized legally.” (Alderson, “The Structure of the Ottoman Dynasty“, 12-13. J.C. Hurewitz reviews succession across the Middle Eastern empires in “Middle East politics: the military dimension”, 18-27)
Again, that’s a common pattern for all the Middle East.
“In vain would it be to establish here the succession of the eldest son; the Prince [King] might always choose another as every Prince of the royal family has an equal capacity to be chosen, hence it follows that the Prince who ascends the throne strangles immediately his brothers [once they all compete equally for the succession], as in Turkey; or put out their eyes, as in Persia; or bereaves them of their understanding as in the Mogul’s country,” (Nathan J. Brown, Constitutions in a nonconstitutional world: Arab basic laws, p.12 citing Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1748), The Spirit of Laws, Book V)
“In Arabia [Arabic monarchies], all males within the ruling sublineages of the families have a theoretic right to the rulership. In practice, the succession generally goes to those whose fathers ruled (though not necessarily to the sons of the most recent ruler). These general guidelines leave a large number of shayks [Sheikhs] and princes eligible, especially if, as in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait [as in Ghassan], the succession has moved laterally to brothers and cousins instead of directly to the ruler’s sons.” (Michael Herb, All in the family: absolutism, revolution, and democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies, p. 26, 27)
Even today, the only country to adopt legally the principle of primogeniture is the Kingdom o Bahrain.
“Alone among the Gulf ruling families, the Al Khalifa pass the succession according to a fixed rule. The constitution specifies that the eldest son of the ruler shall succeed him.” (Michael Herb, All in the family: absolutism, revolution, and democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies, p. 132)
But even in Bahrain, the Constitution says that:
“… the Amir (ruler), during his lifetime, can appoint a different son as Crown Prince [successor]” (Section 1, Article 1).
That’s in perfect harmony with the standards of the Arab monarchies.
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However, what many people don’t know is that the island was ruled by Ghassanid sovereignsfor 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 Leoheld 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.
Coin of Emperor Leo Gabalas
Coin of ruler John Gabalas
It’s also known that Leo’s brother and successor John Gabalas ruled the island until the Nicaean annexation (around 1250 CE).
His Grace is widely recognized for his extensive advocacy work. As a result he was conferred with the honor of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen, for ‘Services to International Religious Freedom’. He has also been conferred with the Lambeth Cross for Ecumenism by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Coventry Cross of Nails for Reconciliation. With a pastoral ministry spanning two decades, Bishop Angaelosalso specializes in youth ministry and travels extensively around the world to speak at youth conferences and conventions.
Nayrouz or Neyrouz is a feast when martyrs and confessors are commemorated within the Coptic Orthodox Church. The Feast of Neyrouz also marks the first day of the Coptic year.
Joining members of the Coptic community at the service were international royalty, members of the House of Lords, the Office of the Prime Minister, House of Commons, the Foreign Commonwealth Office, the Diplomatic Corps, the Home Office, humanitarian and advocacy organisations, and various ecumenical, and inter-religious guests. Also, several bishops and priests from different denominations have helped Bishop Anagelos to celebrate the service.
Messages from Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury, were read.
Addresses were also delivered by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, The Lord Alton of Liverpool, The Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales and The Right Honourable Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and Minister of State for International Development.
Monsignor Karcher was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is one of the responsible for the Pontifical Protocol being very close to Pope Francis. The Monsignor has a brilliant carrier in the Vatican Secretary of State being serving in the Roman Curia for many years.
Prince Gharioshas honored Monsignor Karcher not only for his impeccable carrier serving the Church but also in gratitude for his always kind attitude and assistance being such a gracious host every time the prince visits Rome.