On the 16th and 17th of July, in Amman, capital of Jordan, HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemormet with two representatives from the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Mr. Yousif Buzaboon is the chairman of the Bahrain Society for Religious Coexistence & Tolerance and Dr. Abdulatif Al Khaja, member of the board of the same society , also known Middle Eastern diplomat and executive of several companies in the countries of the GCC .
Prince Gharios El Chemor offered the visitors a dinner at the Little Italy restaurant, one of the best Italian restaurants in the Middle East. Meetings resumed at the Sheraton Hotel in Amman.
The purpose of the meetings is the attempt to create a cooperation between the Royal House of Ghassan with all its organizations, the Bahrain Society for Religious Coexistence & Tolerance and the Kingdom of Bahrain. The scope of this cooperation is the establishment of an official annual event to be held in Bahrain and a practical yearly agenda to promote effective tolerance and coexistence in the Middle East.
The Syrian (Syriac) Orthodox Church was the original denomination of the Ghassanids until the 7th Century. With the fall of the first Ghassanid State in Syria and Jordan, many Ghassanids fled to today’s Lebanon and also to the Byzantine empire (today’s Turkey). The Royal family ended up adhering to the mainstream Orthodox denomination living in the Byzantine Empire. In the 9th century, the second Ghassanid ruling happened with emperor Nikephoros I in 802 CE. In Mount Lebanon, the family kept the Syriac Orthodox roots. However, the monks of Mar Maroun (Saint Maroun) monastery decided in the 7th century to create a new Patriarchate and that was how the Ghassanids became Maronite. Because of the obedience of the Maronites to the Pope in Rome and the absence of a Maronite church in Curitiba (Brazil) where Prince Gharios’ family was settled in exile, he ended up becoming Roman Catholic.
As part of a very successful trip to Istanbul, HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor and his delegation have visited the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan and Patriarchal Vicar for Istanbul and Ankara His Excellency Mor Filiksinos Yusuf Çetin. In the end of the audience, Prince Gharios was Blessed by the Metropolitan in his mission protecting the Christians in the Middle East.
HIRH Prince Gharios El-Chemor had an official audience with His All Holiness Bartholomew I the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinoplein Istanbul, Turkey. His All Holiness is the highest in honor (“first among equals”) between all of the Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church representing over 300 million faithful. The two hours long conversation was focused on the history of the Ghassanid and Nikephorian (Byzantine empire) Dynasties which HIRH Prince Gharios is the legal heir and, of course, the main topic was the survival of the Christians in the Middle East and Prince Gharios’ proposal of the Council of Oriental Christians. During the visit, Prince Gharios and the delegation composed by the scholar and protestant bishop Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, PhD, Mr. Martin Warnecke (both from Germany) and Pastor Dr. Behnan Konutgan (from Turkey) were invited for a special luncheon with the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Synod of Bishops.
Prince Gharios was honored by the personal Patriarchal Blessing. Historically in Christianity, only the Patriarchs of Rome (Pope) and Constantinople may grant and recognize imperial titles (see Royal and Republican Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge University Press, pg.360)
HIRH Prince Gharios and the delegation were listed as official visitors HERE
For the second consecutive year, HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor was one of the honor guests of the 21st edition of the Shabeeb Cultural Festival held on the 7th, 8th and 9th of July at the historical Roman Theater in Amman, Jordan.
The event was under the patronage of HRH Princess Sana Asem of Jordan and under the executive direction of HE Sharifa Bodur Bint Abdulilah. Sharifa Bodur is a great promoter of culture and charity being also honorary member of the board of the Royal House of Ghassan NGO and Prince Gharios’ personal friend.
The festival is an initiative of the Shabeeb association for culture and arts which the Honorary president is HRH Princess Alia Bint Hussein, the eldest daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan. The association is successfully presided by HE Sharifa Bodur.
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) was may be one of the greatest rulers of all times. He hired a servant with the sole task of walking behind him as he received the accolades of his citizenry; every time the emperor was praised, the servant had been instructed to whisper in his ear, “You’re just a man…” Even being the most powerful man on the planet in his time, he was known as a kind and unpretentious person.
In my humble opinion, a title of nobility 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 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.
How could I dare to assume that I’m better than, for example, a fireman that saves lives (risking his own) every day for a minuscule paycheck just because I’ve a title? Nonsense.
The general people misunderstand the concept of Royalty. The sovereign (reigning or not) is the ultimate servant.
Two stories from the Brazilian Empire illustrate exactly my idea of Royalty:
Brazil was an empire from 1822 until 1889. The last emperor was Petrus II “the magnanimous” (1825-1891) known as the “greatest Brazilian”. His life taught me the real meaning of royalty. One day, he was receiving ovation from thousands in a public square and his then small daughter and heir, imperial princess Isabel asked the emperor: “one day they will all be mine?” And he wisely replied: “no dear, one day you will belong to them.”
In 1888, the Princess now an adult and acting as regent, signs the law abolishing slavery in Brazil. She did it even after all the imperial ministers advised her that she’d lose the throne of her father if she signed it, since that was a terrible blow in the Brazilian’s elite back then. After the signing, the Baron of Cotegipe approached the princess and said: “You’ve freed a race but just lost the throne!” And she replied: “If a thousand thrones I’ve had, a thousand thrones I’d give to free the slaves of Brazil!”
That’s the real meaning of royalty to me.
A prince is not noble merely by the legitimacy of his claims but, above all, by his character and by the unconditional love for his people.
A title from a deposed monarchy has little use in our world today. Socially, is more a bother, raising questions and jokes, than actually a privilege. There are better ways to get a good table in a restaurant or to be invited to cool parties.
The reason I’m keeping this tradition is simple: the world is lacking of historical secular advocates for the cause of the Middle Eastern Christians and they’re being exterminated as you read these words. There must be a worldwide enduring peace between Christians and Muslims. Also, because there’s a legacy that has to be preserved and that heritage belongs to over 15 million Ghassanids and descendants all over the world.
My office is important, my person isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not humble at all. You’ve to be really arrogant to think you can change the world. But I agree with the late Steve Jobs on the quote:
“the ones crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
I hope I’m “insane enough”…
There’s a popular saying which states that the difference between the insane and the genius is measured only by success.
Well, the future will tell…
Now, on a more serious tone, I believe one day, if the persecution of the Middle Eastern Christians stops, also the prejudice for Muslims in the west and the real history of the Middle East can surface being notorious worldwide preserving the Ghassanid heirloom, maybe then will be no need for a Prince of Ghassan. I really hope to live enough to see this day.
The Ghassanid Imperial address is object of interest of the historians, jurists and also people curious about the etymology of dynastic titles
Although not very commented and notorious, the historical information and evidence are very abundant confirming that initially the Ghassanid rulers, even though already Kings by their own right, have received the title of “Basileus” which back in the 6th century CE was the official title of the emperor himself.
About the “Basileus” title:
“Basileus and Megas Basileus were exclusively used by Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors in Ptolemaic Egypt, Asia (e.g. the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon and by non-Greek, but Greek-influenced states like the Kingdom of Pontus) and Macedon. The feminine counterpart is basilissa (queen), meaning both a queen regnant (such as Cleopatra VII of Egypt) and a queen consort. It is precisely at this time that the term basileus acquired a fully royal connotation, in stark contrast with the much less sophisticated earlier perceptions of kingship within Greece.”Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), “The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (Dumbarton Oaks) 32: 66–67, JSTOR 1291418
“By the 4th century however, basileus was applied in official usage exclusively to the two rulers considered equals to the Roman Emperor: the Sassanid Persian Shahan shah (“king of kings”), and to a far lesser degree the King of Axum, whose importance was rather peripheral in the Byzantine worldview.”Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), “The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (Dumbarton Oaks) 32: 35, 42, JSTOR 1291418
“… the title acquired the connotation of “emperor“, and when barbarian kingdoms emerged on the ruins of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, their rulers were referred to in Greek not as basileus but as rēx or rēgas, the hellenized forms of the Latin title rex, king.”Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, p. 264, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
“Until the 9th century, the Byzantines reserved the term Basileus among Christian rulers exclusively for their own emperor in Constantinople.”Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), “The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (Dumbarton Oaks) 32: 52–57, JSTOR 1291418
Unfortunately, there’s some confusion regarding the early Ghassanid titles. Many authors, for lack of information and interest in study the Ghassanid history in depth, have confused and mixed the numerous Ghassanid titles altogether: “Al-Malik Al-Ghassassinah” (from the Arab “King of the Ghassanids”), “Basileus Araves” (from the Greek “Emperor of all Arabs”), Phylarch, Archphylarch, etc.
Some authors even try to use the term “Chieftain” in the pejorative way. The most common mistake is to call the Ghassanid Kings merely as “Phylarchs”.
“A phylarch (Greek: φύλαρχος, Latin: phylarchus) is a Greek title meaning “ruler of a tribe”, from phyle, “tribe” + archein “to rule”. In Classical Athens, a phylarch was the elected commander of the cavalry provided by each of the city’s ten tribes. In the later Roman Empire of the 4th to 7th centuries, the title was given to the leading princes of the Empire’s Arab allies in the East (essentially the equivalent to “sheikh”), both those settled within the Empire and outside. From ca. 530 to ca. 585, the individual phylarchs were subordinated to a supreme phylarch from the Ghassanid dynasty.”Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press. p. 1672. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
Here is also important to make a reference regarding the title “Sheikh”.
Sheikh also transliterated Sheik, Shaik, Shayk, Shaykh, Shaikh, Cheikh, and Shekh— is a noble and honorific title in the Arabic culture. Commonly designates a hereditary ruler of a tribe or people. The title is given to a royal male at birth, whereas the related title “Sheikha” is given to a royal female at birth. The title “Sheikh” also has a religious connotation being given to prominent Islamic leaders or clerics, which is not our focus here. The word literally means “a man of great power and nobility”, and it is used strictly for the royal families of the middle east. The title means: leader, elder, or noble. However, there are many degrees of “Sheikh”. It goes from a non-sovereign, non-dynastic Ottoman tax collector or a leader of small Bedouin tribe to the prince of a nation, like the UAE, Bahrain, etc. Hence, a Sheikh from a sovereign or semi-sovereign ruling family is the equivalent of a prince.
Here’s also important to mention the principle of sovereign equivalency. Although there are differences in Royal rank (with merely honorific meaning), the Prince of Monaco is as sovereign as the Emperor of Japan or the Queen of the United Kingdom.
But “Sheikh” was not the title given to the Ghassanid Kings. According to Professor Irfan Shahid:
“The title awarded to the Ghassanid Ruler or Chief by his own people was neither Patricius nor Phylarch but king (Malik). The title, established beyond doubt by Procopius is confirmed by the contemporary poetry of Hassan and of later poets who continued this authentic tradition.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2 part 2 pg.164
“The dignity of king in Procopius had been sharply differentiated from the “Supreme Phylarchate” (archyphilarchia), with which Arethas was endowed …” Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 103
“The dignity of king was not new to the Ghassanids; they had brought it with them from the Arabian Peninsula where its assumption by a Ghassanid ruler is attested in a Sabaic inscription. When the Ghassanids appeared on the stage of Byzantine history, their chiefs, such as Tha’laba and Harith had already been kings to their subjects.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.104
In 528 CE, emperor Justinian I bestowed upon King Al-Harith VI (Arethas in Greek sources) the aforementioned title of “Basileus” which, as cited, signified at that period the same as emperor.
“The old Basileia (kingship) was confirmed by the byzantine emperor; the new one was bestowed by him…”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.104
“In the case of the Ghassanids it was a confirmation and an extension of the royal tradition that the Ghassanids had had and which they had brought with them from south Arabia.”(Ibid p.111)
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an empire is:
“a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority; especially: one having an emperor as chief of state”
The “Basileus Araves” or “the Emperor of the Arabs”ruled over many tribes in addition to the Ghassanid people.
“These were included in the phrase in Procopius that spoke of the elevation of Arethas to the Archyphilarchia and the Basileia: ‘as many tribes as possible placed under his command’.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 2, part 1, 1995, p. 51
Traditionally, each tribe was sovereign or semi-sovereign, having its own autonomous ruler. By simple logic that would make the bestowed “Basileia” an imperial title to all of the Arabs allied to the Byzantine empire.
“And though the Ghassanid King was the head of what we would today call a client state, he and the [byzantine] emperor met on equal footing – as comrades in arms – discussing matters of earthshaking and less-than-earthshaking importance.”Gene Gurney, “Kingdoms of Asia, the Middle east and Africa”, 1986, p.70
Here, the Ghassanid vassalage also has to be explained.
“Feudal Vassalage. So, also, tributary states, and those subject to a kind of feudal dependence or vassalage, are still considered as sovereign, unless their sovereignty is destroyed by their relation to other states. Tribute… does not necessarily affect sovereignty …, nor does the acknowledgement of a nominal vassalage or feudal dependency.”Henry Wager Halleck, Elements of international law and laws of war p.44
” . . . the mere fact of dependence or feudal vassalage and payment of tribute, or of occasional obedience, or of habitual influence, does not destroy, although it may greatly impair, the sovereignty of the state so situated.”(Ibid. p. 188)
According to one of the Forefathers of International Law, Emmerich de Vattel in his book, “Law of Nations”:
BOOK I – CHAP. I.
OF NATIONS OR SOVEREIGN STATES
5. States bound by unequal alliance. We ought, therefore, to account as sovereign states those which have united themselves to another more powerful, by an unequal alliance, in which, as Aristotle says, to the more powerful is given more honour, and to the weaker, more assistance. The conditions of those unequal alliances may be infinitely varied, but whatever they are, provided the inferior ally reserve to itself the sovereignty, or the right of governing its own body, it ought to be considered as an independent state, that keeps up an intercourse with others under the authority of the law of nations.
6. Or by treaties of protection. Consequently, a weak state, which, in order to provide for its safety, places itself under the protection of a more powerful one, and engages, in return, to perform several offices equivalent to that protection, without however divesting itself of the right of government and sovereignty, – that state, i say, does not, on this account, cease to rank among the sovereigns who acknowledge no other law than that of nations.
. . .
8. Of feudatory states. The Germanic nations introduced another custom – that of requiring homage from a state either vanquished, or too weak to make resistance. Sometimes even, a prince has given sovereignties in fee, and sovereigns have voluntarily rendered themselves feudatories to others. When the homage leaves independency and sovereign authority in the administration of the state, and only means certain duties to the lord of the fee, or even a mere honorary acknowledgment, it does not prevent the state or the feudatory prince being strictly sovereign. the king of Naples pays homage for his kingdom to the pope, and is nevertheless reckoned among the principal sovereigns of Europe…”
The Ghassanid vassalage was limited to honorific homage and military alliance. Not even financial tribute or taxes were paid to Constantinople, on the contrary, a “salaria” or salary was paid to the Ghassanid kings so they could pay the Arab armies. Therefore, no harm to the Ghassanid sovereignty.
Such imperial bestowal to the Ghassanid King was so colossal and magnanimous that was criticized by Greek historian Procopius, a harsh critic of Arabs and especially the Ghassanid kings:
” . . . the Basileia (kingship) conferred by Justinian on Arethas takes a new meaning, one which Procopius’ comment that is something that ‘among the Romans (both western and eastern – byzantine) had never been done before‘…”(Ibid)
The imperial bestowal was very well documented being corroborated by hard evidence as the Usays inscription.
“The (Usays) inscription is considered to be the most important Arabic inscription of the sixth century, the second most important of all the pre-Islamic Arab inscriptions as a historical document.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 117
“But the strongest evidence [of the imperial bestowal] is supplied by contemporary epigraphy — the Usays Inscription carved by one of [King] Arethas commanders, Ibn Al-Mughira, who refers to him around A.D. 530 as Al-Malik, the King. There is also no doubt that the Ghassanid Arethas was dressed as a King on important occasions in Ghassanland, since the poet laureate of later times underscores his own eminent position among his Ghassanid patrons by nothing that he used to sit not far from their crowned head.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2 part 2 pg.164
“Contemporary documents reflect the contrast between the two Basileiai (kingships). In Simeon, Jabala is termed as ‘King of The Ghassanids’, in Usays inscription Arethas is called simply ‘The King’, possibly indicating the extension of the Basileia (kingship) over non-Ghassanids including the person who sets up the inscription.”(Ibid)
Also important to mention that the title of “Emperor of the Arabs” – wrongly called “king of the Arabs” by some authors – was subsequently confirmed by at least two other byzantine emperors. King Al-Mundhir ibn Al-Harith in 580 CE by Emperor Tiberius II Constantine (Justinian Dynasty /ruled 578-582 CE); and King Jabla ibn Al-Ayham by Emperor Heraclius (Heraclian Dynasty / ruled 610-641 CE). (See John A. Shoup, Culture and Customs of Jordan, pg. xvii)
It’s known by academia that the Ghassanid Dynasty ruled many realms in direct male line after the fall of the first State until 1747 CE. (See Ignatious Tannos Khoury, The Sheikhs Chemor rulers of Akoura (1211-1633 CE) and rulers of Zawie (1641-1747 CE)” Beirut, Lebanon, 1948)
“After the disappearance of the Ghassanid state, isolated Ghassanian Princes continued to reign in some oases and castles, along with Salihids and some other phylae.”Bowesock/Brown/Grabar “Late Antiquity” –, Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 469
Certainly, the most noteworthy of those reigns was the Byzatine Empire in the 9th Century CE.
“Although little is known of Jabala’s activities after his emigration to Anatolia, his place in the history of the Ghassanids in the Middle Byzantine period is important, since it was he who established a strong Ghassanid presence in Byzantine Anatolia, one which lasted for many centuries. The climax of this presence was the elevation of one of his descendants to the purple and his establishment of a short-lived dynasty which might be described as the House of Nicephorus.” “Ghassan post Ghassan” by Prof. Irfan Shahid, Festschrift “The Islamic World – From classical to modern times”, for Bernard Lewis, Darwin Press l989, pg. 325
“Nicephorus (A.D. 802-11) was a descendant of the Ghassanid [King] Jabala.” (Ibid.)
This assertion was even stronger not merely citing the King Jabala as ancestor, but the eponym of the Royal Ghassanid Dynasty using the name of King Jafna, the founder of the Ghassanid Kingdom. Therefore, we can conclude that Emperor Nicephorus (or Nikephoros) was not only citing his ascendancy but by using the term “Jafna” he was claiming to be the head of the Ghassanid Dynasty.
“…This valuable information comes from Tabari; see Tarik (Cairo, 1966), VIII, 307, when he speaks of [King] Jafna, the eponym of the Ghassanids, rather than [King] Jabala.” (Ibid. pg.334)
For all of the aforementioned, the Ghassanid Dynasty has the imperial dignity not only once, but three times. First, in 528 CE receiving it from the highest emperor of those times, the Byzantine; second by being elevated to that very throne in 802 CE and third by being recognized as “Ceasars” (emperors) and Masters of Rhodes in 1203 CE.
Important to mention that the legal existence of those titles today is not due to an ancient link to a monarchy that ended fourteen centuries ago but through the a Princely Family (El-Chemor) that reigned until the 18th century in Zgharta-Zawie (currently Lebanon) and was recognized as the lawful heir of those Ghassanid titles by the Ottoman empire until its end in 1924 and is also recognized by the Lebanese republic until today. Please, click on the link to an official 2014’s article (in Arabic) from the Lebanese Government News’ Agency (Lebanese Republic – Ministry of Information) mentioning the titles and validating the book written in 1947 about the family’s history. http://nna-leb.gov.lb/ar/show-report/371/