Prince Gharios El Chemor attends event at the UN in NY

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HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor attending the Town Hall meeting with the UN Secretary General

The Royal House of Ghassan was accredited by the United Nations ECOSOC with the Special Consultative Status in 2016. Since then, HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan has been following all the major UN’s agendas and last week has participated on the 62nd edition of the Commission on Status of Women at the UN headquarters in New York.

His Royal Highness, an avid defender of women’s equality, has participated in several meetings. One of the events’ highlights was the Town Hall meeting with His Excellency the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

More about the Royal House of Ghassan HERE
More about HRH Prince Gharios El Chemor HERE

What makes a family “Royal”?

Royal-Family-665174
The British Royal Family, the most famous and prestigious in the world

A royal family is the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family. The term imperial family appropriately describes the family of an emperor or empress, and the term papal family describes the family of a pope, while the terms baronial family, comital family, ducal family, grand ducal family, or princely family are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning baron, count, duke, grand duke, or prince. However, in common parlance members of any family which reigns by hereditary right are often referred to as royalty or “royals.” It is also customary in some circles to refer to the extended relations of a deposed monarch and his or her descendants as a royal family“. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_family

Just being related to a King or Queen doesn’t make a family necessarily royal or eligible to a royal title. Specially in Europe where is estimated that around 80% of the population descends from some European sovereign.

In the end, it all depends on the particular laws of succession of each Royal family.

For example, British Queen Elizabeth II‘s eldest grandson Peter Phillips (firstborn son of HRH Princess Royal Anne born in 1977) doesn’t even have a royal title due to the British Laws of succession. Although obviously considered to be part of the Royal Family,  he’s called just “master” and is currently the 13th in line to the British throne, however, no title. His cousin HRH Prince William was born in 1982 but due to those laws of succession has a royal title and is the 2nd in line to the throne. In contrast, the Saudi Royal family has thousands of princes due to their particular laws of succession since just the descent from a ruler entitles them to a royal title.

Still in the Middle East, if you ask any Lebanese, even historians, who’s “royal” for them, they’ll immediately think of the princely families that ruled the whole Mount Lebanon under the Ottoman empire (i.e. Shuf Emirate, Emirate of Jabal Druze, Emirate of Mount Lebanon, as well as Ma’an Emirate)

However, the Thesaurus’ definition of the word “Royal” is

of or relating to a king, queen, or other sovereign

But what does “sovereign” means?

1. a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler. 2. a person who has supreme power or authority.”

In the technical sense, the El Chemor family was also sovereign in Mount Lebanon as it was in Ghassan since their power was considerable autonomous and didn’t emanate from a higher authority. The family had to make deals with the Ottomans only in the last years of rule, to join the Iltizam system for some time culminating with the deposition.

According to accepted international law and its principle of “sovereign equality“, the Pope or the prince of Monaco is “as royal” as the Queen of England regardless of the size of their actual territories. That principle is one of the pillars of International Law itself.

By the aforementioned, the “sovereign” or “semi-sovereign” ruling Sheikh is the equivalent of a Prince. There are so many examples in the Arabian peninsula and Gulf like Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, etc

“Besides the sovereigns referred to above, there are several oriental potentates who should be mentioned, the rulers of the Sultanates and Sheikdoms of East Africa and the Persian Gulf (…) The style of these Sheikhs is His Highness.” Titles: How the king became His Majesty”, L.G. Pine, New York, 1992 (Barnes & Noble) p. 137-138

“In the modern United Arab Emirates, however, none of the rulers of the constituent states are called emirs (princes); all are Sheikhs.”

  https://www.britannica.com/topic/emir

Even though all the Lebanese feudal titles were abolished by the Ottoman empire in 1858 CE, the empire could only do so with the titles bestowed by their own honor system. The El Chemor Family had both the Imperial and Royal Ghassanid titles and the ruling Sheikh titles by the “sui iuris” (by own right) legal principle, therefore, the revocation didn’t legally affect them.

However, both the empire and the subsequent Lebanese regimes have formally recognized all the feudal titles by printing them in the official documents like birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports. No birth legal privilege attached to those titles, only the prerogative of using them publicly. Not much, but still a formal recognition.

As mentioned, the El Chemor family was ruling since 1211 CE, almost 80 years before the Ottoman empire was even founded and over 300 years before the first emirate was created with prince Fakhr al-Din I (1516–1544).

We can conclude that there’s a huge difference between the prestige of titles in Mount Lebanon and their actual legal value. Important to note that we’re not debating neither the prestige nor the historical deeds of a particular family, but the actual title’s legal pedigree. There are many families with a more active and glamorous participation in Lebanon’s history than the Sheikhs El Chemor, however, only the families that actually ruled before the Ottoman invasion can claim sovereign or semi-sovereign status along with the Maanid and the Shihab Emirs.

Another good example of the principle of sovereign equivalency is the fact that, without a single solitary doubt, the British Royal Family is the most famous and prestigious in the world. However, technically and legally, they’ve the very exact same value as the Tongan Royal Family that rules a small Polynesian archipelago with around 100,000 people. Also, although the British Royal Family is sovereign, famous and prestigious, they don’t hold much actual power. In contrast, the Sultan of Oman, as an absolute ruler has considerably more actual power than his British counterpart.

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)

“Conclusion
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 access historical documents of the El Chemor family, please click HERE

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)

Europe 1500’s
– 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

Reference here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_in_1500

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 own 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.

We’d like to suggest some complimentary reading to fully understand this article:

·        The El Chemor/Gharios family Vis-à-vis with the International Law

.        Why is the El Chemor/Gharios Family endowed with the Ghassanid Royal Titles?

·        The Middle Eastern Laws of Succession 

·        Primogeniture in the Royal Arab Succession

·        The Laws of Succession of the Ghassanids

·        Understanding the Royal Ghassanid family tree

·        The Sheikhs El Chemor: a legal study of titles

More about the Sheikhs El Chemor and the Ghassanid Kings HERE

Were the Ghassanids sovereign?

arethasjustinian
The bestowal of a second kingship (‘Basileus Araves‘ or “Emperor of all Arabs”)  to the already King Al-Harith VI by Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 529 CE

For lack of comprehensive knowledge of the Byzantine and Ghassanid history some historians create confusion about the actual role of the Ghassanids and their alliance with Byzantium. They pejoratively call Ghassan “client-state” or “vassal” without even explaining what that really meant in the context of 6th and 7th century.

The scholar Irfan Shahid made a very interesting statement:

“He [Arethas] was a king (rex) without a kingdom (regnum), that is, his Basileia carried with it no real territorial jurisdiction since he and his federates were settled on Roman soil. He was the king of the Ghassanids or Saracens in Oriens (and beyond Byzantine limits).” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 107)

The “Basileia” (Byzantine kingship) that Professor Shahid refers to, is the bestowal of a second kingship by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I to King Al-Harith (Arethas) in 529 ADThat second kingship was not accompanied by a territorial grant of the part of Syria (Al-Sham) which was “de jure” Byzantine territory but “de facto” Ghassanid, or as per several Muslim scholars (see reference below), Syria was a “shared sovereignty” by Byzantines and Ghassanids.  As far as the Ghassanid role within the Byzantine boarders it may be accurate, but, as proven below, the Ghassanid jurisdiction did not  depend on the Roman (Byzantine) Empire,  as  the Kingdom was founded in 220 AD ( hundreds of years before their  allegiance to  the Byzantine Empire ) on land that did not belong either to the western or to the eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire.

To assume that is a very common mistake made even by scholars due to several facts, specially the prejudice of several historians past and presentThe worst fact is that the great majority of them even admitted their  prejudice and  open dislike of the Ghassanids.

We have to separate the role of “Archphylarc” (Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Arab Tribes) of the Byzantine Federation and the title “Basileus Araves” (Emperor or High King of All Arabs) given by Emperor Justinian in 529 CE from the actual Kingship over the people of Ghassan, which the majority of scholars  have  agreed,  were not Roman  (Byzantine) citizens.

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 title awarded to the Ghassanid Ruler or  Chief  BY HIS OWN PEOPLE was neither Patricius nor Phylarch but KING (AL-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,. But the strongest evidence 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 KingThere 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)

Usaysinscript
The Usays inscription found in 1963

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)

The significance of the term “vassal” is broad:

Vassal is a term used as part of feudalism in medieval Europe, where one enters into mutual obligations to a monarch, usually in the form of military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually to include land held as a fiefdom. This system can be applied to similar systems in other feudal societies. Although related, a fidelity, or fidelitas, is somewhat different as it is a sworn loyalty, subject to the king.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vassal

The concept of sovereignty is very debatable and until today has no unanimity or general agreement on:

The concept has been discussed, debated and questioned throughout history, from the time of the Romans through to the present day, although it has changed in its definition, concept, and application throughout, especially during the Age of Enlightenment.”

According to  Professor Lassa Oppenheim, one of the highest authorities on international law (International Law 66 (Sir Arnold D. McNair ed., 4th ed. 1928) :

There exists perhaps no conception the meaning of which is more controversial  than that of Sovereignty. It is an indisputable fact that this conception, from the moment when it was introduced into political science  until the  present day, has never had a meaning which was universally agreed upon. “

The simple namesake  of “Vassal”  does not mean without Sovereignty”:

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 acknowledgment 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)

It’s ludicrous to try to diminish the role of the Ghassanids by saying that their military alliance to Byzantium and occasional “honorific homages” represented any loss of sovereignty. If the payment of any tribute, financial or honorary, is an indicative of the lack of sovereignty, so also the Byzantine emperors were not sovereign since they’ve had, for many times, paid tributes to barbarian kings to prevent invasions and other neighboring dynasties like the Persian emperor or the Arab Caliph.

Interesting to mention, that the actual recipients of a financial compensation from Byzantium were the Ghassanids and not the opposite since Byzantium used to pay a “munera” (directly to the kings), a “salaria” (to be given to the soldiers) and also the “annona foederatica” (a subsidy given to allies) to the Ghassanid kings in exchange of the military support. By simple logic, if Byzantium had the legal ownership of the Ghassanid sovereignty, they could simply demand the support without paying a single dime.

Remember that a sovereign don’t “ask”, but “command”.

Also, by saying that the Ghassanids had no sovereignty because the Ghassanid king had to have the support of the Byzantine emperor to be accepted is also nonsensical since every single king in Europe had to have the support of the Pope and sometimes even his physical presence in the coronation in order to be accepted. That didn’t make the European kings any less sovereign.

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.”

It is Important to mention again that several historians in the past had vested interests  in  diminishing the role and sovereignty of the  Ghassanids.  The Byzantine historians like Procopius and later some of the Muslim authors did the same once the Ghassanids were their declared historical enemies. On the one hand, the Greco-Roman historians had high prejudice against the Ghassanids,  firstly, because they were Arabs, and secondly, because they were Monophysite Christians, a faith that was against the “mainstream” Christianity, officially adopted by the Byzantine Empire.

“Menander  (Protector, the Byzantine historian) was a Christian, presumably a Chalcedonian. If so it’s not impossible that he saw in the  strongly monophysite Ghassanids a schismatic group that was disrupting   the Ecclesiastical unity of the empire with political implications as a centrifugal force.  Hence, his dislike of the Ghassanids Arethas and Mundir  who were the pillars of the movement both politically and militarily.” (Ibid. p. 335)

On the other hand,    the great majority of Muslim historians (past and present)  have considered  the Ghassanids as traitors and infidels,  after the fall of the Kingdom in 638 CE  when the last King arguably briefly converted to Islam by force and then apostatized.

In the capital [Constantinople] he [King Jabalah, the last King of Ghassan] reverted back to Christianity.  Heraclius [Byzantine Emperor] received him with honour and bestowed upon him estates and palaces.” (Professor Yasmine Zahran, “Ghassan Resurrected” p. 13)

According to  the reputed and  greatest scholar in the world regarding Ghassanids, the UNESCO Professor Yasmine Zahran on her book “Ghassan Resurrected” p. xii:

“Ghassan’s  strong sense of identity  and its fierce  Arab Asabiyay* sustained throughout its domination for it remained as an integral part  of the Arab  tribal world with close relations with their relatives the Uzd (Azd), scattered over the peninsula in Yemen, Hejaz and Iraq  and with  major tribes outside the Ghassanid Federation and beyond the Roman Limes (Boundary).

With Rome, they kept their imperial connection but they did not adopt or ape Roman customs  nor take Greco-Roman names.  Their pride kept them from the status of clients or vassals and their integrity made them withdraw twice from Roman  (Byzantine) service,  but like their predecessors Philip the Arab (Roman Emperor) and Zenobia (Palmyrene Empress), they did not escape Greco-Roman prejudice  as authors such as, Agathias, Menander, Evagrius, Theophylact Simocatta,  gave them only a marginal role. Theophylact described them as “the Saracen tribe known to be unreliable and fickle, their mind is not steadfast” .   Procopius blackened the Ghassanids whom he despised as barbarians  to protect Belisarius and to criticize Justinian and Theodora.  Theophanes called them wild and rude invaders.”

** `Asabiyya or asabiyah refers to social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness, and social cohesion, originally in a context of “tribalism” and “Clanism”, but sometimes used for  modern nationalism as well, resembling also  Communitarianism .  It was a familiar term in the pre-Islamic era, but became popularized in Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah where it is described as the fundamental bond of human society and the basic motive force of history.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asabiyyah

This ancient prejudice is echoed by some modern historians who wrote:

The lack of information  in Greek historians about Arab affairs  in the late six and seventh centuries accurately reflects their lack of any importance in contemporary wars and diplomacy, fact that the Arabs appear marginal  is because they were.’ (Yasmine Zahran, “Ghassan Resurrected” p. xii)

By the same token, Professor Evangelos Chrysos’  arguments and his  prejudice against the Ghassanids,  have been  “bashed ” by Professor Shahid:

It does not, however, justify [Professor Evangelos] Chrysos’   conclusion in rejecting on this basis the title of King for Arethas and the appellation regis” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 112)

Chrysos is still in the embrace of the Lakhmid theory of Procopius and suggesting the utterly incomprehensibe view that Arethas had been given the insignia of Kingship but without the title –  and this in spite of the explicit statement that Justinian gave the title to him (Arethas).” (Ibid. 113)

It is easy to argue, as Chrysos did, from the erroneous premise of a nomadic life for the Ghassanids to the conclusion that their ruler was a tribal shaykh (chief) not a byzantine basileus (king).” (Ibid. 110)

Chrysos does not do justice   to the Kaiserkritik expressed and implied in the passage in Procopius.” (Ibid. 111)

According to Stein, King Arethas was a complete sovereign and independent King:

He [Professor Ernst Stein] continued to think that  Mundir and Arethas were two absolutely sovereign Kings allied to the Persians and the Romans by treaty-relationships, and that in matters of foreign policy.  The two client-kings were free to act as they pleased.” (The Arabs in the peace treaty of A.D. 561, Irfan Kawar, 1956, p. 204-20

All this matches with the  recent archeological findings.

About Theodor Noldeke, his works are completely and absolutely outdated.   His writings about the Ghassanids (Die Ghassanischen Fursten aus dem Hause Gafna’s) dated 1887, have ignored the recent archeological findings:

When Noldeke  wrote his monograph about the Ghassanids [1887], [King] Jabala was a name associated with events around 500, thereafter disappearing from the sources then known.  Subsequently, further sources, especially the new letter of Simeon of Beth-Arsham, have placed him around 520, leading to the identification of Arfar, who died in the battle of Thannuris in 528, with the Ghassanid federate King Jabala.” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.48)

Though the explicit of Simeon’s letter  is short, it contains much information. First, Jabala is specifically referred to as King, as is confirmed by the Arabic sources and by  Zacharia in Syriac.  He inerited the title from his father Harith/Arethas  [IV Ibn Hijr],  and Byzantium confirmed it.  Second, he is referred as ‘King of the Ghassanids’ .  This phrase indicates clearly that Jabala was King only of the Ghassanids, not of the other Foederati (Arabs Allies of Byzantium) as well,  as his son Arethas  [V Ibn Jabala]  was to become in 530 when Justinian conferred the extraordinary Basileia (Kingship) on him.” (Ibid.)

Finally, both the Usays Inscription and the Bishop Simeon’s letter, “pulverizeany of the ideas developed by Noeldeke,  Chrysos or anyone trying to discredit the might of the Ghassanid Dynasty.

The Ghassanids Kings were sovereign  because:

They were Kings before they founded the Kingdom of Ghassan as  they came from the Sabean Royal Family.  So, they were not  ennobled solely  by the Byzantine Empire. There is a great difference between the “Basileia” (Byzantine Kingship) given by Justinian I in 529 CE, the “Supreme Phylarchate” given in the same occasion and the original Kingship (Arab) that the Ghassanids  had since  more than  300 years before:

The dignity of King was not new to the Ghassanids, they had brought  it with them from the Arabian  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)

They’ve founded the Kingdom of Ghassan in 220 AD, exactly 110  years before the establishment of the Byzantine Empire,

The original settlement of the Kingdom of Ghassan, although not very clear in terms of boundaries (as every ancient Asian Kingdom), didn’t belong  to and wasn’t granted by the Byzantine Empire  which  considered the area outside their “limes” (boundaries).

ghassan map 632 661

Above: Maps: The Ghassanid Kingdom not only  controlled  their own land  but also  the Byzantine land (Oriens) ,  Hejaz, Yemen and all the areas relating to  the Azd tribes.

Although the exact actual boundaries are disputed, the original Ghassanid settlement from the 3rd Century (northern Arabia and Hejaz) was  recognized  to be Ghassanid jurisdiction, as  it  was depicted on the map of the Roman Empire in  the 3rd Century that it was not part of the Roman Empire at that date.

Above: Maps: The areas relating to   the original Ghassanid settlement (Northern Arabia, Hejaz and Yemen never belonged  to either the Western or  the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empires.

ghassanid roman byzantine empire map 600

By that, we can conclude that although it might have some debate about the sovereignty of the part of Syria that was Roman (Byzantine) territory, there’s absolutely NO debate about the sovereignty of the Ghassanids beyond the Byzantine borders.

“The only region over which he may have territorial jurisdiction  must have been extra limitem  (beyond the Byzantine borders) either in Northern Arabia or Hijaz, the original  homeland of the Ghassanids.”  (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.107)

Irfan Shahid, based only on Procopius, admits that the Ghassanids had  territorial jurisdiction over their homeland  which tallies  with the original  Kingship existing prior to the relationship with the Byzantine Empire and recognized  by Emperor Justinian l in 529 AD.  Please note that Procopius is the only ancient source of these facts  (on  the Ghassanid Kingship) and  he was openly biased against the Ghassanids.

“Procopius, our only source” (Ibid p. 108)

“Though often he [Procopius] is the only source for what he says .” (Ibid. p.301)

Clearly, as Procopius  was both  biased against the Ghassanids and the only source of the  historical records  on  the Ghassanids’ Sovereignty, his statements or text   cannot be completely fair and true  due to his vested interests in diminishing the Ghassanid role in the Byzantine History.

It is possible that Procopius had a brush with one or both of the Ghassanid figures [Kings Jabala and Arethas]and that this  ill-disposed him toward them and their dynasty.” (Ibid. p.303)

It was noted in the earlier studies that Procopius indulged in a series of  ‘suppressio veri”‘ [suppressions of the truth] and ‘suggestio falsi’ [false suggestions] involving [King] Arethas  and that this encompassed his military in two Persian wars, his Roman connections  and  his religious affiliation.  This series comprises not only [King] ARETHAS but also his father, [King]JABALA” (Ibid. p.299)

all of which enables Procopius  to present [King] Arethas as ‘incompetent’ and ‘treacherous’,  springing ‘ex nihilo’ [out of nothing], rather than someone descended from a distinguished Federate  in the service of Rome – [King] Jabala.” (Ibid.)

Most serious in Procopius’ garbled account is his suppression of the fact that [King] Arethas  won a great victory over [Lakhmid King] Mundir in 554 of which Procopius certainly knew.” (Ibid.)

“this week was a sector that had been entrusted in large measure to the Ghassandis, and Procopius is completely silent on their watch over this segment of the ‘limes orientalis‘ [Oriental borders].” (Ibid. p.300)

The complete silence of Procopius on both these  areas [King Arethas’  titles,  patriciate and Christian affiliation] becomes even more noticeable.” (Ibid. p. 301)

The scope of Procopius silence and misinterpretation should have become clear in the course of this book,  as it involved not only  [King] Arethas but the entire Ghassanid  Dynasty, from its inception as Federate ally of Byzantium  at the opening of the sixth century. [King] Jabala as a figure in Arab-Byzantine relations  is  completely ignored. ” (Ibid.)

The prejudice against  Arabs was open and notorious and was extended to other nations:

it is well  known  that Procopius was not sympathetic  to the barbarians to which Arabs in his arithmetic belonged..” (Ibid.p.303)

Kinda [Arab Kingdom] also suffered from Pocopius’ account  in much the same way that Ghassan [Ghassanid Kingdom] did, and so  the two principal allies of [Byzantine Emperor] Justinian  were denigrated.” (Ibid.)

“Thus, although [Ghassanid King] Arethas was the man target of Procopiius’ criticism, the Arabs in general are object of his disapproving comments, both federates living in the Oriens and non-federate pastoralists living in the Peninsula. ” (Ibid.)

According to  Dame Averil Millicent Cameron, DBE, FBA , Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History in the University of Oxford:

For a writer of the sixth century Procopius is as remarkable for what he leaves out ,  as for what he has to say.” (Ibid.)

For his prestige and being the  only source, it is obvious that Procopius’   prejudice  would echo  from the majority of scholars.

The Ghassanids were “Foederati” or “symmacos”, in other words “fighting allies” that marked  the limit of their vassalage. They did not pay any tributes to the Byzantine Empire;  on the contrary, the Empire used to pay a “Salaria” (or salary) for their services  to defend the Byzantine borders.

In their military aspects, Byzantium established a relation with the limitrophe  Arabs which made of them symmachoi, allies who received from the Empire the annona  [tribute or payment] and in return watched the limes against the raids of the nomads, as well as participating effectively in the campaigns of the Army of the Orient against the Sasanids.” (The relations between Byzantium and the Arabs, Report on the Dumbarton Oaks Symposium of 1963, Hamiltona R. Gibb,  p. 363)

Whether the Ghassanid takeover from the limitanei (frontier districts),  which made them de facto, if not,  de jure, entailed corresponding changes in term of the foedus (Treaty )is not clear.” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2, part , p.xxxiv)

It is  clear that the Ghassanids had a Treaty  with the Empire. Only sovereign states can enter into a treaty in accordance with International Law. That defines completely    the term “Foederati”:

Early in the history of the Roman Republic, a foederatus  identified one of the tribes bound by Treaty (Foedus), who were neither Roman colonies nor had they been granted Roman citizenship (Civitas) but were expected to provide a contingent of fighting men when trouble arose, thus were allies.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foedus

It is also worth remembering that this was consonant with the tone and character of these two client-kingdoms (Ghassanids and Lakhmids);  they were essentially military and not commercial organizations as the Nabataeans of Petra had been.” (The Arabs in the peace treaty of A.D. 561, Irfan Kawar, Arabica, T. 3, Fasc. 2 (May, 1956), p. 187)

This is very important and corroborates with where the forefathers of international law defined the line of having or not having sovereignty: the Byzantine empire did not interfere  with  the internal affairs of the Ghassanid rule –  a very important issue regarding sovereigntyEven in the Byzantine areas governed by the Ghassanids, they  were  considered to be the “de facto” rulers in full capacity:

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)

Because of the abovementioned , some Muslim authors defer to the Ghassanids  sharing the sovereignty   of present Syria  (besides the aforementioned area of the original settlement of Northern Arabia and Hejaz),

The lands of Ash-Sham (present Syria)  were under the sovereignty  of the Roman [Byzantine] Empire  AND THE GHASSANIDS who had influence over the Arab tribes there who were their representatives in the south of Ash-Sham.” (Child companions around the Prophet, by Darussalam, p.147)

The titles and styles given to the Ghassanid Kings increased (not diminished) to  recognize  their prior territorial sovereignty and power:

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)

the Ghassanid Mundir  (King Arethas V’s son),  as his father before him, was a crowned King, a dignity inherited from his father, who belonged to an Arab royal  house, and which was CONFIRMED (NOT BESTOWED) by the Byzantine autocrator [Emperor] .  ” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, Part 1 p.497)

[Ghassanid King] Mundir represented  the highest summit that the Ghassandi Kings reached in the ladder of the imperial administration, and so the title used to describe him must have been the highest . Besides, it is used together with Patricius, which was the highest dignitas  [dignitas] Byzantium could bestow.” (Ibid.p.496)

No other sovereignty could  compare with the  great powers and honors relating to the new Kingship, suggesting a high degree of sovereignty   as related by the historian Procopius, who  was,  in fact,   often biased against  the Ghassanids:

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 fact that the Ghassanid Kings were “Archphylarcs” and “Basileus” (Kingly Byzantine title) of the Byzantine Empire did not conflict   with  their titles and prerogatives as Arab Kings (Maliks and Sheiks) as aforementioned.

“The OLD Basileia (Arab Kingship) was confirmed by the Byzantine Emperor; the NEW ONE (Byzantine Kingship) was bestowed by him”” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.104)

“Contemporary documents reflect  the contrast between the two Basileia (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)

In the case of the  Ghassanids  it was a confirmation  and  an extensions of the royal tradition that the Ghassanids  had had and which they hadbrought with them from South Arabia.” (Ibid p.111)

The more important element in the Lakhmid echo was the creation of the Archphylarchate, which was covered under the umbrella of the Basileia (Kingship). This is where the effect of the Lakhmid echos ends, and this is the extent of the Lakhmid implication in the passage in Procopius.” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 111)

It clearly shows that the previous sovereignty of the Ghassanids existed   and was confirmed  by the  Byzantine Emperor Justinian  l  in 529  independently of the new kingship bestowed upon King Arethas.

During the 520’s, they did  briefly withdrew their services  to the Byzantine Empire and at the same time  existed as a nation. They did it twice.

– Some historians defend that the Ghassanids had their Sovereignty encroached by the Byzantine-Persian Treaty of A. D. 561.:

“. . . the Byzantine-Persian Treaty of A. D. 561. . . encroach on whatever sovereignty the Ghassanids had.  But they do not imply that the Ghassanid were Roman (Byzantne) citizens.” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 226)

First of all, the word “encroach” doesn’t mean “eliminate”, but “negatively affect”.  With that citation, an important fact arises:  the Ghassanids were not Roman (Byzantine) citizens.   By International Law, if you agree that the Ghassanids were  active parties of the referred  Treaty,  you’ve to assume that they  were sovereign.  To be  sovereign, according to International Law,  treaties are binding  only from the consent of the States:

Treaties are not necessarily permanently binding upon the signatory parties.  As obligations in International Law are traditionally viewed as arising only from the consent of States,  many treaties expressly allow a state to withdraw as long as it follows certain procedures of notification.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty#Ending_treaty_obligations

The Saracen (Arab) allies of both States (Byzantine and Persian) were included in this peace   (Treaty).” (J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, I923, II, P. 121.)

The Treaty included the Saracen (Arab) allies of both Empires (Byzantine and Persian), so again, by International Law, they can only be parties of a treaty if they were sovereign states or international organizations.   The Ghassanids clearly weren’t an “organization” as even  with their vassalage, they were sovereign:

 “A Treaty is an express agreement under International Law  entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states  and international organizations.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty

This treaty  was broken  and withdrawn by the Byzantine side in 572 AD by Emperor Justin II:

A struggle over Lazika dragged on until a general treaty, pledging peace  for 50 years,   was signed in 561.  War erupted in 572 [eleven years later] when Justin ll   refused tribute to the Persians.   [which was a major clause of the treaty]” (John Hutchins Rosser, ‘ Historical dictionary of Byzantium’ p.79)

Indeed one of the main conditions of the treaty under discussion was the payment by Byzantium of a huge sum of money  to Persia,  in return for the cession of Lazica.” (The Arabs in the peace treaty of A.D. 561, Irfan Kawar, Arabica, T. 3, Fasc. 2 (May, 1956), p. 193)

– Even in the hypotheses that they didn’t have any previous sovereignty, the fact that the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I bestowed on King Al-Harith (Flavius Arethas) in 529 AD, the highest hereditary title of King   “Basileus“, created an “Independent Sovereign entity” ,  perfectly valid according to Dynastic Law. Even after the deposition in 638 Ce when Byzantine Emperor Heraclius had received Ghassanid King Jablah with “open arms” in Constantinople.

“The Ghassanid Basileia (Kingship) was hereditary,  passing from father to son.”(Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.104)

Below is  an awarded article (the best publication of History of Law  and Heraldry by the International Writers Association in 2002) by Professor Mario Silvestre de Meroe:

meroe2

Above: the certificate given to Professor Dr. Mario Silvestre de Meroe by the International Writers Association in Ohio (USA) as the “Best Publication of History of Law and Heraldry  ” in 2002.

The Dynastic bestowal,  institutional in nature, gives rise to an entity, the legal personality  of a dynastic right, with representation and leadership positions assigned to an individual,  awarded the title corresponding to the virtual domain   and,  as a rule,  with the prerogatives of jus honorum.   The  dynastic being  so raised, through its representative,  called the  Chief of Name and Arms,  may grant titles and awards to those whom he considers worthy of honor, at his discretion, not subject to any limitation in time (several people can be bestowed in the same generation ), or in relation to the amount of titles. Occurs, thus creating   a Dynasty, a cycle that will begin their own traditions, a separate institution of the house grantor, whom shall not have power or control over their actions.

The entity is established dynastic well-endowed in perpetuity, irrevocability, and irreversibility, under the accepted doctrine,   historical examples and case nobility law. Once created, being separated from the dynastic heritage of its founder and acquires independent existence, with historical attributes of sovereignty, recognized as the dynastic houses in exile.

The attribute of irrevocability of the dynastic bestowal, along with good doctrine, refers to its historical origins. In another work of mine, we cite the first known event, the translation of dynastic rights, narrated in the Bible (Genesis, chap. 25, 27), evoking the saga of Jacob and Esau.

Does the biblical text quoted in the book, Jacob, prompted by his mother, Rebecca, through a ruse, transacted the birthright to his brother Esau, who was the “heir” of the leadership of the tribe. With cunning, he obtained the blessing, the patriarch Isaac, and became, ipso facto, leader of Israel, father of twelve children, which would lead to the tribes that formed the Hebrew people. “Verbis”:

The ceremony of blessing described here, although riddled with addiction (fraud), its consummation had irrevocable effect, condoning the translation previously held, probably kept secret by the parties. It was thus solemnly sworn, in fact and law, the new head of the fledgling Israeli nation. The biblical text emphasizes the perplexity and impotence of Isaac before the fait accompli and unmovable.”

We want to emphasize, is the irrevocable nature of the enthronement, in its various forms, indelibly embedded in the person of the recipient, who will forward it unscathed to their heirs and successors There is, reading the above excerpt, the patriarch Isaac is tipped perplexed by the warp of his son, but above all, powerless to undo the act (the blessing) of transmission of the  dynastic rights (at the time, absolute) in the form of ceremonial force.   By virtue of his succession to power, had lost jurisdiction over the tribe.”

meroe

Above: an excerpt of an Italian Newspaper announcing Dr. Mario de Meroe as winner of another award. It says: ” To the Jurist Dr. Mario de Meroe the International Cultural Award of Saint Venceslau 2009  Edition“. Dr. Meroe’s work was entitled “The Byzantine Theocracy in Italy.”

As clearly stated by Dr. Meroe, the enthronement is irrevocable and indelible. If the bestowed King promises to exercise it in any condition of Vassalage,  it doesn’t change the fact that, even if  his sovereignty was  limited,  he was incontestably King and Sovereign. The same happens in present Constitutional Monarchies, the King voluntarily accepts to limit his Sovereignty. According with Professor Stephen P. Kerr:

A monarch is not deprived of the power conferred on him by his Kingship merely because he has promised to exercise it in a certain way..” (“King and Constitution in International Law,” The Augustan, vol. 18, no. 4, 1977, p. 130)

Sovereignty does not cease to be such even if he who is going to exercise it makes promises – even promises touching matters of government. ” (Hugo Grotius, The Law of War and Peace, Book I, Chapter 3, number XVI )

That what I say is true becomes clear from the similarity of the case under consideration to that of the head of a household.  If the Head of a household promises that he will do for it something which affects the government of it, he will not on that account cease to have full authority over his  household, so far as matters of the household are concerned.  A husband, furthermore,  is not deprived of the power conferred on him by marriage because he has promised something to his wife..” (Ibid.)

For the ones that question the Ghassanid sovereignty, some questions must be addressed:

* If the Ghassanid Kings were so inferior and so dependent, How  could they meet on ‘equal footing ‘ with the Byzantine Emperor?

Remember that:

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)

* If the Ghassanid Kingdom was so dependable of the Byzantine Empire, why do the Ghassanid Kings withdrew their alliance with the Byzantine Empire twice?

The Ghassanids, removed from Byzantine service for a relatively long time ” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, part 1, p.38)

Their pride kept them from the status of clients or vassals and their integrity made them withdraw twice from Roman  (Byzantine) service. ” (Professor Yasmine Zahran, “Ghassan Resurrected” p. xii)

* If they were so inferior, how  could  the Ghassanid King Mundir   have so much influence over Pope Gregory, to have  him  interfere over a dispute with Byzantine Emperor Maurice in the end of the 6th Century?

“The  Pope’s [Gregory]  sympathy with [Ghassanid King] Mundir,  the chief of the Monophysite Ghassanids, is noteworthy” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, part 1, p.605)

* If they did not have territorial sovereignty outside  the Byzantine borders how could the Ghassanid Prince Abu Karib give territory (Phoinikon/Tabuk) as a gift to Byzantium

Logically, for one to give something, one has to own it.

 “Procopius explicitly documents the Ghassanid character of Phoinikon/Tabuk, a site that belonged to the Ghassanids and was offered to Byzantium by its master, the Ghasanid Phylarch [Prince] Abu KaribP (King Arethas V’s brother).” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2, part 2, p.23)

Thus the region of Phoinikon that [Prince] Abu Karib [King Arethas’ brother] presented  to Justinian around 530 must have been in that category,  then to become technically Roman territory.”

Procopius states   [Prince] Abu Karib [brother of King Arethas V] ruled over Phoinikon in Northern Hijaz   (beyond Byzantine borders).” (Ibid. p. 38)

“The Ghassanids must have possessed themselves or Phoinikon, or at least reaffirmed their connection with it, while they were withdrawn from Byzantium.” (Ibid. p. 39)

The Ghassanid withdrawal to Northern Hijaz was thus a matter of some importance both to Arabian history and to Arab-Byzantine relations.”  The Ghassanids reaffirmed their Peninsular connections  in Hijaz , which was in a sense the territory of the  ‘outer shield’ ‘ for Byzantium.” (Ibid. p. 39)

* Why did  the Byzantine Emperor Justinian give to King Arethas so many titles, especially the imperial address? 

Remember that:

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…” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2, part 1, p.51)

* Why did Justin II (Justinian’s nephew and heir)   give his daughter the name “Arabia”, so unconventional for the Byzantine customs?

Even more relevant and more certain is the name ‘Arabia’, which was given to the daughter of Justine ll, the nephew of Justinian. Nomenclature is significant and can reflect attitudes and relationships;  I have argued elsewhere that this strikingly un-Byzantine, un-Greek, and un-Christian name was given her as a result of the warm relations that obtained between the Arab Phyarchate-Kingship of the Ghassandis and the Central Government during the reign of.” (Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2, part 2, p.114)

This last action had sealed the warm relationship between the Ghassanids and the Byzantium.

In closing, as far as Dynastic Law, the Ghassanid Claim of Sovereignty is perfect. To understand its perfection we have to ask the question related to the 4 (four) basic Sovereign Rights:

1.      Did the Ghassanids have “Jus Imperii” (the right to rule over a territory and a people)?

Yes they did. It’s clear that they’ve had jurisdiction coming from the Byzantine Empire over the Oriens (the Diocese of the East, composed by provinces of the western Middle East, between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia). They’re “Kings of the Oriens”, even being vassals as far as the territories they’ve had shared sovereignty with the Byzantine empire like greater Syria. They’ve had total control over the area and the Byzantine Empire didn’t interfere in the internal affairs and decisions made by the Kings. Regardless of the Byzantine Vassalage, they’ve had full territorial jurisdiction over the areas of northern (present) Saudi Arabia, Hejaz, Yemen and other areas inhabited by the Azd (Uzd) tribes.

2.      Did the Ghassanids have “Jus Gladii” (the right of the sword, the right to command armies and inflict capital penalties)?

Yes they did. Both in the Byzantine Oriens and over the independent jurisdiction of northern (present) Saudi Arabia, Hejaz, Yemen and other areas inhabited by the Azd (Uzd) tribes. Regarding the Oriens, the Byzantine Empire actually didn’t interfere in any decisions regarding capital punishments and the Ghassanid function on the area was the “supreme Phylarchate”, in other words, they were the “commanders-in-chief” of the whole federation armies.

3.      Did they have “Jus Majestatis” (the right to be honored and respected according with your title)?

Yes they did. That was recognized even by Byzantine Emperor Justin I before bestowing the another “Basileia” (Kingship) on the (already) King Arethas (Al-Harith). That’s absolutely proven not only by historians but by many archeological evidences.

4.      Did they have “Jus Honorum” (the right to award titles, merit and virtue)?

Yes they didThey created Princes and Princesses and also “Sheiks” among other honors.

The above fully satisfies Dynastic and International Law as far as Sovereignty.

Sworn legal statement from world’s leading scholar in Middle Eastern Royal Succession HERE

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

 

A 2017’s Retrospective

retro2017

We sincerely hope that you’re having very pleasant holidays with your family and friends.

It’s time to remember what has happened in 2017 and plan for the new year.

We had many achievements in 2017, here are some highlights. More details and photos, please, follow the links:

* In February, a top Maronite scholar in Lebanon has validated the historical chronicles about the Ghassanid Royal Family https://royalblog.org/2017/02/02/top-maronite-historian-validates-chronicles-about-el-chemorgharios-family/

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TIRH, Sheikh Camil. Sheikh Dr. Elie, Prof. Schirrmacher, HE General Michel Aoun the President of Lebanon, HIRH Prince Gharios, Sheikh Dr. Naji and HIRH Prince Cheikh Selim

* In May, invited by the Lebanese Government, HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor has traveled to Lebanon and was received officially by the President of the Lebanese Republic with other members of the Royal Family. President Gen. Michel Aoun also accepted the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/05/11/royal-house-of-ghassan-is-received-by-lebanese-president-in-private-audience/

Prince Gharios was also interviewed by Lebanese TV https://royalblog.org/2017/05/11/prince-gharios-el-chemor-is-interviewed-by-otv-lebanese-tv/

And also featured at the AlHurra Arab TV https://royalblog.org/2017/06/27/royal-house-of-ghassan-featured-at-alhurra-arab-tv/

DSC05576

* In June, Prince Gharios and the Royal Family were received by His Excellency the President of Albania at the Presidential Palace in Tirana. He also has received the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/06/15/royal-family-officially-received-by-albanian-president/

fullsizeoutput_c237* During the trip to Albania, the Royal Family was also officially received by HRH Crown Prince Leka II of the Albanians. HRH also received the Order of Saint Michael  https://royalblog.org/2017/06/15/prince-gharios-el-chemor-and-royal-delegation-received-by-crown-prince-leka-ii-of-the-albanians/

DSC05154* In Tirana, the Royal family was also officially received by the Orthodox Patriarch https://royalblog.org/2017/07/25/royal-family-visits-orthodox-patriarch-of-albania/

DSC05803* The Grand Mufti (Sunni Muslim highest authority) https://royalblog.org/2017/07/31/prince-gharios-royal-family-received-by-the-grand-mufti-of-albania/

DSC05021* The world leader of the Bektashi Order (Sufi Islam) https://royalblog.org/2017/07/29/ghassanid-royal-family-visits-sufi-world-leader/

pgstiftung* The Prince Gharios Foundation in Germany has sponsored the construction of a church for refugees https://royalblog.org/2017/07/07/prince-gharios-foundation-in-germany-supports-construction-of-a-church-for-christian-refugees/

* In August, Prince Gharios El Chemor has visited His Eminence Cardinal Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in Rome https://royalblog.org/2017/08/26/royal-couple-visits-cardinal-koch-in-rome/

SOSMA Karcher* And Monsignor Karcher, the Pontifical Secretary of Protocol at the Vatican Secretariat of State. He has received the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/08/25/pontifical-secretary-of-protocol-receives-the-order-of-saint-michael/

Valentino* Prince Gharios also met the fashion legend Valentino in Capri, Italy https://royalblog.org/2017/08/24/prince-gharios-el-chemor-meets-fashion-legend-valentino/

* In September, Prince Gharios was invited by the Lebanese Government to an official event in Las Vegas https://royalblog.org/2017/09/26/prince-gharios-el-chemor-participates-in-official-event-invited-by-lebanese-government/

princebishopnayrouz2017* In October, Prince Gharios El Chemor was invited to the Neyrouz service of the Coptic Orthodox Church at Westminster’s in London, UK  https://royalblog.org/2017/10/21/prince-gharios-el-chemor-attends-coptic-orthodox-service-in-london/

IMG_0417* The Coptic Archbishop of London Anba Angaelous has received the Order of Saint Michael https://royalblog.org/2017/10/24/coptic-bishop-angaelos-receives-the-order-of-saint-michael-archangel-in-london/

archbishop boutros Mattar maruni* In November, Prince Gharios was invited to participate at the commemoration of the 74th Lebanese Independent Day in Beverly Hills https://royalblog.org/2017/11/21/prince-gharios-el-chemor-participates-of-the-74th-lebanese-independence-day-in-los-angeles/

DRgl7cQX4AIHM9k* In December, the Royal House of Ghassan had a Christmas Charity event in Lebanon https://royalblog.org/2017/12/21/royal-house-of-ghassan-has-christmas-charity-event-in-lebanon/

Also, during the year, Prince Gharios El Chemor has received many honors and awards, amongst them:

Medal from the Dragomanov University (Ukrainian Ministry of Education) https://royalblog.org/2017/06/15/prince-gharios-el-chemor-receives-medal-from-the-ukrainian-ministry-of-education/

Goodwill Ambassador of the State of Arkansas (USA) https://royalblog.org/2017/07/28/prince-gharios-el-chemor-honored-by-the-state-of-arkansas/

US Congressional Special Recognition https://royalblog.org/2017/08/25/prince-gharios-el-chemor-receives-u-s-special-congressional-recognition/

We also invite you to learn more about the history of the Ghassanid Royal Family and ancestors:

The El Chemor/Gharios family Vis-à-vis with the International Law https://royalblog.org/2017/06/23/the-el-chemorgharios-family-vis-a-vis-with-the-international-law/

Father Ignatios El Khoury, one of the most acclaimed Maronite historians of the 20th century https://royalblog.org/2017/08/04/father-ignatios-el-khoury-one-of-the-most-acclaimed-maronite-historians-of-the-20th-century/

The Middle Eastern Laws of Succession https://royalblog.org/2017/09/07/the-middle-eastern-laws-of-succession/

HIRH Prince Cheikh Antonios El Chemor The Honorary Founder of the modern Royal House of Ghassan https://royalblog.org/2017/10/12/hirh-prince-cheikh-antonios-el-chemor-the-honorary-founder-of-the-modern-royal-house-of-ghassan/

Understanding the Royal Ghassanid family tree https://royalblog.org/2017/11/19/understanding-the-royal-ghassanid-family-tree/

The Sheikhs El Chemor: a legal study of titles https://royalblog.org/2017/12/26/the-sheikhs-el-chemor-a-legal-study-of-titles/  

We wish you and yours a Blessed 2018, full of health, wealth and peace!    

The Sheikhs El Chemor: a legal study of titles

maronitesheikh

After the advent of Islam, it’s known that the Ghassanid Royal Family had to leave the Ghassanid territory (today’s Syria, Jordan, Northern Saudi Arabia and Northern Iraq). Part of the family went to Byzantine empire and part sought refuge in the heights of the Mount Lebanon, a safe haven for Christians.

It’s known and documented that the El Chemor Sheikhs descended directly from Ghassanid King El Chemor Jablah Ibn Aiham (ruled 632-638 CE), the last King of Ghassan:

 “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 [King] 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

By “jus sanguinis” (or law of blood) as the undisputed descendants and heirs of Ghassanid King Chemor Jablah they were already the legitimate heirs of the Ghassanid Imperial and Royal titles. Nevertheless, for local and circumstantial reasons, they’ve ruled two small sheikhdoms or principalities (Akoura and Zgharta-Zawiye) in Mount Lebanon for approximately 500 years (until 1747 CE) using the title of “Sheikh”.

Sheikh (pronounced /ʃeɪk/ SHAYK or /ʃiːk/ SHEEK; Arabic: شيخ‎ šayḫ [ʃæjx], mostly pronounced [ʃeːx/ʃejx], plural شيوخ šuyūḫ [ʃuju:x])—also transliterated Sheik, Shaik, Shayk, Shaykh, Cheikh, Shekh, and Shaikh—is an honorific title in the Arabic language. It commonly designates the ruler of a tribe, who inherited the title from his father. Sheikh” is given to a royal male at birth, whereas the related title “Sheikha” is given to a royal female at birth.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh

There were several different categories of “Sheikh” in Mount Lebanon through history. To understand the role and importance of the Sheikhs El Chemor in later times one has to comprehend the nobiliary system of Mount Lebanon in the last centuries.

For that understanding, it’s necessary a division:

Mount Lebanon BEFORE the Ottoman rule

Ottoman Sultan Selim I invaded Syria and Mount Lebanon in 1516 CE and allied to the famous Druze Prince Fakhr ad Din I established a semi-autonomous country that only worked in practice for the urbanized areas, since the rural areas, specially in Northern Mount Lebanon, were ruled by the local chiefs. That would take over a century to change. But lets’ return to that later.

Before the Ottoman invasion, the natural local leaders called “Sheikhs” or “Muqqadams”, ruled sui iurissovereign and semi-sovereignsheikhdoms” or small principalities only paying taxes to neighboring dynasties. And they were left considerable alone to take care of their own affairs. In other words, they were “sovereign” (or “semi-sovereign”) being considerably independent and autonomous. That characteristic makes those ruling families technically “royal” giving the title “Sheikh” the same connotation that it had and still has in the Arabian gulf today. The Sheikhs El Chemor were ruling Akoura since 1211 CE, exact 305 years before the Ottoman invasion. They were known and acclaimed by the people as sui iuris”  Sheikhs”, they were not formally invested (or elevated) by an Emperor, Sultan or Emir.

Local leaders in fragmented Lebanon were called Zu’ama, and their followers were described by an English visitor as ‘of an independent turn of mind; all are armed from the age of boys, and are governed by their own Emirs, or Sheikhs, or PrincesThey are all warriors, loving athletic exercise.’ They included Christian Maroniteswho dominated the highlands of Mount Lebanon.”

Nicolle ill. McBride 1998 p22

Maybe the most important point to be understood about the honor system in Lebanon is the fact that the Sheikhs that had this title before the Ottoman invasion (1516 CE) were “natural autonomous tribal rulerslike their counterparts in the Arabian Gulf, they had the title sui iuris” (by their own right), having autonomy and powers similar to the princes and sovereigndukes of the Holy Roman Empire. However, different than in Europe, their Lebanese counterparts had sovereignty locally but no saying in the administration of the Caliphates. (see “A House of many mansions: the history of Lebanon reconsidered”, Berkley, 1988, Kamal Salibi and “Lebanon A History 600-2011, Oxford, 2012, William Harris)

The Sheikhs El Chemorascended to power due to their genealogical direct descent to the Ghassanid Kings. They were known as “the descendants of Ghassanid King Chemor Jablah. That’s the origin of the surnameChemor” (other transliterations: Shamir, Shammar, Chemr, etc. ) It was very common at the time the knowledge of genealogy.

“Druze and Maronite muqataajis (feudal lords) could trace their descent back over many generations to the ancestors of their families…” All Honourable Men: The Social Origins of War in Lebanon, Oxford, 2001, Dr. Michael Johnson pgs. 98-99

The founder of the Ghassanid Dynasty was King Jafna Ibn Amr (ruled 220-265 CE). He was the son of the Azd ruler Amr Ibn Muzaikiya. The other sons of Amr gave origin of other important Arab ruling families like the Al-Said Sultans of Oman, the Al-Nahyam rulers of Abu-Dhabi, the Al-Maktoums rulers of Dubai and the Al-Nasrids rulers of Al-Andaluz (Spain). Originally as part of the Azd tribe, the Sheikhs El Chemor have blood ties with many major Arab ruling houses. The El Chemor Sheikhs were related by marriage to the El Hachem Sheikhs of Akoura in Lebanon (descendants of the Hashemites rulers of Jordan and Iraq) and, more recently, to the Shihab Emirs, the latest rulers of Lebanon before the republic.

Mount Lebanon AFTER the Ottoman rule

Although the “Iltizam” system was effective implemented in Mount Lebanon only in 1667, some “noble” (not “royal) Sheikhs were created during the previous century by the Ottoman appointed princes. They were not natural “sovereign or semi-sovereign” tribal leaders but wealthy notable commoners elevated to nobility.

Iltizām, in the Ottoman Empire, taxation system carried out by farming of public revenue. The state auctioned taxation rights to the highest bidder (mültazim, plural mültezim or mültazims), who then collected the state taxes and made payments in fixed installments, keeping a part of the tax revenue for his own use. The iltizām system included the farming of land taxes, the farming of urban taxes, the production of certain goods (such as wine, salt, or senna), and the provision of certain services. It began during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II (1444–46, 1451–81) and was officially abolished in 1856. Various forms of iltizām, however, continued until the end of the empire in the early 20th century, when the system was replaced by methods of taxation that were supervised by public officials.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/iltizam-tax-system#ref158373

About the difference between the original tribal Sheikhs and the appointed “multazimsSheikhs:

“… [the tribal Sheikh] was a hereditary feudal chief whose authority over a particular district was vested within a patrilineal kinship group. He lived in his own village and maintained ties of patronage with his atba’ [following]. In contrast, the multazim [Sheikh] was not indigenous to the tax farm he controlled. He was more akin to a government official than a feudal sheikh.”  “Lebanon’s Predicament“, Columbia, 1987, Samir Khalaf

In 1711, the Shihab Princes had codified the honor system which is the one known today. The system was divided as:

Grand Emirs (princes), Emirs, Muqqadams and Great Sheikhs (five Druze and three Maronite families) and Sheikhs.

The systemwas not based on pedigree but in political prestige and economical favors.

Even though the “Great Sheikhs” were maybe more relevant and prestigious in Lebanon’s modern history than the El Chemor Sheikhs, their titles are of “noble” assent, not “royal since they were given by a higher authority corresponding to the equivalent of the European (non-sovereign)  “Duke”.

A similar case happened with the Arslan Emirs (princes). According to several historians, they had less actual power than some Sheikhs but a higher social importance. (see “All Honourable men: the social origins of war in Lebanon, Oxford 2001, Dr. Michael Johnson, p.99)

If you ask any Lebanese, even historians, who’s “royal” for them, they’ll immediately think of the princely families that ruled the whole Mount Lebanon under the Ottoman empire (i.e. Shuf Emirate, Emirate of Jabal Druze, Emirate of Mount Lebanon, as well as Ma’an Emirate)

However, the Thesaurus’ definition of the word “Royal” is

of or relating to a king, queen, or other sovereign

But what does “sovereign” means?

1. a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler. 2. a person who has supreme power or authority.”

In the technical sense, the El Chemor family was also sovereign in Mount Lebanon as it was in Ghassansince their power was considerable autonomous and didn’t emanate from a higher authority. The family had to make deals with the Ottomans only in the last years of rule, to join the Iltizam system for some time culminating with the deposition.

According to accepted international law and its principle of “sovereign equality“, the Pope or the prince of Monaco is “as royal” as the Queen of England regardless of the size of their actual territories. That principle is one of the pillars of International Law itself.

By the aforementioned, the “sovereign” or “semi-sovereign” ruling Sheikh is the equivalent of a Prince.

The original, but now less common use of the word, originated in the application of the Latin word princeps, from late Romanlaw, and the classical system of government that eventually gave way to the European feudal society. In this sense, a prince is a ruler of a territory which is sovereign, or quasi-sovereign, i.e., exercising substantial (though not all) prerogatives associated with monarchs of independent nations, as was common, for instance, within the historical boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire.”

(…)

As a title, by the end of the medieval era, prince was borne by rulers of territories that were either substantially smaller than or exercised fewer of the rights of sovereignty than did emperors and kings [exactly as the Sheikhdoms]. A lord of even a quite small territory might come to be referred to as a prince before the 13th century, either from translations of a native title into the Latin princeps (as for the hereditary ruler of Wales), or when the lord’s territory was allodial.”

(…)

Lords who exercised lawful authority over territories and people within a feudal hierarchy were also sometimes regarded as princes in the general sense, especially if they held the rank of count or higher. This is attested in some surviving styles for e.g., British earls, marquesses, and dukes are still addressed by the Crown on ceremonial occasions as high and noble princes (cf. Royal and noble styles)

(…)

Generically, prince refers to a member of a family that ruled by hereditary right, the title referring either to sovereigns or to cadets of a sovereign’s family. The term may be broadly used of persons in various cultures, continents or eras. In Europe, it is the title legally borne by dynasticcadets in monarchies, and borne by courtesy by members of formerly reigning dynasties

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince#Prince_as_generic_for_ruler

There are so many examples in the Arabian peninsula and Gulf like Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, etc

“Besides the sovereigns referred to above, there are several oriental potentates who should be mentioned, the rulers of the Sultanates and Sheikdoms of East Africa and the Persian Gulf (…) The style of these Sheikhs is His Highness.” Titles: How the king became His Majesty”, L.G. Pine, New York, 1992 (Barnes & Noble) p. 137-138

“In the modern United Arab Emirates, however, none of the rulers of the constituent states are called emirs (princes); all are Sheikhs.”

  https://www.britannica.com/topic/emir

Another undeniable evidence that proves the ROYAL character of the El Chemor titles is the fact that the origins of the Gulf Royal families and the El Chemor family is the very same, they came from Yemen and settled in different areas, before Islam. It’s more than natural that the pre-Islamic tribal traditions inherent to the titles be the same.

Even though all the Lebanese feudal titles were abolished by the Ottoman empire in 1858 CE, the empire could only do so with the titles bestowed by their own honor system. The El Chemor Family had both the Imperial and Royal Ghassanid titles and the ruling Sheikh titles by the “sui iuris” (by own right) legal principle, therefore, the revocation didn’t legally affect them.

However, both the empire and the subsequent Lebanese regimes have formally recognizedall the feudal titles by printing them in the official documents like birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports. No birth legal privilege attached to those titles, only the prerogative of using them publicly. Not much, but still a formal recognition.

The grave of His Highness Sheikh Selim El Chemor (the great grandfather of HRH Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, honorary head of the Royal House of Ghassan) passed away in 1909 CE), 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)

Photo: The grave of His Highness Sheikh Selim El Chemor (the great grandfather of HRH Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, honorary head of the Royal House of Ghassan) passed away in 1909 CE), 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)

As mentioned, the El Chemor family was ruling since 1211 CE, almost 80 years before the Ottoman empire was even founded and over 300 years before the first emirate was created with prince Fakhr al-Din I (1516–1544).

We can conclude that there’s a huge difference between the prestige of titles in Mount Lebanon and their actual legal value. Important to note that we’re not debating neither the prestige nor the historical deeds of a particular family, but the actual title’s legal pedigree. There are many families with a more active and glamorous participation in Lebanon’s history than the Sheikhs El Chemor, however, only the families that actually ruled before the Ottoman invasion can claim sovereign or semi-sovereign status along with the Maanid and the Shihab Emirs.

Sworn legal statement about the El Chemor family from the world’s leading scholar in Middle eastern Royal Succession HERE

More about the Sheikhs El Chemor and the Ghassanid Kings HERE

Official article from Lebanese Government about the late Sheikh Nassif El Chemor

Nassif el chemor article

Lebanon has two state-owned news agencies. The most important of them is The National News Agency (NNA), official news body of Lebanon, launched in 1964. They’re an entity subjected to the Ministry of Information Lebanese Republic.

The Ministry of Information consists of the General Directorate of Information and several other directorates including:  Directorate of Lebanese Studies and Publications, The National News Agency and  The Lebanese Broadcasting Directorate  Auditing Department (Diwan).  The Ministry includes other departments and sections.  It was organized by legislative decree no. 6830 released on June 15, 1961.

In other words, whatever is published or stated via any of the entities subjected to the Ministry of Information is considered and recognized as “official information from the Lebanese Government“.

Please CLICK HERE  for the official 2013’s article (in English) from the The National News Agency  (Lebanese Government News’s Agency – Ministry of Information) mentioning the late HH Sheikh Nassif El Chemor (transliterated there as “Shamir”) famous author, historian and former mayor of Kferhata in Lebanon. His Highness Sheikh Nassif has left us earlier this year victim of cancer. May God rest his soul.