“The Christian Kings of the Middle East” – new documentary released

 

The general public has no idea that the Middle East had a long reigning mighty Christian dynasty that flourished until very recently.
The Ghassanid Kings ruled several Middle Eastern regions, from 220 CE until the mid 18th century, a duration of over 1500 years. As the oldest active Christian Royal House in the world, they ruled over the largest territory for the longest period; more than any other Arab Dynasty.
The Ghassanid Kings’ lawful heirs are the Sheikhs El Chemor of Lebanon. Many were forced to move to the Americas and change their last names after being persecuted by the Ottoman Empire. But many never stopped using their titles and have recently been internationally recognized.
The Christian Kings of the Middle East“, a feature length documentary, is part of the “One Voice for Christians” initiative by the Royal House of Ghassan, in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, whose purpose is to raise awareness not only about the family’s history, but especially regarding the imminent extinction and exodus of Christianity in the Middle East.
The upcoming documentary “The Invisible People” is currently in production and will seek to explore the past, present and future of Christianity in the Middle East.
To support this project and our ongoing efforts to help raise awareness for the plight of Christianity make your tax deductible donation HERE:

More information about the Royal House of Ghassan HERE

More information about the “One Voice for Christians” initiative 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:

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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.”

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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

Father Ignatios El Khoury, one of the most acclaimed Maronite historians of the 20th century

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Father Ignatios Tannos El Khoury wearing the highest Academic Order of the French Government the “Ordre des Palmes académiques (Order of Academic Palms)” in the rank of officer

Around 300 years ago, His Beatitude Estephan II Boutros El Douaihy, Maronite Patriarch (1630-1704) and one of the most respected Lebanese historians, mentioned the ruling Sheikhs El Chemor in his chronicles about the Maronite history. In 1948, Father Ignatios Tannos El Khoury, one of the most acclaimed and respected Maronite historians of the 20th century, published a historical scientific research about the family called “Sheikhs El Chemor rulers of Akoura (1211-1633) and rulers of Zgharta-Zawyie (1641-1747)”. In this study, Father El Khoury states about the origins of the family El Chemor as being princes from the Ghassanid Royal Family and descending from the last King of Ghassan. That being the reason why they were respected by the Maronites as princes and sovereign rulers. Even regardless of the Ghassanid claim, the El Chemor family is undoubtedly a princely family since their titles didn’t come from any higher authority (prince, King nor emperor). They were sovereign and therefore royal, differently than many Sheikhs in Lebanon who got their titles from the princes that ruled Lebanon as “Ottoman puppets”. Not even those princes were technically sovereign since their power emanated conditionally and exclusively from the Ottoman empire. He also states that the Gharios (Guerios) family from Jbeil and Chiyah in Lebanon was originated from the El Chemor family.

The accounts about the El Chemor/Gharios (Guerios) family were never contested in over 300 years. Not even one line was written against the documents, books or even about the authors. On the contrary, patriarch Douaihy was Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in 1998 and is in the process of becoming a saint. Father Ignatios had published several historical books published not only in Lebanon but also in Europe and 6 years after the El Chemor scientific study was laureated by the French Government with their highest academic Order, the “Ordre des Palmes académiques (Order of Academic Palms)” in the rank of officer, the second highest. This honor is even higher in precedence than the well known “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters)”.

Father Ignatios Khoury has over 35 (thirty five) academic publications plus several peer revised articles and scholarly essays published in renowned magazines and newspapers in Lebanon, other Middle Eastern countries and Europe.

Please, click below to read his academic biography and publications (Original in Arabic)

Father Ignatios Arabic

Please, click below to read his academic biography and publications (English Legal sworn translation)

Father Ignatios Legal English

Please CLICK HERE  for an official 2014’s article (in Arabic) from the Lebanese Government News’s Agency (Lebanese Republic – Ministry of Information) quoting the book about the El Chemor princely family (recognizing the titles and citing some family members) and validating Father Ignatios as an official source.  

Please, click below of the English legal translation of the article

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Recently, Professor Dr. Abbot Antoine Daou, one of the top modern Maronite historians, have confirmed the aforementioned statements in a sworn affidavit.  Prof. Dr. Daou is not only an acclaimed Maronite historian and author of the book “History of the Maronites” (Beirut, 1970) amongst many others, but was graduated by the Pontifical Angelicum University in Rome with Doctorates in Theology and Canon law. He is a siting professor of the La Sagesse University in Lebanon and is the Abbot of the Antoinine Maronite Order. He also serves as the Secretary of the Commission of the Lebanese Bishops’ Conference for Dialogue with Islam.

Prof. Dr. Abbot Daou categorically states that the book about the El Chemor family by Father Ignatios “has been considered as an essential reference of Maronite’s and Lebanon history’s references” and that “no book or criticism has been issued by the Maronite church opposing this chronicling.” About Father Ignatios he states “a well-known historian and writer”.

Please, click here to access the document and the sworn legal translation in English: 

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Please, click here to access the document and the sworn legal translation in German: 

affidavit-professor-dr-antoine-daou-german

Please, click HERE for the sworn legal statement from the world’s leading scholar in Middle eastern Royal Succession corroborating with Father Ignatios El Khoury’s chronicles of the El Chemor/Gharios Family

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

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American journalist and author Gerald W. Johnson once said:

“Nothing changes more constantly than the past; for the past that influences our lives does not consist of what actually happened, but of what men believe happened”.

Nothing could be more accurate than that regarding the history and the history’s perception in and about the Middle East.

Trying not to go too deep in the past and too broad geographically, let’s concentrate in the Al-Sham’s recent history. This area comprehends today the region bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea, usually known as the Levant or the region of Greater Syria: Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and the Turkish Hatay Province.

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In this relatively small region, it’s concentrated dozens of different peoples and religions. Many of them with conflicting interests and identities. Their inhabitants have suffered enormous pressure by Turkish Ottoman occupation and later on by imperialist western interests. These imperative tensions allied to constant wars impacted the history and its perception tremendously. A very recent example of this is the anti-Arab sentiment in Lebanon. Many Lebanese people refuse to identify themselves as having neither any genetic nor cultural Arab inheritance. The ironic is that the branches of the very same Lebanese families that live for centuries where now is Jordan, Palestine or Syria are not affected by this sentiment identifying themselves proudly as Arabs. The very same happening with the Lebanese families that migrated to South America before the foundation of the Lebanese Republic (1943).

Still talking about Lebanon, the Ottoman occupation for centuries had no interest in allowing the propagation of the history of any sovereign or noble family with the exception of the ones serving the Ottoman interests. This scenario in the Middle East has no parallel in Europe, for example. The history of the sovereign families is very well documented and was always protected by the Catholic and Protestant Churches.

The El Chemor/Gharios Family

According to never contested Maronite acclaimed historians, the El Chemor/Gharios Princely Family is the direct blood line from the last King of the Ghassanids Chemor (or Shoumar) Jablah VI Ibn Aiham (ruled 632-638 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)

There are only two ancient families named Chemor/Shammar in the whole Middle East. One, is from the Tayy tribe and has Bedouin origin and is Muslim. They have adopted to use the name Shammar/Shammari after the XIV Century since they 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.

But the El Chemor/Gharios family is a sovereign Princely family regardless of the Ghassanid claim since it ruled an absolute regime in Al-Aqoura from 1211 CE until 1633 CE only being forced to make treaties with the Ottoman Empire after their arrival in today’s Lebanon in the XVI Century. That makes the rulers absolute sovereigns for almost three centuries! The Sheikhs El Chemor would rule for another two centuries in Al-Aqoura and Zgharta-Zawiye still autonomous but then in treaty with the Ottomans.

Important to clarify that the title “sheikh” has many different levels: In the specific case of the El Chemor family the title “Sheikh” it’s related to a sovereign ruler (as mentioned, Al-Akoura and Zghartha-Zawyie from the 13th until the 18th century) hence, it’s also the equivalent of “Prince”. See the examples of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, etc. where all the princes belonging to the ruling family are “sheikhs”.

“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

There are other kind of lesser “sheikhs” even in Lebanon. Those were either elevated by ruling princes (as a noble, not a royal title) or were mere tax collectors of the Ottoman empire. The aforementioned doesn’t apply to the El Chemor princes since it’s documented that they were ruling independently since 1211 CE, when no Caliphate was occupying or dominating Mount Lebanon, 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), a puppet of the Ottoman Empire.

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His Highness Sheikh Sabah IV Ahmad Al-Jabar Al-Sabah, Emir (Prince) and sovereign ruler of Kuwait

And this is also very important to be clarified. 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)

The Thesaurus’ definition of the word “Royal” is “of or relating to a king, queen, or other sovereign”. What does “sovereign” means? “1. a monarch; a king, queen, or other supreme ruler. 2. a person who has supreme power or authority.” In this technical sense, the El Chemor family was actually sovereign since their power didn’t emanate from a higher authority. The family had to make deals with the Ottomans only in the last years of rule, culminating with the deposition. The respect to the Maronite Patriarch was similar to the devotion that European Kings had to the Pope.

According to accepted international law and its principle of ‘sovereign equivalency”, the Pope or the prince of Monaco is “as royal” as the Queen of England regardless of the size of their actual territories.

The titles of the El Chemor family were again recognized by the Ottoman empire until its demise (1924 CE) and also by the Lebanese republic until the present date being officially printed on the documents of some family members for generations. The family’s history was kept and validated for centuries by the Maronite Church under the Holy See (Vatican) and the authority of the Pope.

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Photo: The grave of His Highness Sheikh Selim El Chemor (passed away 1909 CE, the great grandfather of HRH Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, honorary head of the Royal House of Ghassan), note that the royal title of Sheikh (in Arabic, upper right side) is on his tombstone, a capital proof that the family has been publicly using the ‘sui iuris’ titles for centuries until the present date. (Grave at the cemetery at the Mar Mama Ancient Church in Kferhata, Lebanon) Understand the legality of the titles here: sheikhs-el-chemor-a-legal-study-of-titles/

International Law

In international law, sovereignty means that a government possesses full control over affairs within a territorial or geographical area or limit. That’s regardless of its size or the time that the aforementioned “full control” was exercised.

Again, the El Chemor/Gharios family is a legitimate princely sovereign family. That’s beyond any single solitary doubt. As mentioned, both the Ottoman Empire and the Lebanese Republic never ceased to recognize the family’s titles until the present day. Although, according to accepted jurisprudence, the so-called “recognition” is not a ‘sine qua non’ condition to the legitimacy of a Royal House.

It is worth mentioning also that the princely families, with the sovereign attributes, requires no recognition by the government of their country of origin, or submit any record in countries where its members settle in residence. The dynastic and political independence is based on the Sovereignty itself, which guides their social existence and regardless of any legal recognition, with respect to dynastic and private affairs. ” “Studies on Nobility Law” (Estudos sobre Direito Nobiliário), by Dr. Mario Silvestre de Meroe, pg. 65

Professor Emilio Furno, an Italian advocate in the Supreme Court of Appeal, writes as follows “The Legitimacy of Non-National Orders”, Rivista Penale, No.1, January 1961, pp. 46-70:

“The qualities which render a deposed sovereign a subject of international law are undeniable and in fact constitute an absolute personal right of which the subject may never divest himself and which needs no ratification or recognition on the part of any other authority whatsoever. A reigning sovereign or head of state may use the term recognition in order to demonstrate the existence of such a right, but the term would be a mere declaration and not a constitutive act.” (Furno, op.cit.)

“A notable example of this principle is that of the People’s Republic of China which for a considerable time was not recognised and therefore not admitted to the united nations, but which nonetheless continued to exercise its functions as a sovereign state through both its internal and external organs…” (Furno, op.cit.)

It’s accepted by International law that the sovereign attributes are indelibly connected to a family that once ruled being passed to the descendants according to that family specific laws of succession.

“. . . the king does not forfeit the character of royalty merely by the loss of his kingdom. If he is unjustly despoiled of it by an usurper, or by rebels, he still preserves his rights. . . .” (Emerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations, Book II, chapter XII, no. 196)

Professor Dr. W. Baroni Santos in his book Treaty of Heraldry declared:

“The doctrine and jurisprudence have confirmed that the territorial power is not necessary for the exercise of the dynasty, for they are inserted in the person of the sovereign, which keeps the same after the loss of the throne, passing them regularly to their heirs and successors.”

The loss of its territory in no way diminishes its sovereign powers, because these are inherent in the person of the sovereign, transmitting it, perpetually to their descendants.” (Vol. I, 5th ed., 1978, p. 197-198)

The El Chemor/Gharios Princely Family has the legitimate sovereign attributes by all the known principles of international law:

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The Montevideo Convention in 1933

Declarative sovereignty (declarative theory of statehood)

Codified during the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States in Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 26, 1933, during the Seventh International Conference of American States. The declarative theory of statehood defends the aforementioned by Dr. Meroe and Prof. Furno meaning: “The political existence of the state [sovereignty] is independent of recognition by the other states.”

Recent jurisprudence corroborates:

“(…) it’s irrelevant if that Imperial family is no longer ruling for centuries, because the deposition doesn’t harm the sovereign prerogatives even if the sovereign renounces, spontaneously, to the throne. In substance, in this case, the Sovereign does not cease to be King, even living in exile or in private life (without claiming his sovereignty), because his prerogatives are, itself, by birth and cannot be extinguished, but remains and may be transmitted in time, from generation to generation.”
Court sentence of the Republican Italy (Pretoria de Vico Del Gargano, Italian Republic, sentence number 217/1949)

Still according to Prof. Furno:

“The prerogatives which we are examining may be denied and a sovereign state within the limits of its own sphere of influence may prevent the exercise by a deposed Sovereign of his rights in the same way as it may paralyze the use of any right not provided in its own legislation. However such negating action does not go to the existence of such a right and bears only on its exercise.”(Furno, op.cit.)

The eminent author concludes:

“To sum up, therefore, the Italian judiciary, in those cases submitted to its jurisdiction, has confirmed the prerogatives jure sanguinis of a dethroned Sovereign without any vitiation of its effects, whereby in consequence it has explicitly recognized the right to confer titles of nobility and other honorifics relative to his dynastic heraldic patrimony.” (Furno, op.cit.)

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The Congress of Vienna 1815

Constitutive sovereignty (constitutive theory of statehood)

Defines a sovereign as a person of international law if, and only if, it is recognized by other states. This theory of recognition was developed in the 14th century and exercised by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. One of the major criticisms of this principle is the fact that a state may use any criteria when judging if they should give recognition and they have absolutely no obligation of recognizing any person nor state. Usually, states only recognize another state if it is to their own political or economic advantage, rarely based on legitimacy.

In 1912, the great German jurist L. F. L. Oppenheim stated about the constitutive theory:

“International Law does not say that a State is not in existence as long as it isn’t recognised, but it takes no notice of it before its recognition. Through recognition only and exclusively a State becomes an International Person and a subject of International Law.”

As previously mentioned, the El Chemor/Gharios family was recognized by the Ottoman Empire since its arrival in today’s Lebanon. The titles of the family members were part of their legal documents even after the deposition in Zgharta in 1747 CE until the empire’s demise in 1924. The Lebanese Republic followed this legal recognition. In 2017, the President of the Lebanese Republic General Michel Aoun has officially received the family members in a private audience reinforcing this recognition. Also in 2017, the family was officially recognized by the Republic of Albania through the head of State, President Bujar Nishani.

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Royal Family with Albanian President Bujar Nishani in 2017

Back in 2015, the Vatican Secretariat of State recognized the Princely Royal titles through the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. The Order’s sovereign is the Pope.

The above are only the official recognitions from heads of State. The family has numerous recognitions from Princes, Religious leaders, ministries, parliaments, local governments, eminent institutions, etc.

It’s easy to conclude that the El Chemor/Gharios family satisfies the constitutive theory of sovereignty.

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Royal Family with Lebanese President General Michel Aoun in 2017

Principle of Prescription

Some scholars apply the controversial principle of prescription to sovereign titles alleging that the lack of use of the family’s titles for over one century would forfeit the claim for those titles. In other words, it would establish the presumption of abandonment of ownership of those titles. Many eminent scholars disagree:

Neither the elapsed time, even for centuries, or non-use of the acts of sovereignty exercised by the Prince Pretender, Head of Name and Arms of his house, may be derogated, prescribed or canceled. He/She Retains these rights until the end of times ‘ ad perpetuam rei tenendam ‘ which are inserted in the person of Prince Pretender. ” Professor Dr W. Baroni Santos, Doctor D’etat (post-doctorate/ habilitation) from the University of Reims in France in his book “Treaty of Heraldry and Nobility Law” Volume II page 52

That goes in harmony with one of the forefathers of International law, Hugo Grotius who wrote:

“. . . in order that silence may establish the presumption of abandonment of ownership, two conditions are requisite, that the silence be that of one who acts with knowledge and of his own free will. For the failure to act on the part of one who does not know is without legal effect.” (On the Law of War and Peace, Book I, chapter IV, number 5).

According to another forefather of international law, Emmerich Vattel in the book “The law of Nations”:

“CHAP. XI. OF USUCAPTION AND PRESCRIPTION AMONG NATIONS”

§ 144. Claimant alleging reasons for his silence.

In cases of ordinary prescription, the same argument cannot be used against a claimant who alleges just reasons for his silence, as, the impossibility of speaking, or a well-founded fear, &c., because there is no longer any room for a presumption that he has abandoned his right. It is not his fault if people have thought themselves authorized to form such a presumption; nor ought he to suffer in consequence: he cannot therefore be debarred the liberty of clearly proving his property. This method of defense in bar of prescription has been often employed against princes whose formidable power had long silenced the feeble victims of their usurpations.” http://www.constitution.org/vattel/vattel_02.htm

In other words:

Presumption of neglect cannot justly exist, where the original owner has, by ignorance of his rights, or by deception, or personal fear, been prevented from claiming what he is entitled to. If he knew not that he had a right, he could not be supposed to relinquish it. And if fear or fraud induced his neglect, his mind could not have voluntarily consented.” (John Penford Thomas, A Treatise of Universal Jurisprudence, chapter II, no. 13, 1829, p. 34)

According to Professor Noel Cox, a world acclaimed Expert in Royalty and Nobility (letter 1/11/11):

“The broader question of usucapio, or prescription, is an interesting one. in principle international law recognises extinctive prescription, where one sovereign state loses pre-existing rights to another, through failure to assert them. However, the actual application of the principle is extremely uncertain. More importantly, while it may affect such matters as international boundaries, it would have no application over the internal state of affairs. Thus, whether an exiled ruler is still the head of State of a country is not clearly a question of prescription at all. Dynastic right may expire according to domestic law, but international law is a vague and uncertain basis for a ruling. Such examples as the recognition of the Communist Government in Peking, over the Taiwan-based Nationalists, show how difficult this can be. But these questions have little to do with the creation of nobility, or those sorts of matters…”

Even though some family members had to escape to South America due to the Ottoman persecution, the principle of prescription cannot be applied to the El Chemor/Gharios princes since many family members that stayed in Lebanon never stopped using their titles officially until the present date keeping the sovereign claim legally “alive”.

ROYAL CLAIM’S SUMMARY:

– Royal claim based on titles previously recognized by the Ottoman Empire since its incursion in the Levant until its demise in 1924,
– Royal claim based on titles recognized by the Lebanese Republic since its foundation until the present date,
– Royal claim recognized by “jus sanguinis” (law of blood) on an International Arbitration award issued in 2011 and valid in 148 nations of the world by the 1958 NY Convention,
– Vouched by 3 Brazilian Judges (sworn affidavits 2013),
– Recognized and executed by 2 American Judges (2012 and 2016),
– Based upon 150 years of European Jurisprudence of over 20 similar Royal claims,
– Royal claim based on over 50 bona fide scholars (jurists and historians) from East and West,
– Over 100 corroborating scholarly references,
– Formally recognized by 3 ruling heads-of-state (2015 and 2017),
– Informally recognized by governments and reputed institutions of United States (including the U.S. Congress), Brazil, Germany, Spain, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, UAE, Italy, Israel, Palestine and Ukraine,
– Formally recognized by the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem one of the original orders of chivalry in the world having the Pope as Sovereign,
– Recognized by the majority of religious leaders in the Middle East, both Christian and Muslim.    

Conclusion

rambam_n

The philosopher Maimonides wisely said:

“Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.”

The only flaw of the El Chemor/Gharios princely family is not being notorious like their peers in Europe or even in the Middle East. That have been creating some room for surprise from some uninformed people raising questions about our history. I hope this article could shine some light over the subject from the legal and historical perspective.

 

The Laws of Succession of the Ghassanids

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Once and for all, people must understand that there are differences between the Royal Houses of Europe and the rest of the world. Several “pseudo-scholars” try to standardize every single Dynasty on the planet with the European system which is absolutely inapplicable.

From the essay “Resolution of Monarchical Successions under International Law” (The Augustan, Vol. XVII, number 4, p. 977 by Professor Stephen P. Kerry Baca:

“Competence of International Law:

From time to time questions have arisen concerning the succession to various crowns, dignities, and hereditary rights.  These questions are primarily juridical and ought to be resolved through the correct application of each family’s Dynastic Laws.”

It’s widely known that almost all the Royal Houses of Europe have not only a blood relation but also very similar Dynastic Laws regulating the successions. Usually, Primogeniture  is applied. Some Houses accept the  Morganatic marriages  as a limitation for the royal rights.   Others  apply the Salic Law   invalidating the rights  from the  female line.  All of these can be  ideal for a very clear and defined method of succession.  Most of the Royal Houses of Europe had been ruling  until very recent times.  This  makes it  easier to figure out not only the legality but also the genealogical minutiae for the succession.  The European Houses  have  established a small  number of the recognized  Princes and Princesses   in each royal house, thus  limiting  the number of candidates considerably.

Unfortunately, this is not the case  for the whole world. The laws of Succession are plural.  For an unusual example, in the Kingdom of Ghana, the successor is not  from the King’s direct descendants, but the King’s sister’s  male offspring.    In some cases, the King could  have doubts as to whether the  offspring were his.  He has more confidence that his sister’s sons have the family’s blood.

The question was posed as to how to decide on  hundreds of legitimate heirs of a monarchy that have  ruled centuries ago.  To understand the Ghassanid system which was a hybrid between the Arab and Byzantine system allowing, for example,  co-rulers and legal-dynastic adoptions, we have to study the Laws of Succession of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which are  very similar to the Ghassanid system.

The Saudi Royal Family have  thousands of members and hundreds of princes.

“Though some have put the family’s numbers as high as 25,000, most estimates place their numbers in the region of 7,000, with most power and influence being wielded by the 200 [Princes] or so descendants of King Abdul Aziz.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Saud

In 2006, by a Royal Decree, King Abdullah created a limitation to the succession.

“The current head of the Al Saud and ruler of Saudi Arabia is King Abdullah bin Abdul- Aziz who announced, on 20 October 2006, the creation of a committee of princes to vote on the viability of kings and the candidature of nominated crown princes -in effect, clarifying and further defining the Al Saud’s line of succession process.” (Ibid.)

There were no specific rules before 2006, just like  any other Arab monarchical succession.  The only mandatory law was that the heir must  be male and blood related to  King Abdul Aziz. There was no primogeniture or seniority.

“Sons of Abdul Aziz (Ibn Saud, the founder of the modern Saudi state) have been, thus far, the only eligible candidates allowed to serve as King or Crown Prince. As a result of the aging of this pool (there are an estimated 22 surviving sons, the oldest being in his mid-80s and the youngest in his 60s); a decree by King Fahd expanded the candidates to include the male progeny of King Abdul Aziz’s sons. This decree has expanded the pool to over 150 eligible candidates, though consensus and competency would limit this number.” (Ibid.)

After 2006, although a selective system was established, the candidates for the succession are exactly in harmony with the old tribal system.    It is mandatory  to recognize   male and blood relation  to the last King (or founding King, depending on the Kingdom).  Depending on the circumstances, the successor could be the King’s oldest or youngest son, his youngest brother, his nephew or even his cousin.

Since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932, it is less than  100 years old.  So far there are around 150 eligible candidates to the succession. Based on this law and its consequences, we’ll probably have over 1,000 (one thousand) eligible candidates in 100 years.  The first Ghassanid Kingdom lasted over 400 years.  If we assume that we’ve had only 2 (two) eligible candidates for the succession (a very impossible and modest figure) when the Kingdom was illegally terminated in 636 AD, and, applying the mathematical principle of exponentiality, yes, we will have millions of legitimate candidates.  This has no legal bearing that a right cannot be claimed  due to the  innumerable candidates. Also, in the specific case of the the Ghassanid Dynasty, all those descendatns were narrowed to one family since it’s documented that the El Chemor Sheikhs are the direct descendants of the last King Jablah Abu Chemor of the first Ghassanid State and were recognized by the neighboring powers as the rightful heirs of the Ghassanid Kings ruling two principalities in the north of Mount Lebanon for about 500 years.

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)

If  other legal perspectives are  applied,  that would reduce  this number dramatically:

– Women – By tradition, the Head of the Dynasty  cannot be a woman.  That  would  cut the numbers  by about half,  assuming the majority of the population are women.

– Female Lines – The male heirs from a female line may  have the rights,   but they’re superseded by the heirs from the male lines.

– Citizenship – Some scholars defend, like the eminent writer Emmanuel Kant, that if the heirs to the succession voluntarily accept (or seek) citizenship in the usurper regime of the territory (or territories) their ascendants once ruled, they are incurring  a waiver of their personal rights to the royal claims.  Kant believed that “if he [the deposed king or sovereign prince, or his successor] accepts citizen status he quits his claim to the throne….”  (Peter Nicholson, “Kant on the Duty Never to Resist the Sovereign,” Ethics, vol. 86, no. 3, April 1976, p. 225).   The Kingdom of Ghassan   used to be  where  Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia stand today:  including  the territory   of Yemen  inhabited by the Azd (Uzd) tribes.   All the voluntary citizens of these countries may have their claims encroached, although their heirs – arguably –  are not affected.

– Public and military service – The majority of scholars  agree that  by voluntarily accepting a political  office  or joining the army in a foreign state, the heir of Dynastic Rights  tacitly abdicates his personal rights  over a defunct throne. To perform such acts for the usurper regime of  the same territory that his ancestors ruled, it’s  a great gesture  of abdication  and voluntary  agreement with the “status quo”.  According to  the scholar Lassa Oppenheim in the book International law: a treatise, Volume 1 p. 411: “353. When a monarch  accepts any office in a foreign state, when serves, for instance, in a  foreign army,  as the monarchs of the small German have formerly frequently done, he submits to such state as far as the duties of the office are concerned, and his home state cannot claim any privileges for him that otherwise would be due to him.”   That does not apply  to other   public offices  but only to  voluntary  military  service. In countries where the military service  is mandatory  (Conscription)  it cannot be considered a waiver of his  rights.   A tacit abdication only occurs, as any kind of legal renunciation, by a  freely, explicit and voluntary act.

– Religion  – Although traditionally,  religion alone cannot be considered a reason for the waiver of royal rights, the Ghassanids had a prohibition law of marriage with non-Christians. Therefore, the Ghassanid descendants that converted to Islam (or married someone  of the Islamic faith or other religion),  could not claim the Head of the House.

“While Ghassanid Christians clung to their identity as a minority  and were interbed [keeping the blood pure] because of the prohibition of marriage with non-Christians..” (Professor Doctor Yasmine Zahran, “Ghassan Resurrected”, 2006, p.149)

-Maternal lineage – In  the Arabic pre-Islamic system of succession, the Father’s line is more  important.  However,  if the prince   has a strong noble line from his  mother,  he  can become more eligible to be King and head of the Dynasty.

“… the social standing of others  and their tribal connections  often determine the prominence of individual princes.  In general terms,  sons with mothers from prominent families,  …  have stronger political credentials .” (Joseph A. Kechichian, “Succession in Saudi Arabia”, 2001, p.26)

-Legal Principles of  “Prior Claim”  – Based on the fact that there was no formal claim related to the Head of the Ghassanid Dynasty (and all its claims) since 1747 A.D.  (although the descendant’s families have been  claiming descendancy publicly  since the 7th century)  the first public claimant could not be superseded by the legal principle of “Prior Claim”  (“the first in time is the first in line”). The principle is accepted in all fields of law, both secular and religious, internationally and domestically.

“3.Acquisiton of Rights 

“ and did not conflict with any prior claim, the international office would have no authority to refuse to receive it.” (Shigeru Oda, “The international law of the ocean development: Basic documents”, Volume 1 p. 261)

“on the basis of this Prior Claim, princes belonging to different dynasties were drawn into the politics of expansion” (Yves Bonnefoy, “Asian mythologies”, p. 188)

“Countess Palatine, the daughter of James I  of England, procured a Prior Claim to the younger line.” (John Ramsay McCulloch, “A dictionary, geographical, statistical, and historical: of the various countries, …, Volume 1, p. 476)

“because of  the reservation of his Catholic Majesty’s Prior Claim to the sovereignty   of the islands” (Edward Baines, “History of the reign of George III, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”, Volume 1, p. 119)

“we then stepped in with a Prior Claim, which was admitted without dispute . (Arthur William Alsager Pollock, “The United service magazine”, Volume 48, p. 571)

” as should determine the scope of their application in conformity with legal principles having a Prior Claim   and authoritative sanction.” (Thorstein Veblen, “The Instinct Of Workmanship And The State Of The Industrial Arts”, p. 180)

“in case either should be taken by a Prior Claim, the other should revert to the former owner .” (William Henry Rawle, “A practical treatise on the law of covenants for title”, p. 655)

-Legal principle of “Laches” – Based on the principle of “Prior Claim”,  another legal principle arises: The “Laches” (‘Vigilantibus non dormientibus æquitas subvenit’, in other words, ” Equity aids the vigilant, not the sleeping ones” –  or those who sleep on  their rights). “Laches” is derived from the French ‘lecher’ and is nearly synonymous with Negligence. The principle is applicable just as a tacit abdication   from other members of the family  regarding the position of Head of the Dynasty.   They don’t lose, at all their princely attributes,  since by “jus sanguinis” (right by blood),  these  are perpetual.  Hence,  after the death of the original claimant, the other princes  can compete  for the title of Head of Name and Arms of the Dynasty following the “rotation” system of the Ghassanid  Laws of Succession.

According to Dr. Mario Silvestre de Meroe (“Studies on Nobility Law” – Estudos sobre Direito Nobiliário), by, pg. 60: “These [Sovereign]  rights are inherent to the person of the sovereign, inseparable, imprescriptible and  inalienable.  The monarch can, however, and for personal reasons dispose these rights, by  abdication and renunciation,  in favor of other members of his family. In these cases, though, he will renounce the exercise of these rights, not implying in the renounce  of the sovereignty , what is native and it’s a personal and inalienable right.  These qualities are transmitted “in totum”  [in fullness] to his descendants, heirs or successors, with no limitation of  lines and degrees. “

-Legal principle of “Estoppel”  – “Estoppel in its broadest sense is a legal term referring to a series of legal and equitable doctrines that preclude ” a person from denying or asserting anything to the contrary of  that which has, in contemplation of law, been established as the truth, either by the acts of judicial  or legislative officers, or by his own deed, acts, or representations, either express or impliedThis term appears to come from the Old French estoupail (or a variation), which meant “stopper plug”, referring to placing a halt on the imbalance of the situation. The term is related to the verb “estop” which comes from the Old French term estopper, meaning ” stop  up, impede.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel

So, by this principle,  after the first claim was made publicly (and according with the law), any other claimant cannot assert anything to  the contrary.

– Legal principle of “Acquiescence”  – “Acquiescence is a legal term used to describe  an act of a person in knowingly standing by without raising any objection to infringement of his rights,  when someone else is unknowingly and  honestly putting in his resources under the impression that the said rights actually belong to him.  Consequently,  the person whose rights are infringed cannot anymore make a claim against the infringer or succeed in an injunction suit due to his conduct. The term is most generally, “permission” given by  silence or passiveness.  Acceptance or agreement by keeping qujet or by not making objections.  The common law doctrine of estoppel by acquiescence is applied when  one party gives legal notice to a second party of a fact or claim and  the second party fails to challenge  or refute that claim  within a reasonable time.  The second party is said to have acquiesced to the  claim,  and is  estopped from later challenging it, or making a counterclaim.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel_by_acquiescence

The four aforementioned legal principles are complimentary and one is a consequence of the other.  By the principle of “Prior Claim”, the fact that none claimed for a long time makes the first and original claim the germane one (if it is  in harmony with the Dynastic Law). By “Laches”.  Any other claim that is presented  after the first one would  lose its claim  as “Estoppel” prevents other claimants to make a counterclaim once the original claim was made lawfully and publicly.  The lack of protests creates “Acquiescence” in favor of  the original claim,  preventing anyone to make a counterclaim.  It is  very important  to note that  all of these principles are not related with the Sovereign rights, but only to the exercise of these rights as Head of Name and Arms of a Dynasty. (See Dr. Meroe’s citation on the legal principle of “Laches”).

By the same token, it is  important to note that International Law sees the establishment of a “Government-in-Exile” as a matter of  Emergency in order to preserve all the usurped Nation’s relevant  aspects  of identity, such as: political, cultural, religious,  and so on.  Hence, the law accepts that the creation of this entity (Sovereign Government-in-Exile) is more important than constitutional technicalities, to justify even a representative from a cadet (junior) branch of the Royal family coming from a female line to be the Head of the Dynasty  for lack of any other previous claim.

“In view of such extreme   [country’s usurpation], a  temporary deviation from the working of the constitution is justifiable if this is  necessary to conserve the sovereignty and independency of the country.” (Dr. Lassa Oppenheimer, “Governments and Authorities in Exile”, p. 581-582)

The Ghassanid hereditary succession is similar to what we see in the Middle Eastern Monarchies today. The only mandatory law is that the sovereign has to be a male descendant of the last ruling monarch. There’s no “hermetic”  Salic Law (or Agnatic Succession, which is the limitation of inheritance to a throne or fief to heirs descended from the original titleholder through males only, excluding descendants through females) and definitely no Agnatic primogeniture, also “patrilineal  primogeniture” which is inheritance according to seniority of birth among the sons of a monarch or

head of a family, with sons and their male issues inheriting before brothers and their issues, and male-line males inheriting before females of the male line.

King Jafnah I ibn `Amr ruled 220-265, his successor was his   son Amr I ibn Jafnah that ruled 265-270. His successor was his son  Tha’labah ibn Amr ruling from 270 till 287.  His successor was his  sonAl-Harith I ibn Th`alabah and ruled 287-307. His successor was his  son Jabalah I ibn al-Harith I ruling 307-317. King Al-Harith II ibn Jabalah “ibn Maria” that ruled 317-327 and his successor was his son Al-Mundhir I Senior ibn al-Harith II ruling 327-330. His successor was his brother  King Al-Aiham ibn al-Harith II and his heir was his brother   King Al-Mundhir II Junior ibn al-Harith II and ruled from 327 to 340 and his Co-rulers was his  brothers  Al-Nu`man I ibn al-Harith II and Amr II ibn al-Harith II succeeded by his brother Jabalah II ibn al-Harith II succeeded by his nephew  King Jafnah II ibn al-Mundhir I ruling from 361 till 391 with his  brother  Al-Nu`man II ibn al-Mundhir I as co-ruler. His cousin Al-Nu`man III ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Mundhir I succeeded him ruling from 391-418 and his  son  King Jabalah III ibn al-Nu`man succeeded him. His  cousin  King Al-Nu`man IV ibn al-Aiham ruled with his brother  King Al-Harith III ibn al-Aiham from 434 till 456 with his  son  Al-Nu`man V ibn al-Harith. His son succeeded him, the King Al-Mundhir II ibn al-Nu`man ruled 453-472) with his brother   King Amr III ibn al- Nu`man as co-ruler. His successor was his  brother  King Hijr ibn al-Nu`man. His successor was his  son  King Al-Harith IV ibn Hijr ruling from 486 till 512. His successor was his  son King Jabalah IV ibn al-Harith ruled 512-529. His successor was his cousin  King Al- Amr IV ibn Machi (Mah’shee) (529) and his successor was his cousin  King Al- Harith V ibn Jabalah ruling from 529 till 569. His heir was his  son King Al-Mundhir III ibn al-Harith that ruled 569-581) and his successor and part co-ruler was his brother  King Abu Kirab al-Nu`man ibn al-Harith. From 581 till 583 the successor was his  cousin  King Al-Nu’man VI ibn al-Mundhir ruling from 581 till 583. Succeeded by his  cousin  King Al- Harith VI ibn al-Harith and his heir was his  son  King Al-Nu’man VII ibn al-Harith Abu Kirab. Succeeded him his cousin  King Al-Aiham ibn Jabalah ruling until 614 succeeded by his  brother  King Al-Mundhir IV ibn  Jabalah succeeded again by a brother, King Sharahil ibn Jabalah. Other brother Rsucceeded him,King Amr IV ibn Jabalah ruling until 628. Succeeded by his  cousin King Jabalah V ibn al-Harith ruled 628-632 and succeeded by his  cousin  King Jabalah VI Abu Chemor ibn al-Aiham as the last ruler from 628 till 638.

Since the time of the ancient Arab tribes, we see a system called “rotation”. Usually, the heir to the throne was selected from among the King’s male descendants for his qualities, such as: physical force, nobility (if the prince was descended from another Royal line from his mother, it would make him more fit for the throne :  even the King’s direct sons could come from different mothers) and also the most intelligent and popular prince among the people.

In succession based on “rotation”, all (male) members of the dynasty are entitled to the monarchy.

“In Europe, where dynasties flourished, succession was once determined by a show of strength among a ruler’s sons.  In time, however, it reverted to primogeniture, in which a ruler’s oldest male descendant acceded to the throne.  For a variety of reasons, chiefly because of religious and tribal traditions,  Primogeniture has not developed among Arabian dynasties in quite the same say, because under Shariah law,  all sons of a man are equal and legitimate, even if they were born from illegitimate marriages.  Moreover, in pre-Islamic tribal norms, while the throne could have passed from one generation to the next within a particular family,  it was not necessarily passed from father to son.  Rather the authority also fell to a ruler’s brother, uncle, or cousin, depending on which of these oldest male relatives was  seen to possess ‘ the qualities of nobility; skill in arbitration; hazz or ‘good fortune’;  and leadership ’ “. (Joseph A. Kechichian, “Succession in Saudi Arabia”, 2001, p.10)

” there are  several potential rulers and no means – either observed or formal – to finally arbitrate among various claimants ,” (Ibid.p.11)

The great majority of the Arab Monarchies, past and present, follows the “rotation”. Good and recent examples are: the Kingdom of Jordan, the Emirate of Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sultanate of Oman.

According to   the book “World Royal Families” (2008) from Edward Riley, Sandra Forty and Judith Millidge:

– Jordan (pages: 240, 241, 242, 243, 244 and 245)

For most of his reign, King Hussein I (1935-1999) designated as his successor his younger brother, “at the time” Crown Prince Hassan (1947- ), but shortly before his death,   he changed his will in favor of his son, the current King Abdullah II.  This is a perfect example of the rotation.

– Kuwait (pages: 246, 247, 248, 249, 250 and 251)

This is  a  classic example of the rotation.  Emir Mubarak I (1837-1915) had 12 children , including his successor, Emir Jaber II (1860-1917).  After his reign,  younger brother  Emir Salem I (1864-1921) ruled.  His successor wasn’t his older son but his nephew  Emir Ahmed I (1885-1950).  Ahmed’s successor was his cousin   Emir Abdullah III (1895-1965). Abdullah’s successor was his youngest brother   Emir Sabah III (1913-1977).  Sabah’s successor was his 3rd  degree cousin  Emir Jaber III (1926-2006) who by the way was the 3rd oldest son .  His successor was his cousin  Emir Saad (1930-2008) and his heir was Emir Sabah IV (1929- ).  Although he has 3 sons, his successor is his 3rd  youngest brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf (1937- ).

– Saudi Arabia (pages: 252, 253, 254, 255, 256 and 257)

King Ibn Saud (1876-1953) founded the kingdom in 1932 and ruled until 1953.  His successor was his   son King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz (1902-1969).  After him, his brother  King Faisal (1904-1975) reigned until his assassination. His brother  Khalid (1913-1982) succeeded  him and after him, his other  brother  Fahd (1921-2005) ruled. The current King is Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz (1924- ) and his heir is his  youngest brother, Crown Prince Sultan (1926- ). The 1992 Basic Law of the government states that the King must be a male descendant   of King Ibn Saud. Recently, by a Royal decree of October 2006, future Saudi Kings will be selected by a committee of Saudi Princes. This is a  revival of the Arab tribal custom of selection  as above cited.

– Qatar (pages: 264, 265, 266, 267, 268 and 269)

The Sheikh Hamad Al Thani made his successor his  youngest son, Sheikh Khalifa, deposed by his own son  in 1995.

– Dubai (pages: 270, 271, 272, 273, 274 and 275)

Sheikh Maktoum (1943-2006) ruled Dubai from 1990 until 2006. His successor was his brother  Sheikh Mohamed (1949- ) and although  having other brothers,  indicated as his successor,  his  son, the Hereditary Prince Hamidan (1982- ).

– Abu Dhabi (pages: 270, 271, 272, 273, 274 and 275)

Sheikh Sultan (1881-1926) ruled  from 1922-1926,  and his successor was his  brother  Sheikh Saqr (1887-1928).  His successor was his nephew  Sheik Shakhbut (1905-1989). Shakhbut’s successor was his brother Sheikh Zayad (1918- ) and his successor was his son  Sheikh Khalifa (1948- ). His heir was already selected, his brother  , Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed (1951- ).

– Oman (pages: 276, 277, 278, 279, 280 and 281)

Sayyid Turki (1832-1888) was the Sultan of Oman from 1871 till 1888 and his successor was not his older son  but Sultan Sayyd Faisal (1864-1913).

The Ghassanid Kings had also followed the “rotation”.   There are no mandatory rules for the present Sovereign except that the heir is  male descendant of the last ruler.  According to universally accepted  Dynastic Law,  there is also  no limitation for the elapsed time since  the last ruler reigned.

Citing a Court sentence of the Republican Italy (Pretoria de Vico Del Gargano, Repubblica Italiana sentence number 217/49) corroborates the above mentioned:

“(…) it’s  irrelevant  if that Imperial family is no longer ruling for centuries, because the deposition doesn’t harm the sovereign prerogatives even if the sovereign renounces, spontaneously, to the throne.  In substance, in this case, the Sovereign does not cease to be King, even living in exile or in private life (without claiming his sovereignty), because his prerogatives are, itself, by birth and   cannot be extinguished,  but remains and may be transmitted in time, from generation to generation.”

Court verdicts like the above are legally binding in all the countries  which signed the New York Convention on arbitration of 1958 ; in other words,  almost all of the member countries of the United Nations.

According to  the former president of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation (the highest court in Italy) Professor Doctor Renato de Francesco in 1959:

“… It’s simply ridiculous, from a legal point of view , the distinction intended to be done about Dynasties that have reigned until recently of those  who ruled in the distant past. It’s not understandable how you can launch at the foot numerous pages of history, only to give luster to this or that family, who, aided by good luck, has managed to remain on the throne, after the year 1815. A dynasty or reigned  or not.  If reigned, even in very remote time, deserves the historical and legal treatment as a dynasty and all its effects.”

Professor Dr. W. Baroni Santos, Doctor D’état (post-doctorate/ habilitation) from the University of Reims in France in his book “Treaty of Heraldry and Nobility Law” Volume II page 52:

“Neither the elapsed time, even for centuries, or non-use of the Acts of Sovereignty  exercised by the Prince Pretender, Head of Name and Arms of his house, may be derogated , prescribed or canceled.  He/she retains these rights until  the end of times  ‘ad perpetuam rei tenendam’ which are inserted in the person of Prince Pretender. ”

Prof. V. Powell-Smith writes (“The Criteria for Assessing the Validity of Orders of Chivalry” in “Nobilitas”, Malta, 1970):

“… There is no valid reason, legal or other, to limit sovereign status in such a way by reference to 1814  or any date at all.  The Congress of Vienna merely effected the settlement of Europe after the Napoleonic Wars, and nothing more.   ..The sovereigns of those kingdoms which ceased to exist before   the Congress of Vienna acted as fons honorum during their reigns and will continue to exercise sovereign rights thereafter .”

Some authors have expressed themselves in conformity with the theories of Thomas Hobbes, like Savaron in the “Treaty of the sword”, Gaufredus in “De bello loco”, P. Onorato do Santa Maria in his “Historic and critic dissertation upon ancient and modern chivalry”; more recently, Santi Romano (Consitutional Law-Padua-Cedam-1932); Piero Chimienti (Constitutional Law-Turin-Utet-1933); Oreste Ranelletti (Institute of public law-Padua-Cedam-1934); Vincenzo Orsini (La giurisprudenza – Milan -Giuffrè 1936) Giovanbattista Cauca (It. Digest 1923) and Giorgio Cansacchi and Gorini Causa- University of Turin; Bascapè-University of the Holy Heart in Milan. Bascapè asserts exactly:

“The princely Family  once Sovereign preserves its dynastic character and its chief ‘Preserves’  the title and the attributes of the last defeated monarch , with the title of claimant.”

Such principles are confirmed by opinions of famous  jurists, such  as Dr. Ercole Tanturri, once First President of the Court of Cassation [the highest court in Italy], who was joined

by Prof. Leonardo Puglionisi, Professor of canon law at the University of Rome, and Dr. Raimondo Jannitti-Piromallo, Section President of the Court of Cassation (Journal of Araldic and Genealogy n. 7-12 Dec. 1954) who also writes:

“The  Sovereignty is a perpetual quality, indelibly connected and linked  in the centuries to the whole descent of the one who first conquered or claimed it, and fulfills itself in the physical person of the Chief of Name and Arms of the Dynasty, independently from any other consideration or inquiry of political, juridical, moral or social nature which might be made about him, and which, as history teaches, can’t influence its sovereign quality.”        

Royal House of Ghassan provides English legal translations of 1948’s Historical Scientific Research about the family

cover book sheik chemor

The Royal Family of Ghassan, after the advent of the Islamic conquest and the fall of the first Ghassanid State (220-636 CE), moved to the domains of the Byzantine Empire and safe Christian places like the area of today’s Lebanon.That’s attested by several known sources:

 “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

It’s also known that after the fall of the aforementioned first State, the Byzantine Empire recognized the Ghassanid Royal Family‘s status of what’s known today as “Government-in-exile”.

“Heraclius [Byzantine Emperor] received him [King Jabalh Abu Chemor] with honour and bestowed upon him estates and palaces.” (Professor Yasmine Zahran, “Ghassan Resurrected”, Stacey International2006, p. 13)

Certainly, the most noteworthy of those Ghassanid reigns after Islam 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 [Abu Chemor].” (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)

Since there’s a lack of English references and sources about the 500 years reign (1211-1747 CE) of descendants of King Jabla Abu Chemor in today’s Lebanon, the Royal House of Ghassan has commissioned an English sworn legal translation of sensitive excerpts of the 1948’s official Historical Scientific Research made by a famous Maronite historian, Ignatious Tannos El-Khoury and recognized by the Lebanese Republic until the present date.

Important to note that there are only 2 (two) ancestral families/tribes in the Middle East with the name “Chemor” or “Shummar” or “Shammar” (all are different transliterations to the Arabic word for the plant “Fennel“). One, is a Bedouin Muslim tribe originally named “Tayy” that started to adopt the name “Shammar” or “Shammari” only after the XIV century. The one in Lebanon was originated from the Ghassanid Royal Family since the last king of the first State was known as “Jabla Abu Chemor“. It’s documented that this family uses the name “Chemor” at least since 1211 CE, almost two centuries before the Tayys.

Here download the .PDF English Legal Translation

Here download the .PDF full book in Arabic

Here, read about the recent validation of the book by a leading Maronite historian

Here, the Sworn Legal Affidavit from the world’s leading Expert in Middle Eastern Royal Succession recognizing the Royal Rights and Titles of the El Chemor/Gharios Family

As previously mentioned, the Lebanese Republic recognizes the El Chemor family and its heritage. Some of the Lebanese family members kept their titles on their passports from the times of the Ottoman Empire until the Lebanese passports today. That can also be attested by this 2014’s article from the Lebanese Ministry of Information where the family is cited with the recognized titles and also the 1948’s Historical Scientific Research is mentioned and validated.

Official 2014’s article from the Lebanese Ministry of Information

Here download the .PDF Legal Translation of the official article from the Lebanese Ministry of Information

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Photo: The grave of His Highness Sheikh Selim El Chemor (passed away 1909 CE, the great grandfather of HRH Prince Sheikh Selim El Chemor, honorary head of the Royal House of Ghassan), note that the royal title of Sheikh (in Arabic, upper right side) is on his tombstone, a capital proof that the family has been publicly using the ‘sui iuris’ titles for centuries until the present date. (Grave at the cemetery at the Mar Mama Ancient Church in Kferhata, Lebanon) Understand the legality of the titles here:

sheikhs-el-chemor-a-legal-study-of-titles/

HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor is acclaimed for lectures ministered in Brazil

HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor of Ghassan Al-Numan VIII visited Brazil from August 1st to 10th 2016 and ministered lectures about the situation in the Middle East and its effects in the Western world in five venues: at UCAM – Candido Mendes University (Latin America’s oldest private University founded in 1902), at the Fluminense Federal Institute (Technical Faculty), at the City Parliament (founded in 1652), at the Maria Imaculada Diocesan Seminary and at the Imaculada Conceicao Catholic Seminary. The lectures were very appreciated and acclaimed by the audience and the press.

(the above video is in the Portuguese language)

More about HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor HERE